World News Roundup: UK PM says schools must open in September; GCC unites to seek U.N. extension of Iran arms embargo and more
The 65-year-old Lukashenko is almost certain to win a sixth consecutive term but could face a new wave of protests amid anger over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and his human rights record.Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 09-08-2020 18:45 IST | Created: 09-08-2020 18:26 IST
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Thai anti-government protesters hold rallies outside Bangkok
Hundreds joined anti-government protests across Thailand on Sunday following a day of rallies in the country's capital where protesters were calling for new elections and constitutional reforms. On Saturday, more than 1,000 protested in Bangkok after a human rights lawyer Anon Nampa and student activist Panupong Jadnok were arrested and held overnight.
They were later released on bail. Belarus holds election as street protests rattle long-ruling president
Belarus voted in an election on Sunday pitting President Alexander Lukashenko against a former teacher who emerged from obscurity to lead the biggest challenge in years against the man who has ruled the country for a quarter of a century. The 65-year-old Lukashenko is almost certain to win a sixth consecutive term but could face a new wave of protests amid anger over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and his human rights record.
Lebanese call for an uprising after protests rock Beirut
Some Lebanese called on Sunday for a sustained uprising to topple their leaders amid public fury over this week's devastating explosion in Beirut, and the country's top Christian Maronite cleric said the cabinet should resign. Protesters have called on the government to quit over what they say was negligence that led to Tuesday's explosion. Anger boiled over into violent scenes in central Beirut on Saturday.
Afghan war victims say hope for peace comes at a price: forgiveness
At the age of 17, Mohammed Jafar married three women, widows of his three brothers killed in a suicide bombing in 2016 in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar province, as he decided to make peace with the diktats of local Pasthun tribal elders. On Sunday, Jafar said he made peace for a second time after he heard about the government's decision to release 400 Taliban prisoners accused of conducting some of the bloodiest attacks on civilians, including the deaths of his brothers.
GCC unites to seek U.N. extension of Iran arms embargo
The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has asked the United Nations to extend an international arms embargo on Iran, a move pushed strongly by the United States. The secretariat of the GCC, made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, said in a statement on Sunday that Iran's continued interference in neighboring countries made an extension necessary.
U.S. health chief arrives in Taiwan on trip condemned by China
U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday as the highest-level U.S. official to visit in four decades, a trip condemned by China which claims the island as its own, further irritating Sino-U.S. relations. Washington broke off official ties with Taipei in 1979 in favor of Beijing. The Trump administration has made strengthening its support for the democratic island a priority and boosted arms sales.
North Korea brings aid supplies to border town under lockdown: state media
North Korea's ruling party has delivered special aid packages of food and medical equipment to residents of Kaesong, near the border with the South, after imposing a lockdown there due to COVID-19 concerns, state media said on Sunday. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un declared an emergency and imposed a lockdown on the small border town last month after a person, who defected to South Korea in 2017, returned to Kaesong across the highly fortified border showing coronavirus symptoms.
UK PM says schools must open in September
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said reopening schools in September was a social, economic, and moral imperative and insisted they would be able to operate safely despite the ongoing threat from the pandemic. His comments follow a study earlier this month which warned that Britain risks a second wave of COVID-19 this winter twice as large as the initial outbreak if schools open without an improved test-and-trace system.
Grounded Mauritius ship operator apologises for oil leak
The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean apologized on Sunday for a major oil spill that officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius' southeast coast on July 25. Fuel started leaking from the cracked vessel on Thursday.
Afghanistan to release 400 'hard-core' Taliban to start peace talks
Afghanistan agreed on Sunday to release 400 "hard-core" Taliban prisoners, paving the way for the beginning of peace talks aimed at ending more than 19 years of war. Under election-year pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump for a deal allowing him to bring home American troops, the war-torn country's grand assembly, or Loya Jirga, on Sunday approved the release, a controversial condition raised by the Taliban militants to join peace talks.