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Published:November 16th, 2007 17:02 EST
World Chronicle for November 16

World Chronicle for November 16

By Krzys Wasilewski

AFRICA

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa. Is it the right time for South Africa to elect its first female president? Many politicians of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) think it is and propose foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the party's chairman that will be chosen in December this year. Since according to the South African constitution the president is elected by the parliament, whoever becomes the ANC leader is bound to take over the country's top position. Since the fall of apartheid in 1994, the ANC has been the largest party in the parliament, with opposition usually scoring less than seven percent. If Dlamini-Zuma decides to participate in the contest, her main rivals will be the incumbent president, Thabo Mbeki and former vice president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign from his post after being accused of receiving bribes and raping his secretary.

AMERICAS

WASHINGTON, DC, US. Diplomacy is about secrets and cunning as Napoleon's foreign minister, Talleyrand, said; but sometimes the dirt surfaces. The Associated Press reports that a number of foreign diplomats could have abused their servants by forcing them to work over 10 hours a day and paying them much less than the minimal wage set by the US law. In one such case a Bangladesh maid working for a representative of the Bangladesh government is said to have been on duty from 16 to 19 hours a day with a monthly salary of $29. Similar allegations have been made against a number of diplomats, usually from the Third World countries.

According to the Vienna Convention which regulates the diplomatic law, diplomats cannot be prosecuted by the country of their residence.

WASHINGTON, DC, US. Despite long hand shakes and broad smiles, the atmosphere of the first official meeting between US President George W. Bush and Japan's new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda could be described as lukewarm at most. A number of problems have remained unresolved ranging from Japan's refusal to restart its military mission in the Indian Ocean – the Japanese were providing American ships with fuel and provisions – to Tokyo's role in the talks with North Korea. In addition, Fukuda raised the topic of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the North Korean secret service who were brainwashed and forced to teach Japanese to North Korean spies. “I understand how important this issue is to the Japanese people, and we will not forget the Japanese abductees and their families," the Associated Press quotes President Bush.

ASIA

BEIJING, China. China will not tolerate political and religious demonstrations during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, announced a governmental official on Friday. The Associated Press quotes Liu Shaowu, responsible for the Olympics security, as saying: “As for violating China's sovereignty and encouraging separatists and terrorists, definitely we will not allow that." His assistant was also to have said that any attempt to show disapproval of the current situation in China would be stopped by the police and other security forces.

China was awarded the organization of the 2008 Olympic Games after pledging to liberalize its rigid political system and allow the Chinese people to express their views more openly. However, if the country's economy is accelerating with lighting speed, human rights are deteriorating. Dozens of prisoners are executed on a daily basis and all demonstrations and protests are banned.

EUROPE

WARSAW, Poland. A new, center-right government has been sworn in today. In a modest ceremony in the presidential palace, President Lech Kaczynski, whose twin brother was the prime minister until today, offered the new cabinet his support and advice; however it is expected that the cooperation between the two centers of power will be far from easy. According to the Polish constitution the president exercises a veto over all bills, except the budget bill, and shares responsibility for foreign policy.

The new prime minister, Donald Tusk, promised a new period in the country's history. As a sign of breaking off with irresponsible spending of the previous conservative government, the new cabinet of 18 ministers arrived in the sworn-in ceremony by one bus instead of a cavalcade of limousines which epitomized the old times.

Tusk's Civic Platform won the early parliamentary election on a pledge to boost the country's economy and attract hundreds of thousands of Poles who had left for Great Britain and Ireland back to their homeland. Among the 18 ministers who constitute the new government, two hold dual Polish-British citizenship: foreign minister Radek Sikorski, whose wife is the famous American writer and journalist Ann Applebaum; and finance minister Jacek Rostowski.

The new government is expected to exercise less pro-American foreign policy than its conservative predecessor. Many prominent politicians of the Civic Platform have said that Polish troops in Iraq should be withdrawn as soon as possible.

TBILISI, Georgia. After nine days, President Mikhail Sakaashvili lifted the state of emergency in the capital and elsewhere in the country. The constitution and civil rights were suspended when thousands of people took to the streets of Tbilisi two weeks ago to protest against Sakaashvili and demand that he call a new presidential election. Early this week, the president announced that the election would be held on January 5, ending the most violent period in Georgia's recent history. An agreement between Sakaashvili and opposition parties was possible due to the mediation of the country's Orthodox Church, traditionally the most respected institution in Georgia.

MIDDLE EAST

ANKARA, Turkey. After weeks of military actions against Kurdish separatists, the government in Ankara has decided to strike a political blow. In Turkish parliament of 550 deputies, the Kurdish Democratic Society Party holds 20 seats which now have become the object of an attack from the ruling nationalist coalition. The party is accused of questioning the country's integrity and being “based on blood and orders from the terrorist organization of" the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The Chief Prosecutor office has placed the indictment before the Constitutional Court which is expected to make its decision in several weeks.

According to some experts, the move may be perceived by the European Union infringing democratic rules and endanger Turkey's membership in the EU.

The PKK is on the Washington's list of terrorist organizations and the Bush Administration has recently promised to support Turkey and Iraq in their efforts to root out their territories of the Kurdish rebels.

Kurds inhabit Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. The PKK and other groups have been fighting for an independent state that could home the entire Kurdish population of around 30 million.