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.
Abdiqadir Mohamed Sidii, governor of Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, said he believed Godane and other senior al Shabaab members had been killed.
Although fighters have been prevented from taking central Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad's forces are worried they will reach it by digging tunnels from the sprawling suburbs and outlying towns under their control.
The soldiers were part of a contingent from Chad, said a U.N. official who asked not to be named.
The UNHCR said the total includes 814,000 Ukrainians now in Russia with various forms of status, as well as compatriots who have fled to Belarus, Moldova, the three Baltic states and European Union.
The doctrine was last updated in 2010, when Russia identified NATO enlargement as a national threat and reaffirmed its right to use nuclear weapons if its existence was endangered.
The Saudi security source said the fire started after a "stray" bullet hit the pipeline after shots were fired at security forces patrolling the oil-rich Eastern Province
The volatile situation in Tripoli has been exacerbated by separate clashes in the eastern port city of Benghazi
Former Israeli army chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi faces charges of breach of trust and passing classified information to an unauthorized source.
Hadi had dismissed the government and planned to cut petrol and diesel prices, partly meeting demands of Houthi protesters who have poured into the capital.
Fifteen more Ukrainian servicemen were killed in fighting in the past 24 hours
The militants launched an attack on the town of Bama, 70 km (45 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri
The discussions with Kerry will focus on establishing "a timeframe for ending Israel's occupation to be agreed as soon as possible and not after the end of this year", said a Palestinian official
President Toomas Hendrik said "yes" when asked at a news conference if he wanted permanent NATO bases in Estonia.
By convening a joint session of parliament, where Sharif has a solid majority, the prime minister seeks to reaffirm that he is fully in control of the situation.
The relatives of soldiers taken by the militant group from Tikrit north of Baghdad had been scheduled to address parliament about the fate of their loved ones
Organisers bemoan that their human rights now being abused following military's 11th hour intervention.