World Bulletin/News Desk
The Chinese government pressed ahead on Saturday with an effort to discredit fallen politician Bo Xilai, drawing an outcry from leftist supporters of the former leadership contender in a sign of the rifts that his prosecution could inflame.
Once a charismatic yet divisive star who stood out on China's stolid political stage, Bo is almost sure to face trial and jail after the ruling Communist Party announced his expulsion on Friday and issued a list of allegations: bending the law to hush up a murder, taking huge bribes and engaging in "improper sexual relations with multiple women".
The party buried Bo under the damning accusations at the same time that it announced a Nov. 8 date for a congress that will anoint a new generation of top leaders - a lineup that Bo held barely disguised ambitions to join.
On Saturday, China's party-run parliament confirmed that Bo had been removed as a delegate, following his expulsion from the party and its governing councils, Xinhua news agency reported.
Bo's downfall has unsettled preparations for the leadership succession, and exposed high-level abuse of power after his former police chief briefly took refuge in a U.S. consulate and revealed that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered a British businessman.
State media tried to draw a clear line between Bo and the party elite he once belonged to, casting his fall as a victory for the party's determination to fight corruption.
"No matter how high a position, no matter how influential, anyone who violates party discipline and state law will be sternly pursued and punished," the official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on the case.
"As a senior party official, Bo Xilai should have been a model of obedience to party discipline," the news agency said in the commentary, widely distributed by state media websites. "But instead he monopolised power and behaved recklessly, doing as he pleased and gravely violating discipline."
"His misdeeds deserve their punishment."
The party could face trouble, however, convincing sceptics that it has only recently awoken to Bo's crimes, which it traced back to his years as a city official in northeast China. Bo's leftist supporters have already revived charges that Bo is the victim of a plot to eradicate him and his populist policies.
"Last night, one of the core members of the ruling party's leadership was suddenly turned into a demon," said one commentary on "Red China", a far-left Chinese-language website that has issued a stream of commentary defending Bo.
"Unlike other ousted senior officials, Bo Xilai's downfall has triggered two diametrically opposed reactions in society - one of elation and relief, and the other of outrage and regret."
The "Red China" site has been blocked to the many Chinese users who do not know how to get past censorship barriers. But China's version of Twitter, "Weibo", has also echoed with debate about Bo's dramatic downfall.
Public support for Bo is unlikely to creep into the heavily regimented party congress, but the effort to disgrace him could foster deeper public disillusionment with the party by showing that one of its formerly favoured officials was steeped in corruption. Bo, 63, is the "princeling" son of a Communist Party official who served alongside Mao Zedong.
"He won support from the underdogs of society and the radical intellectuals, and maybe even some within the party and the military," said Lai Hongyi, who teaches about contemporary China at the University of Nottingham in Britain. "That's probably quite polarising because you are not talking about just a few people but a segment of the whole of Chinese society and the establishment."
After arriving in Chongqing in 2007, Bo turned it into a showcase for pro-growth economics, and ran a campaign against organised crime, policies welcomed by many of the city's 30 million residents, though his brash self-promotion irked some leaders in Beijing.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have already been jailed over the scandal stemming from the murder in November of British businessman Neil Heywood.
The official statement carried by Xinhua said that in the murder scandal, Bo "abused his powers of office, committed serious errors and bears a major responsibility". That charge appears to reflect accusations from Wang's trial that suggested Bo tried to stymie the murder investigation.
The government also accused Bo of taking huge bribes and other unspecified crimes. Before Bo is charged and tried, investigators must first complete an inquiry and indict him, but China's prosecutors and courts come under party control and are most unlikely to challenge the accusations.
The victims were clearing mines laid by rebels on a road through a densely forested area in resource-rich Chhattisgarh state when the rebels attacked from all sides
In 2012, Iran seized 388 tonnes of opium, the equivalent of 72 percent of all such seizures around the world.
Crow was loathed by millions of Londoners after orchestrating a 48-hour tube strike that caused travel chaos earlier this year but loved by members of the RMT for whose rights he fought
Dozens of ships and aircraft from 10 countries scoured the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam as questions mounted
A Ukrainian airline plane was turned back on its way from Kiev to Simferopol, the region's main city, and had to return to the Ukrainian capital.
Critics called the new law a blow to democracy and said it may even lead to minorities being excluded from the legislature
Missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner tracked by radar over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country's east coast, a military source told Reuters.
The instability is unnerving consumers, with confidence at a 12-year low, and automakers, property firms and hotels in Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy are feeling the pinch
Journalist was shot by unknown gunmen central Kabul on Tuesday morning and died of his wounds in hospital
Islamic Jihad said targeted members of the group in Rafah, a town bordering Egypt.
Since December, around 60,000 families have fled their homes in the violence-wracked Anbar province to neighboring areas, according to government figures
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said 18 children under the age of five had died in January and another 23 in February.
A Kurdistan regional administration official says that a recent Saudi ban would convince 200 Kurds currently fighting alongside the Syrian opposition to return home.
Sanader, sentenced to 10 years' jail in another corruption trial in 2012, was given a new nine-year sentence by the Zagreb county court
Earlier Tuesday, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported that the drone had gone down due to a "technical error."
Taliban spokesperson issues a statement warning Afghan people not to participate in April's presidential polls.