News & Current Affairs

September 7, 2008

Serb opposition leader resigns

Serb opposition leader resigns

Tomislav Nikolic

Tomislav Nikolic went too far for party hardliners

The head of the main opposition party in Serbia has resigned after senior colleagues refused to back the country’s efforts to join the EU.

Tomislav Nikolic had recently persuaded his Serbian Radical Party to approve the ratification of an important agreement with the European Union.

But there was a party revolt over the issue, with critics saying it meant abandoning Serbia’s claim to Kosovo.

Kosovo unilaterally declared itself independent from Serbia this year.

Mr Nikolic had steered his party towards the centre of Serbian politics, focusing on social issues such as unemployment and poverty, rather than the militant nationalism of the past.

Mr Nikolic is officially the deputy president of the party as its leader, Vojislav Seselj is facing charges at the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

His endorsement of the Stability and Association Agreement, signed earlier this year but still awaiting ratification by the Serbian Parliament, was a bridge too far for many of his party colleagues, our correspondent says.

A meeting of the party leadership on Friday night reversed the decision to endorse the agreement with Brussels.

Mr Nikolic resigned in protest, both from his position as de facto leader of the party, and as the head of its group in parliament.

The parliamentary vote on the agreement with the European Union is expected next week.

Advertisements

August 7, 2008

Anwar Ibrahim charged with sodomy

Anwar Ibrahim charged with sodomy

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim waves as he leaves court

Mr Anwar was mobbed by supporters as he arrived in court

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been formally  charged with sodomising a former male aide.

Appearing in court in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Anwar pleaded not guilty and called the accusation “malicious”.

He has said the allegation is politically motivated. The 60-year-old was jailed after facing similar accusations 10 years ago.

Since his release he has been active in politics but, until recently, not able to officially run in elections.

Mr Anwar arrived at the main court in Kuala Lumpur amid chaotic scenes.

Dozens of supporters gathered as he emerged from his car – some shouting “reformasi”, the slogan of the movement he founded.

Revival

In court, Mr Anwar was charged with “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”.

Sodomy is illegal in Malaysia and he could face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

After Thursday’s hearing, he was released on bail.

Mr Anwar led the new opposition coalition to strong gains in a general election earlier this year, and had said the claims are aimed at derailing his political revival.

The accusation is the same as the one he faced in 1998 – after he had been sacked as deputy prime minister.

He was convicted and served six years before the guilty verdict was overturned.

A recent opinion poll suggests that few Malaysians believe Mr Anwar committed the crime.

Mr Anwar has accused Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of orchestrating a campaign against him – Mr Abdullah has denied this.

The charges was made just as Mr Anwar prepared to fight for a seat in parliament, after a ban on his seeking public office expired.

Blog at WordPress.com.