Competitive Exams: Current Affairs January to March 2008
Current Affairs 2008 (Jan-March)
World January 2008
Hundreds Die in Tribal Violence in Kenya (Jan. 1 − 4): After incumbent president Mwai Kibaki is declared the winner in the presidential election over opposition candidate Raila Odinga, who had a wide lead in preliminary results, about 50Kikuyu who sought refuge in a church in Kiambaa die when a mob of mostly Luo burn down the church. Odinga is Luo, andKibaki is Kikuyu. Nearly 500 people die in fighting across the country (Jan. 8). Odinga refuses Kibaki's invitation todiscuss the political crisis after Kibaki appoints his cabinet, which does not include any members of Odinga's OrangeDemocratic Party (Jan. 29). Melitus Mugabe Were, a member of Parliament representing the Orange Democratic Movementwho worked to mend the ethnic strife in Kenya and help the poor, is dragged from his car, shot, and killed. Members ofthe opposition said the killing was a political assassination. The ethnic violence that has dragged on for a monthsince President Mwai Kibaki was narrowly re-elected in a race deemed tainted by international observers, has spun outof control throughout the country (Jan. 31). A second member of the Orange Democratic Movement, David Kimutai Too, isshot and killed by a police officer. His supporters say his death was a political assassination. The police, however, call it a crime of passion, saying the police officer who shot Too was upset that Too was traveling with hisgirlfriend.
Suicide Bomber Kills Dozens in Baghdad (Jan. 1): In the worst attack in Iraq in months, a suicide bomber kills 30 people at a home where mourners were paying their respects to the family of a man killed in a car bomb. The Iraqimilitary blames the attack on al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Pakistani Government Postpones Elections (Jan 1): In the wake of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, parliamentary elections, which were scheduled for Jan. 8, are postponed until February 18.
USA Attorney General Opens Investigation into Destroyed Tapes (Jan. 2): Michael Mukasey orders a formal criminal investigation into the destruction in 2005 of CIA videotapes of the interrogation of two al-Qaeda suspects. The tapes, from 2002, reportedly included agency operatives using harsh interrogation techniques. Federal prosecutor John Durhamis chosen to head the inquiry.
President of Georgia Is Reelected (Jan. 6): Mikheil Saakashvili wins 52% of the vote over his nearest challenger, Levan Gachechiladze, who tallies 27%. Saakashvili called for early elections in November 2007, after massive protestsduring which demonstrators accused him of abusing power and stifling dissent.
War Crimes Trial of Former President of Liberia Reopens (Jan. 7): The trial of Charles Taylor, who's charged with crimes against humanity for supporting rebel troops in Sierra Leone's brutal civil war that claimed the lives of about300, 000 people in the 1990s, resumes at the Hague.
Insurgents Kill Several USA Soldiers in Iraq (Jan. 9): Six soldiers die in Diyala Province when they enter a home that had been booby-trapped.
USA Drops Dozens of Bombs Near Baghdad (Jan. 10): Air attacks, in which about 40, 000 pounds of bombs are dropped, target insurgents linked to al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia on the outskirts of southern Baghdad.
Suicide Bomber Targets Police in Pakistan (Jan. 10): Attacker blows himself up outside a courthouse in Lahore, where arally of opposition lawyers was set to occur. About 25 people, mostly police officers, are killed.
Iraqi Parliament Passes Law to Allow Some Baathists to Resume Jobs (Jan. 12): Measure creates a new committee to determine if lower-level Baathists, former members of Saddam Hussein's party, are eligible to be reinstated to theirgovernment jobs. It also will pay pensions to many former Baathists who will not be permitted to return to theirpositions. Most Baathists lost their posts after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. If passed by the presidentialcouncil, it would be the first major benchmark of political progress reached by the Iraqi government. The law, calledthe Justice and Accountability Law, was criticized for being vague and confusing, and its many loopholes may excludemore Baathists from government jobs than it allows.
Israeli Strike Kills Several Palestinians in Gaza (Jan. 15): As many as 20 Palestinians, many member of Hamas, die inthe attack. The Israeli operation was in retaliation to the firing of Qassam rockets and mortar bombs into Israelitowns by Palestinian militants (Jan. 18). Israel closes all border crossings into the Gaza Strip in response to thePalestinian attacks. Aid and fuel shipments are affected by the border closing (Jan. 22). Facing criticism forshutting off fuel deliveries to Gaza, Israel resumes oil shipments.
Palestinian Militants Break Through Border Fence (Jan. 23): After members of Hamas destroy parts of a wall that separates the Gaza Strip from Egypt, tens of thousands of Palestinians pass into Egypt to buy food and supplies thatare either unavailable in Gaza or are exorbitantly priced.
Italy's Government Collapses (Jan. 24): Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigns after losing a confidence vote in the senate. He survived one a day earlier in the lower house.
USA Strike Kills al-Qaeda Leader (Jan. 31): The United States announces that Abu Laith al-Libi, a senior commander of al-Qaeda who recruited and trained operatives, was killed in a missile strike in northwest Pakistan.
Report on Israeli Offensive in Lebanon Finds Failures (Jan. 31): Final report by an Israeli-government-appointed panel, the Winograd Commission, on Israel's 2006 war against the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, calls theoperation a large and serious failure and criticizes the country's leadership for failing to have an exit strategy inplace before the invasion. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is spared somewhat, as the commission says that in ordering theinvasion, he was acting in the interest of the state of Israel.
World February 2008
Dozens Die in Suicide Bombing (Feb. 1): Nearly 100 people die when two women suicide bombers, who are believed to bementally impaired, attack crowded pet markets in eastern Baghdad. The USA military says Al-Qaeda in Iraq has beenrecruiting female patients at psychiatric hospitals to become suicide bombers.
Serbian President Is Reelected (Feb. 3): Incumbent Boris Tadic, a pro-Western leader who favors joining the European Union and closer ties with the US, defeats Tomislav Nikolic, of the hardline nationalist Radical Party, in the secondround of presidential elections. Tadic takes 50.5% of the vote to Nikolic's 47.7%.
Israel Hit By First Suicide Bomb in Over a Year (Feb. 4): The militant groups Hamas and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades claimresponsibility for the attack that kills one person in Dimona. A second attacker is shot and killed by police.
USA Director of National Intelligence Warns of Al Qaeda Threat (Feb. 5): Mike McConnell tells the Senate Intelligence Committee that al-Qaeda has improved its recruiting and training techniques and has produced a new group of Westernoperatives that could carry out an attack in the US
Inquiry Concludes Bhutto Died of a Head Injury (Feb. 7): Scotland Yard investigators report that former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto died of an injury to her skull. They say she hit her head when the force of a suicidebomb tossed her. Bhutto's supporters, however, insist she died of a bullet wound.
Bomb Kills Top Hezbollah Leader (Feb. 12): A top Hezbollah military commander, Imad Mugniyah, who is thought to be behind a series of bombings and kidnappings in the 1980s and 1990s, is killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Mugniyah was one of America's most wanted men with a price tag of $25 million on his head. Hezbollah accuses Israel forarranging his death.
Iraqi Parliament Passes Breakthrough Legislation (Feb. 13): Three measures are approved in one package by Parliament. The package includes a law that outlines provincial powers and an election timetable, a 2008 budget, and an amnesty lawthat will affect thousands of mostly Sunni Arab prisoners. Passage of the measures is considered a major step towardnational reconciliation (Feb. 26). A divided Iraqi Presidency Council vetoes the package.
Panamanian Investigators Release Report on Mass Poisoning (Feb. 14): The Panamanian government reports a precise death toll for the 2006 poisoning for the first time. Investigators conclude that at least 174 people were poisoned resultingin 115 deaths. The death toll may be higher, however, since many cases in remote areas of the country were probably notreported.
Kosovo Declares Independence (Feb. 17): Three months after negotiations between the European Union, Russia, and Washington on the future of Kosovo end in stalemate, Kosovo's prime minister Hashim Thaci declares independence fromSerbia. Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica says he would never recognize the false state. Internationalreaction is mixed, with the United States, France, Germany, and Britain indicating that they planned to recognizeKosovo as the world's 195th country. Serbia and Russia, however, call the move a violation of international law (Feb. 18). The United States and several other nations, including Britain, Germany, and France, recognize Kosovo as asovereign and independent state.
Dozens Die in Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan (Feb. 17): About 80 people are killed and nearly 100 injured when asuicide bomber attacks at a crowded dogfight near Kandahar. A local police chief Abdul Hakim Jan is among the dead. Itis the worst suicide attack since 2001. The Taliban denies responsibility for the attack, but Afghan officials expressskepticism about the claim.
Castro Resigns as President of Cuba (Feb. 19): Fidel Castro, who temporarily handed power to his brother Raul in July 2006 when he fell ill, permanently steps down after 49 years in power (Feb. 24). Raul Castro succeeds his brother, Fidel, as president of Cuba. He says that there will be few changes made in governing and that he will consistentlyconsult Fidel when making decisions.
Musharraf Suffers Resounding Defeat in Elections (Feb. 18): President Pervez Musharraf's party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which has been in power for five years, loses most of its seats in Parliamentary elections. The oppositionPakistan People's Party, which was led by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto until her assassination in December 2007and is now headed by her widow, Asif Ali Zardari, wins 80 of the 242 contested seats. The Pakistan Muslim League-N, ledby another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, takes 66 seats. Musharraf party's wins 40. His defeat is considered aprotest of his attempts to rein in militants, his coziness with President Bush, and his dismissal of Supreme CourtChief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry (Feb. 21). The Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N saythey will form a coalition government and exclude Musharraf and members of his government.
Dozens of Shiite Pilgrims in Iraq Are Killed in Suicide Attack (Feb. 24): At least 52 people, who were headed to the shrine of Imam Hussein in Karbala to celebrate Arbaeen, are killed in the attack at a rest stop (Feb. 25). In thesecond day of attacks against Shiite pilgrims, at least four people are killed by suicide bombers.
Fighting in Gaza Intensifies (Feb. 27): An Israeli airstrike into Gaza kills five members of Hamas, which then launched rockets into southern Israel, killing a civilian. Back-and-forth strikes continue throughout the day.
Kenyan Government and Opposition Reach Power-Sharing Deal (Feb. 28): Agreement, hashed out over protracted negotiations between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, creates a prime minister position, whichwill be filled by Odinga. In addition, cabinet positions will be divided between the two rivals.
World March 2008
Colombian Forces Kill Rebel Leader in Ecuador (March 1): Colombian troops cross into Ecuadorean territory and kill FARC's Raul Reyes and 23 other rebels. In response, Venezuela and Ecuador break off diplomatic relations with Colombiaand send troops to the Colombian border.
Fighting Between Israel and Hamas Continues (March 2): More than 100 Palestinians are killed in five days as members of Hamas and the Israeli military trade rocket fire. The violence intensifies after Hamas begins to launch longer-rangerockets at Israel and as the fighting enters the West Bank. In response to the mounting civilian deaths, Palestinianprime minister Mahmoud Abbas suspends peace talks with Israel.
Putin's Choice for President Is Easily Elected (March 2): As expected, Dmitri A. Medvedev, a former aide to Russian president Vladimir Putin who has never held elected office, wins the presidential election in a landslide. Putin willremain in a position of power, serving as Medvedev's prime minister.
Security Council Imposes Third Round of Sanctions on Iran (March 3): Resolution, the third since December 2006, punishing Iran for refusing to stop uranium enrichment allows inspections of cargo leaving and entering Iran thatofficials suspect is carrying banned materials, expands monitoring of financial institutions, and bans the travel andfreezes the assets of people and businesses involved in Iran's nuclear program.
Eight Students Killed at Jerusalem Seminary (March 6): A Palestinian gunman from East Jerusalem fires hundreds of rounds of automatic weapons fire at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in Jerusalem, killing eight students. The attack is themost deadly on Israeli citizens in two years.
Pakistani Leaders Agree to Limit Musharraf's Power (March 9): The two political parties that dominated February's parliamentary elections, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-N, agree that once the newParliament is seated, they will reinstate the Supreme Court justices President Pervez Musharraf ousted in late 2007 andpass legislation voiding the law that Musharraf passed legalizing the firings. The Supreme Court, once reinstated, could reverse the ruling that legitimized Musharraf's controversial reelection as president when he was still themilitary chief.
China Cracks Down on Protests by Monks in Tibet (March 10): Some 400 Buddhist monks participate in a protest march in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to commemorate the failed uprising of 1959, that resulted in the Dalai Lama fleeing toIndia (March 14). The protests, the largest in two decades, turn violent, with ethnic Tibetans reportedly attackingChinese citizens and vandalizing public and private property. Chinese police use force to suppress the demonstrations. Tibetan leaders say that more than 100 Tibetans are killed, but Chinese officials say there are only 16 fatalities anddeny that police had used lethal force. The demonstrations and violence spill into Gansu, Qinghai, and SichuanProvinces in western China. Chinese officials accuse the Dalai Lama of masterminding the protests, a charge thespiritual leader denies.
Body of Iraqi Archbishop Is Found (March 13): Paulos Faraj Rahho, who led Mosul's Chaldean Catholic Church, had been kidnapped in February. His remains were recovered in Mosul.
Bush Acknowledges Toll of War on Anniversary of War (March 19): On the fifth anniversary of the US-led war in Iraq, President Bush insists that the outcome will be worth the sacrifice, yet he admits the cost of war had exceededexpectations in money and loss of life. Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whetherthe war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it, he said. The answers areclear to me. Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision, and this is a fight that America can and mustwin.
Taiwan Elects New President (March 22): Ma Ying-jeou, of the Nationalist Party, prevails over Frank Hsieh, of the Democratic Progressive Party, 58.4% to 41.6%. Ma favors closer ties to mainland China.
Pakistan Leader Nominates a Prime Minister (March 22): Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, selects Yousaf Raza Gillani, who served as speaker of Parliament in the 1990s under Benazir Bhutto, as prime minister (March24). On the same day that Parliament approves Gillani as prime minister, he releases the Supreme Court justices thatPresident Pervez Musharraf ousted and detained in late 2007 (March 31). Musharraf swears in the new cabinet, which iscomprised of his political opponents.
USA Suffers 4, 000th Death in Iraq (March 23): A roadside bomb in Baghdad kills four USA soldiers, bringing the death toll of American troops to 4, 000. President Bush said of the losses, I have vowed in the past, and I will vow so longas I'm president, to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain, that, in fact, there is an outcome that willmerit the sacrifice.
Iraqi Troops Attack Militants in Basra (March 25): About 30, 000 Iraqi troops and police, with air support from the USA and British military, attempt to oust Shiite militias, primarily the Mahdi Army led by radical cleric Moktada al-Sadr, that control Basra and its lucrative ports in southern Iraq. Sadr declared a cease-fire in August 2007, but hasallowed his forces to fight in self defense (March 29). The Mahdi Army maintains control over much of Basra, despitethe assault by Iraqi troops. The operation, ordered by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, is criticized for being poorlyplanned and executed. Fighting spills into the Sadr city section of Baghdad (March 31). After negotiations with Iraqiofficials, Moktada al-Sadr orders his militia to end military action in exchange for amnesty for his supporters, therelease from prison of his followers who have not been convicted of crimes, and the government's help in returning totheir homes Sadrists who fled fighting. The compromise is seen as a defeat to Maliki, who is criticized for poorlyorganizing the invasion. In addition, more than 1, 000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers either refused to participatein the operation or deserted their posts.
Zimbabwe Votes in Presidential Election (March 29): President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, faces his toughest challenge yet from Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Zimbabwe has beenin economic collapse since 1980, with an inflation rate of more than 100, 000%.