BAGHDAD, Iraq

Allawi: Few will boycott Jan. election

Iraq’s interim prime minister said yesterday he’s confident only a small number of people will boycott the Jan. 30 elections despite anger among many Sunni Muslims over the Fallujah offensive and a deadly U.S.-Iraqi raid on a Baghdad mosque.

“The forces of darkness and terrorism will not benefit from this democratic experience and will fight it,” Ayad Allawi told The Associated Press. “But we are determined that this experiment succeeds.”

Allawi spoke as violence raged in the capital and other cities, and U.S. officials said a bomb was discovered on a commercial flight inside Iraq. Gunmen in the north assassinated a prominent election opponent, and five decapitated bodies were discovered south of the capital. Insurgents ambushed a U.S. convoy in western Baghdad, but there were no reports of casualties.

A U.S. soldier died yesterday of wounds suffered in an attack in Baghdad the night before. The Pentagon also announced yesterday that three Marines wounded in Fallujah have died, raising the U.S. death toll in the offensive to at least 54. At least 1,227 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an AP count.

CHICAGO

McDonald’s CEO resigns due to cancer

McDonald’s Corp. CEO Charlie Bell, who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in May, resigned yesterday to focus on his battle with the disease, forcing the company to make a sudden leadership switch for the second time in seven months.

The fast food giant named vice chairman Jim Skinner as its new CEO, and the board elected Mike Roberts, CEO of McDonald’s USA, to the position of president and chief operating officer.

“Charlie is a remarkable leader and well loved by the McDonald’s family, and we fully understand and respect his decision,” McDonald’s chairman Andrew McKenna said in a statement.

Bell will remain on the company’s board of directors, company spokesman Walt Riker said. Bell, 44, was diagnosed with cancer soon after succeeding Jim Cantalupo in April, when Cantalupo died of an apparent heart attack. Bell has missed significant time at work because of the cancer.

TEHRAN, Iran

U.N. agency: Iran nuclear enrichment ended

Iran announced yesterday it has suspended uranium enrichment, and the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said he believed all Iran’s enrichment activities have stopped, the central part of an agreement with Europe designed to head off possible U.N. sanctions.

The suspension fulfills a pledge Iran made earlier this month and came days ahead of a key meeting of the agency’s board to judge Tehran’s compliance with the agency’s investigation into nearly two decades of hidden nuclear activities.

If the International Atomic Energy Agency rules that Iran is honoring its commitment to suspend enrichment, it will be a setback to U.S. hopes of referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council, a step that could lead to sanctions.

Iranian state-run radio made a brief announcement of the suspension yesterday, saying it aimed “to build confidence.”

KIEV, Ukraine

Kremlin-backed minister winning election

Tens of thousands of demonstrators jammed downtown Kiev yesterday night, denouncing Ukraine’s presidential runoff election as fraudulent and chanting the name of their reformist candidate who authorities said was trailing in the vote count.

Viktor Yushchenko stood beaming on a platform with campaign aides and flashed a “V” for victory sign — even though the Central Election Commission said earlier that with nearly all the votes counted, he was losing to Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.

“Yushchenko — our president!” chanted the crowd, many of whom waved orange scarves — his campaign color in Independence Square.

 

— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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