Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 28th April – 4th May 2007

Politics this week: 28th April – 4th May 2007

urkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called for an early general election after the constitutional court rejected a parliamentary vote on his nomination of the foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, for president. Turkey’s powerful generals say that Mr Gul has a hidden Islamist agenda. A million secularists rallied in Istanbul. Turkey’s stockmarket fell sharply. See article

Russia reacted furiously to Estonia’s removal of a Soviet war memorial from the centre of Tallinn to a military cemetery. Protesters blockaded the Estonian embassy in Moscow, prompting a rebuke from the European Union. Russia cut oil and coal exports. See article

Nicolas Sarkozy kept a small lead in France’s presidential election. In a televised debate, he kept his cool under a blustering attack from his Socialist rival, Ségolène Royal. The voters will decide on May 6th. See article

Venezuela’s government took control of oilfields in the Orinoco heavy-oil belt previously operated by multinationals. It had earlier obliged the multinationals to sign new contracts under which they have become minority partners in joint ventures with the state. Meanwhile, President Hugo Chávez said that Venezuela would withdraw from the IMF and the World Bank.

Raúl Castro, Cuba’s acting president, led government officials at the country’s traditional May Day mass celebration. His elder brother, Fidel Castro, Cuba’s convalescing leader, did not appear despite earlier speculation that he might.

Politicians in the English-speaking Caribbean expressed disappointment at the lack of foreign spectators at the seven-week cricket World Cup. In the final, played in Barbados, Australia beat Sri Lanka amid much confusion about the rules. See article

After being lambasted by a report into Israel’s conduct of last summer’s war in Lebanon, Israel’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, seemed to have fended off growing calls for him to resign, including one from his foreign minister. See article

Iraq’s interior minister said that the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq had been killed by other insurgents, suggesting a split over how to respond to government feelers to negotiate. See article


Iraq’s neighbours, along with representatives of the G8 group of rich countries, the European Union, the United States and the Arab League, met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss ways of ending the mayhem in Iraq.

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Ahmed Haroun, Sudan’s minister for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Kosheib, a leader of the janjaweed militia. They are charged with mass murder, rape and other crimes in Darfur. The Sudanese government has a legal duty to hand over the two men, but repeated its refusal to do so.

For the first time since last month’s resumption of civil war in Somalia, African Union peacekeeping troops gingerly patrolled the capital, Mogadishu, following the exodus of more than 300,000 civilians. But the UN Security Council called for a plan to deploy UN peacekeepers to take over from the floundering AU force, to which only Uganda has so far contributed troops.

Despite continuing calls by disgruntled opposition candidates and an array of foreign observers for last month’s Nigerian presidential election to be run again, Umaru Yar’Adua was certified by the electoral commission to have won. He said he would review the “conduct” of elections for the future.

Although rejecting their compensation claims on technical grounds, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that two Chinese women had indeed been abducted by Japanese soldiers and forced into sexual slavery during the second world war. The ruling came as Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited Washington and repeated his half-apology for publicly doubting the Japanese army’s role in coercing so-called “comfort women”. See article

China expressed its indignation as Taiwan persuaded St Lucia to switch diplomatic allegiance to it from the mainland. Meanwhile, China proposed a route for the Olympic torch in 2008 that would take it from Taiwan to Hong Kong, which Taiwan rejected on the ground that this implied Taiwan belonged to China.

The final obstacle to holding the long-delayed trials of former leaders of Cambodia’s murderous Khmer Rouge regime was cleared: the local bar association dropped a demand to charge heavy fees to foreign lawyers participating in the trials.

A suicide-bomber killed at least 28 people and injured around 50, including Pakistan’s interior minister, in the country’s lawless North-West Frontier province.

The fledgling air force of Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers bombed targets in and around Colombo, the capital, prompting some commercial airlines to suspend flights. See article

As promised, George Bush wielded a veto, only the second of his presidency, against a military-spending bill sent to him by Congress because it set a Democratic timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq. Mr Bush held talks at the White House with both parties to seek a compromise. The Democrats said that a new bill must, at the very least, include “benchmarks” for Iraq. See article

Human Rights Watch, a worldwide organisation that has its headquarters in New York, issued a report on Wal-Mart that accused the retailer of denying basic rights to its workers by thwarting their attempts to organise in a union. Wal-Mart, America’s biggest private employer, said the report was based on “unsubstantiated allegations”.

Supporters of immigrant rights took to the streets in several American cities. Fewer people took part than a year ago when similar events were held; Chicago saw the biggest protest, of 150,000 people. In Los Angeles, the police said they were investigating their handling of a rally that erupted into violence.


Celebrations got under way in Jamestown, Virginia, to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Queen Elizabeth II was due to visit the site this week. President George Bush is going to attend the festivities on May 13th. See article

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