News Timeline: March 2005


March 1 – Africa: BURUNDI

Voters in Burundi approve a new power-sharing constitution designed to end 12 years of ethnic conflict. The new constitution defines the number of posts in the government and parliament, with 40 percent of seats assigned to the Tutsi minority and 60 percent to the Hutu majority. More importantly, the country’s military posts are split evenly.

March 2 – Latin America: URUGUAY

Uruguay swears in its first left-wing president, Tabare Vazquez, who ends 180 years of two-party rule. Tabare immediately restores full diplomatic relations with Cuba broken three years ago by outgoing President Jorge Battle. Uruguay becomes the fifth Latin American country to choose a leftist leader.

March 4 – South Asia: BANGLADESH/INDIA

Bangladeshi and Indian border guards exchange fire for three hours over a disputed fence along the northeastern Indian state of Tripura, but there are no casualties. Bangladesh says that the fence violates the 1974 bilateral defense treaty, which allows no defense works within 164 yards of the India-Bangladesh border.

March 6 – Former Soviet Republics/South Asia: UZBEKISTAN/PAKISTAN

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pays an official visit to Uzbekistan, where he meets with President Islam Karimov and signs a number of bilateral trade agreements. Pakistan is interested in gaining access to Central Asian markets through Uzbek trade routes while landlocked Uzbekistan wants access to the ports on the Indian Ocean. Both presidents also pledge to join forces to fight terrorism.

March 7 – Europe/Former Soviet Republics: MOLDOVA

Moldova’s governing Communist Party wins parliamentary elections with 46 percent of the vote, losing ground, however, to the opposition Democratic Moldova bloc and the Christian Democratic Popular Party. The Communists will still be able to pass laws, but will have to form a coalition to elect a new president.

March 8 – International Organizations: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

A series of rallies around the world celebrates the International Women’s Day, trying to raise awareness of the discrimination and abuses still faced by women. A march in São Paulo, Brazil, starts the commemoration of the Women’s Global Charter for Humanity, which will be carried across 50 countries. International women’s groups that are part of the feminist global network, World March of Women, signed the charter last December, calling for changes in social structures.

March 9 – South Asia: INDIA

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh introduces a variety of benefits, including monetary grants, for families having a single girl child in an attempt to boost the female population. The state government says that the growing gender gap due to abortion of female fetuses is a growing concern.

March 9 – Latin America: BOLIVIA

Bolivia’s congress unanimously rejects President Carlos Mesa’s resignation. The vote comes after talks between Mesa and the main political parties, two of which agree to support the president. However, the main opposition party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), does not sign the agreement. Opposition and labor unions vow to continue to protest against the government, demanding higher taxes on foreign energy companies.

March 10 – East Asia: CHINA/HONG KONG

After eight years in power, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, steps down as the head of the government for health reasons and denies that he was dismissed by the Chinese government. Tung Chee-hwa faced increasing criticism over the state of the economy, his support for a controversial anti-subversion bill, and support for China’s attempts to limit democratic reforms in Hong Kong.

March 10 – Africa: DJIBOUTI

Mohamed Daoud Chehem, the only opposition candidate in Djibouti’s presidential election scheduled for April, withdraws from the race due to lack of funds. Opposition groups call for boycotting the election because they expect vote rigging.

March 10 – Europe/Former Soviet Republics: GEORGIA/RUSSIA

The Georgian parliament passes legislation outlawing Russia’s military presence in Georgia unless Moscow withdraws its soldiers by January 1, 2006. If Russia does not meet the deadline, its bases will be declared illegal and the Georgian government will not issue visas to Russian troops. Although Russia agreed in 1999 to close its Soviet-era military bases, it has found excuses not to do so.

March 14 – Europe: RUSSIA

The biggest merger in Russian history, between gas giant Gazprom and state-owned oil company Rosneft, is expected to be completed by June. The merger will increase the government’s share from 38 percent to 51 percent, giving the state partial control of Gazprom.

March 16 – Middle East: IRAQ

Iraq’s new interim parliament is sworn in. However, the assembly fails to agree on the composition of the new government. Coalition politics is a novelty in a country so far ruled by a dictator. After agreeing on a government, the assembly must work out a constitution in time for general elections in December.


Israel formally turns over control of the West Bank town of Jericho to Palestine according to the agreement reached between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during last month’s summit in Sharm al-Sheikh. Other cities to be transferred to the Palestinians are Tulkarm, Ramallah, Qalqilya, and Bethlehem.

March 22 – Europe: FRANCE

The French parliament votes to relax the 35-hour-week rule, allowing the private sector to increase working hours as well as convert extra days off into wage raises and pension contributions. The changes also allow workers to work up to 48 hours a week, the maximum allowed by the European Union. The 35-hour week, however, remains the standard week in the public sector.

March 24 – Europe: MACEDONIA

Former Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski is transferred to the International Tribunal at The Hague, where he has been indicted for war crimes. He faces charges relating to the killing of seven ethnic Albanians in the village of Ljuboten during an ethnic Albanian rebellion in Macedonia in 2001.

March 24 – Former Soviet Republics: KYRGYZSTAN

Anti-government protesters in Kyrgyzstan, who demand President Askar Akayev’s resignation, overrun the presidential palace and state TV in the capital, Bishkek, announcing that the government has fallen. The government officials, including the president, flee the palace, which is also the seat of government.


Former Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski is transferred to the International Tribunal at The Hague, where he has been indicted for war crimes. He faces charges relating to the killing of seven ethnic Albanians in the village of Ljuboten during an ethnic Albanian rebellion in Macedonia in 2001.

March 25 – Former Soviet Republics/Europe: KYRGYZSTAN/RUSSIA

Kyrgyzstan’s opposition leader, Kurmanbek Bakiev, becomes acting president and promises new elections in June. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemns the overthrow of power and offers asylum to deposed President Askar Akayev.

March 30 – Africa: SUDAN

The UN Security Council passes a resolution, which imposes sanctions on those who commit atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region, and strengthens an arms embargo on Sudan. It also bans travel and freezes the assets of those who obstruct the peace process in Darfur. The sanctions come into effect in 30 days, allowing officials to draft a list of offenders.

March 30 – South Asia: SRI LANKA

Crowded living conditions and excessive heat contribute to spreading of diseases, such as chicken pox, diarrhea, and fever in tsunami refugee camps in Sri Lanka. There are about 4,000 refugees in the Kinniya area, where several families often live in one tent.


The president of the Central African Republic, Francois Bozize, wins only 43 percent of the vote during the presidential election and will have to participate in a runoff election on May 1. His main rival, former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele, wins 23.5 percent of the vote. Election observers say the vote was successful and democratic.

March 31 – South Asia: NEPAL

China’s Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing pays an official visit to Nepal, where he meets with King Gyanendra in order to enhance and promote mutual relations. China, which has traditionally had good relations with Nepal, says that recent controversial political changes introduced by King Gyanendra are Nepal’s internal matter.

March 31 – North America/International Organizations: UNITED STATES/WORLD BANK

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is confirmed as the new head of the World Bank after getting crucial European support. His nomination has been controversial because of his instrumental role in the Iraq invasion plans and lack of development experience.