Security personnel in Belarus clashed with dozens of protesters in the country’s capital, Minsk over the weekend. Police were seen using stun grenades and water cannon to break up crowds demanding a new presidential election.
Videos showed thousands of people with flags, chanting slogans, while local media also showed police officers wearing black balaclavas dragging protesters into vans and beating demonstrators with their batons.
The protesters have been agitating for a new election in Belarus since longtime ruler Alexander Lukashenko was officially declared winner by a landslide in a disputed august election.
Since then, opposition supporters have remained on the streets every week to demand that the 65-year-old Lukashenko step down for a new election to be held.
Security forces have detained more than 13,000 persons during the post-election crackdown. Some of them were later freed.
Iran Hits Back At US Sanctions Threat After Arms Embargo Expiry
Despite the United States protests to extend the United Nations arms embargo on Iran, the Middle East country is now free to import and export arms from and to any country as Tehran hailed the lifting of a 13-year UN arms embargo on their military as a momentous day.
The embargo which was lifted on Sunday morning was in line with the five-year timetable set out in the Iran nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015 which has been under intense pressure from Washington since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the accord two years ago.
In August, the Trump administration had sought to extend the embargo but suffered a defeat at the UN Security Council, when Russia and China voted against the move and 11 powers, including the UK, France and Germany, abstained.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the expiration of the embargo was a “momentous day” for the international community, which had defied the US’s “malign” efforts and protected the nuclear accord.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of consequences for any individuals or entities that conduct arms deals with Iran.
Pompeo said in a statement “every nation that seeks peace and stability in the Middle East and supports the fight against terrorism should refrain from any arms transactions with Iran,” he added that “providing arms to Iran will only aggravate tensions in the region.”
The expiration of the embargo, which the UN Security Council imposed in 2007, was agreed as one of the so-called sunset clauses in the accord.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani said this week that Tehran could import and export arms to “whoever we like as of Sunday”. But potential buyers will be wary of being targeted by secondary US sanctions.
Italy Tightens Rules Amid Surge In Coronavirus Cases
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Italy was the European nation hardest hit and now its number of fatalities place it second only after the United Kingdom in the continent, but amid a surge in coronavirus cases, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has on Sunday announced a new raft of measures to tighten restrictions.
The moves came as Italy recorded its highest daily infection rate for the second day in a row as the country recorded 10,925 new cases and another 11,705 on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Italy has now recorded 414,000 confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 36,500 fatalities.
In a televised address by the prime minister, he said “We cannot waste time, we must put in place measures to avoid a generalized lockdown, which could severely compromise the economy.
Conte further urged everyone to do their part in fighting the pandemic as he added that “the most effective measures remain the basic precautions: mask, distance and hand hygiene. We must pay attention to situations where we let our guard down – with relatives and friends. In these situations, the maximum precaution is required.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Wins Second Term In Election Landslide
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has on Saturday won a landslide victory in the country’s general election.
The prime minister leveraging on her success battling COVID-19 gained an unprecedented outright majority and the chance to implement her reform agenda.
So far, Ardern’s centre-left Labour Party has won 49% of the vote and she is projected to win a rare outright parliamentary majority with a forecast to take around 64 seats in the 120-member parliament.
The opposition centre-right National Party has admitted defeat in the poll as Judith Collins told cheering supporters in Auckland “congratulations on your result because it is, I believe, an outstanding result for the Labour Party. He said it has been a tough campaign.”
Ardern in a victory speech in front of hundreds of cheering supporters in Auckland said her party had gotten more support from New Zealanders that at any time in at least 50 years.
She said “this has not been an ordinary election, and it’s not an ordinary time,” adding that “It’s been full of uncertainty and anxiety, and we set out to be an antidote to that.”
Ardern had campaigned on her government’s success in eliminating community transmission of the virus, which has caused just 25 deaths in a population of five million.
The pandemic is just one of a string of crises that showed Ardern’s leadership qualities during a torrid first term.
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