October 2022 global news roundup: Political drama and electoral developments; Climate inaction and consequences; Human tragedies in Asia and beyond; Governmental action and inaction

London, United Kingdom (Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash)

This roundup summarises the most important news stories around the world in the last month (October 2022).

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There was political drama in the United Kingdom (UK), Burkina Faso, and Pakistan, along with electoral developments (and drama) in China, Malaysia, and Brazil. In the UK, Liz Truss resigned, becoming the short-serving prime minister in history (44 days). Earlier, she had sacked chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng as she announced a shift in her tax policy to calm markets, even though he has been her closest ideological ally. Later, Rishi Sunak, who had lost the Tory leadership election last month, was elected as the party’s leader and the next prime minister. He is the UK’s first British Asian prime minister and the youngest in more than a century.

In Burkina Faso, with its second coup in eight months, military officers announced that they had taken power. The president resigned with conditions, including the upholding of the transition to democratic elections by 2024. And in Pakistan, five months after the former prime minister was ousted by parliament through a vote of no confidence, the elections commission barred Imran Khan from holding public office for five years.

Electorally, in China, at its national congress, the Chinese Communist Party selected president Xi Jinping for an unprecedented third term, having voted in 2018 to get rid of presidential term limits in the country’s constitution. During the formal proceedings, the removal of Mr. Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao provoked questions and speculation. In Malaysia, the prime minister dissolved parliament, with the ruling party seeking to consolidate its political strength and electoral gains since the 2018 elections.

In Brazil, the world’s fourth largest democracy, the presidential election headed to a runoff between incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Mr. Bolsonaro had outperformed poll expectations. In the runoff, the former president was elected by a slim margin – the closest in the country’s democratic history – and the incumbent became the first president in Brazilian history to lose a re-election campaign. This also marks a comeback win for Mr. da Silva, who had been jailed for corruption three years ago in a disputed conviction case.

Relatedly, the Austrian president, who plays a largely ceremonial role, secured his re-election with a clear majority of the votes, avoiding a run-off. In Sweden, parliament elected conservative leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister.

Climate inaction and consequences

The United Nations reported that climate change measures were “highly inadequate”, and that higher-income, carbon-emitting countries were not promising or doing enough to reach global goals limited further warming. In the short-term too, with Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine, the goals will also be complicated by the decision of OPEC+, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, including Russia, to cut oil production by two million barrels per day, starting in November.

Nigeria has been suffering its worst flooding in a decade, with over 603 people dead and over 1.4 million displaced. Other natural disasters included heavy rains and flooding (Greece, Indonesia, Mexico), a storm leading to flash floods and landslides in the Philippines, and an avalanche in the Himalayas. In the United States (US), at least 76 were killed in Hurricane Ian’s aftermath.

Separately, in the US, president Joe Biden said he will pardon about 6,500 people convicted of federal offences for marijuana possession and called for regulators to review how the drug is classified, but it fell short of federal legalisation as per past promises. Politically too, the House select committee investigating the January 6 US Capital riot, at the end of its ninth public hearing, voted to issue a subpoena to former president Donald Trump.

Human tragedies in Asia and beyond

In India, the collapse of a suspension bridge killed at least 130. In Indonesia, over 170 were killed in a football stadium stampede, as the police tried to quell the riot with tear gas. In South Korea, over 150 died during crowded Halloween festivities. And in Thailand, a former police officer killed at least 38, including 22 children, in a day-care mass shooting. It was the deadliest in recent Thai history.

Beyond Asia, in Chad, at least 50 protestors who were demonstrating against the junta’s anti-democratic decisions to extend its stay in power were shot and killed by security forces. In Iran, as nationwide protests continued, the government attacked Kurdish opposition groups in the north, killing at least nine people. In Somalia, two car explosions killed at least 100. There were also boat sinkings (Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Greece), boat fires (Indonesia), violent attacks, bombs, and shootings (Afghanistan, Mexico, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, and the US), as well as other man-made accidents (Colombia, Ireland, Pakistan, Turkey, and Vietnam).

Governmental action and inaction

In Canada, the purchase, sale, and transfer of handguns was banned with immediate effect. In India, the top court ruled that martial rape was rape and further guaranteed women’s right to an abortion, regardless of their marital status. However, marital rape is still not a crime. In Somalia, the government said it killed the co-founder of terror group al-Shabaab.

Finally, Israel and Lebanon – despite being at war still, technically, with no diplomatic ties – agreed to end their years-long maritime border dispute over the Karish gas field.

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