Weekly News 27 November – 1 December

Monday, 27 November 2017

Ireland: The Irish prime minister and the leader of the main opposition party are due to meet on Monday to hold talks aimed at avoiding a general election. Taoiseach (Irish prime minster) Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin met over the weekend. Their meeting on Sunday night has been described as “constructive”. The crisis was sparked by opposition parties seeking the resignation of the deputy prime minister over her handling of a police whistleblower controversy. (BBC)

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her former centre-left partners are preparing for crucial coalition talks in a bid to end a political stalemate. After initially refusing to hold discussions with Mrs Merkel’s CDU-CSU conservative bloc, the Social Democrats have agreed to meet her on Thursday. They differ over issues such as housing, healthcare and migrants. (BBC)

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe has officially declared 21 February to be Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, thereby making the former president’s birthday a public holiday (BBC)

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Ireland: The deputy prime minister of Ireland has tendered her resignation, a move that is likely to stave off a government shutdown and snap election. Frances Fitzgerald’s decision to step down on Tuesday came after mounting pressure over the handling of a whistle-blowing corruption scandal within Ireland’s Garda police force.
Irish members of parliament were slated to vote later on Tuesday on a no-confidence motion, filed by the opposition, in Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s minority government. (Al Jazeera)

Lebanon: Politicians are holding talks in the Lebanese capital Beirut in a bid to decide the country’s role and policies in the region. The sticking point has been Hezbollah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon. (Al Jazeera)

Myanmar: Pope Francis has met Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi but avoided directly addressing the ongoing Rohingya crisis.
At the meeting in Yangon on Tuesday, the pontiff stressed the importance of Myanmar respecting the “identity” of all of its ethnic groups, without using the term “Rohingya”. (Al Jazeera)

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Greece: The mayor of Lesbos has accused the Greek government of wanting to turn the island into “Guantanamo Bay of Europe” for refugees. Refugees stranded on the Greek island face a harsh winter, with conditions inside the main government-run camp barely meeting their basic needs. (Al Jazeera)

Migrant crisis: France’s ambassador to the UN has urged the Security Council to impose sanctions on the people involved in Libya’s slave trade of African refugees and migrants. The UN Security Council held an emergency session to discuss the possibility of sanctions against individuals and entities, and of applying the full range of international law including the use of the international criminal court – but the session ended without resolution. (Al Jazeera)

Palestine: The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is being observed across the world.
The day marks 70 years after the UN adopted a resolution partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states – a year later Israel was founded displacing millions of Palestinians. (Al Jazeera)  

Saudi Arabia: Senior Saudi prince and former head of the National Guard, Miteb bin Abdullah, has been released after more than three weeks in detention on allegations of corruption.
Miteb, 65, was among dozens of other royal family members, ministers, and top businessmen, who were detained earlier this month in what the kingdom called an “anti-corruption purge”.
Among those detained are 11 princes, four ministers and several former ministers, in an unprecedented crackdown that has shaken the kingdom. (Al Jazeera)

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her former centre-left partners will hold crucial coalition talks in an effort to end a political stalemate. Thursday’s meeting with Social Democrats (SPD) leader Martin Schulz comes after Mrs Merkel failed to form a three-party coalition deal last week. The talks will include policies over housing, healthcare and migrants. Any deal could take weeks to be reached. (BBC)

Iceland: Katrín Jakobsdóttir has become Iceland’s new prime minister after her Left-Green Movement secured a coalition deal.
The Independence Party, led by now former PM Bjarni Benediktsson, and the Progressive Party backed the deal.
Ms Jakobsdóttir, 41, was asked to form a cabinet despite the fact her party came second in October’s snap election – behind the Independence Party.
The poll was called after a row over a paedophile toppled the coalition. (BBC)

Ireland: The Republic of Ireland’s foreign minister has been nominated as the tánaiste (deputy prime minister) after a police whistleblower scandal forced Frances Fitzgerald to resign.
Simon Coveney, who will remain foreign minister, stood against Leo Varadkar in the race to become PM in June. (BBC)

Migration crisis: Libya has agreed to a deal with European Union and African leaders to allow refugees to be evacuated from the North African country. The announcement comes amid recent revelations that African asylum seekers and migrants were being sold into slavery in Libya as they attempted in vain to reach European shores. The African Union, European Union and the United Nations announced the creation of a task force to deal with the migration crisis, notably in Libya. The body will work in close collaboration with the Libyan government, the groups said in a statement. (Al Jazeera)

Friday, 1 December 2017

Germany: The leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party on Friday denied reports he had green-lighted talks about another “grand coalition” with Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats. (The Guardian)

Germany: Suspicious package led to police evacuating market in the city of Potsdam, near Berlin. Officers said special forces were examining the object, which was described by the Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten newspaper as a package measuring 40cm by 50cm that had been delivered to a pharmacy near the market. (The Guardian)

Roningya crisis: Pope Francis has met a group of Muslim Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and referred to them by name for the first time on his Asian visit.
The Pope had been criticised by rights groups for not using the term in Myanmar, whose military has been accused of ethnic cleansing by the United Nations. He had used the term before his visit. (BBC)

Turkey:Turkey’s chief prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant for former CIA officer Graham Fuller.
The prosecutor accuses Mr Fuller, former vice-chair of the US National Intelligence Council, of having links to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The warrant also accuses Mr Fuller of “attempting to overthrow” Turkey’s government. (BBC)

Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has named his cabinet, appointing senior military figures to high-profile positions. Some had hoped that President Mnangagwa would appoint members of the opposition to his cabinet, to form a transitional government until elections next year but this did not happen. (BBC)

World:  The United Nations has appealed for a record $22.5bn in humanitarian aid for 2018.
The global aid appeal aims to raise funds to help 91 million of the world’s most vulnerable people, out of 136 million in need, a UN statement said. More than $10bn is needed to address the humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen alone, it added.
The UN also said needs are rising substantially in a number of African countries. (BBC)