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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS - February 2021

Feb 2021

May 06, 2021

K. P. Sharma Oli's Govt. Loses Majority Support

  • Nepal's embattled Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli-led government lost majority support in the House of Representatives after the CPN (Maoist Center) led by Pushpakamal Dahal "Prachanda" officially withdrew support to it.
  • The party submitted a letter to this effect to the Parliament Secretariat, informing about its decision to withdraw support to the government, according to a senior leader of the party, Ganesh Shah.
  • After the withdrawal of support, the Oli government has lost its majority in the House of Representatives.
  • The decision of the Maoist party to withdraw support to the government comes two days after Oli announced that he will seek a vote of confidence in Parliament on May 10.
  • The Maoist Center has a total of 49 lawmakers in the Lower House.
  • Since the ruling CPN-UML has a total of 121 lawmakers, Prime Minister Oli is short of 15 lawmakers to save his government in the 275-member House.

Netanyahu Rival Lapid Asked to Form New Government

  • Israel's President has asked the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, to try to form a government.
  • Reuven Rivlin announced that he had given Mr. Lapid the mandate after long-time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet an overnight deadline.
  • Yesh Atid came second to Mr. Netanyahu's right-ring Likud party in March's inconclusive general election.
  • Mr. Lapid faces a challenge to bridge the ideological differences between the parties he can ask to join a coalition.
  • If he fails to secure a majority in the 120-seat parliament, the Knesset, there is a risk of the country having to go to elections for the fifth time in two years.

May 05, 2021

Netanyahu Loses Mandate to form Israel Govt.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's mandate to form a government following an inconclusive election expired, giving his rivals a chance to take power and end the divisive premier's record tenure.
  • Netanyahu, on trial over corruption charges he denies, had a 28-day window to secure a coalition following the March 23 vote, Israel's fourth in less than two years.
  • The 71-year-old's right-wing Likud party won the most seats in the vote, but he and his allies came up short of an absolute majority in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel's parliament.
  • President Reuven Rivlin's office said in a statement that Netanyahu had "informed (the presidency) that he was unable to form a government and so returned the mandate to the President."

PM Oli to Seek Trust Vote

  • Nepal's embattled Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli will seek a vote of confidence from Parliament on May 10 in his bid to stay in power.
  • President Bidya Devi Bhandari, on the recommendation of Oli, summoned a Parliament session on May 10 to obtain a vote of confidence in his government.
  • Oli requires at least 136 votes in the 275-member House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament, to win the confidence motion as four members are currently under suspension. During a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Oli said that he would try to win the trust of Parliament to stay in power.
  • Oli's decision comes amid the current chaotic state of political affairs in the country that emerged since the Prime Minister's controversial move to dissolve the House of Representatives in December last year.

Lebanon and Israel Resume Indirect Talks on Maritime Border

  • After a nearly six-month pause, Lebanon and Israel resumed indirect talks with US mediation over their disputed maritime border.
  • The resumption comes after a new US administration took over.
  • Lebanon has sunk deeper into it economic and financial crisis that started in late 2019 — a culmination of decades of corruption and mismanagement by the political class.
  • The small Mediterranean country is eager to resolve the border dispute with Israel, paving the way for potential lucrative oil and gas deals.
  • The talks resumed at a UN post along the border known as Ras Naqoura, on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Naqoura. The Lebanese delegation will speak through UN and US officials to the Israelis.

May 04, 2021

WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Plans to Seek Re-election

  • As per reports, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, plans to run for a second five-year term as the head of the agency.
  • Tedros, as he is widely kno¬wn, has been the public face of the WHO's efforts to grapple with the Covid-19 pandemic ever since the new SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
  • In 2017, Ethiopia's Tedros became the first African to head the Geneva-based UN agency and made universal health care coverage his priority.

Differences with China Hard to Reconcile: NZ

  • New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took a tougher stance on China's human rights record, and said that it was getting harder to reconcile differences as China's role in the world grew.
  • While her language remained moderate when compared with that of many other leaders, it still marked a significant shift for the country. Ardern in past speeches has often avoided direct criticism of China.
  • New Zealand has been trying to strike the right tone on China in recent weeks after finding itself on the defensive with its Five Eyes (New Zealand, the US, the UK, Australia and Canada) security allies by resisting speaking out in unison with them against China on certain human rights issues.

Bill and Melinda Gates End 27 Years of Marriage

  • Billionaire benefactors Bill and Melinda Gates, co-founders of one of the world's largest private charitable foundations, filed for divorce after 27 years of marriage but pledged to continue their philanthropic work together.
  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has become one of the most powerful and influential forces in global public health, spending more than $50 billion over the past two decades to bring a business approach to combating poverty and disease.
  • The Gates have backed widely praised programs in malaria and polio eradication, child nutrition and vaccines. The foundation last year committed some $1.75 billion to COVID-19 relief.

May 03, 2021

US Denies Iran's Claims of Prisoner, Cash Swap

  • The United States denied a report by Iran's state-run television broadcaster that deals had been reached between the Islamic Republic, Washington and the United Kingdom that would see prisoners swapped and Tehran receive billions of dollars.
  • The announcement by state television, relying on an unnamed source, comes amid a wider power struggle between hard-liners and the relatively moderate government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. That conflict only has grown sharper as Iran approaches its June 18 presidential election.

May 02, 2021

North Korea Accuses Joe Biden of Pursuing Hostile Policy over its Nuclear Programme

  • North Korea has hit out at the Biden administration as it prepares to unveil its strategy for dealing with Pyongyang and its nuclear programme.
  • The foreign ministry said that comments out of Washington showed President Joe Biden was intent on maintaining a "hostile policy".
  • Earlier this week, Mr. Biden called North Korea's nuclear programme a "serious threat" to global security.
  • The White House says he plans to take a "calibrated" approach to North Korea.
  • Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday that a review of US policy had been completed and suggested Mr Biden had learned from the experience of the previous four administrations who have tried, and failed, to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.
  • "Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience," she said, saying that instead the US would pursue a "calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy" with North Korea while making "practical progress" on increasing security for the US and its allies.
  • The US is expected to host Japan and South Korea's national security advisers for a discussion about the review soon.

Pentagon to Cancel Trump's Mexico Wall Projects Using Military Funds

  • In the US, the Pentagon said that it was canceling the construction of parts of former US President Donald Trump's border wall with Mexico that were being built using military funds.
  • Pentagon spokesman Jamal Brown said that the Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account. He added that the returned funds would be used for deferred military construction projects.
  • Former US President Trump had declared a national emergency in 2019 in an effort to redirect funding to build a wall along the U.S. southern border. The diversion of funds from the Pentagon had been heavily criticized by US lawmakers, who said it put national security at risk and circumvented congress.
  • US President Joe Biden had issued a proclamation on January 20th, his first day in office, ordering a freeze on border wall projects and directing a review of the legality of its funding and contracting methods.
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