World Briefs: Search for lost jet intensifies

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KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- More than three weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, and with still no trace of the missing plane, the international search effort intensified Sunday with nine planes and eight naval vessels scouring the latest search area, about 1,100 miles west of Perth, Australia, officials said.

Other ships were en route to the zone and were expected to arrive in the next several days, including an Australian naval vessel, the Ocean Shield, outfitted with special equipment to detect the pings of the plane's data recorders, or black boxes, according to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the search.

As in the two previous days of searching, aircraft spotted more debris floating in the zone's rough waters, the authority said.

Erdogan party keeps power

ISTANBUL -- Turkey's ruling party was headed for victory in the country's municipal elections, a vote seen as a test to the popularity of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan amid a corruption scandal.

With 70 percent of ballot boxes opened, Mr. Erdogan's Justice and Development Party won 46 percent of the national vote and was set to retain its control over Istanbul and the capital Ankara, Istanbul-based NTV reported.

The main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, had 28 percent NTV reported.

Both the ruling party and CHP said certain initial results were manipulated, though they didn't present any evidence.

Socialist party loses cities

PARIS -- French President Francois Hollande's Socialists lost control of cities across the country yesterday, as voters punished the party for record joblessness.

While Socialist candidate Anne Hidalgo won in Paris, making her the French capital's first female mayor, throughout France the main beneficiary was former President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party.

It ousted Socialist mayors in cities such as Toulouse, Limoges, Belfort, Reims and Albertville. The anti-euro National Front of Marine Le Pen gained ground, while failing to make the breakthrough it threatened after a first round a week ago.

The results could put pressure on Mr. Hollande, the least popular president since at least 1958, to overhaul his government team.

Officials schedule election

CAIRO -- Egypt's election commission said Sunday that the first round of voting for a new president would be held May 26 and 27 and that any runoff would conclude within a month of that.

Originally, the election was to have taken place by mid-April. But the odds-on favorite, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, took his time declaring his candidacy. He finally did so last week.

Mr. El-Sissi, who stepped down as defense minister to run, led a coup against elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July. He is expected to win easily, although recent polls have suggested that his popularity may be fading.

Also in the world ...

Thai voters went to the polls Saturday to select half of the nation's Senate, without facing opposition from protesters who derailed a general election on Feb. 2 and have vowed to disrupt any future vote. ... South Sudanese rebels plan to capture key oil installations to force President Salva Kiir to step down and end more than three months of conflict in the world's newest nation, former Vice President Riek Machar said.


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