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Tuesday, October 10


Tuesday, October 10

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont


Catalan president to address legislature

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont
Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty

Carles Puigdemont is expected to appear before Catalonia’s regional parliament today to speak on the October 1 secession referendum.

The referendum turned violent after Spanish police raided 400 polling stations, injuring more than 800 Catalans. Puigdemont’s parliamentary address could lead to another clash; a planned October 9 parliamentary session was cancelled by Spain’s Supreme Court amid concerns that it would be used to declare independence, leading to worries Madrid might interfere with Puidegemont’s address. Although Puidgemont’s office stated that the President merely intends to “report on the current political situation” he has previously said that he would use the referendum to declare independence.

Although Madrid formally apologized for its use of police, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy still refuses to negotiate until demands for independence are dropped.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of Catalonians have taken to the streets both in support of and opposition to Catalan independence  With the regional government moving towards independence and no compromise in sight, expect to see a greater crackdown and violence from Madrid.


Asia on edge as North Korea marks Workers’ Party anniversary

Mansudae Grand Monument,pyongyang North Korea
Photo: Alamy

Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korea’s leader has been promoted in a cabinet reshuffle as the country marks the founding of the Korean Worker’s Party today amid fears of yet another missile test.

The threat was reiterated Friday when a Russian delegation visiting Pyongyang provided unverified reports that a long-range missile test is imminent. However, all eyes are on Ms Yo Jong as she becomes an alternate member of the politburo – the highest decision-making body in the regime.

The move comes as Kim tightens his grip on the party at a time of high tension over his nuclear testing. She has fared better than the leader’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, who was murdered in February and an uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was executed in 2013. Both Nam and Thaek were reportedly backed by Beijing.

Relations with China have slowly deteriorated in the past year over Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear tests. This promotion is likely a warning to Beijing that he, not China, controls his family.


West African country readies itself for a transition of power

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai
Photo: Joseph Boakai

Today Liberia will hold general elections, its third election since transitioning to democracy in 2005.

With incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf term-limited after 12 years in office, the elections mark the country’s first democratic transition of power between governments.

Vice President Joesph Boakai leads a field of 20 registered presidential candidates and is promising to continue Ms Sirleaf’s legacy of peacefully uniting Liberia after 14 years of civil war. But he faces two strong opponents; football star-turned-senator and 2005 presidential runner-up George Weah, and former Senate Pro Tempore Charles Brumskine, both critics of Liberia’s endemic corruption.

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Although most polls put Boakai 10 points ahead of his nearest opponent, the most recent poll showed Mr Weah leading with 24.73% of the vote. Complicating matters, 49% of the electorate remains undecided. Even Boakai’s best polls have him capturing less than 40% of the vote, meaning that the results of the runoff will largely depend on the endorsements of losing candidates.

Unlike in 2011, Liberia’s elections have seen little violence, boding well for Liberia’s budding democracy.


Japan’s election, Australian MPs’ anxious wait, French unions unite

Australia’s Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce
Photo: AAP/Lukas Coch

Australia’s top court will debate whether seven lawmakers, including Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, held a foreign citizenship when they were elected last year; if the court finds they did, the MPs could be removed from their office. While Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government—of which Mr Joyce is a crucial part—has a one-seat majority in the lower house, it’s position is unlikely to be threatened as the opposition lacks the support to win a no-confidence vote. The court will make a ruling on Friday.

Official campaigning for Japan’s October 22 election begins.

For the first time in 10 years, all nine of France’s public sector unions will hold a joint protest against President Macron’s proposal to shrink the civil service by 120,000 jobs. The president insists the changes are needed to rein in public spending; France’s budget deficit sits at 3.4% of the country’s GDP or some $70 billion a year. Until today, unions have failed to unify against Mr Macron’s reform proposal, providing an opening for the centrist government to push for labour law changes.

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