ARCAHAIE, Haiti — Surrounded by waving banners of blue and red, Haitian President Rene Preval pledged Tuesday to step down as scheduled next year, rebuking critics who say he is using the post-earthquake emergency to hold on to power.
Preval told thousands celebrating Flag Day in the seaside town of Arcahaie that he will step down at the end of his term, Feb. 7. The two-term leader sparked protests this month when he adopted a decree that would extend his term by up to three months if a planned presidential election is not held by the end of November.
"This is the last May 18 I will spend with you as president," Preval said. Pledging to pass his office to a successor on the constitutionally mandated day, he added, "I will go and my heart will be calm."
France to start debate on banning veils
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PARIS — A bill to ban Muslim veils covering the face to be presented to France's Cabinet today calls for fines and, in some cases, citizenship classes.
The bill turns on the "dignity of the person," rather than security issues as many speculated would be the case, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press.
Article 1 of the bill stipulates that "no one can wear a garment intended to hide the face in the public space." The ban covers streets.
The divisive legislation proposed by the conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy is to go to the lower house of parliament for debate in July and to the Senate in September.