Friday, 11 April 2008

Relief, pride in Nepal as counting starts after poll

Filed under: News Watch Blog — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 14:15 PDT

KATHMANDU – Porters carried ballot boxes on their backs along mountain paths high in the Himalayas on Friday, to trucks, tractors and helicopters waiting to take them to counting centres after Nepal’s first election in nine years.

On the streets of the capital Kathmandu, relief was mixed with pride, after a historic election passed off in a remarkably peaceful manner on Thursday.

“Thank god it is over,” said 36-year-old grocer Brikha Bahadur Thakuri. “No matter who wins I look forward to a period of no strikes, closures and unrest. I hope those days are over.”

Nepalis voted enthusiastically for a 601-member special assembly supposed to write a new constitution and usher in a new republic in the Himalayas, ending a 240-year-old Hindu monarchy.

The vote was central to a 2006 peace deal with Maoist rebels and marks their transformation into a legitimate political party.

Early results from Kathmandu were issued on Friday, but the Election Commission said the final outcome would take more than 10 days, with reruns called in 33 out of 20,000 polling centres.

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More IDPs return as the peace process moves forward

Filed under: Africa files — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:45 PDT

Following the March 2007 Ouagadougou Peace Accord, some of Côte d’Ivoire’s internally displaced people (IDPs) have started to return home, either spontaneously or in a few cases assisted by the government and humanitarian agencies. Some tens of thousands of IDPs are believed to have returned, from over 700,000 counted in just five government controlled regions in 2005.

While the political atmosphere remains generally positive and all the parties involved continue to support the implementation of the Ouagadougou agreement, the new unity government has struggled to abide by the road map for peace and meet the deadlines set out in the Accord and its supplementary agreements.

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For Peace, Work at Global Disarmament

Filed under: Books, reports, sites, blogs,Middle East — story spotted by Catherine Morris @ 12:30 PDT

The Iraq war, it’s widely said, has changed the world. Had the Bush administration listened to Hans Blix instead of rushing to war, the catastrophe in Iraq might have been averted.

Hans Blix is, of course, a household name. A Swedish diplomat and longtime votary of disarmament, he was the executive chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission, which searched in vain for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in the run up to the war. Blix’s reports were at odds with the U.S. contention of a nuclear-armed Iraq — and history has proved him right.

On April 3, six days before the fall of Baghdad, Blix was on campus to deliver another of his pertinent messages: That nuclear disarmament remains an urgent issue and that the major powers, with the U.N. playing a central role, must begin planning for a nuclear-free world…

The title of Blix’s lecture, “Time for a Revival of Disarmament?” mirrored the title of his latest book, “Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters,” published just this month by the MIT Press. Blix signed copies of the compact, 95-page hardback, both a primer on disarmament as well as an eloquent plea for it.

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