International News

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe delivers ultimatum for shared government

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, whose return to office has been disputed internationally since the presidential election in March, threatened to appoint a cabinet to his government if power-sharing talks with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai are not concluded soon.

Earlier this month, Tsvangirai and Mugabe met in talks for a shared government, orchestrated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. On Thursday, however, Mugabe stated that he plans to appoint a cabinet unless a power-sharing deal is signed within the week.

Tsvangirai views Mugabe’s threat to take control as an attempt to force Tsvangirai into an unfair deal, saying that he will not sign any deal that does not give him the authority to govern Zimbabwe.

Georgia

Georgian membership in NATObacked by Cheney

Vice President Dick Cheney visited the country of Georgia on Thursday, pledging American support weeks after Russian troops occupied the small Eastern European nation.

The United States government pledged $1 billion in aid after the occupation, which strained Russian-American relations.

“Russia’s actions have cast grave doubt on Russia’s intentions and on its reliability as an international partner, not just in Georgia, but across this region and indeed throughout the international system,” Cheney said during his four-and-a-half hour visit.

Last week, Russia recognized the independence of two breakaway regions in Georgia, despite the United State’s pledged support for Georgia, a former member of the U.S.S.R.

Cheney said that Georgia, which has been a democracy since 2003, has the right “to build stronger ties to friends in Europe and across the Atlantic.”

Pakistan

American troops engage combatants on Pakistani soil

Afghani-based U.S. Special Operations forces attacked Al Qaeda militants inside Pakistan, American officials confirmed on Wednesday. The helicopter-borne troops raided a Pakistani village near the border with Afghanistan early Wednesday morning.

Casualty reports have been mixed, with American and Pakistani officials offering conflicting reports of the raid.

Pakistan protested the attack with the American government, which has been cautious in its relations with Pakistan due to the fragile political situation.

One American official was reported saying “what you’re seeing is perhaps a stepping up of activity against militants in sanctuaries in the tribal areas that pose a direct threat to United States forces and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.”

China

Elephant addicted to heroin is fully recovered

A male elephant named Xiguang, or “Big Brother,” returned to his home in southwestern China this week, three years after authorities discovered him during a crackdown on illegal elephant traders. Traders had used heroin-laced bananas to pacify and control the animal.

When authorities found him in March of 2005, he was so severely addicted that the stress of complete heroin withdrawal proved too great, reportedly causing the elephant to break the chains that held him.

For the past three years, Xiguang has been weaned off the drug through a therapeutic combination of regular massages, bathing, and methadone.

According to the Chinese state media, Xiguang, now recovered, was returned to “live peacefully” in his natural habitat.

Angola

Angola holds first elections in 16 years

Nearly half of Angola’s population of eight million people voted in Angola’s first election in 16 years on Friday, to the praise of Western observers. Since its failed 1992 elections, Angola has been plagued by a decade of violent civil war which left millions of Angolans displaced.

The elections on Friday were for Angola’s legislature, but the true test of democracy, observers say, are the presidential elections to be held next year. Angola’s government is seeking legitimacy, as their economy is expanding, compared to their Central African neighbors. “They want to be legitimized by the popular vote. Angola is thinking that they can play an important role in economic and political fields,” Francisco Ribeiro Telles, Portugal’s ambassador to Angola, said.