World news in brief
Anger as France pension reform pushed through without vote
French prime minister Elisabeth Borne used a special procedure to push an unpopular pensions bill through the National Assembly without a vote yesterday, amid shouts from left-wing lawmakers brandishing placards against the reform. The move, using the “49:3” of the constitution, will ensure the bill raising the retirement age by two years to 64 is adopted after weeks of protests and fractious debate.
But it also shows president Emmanuel Macron and his government failed to garner enough of a majority in parliament, in a blow to the centrist president and his ability to win support from other parties for further reforms. Ms Borne was greeted by boos yesterday as she arrived at the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, to announce the special procedure.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said Ms Borne should resign. “This last-minute resort to 49:3 is an extraordinary sign of weakness,” she said, adding: “She must go.” Resorting to the measure is likely to further enrage unions, protesters and leftwing opposition parties that say the pension overhaul is unfair and unnecessary. “This government is not worthy of our Fifth Republic, of French democracy,” Fabien Roussel, head of the French Communist Party said. Socialist Party head Olivier Faure said earlier yesterday that such a move could unleash “an uncontrollable anger” after weeks of rolling strikes and protests. Reuters
Scholz says Germany wants to curb ‘irregular migration’
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said yesterday that Germany will have to do a better job at clamping down on “irregular migration” and deporting those who don’t legally reside in the country. Mr Scholz said that Germany, however, would continue to provide protection for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war.
“Our responsibility in the face of this terrible war of aggression naturally also includes providing protection for Ukrainian citizens in the European Union,” Mr Scholz said in a speech to parliament, adding that “all levels of government have been doing a great job for more than a year – especially the cities, counties and municipalities.”
More than 1 million Ukrainians have found shelter in Germany since Russia invaded their country more than a year ago. In addition, more than 200,000 people from countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Turkey have applied for asylum in 2022. Local communities have for months said they are struggling to house the many newcomers to Germany and have been calling on the
federal government to help them with accommodation, schooling and financial support for all. AP
Police operation to arrest Khan temporarily halted by court
A Pakistan high court yesterday extended a pause in the police’s efforts to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan. The decision is a reprieve for Mr Khan, who was due to be arrested yesterday. The court had on Wednesday intervened to tamp down clashes between Mr Khan’s supporters and police after both sides suffered scores of injuries in pitched battles outside his Lahore home.
The Lahore High Court ordered police to suspend the plan to arrest the 70-year-old opposition leader until today. It also asked Mr Khan’s legal team for talks to resolve the issue. The order sent a wave of relief through his stick-wielding supporters who were prepared to prevent the police from reaching Mr Khan’s house in the capital of the Punjab province.
Uranium missing in Libya, says nuclear watchdog
About 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium stored in a site in wartorn Libya have gone missing, the United Nations nuclear watchdog said, raising safety and proliferation concerns. Natural uranium cannot immediately be used for energy production or bomb fuel, as the enrichment process typically requires the metal to be converted into a gas, then later spun in centrifuges to reach the levels needed.
However, each tonne of natural uranium – if obtained by a group with the technological means and resources – can be refined to 12lb of weapons-grade material over time, experts say, making the recovery of the missing metal important for nonproliferation experts. The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said its director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, informed member states on Wednesday about the missing uranium.
On Tuesday, “agency safeguards inspectors found that 10 drums containing approximately 2.5 tonnes of natural uranium in the form of uranium ore concentrate were not present as previously declared at a location in the state of Libya”, the IAEA said. “Further activities will be conducted by the agency to clarify the circumstances of the removal of the nuclear material and its current location.” Reuters
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