World this week

Thursday, December 7th, 2017


Rahul Gandhi could be named head of India’s opposition Congress Party within hours, a source said, shortly after he filed his candidacy for the role on November 4. Speculation has been rife for months that the 47-year-old vice-president of the party would soon take over from his mother Sonia, who has led Congress for 19 years. Elections for the post had been scheduled for December 16, but with hours to go before nominations close, no one else has yet come forward publicly as a candidate.


Maltese authorities on December 4 arrested 10 people in connection with the killing of a whistle-blowing journalist that turned an international spotlight onto crime and corruption on the Mediterranean island. Daphne Caruana Galizia, who died when her car was blown up on October 16, was one of Malta’s most prominent public figures, thanks to a widely read blog she used to expose the murky underbelly of the economically booming island nation. Her most explosive reports included allegations that members of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s inner circle benefited from kickbacks from major business deals and a controversial passports-for-investment scheme.


Yemen’s rebel-controlled interior ministry on November 4 announced the “killing” of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, as a video emerged showing what appeared to be Saleh’s corpse. “The interior ministry announces the end of the crisis of militias and the killing of their leader and a number of his criminal supporters,” an anchor said on the rebels’ official Al-Masirah television, referring to armed supporters of Saleh. Saleh on December 2 had announced the end of his alliance with the Iran-backed Huthi rebels, with whom he has jointly ruled the capital for three years.


Japan’s Emperor Akihito will step down on April 30, 2019, the prime minister announced on December 1, the first retirement in more than two centuries in the world’s oldest imperial family. Shinzo Abe said he was “deeply moved” at the “smooth decision” taken at a special meeting of the Imperial Council to decide on the date for the popular 83-year-old to step down for health reasons. Akihito’s eldest son, 57-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, is expected to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne the next day. Akihito is the 125th person to sit on the Chrysanthemum Throne since Emperor Jimmu, said to be a descendant of the legendary sun goddess Amaterasu.

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