Zimbabwe Consultant doctors castigated the ‘silent genocide’ caused by the breath-taking inadequacy of facilities and basic supplies in hospitals in Harare, which medical unions say is completely unsustainable. Such rhetoric follows the dismissal of 435 junior medical officers by the government for striking over low wages.
Asia & Oceania
China Pro-democratic factions won a resounding victory in Hong Kong’s District Council elections, with a turnout rate of 71%, far higher than expected. In the same week, President Trump signed a law threatening sanctions for human rights violations in Hong Kong, and requiring the state department to justify any favourable trading terms given to Hong Kong on the basis of the political autonomy of the territory. Beijing accused the American government of meddling in its affairs. On a related note, DC Comics withdrew an advert for its new Batman comic which was interpreted by some Chinese Weibo users as implicitly expressing support for the Hong Kong protests; the poster depicted Batwoman lobbing a Molotov cocktail under the caption ‘The future is young’, considered a reference to the students, such as Joshua Wong, leading the protests.
Chile Following weeks of demonstrations leaving over 13,000 people injured, the central bank responded to the 15% slump in the value of the Peso by selling almost half of its foreign currency reserves. The government has also promised to increase public spending to appease protestors, which may undermine Chile’s sovereign debt rating, the highest in South America and one of the highest in the world.
Bolivia After last months toppling of Evo Morales, whose alleged election fraud sparked widespread riots, Camacho, the obscure conservative Christian lawyer who was so instrumental in forcing Morales to resign, has announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election (date still unconfirmed). Camacho is an activist from Santa Cruz, a historically right-leaning region, and his stated aim is to ‘bring the Bible back to the palace of government’, something he quite literally achieved when he entered the presidential palace with a Bible and a letter of resignation for Morales to sign. He has been dubbed the ‘Bolivian Bolsonaro’ for his traditionalist views, yet his politics is at present defined more by opposition to Morales than his Catholic beliefs.
United Kingdom The capital reeled as 2 people were killed and several more injured in a terrorist attack on London Bridge, which was later claimed by IS. The attacker had previously been convicted for terrorism offences, and was still wearing an electronic tag at the time, prompting a debate about police funding and policies to promote rehabilitation. Several commentators have warned the major political parties about using this tragedy for their own political ends in the run-up to an election in under 2 weeks.
Albania An earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale struck Tirana just before dawn, leaving 51 dead and 4,000 people homeless. The natural disaster has rapidly become politicised as lack of compliance with regulation and corruption in the building industry have been blamed for the extent of damage wreaked by the earthquake. With the aid of experts from several EU countries, the government has already begun to clear the rubble, set up a financial compensation scheme worth £7,000 per family, and drafted a law issuing harsh sentences to those in the construction industry found to have violated building regulations.
Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced his resignation following a spike in the death toll in 2 months of protests which have left 420 people dead. Protestors both in Shi’ite and Sunni-majority cities took to the streets to mourn the dead; a police officer was this week sentenced to death for the killing of civilians. The stated aim of the protests is to overthrow the regime which is alleged to be propped up by the Iranian government, a perception leading to the torching of the Iranian consulate in Najaf by demonstrators.
By Patrick Stephens, This Week's World Editor