December 5th, 2007 14:53 EST
World Chronicle: December 5
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said today that Africa still remains one of the top priorities of the Bush Administration. During her visit to America's staunchest ally in sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia, Rice held talks with a number of African politicians, including the presidents of East Africa's countries: Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda. The U.S. secretary of state also met with the prime minister of the war-shattered Democratic Republic of Congo, who sought stronger American support in the fragile region.
Addressing the present situation in Somalia, where governmental forces have been clashing with various warlords and Islamic rebels, the U.S. secretary of state called on African countries to contribute troops to this fallen state. So far, only Uganda has kept its promises and sent a 1,800-strong peacekeeping contingent. Ethiopian forces, which arrived in Somalia last year to back up the impotent Somali government, are not part of the official African Union mission and are to withdraw by the end of 2007.
Being asked about the recent tensions on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, Condoleezza Rice said that both countries should seek a peaceful resolution of the problem. “We don't need a use of force here to deal with what is obviously a significant border problem,” the Associated Press quotes the U.S. secretary of state.
WASHINGTON, DC, US- As Democratic presidential hopefuls try to establish themselves as international statesmen, it is immigration that plays the main role in the Republican contest. The question is who is tougher on illegal aliens and who can protect the American borders better. Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he had dismissed the landscape company when he realized it kept employing illegal workers. His statement was issued amidst the controversy sparked by Rudy Giuliani, another GOP contender, who said earlier that Romney had turned his possession into a “sanctuary mansion.” Shooting back, Romney accused the former New York mayor of being too lenient on illegal immigrants in the city.
Other candidates try to benefit from the animosities between Giuliani and Romney. The Associated Press quotes a representative of Fred Thomson as saying: “First Mitt Romney was for illegal immigrants working on his lawn, and then he was against it, then for it, and now I guess he's against it again. Sounds like his position on amnesty.”
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka- At least 36 people could have been killed today in an armed clash between the Sri Lankan army and Tamil rebels in the north of the country. According to the ministry of defense, seven soldiers are among the casualties.
Also today, the Associated Press reported that three soldiers had been killed and four kidnapped in another attack orchestrated by the Tamil Tiger group.
The conflict between the Sri Lankan central government and Tamil rebels broke out in 1972. Since then, a number of attempts have been made by European and Asian countries to stop the civil war; however, none of them succeeded in bringing permanent peace. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam accuse the government of committing genocide on the Tamil minority.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan- One month before a parliamentary election in Pakistan, the Electoral Commission rejects accusations of being a tool in President Musharraf's political agenda. Opposition parties, led by two former prime ministers – Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharrif – who recently returned to Pakistan after years-long exile, claim that the January election will not be fair (concerning the autocratic power established by Musharraf). All commissioners were appointed by the incumbent president and remain responsible to the government. Quoted by the Associated Press, the Electoral Commission's secretary said today: “The Election Commission is a constitutional body and it is fully independent to hold free, fair and transparent polls.”
MOSCOW, Russia- The U.S. anti-missile shield, which is to be located in Poland and the Czech Republic, remains a serious bone of contention in Washington's relations with Moscow. In a press conference Wednesday held by the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, journalists heard that the Bush Administration had rejected Russia's offer of cooperation and withdrawn from its original proposition to invite the Russians to oversee the shield development. Lavrov, cited by the Associated Press, said at the conference that Moscow was “frankly, disappointed.”
Russia has continually threatened that it would deploy its nuclear missiles in Belarus, if the United States did not resign from installing the anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. If Prague favors American plans, the new liberal Polish government announced it would carefully weigh the pros and cons before giving Washington the final decision.
RIGA, Latvia- Wednesday was the last work day for the center-right government of Aigars Kalvitis. The outgoing prime minister came under severe criticism when he fired a popular anti-corruption official, Aleksejs Loskutovs. Loskutovs was said to have been investigating the probable finance violations made by some members of Kalvitis' party.
Although the Latvian economy is blossoming, the approval ratings of the cabinet are at their lowest. As in most of the post-Soviet republics, also her corruption is widespread and political scandals very often break out.
BAGHDAD, Iraq- Up to fourteen people could have been killed Wednesday, as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was visiting Iraq. In an unannounced visit to Baghdad, Gates said that “in many parts of the nation, the positive developments have led to a growing sense of normalcy and hope.” In addition, if the US is patient enough, “a secure, stable Iraq is within reach.” Outside the heavily protected Green Zone, where the secretary held talks, a car bomb killed 14 Shiite civilians.