EGYPT

Weak turnout on charter

Just under a third of voters turned out for the first stage of the referendum on a constitution meant to be a historic milestone in setting Egypt's future, a showing critics say deepens doubts over the legitimacy of a charter that has polarized the country. The dismal showing also raises the question whether Egyptians have been turned off by the turmoil that has characterized the country's politics in the nearly two years since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Saturday's voting took place in 10 of Egypt's 27 provinces, including Cairo and the second largest city, Alexandria. Some 26 million voters were eligible, but only 32 percent of them voted. Voting in the remaining 17 provinces will be this Saturday. Preliminary results show that the "yes" vote carried the first round by a slim 56 percent.


BANGLADESH: Factory fire called sabotage

A government committee said Monday the garment factory fire Nov. 24 that killed 112 people was sabotage, probably by a worker. But the panel said no matter who set the fire, the factory owner also should be punished for neglecting worker safety. At least two other investigations are continuing.

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JAPAN: New leader firm on islands

Incoming prime minister Shinzo Abe reiterated Japan's claim to islands disputed with China, where state media called on Abe to repair bilateral relations frayed by the disagreement. A day after his Liberal Democratic Party reclaimed power in a landslide, Abe called China "an essential partner for economic growth." China's English-language Global Times said Chinese leaders must take a "firm stance" toward Abe.