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Phuket Gazette World News: Egypt interim president sworn in; Mandela hangs on; Vatican high-life; Ecuador dour on bugs

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Phuket Gazette World News: Egypt interim president sworn in; Mandela hangs on; Vatican high-life; Ecuador dour on bugs | The Thaiger
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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH
– World news compiled by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Brotherhood leader arrested as Egypt interim leader sworn in
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood was arrested by Egyptian security forces on Thursday in a crackdown against the Islamist movement after the army ousted the country’s first democratically elected president.

The dramatic exit of President Mohamed Mursi was greeted with delight by millions of people on the streets of Cairo and other cities overnight, but there was simmering resentment among Egyptians who opposed military intervention.

Perhaps aware of the risk of a polarised society, the new interim leader, judge Adli Mansour, used his inauguration to hold out an olive branch to the Brotherhood, Mursi’s power base.

“The Muslim Brotherhood are part of this people and are invited to participate in building the nation as nobody will be excluded, and if they respond to the invitation, they will be welcomed,” he said.

But a senior Brotherhood official said it would not work with “the usurper authorities”. Another of its politicians said Mursi’s overthrow would push other groups, though not his own, to violent resistance.

Mursi’s removal after a year in office marked another twist in the turmoil that has gripped the Arab world’s most populous country in the two years since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

Investigation into Mursi

The United Nations, the United States and some other world powers did not condemn Mursi’s removal as a military coup. To do so might trigger sanctions.

Army intervention was backed by millions of Egyptians, however, including liberal leaders and religious figures who expect new elections under a revised set of rules.

Egypt’s armed forces have been at the heart of power since officers staged the 1952 overthrow of King Farouk.

The protests that spurred the military to step in this time were rooted in a liberal opposition that lost elections to Islamists, but their ranks were swelled by anger over broken promises on the economy and shrinking real incomes.

The downfall of Egypt’s first elected leader to emerge from the Arab Spring revolutions raised questions about the future of political Islam, which only lately seemed triumphant.

Deeply divided, Egypt’s 84 million people are again a focus of concern in a region traumatised by the civil war in Syria.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, was arrested in the northern city of Marsa Matrouh, near the Libyan border, although security sources said they did not believe he had been trying to flee the country.

Prosecutors also ordered the arrest of his influential deputy Khairat el-Shater after both men were charged with inciting violence against protesters outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo that was attacked on Sunday night.

At least 16 people have been killed and hundreds wounded in street clashes across Egypt since Mursi’s overthrow.

Television stations sympathetic to Mursi were taken off air, and a newspaper affiliated with the Brotherhood’s political arm said the state-owned printing press had refused to produce its Thursday edition.

Mursi was in military custody, army and Brotherhood sources said, and authorities opened an investigation into accusations that he and 15 other Islamists insulted the judiciary.

A senior Brotherhood politician, Essam El-Erian, said the movement would take a long view of the political setback, and that Egypt’s Islamist leaders had not been given a fair chance to succeed in office.

Mohamed El-Beltagy, another senior Brotherhood politician, said the movement would not take up arms over what he called a military coup, although he warned that other, unnamed, groups could be pushed to violent resistance by recent events.

But there was a call from calm from the influential Dawa Salafiya movement of Egyptian Salafists.

For Egypt

Outside the court where Mansour was sworn in, 25-year-old engineer Maysar El-Tawtansy summed up the mood among those who voted for Mursi in 2012 and opposed military intervention.

“We queued for hours at the election, and now our votes are void,” he said. “It’s not about the Brotherhood, it’s about Egypt.”

For the defeated Islamists, the clampdown revived memories of their sufferings under the old, military-backed regime led by Mubarak, himself toppled by a popular uprising in 2011.

The clock started ticking for Mursi when millions took to the streets on Sunday to demand he resign. They accused the Brotherhood of hijacking the revolution, entrenching its power and failing to revive the economy.

That gave armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who already had his own reservations about the state of the nation under Mursi, a justification to invoke the “will of the people” and demand the president share power or step aside.

The United States and other Western allies had also pressed Mursi hard to open his administration to a broader mix of ideas.

Sisi, in uniform and flanked by politicians, officers and clergy, called on Wednesday for measures to wipe clear a slate of messy democratic reforms enacted since Mubarak fell. The constitution was suspended.

Interim government

A technocratic interim government will be formed, along with a panel for national reconciliation, and the constitution will be reviewed. Mansour said fresh parliamentary and presidential elections would be held, but he did not specify when.

Liberal chief negotiator Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. nuclear agency chief and favourite to become prime minister in the interim government, said the plan would “continue the revolution” of 2011.

Straddling the Suez Canal and Israel’s biggest neighbour, Egypt’s stability is important for many powers.

U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration provides $1.3 billion a year to the Egyptian military, expressed concern about Mursi’s removal and called for a swift return to a democratically elected civilian government.

But he stopped short of condemning a military move that could block U.S. aid.

A senator involved in aid decisions said the United States would cut off its financial support if the intervention was deemed a military coup.

Israel avoided any show of satisfaction over the fall of an Islamist president who alarmed many in the Jewish state but who quickly made clear he would not renege on a peace treaty.

Germany called the latest events in Egypt “a serious setback for democracy” while NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was “gravely concerned” about the situation.

The African Union said it was likely to suspend Egypt from all its activities and Turkey said the army’s overthrow of Mursi constituted an “unacceptable” military coup.

But the new emir in Qatar, which has provided billions of dollars in aid to Egypt following the ousting of Mubarak, congratulated Mansour on his appointment.

The markets reacted positively to Mursi’s exit. Egypt’s main stock index rose 7.3 percent on the day.

South Africa says Mandela still ‘critical but stable’
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: South Africa’s ailing anti-apartheid hero and former President Nelson Mandela remained in a “critical but stable” condition after nearly four weeks in hospital, the government said on Thursday.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

World

15,000+ Covid-19 patients in Japan on waiting list for hospitals and health care accommodations

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15,000+ Covid-19 patients in Japan on waiting list for hospitals and health care accommodations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Kyodo News

Thousands of people in Japan who are infected with Covid-19 are on the waiting list for hospitals or other accommodations for those with the virus due to the rising number of cases. Kyoto News conducted a survey and reports at least 15,058 are on the waiting list for proper treatment and accommodation.

The number of new infections in Japan has been growing sharply since last November. Last Tuesday, Japan saw a rapid increase of new infections, including Tokyo. According to the WHO’s report as of yesterday, Japan recorded 4,587 new cases, 360,661 confirmed cases and 5,019 deaths.

In Japan, local public health officials are in charge of arranging hospital stays and treatment for people infected with the virus as well as the appropriate accommodation for people with mild symptoms. The process of making those arrangements is taking longer, and the newly infected people are forced to stay home because of bed shortages. Some are reported dead in their houses.

A survey by Kyodo News found Tokyo had the most infected people waiting to be hospitalised or accommodated at other facilities, jumping 4.8 times from 1,563 as of December 19 to 7,539. Every prefecture has reported a similar rise.

On January 7, Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for 11 prefectures out of a total of 47 prefectures until February 7. Under the state of emergency, people are asked to stay home and restaurants are urged to shorten their opening hours.

SOURCE: Kyodo News

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Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down

Caitlin Ashworth

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Anti-lockdown protests in the Netherlands turn violent, Covid-19 testing centre burnt down | The Thaiger
Screenshot via The Independent

Violence broke out in the Netherlands and a Covid-19 testing centre was burnt down after a nationwide curfew was imposed over the weekend to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In Eindhoven and Amsterdam, riot police deployed water cannons to disperse the crowds of anti-lockdown protesters.

The Netherlands has been under a tough lockdown since mid-December, leading to clashes between anti-lockdown protesters and police. Just last week, police in Amsterdam used the water cannon on hundreds of protesters. Local officials say the riot police had been called to break up the crowd because people weren’t abiding by social distancing measures.

On Saturday, a new 9pm to 4:30am curfew was imposed, tightening the already tough restrictions. As the curfew went into effect that night, rioters set fire to a portable coronavirus testing facility by a harbour in Urk, a fishing town around 80 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam. That night and early the next morning, 3,600 people in the Netherlands were fined for breaching the new curfew. Police say 25 people were arrested for breaching the curfew and violence.

Local officials say the riots in Urk were a “slap in the face, especially for the local health authority staff who do all they can at the test centre to help people from Urk.”

The next day, in the southern city Eindhoven, rioters threw rocks at police and set fires in the centre of the city. Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to break up the crowds. Rocks and shattered glass littered a central square in the city. At least 55 people were arrested, according to the Associated Press.

In the capital of Amsterdam, police used a water cannon to break up a group of anti-lockdown protesters. The Associated Press says more than 100 people were arrested.

SOURCE: Associated Press

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Crime

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands

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Asia’s biggest drug kingpin arrested in Netherlands | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sky News

Asia’s biggest drug kingpin is under arrest in the Netherlands after years of authorities chasing him worldwide. 57 year old Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian citizen, was arrested by Dutch police acting on a request by Australia’s federal police.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime named him as the suspected leader of the Asian mega-cartel known as “Sam Gor”, a major producer and supplier of methamphetamines worldwide. Tse is commonly compared to the Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Sam Gor is suspected of laundering billions in drug money through businesses such as casinos, real estate and hotels in Southeast Asia’s Mekong region. Australia’s federal police said Friday’s arrest came after a 2012 operation that arrested 27 people linked to a crime syndicate spanning five countries. The groups was accused of importing large amounts of heroin and methamphetamine into Australia, according to police.

“The syndicate targeted Australia over a number of years, importing and distributing large amounts of illicit narcotics, laundering the profits overseas and living off the wealth obtained from crime.”

The arrest of Tse Chi Lop almost 10 years after that operation’s launch is a major break for Australian authorities. The country’s attorney-general will now begin preparing a formal extradition request for the alleged drug lord to face trial.

Most of Asia’s meth comes from “Golden Triangle” border areas between Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and southwest China. The production of methamphetamine, either in tablet form or the highly potent crystalised “ice” version, take place in Myanmar’s eastern north Shan state. Ketamine and fentanyl are also produced there as well, mostly in ‘portable’ labs that hide underneath the thick rainforest canopy.

In 2018 alone, Thailand netted more than 515 million methamphetamine tablets, a number 17 times the amount for the entire Mekong region 10 years ago. Traffickers are constantly finding more creative ways to ship their products as drug busts are featured daily on the news in those regions.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

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