November 30 global news roundup: RCEP signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries; President Trump not conceding yet

A cargo port in Singapore

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last two weeks (November 16 to 30, 2020).

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Following its launch in 2012, 15 Asia-Pacific countries – 10 from the Association of South East Asian Nations plus Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea – signed the world’s largest trade agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The economies of RCEP comprise about 30 per cent of global gross domestic product and the countries also house around a third of the world’s population.

And in the United States, even though president Donald Trump has not formally conceded, his administration authorised the start of formal transition proceedings after the state of Michigan certified its vote for president-elect Joe Biden. Mr. Trump also pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

Civil war in Ethiopia and domestic tensions in Turkey and Uganda: In Ethiopia, with the threat of a civil war, rebels fired rockets into neighbouring Eritrea. Government forces said they captured key towns on the road to the capital of the rebellious province of Tigray, and the government has resisted calls for talks or mediation. The prime minister, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, then ordered an all-out offensive against rebel forces, rejecting independent international mediation in the process.

In Turkey, for their links to a 2016 coup attempt, hundreds of people were sentenced to life in prison. And in Uganda, violent protests led to the deaths of dozens, as two presidential candidates were arrested while campaigning ahead of a January election.

Escalation of geopolitical conflicts: Iran’s top nuclear scientist was shot and killed in an ambush. Iranian officials have called it an act of terror and Israel’s intelligence service the Mossad is said to be behind the attack. The Two former Yugoslav republics, Montenegro and Serbia, expelled each other’s ambassadors.

Protests in Guatemala, France, and Peru: In Guatemala, hundreds of anti-government protestors stormed, vandalised, and set fire to parts of the congress building. They were opposed to a budget and called for the  president’s resignation. In France, tens of thousands of people marched to protest against a security bill which would restrict sharing images of police officers and strengthen government surveillance. And in Peru, six days after he took office, the interim president resigned after days of protest calling for him to step down. Congress then named its third president in a week.

Also in France, former president Nicolas Sarkozy is set to go on trial over allegations of corruption, the first time a French president has face such charges.

Some good news from DR Congo and Scotland: DR Congo declared an end to its last Ebola outbreak. Scotland became the first country in the world to ensure sanitary products are available to anyone who needs them. Universal access to free period products is now a legal right.

Accidents and disasters: A bus attack in Ethiopia and an attack by Boko Haram in Nigeria left dozens dead in both countries. In addition, a road crash in China, an apartment fire in Hong Kong, Hurricane Iota in Nicaragua, a boat accident in Nigeria, and a fire in a Romanian COVID-19 hospital killed dozens too. Finally, the United Nations said that Yemen is in danger of experiencing the world’s worst famine in decades.

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