India approves population register as protests continue

The Indian government has approved plans for a census and population survey, despite continued protests in states across the country over a controversial citizenship law. The cabinet-approved National Population Register (NPR) has been criticised amid fears it may be used to target Muslims in the country, though the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claims the exercise will help to better formulate government policies. Meanwhile, protests have continued in states across India, including in Delhi, despite Indian police imposing a law to prevent people from gathering in groups. Protests...

US recalls ambassador to Zambia after LGBT rights row

The United States has recalled its ambassador to Zambia, after a diplomatic row following the imprisonment of a gay couple in the country. Zambia’s president had effectively declared US ambassador Daniel Foote a persona non grata after the diplomat said he was “horrified” at the prosecution of the couple. Zambian authorities claimed the men had been seen having sex in 2017 and were subsequently handed a 15-year jail sentence. Foote said last month that he had expressed his "belief about a law and a harsh sentencing I don't agree with”. He went on to warn of a "decaying relationship" between...

Russian and China have ‘blood in their hands’ over UN veto says Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed Russia and China this week after both governments vetoed a crucial United Nations Security Council vote on delivering aid from Turkey and Iraq to civilians trapped in Syria. “The Russian federation’s and China’s veto yesterday of a security council resolution that allows for humanitarian aid to reach millions of Syrians is shameful,” Pompeo said in a statement. Aid was sent through four UN monitored checkpoints from Turkey and Iraq, through an internationally monitored programme, without the permission of the Syrian government. The UN resolution would...

Taliban claims to have killed US soldier in Afghanistan

The Taliban claimed to have killed a US soldier in Afghanistan and are confirmed to have conducted a deadly attack on another checkpoint in the country, as fighting continued this week. Taliban media outlets published photographs of a US military identity card, after the soldier had died in the Kunduz province. Washington says the soldier was killed as he investigated a weapons cache that exploded. The group also claims to have wounded an “Afghan commando” in the blast. Meanwhile in the Balkh province, Afghanistan’s defence ministry confirmed that at least 7 Afghan soldiers had died in a...

SNP debates Scottish vote on rejoining EU after independence

A Scottish National Party (SNP) politician has called for a vote on whether an independent Scotland should be allowed to rejoin the European Union, as the British government gears towards Brexit next year. SNP Member of European Parliament (MEP) Heather Anderson told The National that if an independence referendum was held next year or in 2021, then Scotland could be fully independent within two years of such a vote. Following a vote on European Union membership, the country could “be back in the EU before the end of this European parliamentary term,” she added. Her comments come after SNP...

France confirms first ever armed drone strike in Mali

The French military confirmed it had launched its first ever armed drone strike this week, claiming to have killed at least 7 militants in Mali. French president Emmanuel Macron said operations in the Mopti region “neutralised” at least 33 fighters, with the French military later adding that a follow-up drone strike killed a further 7 fighters. “This is the first operational strike by an armed drone,” confirmed the French in a statement. It went on to claim that French commandos had come under attack by “a group of terrorists on motorbikes” and had opened fire with support from a. Reaper...

Tens of thousands flee Syrian offensive in Idlib as school is bombed

As many as 80,000 people are fleeing the Idlib province in Syria, as government forces launched a renewed offensive on the region this week. Al Jazeera reports that at least 8 people, including 5 children, were killed as missiles hit a school that was sheltering civilians, according to opposition activists. Idlib remains their last stronghold in the country, which has been devastated by years of armed conflict. The United Nations estimates at last 60,00 people have fled with numbers as high as 80,000 according to The Times. 25,000 people are thought to have left the area in the past two days...

BJP loses Jharkhand state election

India’s electoral commission has announced that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost a state election to a coalition of opposition forces in the eastern state of Jharkhand, following the announcement of a new controversial citizenship bill. In the election, the BJP won 25 seats in the state legislature, out of 81, whilst the opposition party, the Congress party, and its allies won a majority of 47 seats. This election is an upset for the BJP ending its five-year rule in the state and was seen as a snub against the party. The controversial citizenship bill provides a pathway to citizenship...

Rwandan official sentenced to 25 years for genocide

A Belgian court has sentenced a Rwandan official, Fabien Neretse, to 25 years in jail over his role in the 1994 Rwandan massacre. Neretse was initially arrested in 2011 whilst in France and found guilty of genocide and war crimes by the high court in Brussels. The court has specified that he was guilty of 11 war crimes and argued that he was involved in the killing of 11 civilians. He is the first person to have been convicted by Belgium 25 years after the masscres in Rwanda which killed 800,000 people. Neretse has contested the judgement of the court but allowed for a reduced sentence due to...

Sudan opens genocide inquiry into former President al-Bashir

Sudan has announced that it will open an inquiry into the crimes committed in Darfur by former President Omar al-Bashir as well as 51 members of his regime, who have been accused of committing genocide and war crimes. The inquiry will examine the crimes committed in Darfur since 2003. In 2009 and 2010, the international criminal court (ICC) issued an arrest for al-Bashir on grounds of genocide, and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The UN claims that the conflict killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced a further 2.5 million. The war in Darfur began in 2003 when ethnic minority...

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