News in Brief: Sudan Votes to Split Into Two Countries, and More

Sudan Votes to Split Into Two Countries

CNN reports that southern Sudan will create the world’s newest nation after a vote by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission showed 98.3 percent of southern Sudanese favored independence from northern governance. The referendum reflected on a country that has been at war for 20 years and killed two million people, as Arab Muslims in the north and black Christians and animists in the south fought over issues ranging from government to oil reserves. Commission Chairman Muhammad Ibrahim Khali said the process, which was attended by politicians, diplomats, United Nations staff, and other voters was peaceful and transparent.

Mubarak’s New Cabinet Approves 15 Percent Raise for Government Employees

Egypt President Hosni Mubarak’s new cabinet met on Monday for its first official meeting and announced a 15 percent salary increase for government employees, The Associated Press reports. As Tahrir Square remained occupied for a third week with groups of protesters, Mubarak announced the raise to increase support for his regime and defuse anger among six million government workers. The raise announcement follows the Cabinet’s previous assurances that it would look into official corruption and election fraud. Finance Minister Samir Radwan said approximately 6.5 billion Egyptian pounds, which converts to $960 million dollars, would be apportioned for the salary increases, which will take effect in April.

Jane Harman Leaving Congress

The Washington Post reports that Rep. Jane Harman (D-California) will resign from Congress to join the Woodrow Wilson Center. Harman’s resignation will launch a special election in her 36th district, which has consistently voted for Democrats in recent years. The election will also become the first test of California’s newly implemented “jungle primary” law, in which all candidates run against each other, regardless of their party, and the two candidates to receive the most votes will advance to a general election. Harman, 65, led the 36th district since 2001.

Tunisia Suspends Former Regime

Tunisia’s Interior Minister, Fahrat Rajhi, suspended all activities of the country’s former rulers after its autocratic leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, went into exile, The Wall Street Journal said. Rajhi ordered the Democratic Constitutional Rally to cancel all of its meetings and close its offices as deadly anti-Ben Ali protests continued throughout the country. Authorities have also been working to eliminate influential members of the Ben Ali regime, which included political figures and the police force.

Torture Protests Force Bush to Cancel Switzerland Visit

According to The Miami Herald, the United Israel Appeal canceled a plan to invite President George W. Bush to a February 12 gala in Geneva as human rights groups reportedly planned protests for the event. The charity, Keren Hayesod, called off the gala as reports surfaced that protest organizers planned to file torture complaints and told participants to bring extra shoes, recalling an Iraqi journalist’s 2008 assault on Bush during a press conference in Baghdad. The Center for Constitutional Rights said that the torture complaint was 2,500 pages.