Weekly Global Newscast | May 13 - May 19, 2019
India Votes: Campaigning Ends Before Final Phase of Votes
Voting in one of India’s most acrimonious elections in decades entered its final day on Sunday. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is on course to win the general election, exit polls suggests. The BJP and the main opposition Congress party battled it out with powerful regional rivals in a bruising campaign over seven phases of polling. Results will be announced on 23rd May.
‘Indian politicians are in the last stages of their campaigning. But some Indians wonder if democracy’s reputation has already been damaged. This campaign is being described as the most divisive and polarised India has ever seen.’ Sohail Rehman reports for Al Jazeera.
‘The conservative BJP has campaigned aggressively on Modi’s strongman image and played up recent cross-border air strikes against Pakistan. But the opposition, led by the Congress party and its leader Rahul Gandhi, have accused him of pursuing divisive policies and neglecting the economy. Modi and Gandhi have hurled insults at each other on a near daily basis with the prime minister calling his rival a ‘fool’ while Gandhi derides Modi as a ‘thief.’ The animosity has taken a toll on voters. “All the abuse and misconduct claims suggest that standards in Indian politics have slipped badly,” Asit Banerjee, a history teacher in Kolkata, said as he queued to vote.’ The Associated Press reported for The Express Tribune.
US Air Attack Kills Eight Police Officers in Afghanistan
A US air strike killed at least eight police officers in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, a government official said on Friday, the latest casualties from a rise in air and ground operations against the Afghan Taliban. An American military spokesperson called the deaths a “tragic accident” that occurred after Afghan security forces requested U.S. air support for an operation against the Taliban.
‘At least eight Afghan police were killed in an airstrike during a clash with the Taliban, an official said Friday, in the latest incident of potential friendly fire in the conflict. Police were fighting the Taliban in Helmand province late Thursday when the Afghan forces called for air support. “I can confirm an airstrike on the Afghan police, and unfortunately, eight police were killed and 12 others were wounded,” Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial government spokesman told AFP. The death toll was confirmed by interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi on Facebook. He said 11 more police had been wounded in the strike.’ Pervez Jabri reports for Business Recorder.
Middle East & North Africa
US President Says War Would be ‘End’ of Iran as Tensions Rise
Just days after saying he was prepared for talks, United States President Donald Trump has issued a direct threat to Iran, suggesting that the Islamic Republic will be destroyed if it attacks his country’s interests.
‘President Donald Trump issued an ominous warning to Iran on Sunday, suggesting that if the Islamic republic attacks American interests, it will be destroyed. “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again,” Trump said in a tweet. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been on the rise as the United States has deployed a carrier group and B-52 bombers to the Gulf over what it termed Iranian “threats”. This account has been met with widespread skepticism outside the United States.’ The Reuters reported for The News International.
Sub Saharan Africa
Sudan – Military and Protest Leaders Resume Negotiations
The military and leaders of the protest in Sudan resumed Sunday dialogue on the composition of a future transitional sovereign council, after a warning from Islamists on the need to keep Islamic law as the source of legislation. The leaders of the protest want at all costs a civilian to lead this future key institution, after an urgent call from the international community for the negotiations to lead to a transition “truly civilian-led”.
‘Sudan’s military rulers and protest leaders have resumed talks to finalize a new governing body that would replace the generals who took power after ousting longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir on the back of a popular uprising. “The talks between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Alliance for Freedom and Change have started,” a statement by the military council said, in reference to the protest movement. The two sides have been divided over the composition of the transitional authority. Both want a majority of seats on the 11-member sovereign council, which would operate as the top tier of power during the planned transition period.’ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah reports for Al Jazeera.
EU Fines Five Major Banks Over $1bn For Currency Collusion
The EU’s powerful anti-trust authority on Thursday fined five major bank, including Barclays and Citigroup, more than a billion euros for collusion in the massive foreign exchange currency market.
‘Five of the largest banks operating in Europe on Thursday were hit with a 1.07 billion euro ($1.2bn) fine for operating a foreign exchange trading cartel. Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Citigroup and JPMorgan were fined 811.2 million euros ($909m) in one settlement, while a second saw a further 257.7 million euro ($289m) fine levied on Barclays, RBS and MUFG Bank (formerly the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi) by European antitrust authorities. The banks colluded on trading strategies to rig the spot foreign exchange market for 11 currencies, said the European Commission. “Companies and people depend on banks to exchange money to carry out transactions in foreign countries,” said EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy.’ Simon Dawson reports for Al Jazeera.
Australia Elections: Polls Predict Change of Government
Voting was held in Australia on Saturday and the polls suggest that the current Prime Minister Scott Morrison can lose his power.
‘Australians are voting in elections on Saturday and expectations are Prime Minister Scott Morrison could lose power. He’s only been in the job for nine months, and the man tipped to replace him has promised a period of stability and policy reform.’ Andrew Thomas reports for Al Jazeera.
Philippines Recalls Its Ambassador to Canada in a Spat Over Trash
Philippine legislators on Friday threw their support behind the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) decision to recall the Filipino ambassador to Canada over a garbage row. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a text message to reporters, said “it was the right thing to do under the circumstances,” adding that “national dignity is part and parcel of diplomacy.”
‘Relations between the Philippines and Canada have reached their worst point in decades over Ottawa’s inability to retrieve tons of garbage that was sent to the Asian country years ago. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave Ottawa a May 15 deadline to retrieve the garbage. After Ottawa failed to act before the deadline, on May 16 Manila recalled its ambassador, Petronila Garcia, and embassy staff from Canada. They were ordered to leave Canada immediately, and are expected to be on their way back to the Philippines by Friday (May 17). President Duterte has expressed his frustration with Canada is less than diplomatic language. Previously, Duterte even threatened to “declare war” over the issue. “I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail to Canada and pour their garbage there…Prepare a grand reception…Celebrate because your garbage is coming home. Eat it if you want to.” The Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary, Teddy Locsin Jr., made a tweet commenting on the decision stating that the Philippines will “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage ship” is headed to pick up the containers full of Canadian waste.’ Duncan DeAeth reports for Taiwan News.