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Building and keeping coalitions of interests, whether you're trying to hold together a political party or redraw the map of a continent, is the theme of three stories today.

In Moscow, reform politicians have failed to come together in the wake of the high-profile killing last month of one of their own, Galina Starovoitova. And a year ahead of a major vote in parliament, they show few signs of unity. Quote of note: "[Reformist Grigory Yavlinsky] looks like a typical intellectual, standing aside and criticizing. This is associated with weakness in the Russian mind, and Russians want a strong leader." - a Moscow analyst.

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Africa correspondent Lara Santoro reports on disunity among the seven nations intervening in the Congo war. The big players all have problems back home.

And Mideast bureau chief Scott Peterson gives the background on the latest confrontation between America and Iraq . The US has done better than in the past to win world support in threatening military force against Iraq.

- Clayton Jones

World Editor


CONGO'S SMALL WORLD: When our Africa writer Lara Santoro recently tried to enter Congo from Zambia to cover the war, she was blocked by a Congolese border guard. The man eventually called intelligence agents to ask that she be let in, but to no avail. A few months later, Lara tried to enter the rebel-held area of Congo from Rwanda. To her surprise, the same man was now a border guard for the other side. "I have become a rebel," he said, greeting her warmly. He had no choice: He fled when he found out he was to be arrested for letting the wrong kind of people cross the border. He traveled across three countries to reach the other side of Congo.


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The Netherlands' Prince Claus, husband of Queen Beatrix, unceremoniously yanked off his necktie during a speech in Amsterdam this week opening a show of African fashion, calling it "a snake around my neck." At least one Dutch anchorman reporting the story followed suit on the air, and there's a much broader buzz in Holland about showing solidarity with what the prince is now calling "the Declaration of Amsterdam."

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