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  • Iraq postpones vote for president, delaying power-sharing deal

    Iraq's parliament, which had been due to elect the country's president on Wednesday, postponed the vote by a day, delaying the formation of a power-sharing government urgently needed to confront a Sunni Muslim uprising. The advance by Sunni Islamist militants who seized swathes of northern Iraq last month has put Iraq's survival in jeopardy. Washington has made clear that setting up a more inclusive government in Baghdad is a requirement for its military support against the insurgency. Under Iraq's governing system, in place since the post-Saddam Hussein constitution was adopted in 2005, the prime minister is a member of the Shi'ite majority, the speaker a Sunni and the largely ceremonial president a Kurd.

    Reuters28 mins ago
  • Indonesian president-elect Jokowi calls for unity after bitter election

    By Jonathan Thatcher and Kanupriya Kapoor JAKARTA (Reuters) - Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was declared the winner of Indonesia's presidential election on Tuesday, bringing the promise of major reforms to the world's third largest democracy. The Elections Commission, known as KPU, said the Jakarta governor had won by just over six percentage points, with 53.15 percent of the nearly 130 million votes cast on July 9. It was the closest and most bitterly fought election in Indonesia's history, pitting Jokowi against former general Prabowo Subianto, whose promise of strong leadership brought echoes of decades under autocratic rule. "This victory is a victory for all the people of Indonesia," the president-elect told hundreds of supporters gathered at a port on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta, chosen to emphasize his commitment to Indonesia's maritime potential.

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  • Poll shows Brazil's Rousseff would win presidential runoff

    Brazil President Dilma Rousseff would win a second-round runoff against either opponent and has 38 percent of voter support ahead of her October re-election bid, a new poll by the IBOPE polling institute showed on Tuesday.     Her main challenger, Aecio Neves, has the backing of 22 percent of potential voters while Eduardo Campos has 8 percent, according to the survey broadcast on TV Globo. The changes in voter intention for all candidates are within the poll's margin of error from June, when Rousseff had 39 percent of support, Neves had 21 percent and Campos 10 percent, suggesting Rousseff's support is not eroding as other recent polls have suggested. The approval rating of her government remained at 31 percent, unchanged from a month ago when Brazil was starting to host the month-long soccer World Cup. Her personal approval rating was also unchanged at 44 percent.

  • Obama says Biden would make 'superb' president: New Yorker

    President Barack Obama said Joe Biden would make a "superb" president, but questioned whether his vice president or potential rival Hillary Clinton would want to endure another campaign for the White House, a media report on Monday said. Obama, in an interview with the New Yorker, said Biden "has seen the job up close, he knows what the job entails. He enjoys politics, and he’s got important relationships up on the Hill (in Congress) that would serve him well." "Joe would be a superb president," Obama told the magazine in an article on Biden in its July 28 issue, which was published online on Monday.

  • Colombia's Santos opens 'Congress of peace,' urges deal with rebels

    By Julia Symmes Cobb BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos opened a new session of Congress on Sunday, calling on lawmakers to back government efforts to strike a peace deal with Marxist rebels to end 50 years of war. "This will be - there's no doubt - the Congress of peace," said Santos, who will be inaugurated for a second four-year term on Aug. 7. "We have a great challenge - an achievable challenge - to end an armed conflict which has bled us for half a century, and build peace." Santos won re-election last month with support for his bid to bring an end to five decades of war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions. Santos will face fierce opposition in Congress, not least from ex-President Alvaro Uribe, a newly minted senator and leader of the right-wing Democratic Center party.

  • Brazil risks a recession as presidential campaign heats up

    By Walter Brandimarte RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's sluggish economy faces substantial risk of falling into a light recession in 2014, and may already have done so, providing opposition candidates with extra ammunition in the run-up to October's presidential election. Latin America's largest economy has slowed to average growth of just 2 percent a year since President Dilma Rousseff took office in early 2011 and, coincidentally, global demand for commodities ebbed. Attempts to boost activity by spurring consumption largely backfired as investment failed to catch up with demand, driving inflation higher and eventually forcing the central bank to drive up interest rates. "That would give you a technical recession," warned Alberto Ramos, Goldman Sachs senior economist for Latin America.

  • Syria's Assad says foreign states will pay for supporting 'terrorism'

    President Bashar al-Assad, who was sworn in for a new term on Wednesday, said Western and Arab states that have supported "terrorism" will pay a "high price" and that he would fight insurgents until security was restored to the whole country. "Soon we will see that the Arab, regional and Western states that supported terrorism will pay a high price," he told his supporters at the presidential palace. Assad, supported by Russia and Iran, has defied calls by Western states to step aside during the conflict that started in 2011 with protests against his rule before descending into a war that has killed at least 170,000 people.

  • Democrat holding lead in New Hampshire Senate race: poll

    Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is holding off a challenge from Republican Scott Brown, according to a poll released on Wednesday, although the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts is gaining ground. Shaheen has the support of some 50 percent of registered voters, with 42 percent favoring Brown, who stunned Massachusetts Democrats in 2010 when he won a U.S. Senate seat that had been held by liberal Edward M. Kennedy for a half-century, according to the NBC News/Marist College poll. Brown lost his re-election bid in 2012 and late last year moved back to neighboring New Hampshire, where he grew up, in anticipation of this year's campaign. Majorities of independent and moderate voters support Shaheen, a former New Hampshire governor, and 52 percent of voters overall view her favorably, while just 40 percent of the 1,342 voters polled from July 7 through 13 viewed Brown favorably.

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  • Holidaying Turkish voters urged to take stand against Erdogan

    By Daren Butler BODRUM Turkey (Reuters) - As families splash in the sea and lounge in the sun, thoughts of politics and civic duty are a world away for most Turks holidaying on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Only the most committed opponents of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan leave the beach to queue in a sweltering council building nearby to register to vote in next month's presidential election to prevent what they see as the country's slide towards authoritarianism. They fear others enjoying the annual summer exodus from Turkey's crowded cities to coastal resorts will risk a fine for not voting rather than going home or signing up locally, giving Erdogan the boost he needs to win the first round on Aug. 10. "We're here to protect the secular state founded by Ataturk from a prime minister who wants to establish an Islamic country," said Mehmet Turan, 39, who was registering to vote in Bodrum rather than interrupting his long summer break to vote in Istanbul where he usually lives.

  • Main battleground in Brazil election: Its biggest city

    By Brian Winter SAO PAULO (Reuters) - When opposition party Senator Aecio Neves officially kicked off his presidential campaign last week, he posted a video on Facebook calling for a "fairer, more efficient, and more generous Brazil." "Efficient" struck some as an odd rallying cry in a tropical country known for its, well, un-Swiss-like approach to time. With 20 million people in the metropolitan area, accounting for about a tenth of Brazil's population and a much greater share of its wealth, Sao Paulo has always been a key source of votes and campaign financing. Both Neves and President Dilma Rousseff, who is seeking re-election, believe the city's voters are more up for grabs than they have been in decades, and could very well decide the winner nationwide. Sao Paulo used to be a reliable bastion of Neves' centrist Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).

  • Bolivia's president to seek third term to expand social reforms

    By Daniel Ramos LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia's President Evo Morales will run for re-election in October to press on with his promise of expanding social reforms in the Andean nation, the vice president of the ruling party said on Monday. The former coca farmer became Bolivia's first indigenous leader in 2006. Historically one of South America's most unstable countries, Bolivia has enjoyed relative prosperity and calm since Morales came to power. "Our president and vice president are confirmed as candidates for re-election," Concepcion Ortiz, vice president of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), said.

  • Disputed Afghan election to be recounted in full

    By Lesley Wroughton and Maria Golovnina KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. State Secretary John Kerry convinced Afghanistan's feuding presidential candidates on Saturday to agree to a total recount of last month's presidential election, which has threatened to split the country along ethnic lines. After two days of intense talks between Kerry, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, all parties agreed that the best way out of the acrimonious and protracted deadlock was to delay the inauguration and recount all the ballots from scratch. Preliminary results from the run-off vote on June 14 put Ghani, a former World Bank official, well ahead but Abdullah rejected the result, claiming widespread fraud and calling the outcome a "coup" against the Afghan people. "Every single ballot that was cast will be audited... This is the strongest possible signal by both candidates of the desire to restore legitimacy to the process." The recount was scheduled to begin within 24 hours, but was likely to take several weeks, meaning that a presidential inauguration scheduled for Aug. 2 will have to be postponed.

  • Karzai welcomes announcement of full Afghan election recount

    President Hamid Karzai has welcomed announcements by the two rival candidates in Afghanistan's presidential election that they will abide by the results of a U.N.-supervised recount of the poll to settle their dispute over the outcome. "I welcome those announcements and I hope that the 100 percent audit of the votes will take place and start as soon as possible," Karzai told a news conference in the early hours of Sunday after talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry said Karzai was "willing to stay the course" until a delayed inauguration for his successor could be held. The two leading contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, are in dispute over the outcome of their election run-off on June 14.

  • Afghanistan's Ghani and Abdullah arrive for news conference with Kerry

    KABUL (Reuters) - Rival Afghan presidential candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah arrived at a U.N. compound in Kabul on Saturday for a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The long-awaited news conference follows two days of negotiations between the feuding candidates and Kerry over how to resolve a deadlock over a presidential election to pick a successor to incumbent Hamid Karzai. (Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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  • Erdogan, launching presidential bid, vows 'pioneering new Turkey'

    By Humeyra Pamuk and Ece Toksabay ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Tayyip Erdogan outlined his vision for a "pioneering new Turkey" on Friday, pledging to re-write the constitution, forge a more prominent role on the world stage and deepen democracy if he becomes the country's first popularly-elected president. Launching his campaign for an August election he is almost certain to win, the man who has dominated Turkish politics for more than a decade cast his bid for the presidency as part of a historic path of change, breaking the shackles of a status quo he said had held Turkey back for decades. "The old Turkey is in the past now. The gates of the old Turkey are closed.

  • Kerry urges Afghanistan to focus on audit to resolve disputed vote

    By Lesley Wroughton KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Afghanistan on Friday its transition to a self-reliant state hung in the balance after a contested presidential election, urging officials to focus on investigating all fraud allegations to prove its legitimacy. The deadlock over the vote has quashed hopes for a smooth transition of power in Afghanistan, a concern for Washington as most U.S.-led forces withdraw from the nation this year. Kerry rushed to Kabul from meetings in China on Friday in a hastily arranged visit for talks with the two presidential contenders, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, as well as incumbent Hamid Karzai and other senior officials. "The election legitimacy hangs in the balance, the future potential of the transition hangs in the balance, so we have a lot to do," Kerry said after a meeting with U.N. special envoy to Afghanistan Jan Kubis.

  • Kerry arrives in Afghanistan to broker resolution in disputed election

    By Lesley Wroughton KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan on Friday for talks in an effort to broker a resolution to a disputed election that threatens to stir up ethnic tensions and undermine a peaceful political transition. State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said Kerry would meet with the country's two presidential candidates Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, as well as Afghan President Hamid Karzai and officials from the United Nations. The Independent Election Commission declared Ghani the winner of the second round of voting on June 14 with 56.44 percent of the vote, a difference of almost a million votes, according to preliminary results.

  • Turkish parliament gives legal recognition to Kurdish peace talks

    Turkey's parliament approved a legal framework on Thursday for peace talks with Kurdish militants in an important step towards ending a three-decade insurgency a few weeks before a presidential election. The bill could prove a boost for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who is hoping to pick up Kurdish votes in his quest to become Turkey's first directly-elected president when the nation goes to the polls on Aug. 10. Turkey, a NATO member state, began peace talks with jailed Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan in 2012, in an effort to end a 30-year-old insurgency which has killed 40,000 people. Until now however there have been few legal provisions for negotiating with Ocalan's banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - labeled a terrorist organization by the Turkish authorities, European Union and United States.

  • Militants in Lebanon seek to emulate Islamic State

    By Laila Bassam and Tom Perry BEIRUT (Reuters) - The success of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has emboldened like-minded militants in Lebanon who believe they can emulate it, the interior minister said, confirming the militant Sunni group had now appeared in Beirut for the first time. In an interview with Reuters, Nohad Machnouk also signalled there would be no quick end to the political instability buffeting Lebanon. Indicating how the country's politics remains hostage to events in the wider region, Machnouk said the fate of the presidency that fell empty in May was out of Lebanese hands.

  • Brazil's World Cup debacle hurts but not an election game changer

    By Anthony Boadle BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's World Cup trouncing by Germany threw a bucket of cold water on a nation that was starting to feel good about hosting the tournament but the humiliating defeat is unlikely to be a game changer in October's presidential election. Before the crushing 7-1 defeat on Tuesday, President Dilma Rousseff's approval ratings had crept higher as Brazilians got caught up in the excitement of seeing their team advance to the semi-finals in a World Cup that has been widely praised for its riveting action on the field and generally good logistics. It also forces the country to turn its attention again to the reality of high inflation, an economy now in its fourth year of lackluster growth and widespread discontent about poor public services and heavy World Cup spending that fueled street protests over the past year. Some market analysts believe Brazil's defeat was so devastating on the national psyche that it can only work against Rousseff on the campaign trail.

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  • Mississippi Republican Party declares Cochran winner in Senate primary

    The Mississippi Republican Party has certified election results naming incumbent Thad Cochran the winner of a U.S. Senate primary runoff that his Tea Party-backed challenger contends was tainted by illegal voting by Democrats. Cochran defeated state Senator Chris McDaniel by 7,667 votes in the June 24 runoff, nearly 1,000 more than the six-term incumbent's unofficial margin of victory reported on election night, according to certified results released late on Monday by the state Republican Party. Representatives from both campaigns sorted through voting records in all 82 Mississippi counties on Monday. "We have a duty to look into those allegations to make sure the integrity of the process is upheld," said Michael Watson, a Republican state senator and legal adviser to the McDaniel campaign.