The Senate of Paraguay has impeached President Fernando Lugo, with 39 votes in favor and four against. The reason for his impeachment was malfeasance in office, particularly his role in an altercation between police and landless farmers that left 17 dead last week. Vice President Federico Franco is now set to take over as president. Thousands of Lugo's supporters gathered outside the Congress building to protest. On Thursday, the country’s lower chamber of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, voted to impeach Lugo. The Senate rejected a request from Lugo’s lawyers to postpone the trial to allow the defense to prepare their arguments. In 2008 Lugo, a leftist, became the country’s first president in over fifty years not to be a member of the conservative Colorado Party.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has fired his minister of defense and national security adviser amid escalating violence in the country's north. President Jonathan did not announce who will become the next defense minister, but the new security adviser will be Sambo Dasuki, a cousin of Nigeria's highest Muslim spiritual figure. Nigeria is divided between a mainly Muslim north and a predominately Christian south. This week, three suicide bombings at Christian churches sparked reprisal attacks on mosques, which killed dozens of Muslims.
Saudi official are planning to pay salaries to the Free Syrian Army, an opposition group fighting Syrian government forces, reports The Guardian. The move is meant to encourage military defectors, who are considered to make up the FSA core, and thus increase pressure on President Bashar Al-Assad. The preparations, coordinated with the US and several other Arab countries, come as Saudi Arabia and Qatar increase arms supplies to the Syrian rebels. The Syrian military has been encouraged by the French Foreign Legion to desert en masse. Paris also expressed approval of a Syrian military pilot who made an emergency landing in Jordan on Thursday and appealed for political asylum there.
Pakistan’s parliament on Friday elected former Water and Power Minister and a ruling party member Raja Pervez Ashraf as the new Prime Minister. He will replace Yusuf Raza Gilani, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court this week for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the President. Ashraf received 211 votes from members of the National Assembly. He needed 172 to win.
Greece’s incoming Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos was reportedly rushed to hospital on Friday after a fainting spell. “He felt dizzy and fainted and was taken to hospital where he was given fluids intravenously,” a source at the bank where Rapanos is chairman told Reuters. The minister was in the process of undergoing checks in hospital, a government official said. Rapanos, who heads the National Bank of Greece, the country’s biggest commercial bank, was due to be sworn in later on Friday.
Fire swept through a shantytown in the Indian capital on Friday. Hundreds of shanties where residents had collected scrap plastic and rubber for resale were destroyed, AP said. No one was reported injured or killed. It took 25 fire trucks and some 70 fire fighters about two hours to put out the flames. Three hospitals in the historical part of Delhi near the makeshift slum were protected from the blaze by a brick wall.
Greece’s new Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will undergo eye surgery this weekend for a detached retina discovered during a routine examination, authorities said on Friday. Samaras will be operated on Saturday morning in Athens’ Attiko Hospital, AP reports. He was sworn in as Greece’s fourth Prime Minister in eight months on Wednesday. Samaras heads a three-party coalition government formed after the June 17 elections.
The 10-week trial of confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik ended in Norway on Friday. As he started his closing statement, about 30 survivors and relatives of some of the 77 people he killed left court. The sentencing by the Oslo district court is set for August 24, AP said. Norwegian prosecutors on Thursday asked judges to give Breivik psychiatric care, not prison. Breivik and his defense told the court he should be considered sane.
The ruling military council in Egypt has blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for raising tensions in the country by releasing election results early. The council says announcing the results before an official statement was “unjustified” and caused divisions plaguing the political situation, AP reports. Tens of thousands in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday supported the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for president Mohamed Morsi.
The French Foreign Ministry called on Friday for the Syrian military to desert en masse. Paris addressed the armed forces a day after a Syrian air force colonel defected and landed his MiG fighter in Jordan. The defection “leads us to call on members of the Syrian army and security forces to continue these defections, these desertions,” spokesman Bernard Valero said, as cited by AFP. He called on the Syrian soldiers no longer to obey “the Damascus regime's criminal orders.”
London bus workers have staged a one-day strike demanding a bonus for working during the Olympics. The workers want a $780 premium for working during the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, AP said. A High Court judge granted an injunction stopping a strike by workers at three bus companies, citing balloting irregularities. Staff at 17 other bus firms walked out on Friday, and only 24 per cent of buses were running on the network, which usually carries 6 million passengers a day.
Syrian state television reported that armed militants kidnapped and killed 25 people in Darat Azzah village in Aleppo province on Friday. “Armed terrorist groups committed a brutal massacre against 25 citizens in Darat Azzah,” the statement said, as cited by Reuters. More people were missing, according to the report.
General Mowaffak Joumaa, the head of the Syrian Olympic Committee, has reportedly been refused a visa to travel to London for the Olympic Games. The application has been refused because of his links to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, the BBC said. The final decision was made at a recent meeting of senior officials from the Home Office, Foreign Office and Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The refusal must be ratified by the International Olympic Committee.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two rockets that hit Israel on Friday, a military spokeswoman said. The rockets, which struck southern Israel, did not cause casualties or damage, AFP reports. On Thursday, 12 rockets and mortar rounds hit Israel, and another was intercepted by Israeli forces. Since Monday, 132 rockets and mortar rounds have been fired at Israel. A truce declared by the Hamas movement ruling Gaza on Friday entered its second day.
About 30 members of an elite Bolivian police commando unit have mutinied along with their wives in La Paz on Thursday. They expelled their commanders and seized their barracks just 100 meters from Bolivia's presidential palace to demand higher wages, AP reports. The protesters want salaries on a par with soldiers and a pension equal to 100 per cent of their salaries. Bolivian police earn about $144 a month. They were not appeased by a 7 per cent wage increase this year. An additional 500 police across the capital have reportedly joined the protest.
A man claiming to be the fugitive nephew of late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has requested asylum in Austria. He was reportedly picked up by police in a routine identity check, media reports say. The 42-year-old, identified as Bashar N., and two other Iraqi men admitted they had flown to Austria with fake passports and that they are seeking asylum. One of the men later told Austrian police he was a nephew of Saddam Hussein. The man has been on a wanted list since 2006, AFP reports. The alleged nephew has been brought to a secret place as a protective measure.
At least eight people were killed when two roadside bombs exploded in a market in Iraq's capital on Friday, police said. More than 50 people were wounded, Reuters reports. The attack was the latest in a wave of bombings this month that have targeted mainly Shiite Muslim pilgrims and religious sites.
Violence in Syria is hampering UN efforts to expand aid operations and help more than 1 million people, a UN official said on Friday. Robert Watkins, UN Development Program representative in Lebanon, said plans to set up field offices in four of the worst-hit areas in the country were facing obstacles. “Increasing violence has made it extremely difficult to establish the field presence,” Watkins told Reuters. Humanitarian deliveries continue, though not at the pace the UN hoped and “as required by the needs,” he added.
Nigerian troops have arrested a suspect in the Christmas Day bombings that killed at least 44 people, state media say. Habibu Bama was arrested in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, following a shootout with the military joint task force. He has been shot and wounded, AFP reports. Bama, a suspected member of Islamist group Boko Haram, had been wanted in connection with the deadly Christmas attack on a church in Madalla, near Abuja.
The ruling Pakistan People’s Party has said parliamentary elections will be held this year, earlier than expected. Also on Friday, the party nominated its senior leader Raja Parvez Ashraf for prime minister. The parliament is expected to vote on Ashraf's candidacy later in the evening. He is reportedly facing a probe by the National Accountability Court for alleged corruption in rental power projects during his tenure as power minister. The Supreme Court on Tuesday disqualified Yousuf Raza Gilani as prime minister as he failed to initiate a corruption probe against the president.
South Korea and the US are holding live-fire drills meant as a “warning” against North Korean aggression. South Korea's Defense Ministry said the maneuvers are to deter a North Korean attack. Friday's one-day drills south of the Korean border involve fighter jets, attack helicopters, armored vehicles and 2,000 allied troops, AP reports. Pyongyang calls the drills preparation for war. Monday is the 62nd anniversary of the start of the three-year Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The Vietnamese Foreign Ministry has rejected a protest lodged by China to the Vietnamese ambassador over a new maritime law adopted by the Vietnamese National Assembly. The law reasserts Vietnam’s claim over the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. Both countries claim the territories and station garrisons on the islands. A number of skirmishes have taken place between the two countries. Vietnam and China have traditionally been seen as adversaries, despite having very similar political systems that combines Communist party rule and the free market. The countries fought a bloody war over control of Kampuchea in 1979.
The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona, claiming that the towns’ Marshall’s Office and utility entities have and continue to violate the federal Fair Housing Act by denying residents that are not members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) housing, police protection, as well as access to public spaces and services. Most residents of the towns are members of FLDS, an offshoot Mormon sect that still practices polygamy. Its leader, Warren Jeffs, was arrested in 2008 on child sex and bigamy charges and has been in prison since. However, he is said to maintain considerable clout over the sect’s members. Mainstream Mormonism advocated polygamy until 1890, when it rejected the practice as a condition of Utah becoming a US state.
Taliban gunmen killed an undetermined number of civilians as they attacked a hotel located in a popular lakeside area in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, local police reported. They then took several residents hostage, including women and children.The insurgents are said to be armed with rocket propelled grenades and heavy machine guns and engaged in a gunfight with security forces. The number of attackers remains unknown. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying the hotel was host to “wild parties” organized by wealthy Afghans and foreigners.