October 13, 2006
NORTHERN IRELAND TALKS CONCLUDE
Three days of talks aimed at reestablishing a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland ended today with a tentative agreement. Maeve Conran reports.
Representatives from all political parties in Northern Ireland concluded 3 days of intense negotiations this afternoon in Scotland. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Premier Bertie Ahern met with the Northern Ireland politicians in a last-ditch attempt to restore a power-sharing government between Republican groups, who wanted Northern Ireland returned to Irish rule, and Unionist groups, loyal to the Union with Britain. The original power-sharing agreement came 8 years ago in talks to end decades of violence in the province. But the government disbanded 2 years ago amid bitter internal conflict. This afternoon, the St. Andrews agreement was given to the Northern parties, who will consider them and return a decision by November 10th. Under the agreement, nominations for First Minister and Deputy First Minister must be made by the Unionist and Republican parties by November. Ahern and Blair say they hope power will be restored to the Northern Ireland government by next March. For FSRN, this is Maeve Conran in Dublin.
HUGE CASUALTIES THIS WEEK IN SRI LANKA
Planned Sri Lankan peace talks have been thrown into doubt after 330 combatants were killed this week in escalating clashes between the government forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels. Ponniah Manikavasagam reports from Sri Lanka.
At least 130 soldiers were killed Wednesday and over 500 were wounded in a fresh fighting between the government forces and the rebels, when the army tried to push into rebel territory in the northern Jaffna peninsula. The government said 200 rebels were killed and many more were wounded in 6 hours of fierce fighting. The rebels rejected the tally and said they lost only 22 fighters. The heavy fighting came hours after Norway’s top peace broker, Erik Solheim, had announced the government and the Tamil Tigers had agreed to a face to face talks in Switzerland later this month. The rebels accused the government of escalating the fighting. But the military maintains it has confined itself to defensive action and pre-emptive strikes against rebel concentrations. The truce monitors say that the warring parties are not allowing them to visit the fighting areas and they are unable to assess the real situation. Critics say the escalation in fighting has dimmed prospects of a resumption of peace talks. For Free Speech Radio News, I am Ponniah Manikavasagam from Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.
SHINING PATH SENTENCES
The leadership of Peru’s former rebel army, the Shining Path, are in court today in Lima. Pamela Cueva has the story.
Members of the Central Committee of the Shining Path rebels were in a Lima courtroom today for sentencing on charges of terrorism, homicide and crimes against the state, thereby concluding an eleven month trial.The result of their first trial before a hooded military court was annulled in 2003 by the Constitutional Court that declared illegal the anti-terror legislation approved by the ex-president, Alberto Fujimori. The Shining Path’s leader has been held in isolation in prison since the year 1992, without a formal sentence. Almost all of the former rebel leaders exceed 50 years of age and a minimum sentence of 30 years or more would all but assure death in prison before their release date. Defense attorney Manuel Fajardo said the former ringleaders would ask the government for a political solution to the problems originated by the popular war. For FSRN, Pamela Cueva with Alfredo Cuadros in Lima.
PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IN ECUADOR
Voters in Ecuador head to the polls on Sunday in the country’s first presidential election since a popular uprising in February 2005 forced the resignation of former president Lucio Gutierrez. Polls favor a win for Rafael Correa from the left-leaning PAIS party. Correa’s main rival, Alvaro Noboa of the PRIAN party, is the richest man in Ecuador and is closely associated with the country’s radical right-wing oligarchy.
BORDER SOCIAL FORUM OPENS
In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico – the first annual Border Social Forum has opened, bringing together an estimated 900 people from throughout Mexico and the US. Kat Aaron reports.
(sound – chanting) The event kicked off with a march across the Santa Fe bridge into El Paso, Texas – with close to 200 people occupying the bridge in protest of harsh border policies. The three-day forum is focused on issues of cross-border unity and border justice, as Carlos Marentes of the Border Agricultural Workers Union explains. (sound) “Border justice means better conditions for the people. Border Justice means a border along which people move freely not like today where we have a militarized border with the national guard like we are in a war situation – the ability of people to unite.” The gathering, which runs through Sunday, is leading up to the US Social Forum in June of 2007, and the World Social Forum in Nairobi later that year.
FCC Stalls Vote on AT&T; and BellSouth Merger (3:50)
The Federal Communications Commission has stalled voting on a major merger between AT&T; and Bell South. The decision was expected today, but concerns within the Commission over the deal that would make the largest telephone company has caused delay. FSRN’s Leigh Ann Caldwell reports.
Pyongyang Signals It’s Ready to Go Back to Negotiations (2:25)
The U.N. Security Council is set to vote tomorrow on a resolution that would impose sanctions on North Korea. Meanwhile, Pyongyang signals it’s ready to go back to negotiations. FSRN’s Yanmei Xie has the story.
British General is Calling for Iraq Exit (2:32)
The head of the British Army repeated his call today for the British Armed forces to leave Iraq soon. In an interview yesterday for a British newspaper, he was highly critical of the country’s part in the military strategy. From London, Naomi Fowler reports.
Who is Arming the Lord’s Resistance Army? (3:24)
The source of fresh arms supplies to the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels is being investigated by authorities in Uganda and Southern Sudan. This news comes just days after a new report by the Control Arms Campaign, a group made up by Oxfam International, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms, which accused western countries of indirectly allowing the sale of arms to rogue states which put them into wrong hands. FSRN’s Joshua Kyalimpa has more.
Public Access to California Police Records Restricted By Recent High Court Decision (4:20)
A recent California Supreme Court decision has led city officials around the state to put the brakes on open citizen oversight of the police. In late August, the high court turned down the publisher of a San Diego newspaper that was seeking the name of a Deputy Sheriff who had been accused of mishandling a domestic violence case and filing a false report. A reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune was barred from a meeting of San Diego’s civilian service commission, where the Deputy Sheriffs appeal was being heard. Since the high court allowed the deputy’s information to remain secret, citizen oversight bodies around the state have been closing their doors to those seeking information about police and their possible misconduct. Eric Klein has the story.
Gallaudet University Students Continue School Barricade (4:00)
Students at the world’s only liberal arts university for the deaf and hearing-impaired promised today to keep the campus shut down in a protest over its incoming president. Nan McCurdy reports on the latest developments at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C.