World Leaders

Published: 1966
Play Audio Archive Story - UPI

Not all the world’s leaders had such happy occasions to spell them from the pressures of world affairs. In England, Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Labor Government won a smashing victory for another term in power, but the mandate did not prevent strong opposition to new economic policies. In an effort to stabilize the economy, Wilson ordered a wage price freeze. By year’s end, Britain’s economy had not advanced, and Wilson was forced to extend the wage price freeze for another six months. A 45-day shipping strike added to his troubles.

England also had a Commonwealth crisis with the breakaway colony of Rhodesia. The Ian Smith regime celebrated its first anniversary since declaring unilateral independence, and the British made no progress toward bringing the white supremacist to heel. When a last-ditch attempt to settle the matter failed, Foreign Secretary George Brown went to the United Nations and requested.

George Brown: " ...sanctions which will cause the greatest economic damage to the Indigo regime."

Announcer: The other white-only government in Africa made news in 1966. Prime Minister Henrik Verwoerd swept back into office in South Africa with a strong mandate to continue his race-separatist policies. A white man working in the Legislature assassinated the architect of apartheid as he sat in the Parliament. Acting Prime Minister Donjay announced the tragedy to the world.

Acting Prime Minister Donjay: "It is my sad duty to express on behalf of all the tremendous sense of loss, which overwhelms us all on this tragic day, as... has fallen."

Announcer: The death of another head of state occurred at the beginning of the year. India’s Prime Minister Shastri died of a heart attack soon after signing a treaty in Tashkent, Russia with President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan. The Tashkent Treaty ended war between the two nations on the Indian subcontinent.

The world’s only woman head of state, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, was sworn in as Prime Minister. While holding India to a neutral position on a Vietnam War, Mrs. Gandhi tried in vain to get peace talks going.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi: "We in India are greatly interested and concerned about peace, for to us it is not only a question of an ideal, but one of very practical necessity."

Announcer: In Spain, Generalissimo Franco presented a new constitution for approval. The new document would provide for continuance of the monarchy and allow Franco to choose the new king.

The reins of government changed hands in Germany with the formation of a Grand Coalition between the Christian and Social Democrats. Kurt Georg Kiesinger took over for Ludwig Erhard as Chancellor. Kiesinger had been a member of Hitler’s Nazi Party, and while German officials discounted any neo-Nazi activity in the country, world leaders watched with concern as the National Democratic Party made substantial gains in two local elections.

Spheres of influence changed in 1966, and the biggest setbacks were suffered by Communism. President Sukarno of Indonesia handed over control of his government to Lieutenant General Suharto after the military putdown and attempted Communist-inspired coup d'état. The Communist Party was outlawed by the new military leader, and Indonesia witnessed mass killings in a blood-red purge of Leftist elements.

Ghana's army threw out President Nkrumah and his government, saying the myth surrounding Nkrumah had been broken. The new Ghanaian government proceeded to expel all Russian advisors who had been working in the country and also asked Chinese Communists to leave. A similar pattern occurred in Nigeria, where the army assumed control of the country and all communists were asked to return home.

There were a few old areas of conflict, which could have exploded into new war zones. Border clashes between Israel and her Arab neighbors kept tensions high in the Middle East. Israel was censured by the United Nations for a raid made into Jordon.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Comay expressed regret over the UN action.

Ambassador Michael Comay: "It is a matter of profound regret that the Security Council has acted upon complaints concerning Israeli reactions, but has not been able for 15 years to adopt any resolution on Israel’s complex."