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 61 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:53 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Tunisia’s Islamist party Ennahda accepts defeat in elections

Official results still awaited, but secular Nidaa Tounes look to have taken lead in second parliamentary vote since uprising

Eileen Byrne in Tunis and agencies
The Guardian, Monday 27 October 2014 15.14 GMT   

Tunisia’s Ennahda party, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 Arab spring revolts, has conceded defeat in elections that are expected to make its main secular rival the strongest force in parliament.

Official results from Sunday’s elections – the second parliamentary vote since Tunisians set off uprisings across much of the Arab world by overthrowing autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali – are still to be announced.

But a senior official at Ennahda, which ruled in a coalition until it was forced to make way for a caretaker government during a political crisis at the start of this year, acknowledged defeat by the secular Nidaa Tounes party.

“We have accepted this result and congratulate the winner,” Lotfi Zitoun, an Ennahda party official, told Reuters.

Zitoun said the party reiterated its call for a unity government, including Ennahda, in the interest of the country.

Earlier, an Ennahda source said preliminary tallies showed Nidaa Tounes had won 80 seats in the 217-member assembly, ahead of 67 secured by Ennahda. The Nidaa Tounes leader, Beji Caid Essebsi, had already said on Sunday night that there were “positive indications” his party was ahead.

Defeat is a huge setback for the Islamists of Ennahda, who headed a coalition government with two non-religious partners for more than two years after winning the election for the constituent assembly (the precursor to the new parliament) in October 2011.

North Africa expert Michael Willis, a fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford University, said the decline in Ennahda’s electoral popularity reflected public discontent with their handling of the economy. “On the doorsteps, the economy was the main issue. Nidaa Tounes is seen as having the expertise to get the economy back on track.”

During polling day around the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, it was clear that older, less-educated voters were turning out to vote for Nidaa Tounes, Willis said.

Before the 2011 revolution, Tunisia was in effect a single-party state under the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) of former president Ben Ali.

Ennahda ceded power last January to a non-party government charged with taking the country up to parliamentary and presidential elections. The party had formed a coalition government with two secular partners but had to stand aside in the crisis that erupted over the murder of two opposition leaders by Islamist militants.

Campaigning before the elections, Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Ennahda, said Tunisia needed a broad, multiparty government of national unity as it continues to consolidate democratic institutions.

 62 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:51 AM 
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Russian Police Search Leading Activist's Home

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 13:44

Russian police have raided the home of opposition activist Maria Gaidar, daughter of a former prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, as part of a probe against another top Kremlin critic, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"A search went on for several hours led by investigators and police officers on Monday," said spokeswoman Nataliya Malysheva of the Maria Gaidar Foundation.

Malysheva said the raid was connected to an investigation into money laundering allegations against opposition leader Alexei Navalny, that supporters claim is designed to muzzle the fierce Kremlin critic.

Investigators seized all Gaidar's electronic equipment and that of her family members, Malysheva said.

Navalny, a lawyer by training, became first an anti-corruption blogger then a charismatic speaker at opposition rallies against President Vladimir Putin and came second in elections for Moscow mayor last year.

Navalny was convicted of embezzlement in July 2013 and given a five-year suspended jail sentence. He is now being held under house arrest during the investigation into another legal case.

Among several legal investigations against him, Navalny is accused of embezzling campaign funds from the opposition party Union of Right Forces (SPS), which ceased to exist in 2008.

This probe centres on a company headed by Navalny at the time, where Gaidar worked in 2007 and she is being treated as a witness in the case.

Gaidar "believes that these searches are politically motivated," Malysheva said.

Gaidar served as a deputy governor from 2009 to 2011 in the northern Kirov region.

Her late father Yegor Gaidar was a liberal politician who became prime minister under Yeltsin, implementing harsh economic reforms to end the Soviet socialist planned economy.

Moscow police on Monday also held a search at the headquarters of The Other Russia left wing nationalist group headed by novelist Eduard Limonov that has held anti-Putin protests in central Moscow. Police arrested seven activists.

Limonov has lately been embraced by pro-Kremlin media after he voiced support for the annexation of Crimea.

Source: Agence France Presse

 63 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:50 AM 
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Botswana's Khama Sworn in for Second Term

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 13:30

Botswana's President Ian Khama was sworn in for his second term Tuesday after winning re-election with a reduced majority, pledging to intensify efforts to diversify the economy and eradicate poverty.

Khama's Botswana Democratic Party has ruled the diamond-rich southern African nation since independence in 1966, but many voters complained of growing economic strain and unemployment.

The 61-year-old Khama took the oath of office at parliament, in a ceremony followed by a 21 gun salute and a flypast by military aircraft.

In his inaugural speech, Khama said "the key to achieving sustainable diversified economic growth and social security lies in the development of our people" through improved education and skills.

He said the government would focus on "emerging opportunities within the mineral sector" and development of other sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

Botswana produces around 30 percent of the world's diamonds by value, and received a boost in 2012 when mining giant De Beers moved its diamond sorting business to the capital Gaborone.

Khama said the "ongoing success in establishing our country as a global hub to market diamond processing" should serve as a "beacon of what we can also accomplish in other areas."

Although seen as one of Africa's success stories, Botswana has recorded rising unemployment since 2009 as the global economic crisis sent diamond prices falling.

Khama's party won 37 of the 57 elected seats in parliament in Friday vote's -- eight fewer than in the last election in 2009.

A newly formed coalition, Umbrella for Democratic Change, took 17 seats to become the main opposition group after making inroads in urban areas.

Khama, the son of the country's first president, Seretse Khama, said poverty eradication, job creation and food security would also form part of the new government's focus.

Source: Agence France Presse

 64 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:47 AM 
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Amnesty: Ethiopia Torturing 'Opposition' Ethnic Group

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 10:29

Ethiopia has "ruthlessly targeted" and tortured its largest ethnic group for perceived opposition to the government, Amnesty International said in a damning report Tuesday.

Thousands of people from the Oromo ethnic group have been "regularly subjected to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without charge, enforced disappearance, repeated torture and unlawful state killings," said the report, based on over 200 testimonies.

"Dozens of actual or suspected dissenters have been killed."

At least 5,000 Oromos have been arrested since 2011 often for the "most tenuous of reasons", for their opposition -- real or simply assumed -- to the government, the report added.

Many are accused of supporting the rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

Former detainees, who have fled the country and were interviewed by Amnesty in neighboring Kenya, Somaliland and Uganda, described torture "including beatings, electric shocks, mock execution, burning with heated metal or molten plastic and rape, including gang rape," the report said.

One young girl said hot coals were dropped on her stomach because her father was suspected of supporting the OLF, while a teacher described how he was stabbed in the eye with a bayonet after he refused to teach "propaganda about the ruling party" to students.

Government spokesman Redwan Hussein "categorically denied" the report, and accused Amnesty of having an agenda and of repeating old allegations.

"It (Amnesty) has been hellbent on tarnishing Ethiopia's image again and again," he told AFP.

Those arrested included peaceful protesters, opposition party members and even Oromos "expressing their Oromo cultural heritage," Amnesty said.

Family members of suspects have also been arrested, some taken when they asked about a relative who had disappeared, and had then been detained themselves without charge for months or even years.

"The Ethiopian government's relentless crackdown on real or imagined dissent among the Oromo is sweeping in its scale and often shocking in its brutality," Amnesty researcher Claire Beston said.

"This is apparently intended to warn, control or silence all signs of 'political disobedience' in the region," she added, describing how those she interviewed bore the signs of torture, including scars and burns, as well as missing fingers, ears and teeth.

With nearly 27 million people, Oromia is the most populated of the country's federal states and has its own language, Oromo, distinct from Ethiopia's official Amharic language.

In jail, detainees are crammed into crowded underground cells in "miserable conditions," the report said.

Some of those who spoke to Amnesty said people had been arrested for organizing a student cultural group. Another said they were arrested because they delivered the baby of the wife of a suspected OLF member.

"Frequently, it's because they refused to join the ruling party," Beston added, warning that many were fearful attacks would increase ahead of general elections due in May 2015.

In April and May, security forces shot dead student protesters in Oromia.

At the time, the government said eight were killed, but groups including Human Rights Watch said the toll was believed to be far higher.

Amnesty said dozens were killed in the protests.

Source: Agence France Presse

 65 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:43 AM 
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Clashes in Burkina Faso over Move to Extend Leader's Rule

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 10:14

Stone-throwing youths clashed with security forces in Burkina Faso Tuesday before tens of thousands took to the streets in a mass demonstration against a move to let the country's long-serving president extend his rule beyond 30 years.

The pre-dawn violence kicked off a day of action called by the opposition against what they say is a constitutional coup by supporters of President Blaise Compaore.

Gendarmes in the capital Ouagadougou charged to disperse several dozen youths barricading the country's main highway, firing tear gas at the crowd who hurled stones in response, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

A colorful crowd of tens of thousands later set off from the capital's main Nation square, blowing whistles and vuvuzela trumpets.

According to AFP's estimate, the early turnout was well above a previous mass protest in August that saw 100,000 people march against a move to prolong Compaore's 27-year-rule.

Protesters carried banners reading "Blaise Get Out!" or "Don't Touch Article 37" in reference to the constitutional term limit that risks being scrapped to allow the president to seek re-election next year.

The National Assembly will on Thursday study a draft constitutional amendment that would extend the maximum number of presidential terms, and allow the president to run again next year.

The National Assembly will on Thursday study a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend the maximum number of presidential terms and allow the president to run again next year.

Compaore was only 36 when he seized power in an October 1987 coup in which his former friend and one of Africa's most loved leaders, Thomas Sankara, was ousted and assassinated.

He has remained in power since then, reelected president four times since 1991 -- to two seven-year and two five-year terms.

In 2005, constitutional limits were introduced and Compaore is therefore coming to the end of his second five-year term.

The opposition fears the new rules -- which are not expected to take previous terms into account -- would enable Compaore to seek reelection not just one, but three more times, paving the way for up to 15 more years in power.

The third largest party in Burkina Faso's parliament said at the weekend it would back the constitutional change, setting the ruling party on course to obtain the two-thirds majority it needs to make the change without resorting to a referendum as first promised.

Opposition leaders have called on the public to blockade parliament to prevent the review from taking place.

Protesters have erected barricades and burned tyres in the capital since the proposal was announced on October 21, with hundreds of women demonstrating with spatulas in their hands and secondary school children deserting classes to join the protests, creating major disruptions.

Civil society groups have also asked for the project to be dropped, saying the country risks being paralyzed if the amendment goes through.

Compaore's bid to cling on to power has angered the opposition and much of the public, including many young people in a country where 60 percent of the population is under 25.

Many have spent their entire lives under the leadership of one man and -- with the poor former French colony stagnating at around 183rd out of 186 countries on the U.N. human development index -- many have had enough.

Source: Agence France Presse

 66 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:41 AM 
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Philippine Leader Rules Out Seeking Second Term

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 11:27

Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday ruled out any attempt to seek a second term, a highly controversial proposition that would have required the rewriting of the constitution.

Aquino in August had hinted at such a possibility. But he quickly ran into opposition in a nation still haunted by the dictatorial rule of the late president Ferdinand Marcos.

Aquino, who was elected by a landslide in 2010, is limited by the constitution to a single six-year term.

"There are some quarters that were saying I should try and go for a second term. I don’t think that’s a right solution," he said in a speech to businessmen.

Aquino instead urged voters to "discern properly" who to vote for in the 2016 elections for his successor.

The president had previously hinted that he might seek to rewrite the constitution, possibly allowing him to run for re-election.

His remarks were met with much criticism. Surveys also showed that the majority of Filipinos opposed this option.

The Philippines is still coping with the scars left by Marcos who declared martial law in 1972 in order to stay in power even after his term ended.

Marcos was finally overthrown in a military-backed popular revolt in 1986 after years of human rights abuses and massive corruption.

Aquino, whose parents were both pro-democracy leaders who opposed Marcos, called on  voters to choose someone who would continue his policies.

He has previously said he favoured his ally, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas, as his successor.

But Roxas has lagged in election surveys behind Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is head of the main opposition alliance.

In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately.

Source: Agence France Presse

 67 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:40 AM 
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Tony Abbott asks business to take lead on tax and get Labor on 'team Australia'

Prime minister challenges big business to lead the ‘fight’ for GST reform in speech to Business Council of Australia on Tuesday

Lenore Taylor, political editor
theguardian.com, Tuesday 28 October 2014 07.57 GMT   
   
Tony Abbott has challenged big business to lead the “fight” for tax reform and help convince Labor “to join team Australia and think of our country and not the next election.”

But just one day after the prime minister called for a “mature” debate on tax reform, the government announced it was bypassing the Senate to impose the re-indexation of fuel excise and parliament was dominated by each major party accusing the other of planning to introduce a goods and services tax.

In a speech to be delivered to the Business Council of Australia Tuesday night, Abbott said he was “not inclined to force reforms on an unwilling people” and needed business to help make the public case for “lower, simpler, fairer taxes” and “a federation where each level of government is sovereign in its own sphere” in order to achieve the changes “within five years” - in a second term of a Coalition government.

“On these issues, I am inviting the Labor party to join team Australia and think of our country and not the next election,” Abbott said. “We will make the case for change – but it’s community acceptance that sets its pace.

“The last time Australia had big tax reform, the BCA was leading the charge. There is a lesson for these times. We will only get change if the people who do believe in it are prepared to fight for it … Economic reform is not just a job for government – it’s a job for all of us.”

On Monday, Abbott had confirmed that - contrary to his statements before the election that “the GST will not change, full stop, end of story” – changes to the GST would “all be looked at as part of the federation reform process and as part of the tax reform process”.

Labor’s question time attack focused on the government’s “broken promise” and whether it would reintroduce a GST. Abbott countered that leaked costings about the household impact of a GST had come from Treasury modelling done for the previous Labor government, so the only party that had modelled a GST rise was Labor.

The prime minister demanded Labor release the modelling. “I discovered watching the news last night that members opposite, when they were in government, commissioned modelling on a rise in the GST to 12.5%,” Abbott said. “Now fair enough ... Sometimes governments do commission the modelling. You own the modelling, you gave it to the media last night. Do the right thing and give it to the parliament now.”

The treasurer, Joe Hockey, formally wrote to the shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, asking that the advice be released in full.

The modelling, commissioned in July 2013, when Kevin Rudd returned to the prime ministership, looked at three options – raising the GST from 10% to 12.5%, broadening its coverage to include exempt items like food, clothing, healthcare, childcare, water and sewerage, and the impact of both increasing the rate of the tax and broadening its base.

It found the third option – raising the rate and broadening the base – would cost a single person $49.60 a week and a two-income family with two children $102.50.

**************

Australia's two new progressive parties share a name – and mutual dislike

The Australian Progressive Party (APP) and the Australian Progressives (TPA) both believe they can claim votes from the disillusioned centre and grassroots of politics

Shalailah Medhora   
theguardian.com, Tuesday 28 October 2014 08.01 GMT      

Australians have seen the launch of two new political parties in the last month. Both groups say they are agents for change, and both are laying claim to the title “progressive”.

The Australian Progressive Party (APP) and the Australian Progressives went public within days of each other. The parties have superficial similarities and they have nearly identical names and website colour themes. They both claim nation-wide interest in a spread of state and federal seats. They want to appeal to a wide voter base by producing policies on a range of issues rather than being a one-issue party of protest. And both rely on grassroots members and donations to stay afloat.

But that’s where the similarities end. The parties are deeply divided on policy direction and on the personalities at their helm.

APP label themselves firmly centrist, saying they are occupying a space left vacant since the demise of the Democrats. Executive director Kathryn Crosby has a background in political consultancy and was tasked with trying to revive the Democrats in 2009.

“It’s not socialism; it’s not capitalism. It’s straight down the line,” she said of her new project.

The idea for a new middle-of-the-road political organisation, or a “true progressive” party came to Crosby after the last federal election, when she lamented online that she had no one to vote for. Her comments sparked debate, and within no time she had set up a committee to research the viability of a new political party.

“The reality is that the vote for non-major parties is now at an all-time high, and the Greens vote is falling. People are genuinely looking for a new answer,” Crosby said, noting that voters are less loyal to one political party than in the past.

“Voters are hungry for detailed policies and are immune to [politicians’] spin,” she said.

TPA president Tim Jones also saw an opportunity for a new political party; one built through social media and harnessing people power to affect change.

“There is a glaring vacuum in Australian politics at the moment, and I thought it was a great opportunity [to start a party],” Jones said. “We’ve seen real enthusiasm from people and want to keep up that acclaim.”

Jones co-founded the March in March movement, which has had a very public split from the March Australia movement. He wants to build on his past knowledge of protest movements by holding grassroots cultural events, such as the popular TED talks, in order to raise money for the party.

The APP and Jones’s party are unaffiliated with other groups, and they are certainly unaffiliated with each other.

The initial possibility of collaboration fell apart dramatically, with Crosby claiming Jones has launched a “hostile attack” by creating his own political party and stealing APP’s ideas.

“The name is permanently burned. The brand is permanently damaged,” Crosby said.

Jones wouldn’t be drawn on the fractious relationship between the similarly-named parties, saying “we don’t engage with them”.

“We’re confident we will be the one with the name [progressive] in the end,” Jones said.

Conflict over that one-word sticking point could take some time to resolve. Neither party has registered with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) yet, and settling the dispute over trade marks could take months.

While the parties are unlikely to merge with each other, Jones said he is open to merging with other small parties in the future.

Crosby said that would be a matter for members to decide. She hopes to have 500 members - the number needed to register a party with the AEC - by December, but isn’t wedded to a strict timeline.

“You can’t rush perfection,” she laughs.

The two parties each hope to be on the ballot papers at the next federal election, expected in 2016.

 68 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:37 AM 
Started by Steve - Last post by Rad

Japan edges back towards nuclear power with vote to restart reactors

Legislators in Satsumasendai agree to restart Sendai plant, first to win approval since Fukushima earthquake disaster of 2011

Justin McCurry in Osaka
The Guardian, Tuesday 28 October 2014 08.59 GMT    

Japan has moved closer to a return to nuclear power, more than three years after the Fukushima disaster, after a town in the country’s south-west voted to approve two reactors coming back online.

Nineteen of 26 assembly members in Satsumasendai, located 600 miles south-west of Tokyo, voted in favour of restarting the Sendai nuclear power plant. Four voted against and three abstained.

The vote does not mean the reactors, the first to win approval to restart since the introduction of stringent new safety requirements, will go back online immediately.

The plant, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, must pass operational safety checks, and officials in Kagoshima prefecture, where the town is located, also have to give their consent. That means the plant’s two reactors are unlikely to be restarted until next year, officials said.

The move will be a boost to the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who supports a gradual return to nuclear power as Japan confronts rising costs of imported oil and gas, and doubts about its ability to meet climate change commitments. Aware that a majority of Japanese opposes a return to nuclear power, Abe has said he would leave the final decision on whether to approve the restarts to local communities.

Greenpeace said Tuesday’s vote “starkly contradicts” the views of most people near the Sendai plant. “There are many significant unanswered or ignored safety questions – these must be addressed publicly and to the satisfaction of the people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by a potential restart of the Sendai reactors,” said Greenpeace Japan’s nuclear campaigner Ai Kashiwagi.

Like many other towns located near atomic facilities, Satsumasendai’s economy was heavily dependent on nuclear power. All of Japan’s reactors were switched off after the 11 March 2011 disaster, in which three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant went into meltdown after it was struck by a huge earthquake and tsunami.

The disaster forced the evacuation of 160,000 people and contaminated communities around the plant. Many evacuees are still unable to return home owing to high radiation levels.

All 48 of the country’s reactors were closed in the aftermath of Fukushima to undergo newly introduced safety checks, forcing Japan to increase its dependence on fossil fuels. Before Fukushima, nuclear had provided 30% of the country’s energy needs, and there were plans to increase its share to around 50% by 2030.

The debate about the Sendai plant has split communities. The “host” town of Satsumasendai receives billions of yen in government and industry subsidies. But Ichikikushikino, which lies slightly further away from the plant, receives only a fraction of that, even though residents say they would face similar health risks from radiation leaks in the event of an accident.

This year, more than half of the 30,000 residents of Ichikikushikino signed a petition opposing the restart. The issue has been complicated by concerns over a volcano located 40 miles away that scientists say is showing signs of increased activity that could cause a small eruption.

Mount Ioyama has recently been shaken by small tremors and showed signs other signs of rising volcanic activity, including a tremor lasting seven minutes, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

 69 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:35 AM 
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Hong Kong Activists Mark One Month of 'Umbrella Movement'

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 07:14

Hong Kong democracy activists on Tuesday marked one month of mass protests as student leaders said they would consider asking senior Chinese Communist party officials to meet them directly, the first time such a request has been made.

Thousands gathered for an evening rally at the main protest camp, unfurling umbrellas to mark the moment a month ago when police fired tear gas at largely peaceful crowds -- kick-starting the most concerted challenge to Beijing since the bloody 1989 Tiananmen protests.

As protesters streamed into the site Alex Chow -- president of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) -- said he would seek a meeting with China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang if the Hong Kong government failed to deliver their demands to the mainland authorities.

Parts of the semi-autonomous Chinese city, an Asian financial hub, have been paralyzed by a month of mass rallies and roadblocks.

Protesters want China to rescind its decision in August that all candidates in elections for the city's leader in 2017 must be vetted by a loyalist committee -- an arrangement demonstrators deride as "fake democracy".

Tentative talks between the government and student leaders last week made little headway. The government offered to write a report to Beijing on events since protests began and to set up a committee with demonstrators to discuss further constitutional reform.

But Chow Tuesday said any report must include a direct request from the city authorities calling on mainland authorities to withdraw their August decision.

"If the Hong Kong government has difficulty meeting our demands, we sincerely hope that arrangements could be made for us to directly meet with premier Li Keqiang as soon as possible," Chow said.

It is the first time students have officially broadcast the idea of going to straight to Beijing to negotiate.

Their request echoes the Tiananmen protests when student leaders eventually met with then-premier Li Peng for what turned out to be fruitless talks.

On June 3/4 the movement was brutally crushed by the military, with hundreds -- and by some estimates thousands -- killed.

Organizers of the Hong Kong demonstrations have been hoping to inject new momentum into the movement after reaching an impasse with the government and seemingly struggling to decide how to proceed.

The protests have been dubbed the "Umbrella Movement" following the creative ways demonstrators used them to shelter from the heat, torrential rain, pepper spray and police batons.

Tuesday's rally opposite the city's government headquarters started with an 87-second silence at 5:57 pm (0957 GMT).

At that time on September 28, riot police shot the first of 87 canisters of tear gas at crowds who had taken over a highway near the city parliament.

Participants for Tuesday's gathering were told to bring the masks, goggles and protective clothing they wore that day as well as umbrellas.

The decision to launch tear gas backfired, drawing tens of thousands of sympathisers onto the streets and fueling a movement that has defied many expectations both for its size and longevity.

But the Chinese government has shown no sign of backing down. At the same time, the movement's leaders are aware the disruption caused by their roadblocks has created mounting public frustration.

Occupy's co-founder and university professor Benny Tai said Tuesday he planned to spend more time away from protest sites and return to teaching, but insisted it was not a retreat.

But many of those gathered for the rally said they could not leave the streets until genuine democratic progress was made.

"We can't retreat because we haven't got anything yet," 52-year-old computer programmer Any Ho told AFP. "Democracy cannot be taken for granted. We have to be persistent for it to come."

The city's Beijing-backed leader Leung Chun-ying has seen his popularity nosedive during the crisis.

A new poll by the Chinese University of Hong Kong showed Leung now scores 38.6 on an approval scale among voters which runs from 0 to 100 -- his lowest since taking office in 2012 when his score was 53.9.

Source: Agence France Presse

 70 
 on: Oct 28, 2014, 06:31 AM 
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India's Top Court Slams Failure to Form Delhi Government

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 11:06

India's top court slammed top officials Tuesday for dragging their feet in forming a new government in the national capital more than eight months after the last administration resigned in chaos.

New Delhi, a city of some 17 million people, has been without a proper government since February, when the capital's firebrand chief minister Arvind Kejriwal quit to protest the blocking of an anti-corruption bill.

The Supreme Court urged authorities and political parties to resolve the impasse, saying Delhi residents deserved a democratically elected government. 

"We gave you enough time but nothing has happened so far," Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, who heads a five-judge bench, told the court.

"The people of Delhi have a right to have a democratically elected government and not be ruled by the president," he said.

The court was directing its criticism at Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and the national government which have been running the city-state since Kejriwal quit as head of a minority administration.

Kejriwal, an anti-corruption campaigner and a self-described "anarchist", had only taken power 49 days before his shock resignation.

He has since been demanding fresh elections in the capital, a move opposed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has the biggest number of seats in the Delhi assembly.

Kejriwal's upstart Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party lodged a petition in the Supreme Court seeking new polls in the hope of strengthening its fortunes.

The court said Tuesday that President Pranab Mukherjee has now instead given his consent to a proposal to invite the BJP to form a new government. 

Kejriwal, a former tax official, and his party sent shockwaves through India's political establishment when it scored a series of stunning successes during local elections in Delhi last year.

The party rode a wave of support for its ideals of cleaning up corruption, tapping into seething voter anger over graft scandals that plagued the former national Congress party-led government.

Kejriwal's resignation left him free to campaign in the national election in May, which the BJP won in a landslide.

Kejriwal disappeared from the spotlight after his party fared poorly in the general elections, and he failed to win a seat now held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

*************

India's Modi Pledges to Modernize Vietnam's Defenses

by Naharnet Newsdesk
28 October 2014, 12:10

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged on Tuesday to strengthen Vietnam's military following talks between leaders of the two allies, in a move likely to rankle neighboring nuclear-armed giant China.

Modi said India would sell naval patrol boats to Vietnam under a $100 million line of credit to the Southeast Asian nation, which is seeking to improve its defenses in the disputed South China Sea.

Modi held talks in New Delhi with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who is on a two-day visit to India, as Hanoi courts powerful allies following soured relations with China over the disputed territory.

Modi, who swept to power in May, said the two leaders had agreed to strengthen bilateral ties, adding "our defense co-operation with Vietnam is among our most important ones".

"India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam's defense and security forces."

The leaders also called for "restraint" and "freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea, where China is embroiled in a bitter dispute with Vietnam and other nations.

"They agreed that freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea/South China Sea should not be impeded," a joint statement released after the talks said.

"The (leaders called on the) parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid threat or use of force and resolve disputes through peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law."

In May, Beijing moved a deep-water oil rig into waters claimed by Hanoi, prompting a months-long high-seas standoff and triggering deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam.

The rig was removed in July.

Modi's comments came after China's top foreign policy official made his second visit Monday to Vietnam in four months in a bid to repair ties strained to breaking point.

India has long had its own tense ties with China following a brief but bloody war in 1962 with its powerful neighbor over their remote land border.

Modi's first meeting with Dung since his election comes after the defense line of credit was announced last month during a visit by India's president to Vietnam.

Dung said late Monday that he hoped India would "actively support" a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea dispute.

"Vietnam hopes that India, as a major power in the region and the world, will actively support the parties concerned to peacefully resolve all disputes," he told the Press Trust of India news agency.

Vietnam staunchly opposes China's ongoing efforts to develop airstrips and military bases on the island chains it controls in the South China Sea.

China says it has sovereignty over essentially all of the South China Sea, which is a crucial maritime route and is also believed to hold huge oil and gas deposits.

Source: Agence France Presse

Source: Agence France Presse

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