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Egypt’s Leader Moves
To Delay Local Elections

By Michael Slackman

President Hosni Mubarak has moved to postpone for two years local elections that were scheduled for April, turning away from a promise made during his recent presidential race to promote democratic practices, Egyptian analysts and political leaders said Monday. Thousands of local council positions were to be on the ballot.

The move was widely seen as an effort to preserve the governing National Democratic Party’s monopoly on power at a time when its grip has begun to falter.

It was also seen as an effort to block the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which made unprecedented gains in recent parliamentary elections, from promoting an independent candidate for president in 2011.

Mubarak’s allies in the upper house of Parliament and in his party said the planned postponement was, in fact, a step toward greater democracy because it would allow time to put in place a new law for greater decentralization.

“According to the current constitution, the local governments have no power and depend fully on the central government,” said Muhammad Kamal, a leading member of the governing party’s secretariat and a member of the upper house.

Four U.S. Soldiers Killed
By Blast in Afghanistan

By Carlotta Gall


Four American soldiers were killed Monday when their Humvee was hit in a remote-controlled roadside explosion as they were patrolling with an Afghan army unit in the southern province of Uruzgan, the U.S. military said.

The explosion was so powerful that the four men were killed immediately, the chief spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Col. Jim Yonts, said in a statement.

Shortly after the explosion, the patrol came under attack from three small homes above the road that winds through a valley, Yonts said. A group of insurgents fired down on the convoy with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, he said, destroying another vehicle and forcing the convoy to call in air support, including B-52 bombers and Apache helicopters. The homes were destroyed, he said.

The attack was one of the deadliest for American soldiers in Afghanistan in months.

Cheney Accidentally Shoots
Member Of Hunting Party

By Anne E. Kornblut

Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a prominent Austin, Texas, lawyer on Saturday while the two men were quail hunting in South Texas, firing a shotgun at the man while trying to aim for a bird, a member of the hunting party said.

Cheney, a practiced hunter, shot the lawyer, Harry Whittington, on an outing at the Armstrong Ranch in South Texas. Whittington, 78, was taken by helicopter to Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital where he was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit on Sunday, according to Michele Trevino, a hospital spokeswoman.

White House officials did not release details of the accident. But Katharine Armstrong, who was with the hunting party at the time of the shooting, said that Cheney, 65, fired his shotgun without realizing that Whittington had approached the group from behind, hitting him on his right side, on his cheek, neck and chest.