Welcome to World Powerbase
A Comprehensive, Continually Updated Listing of World Leaders
January 22, 2013
- World Powerbase is updated continually. Our editorial team follows elections around the world and the subsequent shifts in government power.
- Our team monitors world news and international websites to ensure that cabinet shuffles and other leadership changes that happen outside of the election cycle are captured, as well as changes in membership in international organizations.
- Our team has created thousands of leader biographies unique to World Powerbase, with over 100 more added each week. These bios go well beyond heads of state to give education and political experience for ministry heads in many countries.
- Below one can read past news items reflected in World Powerbase; similar updates are made every week, even if they are not recorded on this home page.
Around the World: Recent News Reflected in Updates to World Powerbase
Thursday, September 26, 2012
- In Afghanistan the Parliament approved Bismillah Khan Mohammadi as Defense Minister, Gen. Ghulam Mujtaba Patang as Interior Minister and Assadullah Khalid as Director General, National Directorate of Security. Mohammadi previously served as Interior Minister before a parliamentary vote of no confidence in July in himself and the then-defense minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. However, Mohammadi had remained as a caretaker Interior Minister at President Hamid Karzai's request until a replacement could be found. Khalid previously served as Minister of Tribal and Border Affairs.
- In Libya Abdelmalek Sellal was named as Prime Minister under a major cabinet reshuffle. Sellal most recently served as minister of water resources. The parliamentarian government in Algeria has been slow to form after elections held in May that reaffirmed the power of the National Liberation Front (Front de Liberation Nationale-FLN).
- In Dominica Eluid Williams was named as the island nation's new President by its Parliament. The previous president, Dr. Nicholas Liverpool, resigned due to health reasons. The president is the head of state in Dominica.
- In Georgia Interior Minister Bachana Akhalaia resigned and Eka Zguladze was named as Acting Interior Minister. Zguladze previously served as First Deputy Interior Minister. Akhalaya resigned over a scandal involving the nation's prisons.
- In Ethiopia Acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn was named as the country's new Prime Minister. Chair of the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Desalegn took the acting role after the death of Meles Zenawi, who had been prime minister for twenty-one years. The prime minister is the head of state in Ethiopia.
- Among International Organizations Jose Viegas, a Portuguese professor, was named as Secretary General of International Transport Forum. The organization's press release describes itself as "a strategic think tank for global transport policy and organises an annual summit of transport ministers."
- In Norway five Ministers were shuffled. This cabinet reshuffle saw three top ministers exchange their posts, as the former Minister of Defense Espen Barth Eide becomes the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store becomes the Minister of Health, and the former Minister of Health Anne-Grete Strom Erichsen becomes the Minister of Defense. In addition, Anniken Huitfeldt has been named Minister of Labor while Hadia Tajik, who is only twenty-nine years old, has been named Minister of Culture to replace Huitfeldt. Tajik is also the first Muslim in the Norwegian cabinet. The only minister left without a seat is Hanne Bjurstrom, former Minister of Labor. These changes are intended by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg to improve his party's re-election changes next year.
- In Bangladesh a number of ministers and deputy ministers were shuffled, headlined by the replacement of Shahara Khatun as Minister of Home Affairs by Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir.
Khatun remains in the government as the Minister of Post and Telecommunications.
Other changes involve the Ministries of Cultural Affairs, Communications, Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MEWOE), Fisheries and Livestock, Food and Disaster Management, Information, Information and Communication Technology (distinct from both the Communications and Information ministries), and Labor and Employment. The Bangladeshi cabinet has grown from 31 to 51 members since 2008.
- In Taiwan there was a cabinet reshuffle in the area of foreign relations. LIN David Y. L. was named Minister of Foreign Affairs. YANG Timothy Chin-tien moved from Foreign Affairs to become Secretary General in the Office of the President. YU-CHI Wang was named the Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, which advises Taiwan's President MA Ying-jeou on relations with mainland China.
Around the World: News Reflected in Updates to World Powerbase
Thursday, September 12, 2012
- In Angola the 2012 election was won by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola-MPLA). Angola's electoral watchdogs dismissed claims that the election was corrupt. Dos Santos has been president of the party and the country since 1979.
- In Algeria Abdelmalek Sellal was named as Prime Minister under a major cabinet reshuffle. Sellal most recently served as minister of water resources. The parliamentarian government in Algeria has been slow to form after elections held in May that reaffirmed the power of the National Liberation Front (Front de Liberation Nationale-FLN).
- Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev dismissed the government and entrusted the Social-Democratic Party with forming a new coalition. Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, who had stepped up to the role to allow Atambayev to run for president, resigned and Deputy Prime Minister Aaly Karashev was named Acting Prime Minister.
- In Honduras Wilfredo Cerrato was named as Finance Minister. Former minister Hector Guillen resigned the previous week due to scandal--his wife had been pulled over by police with over 1 million lempiras (over $50,000 U.S. dollars) in her vehicle. Cerrato is the third finance minister in the Porfirio Lobo administration, which began in 2010.
- In the Philippines Manuel "Mar" Roxas was named as the new Interior Secretary. Roxas, formerly the Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary, is seen by some as a rising star in the Liberal Party (LP) ranks and a top prospect for the 2016 presidential elections.
- In Somalia new Parliament members elected Mohamed Osman Jawari as speaker and Muse Hassan Abdulle as acting president of their new parliament. Jawari's closest competition, former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galayr, withdrew after the third round of parliamentary voting. Jawari also announced that the inauguration of the new Somalian president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, will take place on September 16th.
- In Colombia there was a cabinet reshuffle in which 6 ministers were shuffled.
- In the United Kingdom David Cameron reshuffled his cabinet. One prominent minister, Iain Duncan Smith (the welfare secretary), simply refused to vacate his post. Among the changes, Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, was demoted in favor of Jeremy Hunt, while Justine Greening was replaced as transportation secretary by Patrick McLoughlin.
- In Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power 1 and Ministry of Electric Power 2 were merged as one single ministry and named Ministry of Electric Power.
- In Egypt President Morsi named Safwat Abdel Dayem as Secretary General of the Cabinet. A professor at the National Water Research Center, Abdel Dayem has previously served as Secretary-General of the Arab Water Council.
Update: Egyptian Presidential Elections
Monday, April 16, 2012
In Cairo on Sunday, April 15, a presidential election committee eliminated three of the five leading candidates for president. Khairat el-Shater, a strategist for the Muslim Brotherhood, was disqualified because of a conviction in a political trial. Harem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist, was disqualified because his mother was a U.S. citizen.
Also disqualified is Omar Suleiman, former intelligence chief under Hosni Mubarak, because he had fallen short of the 30,000 notarized statements of endorsement. Candidates must obtain 2,000 notarized endorsements from each of 15 provinces.
All three candidates are filing appeals. Mr. el-Shater may also endorse Mohamed el-Mursi, chair of the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, as a back-up candidate.
Honoring International Women of Courage
Friday, March 9, 2012
The sixth annual Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award ceremony was held yesterday at the State Department in Washington, DC. March 8 was also the 101st Anniversary of International Women's Day.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama honored ten women for courage, leadership, and advocacy for women's rights. The honorees are Maryam Durani (Afghanistan), Pricilla de Oliveira Azevedo (Brazil), Jineth Bedoya Lima (Colombia), Hana El Hebshi (Libya), Aneesa Abmed (Maldives), Zin Mar Aung (Myanmar), Shad Begum (Pakistan), Samar Badawi (Saudi Arabia), Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih (Sudan), and Safak Pavey (Turkey).
"Friends of Syria" Conference in Tunisia
Friday, February 24, 2012
Tunis, Tunisia, hosts an international conference today whose goal is to craft details for a 72-hour ultimatum for ending the violence in Syria. Tunisia is a member of the Arab League. American, European, and Arab officials propose that President Bashar Al-Assad step aside and also allow humanitarian agencies to enter the country.
The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement today calling for an immediate and mutual cease-fire on the part of the government and opposition leaders. The ministry also voiced support for the appointment of former United Nations chief Kofi Annan as a joint U.N.-Arab League envoy.
Both Russia and China advocate an end to the widespread violence but have vetoed two U.S. Security Council resolutions backing Arab League plans to end the conflict. These vetoes by two permanent members of the Council have been criticized by other countries. In addition to Tunisia, members of the Arab League include Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Changing Scenes in Greece
Friday, February 10, 2012
Greek citizens marched in Athens today to protest new austerity measures. They were fired on by Greek riot police but no injuries or arrests were reported. Today is also the first day of a two-day strike by Greek unions. Prime Minister Papademos has called an emergency Cabinet meeting to address dissent outside and within his coalition government.
The 17-nation eurozone members seek more cuts than proposed by the Greek government. This may affect whether members will move forward with a financial bailout package for Greece.
Update on Occupy London Movement
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Occupy London Movement protestors who have been camping outside St. Paul's Cathedral have until January 27 to appeal a legal ruling to remove their campsite. The campsite is located in London's financial district. The deadline was imposed after a court on January 18 sided with city authorities, who had requested that protestors leave the campsite. There are concerns about blocking access to St. Paul's Cathedral, hygiene, and safety.
There is a divided opinion, however. In October, the dean of St. Paul's Cathedral and the cathedral's canon chancellor stepped down due to the management of the stand-off between protestors and city authorities.
Follow this news happening on twitter.
Reactions to Violence against Egyptian Protestors
Thursday, December 22, 2011
The physical and sexual attacks against women, including female journalists, and male demonstrators in Cairo by military and police attackers on December 16, 17, and 20 have been condemned by two international groups. The Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and a Middle East and North Africa women's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch have called on Egyptian authorities to halt criminal attacks and ensure that the right to freedom of assembly is respected.
Human Rights Watch has also appealed to the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the civilian judicial authority, to prosecute attackers, including civilians who may have also attacked other civilians.
New Greek Cabinet to be Named Today
Friday, November 11, 2011
It is expected that the incoming prime minister of Greece, Lucas Papademos, will be sworn in at noon today and then name his cabinet. Mr. Papademos is an economist and the former vice president of the European Central Bank. He was appointed yesterday, November 10, to head an interim coalition government. Two of the biggest and immediate tasks facing the interim coalition government are pushing through a new European debt deal and securing continued bailout funding.
Occupy Wall Street Movement Goes Global
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
The movement known as Occupy Wall Street marks 32 days today. The movement has not only spread throughout cities within the United States but also to Frankfurt, London, Paris, Rome, and other European capital cities. Similar protests are being held in cities in Asia, Australia, Latin America, and South Africa.
A movement that began as a protest against economic greed in one North American city has achieved critical mass as an outlet for global dissatisfaction with economic and social inequities.
Continuing Coverage: Libya
Friday, September 9, 2011
On August 21, 2011, Libyan rebels stormed Libya's capital, fought off little resistance from troops still loyal to Colonel Moammar Qaddafi, and took control of Tripoli. Despite successfully overrunning Qaddafi's compound Bab al-Aziziya, the ousted Libyan leader has remained at large, believed by most to be on the run. On August 24, the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) offered a $1.7 million bounty for the capture of Qaddafi dead or alive.
Today, September 9, Interpol issued Red Notice arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his former heir-apparent and son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, and his former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi. These warrants for alleged crimes against humanity came after pressure to do so from both the NTC and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC had launched an official investigation March 3 into possible crimes committed against civilians by security forces in Libya (see March 3 news item) and issued its own arrest warrant on June 27. Red Notice status allows for mass circulation of the arrest warrants with the intention of immediate extradition to an international court upon arrest.
Rebel leaders have issued a September 10 deadline for Qaddafi loyalists still in Libya to surrender peacefully.
Republic of South Sudan
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This fall World Powerbase will include the newly created Republic of South Sudan and provide vital information on all government offices and functions, along with profiles of key leaders within the Office of the President and national ministries.
The president is H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit and the vice president is Dr. Riek Machar. Dr. Machar was vice president in the old southern Sudan regional government. President Kiir Mayardit has appointed cabinet members who will function as caretaker national ministers.
Six directorates have been created within the Office of the President. They are the Directorate of Policy, Research and Monitoring; the Directorate of Special Programmes; the Directorate of inter-Governmental Relations; the Directorate of Communications and Public Relations; the Directorate of Finance and Administration; and the Directorate of Security and Protection.
Many countries along with the United States recognized the new independent state on July 9, 2011. Other countries, such as Israel on July 28, have moved to establish official ties.
Thailand Elects a Female Prime Minister
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
On Sunday, July 3, Thailand elected its first female prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra. She is a member of the opposition party Pheu Thai Party (PTP) and was elected in a landslide victory. She will lead a four-party coalition government. The Election Commission is expected to announce official results on July 12.
Prime Minister-Elect Shinawatra is the sister of former Prime Minister Thakin Shinawatra, who was deposed in a 2006 coup and lives in self-exile in Dubai.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Belgium's constitutional crisis continues and now has an interesting twist. Belgium has remained without a government since the June 2010 elections. The country is torn between two factions: the Dutch-speaking Flemings, who predominate, and the French-speaking Walloons.
Subway officials in Brussels now want to play songs from both languages over the public address system instead of instrumental music or international hits. The subway's management company announced a plan Wednesday, June 15, to draw up a quota system offering commuters songs in Dutch and in French. As of this posting, the plan has not been implemented.
Cease-Fire Broken in Sana, Yemen
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The cease-fire between Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar's tribal fighters and President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security forces broke late Monday night in Yemen's capital, leading to more violence and civil unrest. Saturday's cease-fire in the capital city of Sana came after a week of violent conflict over Mr. Saleh's refusal to step down after 33 years of rule. Mr. Sahel has refused to resign multiple times, despite a deal that would make him immune to prosecution. His continued resistance has provoked three months of street protests and violent conflict, resulting in at least 320 deaths and civil unrest throughout Yemen.
Protests and violence that originated in the capital city of Sana have now spread outside the capital. Air strikes were carried out last Friday (May 27) by government forces against tribal fighters in Naham province. On Friday, violence erupted in the southern city of Zinjibar between the government and armed militants. Protesters in Taiz were also attacked on Sunday by security forces. Despite the violent conflict, antigovernment protesters in Sana used Facebook and texting last Friday, similar to the antigovernment protests in Syria and Egypt, to promote a "Friday of Peaceful Revolution."
Follow-up Development in Syria
Friday, May 6, 2011
Today marks what Syrian protestors are calling a "Day of Defiance." Demonstrations against the autocratic regime of President Bashar Al-Assad have been occurring since March. These demonstrations had begun in the southern city of Dara'a, although they have now spread across the country, even to the capital of Damascus. Government response to the protestors has become increasingly violent and repressive. There have been reports of troops and tanks being deployed against demonstrators, as well as live ammunition being fired into crowds.
More than one thousand people are reported to have been arrested in the days leading up to today's "Day of Defiance." Among those arrested is Dorothy Parvaz, a journalist with Al-Jazeera English, who holds American, Iranian, and Canadian citizenship. Several news agencies have called for the release of Dorothy Parvaz, and the United States and the European Union are said to be considering imposing sanctions against the Syrian government if it continues to act against its citizens.
France's Burqa Ban in Effect
Thursday, April 14, 2011
France's controversial law banning burquas went into effect Monday, April 11. The law, passed in October 2010, bans the wearing of hijabs and burquas (headscarves and full-body veils) in public places. This law is widely seen as an extension of a 2004 act that banned ostentatious religious imagery or icons in schools, although it did not refer to Islam in general. The burqua ban has its roots in the French Republic's strict policy of laïcité or secularism. Laïcité goes beyond the American concept of a separation of church and state and instead envisions a public sphere devoid of religious influence.
Breaking News: Dara'a, Syria
Friday, March 25, 2011
Similar to the protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia, social media has played a significant role in the Syrian anti-government demonstrations. Demonstrators have used sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to share information and broadcast their cause to the entire world. Today Syrian protestors have organized a national "Day of Dignity" protest centered in the southern city of Dara'a. The event was organized via Twitter and #daraa is a trending topic on the site. News from the protests comes from sources such as protest organizers, as well as the personal twitter accounts of journalists such as Al-Jazeera English's Alan Fisher (@AlanFisher) and NPR's Andy Carvin (@acarvin). So far, there have been unverified reports of violence and deaths in and around Dara'a during the Day of Dignity protests.
Tunisia Announces Elections
Friday, March 4, 2011
Weeks after the demonstrations that ousted former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the country announced plans to hold elections in the summer. The acting president, Fouad Mebazza, announced today that the country will hold elections on July 24 to choose a constituent assembly to write a new constitution. Since Ben Ali fled on January 14, taking an estimated 1.5 tons of gold, the country has been under an interim government. As protestors have demanded the departure of all who served under Ben Ali, the interim government has seen many changes in personnel.
Five cabinet ministers have resigned since February 28: Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mohamed Nouri Jouini; Minister for Economic and Social Reform Elyes Jouini; Minister of Industry and Technology Mohamed Afif Chelbi; Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Planning Ahmed Ibrahim; and Minister of Local Development Ahmed Nejib Chebbi. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi also resigned February 27. He was replaced by Beji Caid Essebsi, who had served under a previous president. Acting President Mebazza has also announced plans to appoint ministers to Tunisia's interim government as the country transitions toward a functioning democracy.
Developing Story: ICC to Investigate Alleged Crimes in Libya
Thursday, March 3, 2011
The International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an official investigation today into possible crimes committed against civilians by security forces in Libya. The Court also warned opposition leaders that they could be held accountable for any crimes against civilians. The chief prosecutor of the Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, spoke at a news conference in The Hague. He stated that Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and an inner circle, including his sons, could face prosecution for crimes committed against humanity or for failure to prevent such crimes. Others who could face prosecution include the minister of foreign affairs, the head of military intelligence, and the head of Qaddafi's personal security.
The specific allegations being investigated are whether peaceful demonstrators were attacked by security forces. The chief prosecutor is expected to complete his investigation in another few months and judges will then decide whether to issue arrest warrants. The last time the ICC launched an investigation in response to a referral by the UN Security Council was on June 6, 2005, when the Court officially opened an inquiry into the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
United States to Recognize Southern Sudan
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Yesterday President Barack Obama congratulated the people of Southern Sudan on a successful independence referendum, which will divide Africa's biggest country. He also announced that the United States will formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011.
Continuing Coverage of Election Watch: Nepal
Friday, January 28, 2011
Nepal remains in political limbo after the country's three main parties — the Maoist Party, the Nepali Congress Party, and the United Marxist-Leninist Party — failed to reach a consensus government. Nepali President Ram Baran Yadav had set January 26 as the deadline for Parliament to form a consensus government and choose a new prime minister. This deadline has passed with no agreement reached.
On February 3, the country is set to hold the 17th round of prime ministerial elections since June 2010. Nepal is under intense pressure to form a functioning government, as it faces a May 28 deadline to write a new constitution. The creation of a constitution was a condition of the 2006 peace agreement that ended the country's decade-long civil war.
Current Situation: Cote d'Ivoire and Lebanon
Friday, January 14, 2011
After the November 28 run-off election, Cote d'Ivoire has remained in a state of uncertainty. Alassane Ouattara is the internationally recognized president-elect of the country, but current president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been in power since 2000, refuses to step down. In the post-election period, there have been violent riots killing an estimated 200 Ivorians and injuring another 1,000. UN and West African diplomats have met with Mr. Gbagbo several times to convince him to leave office. The UN has increased the numbers of peacekeeping to prevent a repeat of the 2001-2003 civil war.
On January 12, 2011, Lebanon's government was brought down by the resignation of all Hezbollah cabinet ministers. Hezbollah's withdrawal from the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri was prompted by Mr. Hariri's refusal to denounce a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 bombing that killed former prime minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other people.
On January 13, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced that consultations to appoint a new prime minister will begin on January 17. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is expected to pass a ruling indicting Hezbollah members in the former prime minister's death.
Breaking News: South Sudan Gets 60% Turnout for Independence Referendum
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
As of January 12, 2011, the 60% turnout necessary for South Sudan's referendum on independence to be declared valid has been reached. The 60% turnout threshold is a key element in the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan's 22-year long civil war, the provisions of which remain in force until July 2011. The referendum began January 9, 2011, and is scheduled to last until January 16, 2011. Although South Sudan has reached the turnout threshold, there are still obstacles to be overcome. The region of Abyei, which straddles north and south, remains under contention. The area is ethnically diverse, with no clear affiliation to either government side. Abyei is home to Arab nomads from the north as well as Dinka tribesmen from the south. The region is set to hold its own referendum to decide if it will join the north or the south later this year.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said that his government would be the first to recognize the new country of South Sudan, were it to vote for independence. The United States has indicated that if Khartoum does respect the results of the referendum, Sudan could be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as this July. Removal from the list could be a major economic boon for Khartoum if and when the oil-rich south secedes.
Election Watch: Nepal and Egypt
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Both Nepal and Egypt are experiencing electoral difficulties that are leaving some observers worried about each government's future.
Nepal's current leadership uncertainty stems from the resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar on June 30 of this year, who remains in office until a successor is elected. Since his resignation the Nepali Parliament has held 16 internal elections to attempt to elect a new prime minister. So far each election has ended with no clear winner. Nepal remains a country in limbo as it attempts to elect new leadership and write a constitution.
Meanwhile further west, Egypt held a parliamentary election on November 28. The ruling party, the National Democratic Party or NDP, won a clear majority of the country's 508 seats among widespread allegations of voter fraud. Egypt's major opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, did not win a single seat outright, although it had previously held 88 seats.Supporters of the party reported being turned away at polling stations, and even being attacked. Only 30 of its candidates made it to the run-off elections, scheduled to take place on December 5. In response, some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood are calling for the party to boycott the December 5 elections as well as the 2011 presidential election.
G-20 Summit Ends in South Korea
Monday, November 15, 2010
The much-publicized G-20 summit ended November 12 with a 30-page communique. The leaders of the world's top 20 economies (19 countries and the European Union) met in Seoul, South Korea, in order to discuss continuing recovery from the global recession, as well as trade and currency policy. President Barack Obama of the United States and President Hu Jintao of the People's Republic of China found themselves at cross purposes over what President Obama called China's "over-valued yuan." President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also came into conflict over trade deficits, with Chancellor Merkel refusing to accept deficit caps, saying it would hurt the economies of net exporter countries such as Germany.
As the talks closed, the G-20 members did agree on the need for earlier warning systems for troubled economies in order to prevent another global recession. They also agreed on an increased role for the International Monetary Fund in regard to currency valuation. France's President Nicholas Sarkozy takes on the presidency of the G-20 and G-8 in 2011. It remains to be seen what impact the decisions will have on the global recovery process between now and the next G-20 summit, happening November 2011 in Cannes, France.
Continuing Coverage: Brazil Elects Its First Female President
Monday, November 1, 2010
On October 31, Brazilians went to the polls in a run-off presidential election. Dilma Rousseff, of the ruling Worker's Party and current president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's hand-picked successor, won with 56.05% of the vote. Her closest competitor, Jose Serra of the Social Democratic Party, won 43.95% of the vote. Rousseff will take office January 1, 2011.
Rousseff campaigned heavily on the recent economic growth and success of Brazil, which has the world's eighth largest economy. Along with continuing the Worker's Party's poverty reduction strategy, Rousseff is expected to reform the country's financial sector and central bank. On November 1 the Brazilian Real opened stronger against the U.S. dollar than when the market closed on October 26. This was interpreted by some analysts as an indicator of the market's confidence in Rousseff's leadership and Brazil's future.
Netherlands Antilles Dissolves
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Netherlands Antilles, which existed since 1954, dissolved Sunday, October 17. The country was composed of five islands and was part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Under this new constitutional status, two of the islands, Curacao and St. Maarten, have become autonomous states within the Kingdom of The Netherlands. They join Aruba. Curacao will now be known as Korsou, and along with St. Maarten, will have its own parliament, government, and currency.
The other three islands, which are Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba, have become autonomous special-status municipalities of the Kingdom. Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard rules the Kingdom of The Netherlands and was head of state for the Netherlands Antilles. The Kingdom will retain responsibility for defense and foreign policy along with initial oversight over Curacao's finances.
Brazil to Hold Run-Off Elections October 31
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
After all candidates failed to garner 50% of the vote during the initial election held October 3, Brazil is set to hold a presidential run-off election. Dilma Rousseff, the Worker's Party candidate and chosen successor of popular current president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was the closest to winning, with almost 47% of the vote. Next in voter percentage was Jose Serra, the Social Democratic candidate with 32%. The Green Party showed a surprising turnout, with 19% of the electorate voting for their candidate Marina Silva. This strong showing puts the Green Party in a position of considerable power, with both Rousseff and Serra angling for their support in the coming election on October 31. If elected, Rousseff will be Brazil's first female president.
One year ago Brazilians were introduced to Rousseff as da Silva's chief of staff and the architect of the country's astounding growth. Constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term in office, President da Silva presented Rousseff as his natural successor. She was heavily favored to win outright, until a corruption scandal involving her deputy chief of staff caused her to dip in the polls. Da Silva appears optimistic about Rousseff's chances in the upcoming run-off calling it "30 more days to fight," while her opponent Jose Serra predicts that press coverage of the corruption scandal, and her past as a Marxist guerrilla in the 1960s, will continue to chip away her lead in the polls.
Historic Election in Switzerland
Friday, September 24, 2010
For the first time since Swiss women gained the right to vote in 1971, there is a female majority in the executive branch. On September 22 Switzerland's Parliament elected Simonetta Sommaruga to replace outgoing Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger. She is now the fourth member of the seven-member governing body of the Federal Council.
Continuing Coverage: Castro Retracts
Monday, September 13, 2010
Fidel Castro has retracted his September 9th statements on the Cuban economy. Castro had stated that the Cuban economic model no longer worked for the island nation, which many had taken to signal a major economic policy change for Cuba. While Castro did not deny his statement, he did say that his words had been misinterpreted by visiting American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. According to Castro, the words in fact mean "the exact opposite" of what Goldberg had inferred and his views on capitalism remain unchanged. Said Castro, "My idea, as the world knows, is that the capitalist system now doesn't work for the United States or the world."
Fidel Castro's Comment Sets off Speculation
Friday, September 10, 2010
During a public appearance in Havana September 9, former Cuban president Fidel Castro commented to a visiting U.S. journalist that the Cuban economic model no longer works for the country. He made the comment when asked if he believed that the model was still worth exporting.
International watchdogs are speculating that this may be a signal the Communist island may transition to private enterprise and foreign investment models. There is also speculation that Fidel Castro and his younger brother and president, Raul Castro, are divided on the role of the government in the country's faltering economy.
Australia Faces First Coalition Government in 70 Years
Monday, August 23, 2010
Two months after the prime minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, ousted her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, for the leadership of the Labor Party, the Party has lost its parliamentary majority. In a general election held August 21, the center-left Labor Party, which has ruled for 3 years, is viewed as unlikely to win the 76 seats needed for an outright majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives. The same is seen for the opposition conservative coalition headed by Tony Abbott.
Prime Minister Gillard, who is Australia's first female prime minister, has begun negotiations with 4 independent candidates and a Green party candidate. Independents have not been involved with government rule since 1943. The Green Party has increased its Senate seats from five to nine, which could give the party more power within a coalition government. If coalition talks break down, Australians may be back at the polls.
Kenyans Approve Historic New Constitution
Thursday, August 5, 2010
On August 4, a referendum was held in Kenya vis-a-vis replacing the nation's 1963 constitution; the measure in question passed with 67 percent of voters approving. The new constitution significantly limits the power of the executive branch, specifically through adding a series of checks and balances and providing a means of impeaching the president. Also, the new constitution includes provisions that shift several responsibilities, such as managing agriculture and essential health initiatives, away from the central authority to county governments. The President, Mwai Kibaki, and Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, both supported the measure.
One of the primary issues addressed in the new constitution is the controversy over presidential land distribution powers. Under the old agreement, the president possessed the ability to give away public land and typically employed said authority to reward political allies. This issue has created significant tension between Kenya's various ethnic factions in recent years and, most notably, spurred a period of violence following the 2007 presidential election; over 1,000 people were killed in these hostilities. The new constitution explicitly addresses this issue by removing the president's land distribution authority and by establishing a National Land Commission to oversee the allocation of public lands and to review the legality of past handouts.
The President will affirm the legitimacy of the new constitution within the next two weeks, but the document's provisions will gradually go into effect over the next five years.
Former Dictator Elected President in Suriname
Thursday, July 22, 2010
On Monday, July 19, the Surinamese parliament voted to elect the country's former authoritarian leader, Desi Bouterse, to the presidency; 36 members of parliament voted in his favor. Bouterse, whose left-wing political coalition Mega Combination (Mega Combinatie) won 23 of the 51 seats in the Surinamese parliament following the country's May elections, campaigned on promises of improving the economy. Justice Minister Chandrinkapersad Santokhi was the runner-up in the presidential poll, having received 13 votes in parliament. The new president will take office on August 3.
Bouterse is 64 years old and ruled Suriname through most of the 1980s, having taken control of the former Dutch colony in a 1980 coup. He regained power briefly, following a second coup in 1990. In 1999, Bouterse was convicted in absentia of cocaine trafficking to the Netherlands by a Dutch court. The Dutch government has stated that the new president is not welcome in the Netherlands. Moreover, Bouterse has been on trial since 2007 for the 1982 murders of individuals who opposed his authoritarian regime. If convicted of any wrongdoing, he will have the opportunity to grant himself amnesty.
New Czech Government Takes Office
Thursday, July 15, 2010
On July 13, Czech President Vaclav Klaus swore in the cabinet ministers of Prime Minister Necas' center-right government. They are Ivan Fuksa (agriculture), Jiri Besser (culture), Alexandr Vondra (defense), Josef Dobes (education), Pavel Drobil (environment), Miroslav Kalousek (finance), Karel Schwarzenberg (foreign affairs), Leos Heger (health), Martin Kocourek (industry and trade), Radek John (interior), Jiri Pospisil (justice), Jaromir Drabek (labor and social affairs), Kamil Jankovsky (local development), and Vit Barta (transport). This event paves the way for the new coalition, consisting of Necas' Civic Democrats party as well as the conservative Top 09 party and centrist Public Affairs party, to begin carrying out its agenda.
The prime minister has made clear that his administration will be reform oriented in its policies and is particularly seeking to enact change in the pension and health care systems. He would also like to reduce the Czech Republic's deficit. The new government has already received criticism from Czech women's groups for failing to appoint any women to positions in the prime minister's cabinet.
Continuing Coverage: Kyrgyzstan Approves New Constitution
Thursday, July 1, 2010
A new constitution was approved for Kyrgyzstan, following a June 27th referendum. The public's endorsement of the constitution means that Kyrgyzstan's government will be transformed into a parliamentary democracy, mirroring that of European nations. Furthermore, Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva and her interim government will be provided additional legitimacy based on the measure's far-reaching support. Voters gave their approval for Otunbayeva to remain as Kyrgyzstan's President until December 2011.
The constitution was approved by over ninety percent of voters, with approximately seventy percent of those eligible to vote participating. Moreover, tens of thousands of Kyrgyz refugees who had fled to Uzbekistan returned to Kyrgyzstan to take part in the referendum.
Philippines Has New President
Thursday, July 1, 2010
On June 30, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III of the Liberal Party was sworn in as the 15th President of the Philippines. Aquino, who won the May 10 Presidential election with over forty percent of the vote, has vowed to eliminate corruption within the government, reduce the nation's substantial deficit, and improve the lives of the millions of impoverished Filipinos. He has served as a member of the House of Representatives for nine years and as a Senator for three years.
In becoming President, Aquino will strive to live up to the reputation that his family has established within the Philippines. His father, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr., was a prominent Senator who was assassinated in 1983 after harshly criticizing then dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Aquino's mother, Corazon C. Aquino, served as the 11th President of the Philippines. Also, she was a key leader of the People Power Revolution, the movement that toppled the Marcos regime and restored democracy to the country.
Separatists Win in Belgian Elections
Monday, June 21, 2010
Led by Bart De Wever, the Flemish right-wing party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance) made significant gains in the June 13 Belgian election. With 27 seats, the Dutch-speaking N-VA now holds the most positions of any party in the Belgian government. The N-VA also has the opportunity to make its leader the next Prime Minister, though De Wever has stated that instead of taking the job for himself, he may offer the position to the leader of the largest francophone party. Whether De Wever becomes prime minister or not, because there are 150 seats in the Belgian legislature and N-VA only has 27 of them, the party does not have a clear majority and will have to negotiate with other parties to form a ruling coalition.
De Wever and the N-VA, strong advocates for the succession of Flanders, will probably have to make a deal to include the 26-seat, second-place finisher in their coalition, which is the Socialist party from Wallonia. The French-speaking Walloons, who make up the Socialist party led by Elio di Rupo, are largely opposed to the breakup of Belgium.
The election has also resulted in dramatic losses for one of the most extreme right-wing parties in Belgium, Vlaams Belang (The Flemish Interest).
Ethnic Bloodshed in Kyrgyzstan
Monday, June 21, 2010
The interim Kyrgyz leader, Roza Otunbayeva, has stated that approximately 2,000 people have been killed in the country's recent ethnic fighting. Otunbayeva, who is the acting president, has been negotiating with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in an effort to persuade the Russians to send peacekeeping forces to assist in ending the violence. So far, the talks have yielded few results as the Russians have only gone so far as to agree to send humanitarian aid.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks have been attempting to flee into neighboring Uzbekistan, prompting several border crossings to be closed as the Uzbek government figures out how to handle the arrival of the plethora of refugees. It appears that without some form of external military intervention, whether it comes from Russia, Uzbekistan, or any other country in the region, there is little that Otunbayeva and the interim government can do to bring an end to the hostilities. Parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled to be held in October.
Continuing Coverage: New Political Era in Britain
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Two former members of Gordon Brown's cabinet, who are also brothers, are vying for the leadership of the Labour Party. David Miliband is the former foreign secretary and Edward Miliband is the former energy secretary. The leadership position has been open since May 11, when former Prime Minister Gordon Brown resigned.
The Miliband brothers were the first siblings to sit in the Cabinet simultaneously. So far the leadership contest is a family affair, but it is anticipated that a few more people will declare. As of this writing, no ballot has been fixed.
New Political Era in Britain
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
David Cameron, a member of the right-wing Conservative Party, is Britain's new prime minister. He is the youngest prime minister in almost 200 years. He became prime minister after Gordon Brown tendered his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II and ended 13 years of rule by the Labour Party.
Because no party won a majority of parliamentary seats in last week's national election, Britain will have its first coalition government since World War II. Cameron's coalition partner is Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a member of the left-leaning Liberal Democrats. The coalition government will be in place for 5 years. Members of both parties will serve in Cabinet posts.
President of Nigeria Dies
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, who suffered from chronic kidney and heart disease, passed away May 5 and was replaced 12 hours later by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan had served as acting president since February 2010 and will serve as Nigeria's president until elections next year. There is already speculation about whether he will run next year or follow Nigeria's tradition of rotating the presidency between north and south.
Continuing Coverage: Poland Plans Presidential Election
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Poland's parliament announced on April 21 that a presidential election will be held June 20, following the tragic April 10 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski. The late president's twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said he will run for president under the Law and Justice party to continue his brother's legacy. Acting President, Bronislaw Komorowski, will run as the Civic Platform's candidate. The Democratic Left Alliance party has yet to select someone to replace their candidate, Jerzy Szmajdzinski, who also died in the plane crash. A second round of elections will take place on July 4 if one of the candidates does not gain at least 50 percent of the vote.
Continuing Coverage: Kyrgyzstan Sets Election Date
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The interim government in Kyrgyzstan announced that parliamentary and presidential elections will be held on October 10. Voting on a constitutional referendum that will decrease the power of the president is slated for June 27. In related news, deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who fled to Kazakhstan on April 15 fled to Belarus around April 16.
President of Kyrgyzstan Flees to Kazakhstan
Friday, April 16, 2010
The ex-president of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, fled the country for Kazakhstan on April 15, after violent anti-government protests spread throughout Kyrgyzstan on April 7. These protests had forced him to flee the capital for his home in southern Kyrgyzstan. His departure April 15 was facilitated by leaders from the United States, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The interim government in Kyrgyzstan, led by oppositional leader Roza Otunbayeva, is reporting that Mr. Bakiyev officially signed a letter of resignation. His resignation was confirmed April 16.
The riots that led to Mr. Bakiyev's departure left at least 84 people dead and more than 400 wounded. The former defense minister, Baktybek Kalyev, was arrested April 15, after allegations that he ordered the illegal shooting of unarmed civilian protestors. The former head of the presidential security service, Zhanybek Bakiyev, has been accused of similar crimes.
Poland Reconfigures Government Following Tragic Plane Crash
Monday, April 12, 2010
The Polish government is devastated by the April 10 plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski, the First Lady, and dozens of other government officials traveling to commemorate a WWII massacre that claimed 20,000 members of Poland's officer corps. The government is working quickly to fill the positions held by the deceased. Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his senior cabinet members were not aboard the plane.
The leader of the lower house of Parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, is the acting president. For the interim, top military officials within the Defense Forces are being replaced by their subordinates. Piotr Wiesolik, the first deputy president of the National Bank, is performing the duties of the institution's late president. Members of Parliament who lost their lives will be succeeded by members of their respective parties who received the second-highest number of votes in their electoral regions.
Mr. Komorowski will announce an election date by April 24. Following constitutional law, the election must take place by June 20, 2010.
NLD Party Boycotts Myanmar's Election
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party announced March 29 that it will not register in May for Myanmar's fall 2010 election in reaction to the junta's recent election reforms. These reforms forbid Nobel Peace laureate Ms. Suu Kyi and other convicted criminals from participating in the upcoming election. Ms. Suu Kyi, who has been under detention by the junta for 14 of the past 20 years, called the reforms unjust. NLD's 115 members, following Ms. Suu Kyi's advice, voted unanimously to boycott the election.
By refusing to register in the fall election, the NLD loses its legal party status. While the United States and the UN have condemned the junta's election reforms, which also forbid religious orders from participating, there is growing concern in the United States about how NLD's decision will effect Myanmar's path toward democracy.
In 1990 Ms. Suu Kyi's party won the election with 82 percent of the vote; however, the results were rejected by the ruling junta. The results were officially annulled by the junta on March 11, 2010. The 2010 election will be the first election to take place in the country in 20 years.
Quota Secures Seats for Women in Iraqi Parliament
Monday, March 22, 2010
At least 82 women of the nearly 2,000 women who ran for seats in the Iraqi parliament on March 7 will take office in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution. The Constitution stipulates that 25 percent of the parliamentary seats must be held by women. Many women candidates are running on platforms of women's rights, education, and employment programs to meet the needs of the estimated 740,000 widows in Iraq who face high rates of unemployment and poverty. However, divisions exist between and among women espousing secular and religious values. Those promoting secular values are eager to uphold the "Law of Personal Status" that currently limits the use of religious courts for issues concerning marriage, divorce, child custody, and inheritance.
While women are participating in Iraq's political scene, former and current female parliament members have developed a concern about how the mandatory quota limits women's effectiveness in parliament. One current candidate, Jenan Mubarak, has argued that the quota in the 2005 election was used by men to fill party seats with women who did not have political agendas. Furthermore, many women promoting their own agendas of women's rights and education, like the minister for women's affairs, have resigned due to a lack of sufficient funding for women's programs.
Dutch Coalition Government Collapses
Friday, March 5, 2010
The Dutch coalition government collapsed February 20 following a 16-hour debate between the Labor party and the majority Christian Democratic Appeal party (CDA) on extending Dutch troops' tours in Afghanistan. The Labor Party, led by outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos, were against extending their country's participation in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan past the August 2010 deadline, because it had been extended twice since 2006. Conversely, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's majority CDA party supported an extension, fearing a pull-out could put the Western coalition in Afghanistan at risk.
As of March 5 the Head of State, Queen Beatrix, has not accepted the resignation of the coalition government offered by Prime Minister Balkenende. If she accepts, she will establish an interim government and elections will most likely take place this upcoming May or June.
Tymoshenko Drops Appeal Against Ukrainian President-elect Yanukovych
Monday, February 22, 2010
Viktor Yanukovych has been named the president-elect of Ukraine after his opponent, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, dropped legal charges against him for vote-rigging. Ms. Tymoshenko dropped the appeal, claiming that the supreme administrative court hearing her case was biased against her and unwilling to give her justice. Similar charges were made against Mr. Yanukovych after the 2004 run-off election by Prime Minister Tymoshenko's Orange Party, which led to Mr. Yanukovych's removal from power. International observers claimed that the 2004 election was fraudulent, but they have deemed the 2010 elections to be free and fair.
While Mr.Yanukovych has secured his victory and will be inaugurated February 25, Ms. Tymoshenko still heads the government. Although she refuses to step down from her position, Mr.Yanukovych is poised to form a new coalition, which may result in snap parliamentary elections and her removal from power.
Haiti's President and First Lady Face Criticism over Quake Response
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
President Rene Preval faces criticism for the government's lack of communication with the Haitian people. President Preval did not step forward to address the Haitian people until a week after the earthquake struck, drawing criticism from a Haitian people already distrustful of the government. The Haitian first lady, Elizabeth Preval, defended the delay, citing the government's losses both in people and in infrastructure. While Haiti's cabinet remains largely intact, many civil servants were lost in the earthquake, and every major government building was destroyed.
Mrs. Preval indicated that the reason for the president's relative silence was constant meetings to coordinate relief efforts with the United States, United Nations, and others offering aid. The president has appealed for patience, and states that Haiti is making progress. To demonstrate solidarity with the Haitian people, who are in desperate need of shelter, President Preval has set up his office in a tent on the National Palace lawn.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Ends Martial Law
Friday, December 18, 2009
On December 12, 2009 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lifted the imposed martial law on Maguindanao Province in the Philippines. Martial law was declared on December 4 following an apparently politically motivated massacre that occurred in November. Members of the Ampatuan family, a powerful political family in the region, are suspected to be behind the massacre, which targeted a rival who sought to run for governor. Members of the family are also under suspicion of raising a rebellion in order to avoid arrest. The massacre ended with the deaths of 57 people.
Martial law had not been declared in the Philippines since 1986, during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. President Macapagal-Arroyo came under fire for her decision to declare martial law, as some members of the opposition party believe the events do not constitute a rebellion. Rebellion is one of only two circumstances that merit martial law being imposed under the Constitution. As of today, twenty-four people face charges of rebellion and hundreds more have been arrested.
European Union Chooses New Leaders
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Herman Van Rompuy, Prime Minister of Belgium for less than a year, has been chosen as the European Union's first full-time president. He was chosen by the presidents and prime ministers of the 27 E.U. nations. Mr. Van Rompuy will serve a two-and-a-half year term, taking office on January 1. The E.U. presidency had previously been rotating among the heads of the member states every six months.
Catherine Ashton, a British trade commissioner and a member of the House of Lords, was also named to a new post as High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy. She will replace Javier Solana, the High Representative for common foreign and security policy, who served for 10 years. Although Ms. Ashton's appointment began December 1, she is subject to confirmation by the European Parliament. Confirmation hearings will begin in January 2010.
Wife of Iran's President in Rome
Monday, November 16, 2009
First Lady Azam al-Sadat Farahi of Iran made a rare public appearance in Rome on November 15 on the eve of a UN summit to fight hunger. She attended a forum of wives of heads of state led by Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The summit begins today at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
What is even rarer than the public appearance is that al-Sadat Farahi, the wife of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke at the conference. She did not take the podium but spoke from her seat about the ways in which Iran is fighting hunger and guaranteeing food security for families.
Honduras Power Sharing Deal Falls Apart
Friday, November 6, 2009
A power sharing deal that would have resolved the political crisis in Honduras has fallen apart, according to deposed president Manuel Zelaya. In a deal brokered by U.S. diplomats, Mr. Zelaya and the interim president Roberto Micheletti were to have formed a unity government by midnight on November 5. Mr. Zelaya did not submit any names for the cabinet, but Mr. Micheletti proceeded to announce that a new government had been formed. The two disagreed on who would lead the cabinet until the Honduran Congress decided whether to reinstate Mr. Zelaya, who insisted the Congress vote to reinstate him before forming the government. This had not been a condition of the brokered agreement.
Mr. Zelaya was ousted from power in a June 28 coup and was forced to leave the country. He returned to Honduras in September, taking refuge at the Brazilian embassy. Mr. Micheletti was named interim president by the Honduran Congress immediately following the coup.
Tunisia's President Secures Landslide Victory
Friday, October 30, 2009
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali won the presidential election on October 25 for the fifth time. Mr. Ben Ali had almost 90% or more of the vote but less than the percentage of the vote in 2004. He had amended the constitution so he could be reelected in 2004 and 2009. Mr. Ben Ali succeeded Habib Bourguiba in 1987. Mr. Bourguiba had been appointed president for life but was ousted by Mr. Ben Ali on grounds of senility.
The Constitutional Democratic Rally, the president's ruling party, retained a vast majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Mr. Ben Ali's candidacy was also supported by the Social Liberal Party.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai Agrees to Runoff Election
Friday, October 23, 2009
President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan agreed on October 21 to a runoff presidential election, scheduled to be held on November 7. Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission ordered the election after it was determined that the results of the August presidential election were invalidated by voter fraud. A United Nations-backed panel tasked with auditing the election results found that nearly 1 million of the votes cast for Mr. Karzai were fraudulent and should be thrown out. Without these votes, Mr. Karzai failed to attain 50 percent of the vote and to win the election outright. His share of the vote dropped from approximately 54 percent to 49.7 percent.
The second election will take place between Mr. Karzai and his primary rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. His final share of the vote in August was 30.6 percent. Preparing for the election will be a challenge for the Afghan government, as it only has 2 weeks to set up polling sites and voting equipment throughout the country. The government also has to recruit new election officials and poll workers. Mr. Abdullah has said that he is preparing a list of conditions for election organizers. The election may draw lower voter turnout due to harsh winter weather and the increasing threat of violence from insurgents.
Movement for Democratic Change Party Boycotts Unity Government
Friday, October 16, 2009
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe said today that his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party will disengage from partnership with President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party within the country's power-sharing government. The boycott decision has ignited the biggest constitutional crisis since the administration was formed almost ten months ago. The prime minister said his party will not attend cabinet meetings, and he has also begun to boycott his meetings with President Mugabe that occur every Monday. He indicated, however, that the party is not completely pulling out of the government.
The relationship between the two parties has been tenuous, and the last straw may have been the re-arrest this week of MDC senior party member, Roy Bennett. Prime Minister Tsvangirai has said that the ZANU-PF party regards the MDC as a junior partner. There is now pressure on the Southern African Development Community, a regional body that brokered the power-sharing government deal, to salvage what remains of the unity government.
Polish Prime Minister Reorganizes Cabinet
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk reorganized his cabinet, dismissing three cabinet ministers as well as the head of Poland's anti-corruption agency, in an attempt to maintain the integrity of his party, the Civic Platform (PO). Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Grzegorz Schetyna, Justice Minister Andrzej Czuma, and Deputy Economy Minister Adam Szejnfeld all resigned. The cabinet shake-up occurred in the wake of a corruption scandal that had already led to the earlier resignations of Poland's Sports Minister Miroslaw Drzewiecki and the head of PO's parliamentary group, Zbigniew Chlebowski. Mr. Drzewiecki and Mr. Chlebowski are alleged to have been involved in lobbying against a new gambling law on behalf of casino owners; both deny any wrongdoing.
In a separate matter, the head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, Mariusz Kaminski, was also dismirred for abuse of power and use of authority toward politically motivated objectives. Mr. Kaminski allegedly encouraged his agents to fabricate evidence and to offer bribes. Mr. Tusk presumably took these measures to clear his party of any taint of corruption, as he is expected to challenge incumbent Lech Kaczynski in next year's presidential election. In addition, Poland will also hold parliamentary elections in 2011.
Former Prime Minister of Israel Faces Corruption Charges
Friday, September 25, 2009
The former prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, appeared in court today for the opening of his trial on corruption charges. He was indicted on three counts of corruption in late August. Today’s session addressed procedural issues; the evidentiary session will begin in February 2010. Mr. Olmert formally resigned in fall 2008 but remained in office as a caretaker prime minister until this spring.
Mr. Olmert, who had led the centrist Kadima Party, has repeatedly stated his innocence. The allegations relate to the years he served as mayor of Jerusalem and as a senior cabinet minister before he became prime minister in 2006. The charges allege fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records, and failing to report income. If he is convicted, he could be sent to prison.
New Japanese Prime Minister Takes Office
Friday, September 18, 2009
Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, of the Democratic Party (DPJ) of Japan, was formally elected as Japan's new Prime Minister. The outgoing Prime Minister, Taro Aso of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and his cabinet resigned. Mr. Hatoyama's election marks a major power shift in Japan, ending the LDP's dominance of national politics over the last fifty years. The LDP has led Japanese government in nearly uninterrupted succession since 1955, the only exception being in 1993-1994, when Japan was ruled by a coalition government.
Mr. Hatoyama received 327 votes in the 480-seat lower house of Parliament. His election was virtually assured as the DPJ won a landslide victory with 308 of the 480 seats in the general election last month. Mr. Hatoyama faces immediate and serious challenges, including pulling the country out of its worst recession since World War II and record high levels of unemployment. Upon taking office, he named members of his new cabinet, including Hirohisa Fujii as finance minister and Katsuya Okada as foreign minister.
President of United States Commemorates 9/11
Friday, September 11, 2009
President Barack Obama paused to commemorate the 9/11 attacks eight years ago today. Mr. Obama and the First Lady observed a moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. on the South Lawn of the White House, along with 200 White House Staff. The first hijacked plane struck the north tower of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center at that moment. A second hijacked plane struck the south tower approximately 15 minutes later.
He also traveled to the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, where he spoke briefly at a memorial service and placed a wreath at the outdoor memorial. This memorial marks the spot where a hijacked plane crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. Family members of the victims were in the audience. Another hijacked plane crashed at 10:06 a.m. in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to seize control of the plane.
The president has called on Americans to mark today as a day of volunteer service and remembrance.
Ex-President of Taiwan Is Sentenced to Life in Prison
Friday, September 11, 2009
The former president of Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, was convicted of corruption and sentenced to life imprisonment today. His wife, Wu Shu-chen, was also sentenced to life imprisonment on the same charges. Both had been accused of stealing and misusing public money from 2000 to 2008 when Mr. Chen held office. They were also fined $15 million.
Mr. Chen had strongly campaigned against corruption within the Kuomintang, the traditional ruling party of Taiwan. As a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, he was the first politician outside the Kuomintang to become president.
Under Taiwanese law, the life sentences will be automatically appealed.