Briefs, January 21, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 6:18am

Protesters call for president to resign

TBILISI - More than 1,000 people protested outside of the Georgian president's residence in Tbilisi to demand that he immediately resign and hand over executive power to the speaker of parliament. Presidential elections are due to take place in October, but this schedule in effect will give President Mikhail Saakashvili, who was elected to a second five-year term in January 2008, a sixth year in office. On January 10, opposition groups and non-governmental organisations announced that more than 1 million of Georgia's 4.6 million citizens have signed a petition calling for Saakashvili's resignation. AP


Gun and bomb attacks continue in Greece

ATHENS - An explosive device went off close to a bank in a shopping centre near Athens, lightly injuring two security staff and damaging stores, police said. The explosion followed a spate of gun and makeshift bomb attacks on organisations, journalists and political figures in recent weeks, some claimed by groups angry about Greece's deep financial crisis. The device was left in a rubbish bin close to a branch of National Bank at a large mall in the suburb of Maroussi, said police. Security staff had already evacuated the mall after police told them about two warnings calls to a newspaper. Reuters


Colombia prepares for expiration of ceasefire

BOGOTA - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has warned the country's leftist rebels against resuming violent guerrilla operations, saying the army and police were ready to respond to their attacks. The warning came as a unilateral ceasefire announced by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in November to facilitate peace talks with the government was set to expire. The head of the Marxist guerrilla group's delegation, Ivan Marquez, has called on the government to "cease the warmongering rhetoric". AFP


Crowd in Iran watch as two men hanged

TEHRAN - Iran hanged two men in public, after a video posted on YouTube last month showed them robbing and assaulting a man in a Tehran street with a machete, the ISNA news agency reported. The sentence, issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Court and confirmed by Iran's Supreme Court, was carried out in Tehran and before "a crowd of nearly 300 people", ISNA said. It said the two, identified as Alireza Mafiha and Mohammad Ali Sorouri, both aged 24, were convicted of Moharebeh (waging war against God) and corruption. The video was also shown on state television. AFP


Avalanche kills four in Scottish Highlands

LONDON - Four climbers were killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands, police said, in by far the worst incident linked to a blast of cold weather that has hit Britain. The victims, two men and two women, were in a party of six climbing in the Glencoe area. One woman from the same party was in hospital in a serious condition. The sixth climber was safe and well. Reuters


Guyana prints labour laws in Chinese

GEORGETOWN - The South American country of Guyana has translated its labour laws into Chinese to cater for Asian companies and workers. Labour minister Nanda Gopaul presented the translation to the non-profit Chinese Association that serves the local community and said that should make employers more familiar with the laws. The leader of one of the country's biggest unions said workers had complained about long hours, lack of pay and limited leave. AP


Ned Kelly's remains finally laid to rest

MELBOURNE - Australian outlaw Ned Kelly was finally laid to rest in a rural cemetery beside his mother, with his grave unmarked and sealed beneath layers of concrete to guard against souvenir-taking. A small group of Kelly family descendants escorted the bushranger's remains to the Greta cemetery where he was buried in a deep pit beside his mother, Ellen. Kelly's last wish when he was hanged 132 years ago was to be buried in consecrated ground in the family plot at Greta, not far from the town of Glenrowan where he had his final shootout with police. But after his execution his remains were thrown into a pit and it wasn't until 2011 that DNA testing confirmed the bones were his. AFP


Merkel hoping for voter backing in state poll

HANOVER - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) are hoping for victory in a state contest that could end a long losing streak and set the tone for September's federal election. Citizens in the northern state of Lower Saxony began voting in what is expected to be a close battle between Merkel's centre-right coalition and the centre-left Social Democrat-Greens opposition. Led by state premier David McAllister, the CDU and their Free Democrat allies have drawn even in opinion polls with their opponents, each on 46 per cent, even though the centre-right grouping had trailled by 13 points in voter surveys which were conducted in the middle of last year. Reuters