29 Sept 2020
CHINA HOLDS SIMULTANEOUS MILITARY DRILLS IN FOUR SEAS
China has begun five military exercises simultaneously along different parts
of its coast, the second time in two months it will have such concurrent
drills against a backdrop of rising regional tensions.
A Reuters news agency report on Monday said two of the exercises are being
held near the HOang Sa (Paracel) Islands in the disputed South China Sea,
one in the East China Sea, and one further north in the Bohai Sea, the
Maritime Safety Administration said in notices on its website.
According to Straits Times, last month, China announced four separate
exercises, from the Bohai Sea to the East and Yellow Seas and down to the
disputed South China Sea, in what Chinese military experts said was a rare
arrangement of drills. The four separate exercises were announced last
month, a rare arrangement, according to Chinese military experts.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Monday said US military
actions have made it "the biggest threat to the peace and stability of the
South China Sea". China has also held frequent military activities near
Taiwan, declaring that the drills were directed at the island Beijing
considers part of its territory.
SHEHBAZ SHARIF ARRESTED AHEAD OF PROTEST LAUNCH
Pakistani anti-corruption officials arrested the country's opposition leader
on Monday, days after he vowed to help lead efforts to dislodge Prime
Minister Imran Khan's government.
Shehbaz Sharif - who heads the Opposition in the country's National Assembly
- was arrested in Lahore after the eastern city's high court rejected a bail
plea in a money-laundering case.
"We are not scared of these arrests," said Marriyum Aurangzeb, spokeswoman
for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N).
Mr. Sharif is the brother of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The
arrest comes as Opposition parties have reignited efforts to remove Mr. Khan
from office, vowing earlier this month to launch a protest movement in the
coming weeks demanding the government's resignation.
ARMENIA-AZERBAIJAN CLASHES ENTER SECOND DAY, TOLL RISES
Fierce fighting raged between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces on Monday,
sparking bellicose rhetoric from regional power Turkey despite international
pleas for a halt in fighting between the longtime enemies.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a territorial dispute over the
ethnic Armenian region of Nagorny Karabakh for decades, with deadly fighting
flaring up earlier this year and in 2016.
The region declared its independence from Azerbaijan after a war in the
early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives but is not recognised by any country -
including Armenia - and is still considered part of Azerbaijan by the
Fighting between Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia could
embroil regional players such as Russia, which has a military alliance with
Armenia, and Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan.
Karabakh's Defence Ministry said 27 fighters were killed in fighting Monday
- after previously reporting 28 - bringing their total military losses to
The overall death toll rose to 67, including nine civilian deaths: seven in
Azerbaijan and two on the Armenian side.
Azerbaijan has not reported any military casualties, but Armenian separatist
officials released footage showing burnt-out armoured vehicles and the
bloodied and charred remains of soldiers in camouflage it said were
With each side blaming the other for the latest fighting, world leaders have
urged calm as fears rise of a full-scale conflict.
BARRED FROM OFFICE, OUTGOING CATALAN LEADER CALLS FOR REGIONAL ELECTIONS
Outgoing Catalan leader Quim Torra said on Monday that regional elections
would be held in the coming months after Spain's Supreme Court upheld a
ruling barring him from public office for 18 months, sparking protests in
Barcelona in the evening.
In a televised address, Mr. Torra said he would appeal the sentence, which
he described as a politically motivated move to overthrow the Catalan
Nevertheless, the ruling took effect as soon as Mr. Torra was officially
notified of it, meaning Catalan deputy leader Pere Aragones is expected to
become acting head, likely triggering an election.
"This needs to be a turning point. There must be a new plebiscite to confirm
the October 1st referendum," Mr. Torra said, referring to a 2017
independence poll that was declared illegal by the courts.
"I will continue to work tirelessly for the freedom of Catalonia from any
other space from which I can be helpful," he said.
Mr. Torra left the Catalan government building on foot as a few hundred
people gathered to protest the ruling.
The case stems from Mr. Torra's refusal, during a national election campaign
in 2019, to follow orders from Spain's electoral committee to remove a
banner supporting jailed separatists from the main facade of his government
Mr. Torra has defended himself on grounds of freedom of expression, but the
court said its ruling encompassed not personal rights but defiance of a
Cristina Narbona, president of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's PSOE party,
said a new regional election should be held fast to stop "political
paralysis" in Catalonia.
Catalonia's 7.5 million people are split over independence, with the latest
opinion poll showing 42% in favour and 50% against.
SWISS VOTERS REFUSE TO REIN IN IMMIGRATION FROM EU
The Swiss have rejected a bid to dramatically reduce immigration from the
European Union, but have embraced offering paid paternity leave for the
first time, projections from several votes in the country Sunday showed.
Shortly after polls closed at noon (1000 GMT), projections from gfs.bern
polling institute indicated that 63% of Swiss voters had balked at the
initiative to tear up an agreement permitting the free movement of people
between Switzerland and the surrounding EU.
The initiative, backed by the populist right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP)
- Switzerland's largest party - had been opposed by the government,
Parliament, unions, employer organisations and all other political parties
out of fear it would jeopardise overall relations with the bloc.
Public support for the initiative had also been seen slipping in recent
opinion polls, but the suspense remained high since SVP has eked out
surprise victories in the past in its war against tightening relations with
Most people vote in advance in the popular polls and referendum held in
Switzerland every few months as part of the country's famous direct
democratic system, usually making it possible to quickly surmise which way
the vote is headed.
SVP's initiative called for Switzerland to revise its Constitution to ensure
it can autonomously handle immigration policy.
PAK COURT INDICTS FORMER PRESIDENT ZARDARI, HIS SISTER IN MONEY LAUNDERING
An anti-corruption court in Pakistan on Monday indicted former President
Asif Ali Zardari and his sister Faryal Talpur in a money laundering case, a
move described by his party as "victimisation" of opposition leaders.
The development comes just ahead of the planned protests next month by
Opposition parties to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The case is about the alleged use of fake accounts by the former president
and other accused to park and launder the allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
The 63-year-old husband of the country's first woman prime minister Benazir
Bhutto and his 62-year-old sister Talpur were present in the court.
Judge Muhammad Azam Khan of the accountability court in Islamabad indicted
The court also indicted Omni Group Chairman Anwar Majeed and his son, Abdul
All the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.