Monday, April 30, 2012

Abdulhadi al-Khawaja

Abdulhadi Abdulla Hubail Alkhawaja (Arabic: عبد الهادي عبد الله حبيل الخواجة) is one of the most prominent Bahraini-Danish human rights activists. He is currently in prison in Bahrain following the repression on pro-democracy protests in the Bahraini uprising. He is former president and co-founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), a nonprofit non-governmental organisation which works to promote human rights in Bahrain. He has held a number of positions and played various roles in regional and international human rights organizations.

On 9 April 2011, Alkhawaja was arrested and tried as part of a campaign of repression by the Bahraini authorities following pro-democracy protests in the Bahraini uprising. Front Line Defenders expressed fear for his life following allegations of torture and sexual assault in detention. Alkhawaja was eventually sentenced on 22 June 2011, along with eight other activists, to life imprisonment. On 8 February 2012, he started an open-ended hunger strike until "freedom or death" protesting continuing detentions in Bahrain. As of 23 April 2012, Alkhawaja had been on hunger strike for 2 months and 16 days.

Until February 2011, Alkhawaja was the Middle East and North Africa Protection Coordinator with Front Line Defenders – the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. He is also a member of the International Advisory Network in the Business and Human Rights Resource Center chaired by Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Alkhawaja is a member of the Advisory Board of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies and also an expert adviser for and member of the coordinating committee of The Arab Group for Monitoring Media Performance monitoring the media in Bahrain and six other Arab countries. Alkhawaja was part of Amnesty international’s fact finding mission in Iraq. He has been a researcher and project consultant for Amnesty International and other international organizations. His human rights campaigning activities have been acknowledged by the International Conference of Human Rights Defenders in Dublin and he was named by the Arab Program for Human Rights Defenders as its Regional Activist of 2005.

Early Life
After finishing high school in Bahrain in 1977, Alkhawaja traveled to the UK to continue his further education. In 1979, he took part in student activities in London in reaction to demonstrations and arrests in Bahrain. Many students abroad, including Alkhawaja, were denied renewal of their passports and asked to return home. In the summer of 1980, after fellow students had been detained and interrogated under torture for their activities in London and his family’s house had been ransacked and searched, Alkhawaja, fearing detention if he went back to Bahrain, decided to remain abroad.

On April 25, 2012, Alkhawaja was reportedly missing from his bed in the BDF hospital (AKA the military hospital).

His wife Khadija Almousawi said on her Twitter account that since Monday, April 23, she had no news from her husband. She called the military hospital on 25 April, only to be told by a nurse that no one was in the room

Alkhawaja told his family on April 17 that he had removed the intravenous drip keeping him alive. Two days later, during the Bahrain Grand Prix, he decided to stop drinking water and asked to see his lawyer to write his will. He was refused permission to do so.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Simeon Borisov of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Tsar Simeon II (Bulgarian: Симеон Борисов Сакскобургготски, transl. Simeon Borisov Sakskoburggotski; Цар Симеон II; German: Simeon von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha or Simeon von Wettin) or Simeon II of Bulgaria (born 16 June 1937) is an important political and royal figure in Bulgaria. During his reign as the Tsar of Bulgaria from 1943 to 1946 he was a minor, the monarchical authority being exercised over the kingdom on his behalf by a regency. The regents were Simeon's uncle Prince Kiril of Bulgaria, General Nikola Mihov and the prime minister, Bogdan Filov. In 1946 the monarchy was overthrown as a consequence of a greatly manipulated referendum won by the communist republicans. Simeon went into exile. Fifty-five years later, on 6 April 2001, Simeon resumed the role of leader of the nation upon taking office as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria from July 2001 until August 2005.

As of 2012, Simeon is one of the last living heads of state from the World War II-era, the only living person who has borne the Bulgarian title "Tsar", and one of the few monarchs in history to have become the head of government through democratic elections.

Royal History
Simeon was born the son of Tsar Boris III and Tsaritsa Giovanna di Savoia and is related to various European royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, King Albert II of the Belgians and the Kings Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and Umberto II of Italy. Following his birth, Boris III sent an air force officer to the River Jordan to obtain water for Simeon's baptism in the Orthodox faith. He became Tsar on 28 August 1943 on the death of his father, who had just returned to Bulgaria from a meeting with Adolf Hitler. Since Tsar Simeon was only six years old when he ascended the throne, his uncle Prince Kyril of Bulgaria, Prime Minister Bogdan Filov, and Lieutenant-General Nikola Mihailov Mihov of the Bulgarian Army were appointed regents.

On 5 September 1944 the Soviet Union declared war on Bulgaria and three days later the Red Army entered the country without encountering resistance. On the next day, 9 September 1944, Prince Kyril and the other regents were deposed by a Soviet-backed coup and arrested. The three regents, all members of the last three governments, Parliament deputies, heads of the army and eminent journalists were executed by the Communists in February 1945.

Towards exile
The royal family (Queen Giovanna, Simeon II, and his sister Maria-Louisa) remained at Vrana Palace near Sofia, while new communist regents were appointed. In her memoirs, Queen Giovanna recounts that Soviet soldiers at that time entertained themselves by shooting at random in the direction where she was walking with the children. On 15 September 1946, a plebiscite was held in the presence of the Soviet army. It allegedly resulted in over 97% approval for the Soviet established republic and abolished the monarchy. On 16 September 1946, the royal family was exiled from Bulgaria. However, Simeon II never signed any abdication papers (which were unlikely to have any legality anyway, as he was only 9 years old). The royal family first went to Alexandria, Egypt, where Queen Giovanna's father Victor Emanuel III, King of Italy, lived in exile. There, Simeon II finished Victoria College (along with Crown Prince Leka of Albania). In July 1951, the Spanish government of Francisco Franco granted asylum to the family.

Education and business career
In Madrid, Simeon studied at the Lycée Français, but did not graduate. On 16 June 1955, upon turning 18, in accordance with the Tarnovo Constitution Simeon II read his proclamation to the Bulgarian people as the Tsar of Bulgaria, confirming his will to be king of all Bulgarians and follow the principles of Tarnovo Constitution and free Bulgaria. In 1958, he enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy and College in the United States, where he was known as "Cadet Rylski No. 6883", and graduated as a second lieutenant. Once again in Spain, Simeon studied law and business administration.

He became a businessman. For thirteen years, he was chairman of the Spanish subsidiary of Thomson, a French defence and electronics group. He was also an adviser in the banking, hotel, electronics, and catering sectors.

Monarch in exile
Simeon issued several political declarations during his exile through his "chancellery" in Madrid directed at the Communist regime in Bulgaria and his exiled compatriots. His early attempts at forming an official government in exile did not come to fruition, however.[citation needed]

Marriage and family
In 1962 Simeon married a Spanish aristocrat, doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. The couple have five children – four sons (Kardam, Kiril, Kubrat and Konstantin) and a daughter, Kalina, all of whom subsequently married Spaniards. All of his sons received names of Bulgarian kings.

    * Kardam (born 1962) married doña Miriam de Ungría y López. They have two sons, Boris and Beltran.
    * Kirill (born 1964) married doña María del Rosario Nadal y Fuster-Puigdórfila. They have two daughters, Mafalda and Olimpia, and one son, Tassilo.
    * Kubrat (born 1965) married doña Carla María de la Soledad Royo-Villanova y Urrestarazu. They have three sons: Mirko, Lukás and Tirso.
    * Konstantin-Assen (born 1967) married doña María García de la Rasilla y Gortázar. They have twins, Umberto and Sofia.
    * Kalina (born 1972) married don Antonio "Kitín" Muñoz y Valcárcel. They have one son, Simeon Hassan.

Political return
In 1990, after the fall of communism, Simeon was issued a new Bulgarian passport. In 1996, 50 years after the abolition of the monarchy, Simeon returned to Bulgaria and was met in many places by crowds cheering: "We want our King!" He did not, at that point, make any political announcements or moves.

Various estates in Bulgaria that had been nationalized under the republic were returned to Simeon and his family. In 2001, Simeon announced he would return to Bulgaria to form a new political party, the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII), dedicated to "reforms and political integrity." Simeon promised that in 800 days the Bulgarian people would feel tangible positive effects of his government and would enjoy significantly higher standards of living.

NMSII won a large victory in the parliamentary elections held on 17 June 2001, capturing 120 of the 240 seats in Parliament and defeating the two main pre-existing political parties. Simeon gave an oath as Prime Minister of Bulgaria on 24 July, forming a coalition with the ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). He gave ministerial positions in his government mainly to technocrats and Western-educated economic specialists. In 2002, his efforts were recognized by his receiving the 2002 Path to Peace Award from the Path to Peace Foundation. The development of Bulgaria's capital markets moved forward, with the first Eurolev issue in 2004. During his time in power, Bulgaria joined NATO and EC.

In the 2005 elections, Simeon's party ranked second and participated in the grand coalition government with the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. Simeon II was given the unofficial ceremonial post of Chairman of the Coalition Council.

The party got just 3.01% of votes and no seats at the parliamentary elections of 2009. Shortly after, on 6 July, Simeon also resigned as NMSII leader .

Views on restoration of the Bulgarian Monarchy
Simeon II has never renounced his royal claim to the Bulgarian throne. He used the title "Tsar of the Bulgarians" in his political statements during his exile. Since his return to Bulgaria, however, Simeon has consistently declined to reveal his views on the restoration of the Bulgarian monarchy. Upon taking office as prime minister, he took an oath to protect the country's republican Constitution.

Heir to the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry
After the death of his distant cousin Prince John Henry of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in April 2010 and due to the exclusion of the late prince's uncle Philipp Josias Maria Joseph Ignatius Michael Gabriel Raphael Gonzaga (Walterskirchen, 18 August 1901 –) children and descendants from his morganatic marriage with Sarah Aurelia Halasz, Simeon became the Head of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Koháry, former Magnates of Hungary, and a claimant to the holding of the castles of Čabraď and Sv. Anton, both in modern day Slovakia, lost to Czechoslovakia in 1921. In early 2012 he ceded his rights to the headship of the princely house of Koháry to his sister Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria.

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Jean-Marie Le Pen

Jean-Marie Le Pen (born 20 June 1928) is a French far right-wing and nationalist politician who is founder and former president of the Front National (National Front) party. Le Pen has run for the French presidency five times, most notably in 2002, when in a surprise upset he came second, polling more votes in the first round than the main left candidate, Lionel Jospin. Le Pen lost in the second round to Jacques Chirac. Le Pen again ran in the 2007 French presidential election and finished fourth. His 2007 campaign, at the age of 78 years and 9 months, makes him the oldest candidate for presidential office in French history.

Le Pen focuses on immigration to France, the European Union, traditional culture, law and order and France's high rate of unemployment. He advocates immigration restrictions, the death penalty, raising incentives for homemakers, and euroscepticism. He strongly opposes same-sex marriage, euthanasia, and abortion.

Personal Life and Early Career
Le Pen was born in La Trinité-sur-Mer, a small seaside village in Brittany, the son of a fisherman but then orphaned as an adolescent (pupille de la nation, brought up by the state), when his father's boat was blown up by a mine in 1942. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and studied at the Jesuit high school François Xavier in Vannes, then at the lycée of Lorient.

Aged 16, he was turned down (because of his age) by Colonel Henri de La Vaissière (then representative of the Communist Youth) when he attempted, in November 1944, to join the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). He then entered the faculty of law in Paris, and started to sell the monarchist Action française's newspaper, "Aspects de la France", in the street. He was repeatedly convicted of assault (coups et blessures). He became president of the Association corporative des étudiants en droit, an association of law students whose main occupation was to engage in street brawls against the "Cocos" (communists). He was excluded from this organisation in 1951[why?].

After receiving his law diploma, he enlisted in the army in the Foreign Legion. He arrived in Indochina after the 1954 battle of Dien Bien Phu, which had been lost by France and which prompted prime minister Pierre Mendès France to put an end to the war at the Geneva Conference. Le Pen was then sent to Suez in 1956, but arrived only after the cease-fire.

Elected deputy of the French Parliament under the Poujadist banner, Le Pen voluntarily reengaged himself for two to three months in the French Foreign Legion. He was then sent to Algeria (1957) as an intelligence officer. He has been accused of having engaged in torture, but he denied it, although he admitted knowing of its use. After his time in the military, he studied political science and law at Paris II. His graduate thesis, submitted in 1971 by him and Jean-Loup Vincent, was titled Le courant anarchiste en France depuis 1945 or "The anarchist movement in France since 1945".

His marriage (29 June 1960 - 18 March 1987) to Pierrette Lalanne resulted in three daughters; these daughters have given him nine granddaughters. The break-up of the marriage was somewhat dramatic, with his ex-wife posing nude in the French edition of Playboy to ridicule him. Marie-Caroline, another of his daughters, would also break with Le Pen, following her husband to join Bruno Mégret, who split from the FN to found MNR, the rival Mouvement National Républicain (National Republican Movement). The youngest of Le Pen's daughters, Marine Le Pen, is leader of the Front National.

In 1977, Le Pen inherited a fortune from Hubert Lambert, son of the cement industrialist of the same name. Hubert Lambert was a political supporter of Le Pen, as well as being a monarchist. Lambert's will provided 30 million francs (approximatively 5 million euros) to Le Pen, as well as his castle in Montretout, Saint-Cloud (the same castle had been owned by Madame de Pompadour until 1748).

In the early 1980s, Le Pen's personal security was assured by KO International Company, a subsidiary of VHP Security, a private security firm, and an alleged front organisation for SAC, the Service d'Action Civique (Civic Action Service), a Gaullist organisation. SAC allegedly employed figures with organized crime backgrounds and from the far-right movement.

On 31 May 1991, Jean-Marie Le Pen married Jeanne-Marie Paschos ("Jany"), of Greek descent. Born in 1933, Paschos was previously married to Belgian businessman Jean Garnier.

Le Pen is (supposedly, even though no actual proof nor confirmation exist) the godfather of the third daughter of Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, a comedian, political activist, and anti-zionist of French-African descent who moved from fighting against the Front National to being very close to most of its senior members and defending their freedom of speech in French media. Jean-Marie Le Pen is also godfather of Alexandre Barbera-Ivanoff, who painted his portrait in 2006.

Le Pen wears an ocular prosthetic.

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Ségolène Royal

Marie-Ségolène Royal (born 22 September 1953), known as Ségolène Royal, is a French politician. She is the president of the Poitou-Charentes Regional Council, a former member of the National Assembly, a former government minister, and a prominent member of the French Socialist Party. The first woman in France to be nominated by a major party, she was the Socialist candidate in the 2007 French presidential election but lost to Nicolas Sarkozy on 6 May 2007.[2] In 2008, Royal narrowly lost to Martine Aubry in the Socialist Party's election for First Secretary at the Party's twenty-second national congress. On 30 November 2010, Royal announced her intentions to again seek the PS nomination for President in 2012 but she lost the Socialist Party presidential primary in 2011.

Early Life
Ségolène Royal was born in the military base of Ouakam, Dakar, French West Africa (now Senegal) on 22 September 1953, the daughter of Hélène Dehaye and Jacques Royal, a former artillery officer and aide to the mayor of Chamagne (Vosges).

Her parents had eight children in nine years: Marie-Odette, Marie-Nicole, Gérard, Marie-Ségolène, Antoine, Paul, Henri and Sigisbert.

After secondary school, Marie-Ségolène attended a local university where she graduated 2nd in her class with a degree in Economics. Her eldest sister then suggested she prepare the entrance exam to the elite Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris popularly called Sciences Po, which she attended on scholarship. There she discovered politics of class and feminism. ("Sciences Po" at the time was 85% upper-class Parisian, mostly male.) In summer 1971, she was an au pair in Dublin, Ireland. In 1972, at the age of 19, Royal sued her father because he refused to divorce her mother and pay alimony and child support to finance the children's education. She won the case after many years in court, shortly before Jacques Royal died of lung cancer in 1981. Six of the eight children had refused to see him again, Ségolène included.

Royal, like most of France's political elite, is a graduate of the École Nationale d'Administration (ENA). She was in the same class as her former partner of 30 years, François Hollande (whom she met at a party), as well as Dominique de Villepin (prime minister under Jacques Chirac). Each class year at the ENA receives a nickname to distinguish it: Royal tried to get her peers to name their class after Louise Michel, a revolutionary from the 1870s, but they chose the name "Voltaire" instead. During her time at the ENA, Royal also dropped "Marie" from her hyphenated first name because she thought it had been chosen by her father for his daughters out of a degrading and archaic view of the role of women.

Personal Life
From the late 1970s, Ségolène Royal was the private-life partner of François Hollande, former head of the French Socialist Party, whom she met at ENA. The couple had four children: law student Thomas (b. 1984), Clémence (b. 1985), Julien (b. 1987) and Flora (b. 1993). They were neither married (considering it too "bourgeois") nor bounded by a PACS (pacte civil de solidarité, which provides for a civil union between two adults, regardless of gender), contrary to the rumors. A news agency leaked news of their separation in June 2007, on the evening of the legislative election. According to the Guardian, she had asked Hollande "to move out of the house" and pursue his new love interest "which has been detailed in books and newspapers" – a reference to a much-discussed chapter by journalists explaining how Hollande was having a long-term affair with a journalist.

Royal's eldest son, Thomas Hollande, served as an adviser to her during her presidential candidacy, working on a website designed to appeal to young voters.

Her brother Antoine named their brother Gérard Royal as the agent who placed the bomb that sank the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior. But other sources claim that this statement is exaggerated and that Gérard was part of the logistics team.

Royal's cousin Anne-Christine Royal followed the paternal side of the family and has been a candidate of the far-right Front National party at a local election in Bordeaux.

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François Hollande

François Gérard Georges Hollande (born 12 August 1954) is a French politician who was the First Secretary of the French Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008. He has also been a Deputy of the National Assembly of France for Corrèze's 1st Constituency since 1997, and previously represented that seat from 1988 to 1993. He was the Mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008, and has been the President of the General Council of Corrèze since 2008.

On 16 October 2011, Hollande was nominated to be the Socialist and Left Radical Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. His main opponent is President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Early Life and Background
Hollande was born in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Upper Normandy to a middle-class family. His mother, Nicole Frédérique Marguerite Tribert, was a social worker (1927-2009), and his father, Georges Gustave Hollande, an ear, nose, and throat doctor, who "had once run for the extreme right in local politics". The surname "Hollande" is "believed to come from Calvinist ancestors who escaped the Netherlands in the 16th century and took the name of their old country."

He attended Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle boarding school, then HEC Paris, École nationale d'administration, and the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris. He graduated from ENA in 1980. He lived in the United States in the summer of 1974 while he was a university student. Immediately after graduating, he was employed to work as a councillor in the Court of Audit.

Political career
After volunteering to work for François Mitterrand's ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the 1974 presidential election when he was a student, Hollande joined the Socialist Party five years later. He was quickly spotted by Jacques Attali, a senior adviser to Mitterrand, who arranged for Hollande to stand for election to the French National Assembly in 1981 in Corrèze against future President Jacques Chirac, who was then the Leader of the Rally for the Republic, a Neo-Gaullist party. Hollande lost to Chirac in the first round, although he would go on to become a Special Adviser to the newly-elected President Mitterrand, before serving as a staffer for Max Gallo, the government's spokesman. After becoming a Municipal Councillor for Ussel in 1983, he contested Corrèze for a second time in 1988, this time being elected to the National Assembly. Hollande lost his bid for re-election to the National Assembly in the so-called "blue wave" of the 1993 election, described as such due to the amount of seats gained by the Right at the expense of the Socialist Party.

Personal Life
For over thirty years, his partner was fellow Socialist politician Ségolène Royal, with whom he has four children – Thomas (1984), Clémence (1985), Julien (1987) and Flora (1992). In June 2007, just a month after Royal's defeat in the French presidential election of 2007, the couple announced that they were separating.

A few months after his split from Ségolène Royal was announced, a French website published details of a relationship between Hollande and French journalist Valérie Trierweiler. This was controversial as some considered this to be a breach of France's strict stance on politicians' personal privacy. In November 2007, Valérie Trierweiler confirmed and openly discussed her relationship with Hollande in an interview with French weekly Télé 7 Jours.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Taur Matan Ruak

José Maria Vasconcelos, famously known as Taur Matan Ruak (Tetum for "Two Sharp Eyes") is an East Timorese politician who was elected as President of East Timor in April 2012. Before entering politics, he was the Commander of the FALINTIL-Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), the military of East Timor, from 2002 until October 6, 2011. Prior to serving in the F-FDTL, he was the last commander of the Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor or FALINTIL (Forças Armadas para a Liberação Nacional de Timor Leste), the insurgent army which resisted the Indonesian occupation of the island, from 1975 to 1999.

Leaving the military in 2011, he stood as an independent candidate in the 2012 presidential election and prevailed in the second round of the vote, held in April 2012.

On 7 December 1975, when Indonesia invaded East Timor, Taur Matan Ruak took to the hills with the recently formed FRETILIN Army, FALINTIL. As a combatant, he participated in battles against the Indonesian military in Dili, Aileu, Maubisse, Ossu, Venilale, Uatulari and finally in Laga on the northeastern coast, where he eventually stayed. Major-General Ruak’s first official FALINTIL appointment was at the end of 1976. From 1976 to 1979, he rose through the FALINTIL ranks in the two eastern military sectors, the Central East Sector and the Eastern Point, or the Ponta Leste Sector. Then he became a company commander.

Taur Matan Ruak and others regrouped the following day at the base of Monte Legumau (Monte Apara) and recommenced guerrilla operations after the collapse of the last Timorese resistance base at Matebian Mountain on 22 November 1978. He was ordered to carry out guerrilla activities in the east after the death of Commander Nicolau Lobato in December 1978. During a mission to locate survivors of the annihilation campaign, Taur Matan Ruak was captured in the Viqueque area by Indonesian army forces on 31 March 1979. After 23 days he managed to escape and rejoin other FALINTIL forces in the mountains.

In March 1981 he was appointed Assistant Chief-of-Staff of FALINTIL, responsible for the operational command of the Eastern Sectors and later the Central Sector. Taur Matan Ruak was promoted and made responsible for strategic planning of commando operations in the Eastern sector in March 1983. Between 1984 and 1986 Brigadier Ruak was transferred and served as military adviser for commando operations in the Western Sector. After nearly 10 years of operational experience he was promoted to Deputy Chief-of-Staff. After 1986, he was responsible for all commando operations throughout Timor Leste.

In November 1992, Commander-in-Chief Xanana Gusmão was captured in Dili. Taur Matan Ruak was promoted to Chief-of-Staff. Mr. Ruak became the Commander of FALINTIL after the death of Commander Konis Santana on 11 March 1998. Xanana Gusmão resigned from FALINTIL and Taur Matan Ruak was appointed the Commander-in-Chief of FALINTIL. With the Restoration of Independence on 20 May 2002 he became the Chefe Estado Maior General Forças Armadas (CEMGFA or Chief of the Armed Forces) and was promoted to Major General in 2009.

General Ruak is married to Isabel da Costa Ferreira.

Events since restoration of independence
Taur Matan Ruak played a role on the 2006 East Timorese crisis. On 2 October 2006, the United Nations Independent Special Commission of Inquiry made a number of recommendations including that several individuals be prosecuted. Notably, it found that Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, and Defence Minister Roque Rodrigues and Defence Force Chief Taur Matan Ruak acted illegally in transferring weapons to civilians during the crisis.

Ruak resigned from his position as commander of the F-FDTL on 1 September 2011. At the time there was speculation that he was considering running for president. Ruak stated that he would make a decision on standing for election during 2012.

He was formally decommissioned by President José Ramos-Horta on 6 October 2011.

Friday, April 13, 2012

László Kövér

László Kövér (Kövér László, born on 29 December 1959) is a Hungarian politician who has been the acting President of Hungary since the resignation of Pál Schmitt on 2 April 2012.

He is a founding member of Fidesz from 1988, and he served as Minister without portfolio for the Civilian Intelligence Services during the first Viktor Orbán administration. In 2000 he was appointed leader of the party, but he resigned from his position in the next year.

László Kövér was born in the town of Pápa and is a founding member of the Fidesz party. He was an active participant in the Opposition Round Table discussions – a notable stage in the Hungarian transition – as well as of the tripartite political negotiations in 1989. A Member of Parliament since 1990, he is now the chairman of the Board of Fidesz - Hungarian Civic Union. He used to lead his political group in the National Assembly, and had chaired the Committee on National Security for two terms. He was minister without portfolio in charge of the Civil National Security Services during the first Orbán Cabinet. Shortly thereafter, he was elected to be the President of Fidesz, a position he held until May 5, 2001.

In the 1996 to 2009 period, he was a member of the Board of the Hungarian Association for Civic Cooperation. A member of the Board of the Hungarian Association of International Children’s Safety Service since1990, he has been its president since 1994.

He was elected Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary on 22 July 2010. Kövér took the position on 5 August, after his predecessor, Pál Schmitt, replaced László Sólyom as President of Hungary.

Following the resignation of Schmitt as President on 2 April 2012, Kövér became Acting President of the Republic according to the Constitution of Hungary. The National Assembly has 30 days to elect a new President. One of the five deputy speakers of the parliament, Sándor Lezsák was commissioned to exercise the Speaker's rights and responsibilities.

Personal life
His paternal grandfather was a carpenter, and also member of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party (MSZDP), later Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (MSZMP). The maternal ancestors belonged to the middle class. His maternal grandfather was a taxi driver. His parents were László Kövér, Sr. (1933–1993), a locksmith and Erzsébet Ábrahám (born 1939). His brother, Szilárd, is a jurist. László Kövér married in 1987, his wife is Mária Bekk, a secondary school teacher of history and ethnography. They have three children: Vajk (1988), Botond (1989) and Csenge (1994).

After the 2006 parliamentary election, when Fidesz lost the elections for the second time, Kövér swore that he would not cut his hair until the party was once again able to form a government. After four years, when his party won a two-thirds majority of seats by gaining 52% of the votes, Kövér appeared with short hair in the inaugural session of the sixth parliamentary term on 14 May 2010.

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