World News Roundup: Singapore ruling party faces succession questions; Hong Kong elections and more
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Singapore ruling party, stung by poll setback, faces succession questions
Singapore's ruling party, stung by its worst ever election results, on Saturday signalled a possible delay to its meticulous succession plans, and analysts foresaw other policy changes that could affect the international business hub. The People's Action Party secured 83 of 93 parliamentary seats in Friday's election - a resounding win by international standards - and its share of the popular vote dropped near a record low, while the opposition won an unprecedented 10 seats.
China's southern Jiangxi declares highest flood alert
Jiangxi province in southern China issued its highest flood warning on Saturday, predicting a big overflow from a lake on the Yangtze River as torrential rain continues to batter much of the country, state media said. The Jiangxi government raised its flood-control response level to I from II, the People's Daily said, the top level on China's four-tier scale, signalling disasters such as dam collapses or extraordinary floods simultaneously in several rivers.
Mali opposition says one protest leader detained
Mali opposition groups urged their supporters to remain mobilised on Saturday after one of their leaders was detained in the wake of violent protests against the president that saw the temporary occupation of state buildings. On Friday, police fired gunshots and tear gas to disperse protesters who had occupied parliament and the state broadcaster as part of a civil disobedience campaign aimed at forcing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign for failing to tackle Mali's security and economic problems.
Hong Kong opposition kicks off primary elections under shadow of security law
Hong Kong's opposition camp set up polling booths across the Chinese-ruled city on Saturday for primary elections aimed at selecting democracy candidates who stand the best chance of success in Legislative Council elections in September. The primaries come less than two weeks after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the Asian financial hub, stoking concerns that wide-ranging freedoms not seen in mainland China will be crushed.
Five killed as hostages taken at South African church
Five people were killed and hostages were being held at a church west of Johannesburg, South African police said on Saturday. Police said in a statement on Twitter that they were alerted to a "hostage situation and shooting" in the early hours of the morning at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom.
Bill Gates calls for COVID-19 meds to go to people who need them, not 'highest bidder'
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called for COVID-19 drugs and an eventual vaccine to be made available to countries and people that need them most, not to the "highest bidder," saying relying on market forces would prolong the deadly pandemic. "If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we'll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic," Gates, a founder of Microsoft, said in a video released on Saturday during a virtual COVID-19 conference organized by the International AIDS Society.
North Korea denounces UK for sanctions on organisations accused of links to prison camps
North Korea denounced Britain on Saturday for announcing sanctions against two organizations that the British government has said are involved in forced labor, torture, and murder in North Korean prison camps. The move against the two organizations, named as the Ministry of State Security Bureau 7 and the Ministry of People's Security Correctional Bureau, is part of the first sanctions under Britain's new global human rights regime. Sanctions on 25 Russians and 20 Saudis were also announced.
President Tayyip Erdogan declared Istanbul's Hagia Sophia a mosque on Friday with the first Muslim prayers to begin in two weeks, after a top court ruled the ancient building's conversion to a museum by modern Turkey's founding statesman was illegal. Erdogan spoke on Friday just hours after the court ruling was published, brushing aside international warnings not to change the status of the nearly 1,500-year-old monument that is revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
Russian city marches in support of detained regional governor
Thousands marched in Russia's far eastern city of Khabarovsk on Saturday in support of its regional governor, who is being held in pre-trial detention after being charged with organizing the murder of several entrepreneurs 15 years ago. Sergei Furgal, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, was a popular governor of the Khabarovsk region where he swept to power in 2018 after defeating a rival from the ruling United Russia party that backs President Vladimir Putin.
Iran's president calls for ban on weddings, wakes to halt virus spread
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for big gatherings such as weddings and wakes to be banned to stem a rise in coronavirus infections, but insisted the country's economy had to stay open. Shortly after Rouhani's televised speech, a police official in Tehran announced the closure of all wedding and mourning venues in the capital until further notice.
(With inputs from agencies.)