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>>Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe’s reign as president will be challenged for the first time in 20 years by Simba Makoni, a “reform-minded technocrat” and a senior member of the ruling ZANU-PF party. Opposition parties have proven unable to reunify under a consensus candidate, presumably now splitting the anti-ruling party vote.

>>Italy – An attempt to avoid snap election in Italy seems to have failed, as Senate president Franco Marini has failed to build a workable interim governing coalition. Former PM Silvio Berlusconi appears to be the frontrunner. President Giorgio Napolitano, and others, worry that, if the nation’s unique electoral laws are not reformed before the next government is elected, it will be as unstable as the former. Italy has had more than 60 governments since WWII.

>>Chad – Chadian rebels continue to attack Ndjamena, as France has threatened intervention if the seige continues. The 1,400-strong French force has already defended the airport form attack. In an emergency session, the UN Security Council condemned the rebel attacks and authorized member states to provide support for the Chadian government. UN relief workers are attempting to reopen a camp to administer food and shelter to those who have fled to Cameroon; two airlift flights are planned for this week.

>>East Timor – The United Nations has begun transferring power back to East Timor’s police force. In 2006, the UN stepped in to end warring between the nation’s police force and miltary, sparked when a third of the army was dismissed for desertion.

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