Weekly Global Newscast |18 November – 24 November, 2019
Modi’s Party Makes Surprise Comeback in India’s Richest State
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party made an unexpected comeback to power on 23 November 2019 in wealthy Maharashtra state, home to the country’s financial capital, after prolonged backroom negotiations saw presidential rule lifted after days of uncertainty. President Ram Nath Kovind imposed direct rule on India’s richest state last week after fiercely fought elections last month led to weeks of haggling between parties over forming government.
“The state was previously ruled by Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its right-wing regional ally Shiv Sena. But they failed to agree another power-sharing deal despite results showing the coalition had won a comfortable majority for a second consecutive term” said The Strait Times.
“The coalition still needs to prove its majority in the state legislature in a week’s time in order to stay in power. India has been battling an economic slowdown, and the imposition of presidential rule was a setback for Modi and for Mumbai, which is home to business tycoons, the stock market and the glitzy Bollywood film industry. Under India’s constitution, New Delhi can take direct control of a state in the absence of a local government and after obtaining consent from the president” said Gulf News.
Exit Polls Show Romania’s Iohannis Winning Second Presidential Term
Romania’s pro-Western President Klaus Iohannis appears to have won in a runoff as expected, with exit polls showing him easily beating Viorica Dancila, a leftist candidate who was prime minister. An exit poll conducted by the IRES pollster showed Iohannis garnered 66.5% followed by Dancila with 33.5%t. Another pollster, CURS-Avangarde showed Iohannis winning with 64%.
“According to the Central Election Commission, turnout on 24 November 2019 was around 50 percent of Romania’s 18.2 million eligible voters. A second term for Iohannis could help restore Romania’s pro-European trajectory after years of leftist rule marked by rampant corruption and what many Romanians saw as an assault on the judiciary” said Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
“Iohannis will have a chance to install anti-graft and anti-mafia prosecutors who are serious about tackling endemic corruption with the backing of Prime Minister Ludovic Orban, who became head of a liberal minority government by winning a parliamentary vote of confidence” said Al-Jazeera.
Middle East & North Africa
U.S. Commander Warns of Iranian Attack in Middle East
A top general said that America’s addition of 14,000 troops in the Persian Gulf since the spring would probably not deter Iran from carrying out a major strike. The officer, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the head of the military’s Central Command, said the additional troops, fighter jets and air defenses that the Pentagon has dispatched might have deterred Iran from attacking American targets — like Iran’s downing of an unmanned surveillance drone in June. But he said strikes against Gulf nations were another matter.
“General McKenzie did not offer specific evidence that Iran was plotting an imminent attack against targets like oil facilities or desalinization plants — citing only the ability of American military and spy agencies to detect patterns of worrisome but unspecified Iranian activities” said The New York Times.
“While Iran’s primary goal is to preserve its clerical regime, Tehran has long had hegemonic ambitions. Over the last 10 years, Iran has invested heavily in ballistic missiles and other capabilities in order to threaten its neighbors. According to a new report on Iran’s military power from the Defense Intelligence Agency—the first of its kind—Tehran significantly increased its defense spending from its recent low in 2014 to $27.3 billion, or 6 percent of GDP, in 2018” said Foreign Policy.
Sub Saharan Africa
Polls Open in Guinea-Bissau Presidential Election
Voters in Guinea-Bissau began casting their ballots in a presidential election that many hope will bring stability after years of political turmoil. President Jose Mario Vaz, 61, is seeking re-election for a second term, and he remains popular among cashew nut farmers in the interior after raising prices for the nuts — the tiny West African country’s biggest export earner. But he faces stiff opposition following a first five-year term marred by political infighting, regular high-level sackings and corruption that came to a head in the run-up to election.
“While no reliable opinion polls have been published, political analysts say the front-runner is former Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, 56, a moderniser with a relaxed style whose promise to bolster health and education have made him popular with younger voters in the capital” said Africa News.
“Guinea-Bissau has suffered nine coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974. The next president will inherit major challenges including widespread poverty and an unstable political system in which the majority party appoints the government but the president has the power to dismiss it. Corruption is also a serious problem – Transparency International ranked Guinea-Bissau 172 out of 180 countries in its 2018 corruption index – which has been worsened by the criminal activities of international drug networks” said Al-Jazeera.
”France’s Shame”: Thousands Protest Against Gender Violence
Several thousand people marched in France on Saturday to protest against alarming levels of deadly domestic violence against women, which the president Emmanuel Macron has called “France’s shame”. The biggest rallies were in Paris and the streets of the capital became a sea of purple and white as thousands marched carrying banners, placards and flags calling for an end to femicide.
“A total of 116 women have been murdered in France so far in the year 2019 by their husband, partner or ex-partner, according to an Agence-France Presse investigation. The group ‘Femicides by companions or ex’ meanwhile puts the toll at 137. On average, a woman is killed in France every three days by a partner or former partner, while marital violence affects 220,000 French women every year” said The Guardian.
“The #NousToutes association, which organized the protests, estimated the turnout much higher at 100,000 in Paris and 150,000 across France. The demonstrations took place two days before the government is due to publish the results of an investigation into domestic violence” said Reuters.
Australia Attack on Pregnant Woman Highlights Rising Anti-Muslim Hate
Victim Rana Haidar was attacked without provocation by a man in a Sydney cafe. The attacker was then apprehended by others nearby and arrested by police. A series of viral surveillance videos capture the moment a man shouting anti-Islam slurs launched a vicious and unprovoked attack on a Muslim woman at a cafe in the Australian city of Sydney.
“The videos show the man approaching a group of women wearing the Islamic head covering, known as hijab, then appear to berate the group before throwing punches at one of the women sitting at a table” said TRT World.
“The attack came days after a Charles Sturt University report into Islamophobia in Australia prompted fears abuse was spilling into the open” said SBS News.
Secretary of the Navy ordered to Resign after Proposing Back-Room Deal with Trump
Defense Secretary Mark Esper asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday after losing confidence in him over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, the Pentagon said. Spencer’s resignation came in the wake of the controversial case of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was accused of war crimes on a 2017 deployment. He was acquitted of murder but convicted in July 2019 of posing with the corpse of a captive.
“Esper asked for Spencer’s resignation after learning that he had privately proposed to White House officials that if they did not interfere with proceedings against Gallagher, then Spencer would ensure that Gallagher was able to retire as a Navy SEAL, with his Trident insignia. Spencer’s private proposal to the White House – which he did not share with Esper over the course of several conversations about the matter – contradicted his public position on the Gallagher case, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement” The Independent.
“Chief Petty Officer Gallagher was convicted in a court martial earlier in 2019 of having posed with the corpse of a teenage Isis member during a 2017 deployment, but was cleared of murder” said The Guardian.