Khamis, 28 April 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World


William to wear army uniform for royal wedding

Posted: 28 Apr 2011 06:38 PM PDT

Prince William attends a national memorial service for victims of last month's earthquake, in Christchurch in this March 18, 2011 file photo. — Reuters pic

LONDON, April 29 — Prince William will wear the red uniform of Colonel of the Irish Guards when he marries girlfriend Kate Middleton today, royal officials said.

William, who is commissioned in all three of Britain's armed services, was expected to wear a military uniform as is traditional at royal weddings and was appointed as Colonel of the Irish Guards in February.

His father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles chose Royal Navy attire for his wedding to Princess Diana. The Irish Guards are an Army infantry regiment.

William's office said the prince, who is currently a helicopter pilot with the Royal Air Force's search and rescue team, would wear an "Irish Guards Mounted Officer's uniform in Guard of Honour Order with a Forage Cap."

The red tunic features the Irish Guards' arrangement of buttons in groups of four and William will wear a gold and crimson sash and gold sword slings, although he will not carry a sword.

Details of Middleton's wedding dress will remain a closely guarded secret until she makes her appearance at London's Westminster Abbey for the service shortly before 1000 GMT (11 a.m. British time).

William's younger brother and best man will wear an officer's uniform of the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, while Prince Charles, who has held the rank of admiral since 2006, will wear a naval uniform.

Royal officials have also given details about Middleton's wedding ring.

Family jewellers Wartski, who made the wedding rings of Charles and his second wife Camilla, have fashioned the ring from Welsh gold given to William by Queen Elizabeth shortly after his engagement was announced.

Harry, as best man, will have the responsibility of carrying the ring to Westminster Abbey for the wedding service. — Reuters 

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Syria’s Assad facing dissent over Deraa crackdown

Posted: 28 Apr 2011 05:48 PM PDT

Syrian military vehicles are parked in the Syrian border village of Dabousiyeh, as seen from Aboudiyeh, northern Lebanon, near the Lebanon-Syria border, April 28, 2011. — Reuters pic

AMMAN, April 29 — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad faced rare dissent within his Baath Party and signs of discontent in the army over violent repression of protesters that a rights group said yesterday had killed 500 people.

Two hundred members of the ruling party from southern Syria resigned on Wednesday after the government sent in tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa, where a six-week-old uprising against Assad's authoritarian rule erupted.

Diplomats said signs were also emerging of differences within the army where the majority of troops are Sunni Muslims, but most officers belong to Assad's minority Alawite sect.

The Baath Party says it has more than a million members in Syria, making Wednesday's resignations more a symbolic than a real challenge to Assad's 11-year rule.

But along with the resignations last week of two Deraa parliamentarians, they would have been unthinkable before nationwide pro-democracy demonstrations flared last month.

Syria's banned Muslim Brotherhood called on Syrians to take to the streets to demand freedom ahead of the main Friday prayers, while the Interior Ministry said citizens must not demonstrate without a license in order to protect "the security stability of the homeland."

In a declaration sent to Reuters, the Brotherhood said: "Do not let the regime besiege your compatriots. Chant with one voice for freedom and dignity. Do not allow the tyrant to enslave you. God is great."

It was the first time that the Brotherhood, whose leadership is in exile, had called directly for demonstrations in Syria since pro-democracy demonstrations against Assad's autocratic rule erupted six weeks ago.

Criticism of Assad has intensified since 100 people were killed in protests last week and tanks rolled into Deraa. The United States says it is considering tightening sanctions and European governments will discuss Syria on Friday.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd called on Thursday for international sanctions on Syria over the crackdown and said the United Nations should send a special envoy to investigate the killings.

But a European push for the UN Security Council to condemn the crackdown was blocked by Russia, China and Lebanon. China said yesterday that Damascus should resolve its problems through talks, while Russia said Syrian authorities should bring to justice those responsible for the killings.

One diplomat said soldiers had confronted secret police at least once this month to stop them shooting at protesters.

"No one is saying that Assad is about to lose control of the army, but once you start using the army to slaughter your own people, it is a sign of weakness," he said.

"The largest funerals in Syria so far have been for soldiers who have refused to obey orders to shoot protesters and were summarily executed on the spot," another diplomat said.

The upheaval could have major regional repercussions since Syria straddles the fault lines of the Middle East conflict.

Assad has bolstered an anti-Israel alliance with Shi'ite Iran and both countries back the Hezbollah and Hamas militant groups, although Syria still seeks peace with the Jewish state.

CLASH NEAR LEBANON BORDER

Syria has blamed armed Islamist groups for the killings and accused politicians in neighboring Lebanon of fomenting violence, allegations they have denied.

Around 1,500 Syrian women and children crossed into northern Lebanon yesterday, witnesses said, fleeing gunfire in the Syrian border town of Tel Kelakh. It was not clear how many people were hurt in the clash but Lebanese security sources said the army had stepped up patrols in the area.

Assad sent the ultra-loyal Fourth Mechanized Division, commanded by his brother Maher, into Deraa on Monday.

Reports from opposition figures and Deraa residents, which could not be confirmed, said that several soldiers from another unit had refused to fire on civilians.

The official state news agency denied the reports.

Gunfire was heard in Deraa on Wednesday night. Water, electricity and communications remained cut and essential supplies were running low, residents said.

Rights campaigners reported shooting and arrests yesterday in Zabadani, about 35km southwest of Damascus.

The Syrian rights group Sawasiah said the death toll in six weeks of protests had risen to at least 500.

"We call on civilized governments to take action to stop the bloodbath in Syria and to rein in the Syrian regime and halt its murders, torture, sieges and arrests. We have the names of at least 500 confirmed killed," Sawasiah said in a statement. "The shelling of Deraa is a crime against humanity."

Turkey's intelligence chief met Assad on Thursday as part of a delegation sent to Damascus to suggest reforms to help end the uprising. Assad lifted Syria's 48-year state of emergency a week ago, but opposition figures said the death of 100 people in protests the next day made a mockery of his move.

Syria has been dominated by the Assad family since Bashar's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, took power in a 1970 coup. The younger Assad kept intact the autocratic political system he inherited in 2000 while the family expanded its control over the country's struggling economy.

Assad's decision to storm Deraa echoed his father's 1982 attack on the city of Hama to crush a revolt led by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 people. — Reuters

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