Saturday 23 January 2021
News ID: 83922
Publish Date: 17 October 2020 - 22:06
 WELLINGTON (Reuters) -- Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party was on track for a landslide victory in New Zealand’s general election on Saturday, and could possibly form the first single-party government in decades. Labor had 50.5% of the votes, ahead of the opposition National Party of Judith Collins at 25.8%, the Electoral Commission said, with 30% of ballots counted in the election that was largely a referendum on Ardern’s aggressive handling of COVID-19. Of Ardern’s current coalition partners, the nationalist New Zealand First Party had 2.3% and the Green Party 8.2%. Labor is on track to win 66 of the 120 seats in the country’s unicameral parliament, the highest by any party since New Zealand adopted a proportional voting system in 1996. If Labor wins more than half the seats, Ardern could form the first single-party government under the current system. If she falls short, she is expected to continue to rely on the minor Greens while jettisoning New Zealand First.
CONFLANS-SAINTE-HONORINE, France (Reuters) – French police were questioning nine people in custody on Saturday after a suspected Daesh sympathizer beheaded a school teacher in broad daylight on the street in a Paris suburb, police sources said. Police shot the attacker dead minutes after he murdered 47-year-old history teacher Samuel Paty on Friday. Investigators were seeking to establish whether he had acted alone or had accomplices. French media reported that he was an 18-year-old of Chechen origin. Prime Minister Jean Castex said the attack bore the hallmarks of takfiri terrorism and promised his government would respond. Four relatives of the attacker, including a minor, were detained in the immediate aftermath of the attack in the middle-class suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, according to police sources. Five more were detained overnight, among them two parents of pupils at the College du Bois d’Aulne where the teacher was employed.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday said a police investigation into a list that purports to show lawmakers backing his bid for the premiership was a "malicious” attempt to pressure him into revealing the identities of his supporters. Police summoned Anwar to assist with a probe into the distribution of a list of 121 lawmakers who allegedly back his bid to take over as prime minister from Muhyiddin Yassin. The list has been circulated on social media. Anwar, who spent about two hours giving a statement to investigators, said only the king had the right to know the full details of lawmakers who he says are backing him to give majority support in parliament. He also told reporters that he was under investigation by the police for six cases, including an allegation of sodomy. Anwar on Tuesday met with King Al-Sultan Abdullah to present documentation in a bid to prove he has a "convincing” parliamentary majority to form a new government.

VIENNA (AFP) -- Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, his ministry said Saturday, as the country posted a new daily record for infections. Schallenberg could have contracted coronavirus during a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, a foreign ministry spokeswoman told the APA news agency. "He has not presented any symptoms so far,” he said. The minister has cancelled a trip planned for the coming days to Britain, Denmark, Greece and Cyprus. All members of the conservative government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will be tested as a precaution on Saturday. Austria reported a new high of 2,300 cases on Saturday. With a population of 8.8 million, Austria has also recorded 882 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd have received renewed approval to conduct late-stage clinical trials in India of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, the sovereign wealth fund said on Saturday. Large-scale trials of the Sputnik V vaccine in India were first announced and then knocked back by Indian regulators, who said the scale of Phase I and II trials conducted in Russia earlier this year was too small, requesting that they be repeated.  Following a new agreement, India will now carry out an adaptive phase II and III human clinical trial involving 1,500 participants, RDIF, which is marketing the vaccine abroad, said on Saturday. Russia, the first country to grant regulatory approval for a novel coronavirus vaccine, is also conducting Phase III trials of Sputnik V in Belarus, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) -- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada’s suspension of the export of some drone technology was not in line with the spirit of alliance, Erdogan’s office said late on Friday. Canada suspended the export of some drone technology to Turkey earlier this month as it probes allegations the equipment was used by Azeri forces involved in fighting with Armenia. In a phone call on Friday, Erdogan and Trudeau discussed improving relations and increasing bilateral trade, the Turkish presidency said, adding that they also talked about overcoming issues regarding cooperation in the defence sector. "During the call, President Tayyip Erdogan said Canada’s suspension of the export of some military goods to Turkey due to the Azerbajian-Armenia conflict... is against the spirit of alliance,” the presidency said. Turkey and Canada are both members of NATO. Following Canada’s announcement, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had said the suspension showed a double standard.

* Comment: