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In brief: Venezuelans await results

CARACAS, Venezuela – Opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tried to break his long-standing monopoly on power in congressional elections Sunday, and demanded electoral authorities release the results after an hours-long wait that put the country on edge.

More than six hours after the official end of voting, electoral officials were meeting in private early today as Venezuelans anxiously awaited for results to be announced.

“We demand (the electoral council) give the country the results it already knows,” said Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, leader of a coalition of opposition parties.

Voters stood in long lines at polling stations during Sunday’s elections, which stirred strong sentiment on both sides of Venezuela’s deep political divide.

Chavez supporters drove through downtown Caracas late Sunday waving party flags and honking horns. Chavez had said after casting his ballot that he expected results from the automated vote system to be available before midnight. Electoral officials had said the results would be ready about two hours after the closing of polls.

Opposition parties were trying to end Chavez’s domination of the National Assembly for the first time in his nearly 12 years in the presidency.

TOKYO – Japan asked China to pay for damage to Japanese patrol boats hit by a Chinese fishing vessel near disputed islands, as simmering tension between the two Asian neighbors showed no signs of easing today.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku’s remarks came a day after Japan’s prime minister rejected China’s demand that Tokyo apologize and offer compensation for the arrest of the Chinese boat captain earlier this month near islands claimed by both countries.

The captain was released Friday and has since returned to China, but the diplomatic back-and-forth since then indicates nationalistic sentiments stirred up by the incident are not dissipating.

JAKARTA, Indonesia – A strong offshore earthquake has shaken parts of eastern Indonesia.

The Indonesian meteorological and geophysics agency says no tsunami warning was issued after the quake Sunday, and there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake measured magnitude 6.0 and struck at a depth of 5.4 miles northwest of Dobo, about 1,860 miles east of Jakarta.