Category Archives: World

Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections

Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections – Times of India

Reuters | Jun 24, 2018, 10:55 IST

Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending his election rally in Istanbul on Saturday. (Reuters photo)Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending his election rally in Istanbul on Saturday. (Reuters photo)
ISTANBUL: Turks began voting on Sunday in presidential and parliamentary elections that pose the biggest challenge to Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.

The elections will also usher in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

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At midnight, Riyadh erupts in cheers for a woman in a car

RIYADH: Every few metres someone — a newlywed couple, a group of young girls with balloons — stops Samar Almogren to cheer her on or flash her a thumbs-up.

It’s midnight in Riyadh, and she’s making her way across the city she was born and raised in, finally in the driver’s seat of her own car.

Saudi Arabia’s notorious ban on women driving ended today. After drinking tea and counting down the minutes, at midnight, Samar — a TV anchor and mother-of-three — went upstairs to kiss her four-year-old son Salloum goodnight.

She then put on a flowing white abaya, strode out of her front door, accompanied by her best friend, and walked towards a white GMC parked outside her house in the Narjiss neighbourhood in northern Riyadh.

Saudi-womanDriving2-AFP

Across the street, her neighbour had just arrived home with two bags of groceries. He paused, placed his shopping on the hood of his car, and watched her closely.

In her cateye glasses, wedge sandals and nose ring, she did not skip a beat. She smiled, climbed in, started the ignition and pulled out of her parking spot.

“I have goosebumps,” she says as she turns onto the King Fahd highway, the main road in the Saudi capital.

She drives in silence for a few minutes, glancing up at the moon, then adds: “I never in my life imagined I would be driving here. On this road. Driving.”

The question of whether Saudi Arabian society is “ready” for women to drive has been hotly debated in the kingdom.

In 2013, Sheikh Saleh al-Luhaidan, a notable Saudi cleric, announced driving could damage a woman’s ovaries and push the pelvis up, thus leading to birth defects.

Resistance to the end of the driving ban still resonates across some segments of society, with songs titled “You will not drive” and “No woman no drive” popping up on social media in recent weeks.

But as she drives across Riyadh, men and women stopped Samar’s SUV to congratulate her and voice their support.

A group of men in their 20s, waiting for the police assessment of a minor accident, spot Samar driving by. They smile and cheer. The policeman, too, looks up and smiles.

A man in a suit, smoking on a sidewalk, applauds her loudly. A young couple walking hand-in-hand — him in a t-shirt and jeans, her in head-to-toe black abaya and niqab — stop to flash her a thumbs-up and a victory sign.

“I’m proud, proud, proud,” says one man driving by the scene. “It feels like a holiday”.

“This is the society they say is not ready for women to drive,” Samar says, visibly moved.

Samar, whose youngest son was born with Down’s syndrome, has already decided where she will drive the next day.

“My first trip, tomorrow, is to take Salloumi to my mother’s house,” she says. “And then to take my mother wherever she wants.”

For many, the end of Saudi Arabia‘s driving ban for women is a welcome step, but far from enough in a country that still has a guardianship system in 2018.

Under the system, women need the permission of their closest male relative — husband, father, brother or even son — for most facets of life, including travelling, enrolling in school and in certain cases receiving medical attention.

Samar says she is fully aware that her newfound freedom to drive was not the fruit of activists who have long fought Saudi Arabia’s repressive gender policies — some of whom were arrested just this month.

Decades of campaigning by activists failed to achieve what one stroke of the king’s pen ended in a royal decree signed last year.

“This was a political decision,” she says.

But the will for women to drive in Saudi Arabia — like the will to dismantle the guardianship system — goes back nearly two decades.

On November 6, 1990, 47 women drove themselves through the streets of Riyadh in an act of protest against, and in defiance of, the ban, stopping only when they were arrested.

Some lost their jobs. Others lost the support of their families. What was not lost was their cause.

One of the women, Faiza al-Bakr, now works with Samar at the national paper where she runs a twice-weekly column.

“It was them,” Samar says of Bakr and the 46 others. “They’re the ones who started it all for us. They’re the ones who cut the yellow tape.”

Tens of thousands march in London for second Brexit vote

LONDON: Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in London on Saturday calling for a second vote on Britain’s departure from the European Union.

The anti-Brexit campaigners marched on parliament to mark the second anniversary of the Brexit referendum, demanding a “people’s vote” on whether to approve the final deal Prime Minister Theresa May strikes with the EU, if an agreement is struck at all.

“I was in deep tears when the referendum happened, it looked like the future was pretty bad,” said Chiara Liduori, a 40-year-old Italian living in London.

“Brexit is awful not only because we want to keep things like it is, but because it is important to be within, in order to make changes.”

Under a blue sky, marchers set off from Pall Mall before passing May’s Downing Street office — to the sound of boos — on their way to Westminster to listen to speeches by anti-Brexit MPs including Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Tory rebel Anna Soubry.

“Brexit is not a done deal, not inevitable, Brexit can be reversed,” said Cable.

“The vote that took place two years ago is not for ever.”

Demonstrators held placards reading “I am a European citizen”, “ILoveu” and “we demand a vote on final Brexit deal.”

Emily Hill, 55, told AFP she was “very much in favour of letting the people” confirm they really want Brexit.

“I think lot of the voting was a protest vote, some people genuinely are not supportive of the EU, but I don’t believe it is the majority opinion in this country,” she added, European flag in hand.

Freelance journalist William Diaz, 52, said Brexit was “creating tensions” and a “much more polarised society.

“It is not something you can decide on a yes no vote,” he added.

Almost two-thirds of Britons believe they should have a final say on the Brexit deal, according to a poll published this week, although it is still unclear what would happen the government’s deal were rejected.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned to leave the European Union, warned May against a Brexit that was “soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long” like toilet roll.

Writing in The Sun, Johnson urged against a “bog-roll Brexit”, British slang for toilet paper, and called on his boss to “fulfil the mandate of the people and deliver a full British Brexit”.

May’s team is about to enter into the next round of negotiations with EU counterparts, but is still to define exactly what it wants from Britain’s future relationship with the continent, particularly in the area of customs regulation.

Trade minister Liam Fox, an arch eurosceptic, insisted that the prime minister was still prepared to walk away from the talks if no satisfactory deal was reached.

“The prime minister has always said no deal is better than a bad deal,” Fox told the BBC in an interview aired on Saturday.

“It is essential as we enter the next phase of the negotiations that the EU understands that and believes it… I think our negotiating partners would not be wise if they thought our PM was bluffing.”

Johnson, who was the most prominent face in the campaign to leave the EU, wrote that the British people “just want us to get on with it”.

“They don’t want a half-hearted Brexit,” he wrote.

“They don’t want some sort of hopeless compromise, some perpetual push me-pull you arrangement in which we stay half-in and half-out in a political no man’s land.

“Two years ago the people of this country recorded a verdict about themselves — that they had the guts to believe in Britain. They were right and will be proved right in the decades ahead,” he added.

However, aviation giant Airbus warned on Friday it could pull out of Britain if it leaves the EU without a deal, while carmaker BMW also warned that uncertainty was affecting the investment climate.

The march against Brexit is part of a “summer of action” planned by campaign groups to put pressure on political leaders to hold a vote on the final deal.

Blast rocks Zimbabwe president's rally, VP injured

BULAWAYO: Zimbabwe‘s President Emmerson Mnangagwa survived a blast at a ruling ZANU-PF party rally on Saturday, while one of his vice-presidents and two other party officials were wounded.

A number of other people were also hurt in the explosion during the election campaign event in Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo, according to witnesses, but no official toll has yet emerged.

Footage circulating on social media showed an explosion and plumes of smoke around the president as he descended stairs from the podium at the White City stadium.

Images broadcast on Zimbabwean TV showed scenes of chaos and medics fighting to save those wounded by the blast.

Vice President Kemo Mohadi, ZANU-PF chairwoman and cabinet minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and party secretary Engelbert Rugeje were injured, state broadcaster ZBC said.

“The president was evacuated successfully. He is at state house in Bulawayo,” said Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba.

“We suspect it’s an explosion, certainly it was close to the VVIP stage.”

Mnangagwa had been in the city to campaign for votes ahead of nationwide elections due on July 30.

“There was an explosion as Mnangagwa was leaving the stage. People started running in all directions and then immediately the president’s motorcade left at a very high speed. Suddenly soldiers and other security details were all over the place,” said an AFP correspondent at the scene.

“The whole area close to the podium was then cordoned off but several people appeared to have been injured,” added the reporter.

Injured ZANU-PF supporters were taken to a nearby hospital where one man wearing a blood-stained party T-shirt waited for treatment.

Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu confirmed the “unfortunate incident” adding: “There were some injuries but I am still to get full details but as you are aware this happened close to the (president)”.

Bulawayo has long been seen as a bastion of opposition to the ZANU-PF and it was Mnangagwa’s first rally in the city.

The polls in five weeks will be the first since Zimbabwe’s veteran leader Robert Mugabe resigned following a brief military takeover in November last year after 37 years in power.

The intervention by the army was led by Chiwenga who was then head of the armed forces.

The vote will be a key test for Mnangagwa, 75, who succeeded the 94-year-old autocrat and remains untested at the ballot box.

He has pledged to hold free and fair elections as he seeks to mend international relations and have sanctions against Zimbabwe dropped.

Previous elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by electoral fraud, intimidation and violence, including the killing of scores of opposition supporters in 2008.

Mnangagwa has been accused of involvement in the Gukurahundi massacres of the 1980s that claimed the lives of around 20,000 regime opponents in the country’s southwest where Bulawayo is situated.

Twenty-three candidates — the highest number in the country’s history — will contest the presidential race.

The main competition will be between Mnangagwa and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change’s leader, 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa.

Zimbabwe's President Mnangagwa unhurt after blast at rally

HARARE: An explosion rocked a stadium in Zimbabwe where President Emmerson Mnangagwa was addressing a political rally on Saturday, his spokesman said, adding the head of state was unhurt and taken to safety.

“There has been an incident at Bulawayo (White City Stadium) where the president was addressing a rally. This is now a police issue but the president is safe at Bulawayo State House,” spokesman George Charamba told Reuters.

“We are still to get information on what exactly happened as we understand that some people could have been injured as this happened in the VIP tent.”

Police were not immediately available for comment.

Footage from Zimbabwe state television showed the explosion took place near Mnangagwa as he waved to supporters.

Mnangagwa was speaking at his first rally in the second city of Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold where the ruling ZANU-PF has not won in national elections since 2000.

Zimbabwe holds its presidential election on July 30, with 75-year-old Mnangagwa and 40-year-old Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the main contenders.

Musharraf says he has not quit politics

ISLAMABAD: A day after resigning as the chairman of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), Pakistan’s former military ruler and dictator Pervez Musharraf today said he has not quit politics.

Musharraf, 74, yesterday sent his resignation as chairman of the APML party to the Election Commission of Pakistan, days after the Supreme Court barred him from contesting in the July 25 general elections.

The apex court had withdrawn an interim relief given to Musharraf to allow him to submit his nomination papers as he failed to appear before it.

In a video message, the Dubai-based former dictator said that many right and wrong statements were being spread regarding his resignation and reasons were being speculated, so he thought of “putting forward the reality before the nation as people do not know the truth.”

He said, he has full intention to contest the election, return to Pakistan and appear before court in all cases, for which he had sought some assurances.

Musharraf said he wanted the decision on his lifetime disqualification to be overturned, removal of his name from the Exit Control List (ECL) and also protection from arrest.

“I wanted my lifetime disqualification to be overturned as it happened with Khawaja Asif. If it can happen with him, why not me?” he was quoted as saying by the Dunya News.

“Then I asked my name to be removed from the ECL. If Nawaz Sharif has the freedom to move in and outside the country, why can I not have it?” he said.

“Thirdly, I do not want to get arrested. But the judgment was that I will not be held till my appearance in court. What will happen afterwards?” the former president asked.

Since those assurances were not given, Musharraf said he knew that he could not do anything for his party or for himself, and therefore, after consultation with other APML leaders he decided not to return to the country.

European Union leaders to hold mini-migration summit as crisis festers

BRUSSELS: European Union leaders tomorrow will try to find common ground for tackling migrants arriving on Europe’s shores in search of better lives – a growing political crisis threatening to undermine the entire EU project.

The leaders of about 16 countries – more than half the 28-nation bloc – will take part in what is being billed as “informal talks” in Brussels, ahead of a full EU summit on June 28-29, where migration will top the agenda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that the meeting involves “talking with particularly affected nations about all problems connected with migration.” She said the hope is to see if “we can reach bi-, tri- or even multinational agreements to better solve certain problems.”

The arrival of more than one million people in 2015, most fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, exposed glaring deficiencies in EU migrant reception capacities and asylum laws. It has fueled tensions among member states, and anti-migrant parties have won votes by fomenting public fears of foreigners.

At the heart of the problem lie deep divisions over who should take responsibility for arriving migrants – often Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece and increasingly Spain – how long they should be required to accommodate them, and what should be done to help those EU countries hardest hit.

The problem was crystalised last week in a row between Italy’s new populist government, Malta and France over who should take responsibility for 630 people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the main departure point for people trying to reach Europe.

Amid the mud-slinging, Spain’s new Socialist government agreed to take charge of the migrants.

By Friday, hardline Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was again demanding that Malta, the EU’s smallest country, allow a rescue ship carrying hundreds of migrants to land because it was in the island’s waters.

Like everything to do with migrants in Europe lately, even this meeting is proving controversial. What started as talks between half a dozen leaders now involves at least 16, as others demanded to take part. Four countries in Eastern Europe – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – refuse to attend.

Referring to hasty arrangements and a domestic crisis over migration policies within Merkel’s coalition government, the fervently anti-migrant Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, said: “We understand that countries have domestic political difficulties, but this can’t result in pan-European confusion.” “This is an open invitation. Nobody is excluded, everybody is invited. Nobody is forced to attend either,” said Alexander Winterstein, spokesman for the European Commission, where the talks will take place.

With plans to reform Europe’s asylum laws bogged down, EU leaders will in coming days affirm their intention to stop migrants leaving north African shores by paying countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia to hold people until their eligibility for asylum can be established.

EU election observers deploy for historic Zimbabwe election

EU election observers deploy for historic Zimbabwe election – Times of India

AP | Jun 23, 2018, 15:11 IST

Zimbabwe President Emmerson MnangagwaZimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa
HARARE, Zimbabwe: The European Union has deployed election observers in Zimbabwe for the first time in 16 years as the country prepares for its first vote since independence without longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally who took office after Mugabe stepped down in November under military pressure, has invited dozens of observers for the historic July 30 vote.

Mnangagwa seeks to engage the West after years of sanctions. Previous Zimbabwe votes were marked by allegations of violence and fraud, and Mugabe banned Western observers, accusing them of bias.

Western countries say a credible vote is key to lifting sanctions.

EU deputy chief observer Mark Stevens says the EU will have 140 observers by election day. He says they will remain in the case of a runoff vote.

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Imprisoned Iranian rights lawyer rejects bail: Report

Imprisoned Iranian rights lawyer rejects bail: Report – Times of India

AP | Jun 23, 2018, 14:53 IST

Nasrin SotoudehNasrin Sotoudeh
TEHRAN: Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency is citing the husband of a prominent human rights lawyer who says authorities have set bail at 6.5 billion-rial (around $152,500) for his imprisoned wife, who rejected it.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested June 13 on charges of collusion and propaganda against the system. She had defended women protesting against having to wear the Islamic headscarf.

The Saturday report quotes Reza Khandan as saying Sotoudeh rejected the offer. Khandan said Sotoudeh considers the allegations against her baseless and believes the bail is inappropriate.

Khandan says Sotoudeh is housed in the general women’s ward in Evin prison.

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US to send caskets to NKorea to return war remains

US to send caskets to NKorea to return war remains – Times of India

AP | Jun 23, 2018, 14:28 IST

FILE PHOTO: North Korean soldiers hand over to United Nations troops standing at the North Korea / South Korea border a casket containing the remains of one of 17 US servicemen who served in the 1950-53 Korean War during repatriation ceremonies at the treaty village of Panmunjom, North Korea, on July 12, 1993. (Reuters photo)FILE PHOTO: North Korean soldiers hand over to United Nations troops standing at the North Korea / South Korea… Read More
SEOUL (SOUTH KOREA): South Korean media say the US military plans to send 215 caskets to North Korea through a border village so that the North could begin the process of returning the remains of US soldiers who have been missing since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Officials from the United States Forces Korea and South Korea’s defense ministry on Saturday did not immediately return calls for comment.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed source as saying that about 30 US military vehicles carrying the caskets were expected to cross into the North on Saturday afternoon.

North Korea agreed to send home US war remains during a June 12 meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump.

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