News Timeline: May 2005


May 1 – East Asia: JAPAN

Japan restarts economic aid to Pakistan for the first time since 1998 when it suspended aid in protest against Pakistan’s first nuclear tests. Pakistani President Prevez Musharraf assures Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that Pakistan will help prevent nuclear proliferation.

May 1 – South Asia: PAKISTAN

Japan restarts economic aid to Pakistan for the first time since 1998 when it suspended aid in protest against Pakistan’s first nuclear tests. Pakistani President Prevez Musharraf assures Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi that Pakistan will help prevent nuclear proliferation.

May 2 – East Asia: CHINA

Lien Chan, head of the opposition Taiwan’s Kuomintang Party (KMT), makes a historic visit to China. This is the first meeting between a Taiwanese party and the Chinese Communist Party since 1949. Lien meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao and signs a statement to promote an end to mutual hostilities. While Lian is received in China with excitement, he faces protests by pro-independence activists in Taiwan.

May 4 – Africa: TOGO

The Constitutional Court of Togo swears in President Faure Gnassingbe, son of the country’s dictator, who died earlier in the year. Faure initially took the office upon his father’s death, but under international pressure, especially from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), he called elections. ECOWAS approved the results of the elections. Also, the Constitutional Court rejected the opposition’s appeal that the elections were rigged.

May 5 – Africa: COTE D’IVOIRE

The United Nations Security Council votes unanimously to extend the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast for at least one more month. There are currently 10,000 UN, French, and other peacekeepers in the country. Since 2002, Ivory Coast has been divided between the rebel-controlled north and the government-controlled south. Both sides have agreed to hold elections in October.

May 6 – Europe: UNITED KINGDOM

United Kingdom’s Labour Party, under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair, wins a remarkable third term in national elections. However, its majority is drastically reduced. The Liberal Party makes gains, securing 62 seats.

May 7 – East Asia: MYANMAR

Three almost simultaneous bombs explode in Burma’s capital, Rangoon, killing at least 19 people. No group takes responsibility for the attacks, though the ruling junta and the democratic opposition each suggest the other’s involvement. This is the worst bombing in the city in years.

May 7 – Latin America: VENEZUELA

Two Venezuelan activists, Carlos Melo and former mayor of Caracas Claudio Fermin, form a new opposition party called the Popular Assembly. The two men both oppose the rule of President Hugo Chavez for stifling political discourse. Fermin says that the Popular Assembly will take part in municipal elections in August.

May 10 – South Asia: INDIA/NEPAL

India restarts military aid to Nepal after the country’s leader, King Gyanendra, lifts a state of emergency and releases some top politicians from jail. Though India is concerned about the king’s suspension of civil liberties this year, India is also worried about China’s growing influence with the country’s Maoist rebels.

May 10 – Latin America: HAITI

The Supreme Court in Haiti overturns the murder and torture convictions of dozens of military leaders. In 2000, they were found guilty of mass killings of supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the shantytown of Raboteau in 1994. The critics say that this reversal is politically motivated, but the current government claims the Supreme Court acts independently.

May 11: Latin America/Middle East

The first summit of 34 leaders from Latin America and the Middle East ends in Brazil. The summit aims at developing closer ties between the two regions as a counterbalance to the EU and the U.S. The closing declaration criticizes the U.S. and Israel and calls for reform of international trading regimes and of the United Nations. It also calls for the elimination of farm subsidies through the World Trade Organization (WTO).

May 16 – Middle East: KUWAIT

Kuwait’s parliament votes 35 to 23 to give women the right to vote and stand in elections. Sheikh Jabil al-Ahmad al-Sabah, ruler of Kuwait, decreed full political rights for women six years ago, but Islamist members of parliament blocked implementation until now.

May 18 – North America: UNITED STATES

The city of Los Angeles elects its first Hispanic mayor in over 100 years, Antonio Villarigosa, the son of a Mexican immigrant. Villarigosa beats the incumbent with about 59 percent of the vote. His win indicates both shifting demographics favoring Latino political success and Villarigosa’s personal popularity among many voters.

May 20 – North America: CANADA

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin of the Liberal Party wins a no-confidence vote by a single ballot. Martin’s difficulty stems from a contracting scandal during a previous Liberal government. A new report on the scandal does not implicate Martin, but the opposition claims the government is tainted.

May 20 – International Organizations/Middle East: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/JORDAN

Jordan’s King Abdullah II opens the World Economic Forum in the Jordanian resort of Shuneh. About 1,200 political, business, and civil society leaders from 45 countries gather in the Dead Sea town for the summit, aimed at helping leaders seize the moment of political, economic, and social change that has begun in the region.

May 21 – Latin America: CUBA

Cuban dissidents hold the country’s first ever pro-democracy public meeting. About 200 participants call for the release of political prisoners and greater democracy in Cuba. However, some pro-democracy dissidents do not attend, accusing the organizers of working with the Cuban security forces.

May 23 – East Asia: MONGOLIA

Mongolia elects a new president, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, with 53.4 percent of the vote. Like his predecessor, Enkhbayar, a member of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), is from Mongolia’s former Communist Party. The MPRP and the Democratic Party form a coalition in the current government.

May 23 – Middle East: IRAN

In the run-up to the Iranian presidential election, Iran’s supreme governing body, the Council of Guardians, rejects all but six of the 1,000 candidates who had applied to run, including the candidate of Iran’s largest reform party, former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi. Opposition parties say the Council has no intention to allow a real debate of ideologies.

May 24 – South Asia: INDIA

Across the northern Indian state of Bihar, police arrest hundreds of protesters and strikers marching against the dissolution of the state’s legislature. In state elections held in February, no party won a majority necessary to form a government, and politicians have tried without success to make a governing partnership. Protesters claim the federal government dissolved the state legislature to avoid the formation of an opposition government.

May 25 – East Asia: BRUNEI

The absolute ruler of Brunei, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, reorganizes his cabinet, introducing younger and more reformist ministers. The Education Minister of 20 years loses his job for emphasizing Islamic education over science and technology. This shake-up is the biggest reform in Brunei since its independence in 1984.


Francois Bozize wins the final round of presidential elections in the Central African Republic. Bozize originally took power in a coup in 2003, but his growing popularity has won him this election.

May 25 – Middle East/Former Soviet Republics: TURKEY/AZERBAIJAN/GEORGIA

In the Azeri capital of Baku, international business and government leaders attend the inauguration of a 1,000-mile-long oil pipeline that leads from the Caspian Sea across Azerbaijan and Georgia to a Turkish port of Ceyhan. For oil-consuming nations, the pipeline is an important link to a non-Russian and non-Middle Eastern source of oil.

May 25 – Africa: EGYPT

Egyptian voters approve a constitutional amendment allowing multi-party presidential elections. However, voter turnout is low, except among government employees that were sent to vote. Egyptian opposition groups had called for a boycott of the vote and claim the changes will not really remove barriers to entry into politics. The government says the vote is a victory for democracy.


President Bush welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the U.S., marking his first meeting with a Palestinian leader. President Bush pledges aid for housing and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. Palestine–U.S. relations have improved since the death of Yasser Arafat and the subsequent election of Abbas.

May 27 – Middle East/Europe: TURKEY/EU

Turkey’s parliament approves a reformed penal code, a key requirement for opening accession talks with the European Union. The law strengthens human rights and the rights of women and children. Journalists protest that the code does not have strong enough guarantees of press freedom.


Germany’s parliament completes ratification of the proposed European Union constitution. Earlier in the month, Austria, Slovakia, and Greece also approved the constitution through the parliamentary vote.

May 27 – South Asia: NEPAL

Opponents of direct royal rule in Nepal hold their largest protest in a month, with 10,000 protesters calling for democracy, release of political prisoners, and restoration of press freedoms. Representatives of Nepal’s seven major parties vow to fight until an all-party government is formed.

May 27 – International Organizations: NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY

A month-long conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), attended by delegates from 187 countries, ends in deadlock. The talks aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, achieving disarmament, and promoting nuclear energy. Currently, the treaty does not contain punishment for countries that leave the treaty. Also, non-nuclear countries accuse nuclear powers of not upholding their commitment to negotiate the dismantling of nuclear weapons. The deadlock means that the U.S. will engage in unilateral actions outside the treaty to counter nuclear threats.

May 29 – Europe: FRANCE

French voters overwhelmingly reject the European Union constitution with 55 percent of people voting against it. By rejecting the constitution, the French voters express their concerns about the European project, as well as their dissatisfaction with their government and domestic issues.

May 30 – Africa: SOMALIA

Fighting breaks out in the city of Baidoa between rival warlords over whether the Somali government should locate there or in Mogadishu. Earlier in the month, members of the Somali interim government began to move from Kenya back to Somalia, and most support an interim capital at Baidoa. However, Mogadishu warlords are willing to fight to locate the capital in their city.