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N.Irish leader wins support

Trimble's self-imposed resignation deadline ends on July 1
Trimble's self-imposed resignation deadline ends on July 1  


BELFAST, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Unionists have re-elected David Trimble as party leader -- just days before his self-imposed deadline to quit as provincial first minister.

Trimble attended the annual general meeting of his Ulster Unionist Party on Saturday against a backdrop of political tensions and sectarian street riots.

He has also seen his party lose seats in the UK general election earlier this month to republicans and parties opposed to the peace deal.

Despite the setbacks, UUP members re-appointed Trimble unopposed although he may only stay in the First Minister's office for eight days.

Trimble has said he will resign as First Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly on July 1 unless there is sufficient progress on disarming the Irish Republican Army.

The IRA says it has put its weapons beyond use and followed the terms of the Good Friday peace accord but unionists want the arms to be handed over to the authorities.

Trimble announced his resignation deadline before the UK general election in which the UUP lost four seats overall.

Diplomatic efforts to inject life into the faltering peace process have resumed this week in London and Belfast.

But sectarian tensions have exploded into violence on Belfast's streets with the security services caught in the middle.

Britain will send an extra 1600 troops to Northern Ireland
Britain will send an extra 1600 troops to Northern Ireland  

Catholic and Protestant youths have clashed for three nights running, although Friday's disturbances were less intense than the two previous evenings.

More than 60 Royal Ulster Constabulary police officers have been injured trying to separate the warring sides.

And the British government has announced 1,600 extra troops will be sent to Northern Ireland by the start of July -- although it added that the deployment had been planned before this week's violence.

An army spokesman said the deployment was in readiness for the start of the Protestant marching season which is often accompanied by heightened tensions, especially for those marches which pass through or near mainly Catholic areas.





RELATED STORIES:
RELATED SITES:
• Royal Ulster Constabulary
• Northern Ireland Assembly
• Ulster Unionist Party

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