November 22nd, 2007 03:51 EST
News Summary: November 21
ASMARA, Eritrea. According to the government in Asmara, Eritrea is in the state of war with Ethiopia since the latter country has refused to accept the borderlines set by the United Nations. Although similar announcements have been made before, international observes fear this time it could lead to a full-scale conflict. A state-controlled newspaper published an article which accused Ethiopia of “undermining the values of international agreements” and starting “an aggression against the Eritrean people.”
Eritrea appeared on the map of Africa in 1993 when it broke from Ethiopia. Since then the two countries have been sworn enemies, fighting wars and disputing borderlines. The latest serious conflict claimed over 70,000 lives and ended in 2000 with a peace agreement that has been broken ever since.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa. Ian Smith, the man who created Rhodesia and stood at its helm for 14 years, died at the age of 88. The cause of his death is unknown; however, Smith was reported to have been sick for some time. He spent his last years South African residence.
Ian Smith broke ties with Great Britain in 1965 and declared Rhodesia an independent country. Soon the white minority elected him prime minister and Smith managed to stay at his post for 14 years, despite the uprising waged by black rebels. In 1980 both sides reached an agreement and Smith was replaced by Robert Mugabe, who has remained in power ever since. For all his life, Smith insisted that if he had been allowed to continue his rule, the black and white people of Zimbabwe (renamed after Mugabe's victory) would have been better off.
WASHINGTON, DC, US. Presidential race in the United States seems to be reaching a boiling point, a year before the election. Surprisingly, the main battle is being fought between Democratic top candidates, namely Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. The former first lady belittled Illinois senator's experience in foreign policy, saying that one's childhood spent abroad does not give credentials to rule a world superpower. “Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face,” the Associated Press cites Hillary Clinton. On Monday Obama told his supporters that by having a Kenyan father and being brought up in Indonesia, he has acquired a better understanding of other cultures and customs.
SINGAPORE, Singapore City. At a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, the Filipino president criticized the current situation in Myanmar where the ruling junta has brutally silenced the democratic opposition. “Let me be very clear. We ... remain concerned about the pace of progress of Myanmar on the issue of human rights,” the Associated Press quotes President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Philippines remains the only country which has decided to raise the issue of Myanmar, despite the fact that the Singaporean meeting is attended by all 10 ASEAN members. On Monday, diplomats adopted a chapter which is perceived as the first step to the creation of a political and economical union.
Myanmar, a mountainous country of over 50 million people, has been ruled by the military junta since 1962. Recently, wave of democratic protests struck the country, but were brutally put down by the police and army.
PARIS, France. Although it's been months since Jacques Chirac left the Elysees Palace, the former French president does not disappear from newspapers and television. It is not Chirac's long political experience that draws the media attention, but his ambiguous record as mayor of Paris. The allegations of embezzlement concern the years 1977-1995, but the prosecution had to wait until Chirac lost his presidential immunity. With Chirac under investigation, the judge will decide whether the former president was responsible for organizing a payment system in Paris City Hall where people received high wages even though they were not officially employed. Most of those who benefited during Chirac's mayorship were members of his center-right party.
“Never were Paris municipal resources devoted to ambitions other than acting for the Parisians. There was never personal enrichment. There was never a 'system,'” the Associated Press quotes the former French president.
Jacques Chirac served as president for two terms, from 1995 to 2007. Although the French constitution does not set the limit of presidential terms, Chirac did not take part in the May presidential election, trailing in opinion polls.
MOSCOW, Russia. Nothing unites the Russian people better than a common enemy. This time, like before all elections in Russia, the West has been accused of all the evil of the world, from the falling of the Soviet Union to democratic revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. As the Associated Press reports, President Putin, who is banned by the constitution from running for the third term, said that “those who confront us need a weak and ill state. They want to have a divided society, in order to do their deeds behind its back," he said. Dressed in a sports jacket, Putin addressed thousands of the supporters of the United Russia (the party created by Putin), two weeks before the parliamentary election. “The vote on Dec. 2 will to large extent determine the fate of the country. By all means, come to the polls and vote for United Russia,” the Associated Press quotes the president.
Although it is very unlikely that Putin will seek a constitutional amendment which would enable him to run for the third term, the incumbent president is far from retiring. He has already announced he would run for a parliamentary seat and has not eliminated the possibility of becoming prime minister in the next government.
JERUSALEM, Israel. One thousand rifles and two million rounds of ammunition from Russia may soon enrich the Palestinian military. Unlike in the past, this time Israel gave the green light to such a transaction, arguing that it could improve the position of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas, who succeeded Yasser Arafat as the leader of the Fatah movement, has moved the peace talks with Israel considerably forward but lacks his predecessor's political posture and loses the fight with the more extreme Hamas. With the control over the Gaza Strip and better equipped and organized militia, Hamas poses a threat to the long-awaited peace agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.