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In brief: Honduran leaders said to sign deal

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – A top official said negotiators for Honduras’ interim and ousted leaders have signed an agreement that allows for the possible return of deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

Organization of American States Secretary of Political Affairs Victor Rico called the pact “a beneficial accord for Honduras and Honduran democracy.”

Interim President Roberto Micheletti said the accord will leave Zelaya’s fate up to the Supreme Court and Congress.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters today the two had signed the deal.

She said Nov. 29 elections for a new leader will go forward and the U.S. will work with Honduras to ensure the election is legitimate.

Senate ousts prime minister

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis was removed from office by the Haitian Senate shortly after midnight today, following hours of shouting and debate that rarely touched on the reasons for her dismissal.

The 18-to-29 vote to censure Pierre-Louis also dissolves the cabinet. Political instability could imperil efforts by the international community and Haitian leaders, including Pierre-Louis, to attract foreign investment to the storm-wracked, impoverished country.

Most of those voting against the prime minister, who is Haiti’s head of government and was nominated by President Rene Preval last year, were members of Preval’s Lespwa party. They took control of the Senate just weeks ago after winning June elections praised by some international observers but marred by low turnout and fraud allegations.

More than 6,000 vote sites planned

KABUL, Afghanistan – Rejecting advice from U.N. officials, Afghanistan’s election commission announced Thursday that it would open more than 6,300 voting centers for the upcoming runoff vote, far more than international experts here believe can be adequately protected and monitored.

The announcement surprised U.N. officials, who had recommended that only about 5,800 voting centers be opened because of the danger of insurgent attacks in some areas, the likelihood of fraud in others and the short time available to prepare and staff the Nov. 7 presidential election.

Officials with Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission told reporters they were confident that Afghan security forces could protect the larger number of centers, but they did not say how they would be able to staff all of them and still fulfill their pledge to get rid of hundreds of polling officials accused of fraud in the Aug. 20 election.