17 November 2005 Edition

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International in briefs

Uribe to look for second term in office

Colombia's Constitutional Court has cleared the way for President Alvaro Uribe to stand for re-election in 2006, confirming the legality of changes brought forward by the president to allow a sitting president seek a second term, something illegal up to now.

Uribe argued for the change saying he needed four more years in office to implement tough policies against armed groups and drug-traffickers. Opponents say that allowing re-election gives presidents too much power. Uribe is one of Washington's strongest allies in South America, where many governments have recently shifted to the left and are now opposing US policies in the area.

Focus on US treatment of suspects

The US Senate is to ask the country's Intelligence Chief, John Negroponte, to report on allegations that the CIA is running secret overseas jails for terrorism suspects. Negroponte has been directed to testify in secret to two Congressional Intelligence Panels. It follows a report in the Washington Post that the CIA had jails in Eastern Europe and Asia were suspects were held without monitoring by any human rights agency.

Senators also voted to bar detainees at Guantanamo Bay from taking legal action in US courts. This contravenes a 2004 Supreme Court opinion that Guantanamo inmates have a right to challenge their detentions. The new Senate provision would need to go through several more steps before becoming law.

Australia split on new terror laws

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is seeking to introduce security measures which are rejected by the opposition as too draconian.

Under the new proposals, which the government wants to be law by the end of the year, the police would have greater authority to monitor, search and detain terrorism suspects. There are also wide-ranging provisions covering sedition.

Many believe Howard's foreign policy of supporting US action in Iraq and Afghanistan may have made their country a target for Al-Qaeda and similar groups.

Turkish officials suspected of bomb attack

There have been protests in the southeast of Turkey, close to the border with Iraq, as locals accused state security officers of planting a bomb in a bookshop which killed one person on Wednesday 9 November. After the explosion, the crowd immediately turned on a man they believed was the bomber and who was later identified as an intelligence officer with Turkey's security forces. It is thought the bomb was meant for the shop's owner, who is reportedly linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Another man died in clashes that followed.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised a transparent inquiry to uncover the truth and punish those responsible.

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