Nigeria: Losing candidates fight on

Foreign observers and losing candidates have condemned as fraudulent Nigeria’s April 21 presidential elections that gave 24.6 million votes and victory to Musa Yar’Ada, outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo’s chosen successor. Muhammadu Buhari gained 6.6 million votes and Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 2.6 million.

A so-called Coalition of Opposition Presidential Candidates asked Senate President Ken Nnamani to assume executive powers on May 29, when Obasanjo’s term is up, and to disband the national election council.

Coalition representatives claimed that, as Senate president, Nnamani has constitutional responsibility to initiate new elections in disputed situations. Appealing for unity, he refused, noting that a “proliferation of parties” is to Abubakar’s advantage. He advised opponents to seek judicial redress, adding, “You are not strong enough to checkmate any person trying to cheat or short change Nigerians.”

Dominican Republic: Haiti crisis spills over

The 13th European Union-Rio Group conference that brought 50 foreign ministers and 2,000 delegates to Santo Domingo starting April 18 discussed Latin American and particularly Haitian poverty, climate change, mechanisms for cooperation, and migration issues.

The Mercosur nations and the Andean Community of nations belong to the Rio Group, along with Central American and Caribbean countries. The host nation, dealing with an estimated 800,000 immigrants from neighboring Haiti, had placed migration on the agenda. But Haitian emigration to the Dominican Republic was not brought up, according to Inter Press Service, despite a March 2007 Amnesty International report documenting suffering and discrimination Haitians experience in the Dominican Republic.

Pro-Haitian activists there say wholesale, often brutal, deportations are carried out periodically. Dominican representatives at the gathering urged international donors to make good on promises of almost $2 billion in aid for Haiti on the premise that improved living conditions there might stem the flow of cross-border migrants.

Luxembourg: EU moves against migrants

European interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg under European Union auspices have agreed on a rapid response team to deal with undocumented migrants, mostly from Africa, according to a report from InsurGente.org.

Member states will supply the EU’s European Agency for External Borders (Frontex) with 116 boats, 27 helicopters, 21 planes and 392 other border control tools. The Frontex budget will be augmented by 19 million to 35 million Euros for 28 operations projected for 2007. Up to 500 agents assigned to Frontex will operate under the control of nations requesting assistance.

Spanish Security Minister Antonio Camacho told reporters April 20, “The EU position on illegal immigration has changed radically in the last two years,” adding, however, that the flow of immigrants to Spain from Africa has diminished recently.

The report condemns the EU for erecting a “wall” against the “people’s flight from hunger and deprivation,” and for exploiting the “Third World to maintain the present state of European privilege.”

Iran: Teachers confront gov’t

Agitation by Iran’s teachers for better pay culminated April 16 in the jailing of Ali Akbar Baghani, general secretary of the Iran Teachers Association (ITA). A strike one day later closed 80 percent of Iran’s schools. A parliamentary majority then approved an impeachment motion against the education minister, Mahmoud Farshidi.

IPS reported that under a secret deal Iran’s Council of Guardians overturned a pay-raise bill passed by Parliament. Protests and work refusals erupted in March, especially after teachers realized that with the passage of a new budget their pay raises would be delayed for a year.

Six ITA leaders were jailed in early March. On March 14, in Tehran, police violently dispersed protesters and jailed 100 teachers. Similar scenarios took place throughout the nation.

The Hamadan Teachers Association was banned. Teachers’ monthly income amounts to the equivalent of $300. “We only want to be paid like other government employees,” one of them said.

India: Kerala comrades honored

On April 5 at Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) University, West Bengal Communists celebrated the 50th anniversary of India’s first communist-led government in Kerala state. The coalition assuming power in Kerala in 1957 introduced a “pro-people program within the Indian constitution,” according to ganashakti.com.

Speakers compared communist governments in Kerala and West Bengal, the latter in power for 30 years. Revolutionary change was on the agenda in neither situation. The focus for both was on land redistribution, literacy promotion, jobs, a minimum wage and education reform.

The Kerala government granted maternity leaves. Health statistics there have remained the most favorable in India. Communist governments then and now have faced powerful, often violent, right-wing opposition, along with harassment from the extreme left.

World Notes are compiled by W.T. Whitney Jr. (atwhit @megalink.net).

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