October 23rd, 2007 13:27 EST
Global Community: The World as it's Happening Now
WARSAW, Poland. The naughty child of Europe – as Warsaw was dubbed in European capitals – has finally grown up. The official results of Sunday's parliamentary election clearly show that Poles are fed up with the nationalist conservative government and have decided to give a chance to the pro-European Civic Platform. With a little over 40 percent of the votes, the victorious party falls short of ruling alone and will need to form a coalition with the center-right Polish Peasants Party. If the next Polish government is expected to exercise foreign policy focused on Europe, it remains unclear whether it will veer off the pro-American course of the previous cabinet. “Poland is a member of the European Union, not a member of the United States,” said a prominent Civic Platform politician the day after the election. Earlier, the party leaders pledged to pull out 1,000 Polish troops from Iraq as soon as possible and reconsider its support for a US-sponsored anti-missile shield, elements of which were to be located in Poland. PRAGUE, Czech Republic. Good news for the Bush Administration has come today from Prague, where U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates held talks with his Czech counterparts. At a press conference organized for foreign journalists, Tomas Pojar, the Czech deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, assured his American partners of the support of his government for the anti-missile shield, whose radar Washington plans to build in this Central European country. With Poland's political scene in disarray, the conservative Czech government remains the staunchest American ally in the region. This optimistic picture, however, is blurred by a strong left-wing opposition that the Czech government faces in the country's parliament, where both socialists and conservatives hold an even number of seats.
HAVANA, Cuba. Fidel Castro, 81, is alive and well – or so it appears from his latest article published in a national newspaper. In an essay called “Bush, Hunger and Death” the Cuban dictator attacked President Bush for insisting on democratic changes on the island and “threatening the humanity with World War III.” His words come amid municipal elections in Cuba, the first time in 58 years without Castro's active participation. Cubans will decide next year whether they want their aging and sick dictator to remain in office or step down. Among his probable successors is his 76-year-old brother, Raul. CARACAS, Venezuela. It has been a busy day for the metropolitan police as thousands of students went to the streets to protest against President Chavez's plans to run for a third term. According to various estimations, anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 people flooded the Venezuelan capital, demanding that parliament ~ reject dozens of constitutional amendments that would allow Mr. Chavez to rule the country indefinitely. The president also plans to revoke a number of civil liberties, as well as extend the governmental control over the national bank. Today's protest has been the first in months in this oil-rich South American country.
AFRICA KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A chance of bringing peace to war-shattered Uganda has appeared today when Opiyo Makasi, a leading officer of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), gave himself up to United Nations officials stationed in the DRC. Makasi's surrender is yet another blow to the rebellious LRA, which claim to impose God's will in northern Uganda. Despite last year's agreement signed between the rebels and the Ugandan government representatives, hundreds of LRA soldiers, often children, have remained in the region's vast jungles, refusing to disarm. Among the countries affected by the Lord's Resistance Army, the Democratic Republic of Congo is probably the least fortunate of all. Having elected its first ever-democratic government in 2006, it has been continuously torn apart by various warring factions from Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. RABAT, Morocco. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has begun the second day of his three-day visit to Morocco by declaring the need for maintaining strong ties between France and its former African colony. At a meeting with local politicians, the French president explained that his country was looking forward to starting new initiatives with Morocco, such as those signed on Monday – agreements on a fast train and atomic power sharing. A friendly atmosphere was disturbed by some voices from Paris, which asked Mr. Sarkozy to inquire about the death of Mehdi Ben Barka, a Moroccan opposition leader killed in France in 1965. The French president ducked the questions about Ben Barka and whether he would seek the extradition of suspected Moroccans.
KARACHI, Pakistan. A week after two suicide bombings killed 136 supporters of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister is said to have received another death threat. According to Bhutto, the letter signed by someone who calls himself “a friend of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden” was addressed to her lawyer and contained the words about “slaughtering Ms. Bhutto like a goat.” Ms. Bhutto returned to Pakistan last week, after over a decade of exile when the incumbent president, Perves Musharraf, snatched power in a military coup. Although cut off from her political base, the former prime minister is widely regarded as the only serious opposition to the Musharraf government.
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