TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian lawmakers impeached the country’s labor minister on Sunday over his controversial appointment of an official implicated in the deaths of prisoners. The move highlights a power struggle between President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his conservative rivals in parliament ahead of the June presidential elections.
Out of 272 present lawmakers in the parliament on Sunday, 192 voted against the labor minister, Abdolreza Sheikholeslami.
The lawmakers are angry over the labor minister’s decision to appoint Saeed Mortazavi as head of Iran’s social security fund. A parliamentary probe in 2010 found that Mortazavi, then chief Tehran prosecutor, was responsible for the deaths of at least three anti-government protesters who were tortured.
Iraq stock offer stirs interest of investors
An Iraqi telecom company raised nearly $1.3 billion Sunday on Baghdad’s small stock exchange in one of the region’s biggest share offers in years – a sign of investor confidence in the fledgling private sector despite violence that still plagues the country.
Sunday’s share sale by Asiacell more than doubled the market capitalization of the low-volume Iraq Stock Exchange in a single day, from $4.7 billion to $9.65 billion, said Rabee Securities.
French airstrikes hit arms depots in Mali
French troops launched airstrikes on Islamic militant training camps and arms depots around Kidal and Tessalit in Mali’s far north, defense officials said Sunday, as the first supply convoy of food, fuel and parts to eastern Mali headed across the country.
French planes pounded extremist training camps as well as arms and fuel depots from Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday. The French intervened in Mali on Jan. 11 to stem the advance of the al-Qaida-linked fighters.
Myanmar, rebels to talk in China
Myanmar’s government and ethnic Kachin rebels in northern Myanmar will hold talks in China this week after some of the worst fighting in the country in years.
The talks will begin today in the Chinese border town of Ruili, officials on both sides said Sunday. The meeting comes after the army captured several strategic guerrilla-held hilltops this month in the hills around Laiza.
Paraguay candidate dies in copter crash
Paraguayan presidential candidate Lino Cesar Oviedo was killed in a helicopter crash, authorities said Sunday, ending a dramatic political career that included coups and repeated attempts to lead this impoverished 6.5 million-person country.
Oviedo was returning with his bodyguard from a political rally in northern Paraguay on Saturday night when his pilot encountered bad weather. All three were killed in the crash.
Oviedo, 69, was running in April’s elections as leader of Paraguay’s third-largest opposition party.
Knife-toter subdued at London landmark
Police used a stun gun to arrest a man armed with knives outside Buckingham Palace on Sunday, as throngs of tourists gathered to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony there.
Scotland Yard said the man, thought to be in his 50s, was spotted carrying two knives outside the central gate. He did not threaten anyone but when challenged by police he acted aggressively.