Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 7th – 13th October 2006

Politics this week: 7th – 13th October 2006

North Korea claimed to have carried out a nuclear test. Russia corroborated the claim, and other regional powers monitored an underground explosion consistent with it. The test was condemned around the world. Japan announced harsh sanctions and America and other countries also threatened them. China, the only country thought to have significant influence with North Korea, called the test a “brazen” act; it was unclear what response it might support. See articleE+

Pakistan condemned North Korea’s test as a “destabilising” act. It should know: Pakistan’s inaugural nuclear tests in 1998 caused international outrage. In 2004 Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear-arms programme, admitted to having illicitly furnished North Korea, Libya and Iran with nuclear technology.

The British commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan held talks with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf about the Taliban insurgents who have killed dozens of NATO troops in recent months. Some Taliban leaders are believed to be based in northern Pakistan with, some NATO officials claim, the approval of Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Scores of soldiers and Tamil rebels were killed in heavy fighting in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula. The conflict began the day after the government and rebels agreed a date for peace talks later this month.

Republicans were embroiled in the fallout from the Mark Foley scandal. As the ethics committee in the House of Representatives issued subpoenas in their investigation into the former congressman’s communications with teenage pages, Dennis Hastert, the speaker, ignored calls to resign for his handling of the affair. Opinion polls showed a sharp drop in support for the party in next month’s mid-term elections. See article

A small plane caused a security scare in New York when it crashed into an apartment building. The pilot, a player for the New York Yankees baseball team, and his flight instructor were killed.


In the only television debate in the California governor’s race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the incumbent, slugged it out with Phil Angelides, his Democratic opponent. He said Mr Angelides had “joy” in his eyes when he spoke about raising taxes. Mr Angelides did his best to link Mr Schwarzenegger to George Bush, but with the governor far ahead in the polls the chatter probably made little difference.

The government announced plans to crack down on violations of the trade embargo on Cuba (sanctions-busting can carry a ten-year jail term). Critics said this was simply a way of propping up the Republican vote in southern Florida.

Raúl Castro, interim leader of Cuba, denied claims by American officials, reported in Time magazine, that his brother, President Fidel Castro, has terminal cancer and will never return to power. The president, who had intestinal surgery in July, was “getting better all the time”, he said.

In the first televised debate between the two remaining candidates in Brazil’s presidential election, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was put on the defensive by aggressive questioning from the centrist challenger, Geraldo Alckmin, about the corruption scandals that have dogged his four-year term in office.

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimated that 650,000 more people have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion than would have died if there had been no invasion. The Bush administration said the study was flawed. See article

The prospect of war in Somalia increased after several hundred Ethiopian troops were seen deep inside the country. They support the transitional government that has been losing out to the Islamists, who now control the capital and much of the country. See article

A ceasefire between Uganda’s government and a rebel group in the north, the Lord’s Resistance Army, seemed to be unravelling. Rebel leaders said they would not leave the bush to begin formal peace talks until warrants for their arrest for war crimes, issued by the International Criminal Court, were dropped.

Amnesty International said several thousand child soldiers continue to serve within armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, three years after a war was officially declared over.

A long-running feud worsened between the president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, and his vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, who hopes to contest presidential elections next year. Mr Abubakar has been told to appear in court to answer corruption charges and a close aide was jailed for disclosing classified information.


Anna Politkovskaya, a campaigning Russian journalist who exposed official wrongdoing, was shot dead in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin, visiting Germany four days later, broke his silence on her killing to condemn it, but described her as a person of “minimal influence” in Russian political life. See article

Later, Mr Putin told his hosts that he wanted to make Germany into Europe’s “gas hub”, but he faced criticism for Russia’s human-rights record and treatment of its neighbours. See article

Georgia condemned Russia’s deportation of ethnic Georgians, as the two countries’ war of words, prompted by a spying row, continued.

The Czech minority government resigned after losing a vote of confidence, perpetuating a four-month-old political stalemate produced by a general election in June that resulted in a tie between left and right.

France is to ban smoking in all public places from next February, the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, announced. Cafés, nightclubs and restaurants must ban smoking by January 2008.

Jack Straw, Britain’s former foreign secretary, sparked a row when he said he preferred Muslim women not to wear the veil in face-to-face meetings. Some accused Mr Straw of trying to raise his profile because he wants to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. Mr Straw’s comments were supported by Gordon Brown, the chancellor and likely successor to Tony Blair. See article

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