Pakistan : Sharif, Appearance of New Government
LAHORE, Pakistan — Nawaz Sharif declared victory for his centerright party in Pakistan’s landmark elections, putting him on course to form the next government as prime minister for a historic third term. The partial, unofficial results represented a remarkable comeback for a man deposed in a 1999 military coup, defying polling day attacks that left 24 dead. The historic polls mark the first time an elected civilian administration completed a full term and handed power to another through the ballot box in a country where there have been three military coups and four military rulers. Chief Election Commissioner Fakharuddin Ebrahim said nearly 60 percent of the electorate voted, making it the highest turnout since 1977. He praised the authorities, the military, and law enforcement agencies for cooperation “which enabled us to hold free and fair elections.” The election was fought over several things : the country’s tanking economy, an appalling energy crisis that causes power cuts of up to 20 hours a day, the alliance in the U.S. led war on terror, chronic corruption, and the dire need for development. It appeared that no single party would win a simple majority of 172 seats in the national assembly, raising the prospect of protracted talks to form a coalition government. Karachi was the scene of the deadliest polling day attack, which saw 11 people, including a small child, killed when Taliban bombers targeted one of Pakistan’s Awami National Party (ANP)* candidates, who escaped unhurt. More than 600,000 security personnel deployed to protect the vote, and Pakistan sealed its border with Afghanistan and Iran to boost security after pre-election violence killed at least 127 people, according to an Agence France-Press (AFP)* tally.
* ANP : Awami National Party which is the one of Pakistan Parties
* AFP : Agency France-presse which is the one of France news agencies
France : Gay Marriage Law Goes into Effect in France
France became the 14th country worldwide to allow marriage between same-sex couples after the Netherlands legalized gay marriage for the first time in 2001. French President, Francois Hollande, signed the law on May 18th, authorizing marriage and adoption, by same-sex couples. Despite the anti-gay marriage movement, polls have shown majority support for gay marriage, and the law passed easily in both houses of parliament. One couple got married on May 29th in the gay-friendly southern French city of Montpellier. “We are very happy that today we can finally talk of love after all the talk of legislation and political battles,” said gay partner Vincent Autin on France-Info radio. There was a rise in attacks on homosexuals as the parliamentary debate was under way. Holland warned that he would not accept any disruption of France‘s first gay marriages. Moreover, the Constitutional Council said, “Marriage as a union between a man and a woman cannot be considered a fundamental principle.”
North Korea : Launched Three Short-range Missiles
North Korea fired three short-shot missiles from its east coast on May 18th. South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman said, “North Korea fired short-range guided missiles three times, twice in the morning, 9 a.m, and 11 a.m, and once at 4 p.m.” The official declined to speculate on whether the missiles had been fired as part of a drill or training exercise. “In case of any provocation, the ministry will keep monitoring the situation and remain on alert,” an official of the Defense Ministry said. The international community is keeping an eye on North Korea as well. Britain’s Foreign Office said, “We have been clear to North Korea that its long-term interests will not be served by threatening the international community and increasing regional tensions.” North Korea has conducted regular launches of its Scud short-range missiles, which can hit targets in South Korea. During the weeks of high tension, South Korea reported that the North had moved missile launchers into place on its east coast for the possible launch of a medium-range Medusa missile which has a range of 3,500 km.
South Korea : Ashamed Sex Scandal of Spokeman
South Korean President Park Geun-hye fired her chief spokesman because of a “disgraceful incident” during Park’s trip to the United States. Without elaborating, the Blue House said on its website that unspecified actions by spokesman Yoon Changjung marred the government’s dignity. Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Officer Araz Alali said, "the department is investigating a report of a misdemeanor sexual abuse," but he could not comment further. A police report obtained by the Associated Press, an American news agency, states that a woman told police that a man “grabbed her buttocks without her permission” at the Washington D.C. hotel. The police report does not describe the circumstances or identify the accuser or suspect, except to say that the suspect is 56. Yoon, who is 56, wasn’t named in the report. The Blue House said officials in its embassy in Washington were investigating, but Yoon couldn’t be reached for comment. Yoon, returned home in the middle of the presidential trip, and has flatly denied the allegations. He claimed that he only patted her on the waist in a gesture to encourage her to do a better job, and that he was wearing his underpants when she came to his hotel room. But presidential officials said that Yoon had admitted during an interview with the Blue House ethics officers upon his return from the U.S. that he did touch the woman’s buttocks and he was wearing nothing. President Park traveled to Washington seeking a show of unity with her country’s top ally at a time of high tension with rival North Korea, which unleashed a torrent of threats against Washington and Seoul in March and April. Her performance during a joint news conference with President Barack Obama and in a speech to the U.S. Congress won praise in Washington. However her spokesman’s firing could cause her political problems in Seoul. President Park has apologized over the scandal, and pledged to tighten discipline among officials.