February 28th, 2008 12:34 EST
World Chronicle: February 28
NAIROBI, Kenya. On Thursday, President Mwai Kibaki and his main political rival Raila Odinga signed a peace agreement that forms a government of national unity. The accord, negotiated under auspices of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, reads that both parties will try to end the political crisis that erupted after the disputed December presidential election and which has claimed over 1,000 lives. Kibaki will maintain his office whereas Odinga will become the prime minister, accountable to the parliament, not president. In addition, the Kenyan parliament will rewrite the constitution to strip the president of some of his almost autocratic privileges.
BOGOTA, Columbia. Hopes for a quick release of three American nationals, who were kidnapped in Columbia in 2003 by a leftist rebel group, wane. The three other hostages – all of them Columbian politicians abducted six years ago who were freed earlier this week – speak of injures and pain inflicted on the Americans by their captors. Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves, and Keith Stansell have been purportedly beaten and refused basic medical treatment. The leftist rebel group that took responsibility for the kidnappings, said the Americans would remain “imprisoned” for 60 years or until one of their colleagues was released from an American prison.
DHAKA, Bangladesh. At least 29 people have died on Thursday in a ferry accident in the Buriganga River, south of the capital. According to witnesses, the vessel with some 150 passengers – many more than the ferry's capacity allows – ran into another ship and capsized. The AFP news agency says that among the casualties are six children and 13 women. The death toll may rise since rescue missions had to abandon their efforts for the night.
VATICAN CITY. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said that he considered Raul Castro a “great realist.” In an interview given to the Vatican Radio, the cardinal admitted that he had addressed the topic of political prisoners in Cuba during his Tuesday meeting with the island's new president. Although Castro did not respond to his concerns, in the words of the cardinal, he was “open to discussion and determined to maintain good ideals.”
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip. In retaliation for Wednesday's rocket attack, the Israeli air force shelled several targets in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least 18 Palestinians. Among the victims are five teenagers who were mistakenly bombarded while playing soccer, says a Palestinian source. Hamas, a radical militia that controls the Gaza Strip, responded to the bombing by firing dozens of rockets into Israel. No casualties have been reported in these attacks.
WASHINGTON, DC. President Bush said the U.S. economy was not falling into recession. The president urged politicians to try to his stimulus package, which offers wide tax cuts for individuals and businesses alike, before calling for another one. The decreasing value of the dollar abroad has made the United States less attractive to foreign investors, and some legislators in Congress fear even further outsourcing of the capital.
NEW YORK CITY, NY. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote in the New York Times on Thursday that he was not going to run for president. Despite admitting that the United States needed a president that could work over the partisan divisions, Bloomberg said he wanted to focus exclusively on the city's problems. His declaration doesn't mean he will stay away from national politics. In the same article, the mayor promised to support the candidate who will offer the best solutions and work with both parties in Congress.