August 31 global news roundup: Political developments in Belarus, Japan, and Mali

Belarus, Europe

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last two weeks (August 16 to 31, 2020).

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In Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who claimed victory in an election widely perceived to be fraudulent and which was rejected by the European Union, sought to hold a rally with tens of thousands of supporters. However, his opponents – defying a massive police crackdown – held a demonstration with close to 200,000 people, and some of the country’s paramilitary police burned their uniforms and posted resignation letters online. Mr. Lukashenko has called on Russia for help, was also booed off stage the he faced strikers in a tractor factory, yet he has rejected calls for dialogue.

In Japan, prime minister Shinzo Abe – who has set his country’s record for the longest consecutive time in office and as its longest-serving prime minister – announced his resignation over health problems. Mr. Abe’s ruling party will hold a leadership vote on September 14, with four potential candidates for prime minister. And in Mali, the military staged a coup after weeks of unrest, arresting the president, prime minister, and other government officials. The president has been accused of stealing a parliamentary election. Later, parliament was dissolved, a move criticised by United Nations officials.

In other important political developments: Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was left unconscious and was put on a ventilator after a suspected poisoning. He was later flown to Germany for treatment. In Thailand, in the country’s largest rally since a 2014 coup, at least 10,000 people gathered in the capital calling for the prime minister to resign and for changes to the country’s constitution and monarchy,

And in the United States, the Democrats and Republicans had their respective national conventions virtually, offering a preview of the general election in November.

Natural and man-made disasters claim lives around the world: The countries of Afghanistan (flash floods), India and Nepal (landslide), Pakistan (torrential rain, causing floods), Sudan (heavy rains), and Turkey (flash floods) experienced natural disasters. On the other hand, China (restaurant collapse), Peru (nightclub stampede), the Philippines (motorcycle explosion and suicide bombing), Somalia (terrorist attack), and South Sudan (plane crash) reported unfortunate man-made disasters.

Viral developments: Finally, the first confirmed case of coronavirus reinfection was reported in Hong Kong, as the total confirmed COVID-19 cases around the world crossed 25 million. In better news, Africa was declared to be free of wild poliovirus, with the last case of wild polio reported in Nigeria four years ago.

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