Chile adds voters by the millions

SANTIAGO, Chile - Chile's democracy is in for a major shake-up, with millions of citizens now added as registered voters. The nation's Senate passed a reform that increases Chile's voting rolls by more than half, from 8.1 million to 12.6 million registered voters in the country of 17 million.

President Sebastian Pinera on Wednesday called the previous night's 25-8 vote a historic achievement, comparable to Chile's adoption of secret ballots in 1874 and of women gaining the right to vote in 1949.

Until now, registration was voluntary, but voting thereafter was mandatory, with $150 fines levied for failing to show up at the polls. The dictatorship-era system proved such a disincentive that fewer citizens bothered to register, giving an ever-smaller group of older voters a disproportionate say.

The new law automatically registers Chilean citizens on their 18th birthday, but makes voting optional.

- AP

Mexico disbands Veracruz police

MEXICO CITY - Authorities disbanded the police force in the port city of Veracruz on Wednesday and handed patrol duties to the military in a bid to clean up corruption.

The Mexican navy and state police took over enforcement after Veracruz state officials laid off 900 officers and 46 administrative workers. Veracruz is the latest city where the military is on patrol.

State spokeswoman Gina Dominguez said the move aimed to "create a new police model" that will demand officers who are better trained and "more committed to the public security function." The coastal state of Veracruz has seen growing drug violence. The state has been dominated by the Zetas, one of the country's most violent gangs.

- AP

Asian neighbors agree to pullback

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Cambodia and Thailand have agreed in principle to withdraw troops from a border area where a territorial dispute triggered deadly clashes.

The agreement was announced Wednesday after Thai Defense Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha met with his Cambodian counterpart, Tea Banh. It is meant to end combat over a small patch of land that both countries claim around the ancient temple of Preah Vihear. Eighteen people were killed in the last round of fighting in April.

The new agreement calls for both sides to withdraw troops simultaneously from a demilitarized zone demarcated by the Netherlands-based International Court of Justice, but sets no date. The court in July ordered troops from both countries to withdraw after Cambodia sought its help. - AP

Elsewhere:

An American found dead in a remote mountainous area fell while climbing, Lebanese security officials said. The family of John Redwine, 33, from Sioux City, Iowa, said Wednesday that he died Sunday "doing what he loved, alpine climbing in the Lebanon Mountains." Redwine had been living in Beirut and working in communications.