Latest News Mar 23, 2011
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Latest News Mar 23, 2011

By THE IRRAWADDY Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Communist Party Congress in Laos Re-elects Chief

The secretary-general of the ruling communist party in Laos has been re-elected to a second five-year term. The Lao state news agency KPL reported on Tuesday that Choummaly Sayasone was chosen by delegates attending the congress of the ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party. The 75-year-old Choummaly is also the country's president, but his position of party chief is more powerful in the single-party communist state. He was first elected to the post at the last congress in 2006. The delegates also elected members to the Politburo and Central Committee. The congress ended on Monday. Laos will hold a general election for the National Assembly at the end of April. The country has been communist since the end of a long civil war in 1975.

China Calls for Immediate Cease-fire in Libya

China called on Tuesday for an immediate cease-fire in Libya, where the US and European nations have launched punishing airstrikes to enforce a UN no-fly zone. India, too, expressed concern over the campaign, repeating a mantra of both Asian giants that the violence in the North African country was an internal affair. China and India were among the five countries that abstained from last week's vote on the UN resolution to allow “all necessary measures” to stop Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's assault on rebel-held towns. It was approved with the backing of the United States, France and Britain.

Japan Fuel Demand to Surge Amid Nuclear Crisis

Japan's nuclear crisis could reverberate through global energy markets for years to come, pushing up prices as suppliers look to take advantage of a surge in demand for non-nuclear fuels from the world's third-largest economy. The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that likely killed more than 18,000 people earlier this month shut down 11 of Japan's 54 nuclear power plants—a source that provided 30 percent of the country's power. That means producers of natural gas, coal and oil—particularly in Asia—will be called on to help fuel conventional sources of power generation in Japan.

Allies Assure Malaysia's Anwar After Sex Tape

Malaysia's opposition pledged on Tuesday to fight allegations that Anwar Ibrahim was filmed having sex with a prostitute, insisting its leader's troubles won't fracture his three-party alliance ahead of national elections expected within a year. A sex video depicting a man believed to resemble Anwar was shown to several Malaysian journalists under mysterious circumstances Monday. It has not been publicly circulated, but opposition officials are scrambling to convince people that it is a plot hatched by the government. Prime Minister Najib Razak denied authorities made the video, which marks the latest accusation of sexual misconduct confronting Anwar. He is currently on trial on charges he sodomized a 25-year-old male former aide and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Anwar's top allies held a news conference on Tuesday to voice their support for him, claiming the video was simply the latest effort to smear Anwar's reputation.

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