Egypt's hopes of securing a US$3.2 billion (Dh11.7bn) loan from the IMF have taken a further knock after a front-runner in next month's presidential election has said he would not support the bid unless the terms were changed.
The government has been in talks for several weeks with the IMF about the funding, which is needed to stop the country slipping into a fiscal crisis.
But the comments by Khairat Al Shater, who is in the running for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, signal the struggle that negotiators face to win political support for the funding bid.
The IMF says the cash is dependent on broad political backing for the plan.
"We are not opposed in principle. We are opposed to the timing and the method of implementation," Mr Al Shater was quoted by Reuters as saying.
"We told [the government] you have two choices. Either postpone this issue of borrowing and come up with any other way of dealing with it without our approval, or speed up the formation of a government," Mr Al Shater told Reuters.
Robert Mugabe has struck a secret "gentleman's agreement" to hand over power in Zimbabwe to his feared defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, sources close to the two men have revealed. Insiders say that Mr Mugabe, aged 88 and now in office for three decades, will stand as Zanu PF's candidate in elections one last time before handing over to Mr Mnangagwa, a former spy chief nicknamed "The Crocodile" for his ruthless reputation.
The pact between Mr Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa is alleged to have taken place at State House in Harare in April 2008, after the president failed to secure an outright majority over Mr Tsvangirai. According to a long-serving Zanu PF minister who witnessed the meeting, the embattled Mr Mugabe offered Mr Mnangagwa the future presidency if he could help ensure that things went Mr Mugabe's way in the second round.
In the clearest sign yet that he is being groomed for the top job, Mr Mnangagwa, 65, was recently dispatched to Tehran where he met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a key anti-Western ally. Zanu-PF colleagues say he is the one man feared even more than Mr Mugabe, a reputation he gained as CIO head during the suppression of the rival Zapu party in 1980s. In later years he has been seen as Zanu-PF's chief "money man", helping organise lucrative concessions linked to gold and diamond mining.
[Sydney Morning Herald] Zim-bob-wean president Bob Muggsy Mugabe Octogenarian President-for-Life of Zim-bob-we who turned the former Breadbasket of Africa into the African Basket Case... is reportedly fighting for his life in a Singapore hospital with his wife and close family by his bedside.
The 88-year-old dictator, who is believed to be suffering from prostate cancer, flew to Singapore late last month on what his aides described as a "private visit".
A senior member of Mugabe's Zanu PF party told The Zim-bob-we Mail that Mr Mugabe was enjoying an Easter break with his family in Asia, and denied that he was seeking treatment for a medical condition.
However rumours are swirling that the ageing leader, now in power for three decades, is seeking treatment for prostate cancer following several bouts of therapy in Asia in recent years.
Mugabe was said to be close to death last night and was surrounded by close family, including his wife Grace, The Daily Mail reported.
It came as sources close to Mr Mugabe told The Daily Telegraph in London that Mugabe had reached a secret "gentleman's agreement" to hand over power in Zim-bob-we to his feared defence minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy chief nicknamed "The Crocodile" and known for his ruthless style.
Mnangagwa was widely blamed for the brutality following the 2008 presidential election after Mugabe's rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, took an early lead in the voting.
Mr Mugabe's aides said he was also in Singapore to oversee arrangements for his daughter Bona to begin post-graduate university study, The Zim-bob-we Mail reported.
"The President is on his Easter holidays, like everyone else," the unidentified aide told the newspaper.
"He returns to his post this week, at the same time as those who are asking about his whereabouts from their holiday hideouts."
The ailing leader's health has been the subject of intense speculation since WikiLeaks last year released a 2008 US diplomatic cable saying central bank chief Gideon Gono had told former US ambassador James McGee that Mr Mugabe had prostate cancer that would kill him by 2013.
The WikiLeaks document said: "President Robert Mugabe has prostate cancer that has metastasised and, according to doctors, will cause his death in three to five years."
Despite frequent speculation fuelled by Mr Mugabe's trips to Asia, top Zanu PF officials have repeatedly denied that Mr Mugabe, who has ruled Zim-bob-we since 1980, has a health problem.
They said previous trips had been necessitated by a cataract operation for Mr Mugabe and by back injuries his wife sustained falling in the couple's Harare mansion.
[Yemen Post] The dismissed director of the Yemeni Economic Corporation (YEC) stormed on Monday the government-owned corporation and held a board of directors meeting as though he was still it's the chairman.
Hafedh Maed, one of the biggest aides of the former President President-for-Life Ali Abdullah Saleh ... Saleh initially took power as a strongman of North Yemen in 1977, when disco was in flower, but he didn't invite Donna Summer to the inauguration and Blondie couldn't make it... , who was dismissed two weeks ago by a republican decree, returned to the Corporation headquarters with the help of gunnies and held a board of directors meeting.
During the meeting, he was reported to have said, "we are the ones who appointed Hadi as President. Apparently, he believed himself that he is a real President and started issuing decrees."
Maed warned the directors against dealing with the newly-appointed chairman of the board or carrying out his orders unless his stamp on it.
He showed his complete rejection of Hadi's recent decrees by which he also sacked former President half brother, Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, and nephew, Tariq Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, from their key military positions.
Before Mead comes to the YEC, gangs have stormed the office of the new general director and forcibly took his official stamp and stamped on several papers, the local Marib Press reported citing familiar sources.
The papers which have been stamped are believed to be remissions of money, the sources said.
For his part, Hadi ordered the security forces to send dozens of military vehicles and hundreds of troops to kick out the armed thugs and their leader and to protect the building of the Yemeni Economic Corporation.
But, by the time the troops arrived to the YEC, the gunnies along with Maed had already left.
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff used a visit to the White House on Monday to complain about US monetary policy as she made her case for international action against currency "manipulation" directly to Barack Obama. In a meeting that highlighted the occasionally uneasy relationship between the two countries despite their potential to be strong partners, Rousseff said that excessive monetary expansion in the US and Europe was hampering growth in countries such as Brazil.
Brazil apparently is no fan of quantitative easing...
Brazil has a socialist economy. Quantitative easing is a feature, not a bug.
Their own easing, sure. Not ours.
Brazil is keen to win public support for its efforts to find a multilateral solution to what it calls the "currency war", competitive devaluations of exchange rates by countries hoping to improve their export prospects.
Rousseff has complained about a "monetary tsunami" that has swamped emerging markets, inflating the value of their currencies and rendering their industries uncompetitive.
"We expressed Brazil's concern with the expansionary monetary policies in rich countries ... which is leading to the depreciation of developed country currencies and compromising growth among emerging economies," she said, sitting beside Mr Obama after their meeting in the Oval Office. Her comments mirror similar complaints she made to the German chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Germany last month.
Brazil wants the issue to be addressed eventually through dispute-solving mechanisms in the World Trade Organisation. Rousseff's administration won a small victory late last month when it helped to organise a WTO symposium to discuss the matter.
Although few analysts expect the initiative to amount to anything concrete in the longer run because of sharp international differences over the issue, any US recognition of the currency war would be an important moral victory for Brazil. It would play well domestically for the Rousseff government, which has launched a high-profile programme to shield domestic industry from the effects of a strong currency.
[An Nahar] A home-made Molotov cocktailwent kaboom! in the early hours of Monday in Athens in front of a building housing offices of Greece's Administrative Reform Ministry, police said.
The kaboom at 1:52 am (2252 GMT) in front of the ministry annex started a fire that seriously damaged the building's ground floor and a car parked nearby.
Greek police blame the country's recent surge in Molotov cocktails on the anti-government protests that have shaken crisis-hit Greece since it began imposing austerity measures under an international bailout.
The attacks typically target government buildings, banks, embassies and foreign companies.
Last week a group calling itself the February 12 Movement -- the date parliament passed a new round of austerity measures imposed by the EU and IMF -- claimed a late-February Molotov cocktail attempt in the Athens subway, the first attack on the public transport system.
Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas recently announced a series of measures to slash the number of government workers, a move demanded by the country's creditors.
There is no finer mark of a Pakistani man than a fully oiled, waxed and twirled moustache. Male grooming is something of an obsession in Pakistan, and well-tended moustaches are sported by prominent politicians, sportsmen and military leaders (although you should never appoint a man with a moustache as the head of your army -- he'll overthrow you).
The ritual showdown at the Wagah border crossing, when Indian and Pakistan border guards strut and stamp their rivalry, is conducted amid much moustache twirling.
According to AFP, the northern Pakistani town of Gilgit has been under an indefinite curfew since April 3, when at least 14 people were killed and over 50 wounded in two separate incidents involving sectarian violence between opposing Sunni and minority Shia communities.
As a result, an estimated 120 foreigners including Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean and Thai tourists (including 77 Japanese), were evacuated from Gilgit in a C-130 that was flown up to Gilgit to pick them up and return them to Islamabad. What the hell were they thinking? I'm genuinely curious to know. What is there to see in Gilgit? Why would anyone go there when there are so many other places in the world?
Clashes erupted in the northern town on April 3 after gunmen opened fire during a strike called by Sunnis over the arrest of a leader for his alleged involvement in a sectarian attack in February that left 18 dead. Five people also died in the April 3 incident.
Also on April 3 in Chilas, a Sunni-dominated town about 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Gilgit, a mob blocked the main Karakoram Highway and killed nine Shia Muslims.
COMMENT: Perhaps it is time for a reality check for the tourists described above, who seemingly believe that Pakistan is now among the world's top ten tourist destinations.
From all indications many of these tourists have not been keeping up on current events as they relate to Pakistan, as demonstrated by the assassination of Chinese tourist Hua Jiang, 40, in Peshewar by a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) and the kidnapping of several foreigners over the last year.
If you are American and want to travel, Please look at the State Department website first - and also, do not play in hostile countries. There are people who will hole you up and kill you.
Do not put our Embassies and Military personnel in more danger by having to find your stupid ass and do not expect to not find a bill afterwards. This is where your ignorance of the world must continue.
There is too much time fishing out people from world ghettos when they are making a ghetto of their own.
Why are such nasty places so enticing for you fools anyway?
If I hear of one more hiking trip on any border....
A team of U.S. experts is in Pakistan to assist in recovery operations, two days after an avalanche buried more than 135 Pakistani soldiers and civilians in what is known as the world's highest battlefield. U.S. embassy spokesman Mark Stroh told VOA that in response to a Pakistani request, an eight-member team of American experts has arrived in Islamabad to assist in the rescue operation.
"This is a team that is trained to operate in search and rescue operations at very, very high altitudes. They are trained in recovery, mass casualty medical support and things of this nature," said Stroh. "Their intention is to do whatever is required from the Pakistani side. They have not yet been able to travel to Siachen because the weather has not permitted that travel."
"two days" ? This was up way longer, no? or was that another avalanche?
With full faith and effort, 1. Those men would not have been on sand to start with but nevermind that and India and spat stuff.
Will any of them be alive to kill US later?
Just a question . I know it's kind of late.
[Dawn] Demanding immediate recovery of "kidnapped" Hindu girl Asha Kumari and social worker and religious figure Gangaram Motiani, a large number of Hindu community and civil society members staged a demonstration at the Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... Press Club on Sunday.
The participants of the demonstration organised by the Pakistain Hindu Council (PHC) rolled their eyes, jumped up and down, and hollered poorly rhymed slogans real loud for the immediate recovery of Asha Kumari and Gangaram Motiani. Speaking on the occasion, PHC chief Ramesh Vankwani said Asha Kumari was kidnapped in Jacobabad over 41 days back, and even the March 8 Supreme Court directive for her recovery had not been followed by the police.
He said that while the minor girl had not been recovered, Gangaram Motiani, who is the president of the Hinglaj Mata Shewa Mandli, had been kidnapped by people in police uniform in a Bela area of Balochistan ...the Pak province bordering Kandahar and Uruzgun provinces in Afghanistan and Sistan Baluchistan in Iran. Its native Baloch propulation is being displaced by Pashtuns and Punjabis and they aren't happy about it... on April 6.
The incident happened just days before one of the largest annual Hindu community gatherings at the Hinglaj Mata temple in Hingol National Park, he added.
He claimed that Mr Motiani was kidnapped to sabotage the three-day annual fair starting on Monday, adding that people from all over the world were coming to attend the event.
He warned that if the kidnapped people were not recovered by Tuesday, the community members returning from the fair would stage a sit-in at the Zero Point on the Coastal Highway on Wednesday.
He said kidnappings of minority Hindu community members were being carried out to harass them to force them to leave the country, but they would not migrate to any country.
He claimed that Hindu girls were kidnapped, compelled to change their religion and married off by force while Hindu children and men were kidnapped mostly for ransom.
He said he suspected that the kidnapping of Mr Motiani was not carried out for ransom because he was not a rich man and he might be have been kidnapped for his religious activities.
Community leaders Mangla Sharma, Dr Verma, Dr Lajpat, Dr Jaipal and others on the occasion demanded that the kidnappers were nabbed and tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act and severely punished according to the law.
Members of the Young Hindus Forum, civil society organizations, including the Aurat Foundation and Minority Committee of Pakistain, took part in the demonstration.
In the first full week of campaigning, albeit interrupted by a major holiday, Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto extended his already commanding lead over the field of rivals by 20 points, according to graphical data published by Milenio news daily.
Enrique Pena Nieto
The latest poll shows that his other two major rivals have fallen behind, while a third, Partido Nueva Alianza (PANAL) candidate Gabriel Quatri de las Torres has gained points.
Pena Nieto has 50 percentage points, while Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota has 30 percent and Partido Revolucion Democratica (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has 19 percent.
Josefina Vazquez Mota
For the first time since his campaign began Quatri de la Torres polled more than one percent of those surveyed with 1.2 percent.
The latest poll does not factor in undecideds, which in terms of candidate and party preference is the second largest percentage of preference after the PRI candidate.
When undecideds are factored in, Pena Nieto still has a commanding lead over his field of rivals with 38.4 percent, while Vazquez Mota has slightly increased her share since last week with 21.1 percent. Lopez Obrador trails Vazquez Mota with 14 percent, an improvement of 1.5 percentage points since last week.
Pena Nieto's lead has also increased when undecideds are factored in by 2.6 percentage points.
Party preference, an indication of how votes will split for legislators, has increased for PRI as well from last week with PRI gaining 1.4 percentage points while all the other parties have fallen, PAN by three points now at 18 percent over 21 percent last week and PRD relatively steady having fallen less than one tenth of a percent.
Polling data suggests that at the moment PRI is doing everything right, while PAN is startng to slip even from its distant 2nd place spot. If these trends continue, Vazquez Mota's campaign may be forced to rethink her decision to continue with Roberto Gil as her campaign manager, this following two campaign gaffes, including less than optimal attendance by crowds at rallies.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.