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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
April 9, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Indicted By ICC, Kenyatta Sworn in as President

Kenya swore in (al-Jazeera) its newest president Uhuru Kenyatta, who is indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, on Tuesday after a relatively calm election process in March that saw Kenyatta beat out chief rival Raila Odinga. While the United States and European powers sent ambassadors to the inauguration, his charges at the ICC, which has indicted him for the post-election violence five years ago that left more than 1,200 dead, have worried Western states (Reuters) looking for stability from Africa's largest economy. Kenyatta is due to appear at the ICC for his trial in The Hague later this year.


"He is the first president to be elected under Kenya's new constitution, which, it is hoped, will put an end to the fierce tribalism that has bedevilled Kenyan politics. The fact that last month's poll passed off largely peacefully is perhaps a sign of its success," writes Gabriel Gatehouse for the BBC.

"Western diplomats have been coy in outlining what keeping diplomatic dealings down to 'essential contacts' means in practice, perhaps allowing them as much room for interpretation as possible as they assess how Kenyatta handles the case that alleges he had a role in the post-2007 election," writes Edmund Blair for Reuters.

"Perhaps most important has been the thorough-going political reforms enshrined in a new post-2007 constitution that significantly decentralized government authority. It replaced a unitary state with something approaching federalism," writes CFR's John Campbell.



North Korea Tells Foreigners to Evacuate

North Korea called on foreign nationals living in South Korea to prepare evacuation plans (Yonhap), saying it did not want to see foreigners in the South hurt in the case of war. The remarks further escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula since the UN imposed new sanctions on the north.

This CFR Crisis Guide interactive details the crisis on the Korean peninsula.

JAPAN: Japan and the United States will likely wrap up initial talks this week on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (JT) free trade negotiations, clearing Japan to join the full-fledged talks as early as July.

This CFR Backgrounder explains Abenomics, including the TPP's role in the economic revival.



Sri Lanka Calls for Inquiry into Mass Grave

The Sri Lankan government is appointing a commission to investigate a mass grave (al-Jazeera) at a state-run hospital where the remains of more than 150 people, thought to be Marxist rebels killed decades ago, were found last year.

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's supreme court rejected on Tuesday a plea to arrest (Dawn) former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who faces charges of high treason.



Iran Opens Two Nuclear Projects

Just days after another round of six-party talks to end Iran's nuclear program concluded in stalemate, Tehran announced two projects (AP) on Tuesday that expand the country's ability to extract and process uranium, which can be used for reactor fuel and potentially atomic weapons.

ISRAEL: Secretary of State John Kerry met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, saying they were preparing for possible new peace talks (WashPost) between Israel and the Palestinians.

CFR's Bernard Gwertzman talks to Martin S. Indyk on the new push for a Middle East peace process in this interview.



Obama Approves Military Aid to Somalia

U.S. President Barack Obama cleared the way for Washington to provide military assistance to Somalia (BBC), giving Secretary of State John Kerry the option to provide defense aid a month after the UN Security Council agreed to partially lift its ban on selling arms to the country for a year.



Italy's Bersani Rules Out Grand Coalition

Italy's center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani said he would meet center-right rival Silvio Berlusconi soon, but held out little hope of breaking the political stalemate (Reuters). Bersani has so far refused Berlusconi's demands for a "grand coalition" between the two rivals.

HUNGARY: A deputy governor of Hungary's central bank (FT) resigned on Monday, warning of the bank's new management team, led by controversial former economy minister Gyorgy Matolcsy.



Guatemala Trial Blames President

A mechanic testifying at the genocide trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt became the first to directly accuse current President Otto Perez Molina of ordering pillaging and killings (AP) in the thirty-six-year civil war, which killed a total of 200,000 people, mostly indigenous Maya.

COLOMBIA: Colombia's political parties and Catholic Church will march in Bogotá on Tuesday in support of current peace talks (MercoPress) between the government and FARC guerrillas in Havana.



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