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World in brief: 03/06/2014

NIGERIA: Protesters seeking the return of more than 200 girls kidnapped by Islamist group Boko Haram said today they would challenge a ban on their daily protests in court.

Nigerian police on Monday banned any more protests in the capital Abuja , claiming they could be hijacked by “dangerous elements.”

“We hope to obtain an immediate restraint on this unconstitutional, undemocratic and repressive act,” said protester spokesman Rotimi Olawale.



TURKEY: Embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at international media today, accusing news outlets of stirring unrest on the anniversary of mass anti-government protests.

Mr Erdogan singled out CNN International, whose reporter was arrested live on air last Saturday while covering street clashes, accusing the network of spying.

He called CNN reporter Ivan Watson a “lackey” who had been “caught red-handed” trying to incite chaos.



INDIA: Rural Affairs Minister Gopinath Munde was killed in a car accident in New Delhi today.

Mr Munde was on the way to work when his car was hit by another vehicle. He died a short while later in hospital.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his death was a major loss for the nation and the government. Mr Munde was only appointed to the cabinet last week.



SPAIN: Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy held an emergency cabinet meeting today to draft the legal process for King Juan Carlos to abdicate and be replaced by his son Crown Prince Felipe.

Juan Carlos reigned through Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy but was hit by damaging scandals.

Thousands demonstrated for a republic in Madrid today. 


FRANCE: Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said today that a multibillion-dollar fine faced by French bank BNP Paribas in the US could threaten a free-trade agreement between Europe and the US.

BNP Paribas set aside $1.1 billion (£657 million) last year after the US began investigating sanctions violations, but its share price slumped last week when The Wall Street Journal reported that the fine could be $10bn (£6bn).

“The sanction has to be proportional and reasonable. These amounts are not reasonable,” Mr Fabius fumed.



UNITED STATES: Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey said today that the US army might still pursue an investigation that could lead to desertion charges against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was freed from five years of Taliban captivity in a prisoner exchange last weekend.

Gen Dempsey noted that US military leaders “have been accused of looking away from misconduct” and said it was“premature” to assume they would do so in this case.



VENEZUELA: Government supporters have published alleged correspondence between opposition leaders and US diplomats outlining a plan to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro and overthrow his administration.

Libertador municipality mayor Jorge Rodriguez presented data collected by Venezuelan intelligence agencies pointing to opposition figure Maria Corina Machado as principle strategist of the proposed “annihilation” of Mr Maduro.

“I believe the time has come to join forces, make the necessary calls and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro … and the rest will come falling down,” read one of Ms Machado’s intercepted emails.


UNITED STATES: San Francisco commuters faced a second straight day of delays today after cable car transport workers staged a mass sick-out.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency runs buses, light rail and street cars in addition to the cable cars.

The drivers’ union has rejected a contract that would give workers a raise of more than 11 per cent over two years but would require them to cover a 7.5 per cent pension payment currently paid by the agency.

Workers are not allowed to go on strike.



CUBA: President Raul Castro marked his 83rd birthday privately today, passing it without fanfare in government or press.

President Castro has said he intends to remain in office no longer than his current term, which ends in 2018.

He took office provisionally in 2006 when his older brother Fidel was stricken with a life-threatening illness and assumed the full presidency two years later.


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