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North Korean leader’s slain half-brother was a CIA informant — Wall Street Journal

BANGKOK: Thailand’s king formally endorsed former army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha as an elected prime minister on Tuesday, five years after he seized power in a military coup, though the makeup of his coalition government’s cabinet is unclear. Prayuth’s unwieldy coalition will face fierce opposition from the Democratic Front of seven parties that says the…

North Korean leader’s slain half-brother was a CIA informant — Wall Street Journal

BANGKOK: Thailand’s king formally endorsed former army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha as an elected prime minister on Tuesday, five years after he seized power in a military coup, though the makeup of his coalition government’s cabinet is unclear.

Prayuth’s unwieldy coalition will face fierce opposition from the Democratic Front of seven parties that says the military junta’s electoral rules ensured a victory for pro-army forces and whose members have been subjected to what they denounce as legal harassment.

Thailand held a bitterly fought general election in March, and the new parliament last week voted for Prayuth as prime minister, thanks to the votes of the upper house, the Senate, which was entirely appointed by the military junta Prayuth had led since 2104.

In the 500-member elected lower House of Representatives, his 19-party coalition holds only a slim majority and media has been rife with reports of wrangling over cabinet positions.

Prayuth earlier on Tuesday expressed optimism.

“The policy ideas proposed by parties are all beneficial to the people. So, the government that comes from the election and through the joining of members of parliament must be a government of all Thais,” he said

“I hope things will be sorted out as soon as possible.”

During the swearing-in, Prayuth bowed to a portrait of King Maha Vajiralongkorn. The monarch, who was formally crowned in ornate rites last month, did not attend the ceremony.

“I will promote a peaceful environment for a unified society based on love, unity and compassion … and I will safeguard the dignity of the institutions of state, religion and the monarchy, which are deeply cherished by the people of Thailand,” Prayuth said.

The junta leader had campaigned on a promise of bringing an end to confrontation between opponents and supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whose loyalists lead the Pheu Thai Party that heads the Democratic Front.

Prayuth’s party members have in some cases accused rivals of insufficient loyalty to the monarchy, and the leader of the opposition Future Forward Party — also part of the Democratic Front — faces police charges of sedition and cybercrime.

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Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

SRINAGAR, India: India and Pakistan exchanged “heavy” cross-border fire on Saturday, after New Delhi’s move to strip the restive Kashmir region of its autonomy prompted a rare meeting of the UN Security Council.The two foes regularly fire potshots over the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Himalayan territory, which is divided between the two…

Thailand’s lost baby dugong dies from shock, eating plastic

SRINAGAR, India: India and Pakistan exchanged “heavy” cross-border fire on Saturday, after New Delhi’s move to strip the restive Kashmir region of its autonomy prompted a rare meeting of the UN Security Council.The two foes regularly fire potshots over the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Himalayan territory, which is divided between the two countries and poisoned their relations since independence in 1947.But the latest exchange follows India’s decision this month to rip up the special constitutional status of its part of Kashmir, sparking protests from the local population, outrage from Pakistan and unease from neighboring China.“The exchange of fire is going on,” a senior Indian government official said, calling it “heavy.”One Indian soldier was reportedly killed. Pakistan made no immediate comment on the violence.Late Friday, Pakistan and China succeeded in getting the UN Security Council to discuss Kashmir — behind closed doors — for the first time since the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday hailed the gathering, saying that addressing the “suffering of the Kashmiri people & ensuring resolution of the dispute is the responsibility of this world body.”New Delhi insists the status of the territory is a purely internal matter.“We don’t need international busybodies to try to tell us how to run our lives. We are a billion-plus people,” India’s UN envoy Syed Akbaruddin said after the meeting.US President Donald Trump urged the nuclear-armed rivals to come back to the negotiating table, speaking to Khan by phone on the importance of “reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue.”India on Saturday meanwhile gradually restored phone lines following an almost two-week communications blackout in its part of Kashmir, imposed hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise August 5 gambit.Seventeen out of around 100 telephone exchanges were restored Saturday in the restive Kashmir Valley, the local police chief said.But mobiles and the Internet remained dead in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir state in a 30-year-old conflict that has killed tens of thousands.Fearing an angry and potentially violent response, India also sent 10,000 extra troops to the area, severely restricted movement and arrested some 500 local politicians, activists, academics and others.The state’s Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had said Friday there would be a “gradual” restoration of phone lines over the weekend, with schools to resume classes in some areas next week.The transformation of Srinagar into an eerie maze of barricades, soldiers and concertinas of barbed wire has failed to stop public anger boiling to the surface.“We want peace and nothing else, but they have kept us under this lockdown like sheep while taking decisions about us,” resident Tariq Madri said.“Even my nine-year old son asked me why they had locked us inside,” he added.Several hundred protesters clashed with police in the city on Friday, who responded with tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns.People hurled stones and used shop hoardings and tin sheets as improvised shields, as police shot dozens of rounds into the crowd. No injuries were reported.The clashes broke out after more than 3,000 people rallied in the city’s Soura neighborhood, which has witnessed regular demonstrations this month.A week earlier around 8,000 people staged a protest which also ended in a violent confrontation with police, residents said.“I want the government to know that this aggression and aggressive policies don’t work on the ground,” said 24-year-old Adnan Rashid, an engineering student.Some people took to the streets on Saturday to buy essential goods but most shops in Srinagar remained closed.Mohammed Altaf Malik, 30, said people remained angry about the stripping of Kashmir’s special status “and the way it was done.”“There is widespread corruption and the police here have made it a business to pick up any people it wants and then ask for money to release them from detention,” Malik said as he went to visit a sick neighbor in hospital.“We don’t see anything changing from this for ordinary people like us,” he added.

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Pakistan, India exchange cross-border fire after UN meet on Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India: India and Pakistan exchanged “heavy” cross-border fire on Saturday, after New Delhi’s move to strip the restive Kashmir region of its autonomy prompted a rare meeting of the UN Security Council.The two foes regularly fire potshots over the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Himalayan territory, which is divided between the two…

Pakistan, India exchange cross-border fire after UN meet on Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India: India and Pakistan exchanged “heavy” cross-border fire on Saturday, after New Delhi’s move to strip the restive Kashmir region of its autonomy prompted a rare meeting of the UN Security Council.The two foes regularly fire potshots over the Line of Control (LoC) in the disputed Himalayan territory, which is divided between the two countries and poisoned their relations since independence in 1947.But the latest exchange follows India’s decision this month to rip up the special constitutional status of its part of Kashmir, sparking protests from the local population, outrage from Pakistan and unease from neighboring China.“The exchange of fire is going on,” a senior Indian government official said, calling it “heavy.”One Indian soldier was reportedly killed. Pakistan made no immediate comment on the violence.Late Friday, Pakistan and China succeeded in getting the UN Security Council to discuss Kashmir — behind closed doors — for the first time since the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday hailed the gathering, saying that addressing the “suffering of the Kashmiri people & ensuring resolution of the dispute is the responsibility of this world body.”New Delhi insists the status of the territory is a purely internal matter.“We don’t need international busybodies to try to tell us how to run our lives. We are a billion-plus people,” India’s UN envoy Syed Akbaruddin said after the meeting.US President Donald Trump urged the nuclear-armed rivals to come back to the negotiating table, speaking to Khan by phone on the importance of “reducing tensions through bilateral dialogue.”India on Saturday meanwhile gradually restored phone lines following an almost two-week communications blackout in its part of Kashmir, imposed hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise August 5 gambit.Seventeen out of around 100 telephone exchanges were restored Saturday in the restive Kashmir Valley, the local police chief said.But mobiles and the Internet remained dead in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley, the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule in Jammu and Kashmir state in a 30-year-old conflict that has killed tens of thousands.Fearing an angry and potentially violent response, India also sent 10,000 extra troops to the area, severely restricted movement and arrested some 500 local politicians, activists, academics and others.The state’s Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam had said Friday there would be a “gradual” restoration of phone lines over the weekend, with schools to resume classes in some areas next week.The transformation of Srinagar into an eerie maze of barricades, soldiers and concertinas of barbed wire has failed to stop public anger boiling to the surface.“We want peace and nothing else, but they have kept us under this lockdown like sheep while taking decisions about us,” resident Tariq Madri said.“Even my nine-year old son asked me why they had locked us inside,” he added.Several hundred protesters clashed with police in the city on Friday, who responded with tear gas and pellet-firing shotguns.People hurled stones and used shop hoardings and tin sheets as improvised shields, as police shot dozens of rounds into the crowd. No injuries were reported.The clashes broke out after more than 3,000 people rallied in the city’s Soura neighborhood, which has witnessed regular demonstrations this month.A week earlier around 8,000 people staged a protest which also ended in a violent confrontation with police, residents said.“I want the government to know that this aggression and aggressive policies don’t work on the ground,” said 24-year-old Adnan Rashid, an engineering student.Some people took to the streets on Saturday to buy essential goods but most shops in Srinagar remained closed.Mohammed Altaf Malik, 30, said people remained angry about the stripping of Kashmir’s special status “and the way it was done.”“There is widespread corruption and the police here have made it a business to pick up any people it wants and then ask for money to release them from detention,” Malik said as he went to visit a sick neighbor in hospital.“We don’t see anything changing from this for ordinary people like us,” he added.

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17 Chinese, Ukrainian seamen kidnapped off Cameroon

LIBREVILLE: President Ali Bongo of Gabon on Friday made his first live appearance in public nearly 10 months after suffering a stroke, attending ceremonies in the capital Libreville.Bongo, whose every move has been scrutinized for signs of ill health, attended commemorations on the eve of the country’s anniversary of independence, an AFP correspondent at the…

17 Chinese, Ukrainian seamen kidnapped off Cameroon

LIBREVILLE: President Ali Bongo of Gabon on Friday made his first live appearance in public nearly 10 months after suffering a stroke, attending ceremonies in the capital Libreville.Bongo, whose every move has been scrutinized for signs of ill health, attended commemorations on the eve of the country’s anniversary of independence, an AFP correspondent at the scene reported.It was the first time he had been seen in public outside the presidential palace since falling ill last October, except for appearances that were filmed and edited by Gabonese government or state media.Smiling, the 60-year-old head of state exchanged a few words with security officers before laying a wreath at the tomb of Gabon’s first president, Leon Mba.Bongo walked with a stick and an aide helped him to climb several steps. The ceremony lasted half an hour, which was shorter than in previous years.Speculation about Bongo’s ability to rule the small oil-rich country surged after he suffered a stroke on October 24.He was flown to Morocco for treatment, returning in January. During his extended absence, the army quashed a brief attempted coup.In May, he dismissed his vice president and minister of forests after a scandal erupted over the smuggling of precious timber.Ten members of Gabon’s political opposition, civil society and trade union movement have filed a suit requesting Bongo be assessed to see whether he is medically fit to continue in office.A lower court dismissed the case in May, saying that only the two houses of parliament, or the Constitutional Court acting at the behest of the government, were empowered to determine whether the president was unfit.But the Court of Appeal on Monday said it would hear an appeal by the plaintiffs and set a date for it — August 26.Bongo is scheduled to make a televised speech on Friday evening and then on Saturday attend an annual military parade to mark the country’s independence from France in 1960.Opposition figures have urged the public to turn out in large numbers on Saturday to gain a closer look at his health.Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who became head of state in 1967 and died in June 2009, leaving a legacy of corruption allegations.

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