KABUL, Afghanistan

Candidates back off election boycott

President Hamid Karzai’s main challenger yesterday backed
off a boycott of Afghanistan’s landmark election over
allegations of fraud, saying he would accept the formation of an
independent commission to look into any irregularities in the
vote.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the first foreign leader to
visit since Saturday’s election, all but declared Karzai the
winner before a single ballot was counted.

The announcement by ethnic Tajik candidate Yunus Qanooni that he
would accept the formation of the election commission followed
similar statements Sunday by Massooda Jalal, the only female
presidential hopeful, and ethnic Hazara candidate Mohammed
Mohaqeq.

“I don’t want to be against the election and I
appreciate the good will of the people of Afghanistan,”
Qanooni said. “I want to prove to the people of Afghanistan
that the national interest is my highest interest.”

He said he made his decision after a meeting with U.N.
representative Jean Arnault and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay
Khalilzad.

Abdul Satar Sirat, a minor Uzbek candidate who rallied the
others to support the boycott, also appeared to back down. His
spokesman, Ramatullah Jalili, also said Sirat would respect the
decision of an independent electoral commission.

 

WASHINGTON

Poll: Iraq war increased threat of terrorism

More than two-thirds of the people living in Australia, Britain
and Italy, three countries allied with the United States in the
Iraq war, believe the war has increased the threat of
terrorism.

Leaders of those countries — prime ministers Tony Blair of
Britain and John Howard of Australia and Premier Silvio Berlusconi
of Italy — all get low marks from their people for their
handling of the war on terrorism, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll
shows.

More than half of those in the United States, 52 percent,
believe the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism, while
three in 10 in the United States think it has decreased the threat
— a view promoted by President Bush.

“In the context of the presidential campaign in the United
States, this is undeniably a blow for George W. Bush, since it
shows that a majority of Americans don’t agree with the main
justification for his policy in Iraq,” said Gilles Corman,
research director at Ipsos-Inra of Belgium, who studies public
opinion trends across Europe.

 

WASHINGTON

Report: Millions of workers living in poverty

One in every five U.S. jobs pays less than a poverty-level wage
for a family of four, according to a study by the nonpartisan
Working Poor Families Project.

The result of so many low-paying jobs is that nearly 39 million
Americans, including 20 million children, are members of
“low-income working families” — those that barely
have enough money to cover basic needs like housing, groceries and
child care, the study found.

The study classified a “working family” as one in
which there was one or more children and at least one family member
had a job or was actively seeking work.

Besides staying up on bills, many people also struggled to save
up for a bigger home or for a child’s college education, said
Brandon Roberts, one of the report’s authors.

 

LUXEMBOURG

EU lifts Libyan sanctions, eases arms embargo

The European Union yesterday ended 12 years of sanctions against
Libya and eased an arms embargo to reward the North African country
for giving up plans to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The decision by the EU foreign ministers brought the 25-nation
bloc in line with a U.N. decision last year and reflected a
significant warming of relations in recent months.

“This is a turning point in relations with Libya,”
French European Affairs Minister Claudie Haignere said.

 

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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