Rome says open to discussion as northern regions vote for greater autonomy

Rome said it was ready to hold discussion with the regions of Lombardy and Veneto, after Italians in the northern regions voted overwhelmingly in favour of greater autonomy at a referendum held over the weekend. Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he was open to negotiations on how Lombardy and Veneto "wanted to proceed", Reuters reported. “Here we are talking about how to make Italy work better. We are not calling into question Italy and its unity,” Mr Gentiloni was quoted by the news wire as saying. “We are ready (to grant greater powers) within the limits fixed by our laws and by...

Two of Kurdistan's main political parties call for unconditional talks

Two of Kurdistan’s main political parties announced their willingness to enter into unconditional talks with Baghdad centred around the Iraqi constitution, reports Rudaw news. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) called for Baghdad to enter into unconditional following a meeting with 30 other parties in the Kurdistan Region on Sunday. Condemning Iraq’s military offensive on Kurdish regions in a statement released after the meeting, the parties said, “We have always been wanting to have dialogue, but the Iraqi side has chosen a military logic. We...

Two Italian regions vote on greater autonomy

Residents of Lombardy and Veneto in Italy voted in a non-binding referendum this weekend over the question of greater financial autonomy to the regions. The local party, Lega Nord, which was openly calling for independence for Northern Italy creating a new state of 'Padania' hopes to secure a better financial agreement with Rome. Lega Nord argues the taxes collected in the Northern regions are wasted by Rome and not directed back to the regions. See here and here .

Catalonia defiant against Madrid's plans of direct rule 

The Catalan government remained defiant on Sunday, stating it would not accept Madrid's plan of direct rule. Almost a half a million Catalans came out in protest the day before, demonstrating against the suspension of autonomy following Catalonia's referendum on independence. "The Spanish government was acting against the democratic will of the Catalans after refusing all offers of dialogue," the Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont said. Meanwhile, Spain's foreign minister rejected accusations of a 'coup' by Madrid. "If anyone has attempted a coup, it is the Catalan regional government," Mr...

Iraq court orders arrest of Kurdistan vice president

Iraq’s highest court has ordered the arrest of the vice-president of Kurdistan Kosrat Rasul for calling Iraqi troops deployed in Kirkuk “occupying forces,” reports the BBC. The Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq labelled Mr Rasul’s remarks as an incitement to violence. The vice president of the Kurdistan Region made the comments after Iraqi troops took over oil fields and the main governance building in the city of Kirkuk earlier this week. On Friday Iraqi forces seized another town from Kurdish Peshmerga forces. An intense firefight on Friday saw Iraqi forces take the town of Altun Kupri,...

Spain holds meeting to decide on invoking direct rule over Catalonia

Spain is holding a special cabinet meeting to approve measures that will allow its government to take direct control of the semi-autonomous region of Catalonia. Spanish prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is expected to make a statement later today outlining whether Spain will invoke Article 155 of its constitution, which allows the government to use “necessary measures” to take over powers of a regional authority. The measurse could involve the detention of several Catalonian political leaders. See more here.

UN expresses concern over forced displacement of Kurds from Kirkuk

The United Nations on Thursday expressed concern about reports of the forced displacement of Kurds from Kirkuk, which was recently taken over by Iraqi forces following a Kurdish indepedence referundum. “The United Nations urges the Government of Iraq to take every action to halt any violations and ensure that all civilians are protected and that the perpetrators of acts of violence, intimidation and forced displacement of civilians be brought to justice,” the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq said in a statement. Kurdish officials report over 100,000 Kurds have been forced to flee the region for...

Spain moves to suspend autonomy as Catalan leader remains defiant

Spain moved on Thursday to suspend Catalan's autonomy after the Catalan leader refused to meet the deadline Madrid imposed on the to abandon independence. Madrid said in a statement on Thursday that it would invoke article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which would begin stripping the region of its autonomy. “At an emergency meeting on Saturday, the cabinet will approve measures to be put before the senate to protect the general interest of Spaniards, including the citizens of Catalonia, and to restore constitutional order in the autonomous community,” the statement said, criticising the...

Spain warns Catalonia of direct rule if secession plans continue

Spain reiterated its intention to implement direct rule over Catalonia if Catalan president Carles Puigdemont failed to abandon secession plans by 8:00 GMT on Thursday, reports the BBC. Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, “All I ask of Mr Puigdemont is that he acts sensibly to put the interest of all citizens first.” Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria added if the deadline was not met Spain “will provoke the application of Article 155,” which lays out the path for direct rule from Madrid. On Tuesday thousands of Catalonians...

China warns it is ready 'to defeat' Taiwan separatism

The Chinese president Xi Jinping on Wednesday warned that his country was ready to defeat Taiwan separatism. China has "the resolve, the confidence, and the ability to defeat separatist attempts for Taiwan independence in any form", he told a gathering of the Communist Party in Beijing. "We will never allow anyone, any organisation, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China," he was added. See here and her e.

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