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Women win first parliament seats

Mon., May 18, 2009, midnight

Kuwaitis elected female parliament members for the first time and rejected a number of Islamic fundamentalist candidates in a weekend vote that many hoped would bring stability to the country’s rocky political scene.

Women gained the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed in two previous elections to win seats in the 50-member parliament. Four women were elected in Saturday’s vote, according to official results read by judges on state-owned TV on Sunday.

Kuwait has led the region in giving its people democratic rights. It has an elected parliament that wields considerable power, but the Cabinet is still chosen and led by a ruling family that holds ultimate power.

Radical religious politicians have fought against extending political rights to women. At the same time, they have pushed for full implementation of Islamic law, or sharia, in the oil-rich U.S. ally.

“This is a message that the Kuwaiti society has started to move away from such movements that are based on hatred,” said political commentator Sami al-Nisf.

VILNIUS, Lithuania

EU commissioner wins presidency

The European Union’s budget chief was poised to become Lithuania’s first woman president after a landslide victory Sunday in a vote overshadowed by the Baltic country’s ailing economy, preliminary official results showed.

Dalia Grybauskaite, the EU budget commissioner and a karate black-belt, had 69 percent of the vote with more than 95 percent of ballots counted. The election commission said the preliminary turnout was 51 percent, just enough to avoid a runoff.

“There will be no second round as the president of Lithuania was elected tonight,” election commission chairman Zenonas Vaigauskas said.

The results were in line with an exit poll earlier Sunday that showed voters were turning to the 53-year-old political independent to help Lithuania rebound from a deep recession.

Social Democrat lawmaker Algirdas Butkevicius was a distant second with 12 percent according to the partial results.

Guatemala City

Marchers demand president resign

Thousands of Guatemalans protested Sunday to demand the president resign over accusations that he ordered a lawyer killed, a scandal threatening the rule of the country’s first leftist leader more than 50 years.

Supporters of President Alvaro Colom staged a counter-demonstration. Many were farmers and workers who have benefited from his social programs.

Colom denies Rodrigo Rosenberg’s allegations, which were broadcast posthumously after the attorney was shot to death a week ago. He has dismissed calls for his resignation and asked the FBI and a U.N. panel to investigate the killing.


Officers accused of ties to cartel

Three police officers and two other men were arrested on suspicion of working for a drug cartel in central Mexico, federal authorities said Sunday. A former state security chief and the police chief of a state capital were detained for questioning.

The head of the Morelos police vehicle recovery unit was arrested for allegedly selling stolen cars and auto parts to the cartel, the statement said, while a former state police officer was arrested on suspicion of serving as a hit man.

Two Cuernavaca, Morelos, municipal police officers were accused of stealing cars and kidnapping for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, and a fifth suspect was also arrested as an alleged hit man.

From wire reports


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