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Iraq: Candidates banned

BAGHDAD — A political coalition led by one of the Iraqi prime minister's fiercest critics temporarily halted its campaign Saturday for next month's parliamentary elections after a number of its candidates were barred from running.

The back-and-forth political wrangling over the ban on more than 450 candidates for the March 7 vote has threatened to undermine Iraq's political stability, worrying U.S. officials that it could throw the credibility of the elections into question and undo security gains. Also Saturday, blasts struck the offices of five parties — four of them Sunni — in Baghdad, wounding 11 people.

Nigeria: Cable kills 20

PORT HARCOURT — At least 20 bus passengers were killed in Nigeria on Saturday when a cable fell onto the bus and electrocuted people inside, police said.

Police confirmed 20 deaths, but spokeswoman Rita Abbey said the toll could climb further. Most of the dead had been passengers aboard the bus, though some had been passing nearby when the cable came tumbling down during heavy rains that have pummeled southern Nigeria.

Pakistan: Suspension

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan's Supreme Court suspended the presidential appointment of two top judges in an emergency ruling late Saturday that could cause a destabilizing clash between the judiciary and the unpopular, Western-backed government.

As local media reported the country was headed into a political and judicial crisis following the decision, President Asif Ali Zardari's spokesman issued a statement dismissing rumors the government was planning to declare a state of emergency. Saturday's ruling came after Zardari appointed a new Supreme Court judge and chief of the Lahore High Court, going against the recommendation of the Supreme Court.

Qatar: Muslim envoy

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday named White House lawyer Rashad Hussain a special envoy to the Muslim world.

The president announced the appointment during a video address to the seventh U.S.-Islamic World Forum meeting in Doha, Qatar. Hussain is the second special envoy named to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The group, with more than 50 member-states, is the world's second-largest intergovernmental body after the U.N. The first envoy, Sada Cumber, was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2008.

Sri Lanka: 'Rule of law'

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka's president promised to follow due process in the sedition investigation of the defeated presidential candidate and ex-army chief whose arrest has pushed the island nation into political turmoil.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa assured a key opposition leader in a meeting Friday that the "rule of law must prevail" and the arrested general will be freed if the allegations against him are not proven, according to a statement on the president's Web site.

Ukraine: Rigged election?

KIEV — Ukraine's Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko — apparently defeated by a narrow margin in last week's presidential vote — ended six days of silence Saturday by saying the election had been rigged and she would challenge the result in court.

Her statement seemed to confirm analyst expectations that she is digging in for a political standoff with her rival, Viktor Yanukovych, that could delay the transfer of power. Preliminary results from the Feb. 7 ballot gave opposition leader Yanukovych a lead of just 3.5 percentage points.

U.S.: Storm misses Samoa

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — A powerful tropical storm missed American Samoa early Saturday morning, causing heavy rains and high winds but sparing more devastation to the U.S. territory battered by a deadly autumn tsunami.

Tropical Cyclone Rene was about 110 miles south of Pago Pago and moving southwest on a track that will take it into central and southern Tonga.