World Bulletin/News Desk
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi failed to appear at a political rally on Friday, dashing expectations that he would use the occasion to announce he would run for his former post in next year's election.
On Thursday, Fabrizio Cicchitto, parliamentary leader of Berlusconi's PDL party, had said that the 75-year-old media billionaire would be the centre-right candidate for premier in the general election due in early 2013.
But reporters and television camera teams gathered at a Rome hotel in the hope of a clear statement from the man himself were disappointed.
"I bring you the greetings from President Berlusconi who was unable to attend because a commitment prevented him coming," PDL party secretary Angelino Alfano told the meeting of a small Catholic group allied to the PDL.
Despite mounting speculation of a possible comeback, Berlusconi has made no public declaration himself and his no-show at Friday's rally maintains the uncertainty over his political future.
An opinion poll by the IPR institute published in the left-leaning La Repubblica pointed to defeat for the centre-right next year, with or without Berlusconi at the helm.
It forecast a centre-left alliance led by the Democratic Party would take 42 percent of the vote, ahead of 30 percent for the centre-right, with the populist 5 Star Movement of comic Beppe Grillo taking 20 percent.
Berlusconi, forced from office last year as a financial crisis threatened to slip out of control and leave the Treasury unable to manage its 1.9 trillion euro debt pile, has given several hints that he plans to return to politics.
He still faces trial over allegations, which he denies, of paying for sex with an underaged prostitute.
He has taken an increasingly critical line against the austerity policies of Prime Minister Mario Monti and talked openly about Italy abandoning the euro, adding to the already high level of uncertainty surrounding next year's election.
On Friday, ratings agency Moody's underlined the importance of the vote for financial markets, cutting Italy's sovereign debt rating by two notches and saying that the uncertain political climate was adding to financial risks.
Missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner tracked by radar over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country's east coast, a military source told Reuters.
The instability is unnerving consumers, with confidence at a 12-year low, and automakers, property firms and hotels in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy are feeling the pinch
Journalist was shot by unknown gunmen central Kabul on Tuesday morning and died of his wounds in hospital
Islamic Jihad said targeted members of the group in Rafah, a town bordering Egypt.
Since December, around 60,000 families have fled their homes in the violence-wracked Anbar province to neighboring areas, according to government figures
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said 18 children under the age of five had died in January and another 23 in February.
A Kurdistan regional administration official says that a recent Saudi ban would convince 200 Kurds currently fighting alongside the Syrian opposition to return home.
Sanader, sentenced to 10 years' jail in another corruption trial in 2012, was given a new nine-year sentence by the Zagreb county court
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported that the drone had gone down due to a "technical error."
Taliban spokesperson issues a statement warning Afghan people not to participate in April's presidential polls.
Foreign ministry "urged China to desist from any further interference with the efforts of the Philippines to undertake rotation and resupply operations at the Ayungin Shoal."
Although the disappearence of the passenger plane has not ruled out the possibility of terrorism, it is not believed that two Iranian men who had boarded the flight w,th stolen passports were hijackers.
Yanukovich remained unswayed in his argument that "extremists" had taken power in the Ukrainian capital Kiev. He told journalists that a presidential election set for May 25 would be illegal.
The academics found that UKIP's rise in opinion polls since the 2010 election had come not from widening its reach across society but deepening their core, working class vote.
The move came as several Jewish extremist groups urged followers to storm the holy site, he said.
Dozens of ships and aircraft from 10 countries scoured the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam as questions mounted