Country sovereignty newsitems last month

April 29

TT  Australia is facing domestic violence crisis, admits PM

The PM calls an urgent cabinet meeting as figures show that one woman is killed every four days in domestic violence incidents in the country. Tens of thousands took part in marches in cities and towns on Sunday to demand urgent action from the national and state governments and police forces to curb attacks on women. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/australia-is-facing-domestic-violence-crisis-admits-pm-gk8qc2ktj

 

May 13

FT President of Colombia turns radical with bid to rewrite constitution

When he first ran for president in 2018 he was keen to stress he would not rewrite the constitution. After he finally won in 2022 he demanded ‘people’s assemblies’ to implement sweeping reforms. He claims that rewriting the constitution is “an opportunity for the Colombian people to take the reins of their own destiny”. https://www.ft.com/content/c0d0ba43-91a7-40ec-802a-7f63fe5644dd

May 14

FT Nigeria returns to ‘orthodox policy’, says new central bank governor

He took over after the previous chief printed money to fund deficits. The predecessor is currently on trial for corruption charges that he denies, having been ousted as governor last year after nine years in the job. The new policies do not receive universal domestic support, and business complains about the high cost of credit even as foreign portfolio investors have gradually returned to the country. https://www.ft.com/content/16742f9e-c27e-4fb9-bd9b-b88f76869629

FT How Iran has quietly fixed the race for the next supreme leader

The regime’s power-brokers have done everything to ensure a smooth transition except find a frontrunner. The Assembly of Experts (see April  22) was elected in March. It will choose a successor. Reformists were excluded from the Assembly. Two names appear as possible heirs of the supreme leader: the president for the last three years and the 54 year old son of the current supreme leader. https://www.ft.com/content/062b8f39-1ce9-420a-83d3-8598342e8089

FT China targets tropical Hainan for world’s biggest duty-free area

The government hopes to keep luxury shoppers in the country and in this way stimulate the lagging economic growth. The tropical island province is roughly the size of Belgium. Most provinces on the mainland maintain high taxes for luxury goods. https://www.ft.com/content/8433ac67-1ea9-42ee-b418-c1ca8bb27447

FT Socialist win in region draws line under separatist turbulence in Spain

The winner hailed the ‘new era’ with a victory over pro-independence forces but the party failed to secure enough votes to govern alone. The least radical brand of separatist parties will probably act as regional “king maker”. Pro-Spain parties on the right also did well. https://www.ft.com/content/3a738d6e-f83f-4773-9d95-1153eec6dabd

TT Massive protests in Georgia: at least 20 arrested opposing ‘Russia-inspired’ law

Protesters in the capital are attempting to prevent a new law on ‘foreign influence’, which could end the EU membership dream that according to polls 80 percent of the citizens support. Thugs attacked an opposition leader. But the law is adopted. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/georgia-protests-at-least-20-arrested-opposing-russia-inspired-law-v3x56h9zc

NYT Violent unrest over economic strife erupts in Pakistan’s Kashmir region

In an attempt to quell the growing unrest — which has led to a widespread strike and left one police officer dead and 90 injured — the national PM called an emergency meeting for Monday. The region is contested by both Pakistan and India. The local leaders say that national politics needs to offer cheap electricity and end the power outages. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/13/world/asia/pakistan-kashmir-protests.html

May 15

FT Incumbent launches candidacy in marathon election of India

The PM is mobbed by supporters as he files in the northern holy city of Varanasi. He bathed in the Ganges on Tuesday and offered prayers before filing his nomination papers. The vote is seen as a referendum on his decade in office, including his brand of Hindu nationalism, foreign policy record and management of the world’s fifth-largest economy. The opposition is focused on the low caste Indians, who account for more than half of the population. https://www.ft.com/content/c3cdf763-006d-4b41-905d-231570259ebc

FT Saudi Arabia grapples with tough choices over cost of flagship projects

The so-called Line development project is scaled back as the government reconsiders priorities on how best to fund its myriad investments. At the same time any talk about scaling back is quickly dismissed for fear of damaging the kingdom’s reputation and capability to pull off such grand undertakings. One former official: “Oil is not going to last forever. You have to be careful [and] you have to diversify.” https://www.ft.com/content/f895c60a-8a36-4552-ba76-7a7ca0fec719

FT Government in Germany explores tax breaks to get citizens to work longer hours

The largest economy of the EU joins UK and the Netherlands in trying to tackle a prime cause of the region’s economic malaise, lack of interest in working overtime. The drop in working hours since the pandemic has exacerbated the region’s economic underperformance and poor competitiveness, attracting policymakers’ attention at a time when ageing populations influence shrinking workforces. Over the past 50 years working hours per worker have been reduced by 30 percent. https://www.ft.com/content/deaba04b-89cf-447f-970a-6d732c751b8f

NYT Anti-monarchy activist in Thailand dies after hunger strike

She supported abolishing the law that prohibits criticizing royalty and wanted to push the authorities to stop jailing political activists. The ruling party had said during last year’s election that the issue had to be discussed in Parliament, but it backtracked later to say that it would firmly oppose any changes to the law. At least 270 people have been charged with violating Article 112 since 2020, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. The group said the indictment rate for these cases has been 100 percent. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/14/world/asia/thailand-monarchy-activist-hunger-strike.html

May 16

FT Singapore has a new PM sworn in

The US-trained economist becomes the country’s fourth leader as the city-state charts a new path after decades of rule by the founding Lee family. He has been deputy prime minister since 2022 and also served as finance minister. At the event he said the city-state had enjoyed 30 years of peace in the Asia-Pacific since the end of the cold war, but the “era of peace is over” and he called the world “dangerous and troubled”. https://www.ft.com/content/ac123050-af07-4119-8f36-e7c92487cf52

FT France declares state of emergency in New Caledonia

The president condemns the violence sparked by his push for voting reform in the strategic south Pacific territory. The unrest began when the government pushed ahead with electoral reform after several years of failed negotiations for an overall accord to reconcile  pro- and anti-independence camps. An independence referendum in 2021 was boycotted by indigenous groups. They claimed that campaigning was impossible due to the Covid pandemic. https://www.ft.com/content/9e6a8629-071c-40cc-8743-4f66e3c5eff5

FT PM in Slovakia injured in assassination attempt

The suspect could immediately be detained after he shot the populist PM several times while he was greeting people. The attacker had a gun license and a “clear political motivation”, according to the interior minister. Some politicians from the ruling coalition were quick to claim the opposition had provoked the attack. https://www.ft.com/content/3508cf1b-2b5f-4cfb-b287-6b41c3641afc

TT How dream of democracy in Tunisia is dying under autocratic president

The birthplace of the Arab Spring is facing fresh crackdowns as the president rages against migration and jails his critics. A former law lecturer, he has ruled by decree after a sweeping power grab in 2021. Elections are due later this year and the president is promoting conspiracies that “traitors” who defend sub-Saharan African migrants are being paid by “foreign powers” to attack his government. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-tunisias-dream-of-democracy-dying-under-autocratic-president-bmtdtl6zc

May 17

FT Brazil supreme court chief hits back at owner X after rulings

The official links the billionaire with the ‘destructive’ international far-right movement after the owner of X protested the rulings. The judge warned of the rising tide of “authoritarian populism” and said: “Some people invoke freedom of expression when truly they are defending a business model based on engagement and, unfortunately, hatred, sensationalism [and] conspiracy theories.” His opinions have given rise to claims of judicial overreach and censorship. https://www.ft.com/content/25dce5c6-3c99-4ba6-a5af-d077c185c799
FT Economy in Japan contracts in first quarter as consumer spending lags

The weak currency puts pressure on household expenses and complicates the central bank’s plan to raise the interest rates. The central bank ended its era of negative interest rates in March, raising borrowing costs for the first time since 2007. It hopes that consumer spending will pick up due to big wage raises promised by the largest employers. https://www.ft.com/content/9bc8bc29-064c-4245-94fb-a6065a766132

FT Satellite images show citizens of Gaza forced to cram into Al-Mawasi tent city

The fishing village became an inhospitable home for tens of thousands of citizens, who fled from the cities due to bombardments. The village has a surface the size of a large airport and now inhabits tens of thousands of people in the most dire circumstances. https://www.ft.com/content/07202a13-08fd-4a27-b612-50927561b4c5

FT Far right-led government in the Netherlands set for clashes with EU

The four-party coalition agrees to a program of rolling back EU policies on climate, energy and migration. Despite agreeing on the program, the leaders of the four coalition parties were still debating the name of the future PM, as the leader of the far-right party who won the election was not acceptable for the post to two of the other parties. https://www.ft.com/content/45d0221f-5664-4f73-b0a6-dcb177ff4944

FT Germany probes far-right MP accused of taking Russian bribes

His properties and offices were raided by the police as parliament lifted his immunity from prosecution. The politician with Czech roots is the second on the party list for the EU election and is its spokesman for foreign affairs. A staff member of the top EU candidate was arrested last month on charges of spying for China. https://www.ft.com/content/83b8720f-edc3-487e-8c94-fec35aeb5181

FT How toxic politics in Slovakia left PM fighting for his life

Allies of the shot down PM threatened to clampdown after the assassination attempt in a climate of death threats and disinformation. The attack was said to be carried out by a “lone wolf” attacker with political motives. It raised questions about the spiral of toxicity that poses a risk to democracy just weeks before European parliamentary elections. https://www.ft.com/content/0f5cd3d2-df07-47ea-8f4a-84a81860ce7c

May 18

FT Countries wooing corporate remote workers with visa in the hope to make them stay

Nearly 60 countries are offering remote visas, many with an eye to making visitors permanent residents. Governments seek to outbid each other in a global war for talent. The total number of American digital nomads hit 17.3mn in 2023, of which just 6.6mn were self-employed. If such employees settle permanently in the country, they will contribute their skills and labor over the longer term too. https://www.ft.com/content/6fa06cf8-1724-4b0d-a3c2-59dcbafbdebd

FT New president of Taiwan faces China threat and voters left behind by chip boom

He is under pressure to increase social spending (“to support national unity”) but also brings a record of political battle in his 38 year old career. He also has to deal with the precarious position between the U.S.A. and the increasingly assertive China. He retained the foreign policy team of his predecessor, who served her maximum terms in office. https://www.ft.com/content/a8f9ac25-63f4-4a58-9e7a-c3a4d5d82392

FT Future PM in the Netherlands apologizes to reluctant coalition partner

His apology highlights the fragility of the government led by the far right. The party leader had used a government vehicle to travel to an interview. The future PM told this in parliament and now concludes that his remark was “unnecessary and misplaced”. On his part a newspaper highlights the future PM of not sharing credit for a patent for a new cancer therapy, earning him millions of euros. https://www.ft.com/content/e2ee4c41-ec16-4969-9e19-f618d1455064

FT Shot PM in Slovakia awake but in serious condition after shooting

He undergoes a second surgery after the assassination attempt. Political parties from across the political divide have cancelled their campaigning and the national parliament has suspended its session. The outgoing president, a political rival, and the main ally of the shot PM held a joint press conference, urging people to stop the political divide. https://www.ft.com/content/00a2aab7-b9eb-4fcf-8959-f9e52091150a

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

Rev. Vijayesh Lal, General Secretary, Evangelical Fellowship of India, about uplifting Motherhood in India and the Church: https://worldea.org/news/26121/uplifting-motherhood-in-india-and-the-church/

May 20

FT Israel’s ‘strategic drift’ darkens national mood

The Rafah offensive in Gaza and the hostage talks stalemate create a sense of an endless war after promising a “complete victory” for seven months. A poll shows that some 62 per cent of the citizens now believe “total victory” is no longer possible, against 27 per cent who still think it realistic. The defense minister: “The lack of postwar planning had led to the erosion of military gains within Gaza”. He wants an alternative to Hamas, but the group from Palestine at the same time shows resilience. https://www.ft.com/content/1b99351a-5037-4f1a-83e7-39a1de7b54df

FT Mexico’s main opposition candidate vows to confront criminal cartels

She says that ordinary people have taken too many bullets under the current presidency, despite the government’s “hugs not bullets” approach to crime. In an interview to the newspaper she says: “No one has as much power as the state and you have to use it. You have to use it intelligently but firmly.” In the polls her three party coalition trails the party of the outgoing president. https://www.ft.com/content/1155a0c5-c87d-4914-ba25-1d6fe48a8c8a

FT In the U.S.A. the ruling party fears the incumbent is losing pivotal Georgia

The president has shed support among Black voters who helped him defeat his rival in the battleground state in 2020. They may perhaps not vote for the rival (who used the state result to revolt against the election result) but skip the election altogether. The argument at the time (Black Lives Matter) has faded. https://www.ft.com/content/ab18441b-f302-41e6-b825-4b7ffc778f28

NYT Army in DRC says it foiled a coup involving Americans

The ambassador of the U.S.A. said she was “very concerned” that Americans may have participated in what officials of the country called a failed coup attempt early Sunday. She offered full participation to the government to investigate as much as her citizens were involved. The coup appeared to have been led by an obscure opposition politician based in her country. This person in 2011 attempted to participate in the election and left the country thereafter. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/19/world/africa/congo-coup-americans.html

May 21

FT Former president banned from running in South Africa election

The top court ruled that the former president, who started a new party, cannot take part in the May 29 poll because of his prison sentence. One analyst: “The former president has positioned himself as the victim of an out-of-touch elitist ANC, which has pushed him out and is now trying to punish him. He will use this ruling to reinforce that perception.” https://www.ft.com/content/ee7ff0f3-b526-47f9-83d8-7fe61d51dad5

FT The tainted blood scandal is a failure of the state in Britain

The suffering and deaths of thousands of victims could have been avoided. They were given contaminated blood. The state failed “at multiple levels, over decades. The calamity could largely have been avoided. And it was made worse by a “subtle, pervasive and chilling” cover-up by the health service, civil service and government.” This is the harsh conclusion of the newspaper in a dedicated editorial. https://www.ft.com/content/a174bd70-0bc3-460b-b4bb-3a6a7e2cc712

FT Death of president in helicopter crash to test unity of hardline factions in Iran

The process to choose a new president could push political rivalries among regime loyalists to a new level. When he was elected in 2021, his victory represented the consolidation of regime hardliner’s  over all arms of the state and the marginalization of moderates and reformists. A second term with the election next year seemed likely. All presidents so far served the maximum of two terms. Now emergency elections may create insecurities. https://www.ft.com/content/e6de080e-8151-4414-a8c7-01d09fb00b57

FT President of Dominican republic re-elected amid crackdown on migrants from Haiti

He won a second term on a tourism-driven economic boom and a pledge to reform the public finances. He won 58 percent of the vote, with 70 percent of  the ballots counted on Sunday night. The two closest rivals got 38 percent combined. The president acknowledges the need for stability in neighboring Haiti but also deports illegal immigrants from there. In the presidential debate he said: “A society that does not do that is chaos and anarchy.” https://www.ft.com/content/27259385-901c-4552-b078-93864e259061

May 22

FT Is the popularity of the incumbent in India starting to lose its luster?

The PM is likely to win a third term, but critics say his pro-business and authoritarian style may have peaked. He bestrides the world’s most populous nation with a mass following and a potent political brand honed over decades, giving him power that few other world leaders can match. He also increasingly appears in the role of a holy man in his personality cult, which is compared to the popularity of Indira Ghandhi. https://www.ft.com/content/30d7ca2a-92f0-412c-8234-2e9ec64043bb

FT President of France rushes to riot-hit pacific territory of New Caledonia

His sudden trip comes after unrest over the sovereignty of the colony that left six people dead and pushed up global nickel prices of which the territory has vast reserves, see May 16.  The indigenous group has become a minority in the territory, accounting for about 40 per cent of the population. They suffer from higher unemployment and relatively low median salaries. https://www.ft.com/content/524709df-e976-40b4-9476-3c1feab26430

FT Taxi drivers’ strike in Italy raises pressure on the government

The strike comes after the government minister met with a delegation of executives from the ride-hailing app Uber. The drivers’ union opposes what they call “a wild deregulation of the market that would replace public service with a service managed by an algorithm”. The government is also under pressure from consumers who are dissatisfied by the traditional taxi sector. https://www.ft.com/content/e809e1cc-3ec5-4c75-be78-3b4870376ebe

May 23

FT Blackouts crisis in South Africa is ‘fixed’, says energy company

The chair of the state-owned utility makes the claim about the outages days ahead of a crucial vote for the ruling party. They are costing the country almost R900mn for every day that the outages are at their worst. Some customers will likely remain suspicious of the company’s ability to deliver. Last weekend passed the psychological barrier of 50 days without imposing blackouts. https://www.ft.com/content/d6cc1482-4c28-4566-9902-db9d05436058

FT China has unveiled its property rescue plan. Will it be enough?

The country finally unlocks major firepower to tackle a three-year slowdown in the country’s real estate market. One analyst: “This is a drop in the ocean given the scale of unsold stock.” After decades of breakneck expansion, the country’s vast property sector ground to a halt in 2021 after major private developers such as Evergrande ran out of cash. https://www.ft.com/content/b087870a-7e26-4274-8fe5-fa36b75a9b6f

FT In Britain a snap election is a last gamble of the government who has run out of road

With nothing on the horizon likely to dramatically improve, the government has decided to seize the economic moment. Ordinarily a government so far behind in the opinion polls does not rush to the country. The economic reputation of the ruling party was ruined by the short previous government (see October 22, 2022). The government hopes that it has done better and also wants to keep party revolt in check. https://www.ft.com/content/030a044d-04b3-43b5-8927-34d06312a7f5

FT Supreme court in Brazil overturns ‘Car Wash’ corruption convictions

The reversal of high-profile rulings comes as the country backtracks on the graft probe, known as ‘Car Wash’. The court on Tuesday evening overturned a 2017 conviction on the grounds that a limitation period had expired. The 78-year-old has another outstanding corruption conviction that is under reconsideration by a separate court. If that conviction too is reversed, it could open the door for him to stand for election. https://www.ft.com/content/c0d84b0f-1f0b-40d0-8ebe-8bf6c60b4fbe

FT Vietnam appoints man behind sweeping corruption crackdown as president

The public security appointment comes amid an anti-graft crusade that has sparked political turmoil. Parliament appointed him after a nomination of the ruling Communist party. The country known for political stability under tight party control was shocked by a corruption scandal at the time it developed itself as a manufacturing alternative to China. The presidency is a largely ceremonial function but takes part in the four person collective leadership. https://www.ft.com/content/aaaff12e-e8ca-4f8b-9d99-b10ffb7027bf

FT Spain hits tourism record in race to catch title France as world’s top tourist destination

The surge in visitors stokes a backlash among some Spaniards and demands for government action. The tourist boom is an economic fillip for the country where tourism accounts for 12-13 percent of GDP but provokes angry outbreaks of “tourism-phobia”. Some authorities introduced measures including tourism taxes, bans on new holiday accommodation and strict regulations on Airbnb-style rental apartments. https://www.ft.com/content/14463c4a-6bd0-4f91-b0bd-e074908c85ab

FT Germany’s far right political party in turmoil after its top candidate for the EU defends SS

The politician steps down from the party board and suspends campaigning after saying to this newspaper that not all SS members were criminals. The SS ran WWII extermination camps. The party is already in trouble for corruption charges against another politician (see May 17). https://www.ft.com/content/adb37d25-f133-4c46-993d-e9c2dcecf3a7

TT British-born teenager to become the first millennial saint

Pope Francis has approved the canonization of Carlo Acutis, a 15-year-old Catholic boy who died of leukemia in 2006. Out of 912 people canonized by the Pope, the most recent birth date was previously 1926. The millennial saint was known for his very social and devout character and also built a website documenting miracles around the world. After his death his example became a role model for modern youth. https://www.thetimes.com/uk/religion/article/london-born-teenager-becomes-the-first-millennial-saint-gsf9qvf38

May 24

FT Malaria vaccine makers call for more orders to drive down costs

The Serum Institute of India says it is losing money on each dose it supplies for the historic first mass vaccination campaign, see January 23. It could produce four times as many vaccines as ordered. The call is addressed to the UN children’s agency UNICEF and the global vaccine alliance Gavi. These multinational institutes point to the logistical problems with the campaign. https://www.ft.com/content/0f19c56f-69ab-4898-9f7e-c6dcb7c34a95

FT ‘Born-free’ generation in South Africa sees the election as ‘pyramid scheme’ to make the elected richer

Disenchanted young people turn away from the ruling party ahead of the country’s most contested elections in three decades. Some parties bank on building their narrative of condemning the ruling party. The slogan “2024 is our 1994” is coined. But this all can also reinforce the ruling party. It will likely lose its majority but no other party comes close to them. https://www.ft.com/content/22ba516e-e8ca-4897-a499-2a003317e77d

FT  U.S.A. government to upgrade ties with Kenya to counter Russian and Chinese sway in Africa

The visit of the president is the first state visit by an African leader to Washington in 15 years. Washington seeks to upgrade its relations with Nairobi. The country will be one of the 19 “major non-Nato allies”, the first from sub-Saharan Africa. A background is the security mission to Haiti, backed by US funding and envisioned to be led by Kenya, along with personnel from other nations including Chad, Jamaica and Bangladesh. https://www.ft.com/content/b8ddf201-bb83-4155-a69e-109dc5470a11

FT Inflation in Turkey rages a year into economic turnaround

The consumer expectations of further high prices pose a challenge for the central bank in reining in the price growth. Many consumers remain doubtful the new economic measures will succeed, having watched the central bank miss its inflation target every year since 2011. https://www.ft.com/content/3d63a7e0-23a1-4a84-8867-20e7efdede48

May 25

FT Tunisia cracks down on dissent ahead of vote

Journalists, lawyers and civil society workers  are held in a country that acts as a key transit point for irregular migration to Europe. The country is funded by the EU to stop this. The ruler claimed last year that his country was the target of a plot to change its demographic composition by bringing in people from sub-Saharan countries (see April 5, 2023). His remarks sparked a wave of violent attacks against migrants. https://www.ft.com/content/40ad4072-33e5-42eb-ba9c-d7cd13420d55

FT Japan blocks view of Mount Fuji after local backlash against tourist hordes

The 2.5m high barrier to deter sightseers from the country’s most prominent vista highlights the friction generated by the rising visitor numbers to the country, also due to the weak currency. The surge in travelers from overseas has also exposed the acute labor shortage in the hotel and restaurant sector. Measures of the government include protecting cultural heritage and aiming at higher spending tourism. https://www.ft.com/content/f0ab9927-2bbc-43f8-95eb-0de7bc61ce47

FT Rival of incumbent freed from jail shakes up election campaign in India

The Delhi chief minister was released on bail this month, seven weeks after he was arrested by India’s economic crime agency on allegations that he masterminded a scheme to siphon money from liquor license grants in the capital. He went on the campaign trail immediately, accusing the incumbent of weaponizing corruption probes to discredit rivals. Exit and opinion polls are banned during the election, meaning there is little data to indicate who is in the lead. Turn out so far trails the last election slightly. https://www.ft.com/content/51282389-42b4-488c-803b-ec2f40bd43db

FT Next leader of Mexico faces gaping budget hole

The winner of the presidential election must deal with the largest fiscal deficit since the 1980s. The two leading candidates, a former climate scientist and a self-made businesswoman, have said they don’t think tax hikes are needed. The economic in-tray will also include turning around the world’s most indebted state oil company and converting investor interest into concrete projects. https://www.ft.com/content/6b0450a0-29aa-4388-8931-d3d9486970d4

TT Mothers in South Africa take on gangs in Cape Town’s murder mile

The police have all but abandoned an area where, only 40 minutes from the best restaurants and beaches, criminals rule by fear. For the people in the Cape Flats, the situation is a damning indictment of promises from successive governments to slow the murder rate. During the last three months of 2023, one person was murdered on average every 20 minutes across the country. https://www.thetimes.com/world/africa/article/the-night-watch-mothers-take-on-gangs-in-cape-towns-murder-mile-hm7vq28k8

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

On 16 April 2024, the World Evangelical Alliance made a submission to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in response to the High Commissioner’s call for input on combating intolerance against persons based on religion or belief. https://un.worldea.org/report-fostering-a-culture-of-tolerance-and-diversity/

May 27

FT Somaliland leader says access deal with Ethiopia can deter Houthi attacks

The leader from the breakaway country without any international recognition promises ‘freedom of navigation’ in the Red Sea where Yemeni rebels have repeatedly attacked shipping. He claims the deal is supported by the 5.7m citizens in his relatively stable territory. But it has met some domestic opposition, including from the defense minister who resigned in protest. Under the deal Ethiopia will lease land for a harbor for a naval base alongside the harbor of Berbera, which is exploited by the UAE. https://www.ft.com/content/c4593986-94dd-478b-96db-ac070e99861e

FT EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) party lures voters with radical alternative in South Africa

The country’s third-largest party appeals to the electorate with a wealth distribution plan. It is to strip land from the wealthy, seize assets from the mining companies and spend the proceeds on education, free WiFi and electricity, and 24-hour doctors’ clinics. The party may be a possible king-maker if the ruling party slips under 50 percent of the vote. The 43-year-old EFF leader rejected the accusation that he wants to take white property. “Just sharing”, he claims. https://www.ft.com/content/6f390f7f-cdf1-42f4-ae78-9164050b7517

FT Eruption of violence in football’s season of Turkey points to deeper societal malaise

The country’s dominant sport joins the ranks of those institutions in which the public has lost faith. The suspicion that shadowy forces are at play in deciding matches reflected Turks’ dwindling faith in politics and society more broadly, according to the article. https://www.ft.com/content/41489e6b-2950-4904-8296-858f9b75c50f

FT Hong Kong woos China mainlanders eager for more cash and freedom

The territory tries to maintain allure in the wake of the pandemic and the political crackdown. Since the beginning of 2023, Hong Kong authorities have approved visas for more than 93,600 people from the mainland, many of them young professionals from cities such as Shenzhen and Shanghai. https://www.ft.com/content/95134cdb-44db-407c-bd0a-b9e90a6ef135

FT Divided Belgium pulled to political extremes

The far-right and the far-left parties are set to become the largest forces in parliament after the June 9 vote, but in separate language regions. Parliament is highly fragmented and the current government is a coalition of 7 parties, formed after 500 days of negotiations. This is a world record and likely to be repeated after the next election. https://www.ft.com/content/6943090d-6746-4712-be19-77e6a64f95e4

FT Online Chinese version of ‘Kim Kardashian’ banned for being too ostentatious

The government cracks down on social media influencers known for extravagant outfits and displays of wealth. They were driven off the internet due to “violation of self-discipline” rules. The crackdown according to an analyst is considered ethical by many, which makes the authorities more explicit in their actions. https://www.ft.com/content/aa8f30f4-d3ef-4188-b64d-82bab354f187

TT You can’t shut your beach on Sundays, Christian group in the U.S.A. told

The New Jersey Methodists have restricted access to the sea at Ocean Grove for 150 years. After a residents’ rebellion focusing on their religious belief, they have been overruled. Since 1870, when Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association bought the 1 sq mile plot, access to the beach has been blocked between 9am and noon for the 15 summer weeks between this weekend’s Memorial Day holiday and September. https://www.thetimes.com/world/us-world/article/you-cant-shut-your-beach-on-sundays-new-jersey-methodists-told-cth6xsw8r

May 28

FT Chancellor of Germany and president of France: we must strengthen European sovereignty

In a joint op-ed in the newspaper the two leaders conclude that the EU needs more single market, innovation and investment to secure a common future, calling the regional group “mortal” in the global turn of the world, expressed with the German word “Zeitenwende”. They want to reduce “critical dependencies” and “an ambitious bureaucracy reduction agenda to deliver on simpler and faster administrative procedures and cutting bureaucratic burdens for businesses of all sizes”. https://www.ft.com/content/853f0ba0-c6f8-4dd4-a599-6fc5a142e879

FT The U.S.A. breaks global rules as it defends the free world

The newspaper’s chief foreign affairs commentator in an op-ed argues that Washington should dial down its claim to be protecting the so-called “rules-based international order” that is clearly in decline. “People might go to war to defend freedom or the motherland. Nobody is going to fight and die for the RBIO.” https://www.ft.com/content/8249cd96-bda3-48c9-bf91-005df4125f9d

FT Ruling party in South Africa makes billion-dollar pledges ahead of election

The measures include universal health insurance and a basic income grant for the unemployed. In addition land reform and redistribution were pledged. The ruling party vigorously campaigned, regaining some ground, but some see signals that people are in disbelief that the government can afford the pre-election pledges. Polling at 42 percent, the party could decide to work with a smaller opposition party to retain its power platform. https://www.ft.com/content/1630c87b-6aef-452c-b0c2-437a26faaf9a

FT  Burkina Faso junta extends rule to 2029

The military regime abandons elections and cements its control amid an Islamist insurgency and a string of coups in the region. The 36-year-old interim leader will become president and “supreme leader” of the armed forces and will be eligible to contest elections whenever they are held, according to a charter agreed with lawmakers, security forces and loyal religious and civil society groups. It replaces earlier pledges. https://www.ft.com/content/8e32d16a-1a75-4bc5-9d1a-352f6c73a979

FT In the U.S.A. climate push of the government fell flat with Gen Z voters

The government’s clean energy reforms and pollution crackdown still leave some of his base cold. His rival has stronger appeal among the young. Progressive young might stay at home due to frustrations about living costs, foreign policy and the slow process around climate change. https://www.ft.com/content/421a2055-0f42-46ba-8d26-b9e3e7462d15

FT Scandals deprive the far right party of Germany of a breakthrough in local polls

The traditional conservative party in the far right stronghold state election is the overall winner. The far right party had hoped to displace its conservative rival, and even expected outright victories in several of the 13 districts being contested. Instead it now faces run-off elections in nine districts. The results of the far right are still clearly ahead of the score last time. https://www.ft.com/content/e6dffbda-2e05-4746-9b0e-c0b2ca4ef0ac

TT Pope Francis ‘shocks bishops’ with derogatory term for gay men

The pontiff is alleged to have said there was too much ‘frociaggine’, which translates as ‘faggotry’, among those training for the priesthood. It is claimed that the pope whose native language is Spanish and was speaking in Italian, was unaware of how offensive the word was in Italian. https://www.thetimes.com/article/pope-francis-shocks-bishops-with-remark-about-gay-trainee-priests-fp0hlhfs9

TT Russia fuels Sudan civil war in exchange for Red Sea military base

Moscow is providing arms to both the state army and their paramilitary opponents to gain a strategic foothold in the north African region and fund the war in Ukraine.  The second in command of the state army: “Power today lies in financial influence, while values and ethics have become commodities. We must make bold moves to achieve our military and economic goals for the benefit of our country and people.” https://www.thetimes.com/world/africa/article/russia-sudan-red-sea-base-port-sudan-c96rqk32c

TT Papua New Guinea landslide: officials fear 2,000 buried alive

In addition, as many as 1,000 residents face evacuation as the landslide is ‘still active’. At least 150 houses were destroyed when a mountainside collapsed in the northwestern region. https://www.thetimes.com/world/australasia/article/papua-new-guinea-landslide-un-fears-670-people-dead-hqwm03twf

May 29

FT Business in South Africa grows hopeful of smooth election outcome

Executives are confident the ruling party can avoid a coalition with more radical parties that would jeopardize their interests. The ruling party result is improving and polling at 45 percent. The conservative second party polls at 20+ percent. https://www.ft.com/content/3c73e79d-e5a5-4a25-9a66-6cb5d9618063

FT Parliament in Taiwan boosts powers in challenge to president

Large crowds protest against the legal changes that according to the ruling party and civic groups undermine Taiwanese democracy. The opposition dominates parliament. They argue that the president is too powerful in the system. Others see the moves of parliament as a parliamentary coup. https://www.ft.com/content/95f1508d-9d48-4376-bdc9-319b8510ba43

FT Georgia adopts Russian-inspired ‘foreign agents’ law

Parliament overrules the presidential veto after the law was adopted despite strong protests (see May 14). There was a majority of 84 MPs of the 140-strong parliament in favor. The bill mandates that civil rights groups and media outlets receiving funds from abroad must register with the government as “foreign agents” or face fines. The adoption jeopardizes the country’s accession drive to the EU. https://www.ft.com/content/aa1f5b8d-7d3c-4718-9148-629784bad0bc

FT Former spy chief to become PM in the Netherlands

The new PM does not belong to a political party and is a career civil servant. He will lead the four-party coalition that includes the far-right. The other three parties only agreed to form a coalition if the far-right party gave up the traditional right to claim the PM role. https://www.ft.com/content/a9810bbd-6ef6-4022-b724-170fc3d13036

TT Pope Francis apologizes for using derogatory term for gay men

Those in attendance when the Pope made the remark (see May 28) said he was unaware of how offensive the Italian term ‘frociaggine’ was. The pope stressed that the Catholic Church welcomes homosexual people but said they should not be allowed to train for the priesthood. The statement of apology says: “As he has said on various occasions, in the Church there is space for all, for all! No one is useless, no one is superfluous, there is space for all.” https://www.thetimes.com/world/europe/article/pope-francis-shocks-bishops-with-remark-about-gay-trainee-priests-fp0hlhfs9

May 30

FT Citizens in Nigeria perplexed by abrupt change of national anthem

The sudden decision to revert to the old song raises concerns about compliant lawmakers. One analyst: “The speed of this amendment and change shows a lack of priorities”. The new anthem, written by two British women at the time of liberation from the colonial days, was dropped in 1978 in favor of a song written by Nigerians. One senator and ally of the president: “The newly adopted anthem is motivational”. https://www.ft.com/content/5d0953ef-ad01-4006-9c46-4ef293da992e

FT The rising influence of UAE in Africa

As China steps back, the oil-rich Gulf state has become an important source of foreign investment — but with fresh layers of complexity. The UAE also gives military support, for instance to Ethiopia when it was threatened by regional rebels (see December 21, 2021) and in Sudan, where it allegedly supports the rebels to the state army. The most controversial role is with Somaliland (see May 27). It is said that the UAE wants to counter Islamist threats. https://www.ft.com/content/388e1690-223f-41a8-a5f2-0c971dbfe6f0

FT Thailand to indict ex-PM for allegedly insulting monarchy

The so-called lèse majesté charge is the second legal challenge for the government backed by the party of the populist ex-PM. It comes just three months after he was granted parole on a corruption conviction. The charge is considered a signal of the conservative military establishment. https://www.ft.com/content/d1a42986-faa4-4871-910d-20c6fb2b9ed7

FT Hong Kong convicts 14 activists in city’s largest national security trial

Two defendants are acquitted of conspiracy to commit subversion in a closely watched case. The case was brought to 47 activists. The remaining activists will be sentenced later. https://www.ft.com/content/ef4ecb3d-49f3-4cc9-862f-14595eacc268

TT Maoris lead protests over New Zealand ‘anti-indigenous’ policies

Thousands of citizens demonstrated in Wellington as the National Party delivered its first budget. Maori leaders want more political power and are critical of the government’s policies. They deem these policies to be aimed against the indigenous community, who make up a fifth of the country’s five million citizens. Those policies include moves to disband the Maori Health Authority, reduce the use of Maori language in government departments and remove references in legislation to the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, which was an agreement between the British crown and Maori chiefs. https://www.thetimes.com/world/australasia/article/maoris-lead-protests-over-new-zealand-anti-indigenous-policies-3l2l7k7h6

May 31

FT ‘Knives and Kalashnikovs’: violent drug gangs torment city in South of France

A fatal attack on a prisoner convoy in Marseille is linked to an area of the city and exposes failures in the fight against illicit trade. Billions have been poured into hiring extra police and court officials, but the extra resources have been overwhelmed by the expanding drug trade. The freed criminal in the convoy is still on the run. https://www.ft.com/content/11c65285-57dd-49f6-aaeb-82cd94221936

June 1

FT Voters in South Africa put weakened ruling party in a bind

The party might be forced into a coalition with radical left-wingers or a free-market group. One analyst: “It’s a huge reconfiguration of politics.” The ruling party went down from 58 percent in 2019 to 41 percent now. The free-market group favored working with the smaller, radical parties with which it signed the so-called Moonshot Pact. The result shows that together they lack a majority. This is thanks to the new party of the former president convicted over corruption. https://www.ft.com/content/b00118a2-7743-47db-b1cc-cbfd4d8766cf

FT A conviction does not end the threat posed to the U.S.A. by a presidential candidate

The voters in November will still decide the future of the democracy in the country. This is the main conclusion of an editorial of the newspaper on the corruption conviction against a former president, now a presidential hopeful. The conviction shows that part of the judicial system worked. It is sad that the Supreme court is delaying to decide over the “absurd claim” of the former president that he should be immune from prosecution for acts committed in office: his attempt to overturn the election result. https://www.ft.com/content/4957d8e2-c916-4b37-bf99-8b64cb42379a

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

A farewell message to the director of our Geneva office: https://un.worldea.org/a-farewell-message-to-wissam-al-saliby/ 

June 3

FT South Africa on the precipice

The ruling party’s coalition choices will determine the country’s future. In an editorial the newspaper suggests that a ruling party minority government with the main opposition party as backer or a government of national unity (except for the two most radical parties) are viable options to get the country back from the brink. For both the current president is needed to make it work. https://www.ft.com/content/dc673f6b-fcc9-4430-8b3b-d65559b70eef

FT Exit polls forecast decisive majority for incumbent in election India

The ruling party is set to enter a second decade in power when the results are announced on June 4, winning a comfortable majority of between 353 and 401 seats in the 543-seat parliament and easily beating the opposition INDIA alliance. The 73-year-old leader campaigned on the slogan of “Modi’s guarantee”. Exit polls in the past had a mixed record of reliability, but analysts conclude a victory for the government is sure. https://www.ft.com/content/41f48391-ce38-49ed-bd89-c5744f9985c3

FT Winner in 2023 Thailand election says party ban would ‘turbocharge’ calls for change

The winner faces exclusion from public office over a campaign pledge to stop criminalizing insults to the south-east Asian country’s monarch and his immediate family. Last year he was excluded from government, see August 17, 2023. The court ruled earlier this year that the party’s intention to reform the monarchical law amounted to an attempt to overthrow Thailand’s political system. https://www.ft.com/content/45fbbff3-613a-488b-9f87-69904804186d

FT Government coalition in Italy bets on German art historian as Florence mayor

If elected in June, he wants to run the historic city ‘according to corporate criteria, without ideology’. During his eight years of running the main museum – which ended last year, the German person made headlines by battling powerful ticket scalpers who bought museum tickets in bulk, then resold them, outside the gallery and online, at high mark-ups. https://www.ft.com/content/9364b9b3-7485-4d27-9a65-57252d095b1a

June 4

FT Ruling party in South Africa  begins coalition talks as they eye unity government

The president is thought to be seeking a deal with the centrist party but others want a pact with the party of the convicted former president, deeming the centrist party too “white”. The president named the vote “free, fair and peaceful”, adding that “our people expect all parties to work together within the framework of our constitution”. https://www.ft.com/content/6890618e-7618-4223-96cb-8096911fa67a

FT Killing of policeman deepens political chasm in Germany ahead of EU vote

The far right party seizes on the crime perpetrated by an Afghan migrant to stoke fear. Their youth league voiced slogans over so-called remigration, meaning the mass deportation of people with a German nationality and a migrant background. The conservative opposition responded to the crime that apart from punishing the perpetrator the consequences of the act should also reach for those who sympathize with him. https://www.ft.com/content/ab5326b4-1abb-41bf-94d4-bd6a7e07e68b

FT Inflation in Turkey hits 75% but minister says worst is over

The annual consumer prices rose sharply in May as households continue to spend despite hefty interest rate increases. The minister: “We are entering the disinflation process. The permanent decline in inflation will begin in June.” https://www.ft.com/content/74cddf36-36fa-4df9-b720-7b3cafd5e82b

FT Dozens of candidates register to stand in presidential election Iran

The hopefuls include current and former ministers and parliamentarians, the mayor of Tehran, and three woman candidates. The Islamic republic leadership is unlikely to take big risks. The election is on June 28. https://www.ft.com/content/5fbd12f7-5d4f-46b1-b1ee-5c844e63d851

FT President of Argentina turns to an opponent to save his project of radical economic reform

The government appointed a new ‘super minister’, who is a veteran political operator. He is widely seen as the polar opposite of the libertarian president: calm, diplomatic, and with friends across the political spectrum. https://www.ft.com/content/f6d55896-c923-4cf2-8d8f-10f36e6144ae

FT Five challenges facing the election winner in Mexico

The big budget deficit and the record number of murders top the president-elect’s worries. In addition she must worry about the country’s powerful neighbor, the U.S.A. Fourth, the state energy company is the world’s most indebted oil company. And fifth, her predecessor was so charismatic that his influence will still be felt. https://www.ft.com/content/44b92bed-9bbc-4a6e-9a32-b2ed37fb81f0

FT In Britain, ruling party chances hit after populist Brexit campaigner decides to stand in election

This is his eighth attempt to become MP. A new poll shows the opposition party on the left could win a huge majority. The  pro-Brexit party and its leader could peel off yet more voters from the ruling party. https://www.ft.com/content/162aab1c-23e8-4fe6-b5eb-ec48b51a71a9

NYT Arrest threatens reputation of Nepal as South Asia’s model for free speech

Political debates remained largely free, and the powerful could easily be questioned. That openness, in a poor country emerging from centuries of monarchical suppression and decades of insurgency, showed that democratic expression need not necessarily be correlated to economic status. But now a media executive was arrested after his company published critical reports about a powerful government minister. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/03/world/asia/nepal-media-arrest.html

June 5

FT Internal document of ruling party in South Africa advises coalition deal with two centrist parties

The discussion follows the shock election in which the ruling party was stripped of its majority. The document states that the party “should not consider” an alliance with the more radical parties. It describes the latter as “rent-seeking parties” that would be “alienating large numbers of voters who view them as corrupt”. There are other opinions in the ruling party. There is concern that voters would disapprove liaisons with the centrist party perceived as “white” friendly. https://www.ft.com/content/ec2de91c-fba7-493b-9ee9-8840bb8413da

FT Ruling party in India emerges weakened in election

The newspaper dedicates an editorial to the subject and concludes the election result could put the nation’s rise on firmer foundations. The ruling party is set to lose its own outright majority, and with its allies will take fewer seats in India’s lower house than in 2019. The result could strengthen the country’s rise if it encourages the hubristic, Hindu nationalist party to engage in more deliberative policymaking and enlivens Indian democracy. A strong and democratic India matters, for its people — and also for the world. https://www.ft.com/content/d81dde25-3f10-4f12-979c-5f73683e54ef

June 6

FT The unseen dangers of lead contamination

As floods intensify, the threat of the toxic metal seeping into the food chain is as big a problem as sewage in rivers or air pollution, particularly in countries with a longer industrial heritage. https://www.ft.com/content/5bcc846c-9858-4ae3-ae75-06fc17342d3d

FT Ruling party considers national unity government in South Africa

The party has been locked in talks with rivals after losing its 30-year parliamentary majority in last week’s election. The party spokesperson reminded that the party has done that before: in 1994 after democracy was installed. The problem now is that the radicals have left the ruling party and the centrist party is too “white” in the eyes of many. On their part the centrist party has ruled out working with one of the radical parties that the ruling party has also approached. https://www.ft.com/content/7e13ea0c-df85-4232-9880-8f29612b54a6

June 7

FT A single Supreme court judge in Brazil leads the drive to bury biggest corruption probe

He infuriates campaigners by helping dismantle the legacy of the ‘Car Wash’ investigation. He is a former lawyer of the ruling party. Critics have rounded on the fact that the judge made his recent moves alone, without the backing of the full 11-member court. So-called monocratic decisions are a common albeit controversial practice in the court. https://www.ft.com/content/f94f1279-b011-441d-9c9b-2841bab1714f

FT Election in India revives the fortunes of the opposition

The opposition invigorated after stripping the ruling party of its outright majority. It is the biggest breakthrough in the career of the current 53 year old opposition leader, who hails from a family of party leaders. The ruling party won 240 of 543 seats in India’s lower house of parliament, while the opposition alliance won 234. https://www.ft.com/content/0db80b37-e770-4e4d-95b1-6bb7b7c9d71

June 8

FT Elephant invasion pits villagers in Zambia against conservationists

The devastation caused by the animals highlights the tensions between global environmentalists and the local population that live alongside wildlife. Nine people have died since 263 elephants were placed in a Malawi reserve along the border with Zambia in July 2022. The environmentalists claim the park makes shared living space for humans and animals possible. https://www.ft.com/content/c5947f73-6e3a-46a7-8ac1-18a64e7b8888

FT South Africa opposition group claims Russia is funding party of convicted former president

The former president’s upstart party is accused by the centrist opposition party of being extremely well financed. On their part the upstart party claims that the critics want to deflect attention from their own funding by foreign countries. The upstart party has not filed any donations, which is mandatory for large donations. https://www.ft.com/content/4b88d21b-a882-43ef-846d-fc13870faee9

FT Conservative elite in Mexico struggles to comprehend left’s landslide election win

The wealthy are out of touch with the majority of ordinary people, critics say. The victory of the left wing party was no surprise, but the scale of it was. Polls claim that almost 90 per cent of the citizens favored policies to narrow the income gap, which is one of the world’s highest according to the OECD. Radical changes to the constitution are possible after the ruling party greatly increased its majority in parliament. https://www.ft.com/content/9bf9d829-6fac-4a8c-8abf-6fda171a1ca7

FT Labor market in the U.S.A. powers past expectations with 272,000 jobs added in May

The markets push back the expected interest rate cuts after the labor and inflation data beat the forecast. https://www.ft.com/content/d5f312eb-e07a-44a2-a7eb-8b369c029071

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

Moss Ntlha, secretary general of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TEASA), is interviewed about the results of the election in his country: https://evangelicalfocus.com/world/26955/south-africa

June 10

FT IMF warns U.S.A. on ballooning fiscal burden

The fund’s second-in-command urges the country and also other advanced economies to reduce their debt to pre-pandemic levels. “The temptation to finance all spending through borrowing really is something that countries should avoid,” she added. And also: “We see grounds in several countries for more progressive taxation.” https://www.ft.com/content/134cc7f3-f2df-43c9-b1b1-e58e6363781a

FT Former president U.S.A. in election campaign: ‘The economy is all people care about’

The rampant inflation could push voters in typical ruling party states to vote for the challenger. He pushes on local grievances to make his case. https://www.ft.com/content/e33c6850-0e30-4f75-9ad3-4a7775f5ece3

FT The ‘kingmakers’ in India set to prop up the incumbent after election

The PM’s future government may depend on two regional politicians suddenly thrust into the national spotlight by this week’s shock general election result. They lead the two largest regional parties. The two have switched allegiances before. https://www.ft.com/content/b57cbb44-b769-4c2c-a2d9-383fbc819c82

FT Coalition government in Germany attacks ‘beer tent’-style speech by stock exchange CEO

His populist tirade reflects the growing frustration among business leaders. He said the country risked becoming a “developing country”.  He contrasted his country with the attractiveness of the U.S.A. Business laments the growing skills shortage, excessive bureaucracy, high energy prices and a heavy tax burden. https://www.ft.com/content/ea89065e-c258-4765-b218-23e6cbf6584b

FT In Ireland political arm of former liberation party of Northern Ireland falters in local elections

The nationalist ambitions to lead the next government are undercut by poor showing against their rivals. The party was once seen as the frontrunner to lead the next national government. But it scored only half the performance of the two coalition parties. The housing crisis in the country is considered a driver to change allegiance among voters. https://www.ft.com/content/9d11a7d6-33e9-48bb-ab31-d36a3ae25bb4

FT PM puts brakes on solar energy rollout in Italy

The PM says photovoltaics are threatening the nation’s ‘food security’, but farmers disagree. Instead, the government will require more costly installations of at least 2.1 meters above ground, to allow cultivation underneath. A government decree also bars farmers from leasing their land to solar developers and instead requires them to invest directly in the renewable energy projects on their properties. https://www.ft.com/content/130fbd9f-16ca-44f6-8edc-c65d73dee8f1

FT Opposition member of war cabinet in  Israel resigns

The centrist former general calls for early elections and accuses the government of mismanaging the war with Gaza. He was a moderating influence on the PM. https://www.ft.com/content/78bc5111-1851-4a71-a5dd-ca9c9dff0241

NYT Iran names six candidates for president, including parliament speaker

The June 28 election to succeed the president killed in a crash comes as the country faces acute domestic and international challenges. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/09/world/middleeast/iran-election-parliament-speaker.html

June 11

FT Keep Ecowas out of internal regional politics, Benin minister says

The West African bloc is urged to focus on the economy and avoid meddling in member states’ domestic affairs. In an interview to the newspaper the minister said that the alliance should be reformed. Its haphazard response to political crises should be different and Benin wants non-interference in internal affairs. https://www.ft.com/content/66d74726-7b18-480f-b57d-6385f0ead72c

FT President of the country and South Africa itself on the edge

Despite losing his parliamentary majority during the election, the president is determined to keep calm and carry on. The newspaper’s foreign affairs commentirelandator met him in his home over the weekend. The president said: “The people have sent us a message. They have decided we have to work together.” The problem with this high-minded message: The main opposition parties detest each other and have diametrically opposed platforms. https://www.ft.com/content/af4cd921-7c55-4458-926c-0293712e17f7

FT President in France plays a high-stakes gamble to call snap election

Trying to contain the far right through early elections after the disastrous EU election result could badly backfire. https://www.ft.com/content/939062f8-5734-4def-a4dd-879430703052

FT Venezuelan gang’s arrival shakes Latin America’s safest nation, Chile

The violent gangsters employ a business model that is less tied to their home countries. They bring kidnappings and killings to relatively safe and prosperous regions. They operate semi-autonomous while communicating with their home base and taking on contract-based work, enabling the gangs to expand into new regions. https://www.ft.com/content/720cb0bb-63d1-4145-9de8-7ef382c6fe59

NYT Gangs in Haiti try to turn into militia

The Kenyan-led deployment, aided by U.S.A. supplies and funding, could face a far more volatile situation than past international UN peacekeeping missions. The growing lethality of the gangs’ arsenals may also indicate a strengthening tie with cartels in Latin America. The rise of gangs started a few decades ago. The armed bandits were used by politicians to suppress voter turnout or anti-government protests and by the business elite to secure land for industrial purposes or to attack rival businesses. But like many things in the country that has now all been upended. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/05/21/world/americas/haiti-gangs-segonn-5.html

June 12

FT Can the party that liberated South Africa still hold it together?

Facing a Friday constitutional deadline to create a new coalition government, the country president is trying to prevent economic chaos while avoiding new splits in his party by proposing a government of national unity. One analyst: “We are now in the era of coalitions. This is likely to last forever.” Also true: there is no tradition of coalitions. By Friday a majority in the 400 delegates parliament needs to vote for a new president. The ruling party only has 159 delegates but is divided on whom to govern with. https://www.ft.com/content/926b8230-3eee-4c31-a8ca-397e2889c444

FT Government in Indonesia will be ‘family enterprise’

The brother of the incoming president is expected to play a key role. Their family played a significant role in the liberation from colonialism, while their father served in the cabinet of two presidents, including the late dictator. The brother recently had a year’s long legal battle for tax payment in Switzerland, claiming he is insolvent. But this does not show in his high level meetings in Asia. https://www.ft.com/content/6e3070e5-62bb-4e45-b170-d85d97065aad

FT Government pitches Argentina as low-regulation AI hub

An adviser to the libertarian president says the country can provide a hedge against growing restrictions in the western countries. He points to tech leaders eager to meet with the president and the advantages of his country which include a well-educated population and a vast supply of land for data centers. Yet, a bill designed to incentivize investment faces a vote in the senate. https://www.ft.com/content/90090232-7a68-4ef5-9f53-27a6bc1260cc

FT President-elect of Mexico vows to press ahead with controversial judicial overhaul

The currency, one of the most liquid emerging market currencies, went down after she backed the proposed reforms that could lead to direct election of top justices. The reforms would be discussed broadly, including by university faculty, lawyers and justices. But also, the party of the president has nearly two third majority. Only one country, Bolivia, currently elects supreme court judges. https://www.ft.com/content/b503f088-cba3-4bc6-ad7e-9b58c22b8813

June 13

FT WHO warns that powerful lobbies hobble moves to cut disease burden in Europe

Alcohol, food, tobacco and fossil fuel sectors oppose efforts to target conditions linked to 2.7mn deaths a year in Europe alone. The WHO study highlights “pervasive” industry interference in policymaking, including well-funded efforts to oppose public interest regulation, shape scientific evidence and public debate, and externalize the costs of harms that products cause. https://www.ft.com/content/3b883978-446a-430b-8cc9-95dd00e165e4

FT ICC prosecutor seeks information about possible Sudan civil conflict war crimes

The ICC is particularly concerned by ‘ethnically motivated’ attacks on civilian populations in the Darfur region. The prosecutor said that the information “seems to disclose an organized, systematic and a profound attack on human dignity”. The commander of one of the two fighting parties is “originally from a Chadian-Arab clan from Darfur”. https://www.ft.com/content/e3dc1aa1-adde-4e82-89c7-7feb3b816719

FT Conservative leader in France deposed by party for backing far right

Political turmoil turns to a farce after the deposed leader locked the party HQ to thwart critics of his expressed preference for working with the far right towards the upcoming snap election. Together they might get a majority, polls show. However the party executive accused the deposed leader of “dictatorial methods”. https://www.ft.com/content/01d80fd3-40f5-4313-a90c-87906c067c51

FT Investigation of the newspaper finds children from Ukraine on adoption sites in Russia

Four missing Ukrainian children are identified and located in Russia, including one given a false identity. The research used image recognition tools and public records, as well as interviews with Ukrainian officials and the children’s relatives. The findings add to the mounting body of evidence of  the International Criminal Court for war crimes. https://www.ft.com/content/2d0013d2-a407-449f-b1e2-3d14fe65188f

TT Socrates and Aristotle sidelined to ‘decolonize’ philosophy

The School of Oriental and African Studies in Britain has created a more diverse curriculum of non-western thinkers to combat the ‘colonial’ teachings of white westerners. It aims to diversify philosophy teaching by incorporating perspectives from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. The proposed curriculum includes work by the Ghanaian philosopher Kwasi Wiredu, as well as Professor Nkiru Nzegwu, a Nigerian “theorist of gender”. https://www.thetimes.com/uk/education/article/decolonising-toolkit-prefers-african-philosophers-to-aristotle-s6c78mml6

June 14

FT Ruling party in South Africa has outline of a deal with centrist opposition, says official

The country is poised to have a multi-party coalition administration led by the current president. The two radical parties are outside the deal. One does not want to work with the centrist opposition for being “too white”. The other (the party of the convicted former president) challenged the outcome of the election and fruitlessly tried to stop parliament from meeting on Friday. https://www.ft.com/content/576d733d-690a-4d14-b6fd-7b8db927beb7

FT Government in Argentina wins senate approval for economic reforms

The votes finally boosted the new government’s plans but lawmakers struck down the plan to restore income tax for high earners. At the same time the central bank announced that it had reached an agreement with Chinese authorities to roll over about $5bn in debt repayments due in the next month. https://www.ft.com/content/29bf8aaa-cf19-4a17-83f4-cecbab59b09c

NYT In a first, pope plans to attend summit western economic powers

The pope is expected to join the country leaders for the meeting to discuss the ethical implications of artificial intelligence. The PM from Italy said the pope would have “a decisive contribution” on the subject. A church historian: “The pope’s G7 presence breaks with a long tradition in the Roman Catholic Church of refusing such invitations on the basis that a pontiff does not need state leaders or anyone else to offer him a platform to speak.” https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/13/world/europe/pope-francis-g7-summit.html

June 15

FT President of South Africa re-elected after striking deal with opposition

The power-sharing arrangement quells investors’ fears of a coalition with radical left parties. The partners are the centrist parties, one white dominated and one Zulu dominated. The president: “This is not a grand coalition of two or three parties, This is a government of national unity and we have been here before. We were here in 1994 when we sought to unite our country and affect reconciliation.” https://www.ft.com/content/439b5283-876d-411a-95a8-dc28215c776f

FT Budget stand-off pushes coalition in Germany to the brink

The government tries to reconcile internal stances between the three parties on how to plug a massive financing gap that some estimate at up to €40bn. The deadline for accepting the draft budget is July 3. The social democratic party has warned the coalition on the threat to social cohesion if social spending would decrease. The coalition struggles with a constitutionally enshrined “debt brake” that is a trademark idea of the party of the finance minister. https://www.ft.com/content/a01ab1bc-718c-4d39-b8d8-a257ecbaff45

FT Outgoing president of Mexico pushes ahead with plan to fire 1,600 judges

The investors are alarmed by his proposed reform of the Supreme Court and the judicial system. The president responded by saying he is not bothered to restrain from what he sees as fighting corruption inside the judicial system. He sees his policy as ushering in a historic “transformation” of the country, on a par with its independence from Spain and its bloody revolution. https://www.ft.com/content/3319d056-7522-4e36-8210-f908346c9f41

News from the World Evangelical Alliance

Our Global Advocacy Director shares about hate speech laws and freedom of expression in Christianity Today: https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2024/june-web-only/hate-speech-bible-pakistan-finland-canada-united-nations.html

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FT = Financial Times, TT = The Times, NYT = New York Times. Nearly all Africa related items in the FT and all religious life oriented items are included. Original articles may be editorials, news reports or blogs. The focus is on (potentially) enduring trends in statehood, valuable for SDG16. We comply with all copyright rules (see also Copyright Policy | Help Centre (ft.com)) and encourage all readers to read the full text.