Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 20th – 26th May 2006

Politics this week: 20th – 26th May 2006

Politics this week

May 25th 2006
From The Economist print edition


After six months of negotiation, Iraq’s parliament endorsed a united government of Shias, Sunni Arabs and Kurds, led by Nuri al-Maliki, an Islamist from the dominant Shia alliance. The main Sunni Arab party has a clutch of ministries, raising hopes that it will persuade at least some of the insurgents to negotiate. The crucial defence and interior ministries are still waiting to be filled. See articleE+

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister, met President George Bush in Washington, where they agreed that Iran should be prevented from getting nuclear weapons. Mr Bush said America would “come to Israel’s aid” if Iran attacked, and he praised Mr Olmert’s “bold” plan to adjust Israel’s borders unilaterally if attempts to agree them with the Palestinians failed. See articleE+

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, said he would call a referendum unless Hamas agreed to accept the pre-1967 borders of Israel. This came after violence between his Fatah faction and Hamas cost several lives in the Gaza Strip.

Lakhdar Brahimi, a UN official, went to Sudan to try to persuade the government in Khartoum to let a UN peacekeeping force into its western Darfur region. Violence has persisted there since a peace deal between the main rebel group and the government was signed three weeks ago.

In a tense run-up to elections due on July 30th, the government has told politicians in the Democratic Republic of Congo that they should not have more than 25 bodyguards each.

Zimbabwe’s inflation rate exceeded 1,000%. When Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980, Zimbabwe’s dollar was worth $1.60; an American dollar is now officially worth 100,000 Zimbabwean dollars. See articleE+

The World Health Organisation expressed concern about a cluster of recent human deaths from the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Seven people from the same Indonesian family have died from the disease with no apparent sign of animal infection, raising the possibility of human-to-human transmission. See articleE+

Australia is deploying troops to calm Timor-Leste, where violence has erupted in the capital, Dili. The unrest started with the sacking of soldiers, who had gone on strike. The president, Xanana Gusmao, said that security was now his personal responsibility.

Thaksin Shinawatra, chaired his first cabinet meeting since stepping aside as prime minister of Thailand seven weeks ago. Fresh elections have been ordered since a poll on April 2nd was annulled, but no date has yet been set. It is unclear who exactly is running the country at present.

Afghanistan’s government claimed to have killed up to 60 Taliban militants in a battle in the central province of Uruzgan. Fighting has intensified recently in many parts of the country, reaching levels not seen since the American-led invasion of 2001.

China completed work on the main wall of the Three Gorges dam. A vast feat of engineering, the dam has caused much environmental controversy. See articleE+

In Colombia, an army patrol killed ten members of an elite police drug squad and their civilian informant in what officials said was an accident. The incident was a blow to the government of Álvaro Uribe, who was expected to win a second term in a presidential election on May 28th. See articleE+

Vladimiro Montesinos, Peru’s jailed former spy chief, told a court that Ollanta Humala, a candidate in next month’s presidential run-off, helped him escape from the country six years ago by staging a fake military rebellion. Opinion polls give Alan García, a former president, a 15-point lead over Mr Humala.

René Préval, Haiti’s new president, appointed Jacques Edouard Alexis as his prime minister. Mr Alexis, formerly a university rector, held the same post from 1999 to 2001 during Mr Préval’s previous presidency.


Despite strong criticism of his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Ray Nagin was narrowly re-elected as mayor of New Orleans. He won 80% of the black vote.

American congressmen bridled over an FBI search—the first in history—of the office of a sitting congressman, who had been taped accepting a $100,000 bribe. They claimed it was a breach of separation of powers and of congressional prerogatives. William Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana, had stored most of the cash in his freezer. See articleE+

America’s Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal against the combination of drugs used to execute criminals by injection, thereby allowing the practice to continue. A prisoner in Tennessee had claimed that one of the drugs caused such intense pain that it amounted to “cruel and unusual punishment”, which is banned by the constitution.


In Montenegro, 55.4% of those who voted supported independence from Serbia. Theirs will be the first new country in Europe since Slovakia in 1993. Both Montenegro and Serbia want to join the European Union as soon as they can. See article

Spain’s prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, declared that he was preparing for talks with ETA, a Basque separatist group. ETA, which has killed more than 800 people in the past three decades, declared a permanent ceasefire in March.

In a parliamentary election in (Greek) Cyprus, voters strongly backed parties hostile to the idea of reviving the UN unification plan that was rejected in 2004. A solution to the Cyprus problem looks as far off as ever.

Italy’s new government said that the country’s budget deficit was worse than it had feared. A deputy economics minister suggested that it might be over 4.5% of GDP this year. The chances of getting it below 3% by 2007, as promised, now look remote.

In two unrelated but worrying accidents in the Aegean region, a Turkish and a Greek fighter plane collided in mid-air, killing the Greek pilot, and a huge fire engulfed the cargo terminal at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport, injuring three workers.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: