WORLD NOTES: September 29

Nepal: Maoists leave government

Elections in Nepal for a constituent assembly, scheduled for Nov. 22, were uncertain after the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) withdrew Sept. 18 from an interim government set up last year when the Maoist guerrilla insurgency ended.

Party spokespersons identified two conditions for the party to rejoin the eight-party governing coalition. They demanded that Nepal be declared a republic — no longer a monarchy — immediately, and that proportional rather than mixed systems be used in elections.

Maoist party chairperson Prachandra called for elections to be postponed until next spring, also for nationwide protests to begin Sept. 22 and a general strike on Oct. 4. At press time, talks among the parties were continuing, and the Maoists had yet to announce an election boycott.

The Indian ambassador, regarded by many with suspicion because he has met with Nepal’s king and because of New Delhi’s ties with the United States, called for the elections to proceed, according to Asia Times online.



Paraguay: Youth demand social change

Paraguayan young people took over Democracy Plaza in the country’s capital, Asunción, Sept. 18-20 for a Youth Parliament. The gathering, which was organized by social movements, hosted mini-conferences covering five areas: education; work and migration; health and environment; culture, diversity and inclusion; and “sovereignty” — referring to agrarian reform, food security and the economy.

An organizer asserted, “What we lack is the actual political will to solve concrete, structural problems of the majority of the population,” noting the high rate of migration, poverty and social exclusion of the nation’s youth.

Speakers emphasized the government’s disinterest in people’s daily lives alongside an inadequate level of youth organization and decision-making power. But the Adital web site quoted one participant as saying, “We are capable of demanding and living in a country different from the one we have now.”



Syria: Israeli incursion meets resistance

Speculation in the media has continued for two weeks following a Sept. 6 announcement in Damascus that Syrian defense forces had fired on Israeli aircraft flying over northern Syria and that the aircraft had been “dropping ammunition.”

There was no further elaboration from the Syrian side, and the Israeli government initially neither denied nor confirmed the announcement. Lending credence to the report was an Israeli poll Sept. 17 that gave Prime Minister Ehud Olmert a 20-point boost in approval ratings from the military action, according to the China People’s Daily.

London’s Sunday Times alleged Sept. 16 that Israeli planes and ground troops had targeted a nuclear facility supplied recently with a nuclear device from North Korea, but offered no proof. Egypt accused Israel of fueling tensions in the region, and the Arab League said the action showed Israel’s bad faith on peace talks.



Nigeria: South Korea, China buy oil rights

Over the past four years, Nigeria’s government has generated $2.3 billion from selling oil drilling rights to foreign companies. In August, oil officials met with representatives of the (South) Korean National Oil Corp. to firm up the latter’s commitments, made in 2005, to build a natural gas pipeline and power generating plant. The projects, valued at $6 billion, were part of a deal allowing the company’s to drill in two oil-rich areas, according to Allafrica.com.

Another report highlights China’s determination to sign production-sharing contracts with Nigeria that include promises by China to build a railway line and another power plant. The China National Oil Corp. agreed recently to pay $2.3 billion for a 45 percent stake in a 500-square-mile, undersea oil tract owned by a former Nigerian defense minister. Company head Fu Chengyu looks forward to access to “an oil and gas field of huge interest and upside potential, located in one of the world’s largest oil and gas basins.”



Hungary: Communist leaders go on trial

Seven leaders of the Hungarian Communist Workers Party went (HCWP) on trial in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on Sept. 21 for “libel made in public.”

In 2005, the Budapest City Court nullified the proceedings of the party’s 21st Congress, where a proposed alliance with the ruling Socialist Party was rejected.

The HCWP leadership claimed the court ruling was payback for its campaign against privatization. Prosecutors characterized that statement as libelous.

The defendants contend that constitutional guarantees of free expression are being violated, along with their party’s right to conduct its own internal affairs.

The Communist Party of Britain, together with other left parties, picketed the Hungarian Embassy in London. Robert Griffiths, the party’s general secretary, condemned the trial as an “attack on civil liberties of concern to all progressive people across Europe.”

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