First the New York Philharmonic, now Eric Clapton has been invited to play Pyongyang.
>>Kenya – Kofi Annan has expressed frustration that parties in Kenya have been unable to reach a final deal, despite weeks of talks. The sticking point seems to be the amount of power that the agreed-on new post of Prime Minister would hold. The opposition Orange Democratic Movement has filed the necessary papers for what it says will be a massive protest on Thursday. Estimates suggest that 1,500 people have died in violence over the past two months.
>>Belgium – The political stalemate that has kept Belgium from forming a government for nearly nine months appears to be almost over. A compromise between the Flemish and Francophone political parties was reached on Monday to devolve powers over industrial policy, housing, and agriculture to the regions. The new government will be led by Yves Leterme, a Flemish Christian Democrat.
>>World Food Programme – Director of the World Food Program (and former US Undersecretary of State) Josette Sheeran has said that, due to the sharp increase in global commodity prices (food increased 40 percent last year), it would need more support from donor countries to ensure it can continue to provide even the current level of food aid. Through voluntary contributions by Member States to a budget of roughly $2.8 billion, the WFP feeds 73 million people in 78 countries. Meanwhile, wheat prices jumped 25 percent in one day to a record high, as major exporter Kazakhstan announced it would impose export tariffs.
>>Thailand – Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand who was ousted in a military coup, will return on Thursday to fight corruption allegations. Thaksin ally Samak Sundaravej recently took office as the new Prime Minister.
>>Nigeria – The 2007 election results that put President Umaru Yar’Adua in office have been validated by a five-judge tribunal, created after his rivals asserted that the election was rigged. Observers worried that the nation, a major oil exporter, could have been destabilized had the decision gone the other way.
Quote of the Day
“This is the new face of hunger. There is food on shelves but people are priced out of the market. There is vulnerability in urban areas we have not seen before. There are food riots in countries where we have not seen them before.”
– Josette Sheeran, director of the World Food Program
Yesterday in UN Dispatch
The Rest of the Story
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