World briefs: Constitution vote date set in Egypt

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CAIRO -- Egypt's interim government on Saturday set Jan. 14 as the start of a two-day referendum on a revised constitution, which will be the first gauge of support for the military's ouster of Egypt's first fairly elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

That leaves a month for public debate over the revised charter; it was drafted in secret and unveiled last weekend. The Brotherhood, the Islamist group that dominated several elections over the past three years, has called the vote an attempt to whitewash an illegal coup.

But the group has said it will boycott the referendum rather than campaign to defeat it, and the government has already jailed the group's leadership and silenced its main media outlets. Approval of the revised constitution is widely expected, but the margin and turnout could provide some measure of the depth of public support for the military's takeover in July.

Social Dems back Merkel

BERLIN -- Germany's center-left Social Democrats -- torn between a tradition of leftist protest and a pragmatic desire to be in government -- have voted heavily in favor of a new coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel, paving the way for her to be sworn in for a third term on Tuesday.

Social Democrat leaders announced Saturday that almost 78 percent of the 475,000 party members had taken part in the vote, and that just over 75 percent had approved the pact.

The result came just over two weeks after Merkel, her conservative Bavarian partner Horst Seehofer and Sigmar Gabriel, Social Democratic Party chairman, presented the 185-page coalition agreement, which reflected a heavily domestic agenda.

Ireland economy on uptick

LONDON -- After three difficult years, Ireland is to emerge from its financial bailout program Sunday, the first nation to do so out of the five eurozone countries that have had to seek rescue funds from international lenders.

But official relief at the end of Ireland's reliance on emergency loans is tempered by the fact that it will continue to face deep government cuts in order to close a yawning budget gap and pay off its debt. "This isn't the end of the road," Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan said.

With its economy picking up steam again, Ireland is being held up as a sign by European officials that the crisis has turned a corner.

Grenade attack kills 4

NAIROBI, Kenya -- A group of attackers threw a grenade at a bus in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, killing at least four people, according to the country's Interior Ministry.

The Kenya Red Cross said on its Twitter account that 15 injured people were taken to a hospital. The incident happened in Pangani, northeast of the city center and near the suburb of Eastleigh.

The blast comes as Kenya marked the 50th anniversary of independence from the U.K. this week and almost three months after an attack on the Westgate Mall left 67 people dead, which was claimed by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group.

Also in the world ...

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will emphasize the American presence in Southeast Asia in visits to Vietnam and the Philippines after President Barack Obama's absence from a summit in October ceded the spotlight to China. ... A bombing killed at least two U.N. peacekeepers in Mali and seriously wounded several others in the troubled northern city of Kidal, U.N. officials said Saturday.


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