The World News You Missed This Week – April 6th, 2017

Leftist headed to narrow victory in Ecuador, defying Latin America’s shift to right

Ecuador plunged into crisis Sunday night after a disputed presidential vote, with leftist candidate Lenín Moreno headed to a narrow victory and his conservative opponent denouncing the results as fraudulent. The race was a political barometer for the strength of long-dominant leftist parties in South America that have been in retreat after electoral losses.

ECUADOR — Protests erupted Sunday night after it became clear that leftist candidate Lenín Moreno would win the close president election against conservative candidate Guillermo Lasso.

Moreno took the lead with 51 percent to Lasso’s 49 percent. According to The Washington Post, current President Rafael Correa declared Moreno, former vice president, had won the race before election authorities had made the official call. Correa proclaimed, “The revolution has triumphed again in Ecuador,” while on stage with Moreno at a rally that evening.

Lasso responded by calling the results fraudulent and said he will challenge the vote. According to The BBC, he told his supporters to “peacefully defend their votes.”

His supporters then gathered in front of the electoral commission offices, shouting “No to fraud.” According to The Washington Post, his supporters broke through police barricades and surged towards the building.

The results mean continued refuge for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who currently has asylum protection at Ecuador’s embassy in London. Lasso said he would evict Assange within 30 days if elected.

Moreno’s win breaks the recent trend of conservative resurgence in Latin American countries, with right-wing candidates recently winning presidential elections in Argentina and Peru.

Serbia elects Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic as president – BBC News

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has won a clear victory in the country’s presidential election. He won about 55%, well above the threshold to avoid a run-off, with most results counted. His closest challenger, Sasa Jankovic, polled 16%, while satirical candidate Ljubisa Preletacevic came third with 9% of the vote.

SERBIA — Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic won a decisive victory in the country’s presidential election on Monday, taking 55% percent of the vote. Sasa Jankovic, Vucic’s closest competitor, received 16 percent.

Vucic said people had voted for him due to his support for joining the E.U. and that his victory “shows in what direction Serbia wants to go.”

According to Reuters, the election result is a humiliation for Serbia’s opposition parties, who say that Vucic’s time as prime minster has been autocratic. His opponents say that this has allowed him to assert control over Serbia’s media. Vucic has denied the charge.

While the position of president is largely a ceremonial post in Serbia, Vucic is expected to maintain power through his control of Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party.

Vucic’s win brings into question how he will be able to complete his plan of joining the E.U. while maintaining a close relationship with Russia, a traditional ally of Serbia.

Serbia elects Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic as president – BBC News

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has won a clear victory in the country’s presidential election. He won about 55%, well above the threshold to avoid a run-off, with most results counted. His closest challenger, Sasa Jankovic, polled 16%, while satirical candidate Ljubisa Preletacevic came third with 9% of the vote.

COLOMBIA — Colombia’s president has declared a state of emergency after heavy rain lead to severe flooding and mudslides Saturday morning in the city of Mocoa, killing over 200 people.

As of Sunday, the Red Cross estimated that another 220 people were still missing and 400 were injured as a result of the flooding and mudslides. President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in the country’s southwest city to survey the damage and oversee rescue efforts, saying “All of our hearts are with the victims of this tragedy.”

According to The Guardian, the city is currently without power, gas, or telephone service, and has little clean water, causing around 600 survivors to spend Sunday in temporary shelters. A spokesman for the local power utility said it could take two weeks to restore energy in the area.   

Al Jazeera reported that in recent months, Colombia has experienced multiple deadly landslides. Neighboring Peru has experienced similar conditions, with a death toll of over 90 people since the start of this year, according to The BBC.

Santos blamed Saturday’s disaster on climate change, saying the rainfall Mocoa received in one night was approximately equal to half of the amount the city usually receives in all of March.

Rescue efforts are continuing to search for those still missing. Local governments must now focus on providing medical supplies to hospitals to treat those injured and repairing the damages caused by the mudslide, which will only increase if mudslides and flooding continue to occur.

Venezuela’s Top Court And President Reverse Course, Restore Powers To Legislature

Venezuela’s Supreme Court restored powers to the country’s legislature amid increasing domestic and international accusations that President Nicolas Maduro and the allied court were consolidating power. In Saturday’s rulings, the court reversed an earlier decision nullifying the national assembly, which is largely controlled by the opposition.

VENEZUELA —The Venezuelan Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision to remove the powers of the legislature after claims that President Nicolas Maduro and the court were attempting to consolidate power.

The court, under control of the executive branch, originally announced last Wednesday that due to the fact that the National Assembly was in contempt of its rulings, the court would take over legislative responsibilities.

Maduro called the ruling “historic” and said it was giving him “special powers that stem out of the state of emergency clauses in our constitution.”

According to CNBC, Maduro’s opponents see the reversal of the court’s initial ruling as “too little too late,” and an affirmation that Maduro controls the court system with no real separation of powers.   

Protesters took to the streets in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, after the court reversed their decision on Saturday, causing police officers to disperse tear gas on demonstrators, according to Reuters. The Supreme Court’s move has also sparked concern from the international community, with the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and neighboring countries condemning the action.

Blast near Shia mosque in Pakistan’s Parachinar kills 22

A bomb targeting a Shia mosque in Pakistan’s northwestern town of Parachinar killed 22 people and injured nearly 70 others on Friday in an attack claimed by a Taliban faction. The explosion occurred near the women’s entrance of the Shia ‘imambargah’ in the headquarters of Kurram tribal region, located close to the Afghan border, as people gathered for Friday prayers.

PAKISTAN — At least 22 people were killed and approximately 70 others were injured after a bomb outside of a Shia mosque exploded on Friday.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group was also behind various attacks across Pakistan in February, including a suicide bombing in Lahore that left 14 people killed.

The explosion occurred as people were gathering for Friday prayers in the northwestern town of Parachinar, a Shia majority town. According to the Hindustan Times, an unidentified person parked a car outside of the women’s entrance of the mosque and the explosion occurred soon after.

Sajid Hussain, a parliamentarian from Parachinar, said that the women’s mosque appears to have been the target of the attack.

According to AP, the Pakistani Taliban and Sunni militant groups once had a strong presence in the region. Violence has continued in the region despite claims from the army that the area has been cleared of militants.

The attack Friday happened just hours following the announcement that Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain signed a bill to remove a final barrier for the revival of military courts to try terrorism suspects. The recent attack could likely lead the Pakistani government to have even more of a strengthened commitment to combating terrorism within the country.

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