December 2008


Kuwait: The emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jabir Al Sabah, accepts the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Muhammad Al Ahmad Al Sabah's cabinet. Sheikh Nasser is reappointed on December 17.
United States: President-elect Barack Obama names Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state, Eric Holder as attorney general, Janet Napolitano as secretary of homeland security, Susan Rice as UN ambassador, and Robert Gates to continue as defense secretary. On December 3 Obama names Bill Richardson as commerce secretary, on December 6 Eric Shinseki as secretary of veterans affairs, on December 11 Tom Daschle as secretary of health and human services, on December 13 Shaun Donovan as secretary of housing and urban development, on December 15 Steven Chu as energy secretary and Lisa P. Jackson as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, on December 16 Arne Duncan as education secretary, on December 17 Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and Ken Salazar as interior secretary, and on December 19 Hilda Solis as labor secretary, Ray LaHood (Republican) as transportation secretary, and Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative.




Austria: Werner Faymann is sworn in as chancellor with his cabinet, including Michael Spindelegger as foreign minister (see November 24).


India: In parliamentary elections in Mizoram, the Indian National Congress wins 32 of 40 seats, the Mizo National Front 3, the Zoram Nationalist Party 2, the Mizoram People's Conference 2, and the Maraland Democratic Front 1. Turnout is 82.2%. Lal Thanhawla is designated as chief minister on December 10 and sworn in on December 11.
Russia: The plenipotentiary of the president in Uralsky federal district, Pyotr Latyshev, dies. On December 8 Nikolay Vinnichenko is appointed to succeed him.



Thailand: The Constitutional Court orders the dissolution of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat's People Power Party and bans him from politics for five years. The first deputy prime minister, Chavarat Charnvirakul, becomes caretaker prime minister. On December 15 parliament elects Abhisit Vejjajiva (Democrat Party) as prime minister with 235 votes, against 198 for Pracha Promnok (Puea Pandin). On December 17 Abhisit is appointed by the king. On December 20, the king endorses the cabinet formed by Abhisit, with Kasit Piromya as foreign minister, Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan as defense minister, Korn Chatikavanij as finance minister, and Chavarat Charnvirakul as interior minister. The new cabinet is sworn in on December 22.
United States: Kevin Johnson takes office as mayor of Sacramento.


Maldives: Home Minister Qasim Ibrahim resigns. On December 31 Defense Minister Ameen Faisal is appointed acting home affairs minister.
Switzerland: David Hiler becomes president of the Council of State of Genève.


India: The chief minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, resigns. On December 8 Ashok Chavan is sworn in as chief minister.
India: In parliamentary elections in Rajasthan, the Indian National Congress wins 96 of 200 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party 78, the Bahujan Samaj Party 6, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) 3, other parties 3, and independents 14. Turnout is 66.4%. Ashok Gehlot is designated as chief minister on December 11 and sworn in on December 13.


Lithuania: President Valdas Adamkus approves the composition of the new government, including Vygaudas Usackas as foreign minister, Rasa Jukneviciene as defense minister, Raimundas Palaitis as interior minister, and Algirdas Semeta as finance minister. The government is sworn in on December 9.
Philippines: Former foreign secretary (1987) Manuel Yan dies.
San Marino: The new government, including Antonella Mularoni as foreign minister (see November 9), is approved in parliament (34-24) and sworn in.


Georgia: Prime Minister Grigol Mgaloblishvili dismisses Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili and Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili. Grigol Vashadze is named as new foreign minister and Batu Kutelia as acting defense minister. On December 9, Davit Sikharulidze is appointed defense minister.
Indonesia: Former governor of Banten (2002-07) Djoko Munandar dies.


Ghana: In parliamentary elections, the National Democratic Congress wins 114 of 230 seats, the New Patriotic Party 107, independents 4, the People's National Convention 2, and the Convention People's Party 1. In presidential elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (New Patriotic Party) wins 49.1% of the vote and John Atta Mills (National Democratic Congress) 47.9%. Turnout is 69.5%. A runoff on December 28 is won by Atta Mills with 50.2% of the vote against 49.8% for Akufo-Addo; turnout is 72.9%.


Canada: In parliamentary elections in Quebec, the Quebec Liberal Party wins 42.1% of the vote (66 of 125 seats), the Parti Québécois 35.2% (51), the Action Démocratique du Québec 16.4% (7), Québec Solidaire 3.8% (1), and the Green Party of Quebec 2.2% (0). Turnout is 57.3%.
Canada: Gregor Robertson is sworn in as mayor of Vancouver.

Le Sueur
Jersey: The parliament elects Terry Le Sueur as chief minister. He receives 36 votes and his opponent, Alan Breckon, 17. He takes office on December 12.
Russia: President Dmitry Medvedev nominates Viktor Zimin as chairman of the government of Khakassia and Nikita Belykh as governor of Kirov oblast. Zimin is confirmed by the local Supreme Council (66-3) on December 10. Belykh is confirmed by local legislators (45-4) on December 18. Both will take office in January.


Sri Lanka: Home Affairs Minister Karu Jayasuriya resigns. On December 31 Sarath Amunugama is given the home affairs portfolio.


Anguilla: Alistair Harrison is appointed as governor, to take office in April 2009.
Cook Islands: Tia Barrett is appointed as New Zealand high commissioner.


Romania: Theodor Stolojan is asked to form a cabinet. On December 15 he withdraws and Emil Boc is named as new prime minister-designate. Boc's cabinet is announced on December 18, with Cristian Diaconescu as foreign minister, Mihai Stanisoara as defense minister, Gheorghe Pogea as finance minister, and Gabriel Oprea as interior minister. On December 22 the cabinet is approved by parliament (324-115) and sworn in.
Switzerland: The parliament elects Ueli Maurer as federal councillor. In the third round of voting he receives 122 votes and Hansjörg Walter 121. Maurer is to replace Samuel Schmid on Jan. 1, 2009, taking over Schmid's defense portfolio. Hans-Rudolf Merz is elected as president for 2009 (185 of 209 votes) and Doris Leuthard as vice president (173 of 198 votes).


Indonesia: Former foreign minister (1988-99) Ali Alatas dies.
Pakistan: Former acting chief minister of Punjab (1993) Manzoor Elahi dies.


Cyprus: Former president (2003-08) Tassos Papadopoulos dies.

Ecuador: Foreign Minister María Isabel Salvador resigns. On December 15 Fander Falconí is sworn in as foreign minister.


Somalia: President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed dismisses Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. On December 15, however, the parliament expresses confidence in the government (143-20). Nevertheless, on December 16 the president appoints Muhammad Mahmud Guled Gamadhere as new prime minister. Guled is not recognized by parliament and resigns on December 24. On December 29, the president resigns and the speaker of parliament, Sheikh Aden Madobe, becomes acting president.
Turkmenistan: In the first round of parliamentary elections, 123 members of the 125-seat parliament are elected, mostly members of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or affiliated organizations. Turnout is 93.9%. To fill the remaining two seats, there is a runoff vote in one constituency on December 28 and a revote in another to be held on February 8.


Ecuador: Former president (1984-88) León Febres Cordero dies.
Italy: In elections in Abruzzo held December 14-15, Gianni Chiodi (People of Freedom) is elected president with 48.8% of the vote; Carlo Costantini (Italy of Values, supported by a centre-left coalition including the Democratic Party) receives 42.7% and Rodolfo De Laurentiis (Union of Christian and Centre Democrats) 5.4%. Turnout is 53%.


Ethiopia: Former foreign minister (1974) Dejazmatch Zewde Gabre-Selassie dies.
Japan: Former governor of Hiroshima (1981-93) Toranosuke Takeshita dies.


Indonesia: Awang Faroek Ishak takes office as governor of Kalimantan Timur.
Nigeria: In a cabinet reshuffle, Shettima Mustapha becomes defense minister; Finance Minister Shamsudeen Usman is moved to another post but no new substantive finance minister is immediately appointed (Remi Babalola remains minister of state for finance). The reshuffle is completed on December 23, when Mansur Muhtar is sworn in as finance minister.


Van Rompuy
Belgium: Prime Minister Yves Leterme offers the resignation of his government. The king accepts it on December 22 and on December 28 asks Herman Van Rompuy to form a new cabinet. This is sworn in on December 30, and includes Guido De Padt as interior minister.


Burkina Faso: Joseph Conombo, former foreign minister (1971-74) and prime minister (1978-80) of Upper Volta, dies.
Papua New Guinea: In presidential elections on Bougainville held December 8-20, James Tanis defeats Sam Akoitai and 12 other candidates. Tanis is to complete the late Joseph Kabui's term (until 2010).


Guatemala: President Álvaro Colom dismisses the defense minister, Gen. Marco Tulio García Franco, who is replaced by Maj.Gen. Abraham Valenzuela González.


Guinea: President Lansana Conté dies. According to the constitution, the president of the National Assembly, Aboubacar Somparé, would become interim president upon certification of the vacancy by the Supreme Court, but on December 23 a military group calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) declares the suspension of the constitution and the dissolution of the existing institutions. However, the government of Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré says it is still functioning. On December 24 Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara is named as president of the CNDD and then as president of the republic; on December 25 Souaré and his ministers surrender and agree to serve under Camara. On December 27 Lieut.Col. Sékouba Konaté is provisionally named defense minister and on December 28 Gen. Mamadouba Toto Camara security minister. On December 30 Kabiné Komara is named as prime minister.


India: In parliamentary elections in Jammu and Kashmir held on November 17, 23, 30, and December 7, 13, 17, and 24, the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference wins 28 of 87 seats, the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party 21, the Indian National Congress 17, the Bharatiya Janata Party 11, and the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party 3. Turnout is 61.5%.


Guinea-Bissau: President João Bernardo Vieira appoints Carlos Gomes Júnior as prime minister.


Italy: Carlo Mannoni becomes acting president of Sardegna.


Malaysia: The ruler of Negeri Sembilan and former yang di-pertuan agong (1994-99) Tuanku Jaafar ibni al-Marhum Yamtuan Abdul Rahman dies. On December 29 his nephew Mukhriz ibni al-Marhum Tuanku Munawir is proclaimed as new ruler of Negeri Sembilan.


Bangladesh: In parliamentary elections, the alliance led by the Awami League wins 262 of 299 seats (the Awami League alone 230, the Jatiya Party 27) and that led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party 32 (the BNP alone 29). Turnout is about 80%.