|China’s Communist Party
Congress to close Sunday
BEIJING (AFP) - China’s
most important political event in five years, the Communist
Party Congress, is scheduled to close on Sunday with the new
leadership expected to be announced soon afterwards.
At the close of the congress -- which determines the party’s
future agenda and approves a new leadership -- a new central
committee will be announced, who will then pick China’s top
leaders for the next five years.
Members of the central committee -- around 200 senior cadres who
can have a say in key party decisions -- are expected to choose
members for the powerful Politburo and the elite Politburo
Standing Committee in its first plenum on Monday.
State media said Saturday the Communist Party had granted its
party council marginally more say in electing its leadership
this year, hailing it as “a sign of progress of intra-party
In line with the party’s election tradition, past congresses
have allotted slightly more candidates than positions on the
central committee and then a small number of officials will be
eliminated after votes.
This year, the number of candidates exceeded the number of seats
by eight percent, compared with last year’s 5.1 percent, Xinhua
news agency said.
In President Hu Jintao’s opening speech on Monday, he emphasised
the importance of “intra-party democracy,” meaning more
transparency and competition within party ranks. Hu will however
almost certainly receive another five-year term after the
week-long meeting, which will produce possible successors to
take over from him in 2012. Hu on Monday outlined the party’s
major priorities, emphasising the need to pay greater attention
to imbalances caused by China’s rapid development. He called for
a peace agreement with rival Taiwan, a quadrupling of China’s
economy by 2020, a crackdown on corruption, greater energy
conservation and environmental protection and efforts to spread
the economic boom’s benefits more fairly throughout society.
Dutch general urges extension of Afghan
THE HAGUE (AFP) - The head of the Dutch armed forces has
advised the government to extend their military mission in
Afghanistan for two years, in a confidential memo reported by a
newspaper here Saturday.
At the same time, General Dick Berlijn called for the deployment
to be cut to 1,200 to free up troops for other international
military operations, De Telegraaf reported.
Some 1,500 Dutch troops have been deployed in the southern
Afghan province of Oruzgan since August 2006 as part of the
NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Iran to fire ‘11,000 rockets in minute’ if
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran warned on Saturday it would fire off
11,000 rockets at enemy bases within the space of a minute if
the United States launched military action against the Islamic
“In the first minute of an invasion by the enemy, 11,000 rockets
and cannons would be fired at enemy bases,” said a brigadier
general in the elite Revolutionary Guards, Mahmoud Chaharbaghi.
“This volume and speed of firing would continue,” added
Chaharbaghi, who is commander of artillery and missiles of the
Guards’ ground forces, according to the semi-official Fars news
The United States has never ruled out attacking Iran to end its
defiance over the controversial Iranian nuclear programme, which
the US alleges is aimed at making nuclear weapons but Iran
insists is entirely peaceful.
Iran has for its part vowed never to initiate an attack but has
also warned of a crushing response to any act of aggression
against its soil.
“If a war breaks out in the future, it will not last long
because we will rub their noses in the dirt,” said Chaharbaghi.
“Now the enemy should ask themselves how many of their people
they are ready to have sacrificed for their stupidity in
attacking Iran,” he said.
Iranian officials have repeatedly warned the military would
target the bases of US forces operating in neighbouring Iraq and
Afghanistan in the event of any attack and already has these
sites under close surveillance.
Chaharbaghi said that the Guards would soon receive “rockets
with a range of 250 kilometres (155 miles)” whereas the current
range of its rockets is 150 kilometres (91 miles).
“We have identified our targets and with a close surveillance of
targets, we can respond to the enemy’s stupidity immediately,”
Chaharbaghi added. He said that the Guards’ weapons were spread
out throughout the country and so would not be affected by any
isolated US strikes against military facilities.
Iraq parliament looks to condemn Turkey
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraq’s parliament on Saturday discussed a
motion condemning Turkey for threatening an incursion to crack
down on Kurdish rebels as Baghdad and Ankara were said to be
considering a joint operation.
Lawmakers failed to agree on the wording of the motion that
would condemn Turkey’s parliament for authorising its military
to cross the mountainous border to hunt down rebels of the
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
“The Iraqi parliament did not reach a final formula for the
draft statement presented by the parliament presidency
committee,” speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani said.
“The heads of the blocs at the parliament were asked to make
other amendments and voting shall take place either tomorrow or
the day after tomorrow,” he said.
The Turkish parliament on Wednesday approved a motion
authorising military strikes for a one-year period against PKK
rebels, ethnic Kurds who use northern Iraq as a springboard for
attacks across the border in Turkey. Shiite lawmaker Samira
Mussawi told AFP the disagreement in parliament stemmed from the
fact that while many were angry at the developments in Turkey
they did not want their motion to further inflame the situation.
“The parliament condemns the Turkish threats which cannot help
in enhancing good neighbourly relations between the two
countries,” said the original draft text being worked on,
according to a copy obtained by AFP.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that
his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki had proposed joint action
to crack down on the PKK rebels.
Saner counsel from Europe
BEIRUT: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (L)
gestures as he speaks to the press along with his Spanish
counterpart Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos (C) and Italian
Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema (R) following their meeting
with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. The three foreign
ministers arrived in Beirut late yesterday in the latest
international bid to end a standoff between the Western-backed
government and the Hezbollah-led opposition that is preventing
the election of a president (AFP)