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Tunisia Islamist Leader Does Not Support an Islamic State

Islamist leader Rachid Ghanouchi has been in Tunisia's spotlight since returning to the North African country after more than two decades in exile.
In the past, Tunisian authorities have cracked down hard on political Islam. Many are wondering what role it will play as Tunisia tries to build a multiparty democracy.
Ghanouchi is quick to stress his brand of religious politics is open, moderate and tolerant. It is something he has stressed repeatedly, including in an interview with VOA.

Burma Picks Candidates for President; Junta Leader Not on List

Burma's new parliament has settled on a list of five candidates to become the country's first civilian president in more than half a century, with a final vote expected Thursday.

Delegates say the most prominent of the five candidates is Thein Sein, who heads the dominant military-backed party in parliament and served as prime minister in the outgoing military government. The full list of names is not available because reporters are barred from the parliamentary session, Burma's first in 20 years.

Report Says Pakistan's Nuclear Arsenal Tops 100

A prominent U.S. newspaper says Pakistan has doubled its nuclear arms stockpile in recent years to exceed 100 weapons.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Pakistan now has a larger arsenal than its nuclear-armed neighbor and arch-rival India based on estimates provided by non-governmental analysts.

Based on recently accelerated production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, analyst David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security told the newspaper that Islamabad may now have up to 110 nuclear weapons.

Thai Government Again Besieged by Protesters

The Thai government is under increasing pressure from thousands of street protesters. Red-dressed anti-government protesters are holding monthly demonstrations to express anger at last year’s bloody crackdown. And now yellow-dressed protesters have surrounded the seat of government, demanding tough action against Cambodia over a border dispute.

Thailand’s Red Shirts are back on the streets of Bangkok, holding monthly demonstrations.

Comments by Zimbabwe's Mugabe Intensify Speculation as to Snap Election

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has ratcheted up tension in the country's long-troubgled government of national unity with a tacit threat to dissolve Parliament and call new elections without waiting for a new constitution to be put in place.

Mr. Mugabe, described by local media as “fit and very lively” despite reports he had undergone surgery for prostate cancer, said he had a constitutional right to call for elections if the government failes to take a position on a new ballot.

Clinton Supports Mexico in Drug War

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is urging Mexico to persist in its war against drug cartels, saying there is no alternative to confronting them head-on.

Secretary Clinton made the comment Monday as she met in the Mexican city of Guanajuato with Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa and gave strong support for President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on drug gangs. Clinton was quoted as saying that what President Calderon has done is absolutely necessary and that the drug traffickers are not going to give up without a fight.

Southern Sudanese Returning From North Challenge Regional Government, Aid Groups

As vote tabulation nears an end in southern Sudan, preliminary results indicate voters are likely to choose overwhelmingly to separate from the rest of Sudan in order to form an independent state. Whatever the outcome, southern Sudanese leaders face many challenges. One is the arrival of thousands of southern Sudanese from the north.

River barges loaded with southern Sudanese and their belongings dock regularly at the dirt embankment of Juba port.

On average, 2,000 southerners arrive each day, most of them returning home for good.

Gbagbo Supporters Say Regional Leaders Bluffing About Military Intervention

Ivory Coast's incumbent government says it is not intimidated by threats to be removed from power by a regional intervention force. West African leaders have replaced the head of the region's central bank to further isolate the incumbent president in favor of the internationally-recognized winner of November's vote.

George Washington Banned From NAACP Rally

The annual MLK observance at the state house in Columbia SC had an interesting twist this year. The event is held on the north side steps of the statehouse.

Prominent at that location is a large bronze statue of George Washington. This year, the NAACP constructed a "box" to conceal the Father of His Country from view so that participants would not be offended by his presence.