Weekly Briefing

Libya: UN banned

There are about 9,000 refugees in Libya and 3,700 asylum-seekers. But the country has no formal system for dealing with these migrants, most of whom come from Palestine and Iraq (among others from Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere in Africa). The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has monitored the situation since 1991 - but as of 8 June, the agency is banned from the country.

The Libyan foreign ministry has said that it considers the agency's presence in the country illegal, as it is not bound by a UN convention. The expulsion may be linked to the disparity between Libya's view - that the majority of refugees are economic migrants - and that of the UNHCR.

Pakistan: comebacks

Pervez Musharraf: Pakistan's president for nine years, in exile for the past two and a man with his eye on a return to power. On 8 June, his new party, the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), was launched by his supporters with a stated aim of resolving "the crises facing Pakistan". "Pervez Musharraf is still one of the most popular men in Pakistan," argued Rashid Qureshi, Musharraf's former chief aide.

But if the ex-president returns, he will face criminal charges, including culpability for the death of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. But his followers insist that he was not responsible and the APML claim support from as yet unnamed "unions, student organisations and political figures".

Such claims will not be tested for some time. Musharraf says he will return when the date of the next election is announced, but Pakistanis are not expected to go to the polls until 2013.

Zimbabwe: free media

"Everyday news for everyday people" - the strapline for Zimbabwe's NewsDay - is less a description than a mission statement. On 4 June, NewsDay became the country's first independent paper since 2003 - competing with the state-owned Herald. NewsDay's publisher, Trevor Ncube, has vowed to resist "hate, divisiveness, abhorrent propaganda and personality cults". The first edition steered clear of the most controversial issues, covering the conviction of five Zanu-PF thugs, and the central bank's plan to retrench 3,000 staff. But employees were still arrested while distributing the paper, for causing a traffic jam.

NewsDay will soon have a competitor: the Daily News. But not yet. Its management is reportedly still sifting through the 1,800 job applications it has received for the 80 jobs available.

Netherlands: far right

As the Netherlands went to the polls on 9 June, Geert Wilders - the charming leader of the far-right Freedom Party, which proposes fighting the country's "Islamisation" with such inspired measures as a tax on headscarves - has been out and about again. As voting began, his party expected
a major increase to its vote share.

Wilders's campaign was quite a muted one. His anti-immigration stance has been overshadowed by economic worries and he has been criticised by his party members for a lack of democratic decision-making. But he found time to blame immigrants for Dutch financial woes, claiming they
cost the Netherlands $8bn.

US: blunders

"It did seem a good idea at the time," said Alan Thompson, Australia's parliamentary services secretary, of the commemorative mugs celebrating Barack Obama's visit to Canberra. The souvenirs were to be sold in the Parliament House gift shop. Sadly, not only had the US president's name been misspelled - with an extra R - but the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had led the president to cancel his visit.

Still, the White House should understand. On 5 June, Hillary (with two Ls) Clinton sent the Queen a birthday greeting from the president - seven days early. "Better a week early than a week late," offered the US state department's spokesman.