News Timeline: August 2004


August 4 – Africa: SUDAN

Tens of thousands of demonstrators march through Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, in a pro-government rally, protesting any possible foreign intervention in its region of Darfur. They say they are ready to die in a jihad if any foreign troops enter Sudan. The African Union prepared to send 2,000 troops to the region.


Representatives of the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, visit Egypt to discuss an Egyptian plan to provide security for the Gaza Strip after Israel withdraws its troops in 2005. Egypt also offers to send 200 security advisers to train a Palestinian security force.

August 4 – East Asia/South Asia: CHINA/PAKISTAN

China and Pakistan conduct joint antiterrorism exercises in the western Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang, which is populated by Muslim Uighurs. Many Uighurs aspire to an independent state in East Turkestan. After the September 11 attacks on the United States, China labeled these nationalists as terrorists. The joint China-Pakistan maneuvers are the first of their kind to be conducted inside China.

August 5 – East Asia: JAPAN/NORTH KOREA

Japan resumes food aid to North Korea, preparing 125,000 metric tons of various items, including medical supplies. It is estimated that at least five million North Koreans depend on foreign food aid, and famine caused many to flee the country.

August 5 – Latin America: PERU

Peru’s president, Alejandro Toledo, opens the $1.6 billion Camisea pipeline, linking the vast gas fields in the Amazon with the capital, Lima. The government says the project will boost Peru’s economic growth and hopes Peru will become a net exporter of energy. The critics, however, charge that the pipeline will ruin the rainforest of the Amazon.

August 11 – Latin America/North America: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC/PUERTO RICO

About 50 illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic die at sea from dehydration, hunger, and exposure while trying to reach the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on a small wooden boat called the yola. Every year thousands of Dominicans embark on this dangerous trip to Puerto Rico, looking for a better life.

August 12 – East Asia: SINGAPORE

Singapore swears in its new prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, the son of the island-state’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. There are hopes that the new prime minister will promote policies of openness.

August 12 – North America/Middle East: UNITED STATES/IRAQ

After a week of heavy fighting in the Iraqi city of Najaf between the coalition forces and Shia militants, U.S.-led forces surround the city’s Imam Ali Shrine, which is occupied by the followers of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr. Sadr hopes to capitalize on the outrage of the Shia majority in case of an American attack on the shrine. The outcome of the battle for Najaf is important to prove the credibility of the Americans and the new Iraqi government.

August 13 – South Asia: MALDIVES

The government of the Maldives declares a state of emergency after about 5,000 protesters demand more democracy and the release of political prisoners. The state of emergency in this one-party country gives its president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, powers to suspend the constitution.

August 15 – Latin America: VENEZUELA

Venezuelan officials announce that President Hugo Chavez wins the referendum on his rule, obtaining 58 percent of the vote. Venezuelan citizens were asked whether the president should finish the remaining two-and-a-half years of this term. The opposition rejects the result, claiming the vote was fraudulent, and demands a manual recount.

August 16 – Africa: KENYA

The Kenyan government rejects demands by ethnic Maasai for a return of their ancestral lands leased to British settlers 100 years ago, saying it does not honor the colonial-era treaties. The lease on one million hectares of land expired this weekend and is subdivided among some white ranchers and black farmers.

August 17 – Europe: GERMANY

Thousands of people rally throughout German cities, protesting the welfare reforms. The new measures, which will lower long-term unemployment benefits, are especially opposed in eastern Germany, where unemployment reaches 18.5 percent. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says the reforms are needed to reinvigorate the German economy.


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon authorizes the construction of 1,000 settler homes in the West Bank although the roadmap Middle East peace plan specifically prohibits any settlements. Israel claims it has backing of the U.S.

August 17 – Former Soviet Republics: GEORGIA

Heavy fighting breaks out in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia between Georgian soldiers and South Ossetian separatists. Renewed clashes break the cease-fire deal, which envisages an additional buffer zone between the two sides patrolled by Russian peacekeepers and monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Many South Ossetians want to join North Ossetia, which is a part of Russia.

August 19 – South Asia: PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s current finance minister and President General Pervez Musharraf’s ally, Shaukat Aziz, wins a by-election and becomes the country’s new prime minister. As a former banking executive, Aziz played a major role in improving Pakistan’s economy.

August 20 – East Asia/Russia and Other Former Soviet Republics: MONGOLIA

Mongolia’s parliament appoints a new prime minister, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj of the Democratic Coalition, ending two months of deadlock after contested elections. Elbegdorj, who has a master’s degree from Harvard University and served as prime minister for eight months in 1998, agrees to share power with the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP).

August 22 – Africa: KENYA/SOMALIA

After long-lasting mediated talks, members of a newly nominated parliament for Somalia are sworn in in Kenya, which is hoped to bring order to Somalia after years of anarchy. The new parliament is supposed to select a president who will set up a new government in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

August 23 – East Asia: SINGAPORE

In his national address, Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, offers financial incentives to encourage bigger families in order to boost a record-low birth rate. Singapore’s birth rate dropped last year to 1.26 babies per woman, compared to a rate of 5.8 in the 1960s. The government is concerned that the aging population may hinder future growth.

August 25 – Latin America: BRAZIL

The World Bank loans Brazil $1.2 billion for environmental protection, the largest single loan given to a country for this purpose. Brazil is home to the world’s greatest biodiversity and the World Bank wants the country’s government to consider the environment in its policies.

August 26 – Latin America: CHILE

Chile’s Supreme Court revokes former military leader General Augusto Pinochet’s immunity from prosecution, opening the door for his trial for the repressions in the 1970s and 1980s. Previous attempts to bring him to justice failed when judges were persuaded that Pinochet suffered from dementia.

August 26 – North America: UNITED STATES

The U.S. Census Bureau annual report shows that despite U.S. economic growth, the number of poor Americans has grown by 1.3 million, reaching 35.9 million, and U.S. poverty has risen to 12.5 percent from 12.2 percent in 2002. The report also shows that the number of people with no health care has grown to 45 million while incomes have remained stagnant.

August 30 – Europe: RUSSIA

The electoral commission announces that the Moscow-backed candidate for Chechnya’s president, Alu Alkhanov, wins 74 percent of the vote, with a turnout exceeding 85 percent. The election was held to replace pro-Moscow leader Akhmad Kadyrov, who was killed in a bomb attack in May. Opponents question the outcome of the election, saying polling stations were empty. Also, the U.S. and U.K. say that the election did not meet international standards for a democratic election.

August 31 – Middle East: ISRAEL

At least 16 people die and more than 80 are injured after two simultaneous suicide attacks on buses in the Israeli city of Beersheba. The Palestinian militant group Hamas says the attacks are revenge for the assassinations of two of its leaders earlier this year.