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An extension of Monday's deadline for a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland appeared possible after the leading Protestant party said it was willing to join with Catholics – but not until "an agreed date in May." British authorities, who'd threatened to disband the Northern Ireland Assembly Monday if no self-rule government was formed, said they were open to a delay. They also said a shutdown, if ordered, could perhaps be short-lived.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon dealt a major setback to the new Palestinian unity government Sunday, saying the time was not right for a meeting with its Hamas leaders. His decision was seen as damaging efforts by the joint Hamas-Fatah administration to win international recognition and a resumed flow of critical aid. Ban did meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.

A two-day truce appeared in jeopardy of collapsing in Mogadishu, Somalia, Sunday, as elders of its dominant clan and Army commanders from neighboring Ethiopia reached an impasse over confiscating weapons from residents. Dozens of people were killed in fighting there last week, not counting those who died Friday when a missile strike apparently caused the crash of a giant cargo plane that had just brought supplies for African Union peacekeepers.

Fed-up members of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's own party are expected to try to dump him later this week in a meeting of its central committee, reports said. Sources told The Sunday Times (London) that forces in Mugabe's ZANU-PF will threaten to form a third party if he insists on seeking another term next year. The dissent comes in the face of international condemnation over the crackdown against Mugabe's opponents, the Movement for Democratic Change. But it also is fueled by the devastated economy and warnings of famine. The government conceded last week that two-thirds of the corn crop has been wiped out by drought.


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