15 March 2007 Edition

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International in briefs

Mauritania

Mauritanians’ will soon vote for a new president in elections that mark the transition to civilian rule following a 2005 coup. Indeed, power has never changed hands at the ballot box in Mauritania, since independence in 1960. There is no clear favourite among the 19 contenders and a second round of voting looks likely. Early estimates suggest a high turnout of about 70%.

Nigeria

Nigerian police routinely torture and ill-treat suspects, the UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, has said. He found that police shot prisoners, beat them and hung them from the ceiling for long periods. More than half of Nigeria’s prison population has never been convicted of any crime. It is common for prisoners to wait five to 10 years for a trial.

Palestine

The Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has met the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem. This is the second meeting between Olmert and Abbas in a month. Olmert is believed to have pressed Mr Abbas on the government agreement between the PLO and Hamas, that is due to form in the next few days, while Abbas asked the Israelis to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the occupied territories and to consider extending an unofficial ceasefire to the West Bank.

Sri Lanka

Fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka has intensified, of late. Sri Lanka’s defence ministry says soldiers recovered the bodies of 14 Tamil Tigers after a battle in Batticaloa district, in the east of the country. One soldier was killed and 10 wounded. People in Batticaloa say there was heavy artillery and rocket fire throughout Sunday 11 March.

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