Disgraced former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori—now hiding from corruption charges in Japan, and officially barred from seeking office until 2010—hopes to run for president again in 2006, and is promoting his campaign with a new soft-drink, Fuji-Cola, a fizzy product he says "will quench the thirst of popular discontent." (BBC, March 22)
A powerful bomb tore through a shopping mall in the Christian area north of Beirut March 23, killing three Asian immigrant workers and bringing Lebanon closer to chaos weeks before general elections. (Reuters, March 23) It is the latest outburst in an escalating climate of violence that has many fearing a new outburst of civil war.
Up to 50 worshippers are dead and twice as many wounded in a bomb blast at a shrine to the 19th century Sufi saint Pir Rakhel Shah at Gandhawa in Pakistan's conflicted province of Baluchistan March 19. The bomb went off as pilgrims at the shirne had lined up for a meal and were being served food. Although the shrine is at a Shi'ite mosque, it is revered by Sunnis as well, complicating a potential sectarian motive.
The March 17 attempted assassination of Anatoly Chubais, head of Russia's state energy monopoly, Unified Energy Systems (EES), and architect of the highly unpopular post-Soviet crash privatization program, has rocked Russia's political elite.
Uighur businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer, freed from a Chinese prison in an apparent deal with Washington, arrived in Chicago March 17, rejoicing at her unexpected release and vowing to work "for the entire Uighur nation."
New Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited New Delhi March 16, where she offered India US assistance in building nuclear plants, while admonishing Indian leaders to drop plans to build a pipeline to import natural gas from Iran. Ironically, the US is seeking to isolate Iran over its perceived nuclear ambitions, while India has already developed and tested nuclear weapons. (SMH, March 18)
The UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), being held in Tanzania, has sentenced a former Rwandan civic leader to six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to involvement in the 1994 genocide. Vincent Rutaganira, 60, is the fourth man to have pleaded guilty before the tribunal. Former Rwandan Prime Minister Jean Kambanda was the first to plead guilty, and is serving his life sentence in Mali.