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One by one, members of Iraq's first democratically elected government were sworn in Tuesday, although Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari had yet to name permanent choices to head such critical agencies as oil and defense. Meanwhile, analysts were attempting to determine the authenticity of a letter purportedly addressed to terrorist leader Abu Musab al- Zarqawi by a lieutenant that complains of low morale among his followers and weakening public support for their actions.

Israel staked out a new position on Middle East peace, saying it would take no steps in the process if Hamas participates in the scheduled July 17 Palestinian elections without disarming first. An aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Palestinians can't evolve toward democracy "if they have a group with a private army" taking part in the vote. Hamas agreed to suspend terrorist attacks against Israelis but on Monday rejected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's order to stop carrying weapons in public.

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Despite deep public anger over his commitment of British troops to the war in Iraq, voters appear virtually certain to return Prime Minister Tony Blair to power when they go to the polls Thursday. Late opinion surveys that give the Labourites as much as a 10-point lead also have indicated that the war isn't high among voter concerns, although opposition Conservative Party leader Michael Howard has tried hard to dent Blair's credibility on the issue.

By unanimous vote, legislators from Canada's opposition Conservative Party declared themselves ready to force a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Paul Martin in Parliament "at the earliest opportunity." Should Martin lose, Canadians will return to the polls for a national election, probably this summer. Analysts said the Conservatives' decision is risky because Martin's Liberal Party has regained some of the ground it lost in recent opinion polls. The Liberals are dogged by a kickback scandal under Martin's predecessor, Jean Chr├ętien.

A bomb exploded in a soccer stadium in Somalia's capital, killing at least 10 people but not Prime Minister Ali Gedi, who'd just addressed a gathering of supporters. Gedi was unhurt, and an aide declined to call the blast an assassination attempt. Security concerns in Mogadishu have kept his fledgling government from trying to establish itself there. Gedi has preferred to operate from the safety of neighboring Kenya.


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