Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 10th – 16th February 2007

Politics this week: 10th – 16th February 2007

Articles from this week’s edition of The Economist
Dealing with North Korea | The future of money | America’s primaries | Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party | The insurgency in southern Thailand | What next after the intra-Palestinian peace deal? | Ségolène Royal unveils her programme | Britain’s philanthropists | Without Daimler, whither Detroit? | Bad mortgages threaten America’s banks | A practical quantum computer | Anna Nicole Smith, beleaguered bombshell

Politics this week

Feb 15th 2007
From The Economist print edition


After tense talks in Beijing, North Korea,which in October tested a nuclear weapon, promised to shut down its main nuclear reactor in return for fuel aid. The talks, involving America, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, also led to an agreement to resume ministerial talks between the two Koreas, and to take steps towards normalising America’s relations with North Korea. But the agreement makes no explicit mention of nuclear weapons, dismantling nuclear facilities or disposing of nuclear materials. See article

The foreign ministers of India, China and Russia met in Delhi to discuss the state of the world. It was the first such high-level meeting between China and India since China alarmed potential adversaries by testing an anti-satellite missile last month.

In a surprising presidential election in Turkmenistan, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won only 89% of the vote. Mr Berdymukhamedov had been acting-president since the death in December of Saparmurat Niyazov, who had ruled the country for more than two decades. The opposition was not allowed to field any candidates.

Malaysia’s prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, held talks with the Thai junta and offered to mediate to help end the Muslim separatist insurgency in southern Thailand. See article

Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of the Kuomintang, Taiwans main opposition party, resigned after being formally charged with corruption offences. But he also announced his intention to stand in next year’s presidential election. See article

The two main Palestinian factions, the Islamists of Hamas and the secular Fatah, agreed in Mecca to form a unity government in the hope of stopping bloodshed between the groups’ militias and of ending a year-long international boycott of the Hamas-run Palestinian government. Hamas refused to recognise Israel but said it would “respect” (not precisely accept) past Palestinian agreements with it. See article

Just as Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, was making a speech to mark the anniversary of the bombing of one of the Iraqi Shias’ holiest shrines, in Samarra, a huge bomb went off in Baghdad, killing at least 80 people. Other bombs continued to make sectarian mayhem, as America’s promised “surge” of thousands of extra troops into Baghdad was set to begin. See article


Seven simultaneous bombings killed six people near Algeria’s capital, Algiers. A group calling itself the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, perhaps a new version of the previously better-known Salafist
Group for Call and Combat, said it was responsible, raising fears that al-Qaeda has activated a north African front.

Guinea’s president, Lansana Conté, who has been facing growing demonstrations against his 25-year-old dictatorship, declared martial law amid increasing violence. Most businesses have shut down; some embassies have told their citizens to leave.

Ugandan MPs approved the contribution of 1,500 troops as part of an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia. They are due to replace the Ethiopian troops that helped to overthrow Somali Islamist militias last year. Burundi, Ghana and Nigeria have also promised troops.

Ecuador’s Congress voted to approve a proposal by the country’s new leftist president, Rafael Correa, for a Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution. Meanwhile the government, which has talked of defaulting on its debt, said it would make a payment that falls due this week. See article

Bolivia’s socialist president, Evo Morales, led troops into a tin smelter and declared its nationalisation. The smelter’s owners, Glencore, a Swiss mining firm, said they would claim compensation. The government claims the smelter’s privatisation in 1999 was fraudulent. See article

The Socialist candidate for the French presidential election, Ségolène Royal, revealed a decidedly left-wing presidential platform. It included many promises of more public spending, but little on how to pay for it all. See article

French police arrested 11 suspected terrorists. Nine of them were allegedly al-Qaeda members thought to have been recruiting fighters to join the insurgency in Iraq. In Spain, the trial began of 29 people suspected of involvement in the 2004 Madrid train-bombings.

George Bush said Russia and America could still co-operate over many things despite an angry speech by Vladimir Putin, who denounced American militarism at a conference in Munich. See articleE+

The European Parliament endorsed a report criticising several European governments for complicity in secret CIA flights used for extraordinary renditions. These included the kidnap and transport of suspected Islamist terrorists to third countries, in some of which they were tortured.


Portugal is to legalise abortion during the first ten weeks of pregnancy, after 59% of voters backed the change in a referendum. The turnout was below 50%, so the result was not legally binding, but the government pledged to act on the result in any case.

The House of Representatives held a debate on Iraq. If, as was expected, a non-binding resolution opposing the deployment of extra troops is passed (the Democratic majority was expecting the support of some Republicans as well), it would represent the first time Congress has repudiated George Bush’s policy on the war.

Mitt Romney announced he was entering the race for president. The former one-term Republican governor of Massachusetts, who is a Mormon, has been steadily polishing his credentials with social conservatives, especially over the issue of gay marriage. See article

Meanwhile, Barack Obama officially launched his campaign from the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, the place where Abraham Lincoln forged his political career.

A year after Larry Summers said he was quitting the job amid a furore over his comments on differences between the sexes, Harvard University picked a new president. Drew Gilpin Faust is the first woman to hold the post.

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