2 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Snow strands travelers across Plains
A masked Palestinian gunman looks on after armed militants closed a polling station during the Fatah
movement primaries in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday.
Gun men rompt lose
of prim rie i Gz
Ruling Fatah Party
cancels its elections
after violence disrupts
HAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip (AP) -
The ruling Fatah Party canceled its pri-
mary in Gaza at the end of a full day of
voting yesterday after gunmen disrupted
at least a dozen polling places, firing in
the air and stealing some ballot boxes.
The violence underscored Palestin-
ian leader Mahmoud Abbas' inability to
maintain order in the Gaza Strip, or even
in his own party, as Fatah tries to fight
off a strong challenge from the Islamic
Hamas group in the Jan. 25 parliamen-
The vote yesterday was part of the
first-ever primary held by Fatah, a
democratic reform considered crucial
to removing the taint of corruption from
the party. Many young Fatah activists,
long frozen out of power by entrenched
party leaders, have insisted that trans-
parent primaries - rather than secret
back-room negotiations - determine
the party's legislative slate.
Even before the voting began yester-
day, problems emerged. Technical glitch-
es forced voting in the southern Gaza
town of Rafah and areas of central Gaza
to be postponed until tomorrow, Fatah
At some of the roughly 190 Fatah poll-
ing stations that did open across Gaza,
many voters found their names were not
on registration lists or that they had been
mistakenly registered at the wrong sta-
tion. Fatah officials said it was their first
experience holding a primary and that
they had only a short amount of time to
compile lists of the 200,000 eligible vot-
ers in Gaza.
Some militants lost patience.
In one station in a village in eastern
Khan Younis, a group of about 15 Fatah
gunmen, angry at not finding their names
on the list, began shooting in the air, wit-
nesses said. Officials then closed the
polling place for about 45 minutes. Poll-
ing stations in the towns of Beit Hanoun
and Deir el-Balah were also closed after
Elsewhere, Fatah gunmen barged into
a polling station in the Sheik Radwan
neighborhood of Gaza City, took its 16
ballot boxes into a yard, poured gasoline
over several of them and set them on fire,
At least a dozen polling stations
were closed because of problems
Fatah officials held an emergency
meeting yesterday afternoon and
decided to cancel the primary, nullify-
ing the votes already cast, according to
a party statement.
The primary would have to be
rescheduled, possibly for Friday, Fatah
spokesman Deab Allouh said, adding
that the party's candidates would have to
be chosen by Dec. 3. It was unclear how
officials could ensure that a new round of
voting would go any smoother.
Abbas has had trouble bringing order
to the Gaza Strip since Israel withdrew
from the territory in September.
A longtime Fatah leader in Gaza,
Abdel Aziz Shahin, called on the Fatah
Central Committee to take responsi-
bility for the voting chaos and resign.
"Fatah is like a dinosaur, and the head
of this dinosaur is not aware of the rest
of the body," he said.
Hassan al-Kashef, a political colum-
nist with the Palestinian Al Hayat Jedideh
newspaper, blamed Fatah for yesterday's
violence, which he described as "a shock
and a wake-up call" that could have dam-
aging consequences for the party.
forces election for all 308
House of Commons seats
TORONTO (AP) - A corruption
scandal forced a vote of no-confidence
yesterday that toppled Prime Minister
Paul Martin's minority government,
triggering an unusual election campaign
during the Christmas holidays.
Canada's three opposition parties,
which control a majority in Parliament,
voted against Martin's government,
claiming his Liberal Party no longer has
the moral authority to lead the nation.
The loss means an election for all 308
seats in the lower House of Commons,
likely on Jan. 23. Martin and his Cabi-
net would continue to govern until then.
Opposition leaders last week called
for the no-confidence vote after Mar-
tin rejected their demands to dissolve
Parliament in January and hold early
elections in February. Yesterday's vote
follows a flurry of spending announce-
ments in Ottawa last week, with the
government trying to advance its agen-
da ahead of its demise.
Martin is expected to dissolve the
House of Commons today.
The Conservative Party leader Ste-
phen Harper joined with the New
Democratic and Bloc Quebecois par-
ties to bring down the government
- prompting the first Christmas and
winter campaign in mostly Christian
Canada in 26 years. Recent polls have
given the Liberals a slight lead over the
Conservatives, with the New Demo-
crats in third place.
The same surveys suggest the Bloc
Quebecois would sweep the French-
speaking province of Quebec, making a
majority government unlikely no matter
which party wins the most seats.
Harper would become prime min-
ister if the Conservatives receive the
most seats in Parliament. He favors
tax cuts and opposed Martin's success-
ful bill to legalize same-sex marriage
The opposition is banking on the pub-
lic's disgust with a corruption scandal
involving the misuse of funds targeted
for a national unity program in Quebec.
An initial investigation absolved
Martin of wrongdoing, but accused
senior Liberal members of taking kick-
backs and misspending tens of millions
of dollars in public funds.
The government ran into peril this
month when it lost the support of the
New Democratic Party, whose back-
ing earlier this year helped Martin
escape a previous no-confidence
motion by a single vote.
New Democrat leader Jack Layton said
he hadn't received enough assurances the
Liberal Party would fight the increased use
of private health care in Canada. Martin
made the deal for support from Layton's
leftist party last spring by pledging $3.6
billion in social spending and promising
to delay billions in corporate tax cuts.
Martin appears prepared totake his
chances with a holiday campaign and
blamed his opponents for any incon-
venience to the predominantly Chris-
He had promised to call an election
within 30 days of the release of a fol-
low-up report on the corruption scandal.
The document is expected Feb. 1, which
would have meant elections in the first
week of April, a time that suits Canadi-
ans better than the bitterly cold and busy
Although no formal agreement is in
place, all the parties are likely to agree
to a pause in the campaign around the
Christmas and New Year holidays. The
campaign is expected to start today,
after Parliament is dissolved.
Grace Skogstad, a political science
professor at the University of Toronto,
said she believes Canadians will pay
little attention to the election until after
the New Year, so Martin's opponents
are unlikely to face a backlash for forc-
ing a holiday campaign.
"It's going to be those last three weeks
after Jan. 1 that are going to matter," said
Skogstad, who believes the Liberals will
win another minority government. "For
the Liberals, they are going to try to put
all the focus on the economy which is
doing phenomenally well."
Unemployment in Canada is at a
30-year low and Canada runs a bud-
Andrew Stark, a political science pro-
fessor at the Rotman School of Manage-
ment at the University of Toronto, also
Travelers trying to get home after Thanksgiving were stranded across the
Plains yesterday as the region's first big snowstorm of the season closed
hundreds of miles of highways, cutting visibility to zero and piling up drifts
6 feet high.
Snow driven by wind up to 69 mph fell from North Dakota to the Texas Pan-
handle, shutting down schools, post offices and South Dakota state government.
Four deaths were blamed on slippery roads in South Dakota, Nebraska and
Kansas, and a fifth person was killed when tornado picked up and hurled a
car in Arkansas.
"It's not safe for anybody," said Sharon Rouse, owner of a towing service at
Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 were closed for nearly 350 miles from Denver
across the Plains to Russell, Kan. Westbound lanes were reopened in some areas.
"We're just waiting," said Corey Dagner, who was stuck in Limon, Colo.,
on his way home to Illinois after attending a wedding at the Breckenridge ski
resort. "Nobody's sure what's going on and what time they're going to open
Hussein berates judge as trial resumes
A combative Saddam Hussein lashed out yesterday at his treatment by American
"occupiers and invaders" and lectured the chief judge about leadership as his trial
resumed in a rambling and unfocused session.
Two of the seven other defendants also spoke out during the 2 1/2-hour hear-
ing, complaining of their treatment in detention or dissatisfaction with their court-
appointed counsel. The court's tolerance of such comments drew sharp complaints
from Shiite politicians who contend the tribunal is trying too hard to accommodate
an ousted dictator who should have already been convicted and executed.
"The chief judge should be changed and replaced by someone who is strict and
courageous," said Shiite legislator Ali al-Adeeb, a senior official in Prime Minister
Ibrahim al-Jaafari's party.
The tribunal adjourned until next week to give the defense time to replace
lawyers slain since the trial opened Oct. 19. Yesterday was only the second
session of the trial.
Saddam, immaculately groomed and the only defendant wearing Western
clothes, moved quickly to try to seize control of the proceedings at the heavily
guarded Baghdad court.
Explosion kills 134 miners in northeast China
Anxious relatives demanded to be allowed into a coal mine yesterday after an
explosion killed at least 134 miners and left 15 others missing, adding to a soaring
death toll in China's mines despite a safety crackdown.
The blast in the Dongfeng Coal Mine prompted national leaders to demand
stricter enforcement of safety rules in China's mining industry, by far the
world's deadliest, with more than 5,000 fatalities a year in fires, floods and
The disaster late Sunday came as the nearby city of Harbin was struggling to
recover from a toxic spill in a river that forced the government to cut off water
supplies for five days.
Frigid temperatures claim first quake survivor
Subfreezing temperatures and the first snowfall in Kashmir claimed the life of
an infant yesterday - the first reported victim of what officials fear will be a new
disaster for millions of Pakistanis left homeless by an earthquake.
A middle-aged man with terminal cancer also died after he was taken to a NATO
hospital suffering from hypothermia.
"This is exactly what we had feared. Our position here is we need to continue to
do as much as possible to help mitigate this situation and prevent, insofar as that's
possible, any such occurrences in the future," said Stephanie Bunker of the U.N.
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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