April 2008 Current Events
Here are the key news events of the month organized into three categories: World News, U.S. News, and Business, Society, and Science News.
World | Nation | Business/Science/Society
- Opposition Leader Declares Himself the Winner in Zimbabwe Election (April 2): Morgan Tsvangirai, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says he won 50.3% of the vote in March's presidential election, defeating Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980 and presided over the economic collapse of the country. The Movement for Democratic Change wins a majority of the seats in Parliament. Mugabe refuses to concede, and election officials have not yet released results from the March 29 vote. (April 7): Zimbabwe's HIgh Court delays a ruling on a petition filed by the Movement for Democratic Change to force the government to release the results of the presidential election. (April 14): The High Court of Zimbabwe dismisses the opposition's request for the release of election results. (April 19): Election officials begin a partial recount of the vote. (April 24): As the government continues to violently crack down on the opposition, the United States declares Morgan Tsvangirai the outright winner of March's presidential election. (April 25): Police raid the offices of the opposition and election monitors and detain dozens of people for questioning.
- Irish Prime Minister Announces His Resignation (April 2): Bertie Ahern, who is under investigation for allegedly accepting a bribe in the early 1990s when he was finance minister, says he will step down in May.
- NATO Invites Two Countries to Join Alliance (April 3): Leaders of NATO invite Croatia and Albania to become part of the alliance. Once admitted, NATO will include 28 countries. Greece vetoes the invitation to Macedonia, and despite lobbying by the U.S., Ukraine and Georgia are also denied membership.
- Iran Announces Plans to Expand Uranium Enrichment (April 8): President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that the country has begun installing 6,000 additional centrifuges to its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, which already has 3,000 centrifuges.
- Nepal Holds Historic Election (April 10): Millions of voters turn out to elect a 601-seat Constituent Assembly that will write a new constitution. Maoist rebels, who recently signed a peace agreement with the government that ended the guerrillas' 10-year insurgency, are vying for seats in the assembly. (April 21): The Maoists win 120 out of 240 directly elected seats.
- Kenyan President Names New Cabinet (April 13): President Mwai Kibaki, who was narrowly elected over opposition leader Raila Odinga in flawed elections in December 2007, announces a new national unity cabinet that includes 94 ministers. Odinga is named prime minister. Kibaki's supporters head powerful ministries, such as finance and foreign relations.
- Iraqi Government Fires Soldiers Who Failed to Fight in Basra (April 13): About 1,300 soldiers who either refused to fight or deserted the military during the March operation in Basra to oust Shiite militias are dismissed.
- Berlusconi to Serve Third Term as Prime Minister (April 14): The center-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi, who was ousted by Romano Prodi in 2006, wins parliamentary elections. Prodi's government collapsed in January.
- Dozens Are Killed in Suicide Attacks in Iraq (April 15): As many as 50 people die in a car bombing in Baquba, a northern city formerly under the control of Sunni insurgents that U.S. troops say they had won control of. An additional 13 are killed in a suicide attack in Ramadi in Anbar Province, another city that was once a Sunni stronghold.
- Putin Is Elected Leader of Russia's Leading Political Party (April 15): Russian president Vladimir Putin is chosen as chairman of the United Russia party and agrees to become prime minister when Dmitri Medvedev assumes the presidency in May.
- Iraqi Forces Take Control of Basra (April 19): The Mahdi Army, led by radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, retreats from the last districts under its control. In March, Iraqi troops attempted and failed to oust the miltiants in Basra. Iran endorses the assault on the Mahdi Army, a group which it once supported.
- Sunnis Say the Will Rejoin Government (April 24): After a boycott of almost a year, the largest Sunni block in Iraq's government, Tawafiq, announces it will return to the cabinet of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Tawafiq's leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, says by passing an amnesty law and launching an assault on Shiite militias, the government has met enough of its demands to end the boycott.
- Bush Administration Releases Photos That Link North Korea with Syria's Nuclear Reactor (April 24): Seven months after Israel destroyed a building it suspected housed a nuclear reactor, the U.S. publicizes photos it says confirm that North Korea helped Syria with the technology to build the facility.
- Afghan President Survives Assassination Attempt (April 27): Three people are killed and about a dozen are wounded when suspected Taliban militants attack President Hamid Karzai, who was taking part in a parade to celebrate Afghan national day.
World | Nation | Business/Science/Society
- Commander in Iraq Recommends Delay in Troop Withdrawal (April 8): At a Congressional hearing, Gen. David Petraeus advises against further drawdowns of American troops until at least 45 days after the one underway is completed in July, which means troop levels would be maintained at around 140,000. He also reports that progress in Iraq has been "significant but even" and is "fragile and reversible." He also said, "We haven't turned any corners. We haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel." Petraeus blamed some of the turmoil in Iraq on the "destructive role Iran has played."
- Senate Passes Housing Relief Bill (April 10): In an attempt to help homeowners on the brink of foreclosure, the Senate approves, 84 to 12, a measure that gives a $7,000 tax credit to people who buy foreclosed houses, provides $150 million to counsel home buyers, and allocates $4 billion to localities that purchase foreclosed buildings. The bill, which would cost about $15 billion over 10 years, is criticized for also giving tax breaks to home builders, automakers, airlines, and other industries.
- Bush Nominates New Housing Secretary (April 19): President selects Steven Preston, the head of the Small Business Administration, to replace Alphonso Jackson, who announced his resignation in March.
- Bush Nominates General to Take Over Central Command (April 23): President nominates Gen. David Petraeus, the four-star general who has command of all U.S. troops in Iraq, to succeed Adm. William Fallon, who recently retired as head of Central Command.
- Olympic Torch Relay Draws Protests (April 6): Dozens of human rights protesters are arrested in London after they clash with police who line the route of the Olympic torch relay. (April 7): The torch is extinguished several times during the Paris leg of the relay.
- Pope Denounces Pedophile Priests (April 15): During his first visit to the United States, Benedict XVI says he is "deeply ashamed" by the scandal that has rocked the Catholic church in recent years. "It's difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way their mission to give healing, to give the love of God to these children," he said. (April 17): Benedict XVI celebrates a mass before 46,000 people at Washington Nationals stadium in Washington, DC. He later holds a suprise meeting with several victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston archdiocese.
- Woman Wins Indy Race (April 20): Danica Patrick wins the Indy Japan 300, becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race.
- Tornadoes Strike in Virginia (April 29): Twisters in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Colonial Heights injure more than 200 people and destroy at least 140 homes.