Pressure builds on Syria to answer reports of civilian massacre; Philippine senate convicts chief justice for failing to declare foreign currency deposits; China ousts former rail minister on charges of bribery and vice; al-Qaeda second-in-command killed in NATO strike; UN report links Rwanda to Congolese rebellion; and more
Top of the Agenda: International Pressure Builds on Syria
International envoy Kofi Annan met Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus today amid mounting global pressure for a firm response to reports of a regime-backed massacre of civilians. Annan, who will try to salvage a peace plan he brokered last month, said those responsible for the "appalling" deaths of more than 100 people in Houla on May 25 must be held to account (al-Jazeera). The UN Security Council has condemned the government's use of artillery in the assault on Houla. A UN human rights spokesman today says witnesses have reported that most of those killed were executed by pro-regime militias.
"Intervening in Syria without the protection of an international consensus would be particularly risky, since the country lies in the middle of a region in flames," writes the Financial Times' Gideon Rachman.
"Those who believed the Gulf Arabs or the Turks would act effectively without American leadership may be forgiven for the error--but error it was, more and more clearly with each passing day and the deaths each day brings in Syria. We have no more excuses," writes CFR's Elliott Abrams in his blog, Pressure Points.
"Annan's cease-fire plan might be the last chance to solve the Syrian crisis in peace. All forces in Syria should honor their commitments and carry out the cease-fire to the letter. The top priority now is to prevent more civilian deaths," writes China Daily in an unsigned editorial.
Philippine Senate Convicts Chief Justice
Philippine lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to convict the country's top judge for failing to declare $2.4m in foreign currency deposits after a five-month impeachment trial (al-Jazeera). Analysts say the closely watched trial was the first of its kind to be concluded properly.
CHINA: China has ousted its former rail minister, Liu Zhijun, from the Communist Party on charges of bribery and vice. Mr. Liu was removed from his post last February amid corruption suspicions associated with the construction of the country's ambitious high-speed rail network (FT).