During the first debate of the United States presidential election last year, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said: “Words matter. Words matter when you run for president, and they really matter when you are president”. One year on, having just unsettled many with his bellicose rhetoric towards North Korea last week – threatening to unleash “fire and fury” and further adding that the country could “be in trouble like few nations ever have been” – President Donald Trump’s reaction to a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, has been criticised. While he eventually denounced the neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan as criminals and thugs, he was slammed with his initial remarks that there were “many sides” involved, and in fact later in the week, the president went on to defend his initial remarks over the protests, by laying “blame on both sides” for the violence which transpired.
And words matter too beyond the United States. In chaotic Venezuela, where President Nicolás Maduro seeks to consolidate power through a new constituent assembly, Mr. Trump’s threat of a military solution has only emboldened Mr. Maduro to attack the opposition. Continue reading
Africans went to the polls this week, in a mixture of presidential, legislative, and constitutional elections, yet in each instance there were doubts either over its validity or its outcome. Kenyans went to the polls to vote across the branches of government, yet fears over possible violence – especially following the torture and murder of a senior election official in the lead-up – and perhaps despite the pending outcome of the election, linger. Mauritanians abolished their Senate at the ballot box, yet there were claims of rigged votes and further worries over the 53.7 per cent turnout rate. Rwandans voted overwhelmingly to grant President Paul Kagame a third seven-year term, yet supposed irregularities and the absence of a credible opposition have concerned observers. And finally, South African President Jacob Zuma survived a parliamentary vote of no confidence, yet he remains a deeply unpopular figure. Continue reading
This roundup covers news summaries across six regions: Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. Wherever possible I draw links to Singapore, but I think it is more important to understand geopolitical developments around the world, to draw attention to meaningful news stories, and to highlight both positive and negative … Continue reading