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Presidential election expected by November

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's military rulers said Wednesday that the country's first presidential election since the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak will be held by November, giving the country's emerging political groups up to eight months to organize.

The announcement comes 10 days after Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a reform package of constitutional amendments, but many critics fear that the rapid timetable for the election would give a significant advantage to the most organized political forces in the country, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the former ruling party -- rather then the newly emerging forces, especially among the youth, involved in the uprising.

The news came as the military's announced a new 62-article interim constitution to replace the one suspended after the fall of Mubarak's regime Feb. 11 in a popular uprising that rocked the region.

Many presidential hopefuls have already announced their intentions to contest the timetable for the election, including Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and Arab League chief Amr Moussa.


Throngs pack streets, seeking regime change

SANA, Yemen (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters packed the streets of cities throughout Yemen on Wednesday, demanding the president's ouster and blaming him for a munitions factory blast that left at least 100 people dead.

Monday's explosion was apparently set off accidentally after armed men described by residents as religious extremists seized the factory and nearby towns in the southern province of Abyan, where al-Qaida has been active.

Mass protests have been shaking Yemen for weeks, with demonstrators inspired by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia seeking the ouster of their own autocratic ruler, President Ali Abdullah Saleh who has served for 32 years.

Wednesday's demonstrations spread to include Saada, where Shiite rebels have fought Saleh's forces for years, Marib, an al-Qaida stronghold and the southern province of Abyan where Islamic militants have seized power in some areas.


Backers of leader gain control of key town

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) -- Fighters supporting Ivory Coast's internationally recognized leader seized control of the country's administrative capital Wednesday, marking a symbolic victory after months of political chaos sparked when the incumbent refused to step down after an election.

The fall of Yamoussoukro caps a dramatic advance on the city from multiple directions this week, but many observers believe that a final bloody battle over the presidency is now destined for the commercial capital of Abidjan, only 143 miles away.

Capt. Leon Alla, a defense spokesman for the internationally backed leader Alassane Ouattara, confirmed that "the town of Yamoussoukro is in the hands of the Republican Forces."

Abidjan is divided into sections backing Ouattara and others supporting incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo.

The two men have vied for the presidency for months.

The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution demanding an immediate end to the growing violence, and it imposed new sanctions on Gbagbo and his inner circle.

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