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WORLD ROUNDUP – By Dinouk Colombage

May 21, 2011 3:29:48 PM - thesundayleader.lk

IMF Head Resigns In Light Of Sexual Misconduct
International Monetary Fund president, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has been granted bail by Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus following a second bail hearing. His appeal was approved on the condition that he would remain under armed guard during a 24 hour home detention.
Strauss-Kahn’s original bail application was denied on Monday by Judge Melissa Jackson on the grounds that he was a flight risk. On Thursday, a second bail hearing was arranged for Strauss-Kahn. His defence lawyers argued that the prosecutor’s bail position had not been consistent with the law. Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus, who presided over the second bail hearing, imposed a USD 1 million cash bail along with 24 hour home detention, an armed guard who would be personally financed by Strauss-Kahn and electronic monitoring.
The initial refusal to allow the IMF head to post bail resulted in a growing concern over Strauss-Kahn’s position. Amidst calls for the appointment of an interim president, he resigned from his post as Managing Director on Wednesday. Despite having handed in his resignation Strauss-Kahn continues to maintain his innocence.
As Dominique Strauss-Kahn awaits his court date, the IMF has begun its search for a new Managing Director. It is believed that the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as the leading contender for the post. She emerged as the leading contender following the developing nations’ inability to agree on a suitable candidate. Thailand, Russia and South Africa have all called for the next head of the IMF to be from a developing market. However they failed to agree on a common candidate, unlike the members of the European Union who have all thrown their support behind Lagarde.
The former head of the IMF was appointed Managing Director back in September 2007 and served until his resignation this week. Having previously been a French-economist and lawyer, Strauss-Kahn was tipped as a potential rival for Nicholas Sarkozy in the 2012 election. With the tag of favourite growing around the IMF head, many supporters warned that Sarkozy’s supporters would attempt to tarnish his image.
Strauss-Kahn is not stranger to allegations of sexual misconduct. On two previous occasions in the last nine years, individuals have come forth accusing him of sexually assaulting them or using his position of power to coerce them into an affair.
In 2007 it was reported Strauss-Kahn had attempted to rape a French author several years prior. Tristane Banon claimed that in 2002 when she was interviewing him, he tried to rape her. Despite her lawyers suggesting that she file a lawsuit, Banon’s mother persuaded her against pressing charges as he was a close family friend and an important figure in their political party. Banon’s mother was a Socialist Party official at the time. Nine years since the incident it is reported that following his arrest Banon’s lawyers are expected to formally file a lawsuit against the IMF head.
This was not the only time prior to 2011 that Strauss-Kahn had faced accusations of sexual misconduct. In 2007 when he was first appointed Executive Director IMF, it was reported that Kahn was having an affair with a subordinate, Piroska Nagy, who was also a married woman. An IMF investigation cleared him of any wrongdoing stating that it was ‘a serious error of judgement’. Shortly after the story was made public Nagy was made redundant but was assisted by Strauss-Kahn in finding a new job.
In 2011 Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s sexual misdeeds finally caught up with him as he was arrested by New York police whilst aboard an Air France flight back to France. It was reported that Strauss-Kahn had sexually assaulted a maid working at the Sofitel hotel in Manhattan. It is believed that on Saturday, May 14, a housekeeping maid entered Strauss-Kahn’s room. It was at this point that he emerged from the bathroom naked, grabbed her and threw her on to the bed. He then proceeded to attempt to rape her. However; she was able to break free and fled from the room. Witnesses report that the former head of the IMF was seen leaving the hotel in a hurry as he went straight to the airport.
Reports of a possible alibi have emerged, with his lawyers suggesting that Strauss-Kahn was seen having lunch with his daughter at the time of the incident. However French media have been divided over this alibi as the time that the incident took place has been disputed. Originally believed to have occurred at 1 pm, Strauss-Kahn is believed to have had lunch with his daughter at 12.34 pm. The prosecutors have now suggested that in fact the attack took place at 12 pm. Further details have not been released.
On Wednesday, he was formally charged following a grand jury hearing. The charges include four felony counts, two of criminal sexual acts, one of attempted rape and one of sexual abuse. Strauss-Kahn is expected back in court on June 6, where he will formally enter a plea.
Yemen’s President Ready To Sign Power Transfer Deal
After two failed attempts Yemen’s President, Saleh, is expected to sign a power transfer deal on Sunday. If signed, this deal will be bring an end to his decade-long rule. However opposition members remain cautious over this promise as they have witnessed the President withdraw on two previous occasions from signing the deal.
Yemen has continued to reel from months of mass street protests that have seen both citizens and top army commanders calling on the President to step down. The United States, which sees Yemen as a key ally in their fight against Al-Qaeda, has also distanced  itself from the unpopular President. Barack Obama has greeted the power transfer deal with his support saying that the time has come for a new leader to take over.
Ahmed al-Sufi, Saleh’s spokesman, told the media that the President would sign the deal during celebrations for Yemen’s National Day at the Presidential palace in Sanaa.
This announcement comes following the breakdown of talks on Wednesday when Saleh refused to sign the Gulf Co-operation Council’s mediated deal. This deal will see Saleh hand over power in return for immunity from prosecution. A spokesperson for Saleh explained that the President had changed his mind following strong diplomatic pressure from both the Gulf and other countries.
Israeli PM Rejects Obama’s Call To Return To 1967 Borders
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed Barack Obama’s suggestion of re-installing the 1967 borders would leave Israel ‘indefensible’.
These comments come in response to a major speech made by the US President to the State Department. In his speech, Obama said that in order for Palestine and Israel to achieve long lasting peace both nations should revert back to the 1967 lines. This would mean that secure and recognised borders will be established for both states.
Netanyahu’s office in a statement expressed their appreciation that the US was looking to achieve peace in the Middle East. The spokesperson however further added that the ‘viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of the viability of the one and only Jewish state.’
The statement further added that if Israel were to withdraw to the 1967 lines it would leave a large portion of its Jewish population in Jadea and Samaria, which would be beyond the lines.
Netanyahu is preparing to meet Barack Obama next month in the White House. It is expected that he will be warmly greeted by the Obama administration. Netanyahu has, however, been coming under increasing international pressure to ease his objections to a Palestinian state. These have come in the wake of the unity deal signed between rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah.