In brief: Chavez supporters hold rally in capital
Caracas, Venezuela – Waving blue constitutions and red banners, tens of thousands of supporters of President Hugo Chavez crammed the streets of downtown Caracas amid growing questions about when, if ever, the ailing leader will return from Cuba.
The event, marking the beginning of a new six-year term for the cancer-stricken comandante, fell on the one-month anniversary since the public last saw or heard from him. His absence has fueled accusations that the administration is trampling the constitution by not transferring power to the head of the National Assembly until Chavez returns.
The rally came the day after the Supreme Court ruled that the 58-year-old leader has the right to stay out of the country “indefinitely” and can be sworn in before the court whenever he recovers. It also said he was still in charge of the nation and there was no need to send a medical team to evaluate his health, as opponents had requested. That leaves Vice President Nicolas Maduro – whom Chavez appointed in October – as the de-facto leader of the nation.
Kurdish activists slain in ‘execution’ in Paris
Paris – Three Kurdish activists, including reportedly one of the founding members of a militant separatist group, were shot dead in what authorities called an “execution” in central Paris. The slayings prompted speculation that the long-running conflict between insurgents from the minority group and Turkey was playing out on French shores.
The slayings came as Turkey was holding peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers Party, which seeks self-rule for Kurds in the country’s southeast, to try to persuade it to disarm. The conflict between the group, known as the PKK, and the Turkish government has claimed tens of thousands of lives since 1984.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference in Senegal on Thursday that his country was determined to press ahead with the talks despite the events in Paris, which he suggested could be the result of internal strife or an act to sabotage the talks.