30 November 2006 Edition

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International News in Brief

Gaza

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have said they are committed to a ceasefire agreed for the Gaza Strip. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said all Palestinian groups had made clear that they stood behind the ceasefire.

"Contacts were made with the political leaderships of the factions and there is a reaffirmation of the commitment of what has been agreed to," Reuters news agency quoted Haniya as saying.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his security forces to enforce the truce.

Female genital mutilation

Muslim scholars from around the world have called for female genital mutilation to be banned and those who carry it out to face punishment.

The top religious authorities in Egypt said religion offered no justification for the procedure. The Muslim scholars said female circumcision amounted to aggression against women and should be stopped. They stressed that Islam forbade people from inflicting harm on others, explaining that those who circumcise their daughters were doing exactly that.

Female genital mutilation is widespread in parts of Africa and the Middle East, while it is relatively unknown in most other parts of the Muslim world, including South and South-east Asia, North Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Ecuador

Ecuador's presidential candidate Rafael Correa's political movement has claimed victory in a run-off election. Three exit polls indicated the leftist economist had gained around 57% of the vote while conservative Alvaro Noboa polled about 43%.


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