December 7th, 2007 13:41 EST
World Chronicle: December 7
MOGADISHU, Somalia. Staying in a Kenyan hospital for treatment of bronchitis, the Somali president, Abdullahi Yusuf, said Friday that he would not consider stepping down. Earlier this week he was taken to Nairobi's main hospital after his health had considerably deteriorated. Yusuf, who is 73, has been the head of the war-shattered country since 2004 and is widely perceived as the only person that can guarantee comparative stability. “I am Abdullahi Yusuf, and I am healthy,” the Associated Press quotes the Somali president, adding that he looked “tired.” According to some U.N. officials, the situation in Somalia is much worse than the more-media-covered crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes since the beginning of 2007, when the clashes between Ethiopia-backed governmental forces and Islamic rebels turned the capital, Mogadishu, into one huge battlefield.
MEXICO CITY, Mexico. The Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, ordered his diplomats in Canada and the United States to run a political and media offensive to change the anti-immigrant attitude in those countries. His words come in the midst of a feverish presidential campaign in the U.S., where illegal immigration and border security are among the most popular topics. Quoted by the Associated Press, Calderon told his representatives in Mexico's northern neighbor that: “The key is to neutralize this strategy of confrontation and discrimination that forms part of U.S. society's mistaken perception, and be able to newly focus arguments on the complimentary aspects of our economies.” It is hard to expect that Mexico's latest diplomatic efforts will substantially change America's stance on illegal immigration. Some figures say that there can be as many as six million Mexican illegal aliens in the United States.
WASHINGTON, DC, US. Ridiculed as he is, Chuck Norris seems to have influenced the Republican presidential race. Soon after the famous actor appeared on Mike Huckabee's TV commercial, the former Arkansas governor jumped into second place in the GOP race. With 18 percent in an AP-Ipsos survey, Huckabee is behind only eight points to the former New York mayor, Rudi Giuliani, who leads the poll with 26 percent. John McCain comes in third with 13 percent, Mit Romney is fourth with one percent less and the former senator and Law and Order star, Fred Thomson, the fifth with only 11 percent.
BEIJING, China. At least 105 miners were killed Wednesday in a Chinese coal mine collapse, south of Beijing. The total number of casualties remains unknown as authorities struggle to find out how many workers were underground at the time of the accident and how many members of rescue teams are trapped in the mine. Relatives of the dead accuse the mine's directorship of withholding the information about the collapse and sending down rescuers who were either amateurs or completely unprepared miners. According to Agence France-Presse, five people in connection with the accident have been formally arrested so far; with 33 more being detained. Chinese mines, often not modernized for decades, belong to the most dangerous mines in the world. Although every year hundreds of workers are reported dead, many people decide to take up the job, as it remains the sole source of income in industrialized areas.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. One month before the parliamentary election, the Pakistani opposition is in shambles. Despite innumerable efforts made by the country's two former prime ministers – Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Shariff – and the support from various international organizations, the parties that seek to oust President Pervez Musharraf have been unable to reach a compromise about forming one government. So far, they have only agreed to issue a statement calling for a free election and pleading Musharraf to let the Pakistani people decide who they want to rule the country. Among the points that divide the parties is the question whether to pursue the reinstating of the Supreme Court judges – fired by Musharraf after he imposed the state of emergency – and whether to boycott the election, should the president reject their demands. While Nawaz Shariff's party wants the entire opposition to refrain from taking part in the January elections, Benazir Bhutto has said many times that her candidates would run for seats even if the election were rigged.
BRUSSELS, Belgium. As it is expected that Kosovo – a Serbian province inhibited mostly by ethnic Albanians – will declare independence, NATO announced Friday it would keep its forces in case clashes between the Albanians and Serbians erupted again. At an official meeting in Brussels, where the NATO headquarters is located, member countries’ ministers said the KFOR peace force (as the NATO mission in Kosovo is called) could even be boosted if the situation warranted such a move. “We renew our commitment to maintain KFOR's national force, contributions, including reserves, at current levels and with no new caveats,” Reuters quotes the official statement issued today. Although Kosovo officially remains an integral part of the Serbian Republic, the province has enjoyed wide autonomy since 1999, when the United Nations took over the administration of Kosovo.
BEIRUT, Lebanon. Two weeks have passed that Lebanon has been without the president, and nothing indicates it will change any time soon. As the Lebanese parliament assembled Friday to finally agree on one candidate that would have the support of two thirds of the votes, it turned out that all the parties had a different idea of whom that person should be. The highest hopes are associated with Gen. Michel Suleiman, but to place him in the presidential palace, the constitution needs to be changed, as for now it bars active military men from running for office. On November 23, President Emile Lahoud stepped down without a visible replacement for his office. Against the constitution, Lahoud imposed the emergency rule; but neither the government nor the opposition recognized it. On Lebanon's fractious political scene, it is very hard for compromise. The pro-western government struggles to win the support of the Christian party and the Syria-backed Hezbollah movement, which is comprised of mostly Palestinian refugees.