Issue 25


Manuel Zelaya

Liberal candidate wins presidential election in Honduras

Manuel Zelaya, of the Liberal Party of Honduras (LI member), who has promised to fight government corruption and push for life sentences for violent criminals, was declared the winner of Honduras' 27 November presidential election, with 51 percent of the vote, over his ruling National Party opponent, Porfirio Lobo, with 45 percent, who has refused to concede defeat.

Zelaya, who will start a four-year term on 27 January 2006, has railed against alleged government corruption and said he supports life sentences for violent criminals who are 'beyond rehabilitation' in this country plagued by gang violence. Under a 'citizens' power' plan to combat corruption, Zelaya promised to pass a transparency law and implement a civil assembly to monitor the government. He has also promised to create 400,000 jobs within four years in Honduras, which has poverty and unemployment rates of 71 percent and 46 percent respectively.

'Honduras has today a new light of hope. Now comes an era of transparency and justice,' Zelaya stated at a news conference.


Paul Martin

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Canada faces snap election

A bitter winter election campaign begins today after the minority Liberal government of Canada collapsed on a vote of non-confidence supported by a united opposition on 28 November. There was little drama in the 171-133 vote. The combined Conservative-Bloc Quebecois-New Democratic Party signalled over two weeks ago that Paul Martin's Liberal Party (LI member) government, voted into office just 17 months prior, was doomed. The loss means an election for all 308 seats in the House of Commons, which is likely to be held on 23 January 2006.

Appearing upbeat in his first public appearance following the historic vote, the Prime Minister took the stage in front of a boisterous gathering of party faithful just moments later. 'Hey, we've got a campaign to run,' he joked. 'I just want to say a few brief words to all before you head back to your ridings to get fitted for snowshoes,' Martin laughed.

According to the most recent polls, the Liberals score about 36%, against 31% for the Conservatives, suggesting the Liberals, in power since 1993, will have to govern with the help of opposition parties. Martin has said his party will campaign on its economic record, having wiped out a huge budget deficit, and seen the economy boom and unemployment fall. 'We are entering this campaign with a strong balance sheet and we can be proud of it,' Martin stated.


Armand de Decker

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Belgian Minister proposes joint EU-AU peacekeeping training centres

Armand de Decker, the Belgian Development Cooperation Minister (LI member Mouvement Réformateur), has proposed the creation of peacekeeping training centres in Africa, to be run in partnership with the African Union and the European Union.  These would provide training to both African and European armed forces.

'This would reinforce cohesion among African states, which would work together on sensitive security issues and would, at the same time, enable Europeans to work together in matters of security,' Michel Lastchenko, Decker's deputy director, told IRIN News.

Decker made the proposal to the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, one month ahead of an EU heads of state's summit due to adopt the 2005-2015 'European Strategy for Africa'.


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Taiwan local elections heating up

Hundreds of thousands of Taiwanese have joined campaign rallies on Sunday as parties seek to secure support ahead of next week's local elections on 3 December 2005.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (LI member) staged events in 19 counties and cities under the theme 'Continue reforms, Protect Taiwan'.

The DPP and its alliance partner, the independence-minded Taiwan Solidarity Union, tried to persuade voters not to support the Kuomintang-led opposition camp, alleging they were friends of the island's rival China.

The allegations were rejected by the Kuomintang and another major opposition group, the People First Party, both of which favour improved ties with Beijing.

Organisers say the local elections are seen as a prelude to the 2008 presidential polls.

Morgan Tsvangirai

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Tsvangirai suspended from leading the MDC after split over Senatorial elections

MDC Vice-President, Gibson Sibanda, has suspended Tsvangirai as leader of the MDC after a Disciplinary Committee found him guilty of violating the party's constitution by issuing a call to boycott the Senatorial elections held on 26 November, according to internal correspondence obtained by Agence France-Presse.

Tsvangirai is reported to have told IRIN News on 27 November 2005 that his suspension was unconstitutional and that only the party's Congress, expected to be held in February, had the power to suspend him.

The party's divisions emerged after Tsvangirai called for a boycott of the Senate polls and was met with defiance by 26 MDC members who said that they were going to run for Senatorial seats in spite of the threat of expulsion from the party. 

Except for Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, where pro-senate MDC candidates won all of the seats, other MDC strongholds, like the capital, Harare, heeded Tsvangirai's call to boycott the elections. The result was an unquestionable victory for President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, which won all but seven seats (43 seats to 7).

The two factions, Tsvangari's anti-Senate faction and Sibanda's pro-Senate faction, might now wrestle over the ownership of the organisation's name and assets.

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