World News Roundup: Indonesian investigators may need another year to probe Sriwijaya crash; EU will fall in line with ECOWAS sanctions on Mali, Borrell says and more
The Mekong River's flow dropped to the lowest levels in more than six decades from 2019 to 2021 due to an increased number of reservoirs, dams and other water storage, a worsening of the climate situation and unusually low rainfall, a new MRC river flow report showed. Portugal's ruling Socialists lead polls ahead of election but lack majority Portugal's ruling Socialists extended their lead in a new opinion poll ahead of a Jan. 30 snap election but remained short of a majority, while another survey released on Thursday showed the main opposition party narrowing the gap.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Indonesian investigators may need another year to probe Sriwijaya crash
Indonesian investigators may need another year to determine the cause of last year's crash of a Sriwijaya Air jet that killed all 62 people on board, according to an interim report released on Thursday. Under international standards, a final report would normally be issued within a year of the Jan. 9, 2021 crash, but Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said the pandemic had made it harder for its team to travel.
The European Union will impose sanctions on Mali in line with measures already taken by the ECOWAS grouping of West African states, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Sunday agreed a raft of restrictions against Mali on Sunday, including the suspension of financial transactions, over the interim authorities' failure to hold democratic elections next month as agreed following a 2020 military coup.
Sweden boosts patrols on Gotland amid NATO-Russia tensions
Sweden's military said on Thursday it was ramping up its visible activities on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland due to increased tensions between NATO and Russia over Ukraine. Moscow has spooked the West by massing troops near Ukraine, sparking fears that it is considering invading.
This year's general election in Brasil will be a test for the country's democracy due to threats by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro who has questioned the validity of its voting system, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday. In an annual report on rights abuses around the world, the Washington-based group urged Brazil's Supreme Court, Congress and other democratic institutions to remain vigilant and resist any attempt by Bolsonaro to undermine the October elections.
Mekong group urges better water management collaboration as record drought persists
The inter-governmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) on Thursday called on China and mainland Southeast Asian countries to better coordinate management of Mekong hydropower dams and reservoirs after three years of record low flows and extra dry conditions. The Mekong River's flow dropped to the lowest levels in more than six decades from 2019 to 2021 due to an increased number of reservoirs, dams and other water storage, a worsening of the climate situation and unusually low rainfall, a new MRC river flow report showed.
Portugal's ruling Socialists lead polls ahead of election but lack majority
Portugal's ruling Socialists extended their lead in a new opinion poll ahead of a Jan. 30 snap election but remained short of a majority, while another survey released on Thursday showed the main opposition party narrowing the gap. The first survey, published late on Wednesday, carried out by pollsters Pitagorica for TV channels TVI and CNN Portugal, gave the current premier Antonio Costa's PS party a 39.6% share of the vote, up from 37% last month.
Berlin might drop opposition to EU plans for women's quota on company boards
The new German government is taking a fresh look at EU efforts to introduce a quota for women on company boards, a spokesman said on Thursday, raising the chances that European legislation that has been stalled since 2012 may finally be unblocked. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that she would make a new push at boosting women's representation on company boards.
Russia says talks on Ukraine crisis at "dead end", threatens action
Russia said on Thursday it was hitting a dead end in its efforts to persuade the West to bar Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of alliance expansion in Europe, and threatened unspecified consequences in response. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted by TASS news agency as saying Russian military specialists were providing options to President Vladimir Putin in case the situation around Ukraine worsens, but diplomacy must be given a chance.
Heartfelt enough? UK Johnson's future uncertain after lockdown party apology
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's premiership was in the balance on Thursday as he faced calls from within his Conservative Party to resign after he admitted attending a party at his official residence during a coronavirus lockdown. Johnson on Wednesday issued "heartfelt apologies" for attending the gathering at Downing Street in May 2020, telling parliament he understood the public's rage at the revelations.
Italy's centre-right bloc backs Berlusconi's presidential bid, Salvini says
Italy's centre-right bloc will support former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's bid to become the next president of the Republic, rightist League party leader Matteo Salvini said on Thursday. The Italian parliament will convene on Jan. 24 to begin voting for a new head of state to replace the outgoing Sergio Mattarella. Centre-right leaders are expected to discuss the situation at a meeting set for Friday.
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