Nation/World Briefs: Surprises in presidential elections in Chile, Ukraine

  • Sun Jan 17th, 2010 10:10pm
  • News

Billionaire Sebastian Pinera won Chile’s presidential vote Sunday in the country’s first democratic election of a right-wing ruler in 52 years. In Ukraine, the archenemy of the pro-democracy movement won a first-place finish in the initial round of presidential voting.

Many leftists in Chile are disenchanted after two decades with the same politicians in power, and their efforts to raise fears of a retreat on human rights failed to persuade enough of them to turn out against Pinera, whose success in the voting booth is the first for Chile’s right wing since Jorge Allesandri Rodriguez won the presidency in 1958.

In Ukraine, pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych will finish first in the hard-fought campaign, exit polls showed. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko — the heroine of the 2004 Orange Revolution — will finish second, clearing the path for a runoff between the pair next month, polls showed.

The vote appeared to be a repudiation of the Orange revolt by voters weary of endemic corruption and economic mismanagement, though the country’s leading poll predicted a closer race than expected.

Pakistan: U.S. drone kills 20

At least one suspected U.S. drone fired on a house in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region Sunday, killing 20 suspected militants in the 11th such attack since militants in the area orchestrated a deadly suicide bombing against the CIA in Afghanistan, intelligence officials said.

Nepal: 182 former child soldiers leave camps

About 182 former child soldiers who helped wage Nepal’s Maoist insurgency left the camps Sunday where they have been confined for three years. Since the communist rebels laid down their arms and joined a peace process in 2006, thousands of former fighters have been detained in U.N.-monitored camps. Adult combatants are eventually supposed to be integrated into the armed forces, but minors who fought in the civil war will be released. Human rights organizations have said Maoists forcefully took children from schools and persuaded them to join them in the fight against the government.

Philippines: 4,000 homeless after slum fire in Manila

Fire raced through a slum near the main port in the Philippine capital, leaving 4,000 people homeless and killing a 5-year-old girl, an official said Sunday. The Saturday night blaze gutted 500 shanties, which were packed together in a crowded slum along the rim of Manila Bay, some housing two or three families.

Venezuela: Chavez says he wants improved U.S. relations

Venezuela is seeking to improve diplomatic relations with the United States despite long-standing tensions with Washington, President Hugo Chavez said in an interview broadcast Sunday. Chavez said he has given Deputy Foreign Minister Francisco Arias Cardenas permission to seek a meeting with U.S. officials in Washington to discuss forging better relations.

Alabama: Fire kills college students

A fire swept through a two-story motel in Hoover, killing four Mississippi college students who were trapped in their room, officials said Sunday. Officials didn’t immediately know what started the blaze Saturday night, or where it began.

New York: Man in JFK security breach just used ‘wrong door’

An attorney for a man who set off an alarm at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport while returning from Haiti says his client “just walked through the wrong door.” Jules Paul Bouloute was arraigned Sunday on charges including criminal tampering. He didn’t enter a plea and was released without bail. An official familiar with the case against Bouloute says the 57-year-old told police he went to the wrong door by mistake while trying to exit the Queens airport.

From Herald news services