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Updated: 15-Apr-2004
 

SHAPE News Morning Update

15 April 2004

BALKANS
  • Macedonian (sic) prime minister leads field in election
  • Police raid Karadzic daughter’s radio station in Bosnia

AFGHANISTAN

  • Canada says to keep about 800 troops in Kabul

IRAQ

  • Arabs call for greater UN role in Iraq
  • Norway expects to remove troops from Iraq, as planned, in June
  • Tehran has armed agents in Iraq says Iranian exile group

BALKANS

  • The prime minister of Macedonia (sic) won the first round of this Balkan country’s election, unofficial results showed. With 80 percent of the vote counted in Wednesday’s election, Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski had about 42.9 percent. Sasko Kedev of the opposition VMRO party was next with 34.5 percent. The two candidates will compete in a runoff in two weeks. The preliminary results were from the State Election Commission. Full results were not expected until some time on Thursday. (AP 150039 Apr 04)

  • Bosnian Serb police raided a radio station owned by the daughter of top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic on Wednesday, saying it was suspected of helping indictees stay at large. Bosnian Serb authorities said police also searched two other firms in Karadzic’s wartime stronghold of Pale. NATO-led peacekeepers have swooped on Sonja Karadzic’s Radio Sveti Jovan (Saint John Radio) several times in the past, but this was the first time it was done by local police. (Reuters 141517 GMT Apr 04)

AFGHANISTAN

  • Canada will keep around 800 troops in Kabul once the bulk of its military contingent leaves the Afghan capital later this year in August, Prime Minister Paul Martin said. He did not say how long the 800 troops would be staying in Afghanistan. (Reuters 141745 GMT Apr 04)

IRAQ

  • The envoy President Bush is sending to the region, Richard Armitage, to brainstorm on Iraq is likely to hear two words again and again: United Nations. Amid daily reports of escalating violence in Iraq, Arabs say if the United States fails to restore order after toppling Saddam Hussein, their whole neighbourhood is threatened with instability. While they argue the United States can’t succeed alone, Arabs aren’t volunteering to take the lead themselves, instead saying only the United Nations has the credibility to calm the situation by convincing Iraqis occupation won’t last forever. Mahdi Dakhlallah, editor-in-chief of Syria’s al-Baath newspaper, said President Bush was right to look for help, “because the Iraqi problem cannot be solved within this continued (U.S.-led) occupation (of Iraq).” Today, an Arab League force for Iraq is unlikely, Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher told reporters Tuesday during a visit to Turkey. “We are trying to coordinate with the United Nations,” Mr. Muasher said. Arab League chief Amr Moussa said this week that the Arab League would not now send a regional force to help stabilization efforts in Iraq, but that it still must be involved. Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College said the Arab League could play a role in mustering Iraqi and other Arab public opinion in support of a new, UN-led authority in Iraq. (AP 141902 Apr 04)

  • Norway expects to remove its 150-strong contingent of military engineers from Iraq in June, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said on Wednesday on the state radio network NRK, adding the likely withdrawal was planned last year. The mandate for the Norwegian contingent automatically expires June 30, unless it is renewed by the government, with the backing of the parliament. “We have made clear that our involvement would last one year,” he said. “Norway is going to set its priorities on Afghanistan, while we will also participate in the Balkans and Iraq.” He said withdrawing the engineers wouldn’t mean Norway would not continue to help in Iraq. He said the country’s humanitarian efforts would continue. (AP 141558 Apr 04)

  • Iran has sent thousands of armed agents into neighbouring Iraq to back a Shi’ite Muslim uprising there and foment anti-U.S. sentiment, an exiled Iranian opposition group said on Wednesday in Paris. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), listed by the United States as a terrorist group, said Iranian agents had infiltrated the Iraqi police force and Iranian Shi’ite clerics were present in towns and villages throughout Iraq. “The strategic aim is to secure its domination of this country. It believes it has time on its side,” Mohammad Mohaddessin, head of the NCRI’s foreign affairs commission said citing unnamed sources within Iran. The NCRI is the political wing of the People’s Mujahideen, banned by the EU as a terrorist organisation. NCRI pronouncements have been given some credence since it said in 2002 that Tehran was hiding an uranium enrichment plant forcing Iran to admit the existence of the plant and allow UN’s nuclear inspectors to view it. (Reuters 141953 GMT Apr 04)


 



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