In the world | Africatime
Saturday 29 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who go head-to-head in the second round of France's presidential election on May 7, are diametrically opposed on issues ranging from immigration to Europe to gay marriage.

Here is where they stand on the key questions:

- Europe -

Le Pen has insisted on the need for France to drop the euro single currency and leave Europe's Schengen visa-free travel zone.

(AFP )

Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron will take on far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second-round run-off of France's presidential election on May 7.

The pair topped the polls in the first round of voting on April 23.

- Why is the election important? -

France is the eurozone's second-biggest economy as well as a global military and diplomatic heavyweight, with veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

(AFP )

The battle to become France's next president boils down to a sharp clash of contrasting visions.

In one corner is centrist Emmanuel Macron, with his pro-globalisation, pro-EU world view.

In the other, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who champions "nationalism" and a "France-first" approach.

"The country Mr Macron wants is no longer France, it's a space, a wasteland, a trading room where there are only consumers and producers," Le Pen told thousands of supporters in Nice on Thursday.

(AFP )

Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi is poised to win the leadership of Italy's ruling Democratic Party (PD) in a primary election Sunday, propelling him back to the forefront of the national political scene.

Renzi, 42, resigned as prime minister in December after Italians overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional referendum.

A centrepiece of his political platform, the reform had aimed to streamline Italy's parliamentary system.

(AFP )

Donald Trump hailed a "very productive" first 100 days as America's president on Saturday, telling a roaring crowd of supporters other "great battles" ahead would be won.

In an hour-long speech attacking the media and predecessor Barack Obama, boasting about his support for US industry and the military, vaunting his foreign policy positions including on confronting North Korea, reading a poem, and repeating his signature "Make America Great Again" motto, Trump earned cheer after cheer from the crowd in Pennsylvania.

(AFP )

A top Venezuelan opposition figure called for more marches aimed at taking back the courts and the National Electoral Council that he said had been "hijacked" by President Nicolas Maduro.

Freddy Guevara urged people to protest on Monday -- May 1 or May Day, a traditional workers' holiday -- with marches to the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council's offices.

"We want to summon all Venezuelans, across the country's 24 states, to hit the dictatorship with a one-two punch," Guevara said, evoking simultaneous peaceful marches in the two locations.

(AFP )

A plane crash in western Cuba on Saturday killed eight military personnel, the ministry in charge of the island's armed forces said.

The Russian-made AN-26 transport aircraft crashed in a mountainous region of western Artemisa province, killing all eight on board including the plane's crew, the Revolutionary Armed Forces ministry said in a statement carried by state media.

The plane, which can carry up to 40 people, had taken off from Playa Baracoa airport just outside the capital Havana. It crashed into a mountain, Loma de la Pimienta, 35 miles (55 kilometers) distant.

(AFP )

The family firm of President Mauricio Macri allegedly tried to empty the accounts of Argentina's postal service, which it ran years ago, the justice ministry said on Saturday.

The accusation by a prosecutor handling commercial matters, Gabriela Bouquin, stems from a contract the Macri Group had to manage Correo Argentina between 1997 and 2003, before the illiquid service was re-nationalized.

She said that there were transfers of nearly $300,000 from Correo Argentina's accounts in 2016, mostly to firms controlled by Macri family-owned company.

(AFP )

Pope Francis on Saturday called for negotiations to resolve tensions surrounding North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

Speaking on board the papal plane on his way back from a two-day visit to Egypt, the pontiff said there was a need for "negotiations with a view to a diplomatic solution".

"There are plenty of mediators in the world who are putting themselves forward. Norway, for example which is ready to help," he said.

(AFP )

Pope Francis on Saturday said the Vatican was ready to intervene as a mediator to try and end Venezuela's deadly political crisis under "clear conditions".

Speaking on a plane bringing him back from Egypt to Rome, the pontiff said: "I believe that that must be done under conditions. Very clear conditions."

"There was an intervention by the Holy See following strong pressure" by four former leaders of Spain, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Colombia, he said.

(AFP )

Teenage fly-half Curwin Bosch kicked 18 points as Coastal Sharks of South Africa won 33-25 at Jaguares of Argentina Saturday in a key Super Rugby match.

Success gave the Sharks an eight-point advantage in the standings over the Jaguares with six rounds left as the teams battle for a quarter-finals place.

It was a much improved show by the visitors after coach Robert du Preez told his players to refund spectators following a woeful home draw with the Melbourne Rebels last weekend.

(AFP )

An exhibition in Milan is offering through the lens of 65 photographers an original look at the topic of immigration and the migrant crisis.

The Restless Earth, organised by the Nicola Trussardi foundation, is being presented by the Visual Arts Program of Milan's Triennale (www.triennale.org), the title alluding to works by Caribbean poet Edouard Glissant on how different cultures can live together.

(AFP )

Police detained over 100 activists in Saint Petersburg on Saturday as hundreds of Russian opposition supporters turned out to protest against President Vladimir Putin's expected candidacy in elections next year.

Protests in several cities were called by the Open Russia movement founded by arch-Putin foe and former oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

They were held under the slogan "We're sick of him" -- a reference to Putin.

(AFP )

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban insisted Saturday that no agreement had been reached over a controversial higher education law that could close down a Budapest university founded by US billionaire George Soros.

His comments came despite claims by allies in the EU's powerful centre-right political group that he would soon yield to EU pressure.

The European People's Party (EPP) said after a meeting in Brussels between its top officials and Orban that he agreed to quickly meet EU rights demands over the education law.

(AFP )

Brazilian authorities were working Saturday to clear away the remains of barricades, burned-out buses and trash strewn about the streets during a general strike the previous day that saw violent clashes between protesters and police.

The demonstrations shut down transportation, schools and shops, with small groups smashing bank windows, hurling rocks and setting fires. Police responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

(AFP )

Turkey on Saturday blocked all access to Wikipedia and banned television dating shows, adding to fears of a crackdown after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's victory in a referendum on enhancing his powers.

The government also dismissed almost 4,000 public officials in the latest wave of the purge under the over nine-month state of emergency that has followed last July's failed coup.

(AFP )

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday said his government was "on target" for a May 22 fiscal deal with its creditors to enable the country to meet July loan payments.

"I think the general picture is that we are on target to have a conclusion on May 22," Tsipras said in Brussels, referring to a scheduled meeting of eurozone finance ministers needed to approve the deal.

Greece's creditors -- the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF -- on Tuesday resumed a long-delayed audit that is required for any agreement.

(AFP )

A 72-year-old Italian medieval art expert was on Saturday elected to head the Order of Malta, the world's oldest chivalric order.

Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto takes the reins for one year after Pope Francis ordered the resignation in January of the Order's Grand Master, Britain's Matthew Festing, following a power struggle.

A centuries-old lay religious mission, the order provides humanitarian aid in crisis zones around the world.

(AFP )

The EU's top officials will seek a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a NATO summit next month amid mounting tensions with Ankara, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday.

EU President Donald Tusk made the announcement to 27 European Union leaders holding a special meeting -- without Britain -- on Brexit, Merkel told reporters.

She said Tusk "told us today that he was going to ask for a meeting with President Erdogan, along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, during the NATO summit" in Brussels on May 25.

(AFP )

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Saturday said he "agreed 100 percent" with a prosecutor's repeated suggestions that some charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean are colluding with traffickers in Libya.

Sicily-based prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro sparked a row last week after claims in La Stampa daily that some aid groups battling Europe's worst migrant crisis since World War II may be in league with people smugglers.

(AFP )

The United Nations on Saturday called for a halt to fighting in South Sudan after the government launched a new offensive earlier this week.

South Sudanese government forces targeted a town in the north on Wednesday, displacing civilians the UN said may be headed toward the border with Sudan.

"We are disturbed by the escalation of violence and subsequent suffering of civilians in South Sudan as a result of the recent government offensive," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a statement.

(AFP )

A federal judge has ordered the Arkansas authorities to conduct an autopsy on the body of an executed inmate whose lawyer described his death as "horrifying," including jerking and convulsions during his lethal injection.

Judge Kristine Baker of the US Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas issued the order late Friday, less than 24 hours after the state executed the 38-year-old convicted multiple murderer Kenneth Williams.

He was the last of four inmates put to death in a week -- the first executions by the conservative southern state since 2005.

(AFP )

A landslide engulfed part of a village in Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, killing 24 people, including nine children, the emergencies ministry said.

The earth slip entombed the inhabitants of six houses when it hit the village of Ayu in the Osh region of the mountainous Central Asian country at around 6:40 am (0040 GMT), the emergencies ministry said in a statement.

"All 24 citizens of Kyrgzystan, nine of them children, died under the landslide in the south of the country," ministry spokeswoman Elmira Sheripova told AFP.

(AFP )

Hundreds of Indians gather daily at a 500-year-old Hindu temple in southern India where they pray for a single wish -- an increasingly elusive US visa.

The Chilkur Balaji temple dedicated to Lord Balaji -- a re-incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu -- on the outskirts of Hyderabad city, has long been a one-stop solution for prospective Indian immigrants seeking US visas, earning it the sobriquet of 'visa temple'.

(AFP )

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was briefly hospitalised after a fall, the mayor of a Tuscan town where he was due to attend a meeting of his political party Forza Italia said Saturday.

"He slipped, he was injured and briefly hospitalised and will not join us this afternoon," said Massimo Mallegni, mayor of Pietrasanta.

The 80-year-old media tycoon tripped on cobblestones Friday night, falling head first and cutting his upper lip while leaving a restaurant in the chic tourist town of Portofino near Genoa, according to local media reports.

(AFP )

For a minority devastated by a series of church bombings that killed dozens of Christians, it was a chance for a rare joyous respite.

Despite fears of another jihadist attack, thousands of Catholics waited for hours on Saturday to enter a heavily guarded stadium in the Egyptian capital to pray with Pope Francis.

It was, said Coptic Catholic engineer Maged Francis, a "historic occasion".

"It's unlikely it will ever happen again," he said.

"Today joy has eclipsed the sadness of the last few weeks."

(AFP )

The world's first museum dedicated to China's Tiananmen Square crackdown will once again open its doors in Hong Kong after a months-long closure as the city prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of its handover to Beijing.

The June 4th Museum closed its doors last July after organisers said they were being targeted for political reasons in the semi-autonomous city where concerns are growing that Beijing is tightening its grip.

(AFP )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday called North Korea's test-fire of a ballistic missile "absolutely unacceptable" and a "grave threat to our country".

Speaking in London, Abe called upon the international community, in particular China, to "show solidarity" in formulating a response.

"There is a major crisis looming over the peace and prosperity of the world," he told reporters at the end of a three-day visit to Russia and Britain.

"Despite strong warnings by the international community, North Korea today went through with its ballistic missile launch.

(AFP )

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday urged Britain and the European Union to secure a "smooth and transparent" separation, saying that open trade in Europe was "a matter of concern to the world".

Abe met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, assuring her that he "continued to trust the UK economy after separation from the European Union," he told a press conference in London on Saturday.

But he warned that "all the stakeholders, including investors from countries outside the region" needed to have "clear future prospects" in a post-Brexit Britain.

(AFP )

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told concerned allies in the EU's powerful centre-right political group that he will quickly meet EU rights demands over a controversial education law, the group said Saturday.

Orban was summoned to a meeting with top officials from the European People's Party (EPP) over the law that could force the closure of a Budapest university founded by US billionaire George Soros.

The European Commission on Wednesday launched legal action against Hungary over the issue, giving the government one month to comply or face being taken to court.

(AFP )

EU leaders unanimously backed a tough Brexit strategy at a summit on Saturday, demanding a "serious response" from Britain on the rights of European citizens before trade talks can start.

In a show of togetherness the 27 leaders agreed the negotiating guidelines within minutes and applauded as they met in Brussels without British Prime Minister Theresa May.

EU President Donald Tusk hailed the "outstanding unity" in an often fractious club, saying it was a "firm and fair political mandate" for the Brexit negotiations.

(AFP )

Tearful relatives gathered outside a Thai temple on Saturday to bury an 11-month-old girl killed by her father in a harrowing murder he broadcast live on Facebook before committing suicide.

The Buddhist ceremony on the southern island of Phuket concluded a week of funeral rites for baby Natalie, who was hanged from the side of an abandoned building on Monday by her 20-year-old father Wuttisan Wongtalay.

Wuttisan, who hanged himself shortly after, filmed the macabre scene using his phone and broadcast it on Facebook Live.

(AFP )

Turkey and the United States can join forces to turn the Islamic State jihadist group's de-facto capital of Raqa in Syria into a "graveyard" for the extremists, the Turkish president said on Saturday.

The Turkish government is pressuring Washington to stop backing Kurdish fighters as an ally in the fight against IS jihadists in Syria, in a dispute that has has limited cooperation between the NATO allies.

(AFP )

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned Southeast Asian leaders Saturday they were facing a "massive" illegal drug menace that could destroy their societies, as he called for a united response.

Duterte, who has faced international condemnation for his own crackdown on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives, also insisted that outsiders should not interfere in Southeast Asia's affairs.

"The illegal drug trade is massive but it is not impregnable," Duterte said in a speech to open an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders summit.

(AFP )

Hamas is to unveil a new version of its controversial founding charter which called for the destruction of Israel in a bid to ease its international isolation, party officials said.

Leaders of the Islamist movement have long spoken of the more limited aim of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without explicitly setting it out in its charter.