HARARE, Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe has signed a bill today that gives him power to choose his successor, should he step down before the end of his term. Mugabe, 83, has been ruling the country with an iron fist since toppling the white minority regime in 1980. According to the amendment, the ZANU-PF party, which controls the parliament, will vote for the next head of state, instead of calling for a new election. As a surprise for foreign observers came the voice from the only opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which supported the change. This move is explained as yet another example of inner conflicts that have shattered the once powerful MDC.
Earlier this year, Robert Mugabe said he would be seeking another term. Regardless of the sky high inflation, which may have reached 10,000 percent by the end of 2007, the president’s position remains strong. With the opposition splintered in fighting fractions, as well as the army and police on his side, Mugabe is bound to remain in power in the foreseeable future.
MOGADISHU, Somalia. There were scenes like from the worst moments of the 1990s when the country had been devastated by daily armed clashes between warring clans. Now, tens of thousands of civilians were fleeing the capital in search of a life free of stray bullets and senseless deaths. According to United Nations estimations, roughly 90,000 people have left their entire possessions in Mogadishu this week and hurried off to safer areas. This new wave of refugees was sparked by renewed fights between the Ethiopian-backed governmental forces and Islamic rebels.
Somalia has been without an effective government since 1991 when the long-time dictator, Siad Barre, was toppled by war lords. In 2006 Islamic forces managed to stabilize most of the country but they were soon defeated by the Ethiopian army.
Noel, the tropical Storm which fell on Hispaniola last night, has claimed at least 91 deaths. According to the Associated Press, 56 have been killed in the Dominican Republic and 34 in Haiti – that is in the countries which are located in the Caribbean.
In Jamaica, one person was reported to have died. No casualties have been registered in the Bahamas; however, according to a governmental agency, nearly 5 inches of rain poured down on the capital city of Nassau.
It is calculated that over 58,000 people had to flee their homes in the Dominican Republic when the hurricane struck the country. The losses are estimated at $30 million; the government has already announced it will ask the Inter-American Development Bank for two loans, $100 million each. The damages in Haiti and other countries have not been evaluated yet.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka. Thirty Marxist guerrillas and two soldiers have been killed in an air strike today. According to the defense ministry, the operation ended in a success, seriously damaging the main target – a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) training camp. The Agence France-Presse quotes a ministry official as saying, “pilots confirm that the LTTE terrorist training camp was severely damaged.” On the other hand, reports confirm that roughly 40 governmental soldiers have been injured in the strike and have been transported to local hospitals.
In this former British colony, known also as Ceylon, the fights between the government and Tamil rebels have been ongoing since the island won independence in 1948. Tamils, who comprise almost 30 percent of the total population, do not acknowledge the Colombo authorities, trying to curve out an independent from Sri Lanka country. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam controls a small territory in the north of the country and from there launches most of its attacks.
LONDON, Great Britain. Governmental agencies will need some $520 million of extra funds in 2008 to cope up with the increasing number of immigrants, estimates the Local Government Association. The organization, which is comprised of 400 local councils, alarms that such services as health care and education are already overstretched due to the government’s botched statistics on the influx of immigrants. It is approximated that roughly 2.5 million people have arrived in Great Britain since 10 countries, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, joined the European Union in 2004. Most of the newcomers are from Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic; however, a considerable number of Germans and French have recently chosen Great Britain as their permanent residence.
Although Great Britain has been Europe’s top immigration destination for decades, it is recently that the native Brits have grown restive with their new neighbors. The opening of the British labor market to newcomers from Central and Eastern Europe, who are predominantly Catholic, has especially caused hostilities in Protestant areas of England and Northern Ireland.
SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The federation is teetering on the verge of political collapse after Prime Minister Nikola Spiric stepped down from his office today. The resignation is perceived as Spiric’s response to a set of reforms proposed by a European Union special envoy. According to the country’s constitution – written by EU experts – the envoy exercises extensive control over Bosnia’s domestic and foreign policy. Spiric, who is a Serb, is cited by the Agence France-Presse as saying, “The mechanisms of governing Bosnia cannot be held by the international community while I’m supposed to be taking over responsibilities.” The political turmoil may considerably extend Bosnia’s road to EU membership, which the country has hoped to accomplish in several years.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was created in 1994 by the Dayton Agreement. The Washington supervised accord divided the federation into two entities: Republika Srpska, with the Serbian majority, and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Each entity has its own police and government and enjoys great independence from the federal government in Sarajevo.
ANKARA, Turkey. Four days before a scheduled meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President George W. Bush, the government in Ankara warned that it would not back down from pursuing Kurdish rebels in Iraq. However, according to the words of Turkey’s foreign minister, any military operation in neighboring Iraq “would not be an invasion.”
On October 22, the Turkish air force bombarded Kurdish settlements in northern Iraq after 12 Turkish soldiers had been killed and eight abducted by one Kurdish rebel group. This week, Ankara has begun to cordon off the territories inhabited by Kurds; all commercial flights between the capital and southern provinces have been called off, together with most food supplies. Kurds have been fighting for independence for decades, but their efforts have increased considerably since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.