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Iraqi PM To Resign After Deadly Anti-Government Protests

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Iraqi PM Adil Abdul Mahdi To Resign After Deadly Anti-Government Protests

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi will resign after nearly two months of anti-government protests in Iraq which has continued unabated.

In a statement on Friday, Abdul Mahdi’s resignation came in response to a call for a change of leadership by Iraq’s top shia leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Abdul Mahdi said he “listened with great concern” to al-Sistani’s sermon and made his decision in response to his call and in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible”.

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Earlier, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a sermon on Friday that parliament, which put the year-old government of Abdul Mahdi in power, should “reconsider its options.”

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Iraqi security forces on Thursday shot dead at least 44 people in the country’s south in one of the bloodiest days of violence since the anti-government protests erupted in early October.

33 protesters were reported killed in Nasiriya city after security forces used live ammunition and tear gas canisters on crowds while another 11 people were killed in Shia holy city of Najaf, where an Iranian consulate was torched a day earlier by angry protesters.

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Security sources told reporters at least 233 people were wounded in the crackdown on protests in Nasiriya.

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Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert

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Belarus President Closes Western Borders, Puts Army On High Alert

Protesters in Belarus are still angry in their sixth week of mass protests demanding the resignation of president Alexander Lukashenko.

The president has announced, in retaliation, he is putting troops on high alert and closing the country’s borders with Poland and Lithuania.  He also said the Belarusian border with Ukraine would be strengthened.

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Lukashenko insists the six weeks of protests are driven by the west. He faces increasing criticism from the united states and the European Union.

Demonstrations began after the disputed august presidential election official results gave the authoritarian leader a sixth term in office–results opponents say were manipulated.

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Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race

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Bolivian Interim President Anez Withdraws From Election Race

Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez has withdrawn from next month’s presidential election, saying she’s withdrawing in the interest of the party.

Anez, a former conservative senator, took office during the power vacuum that followed former president Morales’s departure after allegations of irregularities in last year’s election.  Those allegations fueled violent protests, and army pressure forced the country’s first indigenous president into exile in Mexico.

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Anez says if she does not step down, Morales would possibly return to power.

She declined to name the candidate for whom she will vote.

Next month’s election is the delayed rerun of last year’s ballot.  Anez’s candidacy had sparked controversy after she initially ruled herself out and pledged to guide the country to transparent new elections.

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By pulling out of the race, analysts say Anez could increase chances that the election will be pushed to a second round by consolidating the anti-Arce vote.

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To avoid a second round, the election winner requires at least 40 percent of valid votes in the first round and a 10-point advantage over the closest competitor.

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First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks

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First Case-Free Day For New Zealand In Five Weeks

New Zealand for the first time in more than five weeks has reported no new confirmed cases of the coronavirus amid efforts to stamp out an outbreak discovered in Auckland last month ending a spell of 102 days free of community transmission.

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The South Pacific nation with its population of five million has reported more than 1,800 cases of COVID-19 and 25 fatalities.

The report on Friday also marked the fourth consecutive day without any cases of community transmission. All recent cases have been found among quarantined travellers returning from abroad.

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Following strict measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which were widely praised, New Zealand is in its deepest recession in decades after the country’s GDP shrank by 12.2% between April and June as the lockdown and border closures hit.

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Auckland lockdown began on 12 August after four cases were detected in the city of 1.5 million.

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