World News Roundup: Tunisia's union calls for early elections, says democratic gains are threatened; In Khashoggi's shadow, Macron set for Saudi talks with crown prince and more
UGTT leader Noureddine Taboubi's comments, in a speech to thousands of his supporters, put more pressure on President Kais Saied, more than four months after he seized all political powers. Russia dismisses U.S. media reports about possible Ukraine offensive Russia has dismissed new U.S. media reports about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, accusing Washington of trying to aggravate the situation while blaming Moscow, the Kommersant newspaper said on Saturday, citing the Foreign Ministry.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Tunisia's union calls for early elections, says democratic gains are threatened
Tunisia's powerful UGTT union called for early elections on Saturday, saying it was concerned for the country's democratic gains because of the president's reluctance to announce a roadmap for political reforms. UGTT leader Noureddine Taboubi's comments, in a speech to thousands of his supporters, put more pressure on President Kais Saied, more than four months after he seized all political powers.
Russia has dismissed new U.S. media reports about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, accusing Washington of trying to aggravate the situation while blaming Moscow, the Kommersant newspaper said on Saturday, citing the Foreign Ministry. The Washington Post cited officials and an intelligence document on Saturday as saying U.S. intelligence thought Russia could be planning a multi-front offensive on Ukraine as early as next year involving up to 175,000 troops.
Pope Francis appealed on Saturday for a return to "good politics", saying democracy has deteriorated dangerously as discontented people are lured by the "siren songs" of populist politicians who promise easy but unrealistic solutions. The pope arrived from Cyprus in Athens, often seen as the birthplace of democracy, on the second and last leg of a Mediterranean trip whose main aim is to draw attention to the plight of migrants and refugees.
Several European countries are working on opening up a joint diplomatic mission in Afghanistan that would enable their ambassadors to return to the country, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday. Western countries have been grappling with how to engage with the Taliban after they took over Afghanistan in a lightning advance in August as U.S.-led forces were completing their pullout.
Russia, Southeast Asia conclude first joint naval exercise
Russia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have concluded their first joint naval exercise, Indonesia's navy said on Saturday, as the region faces rising tensions with China. The three-day exercise off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island aimed at increasing interoperability between the ASEAN member states and the Russian navy in the strategic maritime area. It comes amid rising tensions between major powers in the South China Sea, a resource-rich waterway of geopolitical significance.
Erdogan says he hopes Turkish lira will steady soon
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday he hoped that foreign-exchange rates would stabilise shortly and again promised low interest rates, after a historic plunge in the lira currency to record lows. "God willing we will stabilise foreign-exchange rates in a short time period," Erdogan told an audience in the eastern city of Siirt. "Interest rates are a malady that make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer," he added.
Merkel makes farewell plea for Germans to get vaccinated
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans on Saturday to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help turn the tide on a fourth wave of cases that she said had become "dramatic" in parts of the country. "We are in a very serious situation. In some parts of the country you can only describe it as dramatic: overfilled intensive care units, severely ill people who have to be flown across Germany to get the care they need," she said.
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for face-to-face talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, becoming the first major Western leader to step on the kingdom's soil since journalist Jamal Khashoggi's 2018 murder. Macron considers Saudi Arabia vital to help forge a region-wide peace deal with Iran, as well as an ally in the fight against Islamist militants from the Middle East to West Africa, and a rampart against the Muslim Brotherhood.
Thailand seizes $88 million worth of crystal meth bound for Taiwan
Thai authorities intercepted nearly 900 kg (2,000 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine hidden in a cargo shipment at Bangkok's Port Custom Office and bound for Taiwan where it could be sold for up to $88 million, a customs official said on Saturday. The drug was seized by customs officials late on Friday, hidden in powder form inside 161 white silicon slabs in packages destined for Taiwan.
Gambians vote for president using marbles in key test for stability
Gambians cast their votes for president on Saturday using a unique voting system - marbles dropped into each candidate's ballot drum - to decide a tightly fought election that is seen as a test of stability and democratic progress. It is Gambia's first democratic election since former President Yahya Jammeh was voted out of office in 2016.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)