Entries in Government (16)


Greek President Quits Attempts to Form Coalition Government

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- Ten days after the general election held on May 6, Greek President Karolos Papoulias has decided to quit trying to cobble together a coalition government as no combination of parties with the required minimum of 151 MPs in the 300-seat Greek Parliament could be found.  The president has announced that another general election should take place Sunday, June 10 or June 17.

This is bad news for the European Union and United States, since Greece will be without political leadership for a month, and private markets have long lost patience with the unending crisis. 

Greece, a NATO member and long-time U.S. ally, could even be pushed out of the European Union and its financial Eurozone.  That could trigger a crash in the markets in Spain, where the economy is five times bigger than Greece’s. 

The economic recovery of all of Europe is jeopardized, and, as President Obama has repeated on numerous occasions, the U.S. economy needs a strong Europe -- the number one buyer of American exports.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Papoulias had organized a meeting in the presidential palace in Athens, with leaders of almost all the major Greek political parties.  Only the leaders of the Communist and Neo-Fascist parties were left out.  Two hours later, the politicians came out without a word for journalists.

Fifteen minutes later came a communique from the presidency, announcing the calling of new elections.  From this point, the constitution explicitly sets the course.  The senior judge in the highest rank temporarily assumes the office of prime minister.

The meeting called for May 16 at the presidency is intended solely for the appointment of three ministers to handle the transitional electoral process.

The bone of contention remains the famous “memorandum” of fiscal and structural reforms that the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union have imposed on Greece in exchange for some 240 billion euros worth of subsidized loans, to be released in installments, depending on progress made.

The socialist PASOK and conservative ND parties, who had accepted the terms of this memorandum at the beginning of the year, reiterated that the country should stick to them; all other parties campaigned to reject it, and they still refuse the terms. 

The problem is that the last election dealt huge losses to both PASOK and ND, leaving them with only 149 seats in total.  The two parties alternately ruled Greece since the fall of a military regime in 1974.

Saying that Greece must honor its signature to avoid exclusion from the euro area, PASOK and ND have already begun negotiations to form a front that can win the required majority in Parliament.  The various small liberal parties, who accept global capitalism and who believe that no country can live beyond the wealth it produces are being targeted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Islamist Party Leads Tunisia Vote

GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images(TUNIS, Tunisia) -- Tunisia may soon have a government that many there consider the best of both worlds; that is, one with core Islamic principles meshed with a Western-style democracy.

There is optimism that it could happen following Sunday's historic vote that resulted from last January's overthrow of authoritarian leader Zine el Abidine Ben Ali through a popular revolution fueled by social networking sites.

It appears that the Ennahda party, which considers itself a "modernist political movement," has won at least a plurality in the new 217-member assembly whose first tasks will be to form a new constitution and a caretaker government.

In fact, Ennahada, which claims it will be dedicated to the principles of democracy and pluralism, could wind up with a majority in the assembly once all the votes are tallied.

Party members have promised to work with other liberal blocs to forge a government that will likely go easy on legislating morality, which is a relief to women who've obtained certain rights under the old regime.

Libya and Egypt, two other nations that have undergone upheavals, are watching to see how it’s done in Tunisia, although the country has several advantages, including a homogenous, educated population and a military willing to step aside for civilian rulers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More Than 1,600 Arrested in Malaysian Electoral Reform Protests

Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) -- Some 1,667 demonstrators were arrested in Malaysia Saturday after clashing with riot police in a march to the capital city Kuala Lumpur in demand of electoral reforms, authorities said.

The Royal Malaysia Police fired tear gas as several thousand people gathered near a sports stadium where the demonstrators organized to rally.

The protest, headed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, was organized by a loose coalition of opposition groups known as Bersih 2.0, an organization declared illegal by the government.

Ibrahim was among hundreds of protesters who gathered at the Hilton hotel in Kuala Lumpur before heading toward the Sentral Station.

The protesters then breached police lines and marched through the rail station, before being met by riot police with tear gas on the other side.

Opposition groups have been seeking to put pressure on Prime Minister Najib Razak's government, which has been in power for decades, before next year’s elections.

Local media reported a strong police presence around the city and many roads closed.

A similar demonstration headed by the Bersih coalition in 2007 was broken up by police using water cannon and tear gas, local reports indicated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Anti-Government Protests Continue in Egypt's Tahrir Square

ABC News(CAIRO) -- Cairo's central square on Wednesday is once again the scene of violent anti-government protests.

Egyptian riot police are using tear gas and firing rubber bullets, but a few thousand protestors are refusing to leave the area around Tahrir Square. Some of them are throwing rocks and firebombs at the police. Dozens have been injured.

Many of the protestors are reportedly relatives of the 850 people killed during the revolution that took place earlier this year, which prompted Hosni Mubarak to step down as Egypt’s president.

Demonstrators say they're angry that the new military government hasn't begun prosecuting the police who protestors believe are responsible for those deaths.  Others say they're frustrated by the slow pace of political reform.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pakistani Ambassador: 'Heads Will Roll' After Osama bin Laden Raid

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- If Pakistani officials knew Osama bin Laden was living peacefully in the country, said Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani, they would have done something.

"If any member of the Pakistani government, the Pakistani military or the Pakistani intelligence service knew where Osama bin Laden was, we would have taken action," Haqqani told ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour. "Osama bin Laden's presence in Pakistan was not to Pakistan's advantage."

The strength of Pakistan's intelligence service and its cooperation with the United States have been questioned since the killing of Bin Laden nearly one week ago. U.S. forces killed the al Qaeda leader in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a military town about an hour's drive north of Islamabad, the capital. Bin Laden's compound was less than a mile away from an elite Pakistani military academy.

Pakistan is pursuing an investigation to understand how the al Qaeda leader could have been hiding right under the military's nose. It is premature to reveal the details of the investigation, said Haqqani. Punishment, if warranted, will be delivered, he added.

"Heads will roll once the investigation has been completed," Haqqani said. "Now if those heads are rolled on account of incompetence, we will share that information with you, and if, God forbid, somebody's complicity is discovered, there will be zero tolerance for that as well."

White House national security advisor Tom Donilon told Amanpour that Pakistan has in its custody all the non-combatants of the Abbottabad compound, including three of Bin Laden's wives. Pakistani officials also took additional material from the compound.

Pakistani officials have interviewed at least one of Bin Laden's wives.

"We understand that one of the wives never left the same floor as Osama bin Laden because they were paranoid of physical movement, they didn't go to windows, they didn't have any fresh air," the Pakistani ambassador revealed.

As to whether Pakistan will grant the United States access to the wives and the material in Pakistan's position, Haqqani stuck to a diplomatic script.

"What we do, Mr. Donilon will know," Haqqani said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Orders Internal Military Review

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- The Pakistani military has agreed to conduct an internal review, according to a Pakistani government official. This after Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was found living virtually in the military’s backyard.

Bin Laden was killed during a raid by Navy SEALs in Abbotabad, Pakistan early Monday morning local time, after U.S. intelligence located him living in a massive compound a few thousand feet away from a top Pakistani military academy.

Pakistani officials claim they were not aware that bin Laden was residing in Abbotabad.

U.S. forces were able to fly into Pakistan using helicopters, conduct the raid -- which lasted about 40 minutes -- and exit the country, without encountering any Pakistani military troops. This appears to have left the Pakistan military somewhat embarrassed, and also raises some questions about its air defense system. This has also sent the military’s reputation backwards with the country’s residents.

Some Pakistanis have been taking jabs the military in the form of text messages such as the following:

“Pakistan radar system for sale: $99.99, buy one, get one free.”

“Public Service Message from the Army: Stay Alert. Don’t rely on us.”

“No honking: the army is asleep.”

Others have expressed more serious concerns about the capability of the military to protect the country, fearing that other countries may try to take advantage of the apparently ineffective air defense systems.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Protestors in Yemen Remain Defiant Despite Government Crackdowns

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(TAIZ, Yemen) -- Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still holding onto power and his brutal attempts to crush anti-government protests have left over 120 dead. The Obama administration has not called for President Saleh to go, but some believe the tide may be turning as U.S. criticism peaked this week with one state department official calling the violence appalling.

Another sign may be the Pentagon's proposal Wednesday for $43 million of  military aid to foreign countries. None of it is earmarked for Yemen where the presence of al Qaeda is a top U.S. Concern. Officials say they will take a wait and see approach.  

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Taiz, tens of thousands are marching against President Saleh with many businesses closed to observe a general strike. In the capital of Sanaa, demonstrators are also remaining defiant a day after a bloody gun battle there left three tribesmen dead.

President Saleh said Wednesday he's ready to go to Saudi Arabia to negotiate with the opposition after some gulf states offered to mediate. It's unclear if the opposition who've had their own proposals rejected by Saleh will agree to outside mediation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Syrians Take to Streets in Show of Support for Government

AFP/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad is facing a wave of anti-government protests in the south and in the port city of Latakiya. 

Human Rights Watch says at least 60 protestors have died at the hands of Assad's army and security forces. As Assad reportedly considers political moves to appease the protestors, it's clear that many Syrians still back the leader as tens of thousands of Syrians are rallying behind Al-Assad in the streets of Damascus, holding up posters with his picture and waving Syrian flags.

Rallies of this size are also happening in  parts of the north and center of the country.  They show that Syria is quite divided. Unlike the national uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, many Syrians do not sympathize with the anti-government protests that continue in the south and in Lahtakiya. Many still believe in President Assad whose family has run the country for over 40 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jordan: Eight Injured As Anti-Government Protests Turn Violent

Photo Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images(AMMAN, Jordan) -- Uprisings in Egypt have triggered similar protests across the Mideast. In Jordan, Friday marked the seventh straight day of protests between government supporters and anti-government demonstrators.

At least eight people were reported injured in Friday’s demonstrations. Protesters are calling for greater freedoms and lower prices on items such as food.

“High prices,” one protester said, “we wish that the government will do something about it.”

Another demonstrator said the time has come for Jordanians to demand what, he says, they deserve.

“We are, as Jordanians are, calling for our rights.”

The U.S. is appealing to the government of Bahrain to show restraint and usher in political reform after security forces used violence to break up pro-democracy protests, leaving at least five people dead.

The Obama administration is keeping a watchful eye on the fluid situation in Bahrain, which is the home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and a strong ally of Saudi Arabia, another Arab nation that may soon experience anti-government protests that have spread rapidly throughout the Middle East over the past month.

In Bahrain, opposition forces are calling for the prime minister to step down, as well as demanding improvements in quality of life issues such as wages and housing.

As in Egypt and Tunisia, the protesters have been spurred on by bloggers using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which are more difficult for the government to suppress.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Attacks Iran's Gov't, Defends Administration's Voice On Egypt

Photo Courtesy - Pete Souza/The White House (file)(WASHINGTON) -- In his first news conference of the year, President Obama assailed the Iranian government's response to the recent protests that have erupted since the uprising in Egypt overthrew its 30-year-long president, Hosni Mubarak. He said it's "ironic" that the Iranian regime has hailed the Egyptian revolt while suppressing its own protests.

"What's different is the Iranian government response, which is to shoot people and beat people and arrest people," the president said. "My hope and expectation is that we're going to continue to see the people of Iran have the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government, understanding that American cannot ultimately dictate what happens inside Iran."

The White House drew some criticism for its measured response in the initial days of the uprising in Egypt, and for not denouncing Mubarak, who refused to step down despite protesters' demands. Mubarak was a longtime ally of the United States who has played a key role in Israel-Palestine negotiations.

The president also defended the U.S. message on Egypt, saying it was consistent.

"We were mindful that it was important for this to remain an Egyptian event, that the United States did not become the issue, but that we sent out a very clear message that we believed in an orderly transition, a meaningful transition, and a transition that needed to happen not later, but sooner, and we were consistent on that message throughout," he said.

While the president hailed the reforms the military is planning to make in Egypt, he expressed concern about stability in the greater Arab world, where the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings have sparked a number of protests, from Jordan to Yemen to Algeria.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio