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Libya: UN highlights need to speed up progress toward national elections

Leaders in Libya must resolve outstanding issues so that long-awaited presidential and parliamentary elections can finally be held, UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council on June 27.  “The United Nations’ priority in Libya remains to facilitate a return to the electoral process, based on a sound and consensual constitutional basis for elections. This is what the Libyan...

Court finds France negligent in Caribbean pesticide case

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—A court in Paris found the French government guilty of wrongful negligence involving the former use of a banned pesticide in the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique but denied compensation to those affected, officials announced. The June 27 ruling was bittersweet for activists and attorneys who argued that the French government’s authorization to use chlordecone...

Saudis implement travel changes to pilgrimage, impacting millions

WASHINGTON— Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj took over all aspects for Western travelers seeking to do the holy pilgrimage.  The new system eliminated middleman travel agencies.   Pilgrims traveling from Australia, Europe and North America submitted an application through an online system, entered the lottery system, paid for their travel and were supposed to receive their visa online.  Each country was...

Countries urged to ‘dig deep’ and support Afghanistan in aftermath of deadly earthquake

The top UN official in Afghanistan appealed for greater international support for the country, following a one-day visit to communities hit hard by the devastating earthquake in late June. “Yesterday’s visit reaffirmed to me both the extreme suffering of people in Afghanistan and their tremendous resolve in the face of great adversity,” said Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for...

Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and the fight for a united Africa

The only remains of murdered Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba—a gold-capped tooth in a blue box—was handed over to his family during a ceremony in Brussels, noted the German international newscaster. This symbolic handover of the first democratically elected leader of the now Democratic Republic of Congo, and recent visit by Belgium’s King Phillippe to the minerally rich country appeared...

Israel to dissolve parliament, setting stage for possible return of Netanyahu

JERUSALEM—Israel’s weakened coalition government announced that it would dissolve parliament and call new elections, setting the stage for the possible return to power of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or another period of prolonged political gridlock. The election will be Israel’s fifth in three years, and it will put the polarizing Netanyahu, who has been the opposition leader for the...

‘Militarized approach’ to policing peaceful protests, only increases risk of violence: UN human rights expert

Civic space is shrinking, together with a rise in human rights violations during peaceful protests worldwide, while governments adopt an increasingly militarized approach to policing demonstrations, said an independent UN human rights expert on June 20.  “Rather than seeing peaceful protest as a democratic means of participation, too often governments resort to repression to suppress protests and silence people’s voices,” said Clément Voule,...

Tunisians take to streets again in protest at constitutional referendum

Tunisians have demonstrated in the capital against a planned referendum on constitutional changes called by President Kais Saied that could cement his hold on power. Protesters in Tunis responded to calls from opposition parties. They chanted, ‘Constitution, liberty and dignity’ and ‘The people want an independent judiciary.’ The demonstrators also expressed opposition to a recent decision by President Saied to expel...

Indigenous demonstrations in Ecuador continue

Thousands of Indigenous Ecuadorians have converged on the capital Quito in intensifying protests against soaring fuel prices.  Indigenous people and members of other disgruntled groups began a peaceful demonstration towards the city center starting from the South of the capital, with hundreds joining from the North of Quito. The popular Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) called for setting minimum prices...

Nearly a century after atrocities, Belgium’s king visits, offers words but no reparations to the Congo

It’s heart wrenching to read Adam Hochschild’s 1998 book, “King Leopold’s Ghost,” which recounts the long history of brutality perpetrated on the Congolese people by Belgium and King Leopold II, who established the Congo Free State as his personal property. My blood began to boil at the welcome Belgium’s king recently received in the Democratic Republic of Congo, also once...