Competitive Exams: Current Affairs April to June 2008

Current Affairs 2008 (April-June): World

World April 2008

Opposition Leader Declares Himself the Winner in Zimbabwe Election (April 2): Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says he won 50.3% of the vote in March's presidential election, defeating Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980 and presided over the economic collapse of the country. The Movement for Democratic Change wins a majority of the seats in Parliament. Mugabe refuses to concede, and election officials have not yet released results from the March 29 vote (April 7). Zimbabwe's HIgh Court delays a ruling on a petition filed by the Movement for Democratic Change to force the government to release the results of the presidential election (April 14). The High Court of Zimbabwe dismisses the opposition's request for the release of election results (April 19). Election officials begin a partial recount of the vote (April 24). As the government continues to violently crack down on the opposition, the United States declares Morgan Tsvangirai the outright winner of March's presidential election (April 25). Police raid the offices of the opposition and election monitors and detain dozens of people for questioning.

Irish Prime Minister Announces His Resignation (April 2): Bertie Ahern, who is under investigation for allegedly accepting a bribe in the early 1990s when he was finance minister, says he will step down in May.

NATO Invites Two Countries to Join Alliance (April 3): Leaders of NATO invite Croatia and Albania to become part of the alliance. Once admitted, NATO will include 28 countries. Greece vetoes the invitation to Macedonia, and despite lobbying by the US, Ukraine and Georgia are also denied membership.

Iran Announces Plans to Expand Uranium Enrichment (April 8): President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that the country has begun installing 6, 000 additional centrifuges to its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, which already has 3, 000 centrifuges.

Nepal Holds Historic Election (April 10): Millions of voters turn out to elect a 601-seat Constituent Assembly that will write a new constitution. Maoist rebels, who recently signed a peace agreement with the government that ended the guerrillas' 10-year insurgency, are vying for seats in the assembly (April 21). The Maoists win 120 out of 240 directly elected seats.

Kenyan President Names New Cabinet (April 13): President Mwai Kibaki, who was narrowly elected over opposition leader Raila Odinga in flawed elections in December 2007, announces a new national unity cabinet that includes 94 ministers. Odinga is named prime minister. Kibaki's supporters head powerful ministries, such as finance and foreign relations.

Iraqi Government Fires Soldiers Who Failed to Fight in Basra (April 13): About 1, 300 soldiers who either refused to fight or deserted the military during the March operation in Basra to oust Shiite militias are dismissed.

Berlusconi to Serve Third Term as Prime Minister (April 14): The center-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi, who was ousted by Romano Prodi in 2006, wins parliamentary elections. Prodi's government collapsed in January.

Dozens Are Killed in Suicide Attacks in Iraq (April 15): As many as 50 people die in a car bombing in Baquba, a northern city formerly under the control of Sunni insurgents that USA troops say they had won control of. An additional 13 are killed in a suicide attack in Ramadi in Anbar Province, another city that was once a Sunni stronghold.

Putin Is Elected Leader of Russia's Leading Political Party (April 15): Russian president Vladimir Putin is chosen as chairman of the United Russia party and agrees to become prime minister when Dmitri Medvedev assumes the presidency in May.

Iraqi Forces Take Control of Basra (April 19): The Mahdi Army, led by radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, retreats from the last districts under its control. In March, Iraqi troops attempted and failed to oust the miltiants in Basra. Iran endorses the assault on the Mahdi Army, a group which it once supported.

Sunnis Say the Will Rejoin Government (April 24): After a boycott of almost a year, the largest Sunni block in Iraq's government, Tawafiq, announces it will return to the cabinet of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Tawafiq's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, says by passing an amnesty law and launching an assault on Shiite militias, the government has met enough of its demands to end the boycott.

Bush Administration Releases Photos That Link North Korea with Syria's Nuclear Reactor (April 24): Seven months after Israel destroyed a building it suspected housed a nuclear reactor, the USA publicizes photos it says confirm that North Korea helped Syria with the technology to build the facility.

Afghan President Survives Assassination Attempt (April 27): Three people are killed and about a dozen are wounded when suspected Taliban militants attack President Hamid Karzai, who was taking part in a parade to celebrate Afghan national day.

World May 2008

USA Missile Kills Top Militia Leader in Somalia (May 1): American officials say Aden Hashi Ayro, leader of Shabab, an Islamic militant group with ties to al-Qaeda, was killed in a missile attack. USA intelligence officers had been tracking him for several weeks.

Pakistan Leaders Agree to Reinstate Judges (May 2): Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif announces that on May 12, 2008, the Supreme Court justices who were dismissed in November 2007 by President Pervez Musharraf will resume their positions (May 12). The agreement falls apart when the junior member of the governing coalition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, says it is withdrawing from the cabinet because the senior coalition partner, the Pakistan Peoples Party, insists on retaining the judges who replaced those who were dismissed. In addition, the two parties disagree on how to reinstate the justices. Sharif wants the judges immediately reinstated by executive order; Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party prefers it be done through Parliament, a process that may be protracted.

Zimbabwe Announces Presidential Election Results (May 2): More than a month after the election, officials announce that opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, defeated President Robert Mugabe, 47.9% to 43.2%. A runoff election is necessary because neither candidate won more than 50% (May 16). The election commission sets a runoff between Tsvangirai and Mugabe for June 27.

New President of Russia Is Sworn In (May 7): Dmitri Medvedev succeeds Vladimir Putin as the president of Russia. Although he's a Putin loyalist, Medvedev is said to be moderate and pro-Western (May 8). Parliament elects Putin, head of the United Russia party, as prime minister.

New Prime Minister of Ireland Is Elected (May 7): The Dail, Ireland's parliament, votes 88 to 76, to elect former finance minister Brian Cowen as prime minister.

Hezbollah and Government Supporters Battle in Beirut (May 7): Members of Hezbollah, a Shiite militia backed by Iran, block city streets to support a labor union strike and to fight against supporters of the pro-Western government in Lebanon (May 9). Hezbollah takes control of large swaths of western Beirut, forces a government-supported television station off the air, and burns the offices of a newspaper loyal to the government. The government accuses Hezbollah of staging an armed coup. The fighting is mainly sectarian, with Shiites fighting against Sunnis (May 14). In an attempt to end the violence and the threat of a civil war, the government rescinds plans to shut down a telecommunications network run by Hezbollah and backs off attempts to dismiss a Hezbollah-backed head of airport security. In return, Hezbollah agrees to dismantle roadblocks that have paralyzed Beirut's airport. The decisions are seen as a major victory for Hezbollah (May 21). After several days of negotiations, Hezbollah and the government reach a deal that ends the violence in Beirut and calls on Parliament to move toward electing Gen. Michel Suleiman, the commander of Lebanon's army, president; the formation of a new cabinet, which gives Hezbollah and other members of the opposition veto power; and a discussion of a new electoral law (May 25). Lebanon's Parliament elects Gen. Michel Suleiman as president, filling the position that had been vacant since November. Suleiman, the consensus candidate, is considered neutral.

North Korea Discloses Information on Plutonium Program (May 8): North Korea gives USA officials about 18, 000 pages of documents detailing its efforts in 1990, 2003, and 2005 to reprocess plutonium for nuclear weapons. However, officials do not hand over information on North Korea's uranium program and its efforts to sell nuclear material.

State Department Renews Deal with Controversial Contractor (May 9): Blackwater Worldwide, the company whose guards killed 17 civilians in 2007, will continue to provide security for USA diplomats for another year. We cannot operate without private security firms in Iraq, says Patrick Kennedy, an undersecretary of state.

Sudanese Rebels Attempt to Attack Capital (May 10): In an unusually bold move, about 3, 000 members of the Justice and Equality Movement move to within a few miles of Khartoum before being repulsed by government troops. It was the first time that the conflict in Darfur has threatened to spill over into Khartoum.

Iraqi Government and Shiite Militia Reach Cease-Fire (May 10): Government and militia led by Moktada al-Sadr agree to end the fighting in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. As part of the deal, the government will assume control over Sadr City and the rebels who didn't actively participate in the battles, which killed hundreds of people, will avoid arrest. Iran helped to broker the truce. The cease-fire, however, does not immediately stem the violence in Sadr City (May 20). Iraqi troops move into Sadr City, meeting very little resistance from the Mahdi Army.

Israel and Syria Announce Peace Talks (May 21): For the first time in eight years, Israel and Syria return to t the bargaining table to try to negotiate a peace deal. Syria hopes to regain control over the Golan Heights, which was taken by Israel in 1967; Israel wants to distance Syria from Iran and diminish some of the influence Iran holds in the Middle East.

Nepal Nears Final Transition Away from Monarchy (May 28): The newly elected Constituent Assembly votes to dissolve the 239-year-old monarchy and form a republic. King Gyanendra is told he must step down within 15 days.

World June 2008

USA Casualties in Iraq Reach Lowest Point (June 1): The USA military announces that fatalities in Iraq in May dropped to 19, the lowest level since the war began in 2003.

Sept. 11 Suspects Are Arraigned (June 5): Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who has claimed to have organized the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the US, and four others involved in the planning, face a tribunal for the first time at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. All five defendants say they will defend themselves.

Turkey's Highest Court Rules Against Head Scarves (June 5): The Constitutional Court overturns a measure passed by Parliament in February and endorsed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which allowed women to wear headscarves at universities, saying it violates secularist principles inherent in the country's constitution.

Massive Turnout in South Korea to Protest Beef Imports (June 10): As many as several hundred thousand people demonstrate in the streets of Seoul against the government's decision to resume imports of American beef, which was banned in 2003 after mad cow disease was diagnosed in the USA The protests, which have taken place in Seoul for about six weeks and peaked on June 10, imply overall dissatisfaction with President Lee, who promised to boost the flagging economy and reach out to the United States. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and all 15 cabinet members submit their resignations (June 21). The USA and South Korea reach an accord that says the USA will not export beef from cattle more than 30 months old (June 22). Facing continued public pressure, the government says it will put the accord on hold.

USA Attack Kills Several Pakistani Soldiers (June 10): USA soldiers launch an air strike aimed at Taliban militants who had crossed the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan and fired on American-led troops. Eleven members of a Pakistani paramilitary force die, angering Pakistani officials and increasing tension between the USA and Pakistan.

Ireland Votes Against European Union Treaty (June 13): Dissent by Ireland, the only country in the 27-member EU that put the Lisbon Treaty to a popular vote, jeopardizes the future of the pact that would have strengthened the EU's influence in global politics.

Taliban Masterminds Brazen Jailbreak (June 13): Fighters attack guards outside a prison in Kandahar and then launch a rocket-propelled grenade at a fuel tanker parked outside the prison. The blast kills several guards and opens a hole in the prison wall. About 900 inmates escape, including 350 members of the Taliban.

Bombings Kill Dozens in Iraq (June 17): At least 60 people are killed and about 75 are wounded when an explosive-laden minibus explodes at a bus terminal near a crowded market in a Shiite district of Baghdad. The blast causes an apartment building to burst into flames (June 18). The USA military attributes the bombing to a Shiite militia leader, Haydar Mehdi Khadum al-Fawadi, saying he orchestrated the bombing to incite sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites (June 26). At least 30 people are killed in two separate attacks in Anbar Province and the city of Mosul. The suicide bombing in Anbar occurred at a meeting of the Awakening Council, an alliance of moderate Sunnis who support the US

Israel and Hamas Sign a Truce (June 19): Egypt brokers a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. The agreement is intended to quell the violence in the region.

Opposition Leader Drops Out of Runoff in Zimbabwe (June 22): Morgan Tsvangirai, of the Movement for Democracy and Change, who was to face incumbent president Robert Mugabe in a June 27 runoff election, withdraws from the race, saying he could not subject his supporters to violence and intimidation. He also says he refused to take part in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process. Tsvangirai had been detained by police several times in the past weeks and 85 supporters of his party have been killed in government-backed violence against the opposition (June 27). Voters go to the polls to cast ballots in an election widely called a sham. Mugabe wins with about 85% of the vote (June 28). President Bush urges the UN to impose an international arms embargo against Zimbabwe and announces that the USA will punish Mugabe with economic sanctions. The international community has condemned the Mugabe regime's ruthless campaign of politically motivated violence and intimidation, Bush says.

North Korea Takes Steps Toward Denuclearization (June 26): Officials hand over to China a list of its nuclear facilities as well as information on the amount of reprocessed plutonium in its possession. In exchange, the USA removes North Korea from its list of countries that sponsor terrorism and lifts some sanctions against the country (June 27). North Korea destroys a cooling tower at its main reactor in Yongbyon.

USA Army Faults Itself in Report on Post-Hussein Iraq (June 30): In 700-page study called On Point II: Transition to the New Campaign, the Army says that while it was capable of toppling Saddam Hussein, it was not equipped to rebuild Iraq into a functional country.