NIGER HOPEFUL OF PEACEFUL TRANSITION IN PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF

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As vote-counting continues after the second round of Niger’s fifth presidential elections, Mohamed Bazoum took an early lead over ousted former President Mahamane Ousmane (1993-1996). Bazoum, the former interior minister and right-hand man of the incumbent Nigerien president, Mahamadou Issoufou (who voluntarily relinquished power after completing his two five-year terms), is the favourite to win…

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NATO RE-EVALUATES AFGHANISTAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has confirmed that it will keep an undetermined number of international troops in Afghanistan past the May withdrawal deadline previously agreed upon in a US-brokered deal. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg assured that troops would not leave the country “before the time is right” despite the Taliban’s call for a…

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EGYPT OPENS GAZA BORDER

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On Tuesday 9 February, Egypt opened its Rafah border with the Gaza strip ‘indefinitely’. This crossing functioned as the enclave’s only access point not under Israel’s control but remained mostly closed since the split in the Palestinian government. Fighting broke out when Fatah refused to recognise the unexpected victory of Hamas in the 2006 elections….

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AUSTRALIAN STATE PASSES BILL BANNING ‘CONVERSION THERAPY’

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The legislative council of Victoria – one of Australia’s six states – passed the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill on 4 February by a vote of 27-9 after lengthy debate. The bill, which outlaws any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, will now go to the Victorian governor for…

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MASS PROTESTS CONTINUE IN WAKE OF MYANMAR COUP

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8 February saw continued pro-democracy protests in Myanmar in defiance of the military coup. On 1 February, Myanmar’s military (also called the Tatmadaw) detained the country’s recently elected leaders, including Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi. Power was transferred to General Min Aung Hlaing, who imposed a year-long state of emergency. The military said it…

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INDONESIA BANS FORCED RELIGIOUS ATTIRE IN STATE SCHOOLS

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After years of inaction, the Indonesian government has finally acted to prevent state schools from forcing students or staff to wear headscarves or other religious clothing. On 3 February, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Religion issued a joint ministerial decision on uniforms for students, teachers,…

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UN URGES COUNTRIES TO REPATRIATE 27,000 ‘IS CHILDREN’ FROM SYRIA

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The UN counterterrorism chief, Vladimir Voronkov, has called on UN Member States to repatriate 27,000 children living in a refugee camp in northeastern Syria. The children, most of whom come from Islamic State (IS) families, are living in squalid conditions in Al Hol, Syria’s largest refugee camp. There are children from over 60 countries in…

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NINE KILLED IN HOTEL ATTACK IN SOMALI CAPITAL

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On Sunday 31 January, a suicide car bombing, followed by a shootout between al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group al-Shabaab and Somali security forces resulted in nine deaths – including four insurgents – at the Hotel Afrik, in the Somali capital Mogadishu. The hotel is known as a gathering place for Somali government officials. A local police captain…

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BIDEN AND HARRIS’ INAUGURATION AND A FLURRY OF EXECUTIVE ORDERS

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On Wednesday 20 January, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th US president, and Kamala Harris became the first woman, the first black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice-presidency.  Precisely two weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a siege that resulted in five deaths,…

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RENEWED PROTESTS IN TUNISIA AFTER DEATH OF PROTESTER

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Protesters in Sbeitla, Tunisia, returned to the streets after it was reported that a young man injured during clashes last week had died in hospital. Haykel Rachdi had joined nationwide protests to mark the 10th anniversary of the Tunisian revolution, which ushered in democracy and triggered the Arab Spring uprisings across the region. What Tunisia…

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