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The Arab League Sanctions Syria. Strange Days Indeed

We are entering uncharted waters. On Sunday, the Arab League overwhelmingly approved hard-hitting sanctions against the Syrian regime after it failed to comply with Arab League demands to halt the violence and admit neutral monitors. “The sanctions —  including a travel ban against Syrian officials and politicians, a halt to dealings with the Syrian Central Bank and the end of Arab-financed projects in the country — will be another blow to the Syrian economy, which is suffering from sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States. The Arab League, meeting outside Cairo, approved the measures after Syria said it would not admit Arab civilian and military observers to oversee a peace agreement intended to end the bloodshed. ‘The position of the people, and the Arab position, is that we must end this situation urgently,’ the Qatari foreign minister, Hamad bin Jassem, said after announcing the sanctions, which were supported by 19 of the league’s 22 countries. ‘It has been almost a year that the Syrian people have been killed.’” (NYT http://nyti.ms/v7ADha)

Hold On To Your Hats. Election Day in the DRC

Ten candidates are running for president and more than 18,000 people are running for 500 seats in the national assembly in what will be the DRC’s second national election since the Mobutu era. The days leading up to Monday’s vote were marred by violence, and opening day was no different:  “Three people have been killed after gunmen attacked polling stations in the second city, Lubumbashi, officials say. Voting has been delayed in some areas because of a lack of ballot papers in polls contested by President Joseph Kabila and 10 other candidates. It is the second election since the end of successive wars which left some four million people dead. At least three people were killed on Saturday in election clashes, leading to a police ban on final campaign rallies in this mineral-rich country, which is two-thirds the size of Western Europe. Ahead of the vote, international organisations appealed for calm. Etienne Tshisekedi, 78, seen as the strongest opposition candidate, has accused President Kabila, 40, of planning to rig the election. (BBC http://bbc.in/ujBL13)

Eye on a Donor

DFID Secretary Andrew Mitchell has vowed not to raid the UK’s aid budget to pay down debt as ministers brace themselves for new figures in the chancellor’s autumn statement…He says there is no chance the coalition would drop the ring fence around his department’s budget or drop its commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid by 2013. (FT http://on.ft.com/rNCKRq)

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