ForesightNews world briefing: upcoming events 30 April- 6 May

April 28, 2012

A weekly round up of world events from Monday, 30 April to Sunday, 6 May from Foresight News

By Nicole Hunt

Two persistently-delayed court hearings are scheduled to take place in Manama on Monday, though whether they’ll actually go ahead is never certain. 21 opposition activists, including hunger striker Abdulhadi al Khawaja, are due to hear the verdict in their appeal against life sentences for conspiring to overthrow the government. The decision was delayed from 23 April. Meanwhile, another appeal hearing is scheduled for 20 medical staff who were convicted in September of a variety of offences, including attempting to topple the monarchy and occupying the Salmaniya Hospital.

Libyan authorities have until Monday to submit information to the International Criminal Court on their case against Saif al Islam Gaddafi in a bid to convince the court that he should be tried in Libya. Gaddafi has been indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, but Libya has so far refused to hand him over for trial, preferring that he face the courts in Tripoli.

Tuesday is May Day, and as workers the world over take some time off to celebrate, France will be engaged in a bit of a popularity contest for right wingers. Front National leader Marine Le Pen – who won nearly 20 per cent of the vote in the first round elections – hosts her party’s traditional May Day rally, which also celebrates Joan of Arc. Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy, who is facing defeat at the hands of Francois Hollande in the second round if he can’t find a way to woo Le Pen’s supporters, has scheduled his own rally just down the Seine.

Speaking of right wingers, Dutch Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders takes a break from bringing down the Dutch government to launch his new book in New York on Tuesday. While launch details are still under wraps, it may be that Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me is Wilders’ bid to dredge up support and make his mark in America.

And if patriotism is what Wilders is hoping to tap into, then he’s picked a good day to do it: Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden, who was killed by US special forces at his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Hungary holds the first of eight elections taking place this week (more if you count the UK’s local and mayoral elections on 3 May), when MPs elect a new President on Wednesday following the 2 April resignation of Pal Schmitt over allegations of plagiarism. Janos Ader and Kristzina Morvai are the only two candidates that have been put forward, as smaller parliamentary groups know they don’t have the 78 votes required to push through their own choice.

Sarkozy is back in the news on Wednesday, this time up against Hollande rather than Le Pen. The two run-off candidates go head-to-head in the traditional debate held between the two electoral rounds. Sarkozy will be hoping that the power of TV has a Kennedy effect to help him overcome polling deficits that predict Hollande will win comfortably in Sunday’s vote.

Wednesday also marks the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano by the British submarine HMS Conqueror. 323 people were killed in the sinking, just over half of Argentina’s total losses during the Falklands War. Two days later, the HMS Sheffield was sunk by a missile fired from an Argentine navy plane, killing 21 people.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are in Beijing on Thursday to take part in the fourth US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue with Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councillor Dai Bingguo. The talks follow Geithner’s remarks last week that the US is willing to further open its markets to China if China institutes its own reforms. Clinton travels on to Bangladesh and India after the two-day talks in China.

UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples James Anaya holds a press conference in Washington on Friday to discuss the findings of his 12-day mission to the United States to assess the situation of Native Americans in the country. During his visit, Anaya met with federal and state government officials, indigenous peoples and human rights groups in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, South Dakota and Oklahoma.

Iranians are back at the polls for the second round of voting following the 2 March parliamentary elections. 65 of the 290 seats are still up for grabs after no candidate managed to gain 25% of the vote the first time around, but opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have already won 220 seats, meaning he could still be in trouble when parliament resumes sitting.

While the Kentucky Derby and the Berkshire Hathaway AGM both take place on Saturday, they’re likely to be overshadowed by the small matter of the arraignment hearing for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi – otherwise known as the 9/11 masterminds. The five men face a military commission in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, charged with planning and executing the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Have I mentioned the French election? It’s all finally over and done with on Sunday when the second round of voting takes place. While Francois Hollande has long been expected to win, the fact that he needs to garner support from far-right voters who cast their ballot for the Front National in the first round, and that France’s shares fell when he won the first round, means there’s still some room for Sarkozy to claw back support.

It’s not just France’s political future that will affect the stock market on Monday: Greeks, Italians and Germans are all set to vote on Sunday, too. The Greek election has been looming since George Papandreou resigned in November to make way for Lucas Papademos’ technocratic government to push through austerity measures. Former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos leads Papandreou’s PASOK party.

Local elections are taking place in over 700 municipalities across Italy on Sunday and Monday, while regional elections are being held in Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein state. Both countries are due for full parliamentary elections next year, and the fortunes of the ruling parties in this weekend’s elections are being closely watched as a barometer for national support. Italy’s elections are the first since Mario Mon
ti took over from Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister.

Finally, Armenians and Serbians are also going to the polls. Parliamentary elections are taking place as scheduled in both countries, but Serbian President Boris Tadic has also called an early presidential vote, which hadn’t been due until 2013. Tadic resigned on 4 April to trigger the vote, saying Serbia needs strengthened institutions as it faces ‘sweeping reforms’.