Daily Archives: January 23, 2015
Thailand’s first woman premier Yingluck Shinawatra was today banned from politics for five years and faces criminal charges for negligence that could put in jail for up to 10 years, in a heavy blow to the ousted leader’s powerful family that has ruled the nation for years.
Thailand’s military-appointed legislature today voted to successfully impeach the 47-year-old former Prime Minister, who denounced the decision saying “democracy has died”.
The move could trigger fresh tensions in the politically divided nation that is still under martial law after the military seized power in May last year.
Yingluck was impeached by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) over a controversial rice subsidy scheme, which, though popular, cost billions of dollars and triggered protests that toppled her government.
Under the scheme, the crop was purchased from farmers at around twice the market prices.
The vote, that implies Yingluck will be banned from politics for five years, came hours after the attorney general’s office announced plans to indict her on criminal charges for negligence related to the rice programme.
Yingluck will face criminal charges in the Supreme Court and if found guilty faces up to 10 years in jail, the Attorney General’s Office said.
No date has been set for the formal indictment.
However, the kingdom’s first female premier and sister of former leader Thaksin Shinawatra was swift to denounce the move and vowed to fight the new corruption charges.
“Democracy has died in Thailand today, along with the rule of law. That move to destroy me is still ongoing and I face it now,” she said in a Facebook post after plans to hold a press conference were called off on the advice of junta officials.
The impeachment is seen by experts as an attempt to keep the powerful Shinawatra family – whose parties have won every election since 2001 – out of politics.
Yingluck’s supporters have also said the proceedings are part of a wider campaign to end the influence of the Shinawatra clan.
Yingluck has insisted that Thailand’s fragile democracy was under attack from protesters and the army, which staged a coup on May 22 that threw her administration out.
Thaksin was also ousted by the army in a 2006 coup.
Today’s move is the latest in nearly a decade of turbulent politics in Thailand where the royalist-military establishment sees the Shinawatras as a threat and criticise their populist policies.
Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice Mohan Peiris has demanded a diplomatic post overseas as a condition for his resignation, drawing flak from the judiciary, a senior lawyer said Friday.
Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) president Upul Jayasuriya told Xinhua that emergency meetings would be held by the association Friday and Saturday to decide if they would continue to recognise Peiris as the chief justice.
“We have urged his resignation as he is one of the suspects in the investigation into an alleged coup attempt by the former government. He is unfit to hold office and we will convene meetings today and tomorrow to discuss the matter,” Jayasuriya said.
“He has asked for some diplomatic post overseas as a condition for his resignation,” Jayasuriya said, adding that such a condition has brought shame to the entire judicial system in the country.
The chief justice has reportedly asked for a diplomatic post in Britain, Brazil or Italy.
Though the government said earlier this week that Peiris had tendered his resignation, a lawyer told reporters Thursday that Peiris has not resigned.
“It was reported in the media that Chief Justice Peiris has resigned from office. However, there is absolutely no truth to these claims,” Wijeratne Kodipilli, who claimed to be the chief justice’s spokesman, said.
Peiris has been under pressure from the BASL as well as the government to resign, due to his presence at the presidential office shortly after the Jan 8 election. His presence was seen with suspicion.
It is alleged that former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his close aides were discussing the possibility of a coup, after results showed he was losing in the presidential election.
Though the previous government denied allegations of a coup attempt, the matter is being investigated after a complaint was lodged with the criminal investigations department by the newly elected Maithripala Sirisena government.
Colombo: Sri Lanka’s new government will appoint an independent commission to probe the last stages of the country’s civil war that ended in 2009, a minister said Friday.
Cabinet spokesperson and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told Xinhua that the commission will consist of professionals who would launch a full inquiry into the alleged human rights violations during the last months of the country’s war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
He said discussions with all political party leaders would also be held regarding the appointment of the commission.
“We will consult other party leaders as well. The commission will comprise of professionals who are capable of conducting the inquiry. We will appoint the commission soon,” Senaratne said.
Following the Jan 8 presidential election, newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena’s government pledged to investigate the alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the civil war.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government had been under sustained pressure from the UN and international human rights watchdogs to conduct an international probe into the last stages of the three-decade war.
Rajapaksa’s government had stood firm that it would not allow any international probe, assuring that no human rights violations had taken place.
However, in a run-up to the presidential election, Rajapaksa promised a judicial inquiry into allegations that his troops had killed thousands of Tamil civilians in last phase of the war, as pressure mounted from his opponent. However, he had reiterated that he would not cooperate with an UN-mandated investigation.
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king, the royal court in the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam said in a statement carried by state television.
King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir.
“His Highness Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and all members of the family and the nation mourn the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, who passed away at exactly 1 a.m. this morning,” said the statement.
Abdullah, thought to have been born in 1923, had ruled Saudi Arabia as king since 2006, but had run the country as de facto regent for a decade before that after his predecessor King Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke.
At stake with the appointment of Salman as king is the future direction of the United States’ most important Arab ally and self-appointed champion of Sunni Islam at a moment of unprecedented turmoil across the Middle East.
Abdullah played a guiding role in Saudi Arabia’s support for Egypt’s government after the military intervened in 2012, and drove his country’s support for Syria’s rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad.
King Salman, thought to be 79, has been crown prince and defence minister since 2012. He was governor of Riyadh province for five decades before that.
By immediately appointing Muqrin as his heir, subject to the approval of a family Allegiance Council, Salman has moved to avert widespread speculation about the immediate path of the royal succession in the world’s top oil exporter.
LONG TERM CHALLENGES
Abdullah pushed cautious changes in the conservative Islamic kingdom including increased women’s rights and economic deregulation, but made no moves towards democracy and was a hawk on policy towards rival Iran.
King Salman has been part of the ruling clique of princes for decades and is thought likely to continue the main thrusts of Saudi strategic policy, including maintaining the alliance with the United States and working towards energy market stability.
During his five decades as Riyadh governor he was reputedly adept at managing the delicate balance of clerical, tribal and princely interests that determine Saudi policy, while maintaining good relations with the West.
In the long term Saudi rulers have to manage the needs of a rapidly growing population plagued by structural unemployment, and an economy that remains overly dependent on oil revenue and undermined by lavish subsidies.
Saudi Arabia, which holds more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil, also exerts some influence over the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims through its guardianship of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites.
Most senior members of the ruling al-Saud family are thought to favour similar positions on foreign and energy policy, but incoming kings have traditionally chosen to appoint new ministers to head top ministries like oil and finance.
In a country where the big ministries are dominated by royals, successive kings have kept the oil portfolio reserved for commoners and insisted on maintaining substantial spare output capacity to help reduce market volatility.
Google has laid the groundwork for its own cellular service by buying capacity on the networks of Sprint and T-Mobile USA, according to news reports.
The sprawling search company would sell the service directly to consumers, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited unnamed sources. Tech news site The Information reported on the deals earlier on Wednesday.
Google is heavily involved in mobile through its Android operating system, the world’s most widely used mobile OS, as well as through selling mobile advertising, and is pushing to make more radio spectrum available for wireless services.