[JURIST] As anti-US violence continued for a fourth day in Afghanistan on Saturday, Afghan Chief Justice Fazl Hadi Shinwari [IRIN interview] called for an American apology and punishment for those responsible if recent allegations [Newsweek article] about desecration of the Koran by US personnel at Guantanamo Bay turned out to be true. His comments were echoed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who condemned the violence that has so far led to some 16 deaths but said that his government would "strongly request the American government to put on trial and punish whoever is the culprit." Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets Saturday in the northern city of Baglan, burning an effigy of President Bush. Five demonstrators were arrested and explosives were seized as Afghan security forces went on hgih alert and reinforcements were dispatched to more potential trouble spots. BBC News has more. RFE/RL provides additional coverage.
[JURIST] A spokesman for new Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Dawa Party [party website] said Saturday that arrest warrants have been issued for two former cabinet ministers in former Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's government. Ex-Transport Minister Louei Hatim Sultan al-Aris and ex-Labor Minister Leila Abdul-Latif are both wanted on corruption charges; Abdul-Latif has also been cited for "bringing back to the government members of the former regime", i.e. Baath Party [Aljazeera backgrounder] members associated with Saddam Hussein. The warrants were issued as part of a new government corruption crackdown. Al-Aris is said to have already left Iraq; Abdul-Latif is currently at large. AAP has more.
[JURIST] Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party [official website] has won the most seats in Saturday's election for a special assembly [Wikipedia entry] charged with considering proposed amendments [Wikipedia backgrounder] to the island country's constitution, a delicate task in light of recent reunification and independence controversies with mainland China. One of the proposed changes would see future constitutional amendments approved by popular referendum rsther than by the current constitutional convention known as the National Assembly [official website], an amendment the DPP has suggested would favor independence, although its effect in that regard could be limited [Taipei Times report]. With 100% of the votes counted, the country's Central Election Commission [official backgrounder] reports [official results] that the DPP has obtained 42.5% of the vote, with the opposition Nationalist Party taking 38.9%. Seats in the National Assembly are allocated by strict proportional representation. AP has more. Taipei's China Post has this background report.
[JURIST] The head of Uzbekistan's Independent Human Rights Organization was quoted Saturday as saying that some 200 people were killed in the eastern city of Andijan Friday [JURIST report] when government forces backed by tanks opened fire on demostrators in the central square of the city protesting government repression in the wake of a trial of 23 Muslim businessmen charged with extremism. Speaking to reporters in Tashkent, Uzbek President Islam Karimov [official profile] said that 10 government soldiers and "many more" protestors had been killed in the disturbance. A number of protestors returned to the Andijan city center Saturday, while thousands of other Uzbeks fled toward the border with Kyrgyzstan. The International Association For Democratic Reforms in Uzbekistan has posted online video [WMP] from Friday's Andijan riots. Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan, has been an important US ally in the "war on terror", although its government has been repeatedly accused of torture and repression [Human Rights Watch backgrounders]. AP has more.
[JURIST] Officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo [BBC country profile; US State Department background note] announced Saturday that the country's legislature has adopted a new constitution to replace the transitional document agreed to in South Africa in 2002 to end the DRC's brutal five-year civil war, said to have killed some 3 million people. The new national charter, which now must be approved within six months in a referendum, recognizes citizenship of members of all ethnic groups present in the country at its 1960 independence from Belgium (including Tutsis, who were brought in by the Belgians in the 19th century), and lowers the required age for President from 35 to 30, allowing 33-year old current President Josepk Kabila [BBC profile] to run in anticipated 2006 elections. BBC News has more; South Africa's Mail & Guardian has additional coverage.
[JURIST] A gathering of some 3000 Egyptian judges in Cairo Friday followed up threats first made in April [JURIST report] and agreed by consensus to boycott the upcoming Egyptian national election unless the government gives them full and independent oversight responsibility. Judges are required by Egyptian law to supervise voting, but they have complained about executive rigging of past elections and have demanded more supervisory power free from interference and intimidation. The judges conference agreed to reassess the situation on September 2, before voting takes place. Last week the Egyptian parliament approved a constitutional amendment [Aljazeera video; WMP] to allow multiple candidates to run in opposition to current president Hosny Mubarak, but the changes have been criticized as, in practice, limiting opponents to individuals approved by members of the ruling party. Aljazeera has more.
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