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World in Brief: 24/04/2014

Romanian rail workers strike after 6 years without a pay rise

COLOMBIA: Sacked Bogota mayor Gustavo Petro hailed a Superior Tribunal ruling yesterday that he should be reinstated “within 48 hours” as a victory for city residents.

The leftwinger and former M19 guerilla was the victim of a political decision by right-wing Inspector General Alejandro Ordonez who ordered his removal for sacking privateers in charge of Bogota’s refuse disposal.

President Juan Manuel Santos had rejected an Inter-American Human Rights Commission call for a stay of execution.

ROMANIA: Railway workers staged a two-hour strike yesterday, disrupting services across the country after a breakdown of union-ministry talks on Tuesday.

Nine hundred passenger and goods trains were halted during the stoppage.

Train Drivers Federation leader Iulian Mantescu said that workers had not had a wage rise for six years and were unhappy about plans for 2,500 job cuts. They also want better working conditions.

UNITED NATIONS: Five directors of UN agencies that provide humanitarian aid to Syria united yesterday to highlight their “largely unanswered call” for £3.9 billion in emergency funding for 2014.

With only £714 million pledged, they repeated their December appeal, emphasising that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating by the day as the three-year-old war escalates in many areas.

They said that “the worst days seem yet to come” for civilians in Aleppo, Homs and other areas with heavy fighting.

IRAN: Official news agency IRNA reported the replacement yesterday of prisons chief Gholamhossein Esmaili by Asghar Jahangir, over allegations of abuse at Evin prison in Tehran.

The decision was taken by Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli, who heads the government’s judiciary.

Mr Jahangir has been the cleric’s close adviser for some years.

Families of prisoners allegedly beaten during a snap inspection at Evin rallied outside parliament on Sunday, demanding an explanation.


JAPAN: President Barack Obama opened a four-country Asia tour in Tokyo yesterday aiming to reassure regional allies of US economic, military and political strength as a counterweight to China’s growing influence.

After a casual first day, he is due to hold substantive talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today.

Mr Obama made clear in a newspaper interview this week that he backs Tokyo’s claim to the Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu by China, opposing “unilateral attempts to undermine Japan’s administration of these islands.”

AFGHANISTAN: Independent Election Commission director Ziaulhaq Amarkhil announced yesterday that today’s planned release of full results from the April 5 presidential election had been postponed until at least Saturday.

“The commission is responsible to the Afghan electorate,” said Mr Amarkhil, explaining that the postponement was necessary to ensure that the results were not tainted by fraud.

Even when released on Saturday, the results will still be preliminary and must be further investigated by a separate Election Complaints Commission before final results are announced on May 14.

EGYPT: Police brigadier general Ahmed Zaki was killed yesterday when an explosive device placed under his car went off in a western Cairo suburb.

Fellow officer lieutenant Ahmed Saad was shot and killed later during a raid on a terrorist group’s hideout in Alexandria, bringing to more than 450 the number of police and troops killed since last July’s removal of president Mohammed Morsi.

SOUTH KOREA: Authorities yesterday arrested four more crew members from the ferry that sank last week, bringing the total number detained to 11.

Police also raided offices of companies linked to the ferry’s owners.

The number of established deaths in the accident has reached 150, with another 152 still missing, most of them teenage children from a single school in Ansan, outside the capital Seoul.

UNITED STATES: Former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was given formal agreement to a name change by a judge yesterday.

Ms Manning, who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for passing classified US government information to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, sought permission to be known as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning rather than Bradley Edward Manning.

She did not attend the short hearing but issued a statement saying that it was “an exciting day.”


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