Hamas picks new political chief
Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, said Saturday that it chose Ismail Haniyeh, a charismatic politician, as its new political chief, the latest move in an effort to refresh the militant Islamist group’s leadership and manifesto.
Haniyeh, seen as a relative moderate with close ties to Hamas’s military wing, will move from Gaza City to Hamas headquarters in Doha, Qatar, to take over from Khaled Meshal, who has been responsible for the organization’s foreign relations and financing for the past 12 years.
The announcement caps several months of voting among the group’s far-flung members in Gaza, the West Bank, Israeli jails and abroad to select a replacement for Meshal, who sought to step down.
A few days earlier, Hamas announced a revised charter that eased its position on Israel and distanced it from Islamist groups in the region, in what was seen as an attempt to reverse years of growing isolation in the region.
At least 58 die in two bus accidents in Africa: Thirty-two schoolchildren, two teachers and a minibus driver were killed in Tanzania when their vehicle plunged into a roadside ravine in the northern tourist region of Arusha on Saturday, a senior police official said. Tanzania, the second-largest economy in East Africa, has a poor road-safety network, but buses remain the main form of public transport between towns. Meanwhile, at least 26 people were killed after two buses collided and caught fire on a busy highway in western Nigeria. Police said the two buses were trying to overtake other vehicles on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and ended up striking each other.
Iran’s state TV censors campaign documentary: Iran’s semiofficial news agency ILNA says state TV has censored a documentary released by President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign, ahead of the upcoming presidential election. A Rouhani campaign official confirmed that one cut segment showed supporters chanting for opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who has been under house arrest since 2011. Also omitted was a picture of former president Mohammad Khatami, whose name and image have been banned in Iranian media since 2015. Both Mousavi and Khatami support Rouhani, who is running in the May 19 election.
Pope Francis says “mother” should not describe weapons: Pope Francis criticized the naming of the U.S. military’s biggest nonnuclear explosive as “the Mother of All Bombs,” saying the word “mother” should not be used in reference to a deadly weapon. The U.S. Air Force dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) on suspected Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan last month. The nickname was widely used in briefings and reporting on the attack. “I was ashamed when I heard the name,” Francis told an audience of students Saturday. “A mother gives life and this one gives death, and we call this device a mother. What is happening?”