Entries in President (20)


Moderate Candidate Wins Iranian Presidential Election

(TEHRAN, Iran) -- In a surprising message of change, Hassan Rouhani was elected as the new president of Iran on Saturday.

Rouhani, considered the most moderate candidate on a ballot full of conservatives, will take over for former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was not allowed to run for another term after leading the country for the last eight years.

By winning 50.8 percent of the vote, Rouhani avoided a second round run-off election. He gained a much attention after indicating during his campaign that he would pursue a less confrontational foreign policy and would enact a "civil rights charter" in Iran.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Former Mexican President Wants Marijuana Legalized

Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg via Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- A former Latin American president has once again said that drugs should be legalized. This time it was Vicente Fox who was the president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006.

Fox was in Seattle on Thursday, as a guest speaker for Don Pellicer, a new company that wants to set up marijuana stores in Washington state and Colorado, and aims to create America's "largest" marijuana brand. The former Mexican president spoke in a press conference in which Don Pellicer's CEO [a former Microsoft executive] sought money from investors, and unveiled plans to buy marijuana dispensaries.

After praising Don Pellicer and its head honchos for their "initiative," Fox described marijuana prohibition as a "trap," that has increased violence in Mexico.

He said that policies that legalize the drug's consumption represent an "opportunity," to stop that violence, and welcomed the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Washington and Colorado.

"This state of Washington has decided to lead a new path," Fox said. "In Mexico we welcome this initiative because the cost of the war [against drug cartels] is becoming unbearable."

Many politicians in Latin America are also talking about taking new paths in drug policy, and demanding that the U.S. also consider legalization as an international strategy.

Some, like Fox, are former presidents, who fought drug cartels tooth and nail in their time, and now have little to lose by saying that drugs should be legalized.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has been working to convince Central American countries to legalize many drugs, even cocaine. In a February 2012 speech, Molina said, "We've seen that when we capture a drug boss, cartels get reorganized and business continues. ... While there is demand in the United States, drug trafficking will continue [in Latin America]."

Presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Pepe Mujica of Uruguay have also worked to push legislation that would legalize marijuana.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan to Elect New President in 2014

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Afghanistan has set a date to choose its next president.

Just as U.S. forces pull out of the country, Afghanistan is set to elect a successor for President Hamid Karzai on April 5, 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal. Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission set the poll date Tuesday. Karzai is not allowed to run for a third term, according to the country's constitution.

While the Wall Street Journal speculated Tuesday whether Karzai would name his brother Qayum as a "preferred candidate," a spokesman for the Afghan president said Tuesday that Karzai has not named a preference, the Journal reports.

Calling the electoral process is "inclusive" and "not exclusive," Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi said, "He has not named anybody, but he has held a series of meetings with different people around the country to create a road map for elections."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


French President Proposes Banning Homework

AFP PHOTO PATRICK KOVARIK/LIONEL BONAVENTURE(PARIS) -- Talk about courting the youth vote. French President François Hollande has proposed banning homework as part of a series of policies designed to reform the French educational system.

“Education is priority,” Hollande said in a speech at Paris' Sorbonne University. “An education program is, by definition, a societal program. Work should be done at school, rather than at home.”

The justification for this proposed ban? Inequality. According to a statement from an official at the French Embassy, “When it comes to homework, the President said it should be done during school hours rather than at home, in order to establish equal opportunities.” Homework favors the wealthy, Hollande argues, because they are more likely to have a good working environment at home, including parents with the time and energy to help them with their work.

Hollande’s education proposal is not limited to a homework ban. According to the embassy, Hollande has also pledged to add 60,000 teaching jobs in the next five years. He has also expressed support for extending the school week by establishing a model in which children would attend school for nine half-days a week. Schools would be able to decide if this is spread over four, five or even six days, in consultation with local authorities and parents.

French children typically go to school for 36 weeks out of the year. The school day is roughly as long as an American workday, lasting from 8:00 to 4:00 or later. However, in most schools the week is only four days, with Wednesdays off in addition to Saturday and Sunday.

Hollande’s proposals are not official yet; they’re part of an ongoing national debate about reforming the education system, which is, according to the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment, ranked 21st in reading, 22nd in math and 27th in science among countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation). The United States ranks 17th, 31st, and 23rd in those respective categories.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mexico’s New President: Safety a Primary Focus

Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MEXICO CITY) -- As he prepares to take over a country ripe with violence and plagued by drug wars, Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto is promising to focus first and foremost on making the streets of his nation safer.

Pena Nieto claimed victory after a recount on Wednesday. Over half of all ballot boxes were reopened and recounted amid accusations of vote buying. Following the official recount, Pena Nieto was again declared the next Mexican president.

Two days after his victory in Sunday’s election, Pena Nieto told ABC News’ Cecilia Vega in an interview that Mexico’s war on violence can be won, but policy changes must be made.

“We have to emphasize the reduction of violence that our country lives in right now. The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security,” Pena Nieto said in an interview conducted in Spanish and translated into English.

More than 50,000 people have been killed as a result of Mexico’s drug wars since outgoing president Felipe Calderon took power in 2006, a staggering string of violence that has raised concerns in the United States as well. Only days before last weekend’s election, a car bomb in Nuevo Laredo, only miles from the border, injured seven people.

“Look, to obtain security that Mexican society demands goes hand in hand with obtaining results in other fields to precisely have a safe border,” Pena Nieto said. “I would tell them to those who live in the United States in worry and fear that this is the biggest challenge: to recover peace and tranquility for Mexicans and for those who visit us from the United States, to obtain this means to adjust the public safety strategy, secondly, obtain an environment of economic growth to generate jobs and opportunities of self-development. This will allow, or rather avoid, that many people, especially young people, get co-opted by organized crime.”

Pena Nieto also expressed that while US-Mexican relations will certainly be affected by who wins November’s elections in the U.S., he is impartial about the outcome. “I’m completely respectful of the decision that Americans will have over their president,” Pena Nieto said. “I will be respectful towards whoever results elected president of the United States. My interest will be to work a close relationship of increased collaboration, of respect to our sovereignty and above all to set shared goals and above all to be efficient in achieving these goals.”

In terms of Mexican immigration to the United States, Pena Nieto is eager to make remaining in Mexico an attractive option for his people. “For me, one of my major priorities will be to drive structural reforms that will allow Mexico to grow and generate jobs and opportunities for Mexicans,” he said. “In this way, migrating will be an option or a decision and not a necessity for many Mexicans.”

However, in the case of immigrants already in the U.S., Pena Nieto is in favor of amnesty: “If they’ve decided to remain in that country they should have the opportunity of fair treatment and their work be recognized.”

In his campaign for the presidency, Pena Nieto, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), pledged to focus less on apprehending narco-traffickers and more on reducing violence on the streets. However, Pena Nieto emphasized to Vega that certain policies that worked under Calderon will still be continued even after he leaves office.

“Those who suppose we have to reverse or cancel the policy of President Calderon are wrong. I’ve publicly recognized the progress and achievements he’s had in certain areas within the insecurity fight,” Pena Nieto said. “We’d have to strengthen the policy of capacity of civil force of Mexican State to combat organized crime, territorial presence. But also, we have to now in the adjustment of the strategy, increased emphasis in reducing violence. This is what worries Mexicans the most – the fear planted in many Mexicans due to this climate of insecurity. So we’ll have to say, what has worked in this government, will continue. We’ll strengthen actions started by the current government, but we have to adjust the necessary to combat impunity, re-establish the rule of law and regain the tranquility that Mexicans are asking for.”

Pena Nieto will take office Dec. 1 after last weekend’s election saw him win 38 percent of the vote. It signals a return to power for the PRI, a party that ruled for over seven decades before finally being ousted in 2000. Now Pena Nieto, 45, who is married to a soap opera star, will get to work on his ambitious plans to restore safety to a nation rocked by years of bloodshed.

“The policy of fighting insecurity has to have social support and to achieve that goal -- it’s necessary today to give Mexicans conditions of greater calm and security,” he said. “That’s why, the policy of public safety, in order to have social support, has to translate into results and peace of mind that Mexicans expect of the next government.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Secretary Clinton Says ‘Oui’ to New French President

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that she welcomes the new French president, Francoise Hollande, and is looking forward to working with him. In an interview with USA Today, Clinton said even though Hollande, who is a socialist, will have very different policies from conservative predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, she believes the strong relationship between France and the United States will continue.

“Different voices may be louder on growth than they have been, but the overall approach of how we support Europe’s recovery hasn’t changed,” Clinton told USA Today. “It’s been our view that there needed to be some adjustments to just austerity, so that there could be growth, both for economic reasons and for political reasons.”

As the two largest and most stable economies in the eurozone, France and Germany have been the stalwarts during the ongoing economic crisis. Both have helped bail out other eurozone countries in trouble, but also set strict austerity requirements for countries to remain part of the euro. Some, such as Greece, have balked at the forced cuts, causing domestic political turmoil and sending global markets into a tailspin.

The Obama administration has taken the position that Europe cannot solve its economic problems with austerity measures alone. Similar to the U.S. with its stimulus packages, Europe should also have a plan for growth that will stimulate the economy and provide jobs for the continent’s unemployed youth, which makes up more than 22 percent of the 18- to 24-year-old population. "We’ve been delivering that message, publicly and privately, for some time,” said Clinton.

It’s a message that’s likely to resonate with Hollande, who beat incumbent president Sarkozy by campaigning against Sarkozy’s deeply unpopular economic cuts.

Hollande reiterated his "pro-growth” economic plans in his acceptance speech last week and warned that France and Europe are headed for a shift. “Europe is watching us,” he said to cheering crowds. “Austerity can no longer be the only option.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Presidential Candidate Oversaw Torture, According to Intelligence

Tara Todras-Whitehill-Pool/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- One of the men campaigning to lead Egypt into its post-Mubarak future used to oversee torture for the Mubarak regime, according to Western intelligence experts, and even aided the CIA in its controversial “rendition” program for suspected terrorists.

The announcement by Omar Suleiman that he would be running for president brought thousands of protestors into Cairo’s streets this week, and spurred Egypt’s parliament to pass a law that would bar Suleiman and another former official in the Mubarak regime from seeking office.

Suleiman served at the top of Egyptian intelligence from 1993 until he was briefly appointed vice president to then-President Hosni Mubarak just days before the regime fell in February 2011. As ABC News reported last year, in that time experts said Suleiman had been America’s “point man in Egypt” and was integral to just about every intelligence operation the U.S. conducted there.

Ron Suskind, author of the book The One Percent Doctrine, told ABC News last year that when the CIA once asked Suleiman for a DNA sample from a relative of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Suleiman offered the man’s whole arm instead.

“He’s a charitable man, friendly,” Suskin said. “He tortures only people that he doesn’t know.”

John Sifton, who authored a 2007 Human Rights Watch report on torture conducted by Egyptian intelligence, said Suleiman oversaw joint operations with the CIA and other Arab countries, “which featured illegal renditions and tortures of dozens of detainees.”

Despite such accusations, a leaked 2006 State Department memo underscored Suleiman’s value in America’s eyes.

“Our intelligence collaboration with Omar Soliman,” says the cable, using an alternate spelling of his name, “is now probably the most successful element of the [U.S.-Egypt] relationship.”

Mass protests by Islamist groups in Egypt have reportedly followed Suleiman’s bid for presidency, with thousands chanting in Tahrir Square Friday, “Suleiman, do you think this is the old days?”

Egypt’s parliament passed legislation Thursday that bans former Mubarak top officials from becoming president -- a measure that,  if approved by Egypt’s ruling military, could put a quick end to Suleiman’s controversial run, according to Egypt’s English-language newspaper Ahram.

Rejecting claims by Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that he would return Egypt to the days of Mubarak, Suleiman wrote in a state-owned newspaper that “no one, no matter who he is, will be able to reinvent a regime that fell, folded and was rejected and revolted against.”

“The clock cannot be turned back and the revolution laid down a new reality that cannot be ignored,” he wrote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Hundreds Arrested in Anti-Putin Protests

Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested in Moscow and St. Petersburg Monday evening after protesting against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who won Sunday’s presidential election.

Columns of riot police filed into Pushkin Square after opposition members overstayed their permit. Barrel-chested police officers linked arms and cleared the square of most journalists and observers before making the arrests.

Others were detained as they tried to march down a main avenue. Russian media reports say 250 were arrested in Moscow and another 300 in St. Petersburg. As the police moved in, the crowds intensified their chants of “Russia without Putin” and “Putin is a thief.”

As they were pushed away by the police the protesters changed their chants to “shame, shame” and “this is our city.”

The arrests followed a sanctioned protest a day after Putin won an election that will return him to the presidency for another six years. International monitors said Monday that they found problems with the vote, namely the outsized advantage given to Putin by state-controlled media as well as other inconsistencies on Election Day.

Protesters gathered in the bitter cold to hear speeches from a wide range of opposition figures. The opposition leaders spoke in front of a banner that read “for a fair vote” and led the crowd in chants of “Russia without Putin.”

Those were the only things they had in common. The opposition to Putin remains fragmented and is an awkward alliance ranging from liberals and communists to right-wing nationalists. Presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owners of the New Jersey Nets who had been a Kremlin ally, also delivered a speech for the first time at the opposition rally.

Anti-corruption blogger Alexy Navalny received the loudest cheers when he took the stage. He told the crowd to remember that “we are the power.”

Other speakers noted the heavy police presence surrounding the square and wondered aloud who they were prepared to fight.

Indeed, hundreds of police lined the square and cordoned off adjoining roads. Buses full of police in riot gear and accompanied by police dogs waited on nearby streets.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


French President Nicolas Sarkozy Will Seek Second Term

LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Despite low approval ratings and stiff competition from Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that he will seek another term.

"The gap between Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy seems quite clear, which still is 60 to 40, which is showing an enormous gap between the two candidates,” said French political analyst Dominique Moisi, “one that is without precedent."

"The first two years were catastrophic,” Moisi said of Sarkozy’s presidency. “A combination of triviality, vulgarity, and personal, marital conditions that really destabilized the French, especially the conservatives and their vision of their president. Though he improved himself, it is likely that the image of the first two years will remain prevalent."

Sarkozy made his run official Wednesday during an interview with France’s TF1 channel, the BBC reported.

France holds its presidential election April 22.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former President of the Maldives Facing Criminal Charges

Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images(MALE, Maldives) -- Just two days after his hasty resignation, Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives, faced possible arrest and criminal charges Thursday, The New York Times reports.

Supporters waited with Nasheed, who stayed in his home in the capital city of Male Thursday after the Criminal Court of the Maldives issued arrest warrants against the former president and the former minister of defense there.

"We are waiting for the police to come arrest President Nasheed right now," former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem said in a phone interview Thursday, according to the Times.

Nasheed claimed in a live television interview on a national network Thursday that security officers forced him to resign and that democracy was at stake with the new government.

Nasheed and his supporters claim they have no idea what the former president could be charged for. On Wednesday, Nasheed was among the dozens of protesters injured after riot police used tear gas to control the violent crowds, BBC News reported.

Police in Male declined to give explanation for the charges against Nasheed.  However, a police spokesman did confirm the discovery of bottles of alcohol in the official presidential residence, the Times reports.  Possession of alcohol is generally forbidden in the Muslim nation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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