Entries in Prime minister (28)


Pakistan's Supreme Court Orders Arrest of Prime Minister

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, along with 16 others, within 24 hours, amid widespread accusations of corruption in his government.

Tuesday's announcement was made as tens of thousands had marched on the country's parliament.  Led by cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, they had threatened to storm parliament and remove the government by force.

In response, the Karachi stock exchange immediately crashed, losing more than 450 points in a matter of minutes.

Qadri is calling it a victory for his movement.  It's not yet clear if this will disperse the protests or embolden their cause and draw in larger numbers.

The move could effectively plunge Pakistan into dangerous territory, with no effective governance for the near future.  The army, which has engineered coups in the past, could step in and take charge.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Dies

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Ethiopia’s long-time prime minister, Meles Zenawi, died Monday night from an undisclosed illness, state media reported. He was 57.

Under Meles' more than two decades in power, Ethiopia attracted millions of dollars in international development aid and foreign business investment along with making significant strides toward reducing poverty.

Meles was seen as an ally to Western governments concerned about the spread of terrorism in the Horn of Africa. His death has sparked some worry about stability in Ethiopia, which has become an important security partner to the United States.

But human rights and democracy activists criticized Meles for his efforts to maintain strict control of the country. They say he refused to allow any dissent with sometimes violent crackdowns, and that he jailed political opponents and journalists.

Funeral arrangements are being made.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Former Syrian PM Makes First Public Comments Since Defection

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images(AMMAN, Jordan) -- Speaking for the first time since he defected to Jordan last week, Syria's former prime minister announced on Tuesday he's joined the rebels in their 17-month quest to out President Bashar al-Assad.

"We will do everything we can to liberate these people and to, for the return of the displaced to their homes -- dignified, victorious on the land of Syria.  Long live Syria," Riad Hijab said through a translator.

Since the conflict between government and rebel forces began in March 2011, an estimated 20,000 people have died in Syria.

Hijab urged other top officials to join the rebel cause and said Assad's days are numbered.

"The regime is collapsing -- morally, financially, economically and military broken," he said.

He also thanked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey -- supporters of the country's Sunni insurgency -- for helping the rebels take on the regime.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Syrian Prime Minister Took Longer to Defect than First Reported

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/GettyImages(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The high-profile defection of former Syrian Prime Minister Riyad al-Hijab didn't happen when everyone was told about it.

Al Jazeera reported last Monday that al-Hijab, along with other ministers, military officials and their families, fled to Jordan, as the ex-prime minister said that he was through supporting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in its attempt to crush an 18-month-long rebellion.

The information came from the main rebel group, the Free Syrian Army, but as it turned out, the news was intended as a smoke screen because transporting al-Hijab and his entourage was more involved and dangerous than first believed.

To help facilitate the escape, the Free Syrian Army assisted the renegade Syrian official by using decoy cars and convoys to confuse the Syrian military who were thought to be looking for al-Hijab.

By Wednesday morning, the mission appeared accomplished as the minister for Jordan's media affairs declared that the former prime minister and the others had safely crossed the border into their country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


British Prime Minister Leaves Daughter, 8, Alone at Pub

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Britain’s prime minister may want to consider signing up for one of those parenting-class vouchers he’s made available to those in his country.

On Monday, 10 Downing Street confirmed that Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, had accidentally left one of their children alone at a pub several months ago.

The Camerons and their children -- Nancy, 8; Arthur, 6; and Florence, 22 months -- had been attending Sunday lunch with two other families at the pub, reportedly close to the official country house for prime ministers.

According to The Sun newspaper, Nancy was visiting the restroom when the parents departed the pub in separate cars. David Cameron assumed Nancy was with Samantha and their two children; Samantha Cameron thought the child was with her father.

Nancy was left alone in the pub -- called the Plough -- for 15 minutes.

News of the mistake comes on the heels of an initiative supported by David Cameron that offers free child-rearing classes to British parents of children up to age 5 as well as texts and email reminders.

“Parents want help. It is in our interest as a society to help people bring up their children,” he said, according to the BBC. “We’re taught to drive a car. We’re taught all sorts of things at school. I think it makes perfect sense to help people with parenting.”

In a statement, Downing Street said the Camerons were “distraught” when they realized Nancy was missing.

“Thankfully when they phoned the pub, she was there safe and well. The prime minister went down straight away to get her,” a spokeswoman said.

Several residents ABC News spoke with in a nearby town said that parents forgot their children in pubs all the time. One couple, however, was shocked and wondered how David Cameron’s security had missed the girl as well.

In 2010, David Cameron spoke on the importance of family and children in an ABC News interview.

“You’ve got to make sure that you do find time for your family and children,” he said. “And for a good reason, which is that, you know, hopefully, one of the reasons you become a prime minister, is because you’ve got some balance and some equilibrium and some sort of reasonable judgment you bring to the problems of life. … If you get frazzled and fried and exhausted and forget who you are, then you’re going to be a rubbish dad.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


No Change in Afghanistan Withdrawal Timeline, President Obama Says

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama Wednesday emphasized that recent difficulties in the Afghanistan war would not result in a speedier withdrawal of U.S. troops.

“In terms of pace, I don’t anticipate at this stage that we’re going to be making any sudden additional changes to the plan that we currently have,” the president said at a joint appearance in the White House Rose Garden with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Noting that 10,000 U.S. troops have already left Afghanistan in the last year, with an additional 23,000 scheduled to withdraw by this summer, the president insisted that “a robust Coalition presence” would remain in the country during the summer fighting season “to make sure that the Taliban understand that they’re not going to be able to regain momentum. After the fighting season, in conjunction with all our allies, we will continue to look at how do we effectuate this transition in a way that doesn’t result in a steep cliff at the end of 2014 but rather is a gradual pace that accommodates the developing capacities of the Afghan national security forces.”

The two men Wednesday agreed to stick with “the transition plan that we agreed to with our coalition partners in Lisbon,” President Obama said. At the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago in May, they will announce the speed at which the U.S. will shift to a support role in 2013.

“This is a hard slog,” the president said when asked about polls indicating the public wants the war to end. “This is hard work....Why is it that poll numbers indicate people are interested in ending the war in Afghanistan? It’s because we’ve been there for 10 years, and people get weary. And they know friends and neighbors who have lost loved ones as a consequence of war. No one wants war. Anybody who answers a poll question about war saying enthusiastically, we want war, probably hasn’t been involved in a war. ”

In addition to Afghanistan, the president and prime minister told reporters Wednesday that they focused on Iran’s nuclear program, Syria, and economic recovery.

On Syria, Cameron begged off questions about imposing a no-fly zone, saying that the U.S./U.K. focus right now is “on trying to achieve transition, not trying to foment revolution. We think that the fastest way to end the killing, which is what we all want to see, is for Assad to go.” Asked if President Bashar al-Assad ought to be tried as a war criminal, Cameron broadened the question to “the issue of holding people responsible,” and on that he said, “I do.”

“People should always remember that international law has got a long reach and a long memory,” Cameron said, “and the people who are leading Syria at the moment and committing these crimes need to know that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prime Minister of Haiti Resigns After Less Than 5 Months

THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- Haitian Prime Minister Garry Conille resigned suddenly Friday after taking the job less than five months ago.  

Conille had been under pressure from President Michel Martelly to step down after several disputes over issues that include how to handle reconstruction and repair contracts worth millions of dollars, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The announcement is sure to add to the political instability in Haiti, which is still recovering after the catastrophic earthquake two years ago. The LA Times reports Conille, who once served on a Haiti reconstruction board for former President Bill Clinton was only the third choice of President Martelly, a former pop music performer, to lead the nation's governing body.

It is uncertain who will replace Conille.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Au Revoir 'Mademoiselle': French Forms Get a Makeover

Hemera/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Farewell to lovesick maidens and damsels in distress. Farewell to discrimination and sexism -- well, at least on French forms.

French Prime Minister François Fillon ordered this week that the term “mademoiselle” be removed from all official forms and registries after months of campaigning by two feminist organizations, Osez le Féminisme (Dare To Be Feminist) and Les Chiennes de Garde (The Watchdogs).

The decision marks a great victory for French feminists who say the use of “mademoiselle” is demeaning to women, insisting that their marital status need not be known every time they sign a form. Men in France are referred to as “monsieur” regardless of marital status.

“Have you ever wondered why we do not call a single man ‘Mondamoiseau’ or ‘young virgin?’ Not surprisingly, this type of distinction is reserved for women,” the campaign wrote on their joint website. “This campaign was intended to end this inequality, but also to inform women of their rights.”

According to the New York Times, Fillon wrote that the use of “mademoiselle” made reference “without justification nor necessity” to a woman’s “matrimonial situation,” whereas “monsieur” has long signified simply “sir.”

Women must indicate their marital status on almost every form in France, by choosing “madame” or “mademoiselle” -- including when opening a bank account, paying taxes, shopping online and even ordering groceries.

With this battle won, the feminist groups are now encouraging private organizations to also remove “mademoiselle” from their forms.

Feminist groups fought a similar battle in the United States and won, said Kathy Spillar, the executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms. Magazine.

“Women want to be known for who they are, not for their marital status,” Spillar said. “They should be recognized as their own person, not just the property of a man, whether that’s her father or her husband.”

While the term “miss,” which is comparable to the French “mademoiselle,” was never officially banned from U.S. documents, “Ms.” was added, giving women the choice whether or not to indicate their marital status.

Spillar said the founders of Ms. Magazine -- including noted feminist Gloria Steinem -- decided to take the name “Ms.” because “it was a very poignant statement about this movement … It really says it all in two little letters.”

In regards to France’s decision to take “mademoiselle” off of official documents, Spillar says it’s a significant step for feminists worldwide.

“Some may say it’s petty but words matter. How you address people matters,” Spillar said. “French society will see how much it matters when you are no longer having to use terms that are really, quite frankly, antiquated.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Prime Minister of Pakistan to Be Charged with Contempt of Court

TONY ASHBY/AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- In a move sure to further destabilize government in Islamabad, the top court in Pakistan has decided to proceed with contempt of court charges against Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani for refusing to reopen a corruption case against Pakistani President Asif Zardari.

The contempt case against Gilani began last month after the prime minister failed to write a letter to Swiss authorities to reopen an old corruption investigation involving President Zardari, the Pakistan Observer reports.  The seven justices unanimously ruled to proceed with the charges against Gilani, despite the government's adamance that Zardari could not be prosecuted while he is head of state, according to the Observer.

Attorneys for Gilani say they have plans to appeal the ruling. If the appeal should fail, Gilani will have to return to court Feb. 13, where the contempt charges will initiate.  

If Gilani is convicted, he could face up to six months in jail and be ejected from power.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Singapore PM Takes Big Pay Cut, Still World’s Best-Paid Leader

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(SINGAPORE) -- The prime minister of Singapore just accepted a 36-percent pay cut but is still the highest-paid elected official in the world.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's U.S. $1.7 million salary is four times more than President Obama earns.

Lee appointed a committee in May 2011 to review the level of political salaries after coming under attack from his political opponents amid mounting concerns about income inequality and the cost of living in the city-state.

The committee said Wednesday that despite the recommended cuts, salaries for those that hold political office still need to match those in the private sector in order to attract the brightest and the best to public service.

“Salaries must be competitive so that people of the right caliber are not deterred from stepping forward to lead the country. Political service ethos entails making sacrifices and hence there should be a discount in the pay formula,” the committee said.

The big salaries that politicians receive in Singapore are often cited as a reason why it’s considered one of the least corrupt countries. Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Singapore as the fifth-least corrupt in the world.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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