International brief ~ Italy PM Berlusconi resigns, ending electoral dispute
D. Wes Rist at 9:12 AM ET
[JURIST] Leading Tuesday's international brief, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [official profile, BBC profile] has resigned his position, removing the last legal hurdle to the formation of a new Italian government [official website] under Prime Minister-elect Romano Prodi [BBC profile, campaign website, in Italian]. Berlusconi has been asked to stay in the government by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi [official profile, in Italian] until a smooth transition can be arranged. Prodi has announced that he has selected his cabinet ministers and is ready to create the new Italian administration as soon as Ciampi allows it. Ciampi will also be stepping down as president, prompting a joint session of the Italian Parliament to select a new individual for the largely ceremonial post. Berlusconi had initially refused to concede the election even after the Court of Cassation confirmed Prodi's victory [JURIST report] and an appeals court certified votes cast overseas [JURIST report]. BBC News has more.
In other international legal news ...
- The rape trial of former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma [party profile] ended Tuesday after both sides presented closing arguments. Judge Willem van der Merwe announced that judgment for the trial would be delivered on May 8. A guilty verdict would almost certainly spell the end of any political hopes for Zuma, who was until recently the hand-picked successor for South African President Thabo Mbeki [BBC profile]. Zuma claims that he had consensual sex with his accuser and that the rape charge is part of an attempt to discredit him politically [JURIST report]. South Africa's Mail & Guardian Online has local coverage.
- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni [BBC profile] admitted on Monday for the first time that the ruling National Resistance Movement [party website] political party is crippled with internal corruption. Due to be inaugurated soon for his third five-year term as president, Museveni admitted that investigators had confirmed corruption inside the political organization and vowed that he would forcefully pursue those guilty of graft and accepting bribes. Museveni also warned Ugandans of participating in protests and riots during the upcoming visit of Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to Uganda [JURIST news archive] and said that Uganda's economy was experiencing sabotage at the hands of western governments. Uganda's Daily Monitor has local coverage.
- Key elements of Kenya's proposed Sexual Offenses Bill are up for amendment in parliament, as the government works to keep the bill from being rejected by opposition MPs. The bill focuses on tightening the laws surrounding sexual harassment, public indecent exposure, and female genital mutilation, including adding criminal punishment for all three offenses. Certain MPs and even other government officials oppose the bill as too strict and claim that it fails to take cultural norms into consideration. Public Service Minister Moses Akaranga claimed that sections of the bill criminalizing sexual advances by men were extreme and other ministers have publicly mocked the legislations [VOA report] as unnecessary in Kenya. JURIST's Paper Chase has continuing coverage of Kenya [JURIST news archive]. Kenya's East African Standard has local coverage.
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