Home > Uncategorized > Politics this week: 2nd – 8th June 2007

Politics this week: 2nd – 8th June 2007

Politics this week

Jun 7th 2007
From The Economist print edition


Amid the usual noisy demonstrations from anti-globalisation protesters, the annual G8 summit met in Heiligendamm, northern Germany. Thanks to American opposition (and a new proposal for negotiations that George Bush unveiled last week), the summit looked unlikely to reach agreement on climate change, which its host Angela Merkel had put top of the agenda.

The pre-summit atmosphere was soured by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. He threatened to retaliate against the deployment of limited American missile defences in Poland and the Czech Republic by targeting Russia’s nuclear missiles on Europe again.

Rumours that Turkey had invaded northern Iraq in force were denied. But Turkish troops and armour continued to mass on the border. Senior figures in both the army and the government favour a cross-border operation in pursuit of Kurdish PKK fighters. See article

The Basque separatist group ETA formally ended the ceasefire that it had declared in March 2006. The announcement was a blow to the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who had stuck his neck out to negotiate with ETA. He faces a general election next March. See article

The European Union decided to recommence talks with Serbia on a stabilisation agreement, the usual prelude to membership talks, which had been suspended last year because of Serbia’s failure to hand over the Bosnian Serb wartime general, Ratko Mladic, to the war-crimes tribunal at The Hague. Some diplomats expect Serbia to catch Mr Mladic soon. See article

Israel held training exercises for a possible clash with Syria as Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, tried to dampen fears at home of a war this summer. But, in a change from previous statements, he said Israel would like to hold direct talks with Syria.

France argued for an aid corridor from Chad into Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region to help the relief operation there. France is the only Western country with troops already in Chad that could protect such a channel.


A joint report by two UN agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme, said that 2.1m Zimbabweans may be dangerously short of food by the third quarter of this year. That figure may rise to more than 4m (a third of all Zimbabweans) in the first three months of next year.

The trial of Liberia’s former president, Charles Taylor, began in The Hague. He has been indicted on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in a civil war in Sierra Leone; the trial could last for up to 18 months.

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Dick Cheney, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for perjury and for obstructing an investigation into the naming of a CIA officer, whose husband had criticised the administration over Iraq. Mr Libby was convicted in March, but some conservative pundits and politicians are asking George Bush to use his powers to pardon him because, they say, he is just a scapegoat.

William Jefferson, a Democratic congressman from New Orleans, was indicted by federal authorities on 16 charges for allegedly accepting bribes. He resigned from his seat on the House of Representatives’ small-business committee, but Republicans said the Democrats were moving too slowly to eject him from Congress. See article

War-crimes charges against two detainees held at Guantánamo Bay were dismissed by military j
udges on the ground that the accused had not been designated as “unlawful” enemy combatants, as required for their trial before the new military commissions. It is the latest setback for the administration’s much-criticised system for dealing with suspected terrorists. See article

The Republican presidential candidates held their third debate. As well as Iraq (where Mr Bush was criticised on all sides), the deal on immigration legislation reached between the White House and key senators was to the fore. Several candidates also endorsed the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran if it refused to end its nuclear programme. The Democratic candidates’ second debate was, by contrast, a tame affair. See article

Ten people in America were arrested in connection with an alleged plot to topple the government of Laos. Vang Pao, an ethnic Hmong and a former military commander, and others were accused of trying to buy guns, missiles and explosives to prepare for an attempted coup. See article

In the midst of a domestic crisis, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, issued a decree giving regulators new powers to curb broadcasters. After widespread protests, the government promised not to implement the decree until it had been reviewed by a committee. See article

China produced its first national plan for tackling climate change, pledging to curb its greenhouse-gas emissions, but not at the expense of economic growth. In Australia, John Howard, the prime minister, announced a change of policy, committing the country to capping emissions regardless of China’s actions. See article


Zakia Zaki, the owner of a radio station in Afghanistan, was shot dead at her home. Ms Zaki’s murder followed that of a female newsreader. The journalists’ association said the killings showed how difficult the working climate had become for journalists, especially women.

Álvaro Uribe, Colombia’s president, freed almost 200 imprisoned FARC guerrillas including Rodrigo Granda, one of its leaders, in an attempt to secure the release of some 60 guerrilla hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt, a Franco-Colombian politician. See article

In a closely watched decision that boosts competition policy in the country, Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down a provision in a law passed last year that would have allowed Mexico’s two television companies free use of the radio spectrum to offer telephone and internet services.

In his first television interview since stomach surgery last year, Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro, shed no light as to whether he would resume any official duties.

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