Protests over election continue for 7th day
Thousands of demonstrators in Belarus rallied Saturday at the spot where a protester died in clashes with police, calling for authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to resign after 26 years in power.
It was the seventh consecutive day of large protests against the results of the Aug. 9 presidential vote in which election officials say Lukashenko won a sixth term.
Despite harsh police crackdowns against the protesters, including the detention of some 7,000 people, the demonstrations have swelled into the largest and most sustained anti-government movement since Lukashenko took power in 1994.
In other related developments:
●The 65-year-old Lukashenko on Saturday rejected suggestions that foreign mediators try to help resolve the crisis. He discussed the situation in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the first publicly known direct contact between the two leaders since the election.
● The United States is discussing the situation in Belarus with the European Union, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Speaking in Warsaw, his last stop on a tour of central Europe, Pompeo said that Washington was tracking the situation and that the aim of conversations with the E.U. is to “try to help, as best we can, the Belarusian people achieve sovereignty and freedom.”
● The partner of a man who died in the protests says she does not believe the official account that Alexander Taraikovsky was killed when an explosive device that he intended to throw at police blew up in his hand. Elena German said she is sure her 34-year-old partner was shot by police.
— Associated Press
U.N. decision on Iran sanctions denounced
The U.N. Security Council’s rejection of a U.S. proposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran was “a disgrace,” Israel said on Saturday.
“Instead of allowing the terrorist regime in Tehran to acquire deadly weapons, the council should impose crippling sanctions on Iran,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan tweeted. “The council has utterly failed in its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.”
Israel and Iran are archenemies. Israel accuses Tehran of continuing to work on developing nuclear weapons, while Iran threatens the existence of the Jewish state.
The Security Council on Friday resoundingly rejected the U.S. bid to indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Iran. The resolution received two votes in favor, two against and 11 abstentions, the council’s president announced.
Tehran spun the U.N. vote as a “major political defeat” for Washington. “For the first time in history, a U.S. proposal was rejected in the U.N. Security Council,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani claimed on Iranian television. “This is a major political defeat for Washington.”
However, although Rouhani called it a first, that overlooks times the United States has not gotten its way at the United Nations, notably in 2003, when it failed to win support for the invasion of Iraq.
The 13-year-old arms embargo on Iran is set to end in October, under a provision of U.N. Resolution 2231, in which the Security Council backed the nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers signed in Vienna in 2015.
— Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Afghan peace negotiator survives assassination attempt: Fawzia Koofi, a member of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team, was lightly wounded in an assassination attempt, officials said. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said Koofi, who is also a former lawmaker, was attacked Friday afternoon near the capital, Kabul, while she was returning from a visit to the northern province of Parwan. Koofi is part of a 21-member team charged with representing the Afghan government in upcoming peace talks with the Taliban, following a U.S. deal with the militants that was struck in February.
Kuomintang loses mayoral race in Taiwan: Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), was routed in a key mayoral by-election. The KMT, which traditionally favors close ties with China, has been trying to reinvent itself since being trounced by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in January’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The by-election in the southern city of Kaohsiung was called after its KMT mayor, Han Kuo-yu, was removed from office by a massive margin in a recall vote in June, his opponents charging he had little interest in the city. The DPP’s Chen Chi-Mai, a former vice premier, won 70 percent of the votes, thrashing KMT candidate Jane Lee, though only about half of voters turned out.
— From news services