Monday, July 6, 2020

Nepal PM meets Army Chief Thapa amid political standoff in ruling party

Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. (Photo: ANI)

Kathmandu (ANI): Amid political standoff in the ruling party, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday held talks with Nepal's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Purna Chandra Thapa, sources told ANI. Earlier in the day, the meeting between Oli and co-chair of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda ended without any conclusion.

The leaders decided to hold the next round of talks on Monday morning, according to The Himalayan Times. After wrapping up the meeting with President Bidhya Devi Bhandari in Sheetal Niwas, Prachanda earlier today reached Oli's official residence in Baluwatar to hold further talks in a bid to erase fractures between the top leadership of the ruling party.

Amid internal disputes in the ruling NCP, both Oli and Prachanda, the two co-chairs have been striving to mend fences by holding meetings since the prorogation of the ongoing parliamentary session. Oli has faced strong criticism in the standing committee meeting held on June 30, with most of the members demanding his resignation.

The Prime Minister has been criticised within and outside the party for the government's "failure" to address a range of issues, particularly after he made a public statement that India is trying to topple him. (ANI)

Hong Kong Security law a tool to quash dissent, west needs to take action against China : Analyst

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Washington (ANI): The new Hong Kong security law, which is commonly dubbed as the anti-protest law, is a tool deployed by the Chinese government to quash dissent, said Global Affairs analyst Michael Bociurkiw. He said that the West needs to take definitive actions and just condemning the act is not sufficient.

In an opinion piece in CNN, Bociurkiw writes that Hong Kong, overnight and with no consultation, became a legal and security jurisdiction of China, "denying its citizens the 27 more years of semi-autonomy Beijing had promised under the "one country, two systems" model that was to have been in effect until 2047".

Bociurkiw said that while the world is distracted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the antics of the Trump administration, China has moved to suppress Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. "This step is consistent with a regime that knows it has to act quickly in the current discombobulated geopolitical environment," he writes.

He said the new law has dealt a heavy blow to pro-democracy activism, with activists reportedly deleting social media posts and with the leadership of one pro-democracy group, Demosisto, announcing it would step down. Another pro-democracy leader, Nathan Law, announced he had fled the city.

"Beijing acted in sledgehammer fashion in response to months of often violent protests that caused significant destruction of public property, including vandalism and fires at transit stations, and which caused the economy to tank," he writes.

"The last thing the central authorities would want is for the protest movement to spread onto the mainland, especially at a time when its own economy is feeling the ill effects from the long battle with Covid-19," he adds.

Around 9,000 Hong Kong residents have been arrested since the start of pro-democracy, anti-government protests last year, and nearly 600 have been charged with rioting. The new law appears to be Beijing's final move against them.

The analyst said that Washington needs to follow the lead of the United Kingdom and its "new bespoke immigration route," which could pave the way for British citizenship for some 2.9 million Hong Kongers who hold special passports as overseas British subjects from before 1997.

"While sanctions are the international community's go-to tool of punishment when it comes to holding regimes accountable for their actions, standing by Hong Kong should include expedited refugee status for members of the city's pro-democracy movement and eased immigration restrictions for anyone else who is fearful," he writes.

"And freezing China's flagship technology giant Huawei out of the global 5G buildout would also deliver an unambiguous and painful blow," he adds. (ANI)

Iran's Vice President says US failed to stop Iranian oil exports

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Tehran (Iran), July 06 (Sputnik/ANI): The United States has failed to stop the Iranian oil exports despite the intention to bring it to zero, First Vice President of Iran Eshaq Jahangiri said on Sunday.

"Oil, as the main source of income for Iran, has been under severe sanctions. Under the previous sanctions, the maximum amount of oil exports for Iran was set at one million barrels and then we were selling up to 900,000 barrels of oil. Now they [Washington] said that Iran's oil exports should be brought to zero, and, fortunately, they failed to achieve this," Jahangiri said in a statement.

The remarks came in the light of measures developed by the Iranian authorities aimed at moving away from oil as the country's main source of income. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has emphasized that US sanctions would have less effect if Tehran had less dependence on this source of income. In mid-February, Rouhani said that Tehran for the first time in its history stopped focusing on oil.

In addition, Tehran is making attempts to find new routes for oil exports, primarily bypassing the key energy route -- the Strait of Hormuz -- since the instability in this area may endanger oil deliveries from the entire region.

In 2018, Tehran did not rule out a possibility of closure of the Strait of Hormuz for other states if Iran was unable to export oil as a result of the US sanctions. The Iranian military later announced the absence of such plans.

Iran is currently constructing a pipeline from the Goureh oil terminal to the port of Jask, which will allow to transport up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the eastern part of the Persian Gulf directly to the port in the Gulf of Oman, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz. The project is planned to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. (Sputnik/ANI)

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