In the world | Africatime
Sunday 23 April 2017

In the world

(AFP )

From London to Berlin, Washington to Tel Aviv, French voters lined up at polling stations abroad at the weekend to cast ballots for one of the closest presidential elections in years back home.

Around 1.3 million French people abroad are registered to vote -- representing around two percent of the total electorate.

In London -- often called the sixth biggest French city -- hundreds of people queued up outside the two polling stations well before they opened on Sunday, with some waiting up to two hours to vote.

(AFP )

China's foreign minister called Sunday for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula amid rising tension over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes.

"China is firmly supporting the denuclearisation of the area in the name of stability and peace", Wang Yi told reporters in Athens after meeting Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.

"China may not have the key to this solution ... but we are happy that more sides are accepting our point of view", he added.

(AFP )

US actress Erin Moran, who played mischievous kid sister Joanie on the sitcom "Happy Days" and its spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi," has died. She was 56.

The Harrison County Sheriff's department in Indiana said Moran was found "unresponsive" following a 911 call to the authorities at 4:07 pm (2007 GMT) on Saturday.

"Upon the arrival of first responders, it was determined that Erin Marie Moran Fleischmann was deceased and an autopsy is pending," it said.

(AFP )

Charity boats rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean are colluding with traffickers in Libya, an Italian prosecutor was quoted as saying Sunday, stirring up a simmering row over aid groups' role in Europe's migrant crisis.

In an interview with Italian daily La Stampa, Sicily-based prosecutor Carmelo Zuccaro made his most specific claims yet over NGO activities off Libya, which the EU border agency Frontex recently described as tantamount to providing a "taxi" service to Europe.

(AFP )

Croatia honoured on Sunday the victims of its most brutal World War II death camp, an event again snubbed by ethnic Serbs, Jews and anti-fascists who accuse authorities of tolerating a pro-Nazi ideology.

Conservative Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, several ministers and foreign diplomats attended a commemoration ceremony at the site of the Jasenovac camp which was dismantled 72 years ago.

(AFP )

Germany's anti-immigration AfD wrapped up a fractious party congress Sunday by choosing a new team to lead it into a September general election, after dramatically sidelining its most prominent personality.

Capping two days of often bitter debate on its platform and personnel, the Alternative for Germany appointed two chief candidates: 76-year-old Alexander Gauland, a hardline defector from Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU, and Alice Weidel, 38, an openly lesbian former investment banker.

(AFP )

The two frontrunners in France's closely fought presidential election, centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen, cast their ballots as the first round of voting kicked off on Sunday.

A throng of well-wishers and journalists were on hand as Macron, 39, accompanied by his 64-year-old wife Brigitte, arrived to vote in the chic northern seaside resort of Le Touquet.

The couple voted at the same town hall where they were married 10 years ago.

(AFP )

The OSCE said Sunday the first staff member of its monitoring mission in Ukraine had died after a patrol vehicle hit a landmine in the Russian-backed separatist east.

The announcement saw Kiev and the insurgents quickly trade blame over who was at fault for one of the most diplomatically sensitive episodes since Europe's only war began more than three years ago.

(AFP )

Spanish coast guard crews worked Sunday to clean up a three-kilometre (1.9-mile) long diesel slick off the holiday island of Gran Canaria after a passenger ferry slammed into a pier.

The ferry carrying 140 passengers smashed into a breakwater late Friday in the port of Las Palmas, the capital of Spain's Canary islands off the northwest coast of Africa.

Thirteen people were injured and the crash damaged underwater fuel pipes, the regional government said in a statement. Video footage on Spanish television showed chunks of concrete falling onto the port.

(AFP )

Hundreds of thousands of Shiite faithful thronged the mausoleum of Imam Kadhim in Baghdad Sunday for the climax of a week-long pilgrimage that saw millions converge on the Iraqi capital.

Beating their heads and chests, crowds of pilgrims lurched and swerved to try to touch a mock coffin being carried to the shrine in the northern neighbourhood of Kadhimiyah.

(AFP )

Britain's opposition Labour party promised Sunday to introduce four new public holidays if it wins the June snap election, marking the patron saints days of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn said the measure would "give workers the break they deserve" while also uniting the four nations, whose ties have been strained by the vote to leave the European Union.

(AFP )

A US citizen has been arrested as he tried to fly out of North Korea, becoming the third American to be detained there, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Sunday.

There was no immediate official confirmation of the reported arrest, which would come at a tense time in relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

Yonhap quoted sources as saying the man, identified only by his surname Kim, was arrested last Friday at Pyongyang International Airport on his way out of the country.

(AFP )

Daniel Wanjiru and record-breaking Mary Keitany made it a memorable double for Kenya on Sunday as they stormed to victories in the London Marathon.

Keitany, recording her third London win to put alongside her trio of New York victories, set a new world record for a women's only marathon of 2hr 17min 01sec, smashing the 14-year-old mark of British great Paula Radcliffe.

"It was a great day for me. It was really amazing to run the best time," 35-year-old Keitany told the BBC.

(AFP )

Afghan families buried their dead and the country observed a national day of mourning Sunday after at least 100 soldiers were killed or wounded in a Taliban attack on a military base, prompting angry calls for ministers and army chiefs to resign.

The exact toll from Friday's assault in the northern province of Balkh remained unclear, with some local officials putting the number of dead alone as high as 130.

The raid, the deadliest-ever by the Taliban on a military base, underscores their growing strength more than 15 years after they were ousted from power.

(AFP )

A 12-year-old boy trying to drive from coast-to-coast through the vast Australian outback was stopped by traffic police more than a thousand kilometres into the epic road trip, authorities said Sunday.

The child was picked up by local police in the mining city of Broken Hill, around a 14-hour drive from his starting point in the village of Kendall in the east of Australia.

(AFP )

Australia and New Zealand stiffened their rhetoric against North Korea Sunday after the isolated state threatened Canberra with a nuclear strike, urging it to think twice before "blindly and zealously toeing the US line".

The move comes as US Vice President Mike Pence wraps up an Asia tour, which has included visits to South Korea, Japan and Australia partly to reassure allies amid fears that Pyongyang may be readying for a sixth nuclear test.

(AFP )

Election season is under way in Iran and the rumour mill is in overdrive as the public tries to divine the backroom machinations that have thrown up major surprises in the past.

"I looked back at the cables our embassy was sending out just a few weeks before the last election," said a Western diplomat in Tehran.

"None of them were predicting (Hassan) Rouhani would win," she laughed, referring to the current president.

(AFP )

An Israeli attack on a Syrian camp for pro-government forces killed three fighters near the Golan Heights on Sunday, an official from the forces said.

The official told AFP that two fighters were also wounded in the attack on the Al-Fawwar camp near Quneitra in southwestern Syria, adding that it was unclear whether the damage was inflicted by an air strike or shelling.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the attack had targeted a "weapons warehouse" in the camp.

Israel's army declined to comment Sunday on the attack.

(AFP )

The Canterbury Crusaders remained unbeaten as New Zealand teams dominated Super Rugby this weekend ahead of June's British and Irish Lions tour.

The seven-time champions smashed leading South African contenders Western Stormers 57-24 in Christchurch as Kiwi teams won all four of their encounters.

George Bridge claimed a hat-trick and Kieran Read added a double in the Crusaders eight-try romp to remain unbeaten after eight matches.

(AFP )

French voters flocked to the polls under heavy security Sunday in the first round of a highly unpredictable presidential election seen as vital for the future of the ailing European Union.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron are the favourites to progress to a run-off on May 7 but the race is too close to call in a deeply divided country.

(AFP )

Turkey's embattled opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can still find glimmers of hope in a shifting political landscape despite the strongman winning a controversial referendum that will hugely enhance his powers.

The 'No' vote polled 48.59 in the April 16 poll after a lopsided campaign that saw the 'Yes' dominate the airwaves with Erdogan speeches and flood the streets with pro-government billboards.

(AFP )

France was on edge on the eve of its most unpredictable presidential election in decades, which will take place under heightened security after the jihadist killing of a policeman.

The shooting on Paris's world-renowned Champs Elysees avenue on Thursday, claimed by the Islamic State group, thrust questions of security to the fore of campaigning after nine months of relative calm.

On Saturday, police arrested a man carrying a knife at Paris's Gare du Nord station, briefly causing panic as some passengers rushed out of the way.

(AFP )

The US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and other warships started joint exercises with Japan on Sunday, the American navy said, as regional tensions rise over North Korea's missile and nuclear programmes.

The exercises -- also involving a US guided-missile cruiser and guided-missile destroyer -- are being held in the Philippine Sea, the navy said, as the naval strike group "continued its northern transit in the Western Pacific".

(AFP )

Election season is under way in Iran and the rumour mill is in overdrive as the public tries to divine the backroom machinations that have thrown up major surprises in the past.

"I looked back at the cables our embassy was sending out just a few weeks before the last election," said a Western diplomat in Tehran.

"None of them were predicting (Hassan) Rouhani would win," she laughed, referring to the current president.

(AFP )

The day after Nepal was struck by a devastating earthquake, Samrat Basnet opened his doors to the wounded as hospitals overwhelmed with thousands of victims had to send away those without life-threatening injuries.

Two years on Basnet is still caring for a handful of the 22,000 Nepalis injured in the disaster, many left with preventable disabilities after slipping through the cracks of a woeful healthcare system.

(AFP )

Late in the afternoon of April 29, 1992, the looting began in south Los Angeles, quickly escalating as motorists were dragged from their cars and vehicles set alight.

In the downtown area a few miles away, an angry crowd began to build at the city police headquarters and, as day turned to night, protesters attacked uniformed officers and blocked traffic.

The fuse had been lit by the acquittal earlier in the day of four white police officers filmed beating black motorist Rodney King with wooden batons.

(AFP )

Dressed in white, Venezuelan protesters opposed to President Nicolas Maduro marched in silence in several cities to pay respects to 20 people killed in three weeks of unrest.

Unlike demonstrations in recent days, the rallies in Caracas, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto and San Cristobal passed with no major violence reported between protesters and police.

(AFP )

Police in Nicaragua blocked thousands of farmers and rural residents from holding a march against a government plan to build a canal across the country, potentially carving up their land.

"They are closing off all the roads. It's pitiful what's happening in Nicaragua," said one of the leaders of the demonstration, Francisca Ramirez.

Police preventing buses and trucks carrying protesters from converging in the town of Juigalpa, east of the capital Managua, said the demonstration was illegal.

(AFP )

With fears rising that the Trump administration will follow through on its threats to raise trade barriers, world finance ministers are united on one message: protectionism threatens the global economy.

Except that the word "protectionism" was omitted from the final statement of the International Monetary Fund's semi-annual meeting Saturday.

"We reaffirm our commitment to... avoid inward-looking policies, and preserve global financial stability," the ministers said in the communique.

(AFP )

The Trump administration's climate skepticism and its possible withdrawal from the landmark Paris Agreement of 2015 drew a cloud over this week's grand economic conclave in Washington.

The regular meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund -- always accompanied by a gathering of G20 finance ministers -- have rung out with calls to action against global warming in recent years.

(AFP )

President Michel Temer insists that a growing corruption scandal in his government will not paralyze Brazil as it struggles to emerge from its deepest recession in history.

"Brazil doesn't stop," he said in an interview broadcast Saturday on Spanish television TVE ahead of a visit Monday by Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. "So it won't be corrupt acts that paralyze the country."

(AFP )

A day before France votes for a new president, expatriates and residents in overseas territories in the Western Hemisphere cast their ballots Saturday, with some hoping to stop a global wave of right-wing nationalism from claiming their country.

Hundreds of thousands of French nationals are eligible to vote in the United States, Canada and Latin America in one of the most unpredictable elections in decades, seen as crucial for the future of a deeply divided country and the European Union.

(AFP )

Mourners raised their arms in a fascist salute as one of the last ministers to serve under former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Jose Utrera Molina, was buried Saturday.

Molina, who died at the age of 91, never wavered in his loyalty to the dictator who ruled from 1939 until 1975.

Numerous mourners at Molina's funeral in the resort town of Nerja in southern Spain, where the ex-minister lived, raised their arms as the coffin passed, while some sang the "Cara al sol" anthem of the Spanish Phalanx fascist party, an AFP photographer said.

(AFP )

Pope Francis on Saturday described some of Europe's refugee centres as "concentration camps" as he paid tribute to an unknown Christian woman slain for her faith in front of her Muslim husband.

"These refugee camps -- so many are concentration camps, crowded with people... because international accords seem more important than human rights," Francis said in impromptu remarks at a ceremony in memory of modern day Christian martyrs.

(AFP )

Thousands of Hungarian protestors brandishing satirical placards staged a humourous but seriously intended demonstration Saturday, pouring scorn on the policies of hardline Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

"Down with the press!" "Down with education! and "More demagoguery!" chanted the protestors, demanding that the government build a direct train link with Moscow and North Korea.

The rally, held days before the planned adoption of a new law clamping down on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), was dubbed "Hungary's funniest demonstration" by the country's media.