Tag Archives: national government

Australia ends defense cooperation with Myanmar over coup | World | Instant News


By ROD McGUIRK Associated Press

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia has suspended its defense cooperation with Myanmar and diverted humanitarian aid due to the government’s takeover by the military and the ongoing detention of an Australian citizen.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Monday that Australian diplomats had only had access to economic policy adviser Sean Turnell twice since he was detained in early February. He described the access as “very limited consular support”.

“We continue to call for Professor Sean Turnell’s release,” Payne told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Australia late Sunday announced it was suspending a defense training program with Myanmar worth an estimated 1.5 million Australian dollars ($ 1.2 million) for five years. The program has been limited to non-combat areas such as English language training.

Australian humanitarian aid will be directed away from the Myanmar government and government-related entities. Instead, it will focus on the immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and poor in Myanmar including the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities, Payne said.

Australia has previously imposed sanctions including an arms embargo and sanctions targeting multiple individuals. These sanctions will continue to be reviewed, Payne said.

Turnell was detained within weeks of arriving in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, from Australia to take a job as a government adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi.

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Italy’s Lombardy is back in a viral crisis when Brescia is on the rise | Instant News


Brescia, with a population of around 1.2 million, has seen its daily cases go from the mid-100s in early February to 901 on Wednesdays and 973 Thursdays, due to clusters of infections traced to British variants. Doctors said the number of COVID-19 patients being treated at major public hospitals rose from an average of around 200 to 300 recently.

“We can’t talk about the third wave from our point of view, just because the second wave never really ends,” said Dr. Cristiano Perani, head of the emergency room at the General Hospital of Brescia. “The increase is gradual, but has increased acceleration in recent weeks. “

Lombardy, Italy’s most populous region, has imposed a new lockdown on Brescia and is changing its vaccine strategy to direct the jabs it has on nearby provinces and cities in neighboring Bergamo. The goal of this strategy is to inoculate as many people as possible as quickly as possible in the worst affected areas.

Guido Bertolaso, who is in charge of the vaccine campaign, said the region would pass the 30% reserve the national government recommended to remain available for the second dose, and that from Thursday it would start vaccinating residents aged 60-79, much earlier than. scheduled. Lombardy recently began vaccinating people over 80, after giving health care workers and residents of nursing homes a priority.

The goal of the strategy, Bertolaso ​​said, is to create “health care” in the area with blanket vaccinations. This approach is based on studies from the UK and Israel – and even on the Lombardy data itself – which showed reduced infection rates as more people were vaccinated with just one dose.

“This is war,” Bertolaso ​​said.

Brescia’s deputy mayor, Laura Castelletti, said residents were willing to accept the new lockdown measures – which include the closure of all schools and child care centers – as long as the vaccination schedule accelerates.

“We are ready to make sacrifices if the vaccination campaign runs 24/7,” he said.

Brescia and Bergamo were the two Italian provinces hardest hit during the first wave of the pandemic, which started this time last year and quickly turned Lombardy into the epicenter of the spread in Europe.

Lombardy as a whole still accounts for nearly a third of Italy’s 96,974 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, and a fifth of the 2.87 million confirmed infections. Italy has the sixth highest confirmed death toll in the world, and the second in Europe after Britain.

The Italian vaccine campaign, which has delivered 3.92 million doses, has been slowed by delays in deliveries from three EU supplying pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

It was not immediately clear whether the health ministry would direct any vaccine to Lombardy, given the previously established quota that had provided the most doses there.

Italy’s virus czar, Domenico Arcuri, did not respond to Fontana’s request in a statement on Thursday but boasted that the injections showed a “comforting increase” this week, averaging around 100,000 a day nationwide.

Nearly two months after Italy began its vaccination campaign on December 27, the tiny Republic of San Marino gave its first dose on Thursday. San Marino, a city-state of about 33,800 people surrounded by Italy, had to buy a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V after a delay in receiving the dose administered from Italy.

“This is the most effective weapon we have against this disease,” said Dr. Enrico Rossi, who was among the first to be inoculated. “It’s kind of a nightmare this year but we hope it will end.”

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Follow all AP pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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Pakistan ordered the man who was acquitted in Pearl’s murder from the death penalty | Instant News


ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Pakistani-British man released from the grisly 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl from the death penalty and moved to the government’s so-called “safe house”.

Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who has been sentenced to death for 18 years, will be under guard and will not be allowed to leave the safe house, but he will be able to be visited by his wife and children.

“This is not complete freedom. This is a step towards freedom, “said the Sheikh’s father, Ahmad Saeed Sheikh, who attended the hearing.

The Pakistani government has been trying hard to keep Sheikh in prison since a Supreme Court order last Thursday upheld his release for Pearl’s death, angering the Pearl family and the US government.

In a last-ditch effort to cancel the release, the Pakistani government as well as the Pearl family appealed to the Supreme Court, asking to review the decision to acquit the murder of Sheikh of Pearl. The family’s lawyer, Faisal Siddiqi, however, said such a review had little chance of success because the same Supreme Court judge who ordered the Sheikh’s release sat on the review panel.

The US government has said it will seek the sheikh’s extradition if his release is confirmed. Sheikh has been indicted in the United States for the murder of Pearl as well as the kidnapping of an American citizen in 1994 in the Indian-ruled sector of divided Kashmir. The American was finally released.

The order to send the Sheikh to a safe house appears to have been a concession to the federal government, as well as the government of the southern Sindh province of which Karachi is the capital. The Sindh government has rejected successive orders to release the Shaykh, even filing charges of insult from a lower court.

Sheikh’s lawyer, Mehmood A. Sheikh, told The Associated Press that the order to send his client to a safe house was given to give the Sindh government time to deny him his release under Pakistan’s anti-terrorism law, in connection with the Sheikh’s affiliation with terrorists. organization.

“They have never argued or sued them for belonging to a terrorist organization,” said the lawyer. He said the next trial on his client’s continued detention would not last for another two weeks. The lawyer and the Sheikh are not related.

In government-run safe houses, the sheikh will be under 24-hour guard – often by military personnel – and will not be allowed to leave the home. The location of such safe houses is usually kept secret; Pakistan’s security agency has several similar facilities across the country.

Pearl disappeared on January 23, 2002, in the port city of Karachi where she was investigating links between the Pakistani militant group and Richard C. Reid, who was dubbed the “shoe bomber” after his attempt to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives. hidden in his shoes.

Pearl’s body was found in a shallow grave soon after the video of her beheading was sent to the US Consulate in Karachi.

The Pentagon in 2007 released a transcript in which Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in the United States, said he had killed Pearl.

“I beheaded American Jew Daniel Pearl with my blessed right hand,” the transcript quoted Mohammed as saying. Mohammad first revealed his role when he was held in CIA custody and subjected to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other forms of torture. He remains in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay and has never been charged with the journalist’s death.

Sheikh has long denied involvement in Pearl’s death, but Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard last month that he admitted writing a letter in 2019 acknowledging his minor role – raising hopes for some that he may remain behind bars.

In a series of tweets over the weekend, the Pearl family urged followers to “call your lawmakers in Pakistan, in the US, the world to support Danny’s parents,” to keep the Sheikh behind bars.

Siddiqi, the Pearl family lawyer, said the original murder trial in 2002 charged the four as one, complicating the case and allowing the court to acquit all if there was any doubt about the guilt of even one of the suspects. Siddiqi said at the time prosecutors were under considerable pressure and threats from militants forced the trial to eventually be held inside the prison for security reasons.

Last week’s ruling acquitting Sheikh also acquitted three other men charged with Pearl’s murder who were serving life sentences. They were also ordered on Tuesday to be held in safe houses.

Pakistan has previously sent many suspects in critical cases to safe houses. In 2018, a Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was acquitted of blasphemy charges after spending eight years on death row, was held in a safe house until her release was reviewed and she was finally able to leave Pakistan for safety in Canada in 2019.

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Italian Prime Minister resigns, sparking a scramble for new allies | World | Instant News


By NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press

ROME (AP) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday after a major coalition ally withdrew his party’s support for Conte’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, setting the stage for consultations this week to determine whether he can form a third government.

Conte submitted his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella, who postponed the decision immediately apart from asking Conte to keep the government running in the near future, said Mattarella’s office. The president will start consulting with political party leaders from Wednesday.

Conte hopes to get Mattarella’s support to try to form a new coalition government that can guide the country as it fights the pandemic and economic recession and draws out a spending plan for the 209 billion euros ($ 254 billion) Italy has earned in the European Union’s recovery. fund.

Conte’s coalition government was wracked by chaos earlier this month when a junior party led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi withdrew its support. Conte won a vote of confidence in parliament last week, but failed to secure an absolute majority in the Senate, forcing him to risk resigning.

Mattarella, Italy’s ceremonial head of state, could ask Conte to try to form a broader coalition government, appoint a largely technical government to steer the country through the pandemic or dissolve parliament and hold elections two years early.

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Italian Prime Minister to submit resignation when government falters | Top-ap news | Instant News


ROME (AP) – Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte intends to offer his resignation on Tuesday, his office said Monday, a move seen as a gamble that the battled leader will get a new mandate from the president to try to forge a more viable coalition.

Conte survived two confident votes in Parliament last week, but lost his absolute majority in the Senate with the defection of his centric ally, former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. That is hampering the effectiveness of his government amid the pandemic, which has ravaged Italy’s long-stagnant economy.

Conte’s office said late Monday that the prime minister would notify his Cabinet at a meeting Tuesday morning of “his desire to go to the Quirinale (presidential palace) to hand over his resignation.”

Then Conte intends to go to the palace to meet with President Sergio Mattarella, who, as head of state, can accept the resignation, perhaps asking the prime minister to then see if he can assemble a more solid coalition that can lead a reliable majority in Parliament. .

Mattarella has often stressed the need for the country to have strong leadership as it struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, with its devastating effects on Italy’s long-stagnant economy.

After consulting with leaders from the government and opposition parties, the president may also decide to take advantage of others he deems to have a better chance of forming a more solid government. If nothing can form a more viable and reliable coalition, Mattarella has the option of dissolving Parliament, setting the stage for elections two years early.

Conte has led the center-left coalition for 16 months. Prior to that, for 15 months, he led a government still with the populist 5-Star Movement, the largest party in Parliament but in coalition with Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party.

That first government collapsed when Salvini withdrew his support in an unsuccessful attempt to win the prime minister post for himself.

Conte, despite being identified with the 5 Star Movement, has not led any party. So, leaving behind the frequent political crises in Italy, he would not be part of formal consultations with Mattarella, who met with successive party leaders who came to the palace for talks.

The main support for any government to come could come from former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centric opposition party. Just hours before the announcement by Conte’s office, the media mogul said he trusted Mattarella’s “political wisdom” to show a way out of the crisis.

“The highway is the only one,” Berlusconi said in a statement. The solution would be “a new government that will represent the substantial unity of the country in times of emergency” or it could be new elections “to return the word (to decide) to Italian voters”.

By the end of February, the Italian government must tell the European Union how it intends to spend about 200 billion euros ($ 250 billion) in recovery funds, which are focused on reforming the country’s health and other institutional systems.

One of Renzi’s problems with Conte is that he thinks too much decision-making power is concentrated in the prime minister’s hands on funding programs.

Salvini said he was holding a meeting of center-right leaders, including far-right leader Giorgia Meloni and Berlusconi’s group to bolster the opposition press for the election.

“Italians need hospitals, open and safe schools, and a year of tax peace to return breath and hope to families and businesses,” Salvini said. “It is not a government that can escort Italy out of this disaster.”

The leader of the main coalition partner, the Democratic Party, is pushing for a new mandate for Conte, who, despite euro skepticism towards 5-Stars, has recently expressed strong support for the European Union, in an apparent attempt to woo centrists. MPs are now in opposition.

The leader of the Democrats, Nicola Zingaretti, is rooted in a tweet for a new Conte government that will be “clearly pro-European and supported by a broad parliamentary base that will guarantee credibility and stability to face the huge challenges Italy faced before.”

But analysts see Conte’s support from his own coalition as fluid.

“A new coalition government, either under Conte or a different prime minister, remains the most likely outcome,” said London-based Wolfango Piccoli, vice president of the Teneo analyst group.

But, “the bottom line is that Italy will continue to be led by an executive not fit for the tough work up front, as has been since the last election” in 2018, Piccoli wrote in a statement.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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