World News

Zimbabwe denounces US over opposition win declaration

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai speaks to the press in Maputo. The trip to Mozambique is the latest leg in a series of diplomatic visits by Tsvangirai designed to pressurize arch rival President Robert Mugabe (AFP)

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe on Saturday denounced as “patently false” US Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer’s declaration that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai won a clear victory in last month’s disputed elections.

“Frazer has no moral or legal authority to make unfounded announcements on our domestic processes,” Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying by the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

“Even the figures published on the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) website on April 2 do not make Morgan Tsvangirai an outright winner.”

Frazer told reporters in South Africa Thursday: “The most credible results we have today are a clear victory for Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round and maybe a total victory.”

But Chinamasa dismissed her declaration as “patently false, inflammatory, irresponsible and uncalled for.”
“No one...has the prerogative at law to usurp the constitutional role of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and the will of the people of Zimbabwe to impose Morgan Tsvangirai as the next president of Zimbabwe outside the electoral process,” Chinamasa was quoted as saying.

“Pending the release of the official results by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission no individual, corporate entity or country has any authority to declare a result.”

Zimbabweans went to the polls on March 29 to elect a president, lawmakers and councillors.
Nearly a month later, ZEC has yet to announce the presidential results. Following the delays in the announcement the MDC declared its president the outright winner citing figures collected from polling stations.

But veteran President Robert Mugabe’s ruling party said none of the four presidential candidates had garnered the required majority and that the party was gearing up for a run-off.


   Dalai Lama back in India                                                                                                                                                

Tibetans want a stop to media attacks

A pro-Tibet spectator (C) reacts against pro-China spectators before the Beijing Olympic torch relay in Nagano on April 26, 2008. The Japanese leg of the Olympic torch relay ended after completing a four-hour course amid protests and scuffles that injured at least four people, witnesses said. AFP

(AFP) - Dalai Lama returned Saturday to India as the exile Tibet government told China to stop attacking the spiritual leader following Beijing’s offer to hold talks to defuse the Tibetan issue.

The spiritual icon arrived in the Indian capital from a two-week US trip where he sought Washington’s help in improving the situation in his homeland and met followers.

He was due to fly to the hill station of Dharamshala, where his exile government is based, later in the day, officials said.
“He is back in New Delhi” and would travel on to Dharamshala later on Saturday, an official of his office said.

The office declined to give exact details of the 72-year-old’s itinerary but said he had no public engagements planned in Dharamshala where he has lived since fleeing Tibet following a failed uprising there against Beijing in 1959.

His return came after China’s official Xinhua news agency said on Friday government officials would meet “in coming days” with one of his envoys.
The announcement drew praise from the United States and around the world amid hope it could lead to a solution to the recent Tibetan unrest.

But on Saturday, China’s media kept up its attacks on the Dalai Lama with the state press accusing him of destabilising the Himalayan region.
“The vilification of His Holiness must be stopped by the Chinese authorities because these attacks hurt the sentiments of Tibetan people very deeply,” exile Tibet government spokesman Thubten Samphel told AFP.

The continuation of the vilification was “unnecessarily provocative,” Samphel said by telephone from Dharamshala.
“Instead of defusing the situation, it is making it more tense,” he said. “This attempt to demonise His Holiness will not work.”
The Chinese “must stop this campaign, they must stop repression (in Tibet) and they must tackle the real causes” of the unrest in Tibet.
China’s People’s Daily on Saturday reported only briefly Beijing’s talks offer as it published scathing articles on the Dalai Lama, one of which denounced him as “the chief ringleader of activities to sabotage the normal religious order of Tibet.”

On Friday, the Dalai Lama welcomed China’s offer to meet his envoy for talks after weeks of protests over Tibet and repeated calls from the exiled spiritual leader for dialogue with Beijing
The Dalai Lama’s spokesman Tenzin Talka described the offer as “a step in the right direction” and said “only face-to-face meetings can lead to a resolution of the Tibetan issue.”

But in a later statement the exile government said on Friday it would “require normalcy in the situation in the Tibetan areas for the formal resumption of the talks.”
It added it was committed “to take all steps, including informal meetings, to continue in bringing about this.”
Violent rioting against Chinese rule erupted in the regional capital Lhasa on March 14, and quickly spread across huge areas of the Tibetan plateau, casting a shadow over the Beijing Olympics in August.
China had hoped the Games would be symbolic of its rising status but instead they have has become a target for critics of Beijing’s rule over Tibet and its human rights record.

Anand Ojha, a political analyst at Delhi University, said the talks invitation may prove hollow.
“Who says China has blinked? It’s Chinese chequers as this invitation takes out the wind from the Tibetans’ campaign of protests ahead of the Olympics which was a becoming a matter of huge concern for China,” he said.


Zimbabwe opposition leads as recount results trickle in

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe’s main opposition took a lead as results from a partial recount of last month’s general elections trickled in, a state daily reported Saturday.

The Herald newspaper said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) had released seven more results bringing the total number of constituencies where results have been announced to 10.

Out of the 10 constituencies, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) retained six parliamentary seats while President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) retained four.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission spokesman Utloile Silaigwana told AFP: “We have so far finished counting in 14 constituencies. The results will be announced in due course.”

The commission ordered a recount in 23 of the 210 constituencies after ZANU-PF alleged that some election officials counted votes in favour of the opposition.
Official results from the March 29 elections showed ZANU-PF had lost its traditional parliamentary majority to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Nearly a month after the joint polls, ZEC is yet to announce the presidential results but the MDC claims its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the required majority.

But ZANU-PF says there was no outright winner and the party is gearing up for a run-off.


McCain says Obama is the candidate of Hamas

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Republican John McCain took a shot at Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama on Friday, saying he was the candidate for the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

“I think it’s very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States,” said McCain, his party’s presumptive presidential nominee, in a conversation with conservative bloggers.

According to a transcript posted on the website of the Weekly Standard magazine, he said: “I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas’s worst nightmare ... If Senator Obama is favored by Hamas I think people can make judgments accordingly.”

Obama says he considers Hamas a terrorist organization, and he condemned the recent meeting between Democratic former president Jimmy Carter and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Damascus.

He sparked controversy by saying he was ready to meet with Iranian, Cuban or North Korea leaders if he is elected president, but said he would not meet with the leaders of Hamas.

Obama also affirmed recently that if elected, he would “work with Israel to isolate terrorist groups like Hamas, target their resources, and support Israel’s right and capability to defend itself from any attack.”


Sex-for-grades claim prompts uni apology

Thammasat University has ordered the suspension of a lecturer following allegations that he offered a female student better grades in exchange for oral sex. Thammasat rector Surapol Nitikraipoj went on national television yesterday to apologise to the public, students and parents.
He said he had suspended Kamthorn Cherdchukiat, 33, an engineering lecturer, effective from yesterday.

The teacher was arrested on Wednesday after one of his female students, 21, filed a complaint with police on April 9 alleging he had approached her and offered her a good grade if she would agree to perform oral sex.
The third-year student refused and filed a complaint with police.
The student, who asked not to be named, said that on March 27, the teacher called her into his office to say she had performed poorly in an exam.
Offering to help, the teacher asked her to perform oral sex on him and in return he would give her a higher grade, the student claimed. The student said she declined the offer.

A few days later, the teacher told her to meet him again, when he repeated the offer, the student said. She said she decided to take the matter to the police.

Yesterday, another female student at Thammasat complained to police about the lecturer. She said she had performed oral sex for a better grade but was too embarrassed to step forward.

Mr Surapol said a panel would conduct a disciplinary investigation into Mr Kamthorn. The inquiry is expected to take 30 days.
‘’[If found guilty] Mr Kamthorn could be dismissed from the civil service, a maximum penalty under university regulations,’’ the rector said.

‘’His action would be recorded, which means he cannot apply for any other civil service position. He could not apply for teaching posts elsewhere, either.
‘’The university regrets the incident and apologises,’’ Mr Surapol said.

He told the engineering faculty to re-check grades given by Mr Kamthorn over the last 12 months to see if any students were treated shoddily by the lecturer. -Bangkok Post