Baghdad – The re-election strategy for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took shape Thursday as he unveiled a broad alliance for January’s parliamentary voting that includes prominent Sunni clans who joined the fight against insurgents.
Al-Maliki’s Shiite-led government is facing a challenge from a powerful bloc led by Shiite religious factions, including the largest Shiite political group and anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Maliki rejected joining the coalition and put together a rival movement that emphasizes secular policies and reconciliation with Sunnis after years of sectarian bloodshed.
Al-Maliki’s allies had strong showings in provincial elections earlier this year. He now hopes that voter distaste for the Shiite religious factions remains strong enough to keep his pro-Western government in power.
China celebrates revolution’s 60th
Beijing – Jets, tanks and missile-toting trucks thundered through Beijing on Thursday in a show of military muscle to celebrate six decades of communist rule and China’s transformation from a war-battered regional player into global economic superpower.
Most people in the capital could only watch the elaborate ceremony for the founding of the People’s Republic unfold on national television, as tight security excluded ordinary people from getting near the parade route through Tiananmen Square.
Precisely choreographed, the two-and-a-half-hour event hewed closely to tradition. President Hu Jintao, in a Mao jacket instead of a business suit, rode in an open-top Red Flag limousine to review the thousands of troops. A parade of kitschy floats, flanked by more than 100,000 people, lauded the communist revolution and the Beijing Olympics.
A female militia in red miniskirts and shiny white boots added a jolt of color to the sea of fatigues.
Brazil assured embassy is safe
Tegucigalpa, Honduras – A Brazilian delegation said Thursday it has received assurances from Honduras’ Supreme Court that the interim government will not attack the embassy where ousted President Manuel Zelaya has holed up since sneaking back into the country on Sept. 21.
The court also announced it had agreed to hear appeals against an emergency decree issued Sunday that limits civil liberties including freedom of the press and assembly, but said it would not immediately strike down the controversial measure.
Interim President Roberto Micheletti, who issued the decree, said Thursday he would continue to study calls to repeal the decree, but gave no deadline for revoking it.
A team of Brazilian legislators on a fact-finding mission met with Honduran Supreme Court President Jorge Rivera and visited the embassy where Zelaya and about 60 supporters remain holed up demanding that he be restored to power.