Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 17th – 23rd March 2007

Politics this week: 17th – 23rd March 2007

The mayhem continued in Iraq. Among the atrocities were three car-bombs (two near Fallujah, the third near Ramadi) that used chlorine gas. These attacks killed eight people and injured more than 350. Meanwhile, anti-war protests in America and elsewhere marked the fourth anniversary of the invasion.

A new Hamas-Fatah unity government took control of the Palestinian Authority. But Hamas’s refusal to renounce violence against Israel means an international boycott remains in place. See article

Russia was reported to have withdrawn assistance from the nuclear reactor it is building in Iran at Bushehr. It was not clear whether this was because of a commercial spat or part of the international campaign to stop Iran from enriching uranium.

There was heavy fighting in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after government and Ethiopian troops tried to enter an Islamist insurgent stronghold. The corpses of two soldiers were dragged through the streets. There has been a rise in attacks by the remnants of the Islamist militias, which were defeated by Ethiopian-backed forces in December. See article

As a government crackdown on opposition leaders continued in Zimbabwe, some of its neighbours were, for the first time, openly critical of President Robert Mugabe. With thousands fleeing the country Levy Mwanawasa, Zambia’s president, compared Zimbabwe to the “sinking Titanic”. See article

The row over last year’s sacking of eight federal prosecutors gathered steam. A committee in Congress authorised subpoenas in order to get White House aides to testify on Capitol Hill. George Bush said he would not allow them to do so on the ground that it would be a “witch hunt”.

Kathleen Blanco decided not to seek re-election as Louisiana’s governor later this year. Ms Blanco, a Democrat, had seen her political stock tumble in the state with the failure of her “Road Home” rebuilding programme in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Presidential candidates started to rethink their campaign strategies after California moved forward the date of its primary to February 5th 2008. Legislators in New York also approved a measure to move its primary to that date. New Hampshire, which holds the first primary, has not ruled out bringing its election forward to as early as December.


Six-party talks in Beijing aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme ended in disarray. The North Korean delegation went home early angry that $25m, frozen in a bank in Macau, had not yet reached its account. On the eve of the talks, America had agreed to the transfer of the money. See article

The confrontation between Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, and the country’s judiciary worsened. Eight judges have resigned in protest at General Musharraf’s attempt to dismiss Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice, on charges of misconduct and misuse of authority. Opposition parties have rallied to Mr Chaudhry’s defence.

More than 100 people were reported killed in Pakistan’s tribal area of South Waziristan in days of fighting between local ethnic-Pushtun tribesmen and foreign militants. The Afghan government says the area provides sanctuary for Taliban fighters waging an insurgency against it and its NATO allies.

An Italian journalist was freed from captivity in Afghanistan in exchange for five Taliban fighters. America made a formal diplomatic complaint to Italy about the deal.

Heavy fighting erupted in eastern Sri Lanka between government troops and rebels from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The Tigers attacked four army bases from land and sea. Neither side has repudiated the 2002 ceasefire agreement, but the country is sliding ever closer to all-out civil war.

In Thailand, the police recommended that Thaksin Shinawatra, the exiled former prime minister ousted in a coup last September, be charged on three counts of insulting the country’s much-revered king.

Twelve candidates got on the ballot for the first round of France’s presidential election on April 22nd. The centre-right front-runner, Nicolas Sarkozy, widened his opinion-poll lead a little and won an endorsement from President Jacques Chirac. The centrist François Bayrou is still snapping at the heels of the Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal. See article

Finland’s election confirmed a shift to the right in the Nordic region. The ruling Centre Party of Matti Vanhanen won the most seats, but he may have to link with the conservative National Coalition Party instead of his current partner, the Social Democrats, who slumped to their worst result since 1962.

Gordon Brown, who is likely to take over from Tony Blair as prime minister, unveiled his final budget as Britain’s chancellor. It included a flamboyant 2p cut in the main rates of income and corporation tax. See article

Two submariners from HMS Tireless, a British navy nuclear-powered submarine, died when an air filter exploded on board. The boat, which was patrolling off Alaska, has run into trouble before. In 2000 she had to make a lengthy stop in Gibraltar, causing a diplomatic row with Spain.

Colombia’s government said it would consider seeking the extradition of senior managers of Chiquita Brands, a banana company, after it pleaded guilty in an American court to charges that its former subsidiary in the country paid $1.7m to right-wing paramilitaries in order to protect its workers. The company said it also paid left-wing guerrillas.


In a bad week for the illegal drug industry, Panamanian police, working with agents from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, seized almost 20 tonnes of cocaine from a ship off the Pacific coast, while Mexican police found $206m in cash in a Mexico City house used by a methamphetamine syndicate.

Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s new left-wing president, appeared to win his battle with the formerly opposition-dominated Congress. The electoral tribunal, having expelled 57 legislators, swore in 21 of their alternates who support Mr Correa. Provided with a pro-government quorum, Congress met under police guard.

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