BBC news 2010-04-02

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2010-04-02 BBC

BBC News with Neil Nunes

Most of the main opposition parties in Sudan are withdrawing from all the elections this month - the first multi-party elections since 1986. They won't take part because of concerns about fraud and security. On Wednesday, the presidential candidate for the former southern rebels Yassir Arman pulled out. President Obama's Special Envoy General Scott Gration has been in Khartoum trying to save the elections. James Copnall sent this report from Khartoum.

Several major opposition parties have announced they will boycott the Sudanese elections at every level. Earlier today, they told the BBC they would boycott the presidential elections in protest of what they believe will not be free and fair polls. Now several of the parties have decided not to compete in the parliamentary or state elections either. The decision strikes a real blow at the credibility of elections which were meant to hold the democratic transformation in Sudan.

A former United Nations envoy to Afghanistan Peter Galbraith has described as incredible accusations made by President Hamid Karzai that foreign election observers were responsible for fraud in last year's presidential election. The Afghan president singled out Mr Galbraith and the head of the EU observer mission General Phillippe Morillon, saying they had been involved in a plot to put their own puppet government into power. But Mr Galbraith dismissed President Karzai's suggestion that the UN was involved in rigging the poll.

"It's obviously absurd that a handful of UN staffers could organize a fraud in Afghanistan at all, much less one that involved a million maybe a million and a half phoney ballots. But he also made a really striking admission here. He admitted that there was widespread fraud and a fact admitted that he hadn't won the election."

Britain has announced that it's creating the world's largest marine reserve around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. The British Foreign Secretary David Miliband described it as a major step forward in protecting the world's oceans. Here is Mike Wooldridge.

There's been controversy since the plan for this marine reserve was mooted. The original inhabitants of the islands in the remote Chagos Archipelago were removed by Britain to make way for this strategically important military base on the island of Diego Garcia which had played a key role in the US-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the Foreign Secretary said his decision to go ahead with the marine reserve would not prejudice the outcome of the islanders' legal battle to return, Roch Evenor, chair of the UK Chagos Support Association, said that even if the islanders were able to return, a ban on commercial fishing would prevent them earning a living.

The United States has welcomed China's announcement that President Hu Jintao will attend an international summit on nuclear security in Washington later this month. There had been speculation that President Hu might not go given recent tension between the two countries on issues such as Taiwan and Tibet.

World News from the BBC

The parliament of Kenya has approved a draft constitution after nearly 20 years of acrimonious debate. It provides greater checks on presidential powers and more regional devolution. The new constitution now goes to a national referendum later this year.

One of the most visited historical sites in Latin America, the ruins of the Inca city of Machu Picchu, has reopened after being cut off from the rest of Peru by landslides earlier this year. In January, visitors had to be evacuated by air when the rail linked to the site was swept away by torrential storms. Dan Collyns reports.

Tourists set foot on Machu Picchu for the first time in two months, and the Peruvian government breathed a sigh of relief. For all its other attractions, Peru has had a tough lesson in just how central Machu Picchu is to its tourism industry. The damaged railway line which links the Inca citadel to the rest of the country was restored with an urgency rarely seen before. Peru's Tourism Minister Martin Perez told the BBC the country had lost around 200 million dollars in revenue. It's a stark reminder that the government must invest more in infrastructure if it's going to keep this national treasure open to the public all year around.

Canadian police have apologized to the mother of a Polish man who died after being repeatedly shot with an electric stun gun at Vancouver airport in 2007. Robert Dziekanski, a 40-year-old immigrant who didn't speak English, had travelled to Canada to live with his mother but got lost in the airport and was tasered when he became agitated.

A group of Haitians who survived the earthquake only to be jailed when they reached the US have been released. They were detained because they had no visas. But some of them said they had gone to the airport in Port-au-Prince looking for food and help and were put in planes to the United States without being asked for their papers. They have been held in Florida since January.