World Digest: June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013
WEST BANK
Premier seeks to quit after 2 weeks in post

The new Palestinian prime minister submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, after two weeks on the job, citing an unspecified “conflict over
authority.”

It was unclear whether Rami Hamdallah, a former university dean, would step down or was using the threat of resignation to obtain more powers. Abbas received the resignation, potentially an embarrassment for him, and will consider it, said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, one of his advisers.

The prime minister heads the Palestinian Authority, the self-rule government for parts of the West Bank that handles day-to-day affairs of Palestinians. Abbas is in charge overall and handles diplomacy, particularly efforts to restart talks with Israel on the terms of a Palestinian state. Those talks broke down in 2008, but Secretary of State John F. Kerry is seeking to revive them.

Hamdallah took office June 6 after being unexpectedly plucked by Abbas from a career in academia to replace internationally known Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who resigned in April.

— Associated Press

IRAQ
Elections conducted in 2 Sunni provinces

Iraqis in two Sunni-dominated provinces voted Thursday in provincial elections marked by tight security that left streets in former insurgent strongholds largely deserted for much of the day.

Iraq is confronting its worst outbreak of violence in years, and relations between Sunni and Shiite Muslims remain fraught. Anbar and Nineveh, where voting took place, have seen some of the largest rallies in a months-long wave of Sunni protests against the Shiite-led government.

Iraqis voted in 12 of the country’s 18 provinces two months ago. Officials had delayed voting in Anbar and Nineveh because of what they said were security concerns, though some Iraqis dismissed that as a political ploy related to the unrest. Results were not expected for several days.

— Associated Press

Singapore, Malaysia hit by record smog: Singapore urged people to remain indoors because of record air pollution from forest fires in neighboring Indonesia, and nearby Malaysia closed 200 schools and banned open burning in some areas. As Singapore’s main measure of air pollution surged to a record 371 — breaching the “hazardous” classification and far surpassing the previous high of 226, recorded in 1997 — officials said Indonesia must do more to halt the “slash-and-burn” land-clearing on Sumatra island.

UNESCO adds 6 Syrian sites to danger list: The U.N. cultural agency says six historical sites in Syria are in imminent danger because of the country’s civil war and is urging international support to protect them. The sites named by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee include the historical centers of Damascus, Bosra and Aleppo; the ancient villages of northern Syria; the desert oasis of Palmyra; and two Crusades-era castles.

11 jailed on extremism charges in China’s Xinjiang region: Chinese courts have sentenced 11 people for inciting religious extremism and related crimes in the northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang, just weeks ahead of the anniversary of bloody ethnic rioting that spread through the region four years ago. All of the defendants identified by name appeared to be from Xinjiang’s native Muslim Uighur ethnic group.

Flood death toll in India may top 1,000: Torrential rain and flash floods in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand may have killed more than 1,000 people, a senior disaster management official said, as the armed forces stepped up searches for those stranded in mountainous areas. Although monsoon rains cause destruction in India every year, they have swept over the country with record speed in 2013.

Kyrgyzstan to end lease of U.S. air base: Kyrgyzstan has voted to terminate next June the United States’ lease on an air base key to supplying military operations in nearby Afghanistan. The move comes despite U.S. expectations that the Manas Transit Center would remain available in exchange for higher rent than the $60 million the United States already pays annually for it.

Kenyan president’s trial delayed: The International Criminal Court has pushed back the start of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s crimes against humanity trial until Nov. 12. Kenyatta is charged as an “indirect co-perpetrator” in murder, deportation, rape, persecution and inhumane acts allegedly committed by his supporters in the violent aftermath of Kenya’s 2007 elections. He denies wrongdoing.

Stampede over Beckham injures 7 in China: Fans eager to see soccer superstar David Beckham stormed a police cordon in a stampede at a Shanghai university that injured seven people, including five security personnel. Nearly 1,000 fans had gathered at a stadium where the retired star was to meet members of the university team, state-run media said.

— From news services

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