BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) — For much of President Barack Obama's tenure in the White House, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have provided a well-defined framework for his foreign policy philosophy. He ran for the White House pledging to bring the conflicts to a close and promised the American people that he would seek to avoid unnecessary war.
Egyptians are going to the polls Monday in a presidential election that ex-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted the elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, is expected to easily win amid calls for stability. Sisi is expected to trounce his only rival, leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi, amid calls for a strong leader who can restore stability in the Arab world's most populous country and shore up the economy. But true democracy, the ideal millions rallied and fought for in a 2011 uprising that overthrew strongman Hosni Mubarak, will have to wait, perhaps for a couple of decades, Sisi has said. Sisi has called for a high turnout in the election, billed by the military-installed authorities and the West as a milestone toward elected rule in the country of 86 million people.
Narendra Modi will be sworn in as India's prime minister Monday, with the pro-business leader already signalling bold intentions by slashing his cabinet and welcoming his Pakistani counterpart to the ceremony. After a decade of left-leaning Congress party rule, the 63-year-old Hindu nationalist is set to steer India firmly to the right in the next five years, armed with a powerful mandate after a landslide election victory. Modi, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, paid a visit to the memorial of India's independence hero Mahatma Gandhi early Monday, before then stopping to meet Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his party's only previous premier, who is now confined to his home in Delhi at the age of 89.
A long-standing Australian senator on Monday brought what he said could be a pipe bomb to the national parliament to demonstrate his view that new security regulations are unsafe. Senator Bill Heffernan, a member of the ruling conservative Liberal Party, held up the pipe and what appeared to be some sticks of dynamite during a committee hearing in Canberra. "Clearly you can do what you bloody well like," said Heffernan, an outspoken former farmer who became a member of the national parliament in 1996.
Thailand's king has formally appointed the army chief as head of the nation's new military junta following a recent coup. "To restore peace and order in the country and for sake of unity, the king appointed General Prayut Chan-O-Cha as head of the National Council of Peace and Order to run the country," according to a royal command seen by AFP on Monday.
Abdul Sesay used to carry an AK-47 in jailed Liberian warlord Charles Taylor's notorious "Demon Forces" militia, which tortured, killed and raped its way through the country's second civil war. But those who could not hand in a gun or ammunition were excluded, so children who had been recruited for domestic or sexual services received no help.
The White House inadvertently included the name of the top CIA official in Afghanistan on a list of participants in a military briefing with President Barack Obama that was distributed to reporters on Sunday, the Washington Post reported. The newspaper said the official, identified as "Chief of Station" in Kabul, was named as being among those at a briefing with Obama during the president's trip to Bagram Air Base near the Afghan capital. The list of names was sent by email to reporters traveling with Obama on his surprise Afghanistan visit and included in a "pool report" shared with correspondents and others not on the trip. The Post said the White House issued a revised list deleting the CIA official's name after it recognized the mistake.
A quarter of a century after Communist authorities crushed the Tiananmen Square demonstrators and their hopes of reform, protest leader Wuer Kaixi still lies awake at night, haunted by the dead and their unrealised dreams. But after seven weeks in the square their aspirations were abruptly shattered by an overnight military crackdown that ended on June 4, 1989, leaving hundreds of people dead -- by some estimates, more than 1,000 -- and a ruling party hell-bent on preventing any future such challenges to its power. "During the time it did seem quite promising that the Chinese authorities may yield, may actually answer to our call for Chinese political reform," said Wuer, then a charismatic 21-year-old activist, who became number two on the government's most-wanted list of student leaders. Students began to pour into Tiananmen Square.
Comitan (Mexico) (AFP) - Subcomandante Marcos, the mysterious masked leader of Mexico's Zapatista rebels, bowed out as chief of the 20-year-old movement in what he described vaguely as "internal changes." Marcos made the announcement one day after making his first public appearance in five years in the southern state of Chiapas, attending a ceremony for a fallen comrade while puffing on his trademark pipe and wearing an eye patch. "At 2:08 am on May 25, 2014, at the southwestern combat front of the EZLN, I declare that the one known as Insurgent Subcommander Marcos no longer exists," he said in a 10-page statement. "The voice of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) will no longer come from my voice," Marcos said.
Thailand's coup leader will receive royal appointment on Monday as head of the military junta that overthrew the civilian government, the army said. Army chief General Prayut Chan-O-Cha, who seized power four days earlier and has assumed extensive powers over the Southeast Asian nation of 67 million, will formally be appointed in a ceremony in Bangkok. The monarchy headed by the revered but ailing king, 86-year-old Bhumibol Adulyadej, commands great respect among many Thais. "The ceremony to receive the royal command appointing General Prayut as leader of the National Council of Peace and Order will begin at around 10 am (0300 GMT) inside the Army headquarters," said army spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong.
Kano (Nigeria) (AFP) - At least 24 people were killed on Sunday when Boko Haram gunmen raided a village in northeast Nigeria, where the Islamists have stepped up deadly attacks on villages in recent months, residents told AFP. Dozens of motorcycle-riding gunmen stormed Kamuya village in Borno state after sunrise as locals were heading to the weekly market, opening fire on residents. The attacks indicate how Boko Haram, who captured world attention after kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls last month, can attack seemingly at will and the Nigerian military's fragile grip on security. A state of emergency has been in place in Borno and two neighbouring northeast states since May last year.
Switching easily between his native tongue, Russian and English, billionaire "chocolate king" Petro Poroshenko was happy to strut his stuff before the world's media on Sunday -- even before being officially elected Ukraine's new president. The self-made billionaire took to the stage in a hail of flashbulbs at a post-election press conference in a trendy Kiev art gallery where he declared himself the winner only minutes after exit polls had been released. Wearing a striped tie in Ukraine's national colours of blue and yellow, he fired off a series of lofty pledges -- to end the "war" raging in the east of the country and to negotiate with powerful neighbour Russia -- as he joked with the assembled media throng. Not only had he apparently won a decisive victory over his closest rival, former prime minister and Orange Revolution heroine Yulia Tymoshenko, he was also able to celebrate another victory -- for his trusty supporter Vitali Klitschko.
COMITAN (Mexico) (AFP) - Subcomandante Marcos, the mysterious masked leader of Mexico's Zapatista rebels, bowed out Sunday as chief of the 20-year-old movement in what he described vaguely as "internal changes." Marcos made the announcement one day after making his first public appearance in five years in the southern state of Chiapas, attending a ceremony for a fallen comrade while puffing on his trademark pipe and wearing an eye patch. "At 2:08 am on May 25, 2014, at the southwestern combat front of the EZLN, I declare that the one known as Insurgent Subcommander Marcos no longer exists," he said in a 10-page statement. "The voice of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) will no longer come from my voice," Marcos said.
Ukraine's burly boxing hero and strident protest leader Vitali Klitschko claimed victory Sunday in Kiev mayoral vote that cements his role as a statesman for the country's post-Soviet generation. "All change will begin in Kiev," the former heavyweight champion declared after exit polls gave him 57 percent of the capital city's vote. The two-metre-tall titan who never suffered a knockdown in his stellar heavyweight career was Ukraine's most popular figure at the height of the protests that toppled a Russian-backed regime in February. Klitschko ran in tandem with Petro Poroshenko -- a billionaire chocolate maker who was on course to win Sunday's presidential poll in the first round.