In brief: Japan to purchase disputed islands
TOKYO – Japan’s Cabinet formally announced today that the government will purchase several disputed islands that China also claims – a move that Beijing said would bring “serious consequences.”
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told reporters that Japan will buy the three uninhabited islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese family it recognizes as the owner, and has budgeted $26 million for the purchase.
China and Taiwan also claim the islands, which are part of what Japan calls the Senkakus and China the Diaoyu group.
Fujimura said the decision to nationalize the islands is “to maintain the Senkakus peacefully and stably.”
The signing of the deal was expected later today.
“China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all action to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty and return to a negotiated settlement to the dispute,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Somalia elects a new president
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia’s Parliament elected a new president of the country’s fledgling government Monday, a move that members of the international community say is a key step toward the east African nation’s transition from a war-torn failed state to a nation with an effective government.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, a political newcomer, won the election against outgoing President Sheik Sharif Sheikh Ahmed by the legislative vote of 190 to 79, according to Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari.
Ahmed conceded defeat.
“I am happy to see the first free and fair election happen in Somalia after 40 years,” Ahmed said. “I want to congratulate the new president for the fair election, and I want to declare that I am fully satisfied with the results.”
Mohamud thanked the new parliament for electing him as the nation’s leader and asked the Somali people to collaborate with him to restore the country.
Palestinians riot in West Bank
HEBRON, West Bank – Palestinian demonstrators fed up with high prices and unpaid salaries shuttered shops, halted traffic with burning tires and clashed with riot police in demonstrations across the West Bank on Monday – the largest show of popular discontent with the Palestinian Authority in its 18-year existence.
The violence showed that the unrest, initially supported by Palestinian leaders in hopes of drawing international attention to the struggling economy, risks backfiring and morphing into a broader movement against the government.
“Nobody is able to live, except the big officials,” said Sami Saleh, a 57-year-old taxi driver who supports his family of eight on a $700 monthly salary. “We have to pressure this government to change,” he said.
As he spoke, youths hollered and cheered as they set tires alight behind him, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and blocking the main road from the West Bank city of Ramallah to the nearby city of Jerusalem. Nearby, striking taxi and bus drivers scribbled the word “taxi” on a donkey in yellow paint.
The most heated clashes occurred in Hebron, where hundreds of protesters smashed the windows of a municipality building with rocks. The crowd tried to storm the building but was thwarted by riot police who fired tear gas and beat back some of the demonstrators.