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Published:November 27th, 2007 14:42 EST
News Chronicle: November 27

News Chronicle: November 27

By Krzys Wasilewski

AFRICA ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia- The government in Addis Ababa is going to defend the country's integrity with all possible means, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said today. In his speech to parliament, Zenawi referred to the poverty-stricken region of Odagen, where an armed insurgency has killed almost 80 people in the past month. “We are maintaining our previous strategy of taking legal and proportional measures against the anti-peace elements in the Ogaden,” the Associated Press quotes the prime minister. Although Odagen is one of the most impoverished regions of Ethiopia, vast resources of gas and oil that were recently discovered there has turned it into the government's top priority.

Meanwhile, a U.N. special envoy has arrived in Ethiopia today to mediate between the central government and Odagen rebels. During his one-day visit, John Holmes will also review U.N.-led humanitarian operations that are supposed to give food and shelter to almost one million refugees who had to flee their homes after the Odagen region was flooded.

AMERICAS

WASHINGTON, DC, US- The US-sponsored peace conference, held in Annapolis, Maryland, took off today with a strong accent. A joint statement issued by the Palestinian and Israeli representatives and read out by U.S. President George W. Bush, who hosted the conference, pledged that both sides would return to the negotiation table and accelerate their efforts to bring stabilization to the Middle East. The Associated Press cites the document as reading: “We agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.”

The conference began amid the strong opposition among the majority of the Palestinians and Israelis. Yesterday, some hard-line from the two nations called on boycotting the talks, stripping their representatives of political support. In addition, President Bush has been under severe criticism for orchestrating the meeting in the time when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have destabilized the Middle East. 

In his introductory speech, however, President Bush said, “the time is right because a battle is under way for the future of the Middle East and we must not cede victory to the extremists.”

ASIA

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka- Chances for a peace agreement between the authorities in Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fade with the rebels saying today that any deal with the central government was “impossible.” The Associated Press quotes the Tamil Tiger leader as saying: “[Colombo] is unleashing unthinkable violence against another people. It only desires to find a solution to the Tamil question through military might and oppression.”

Also today, 11 children were killed in a bomb attack. After today's LTTE announcement, it is expected that such attacks aimed at civilians will intensify. 

The conflict between the central government and the LTTE has lasted for years. Both sides – Sri Lanka's ruling Sinhalese and the Tamil Tiger rebels – accuse one another of ethnic cleansing. 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan- Expected to give up the army leadership on Wednesday, President Musharraf spent Tuesday on a farewell tour of Pakistan's military units. The day after he takes off his general uniform, Musharraf will officially begin his second presidential term. Although the Supreme Court stated last week that the incumbent president had not broken the law by running for office while being the army chief, facing the climbing pressure from the United States and the European Union, Musharraf hardly had any choice.

Despite Musharraf's decision to resign from the military leadership position, opposition parties are calling for a boycott of the January parliamentary election. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff, who was ousted by General Musharraf in the 1999 military coup, said he would ask his nemesis, Benazi Bhutto, to ally with him to end the “dictatorship.”

EUROPE

PARIS, France- It's been the second day of riots in the Paris suburbs that began last Sunday. Hundreds of immigrant youths took to the streets, setting fire to parked cars and smashing shop windows after two Muslim teenagers driving a motor scooter were hit by a police car. The two police officers who had caused the accident ran away, leaving the teenagers on the road to die. President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the French people to show patience and work together to solve the growing problem of restive immigrants. 

The riots resemble the situation from 2005, when immigrants from Muslim countries ransacked the streets of the Paris suburbs for over a month. Thousands of cars were burned and blocks of flats devastated following the death of two teenagers in a police ambush. Then, Sarkozy, who was the interior minister, called the protesters “scum.”

MIDDLE EAST

ANKARA, Turkey- The Turkish Air Force is reported today as having dropped thousands of leaflets on the territories controlled by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). According to the Associated Press, leaflets offered amnesty to the rebels, if they renounced violence. “Make your decision and leave the organization. Go to the nearest military unit or police station. You will be welcomed with love,” one such paper read. Although the amnesty program has been in effect for over 15 years, very few PKK members have disarmed themselves voluntarily.

The Turkish government has been in a state of war with the PKK since 1984. Kurds, who inhabit Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Armenia, have been fighting to carve out an independent state. Their efforts had been unsuccessful until the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in 2003 and destabilized the fragile balance of power in the region.