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An adamant Kofi Annan refused to resign as secretary-general of the UN despite pointed criticism of his handling of the Iraqi oil-for-food scandal in a new report by outside investigators. Annan told a news conference he believed the investigation had exonerated him, adding: "Obviously [that] comes as a great relief." Some members of Congress have demanded that he quit. The report also revealed that Annan's chief of staff allowed assistants to shred documents related to the scandal and dating back as far as 1997.

The interim leader of Kyrgyzstan advised exiled President Askar Akayev that it was too soon for him to return because any attempt to do so would "give rise to mass unrest." That appeared to put Kurmanbek Bakiyev at odds with the other opposition chief, Felix Kulov, who said, "We guarantee Akayev his personal security ... and free movement." Kulov, however, resigned as law-enforcement coordinator, declaring that order had been restored since last week's ouster of Akayev.

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Defying warnings by their government, protesters for political reform in Egypt staged demonstrations across the nation. Hundreds of participants gathered in Cairo, Alexandria, and Mansoura, chanting strident slogans against President Hosni Mubarak. Police, however, kept the demonstrators in Cairo from reaching parliament, their intended destination.

Relief efforts on the island that was hit hardest by Monday's earthquake in Indonesia were being hampered by the loss of electricity, a lack of fresh water and fuel for generators, and dwindling supplies for the barely functioning hospital. Would-be rescuers on Nias, once a world-renowned surfers' paradise, were using hacksaws, hammers, and even bare hands to try to reach people still trapped under the rubble.

With a critical election hours away, President Robert Mugabe's government raised the minimum wage for household servants in Zimbabwe by a factor of 10 and made it retroactive to March 1. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said the move was an attempt to drive a wedge between employers, most of whom are perceived as being MDC voters, and their workers, who tend to support Mugabe's ZANU-PF organization.

With an international TV audience looking on, a riot erupted in North Korea, one of the world's most rigidly controlled societies, as thousands of soccer fans protested their team's 2-0 loss to Iran in a World Cup qualifying game. The violence also spilled over outside the stadium, preventing the visiting team from leaving until two hours afterward, despite the efforts of police to restore order.


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