Compass World: New Zealand PM Promises Stricter Gun Laws
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LATIN AMERICA & THE CARIBBEAN
Ecuador Welcomes Bids for New Refinery
Ecuador will launch an international bidding round for the construction of a new 300,000 barrel per day refinery in May, said Energy Minister Carlos Perez in an interview on March 18. A prior $2 billion overhaul of the refinery by the previous left-wing government of President Rafael Correa was insufficient to repair and modernize the Andean country’s largest plant, forcing Petroecuador, Ecuador’s national oil company, to plan new maintenance and upgrade projects under market-friendly President Lenin Moreno. Perez added that the country plans to boost its crude output, and has asked the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), of which it is a member, for special authorization to increase its production quota.
New Zealand PM Promises New Gun Laws
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on March 18 that she would announce new gun laws in the wake of the mass shooting at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand which killed 50 people. In addition to the 50 killed, dozens were wounded at two mosques in the South Island city during Friday prayers. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday. Ardern did not give details on new laws, but has said she supports a ban on semi-automatic weapons following the Christchurch shootings. Ardern also encouraged gun owners who were thinking of surrendering their weapons to do so.
MIDDLE EAST & CENTRAL ASIA
Dozens Arrested in Gaza
Hamas arrested dozens of people and injured many following a crackdown in Gaza on the largest protests against the group in years. Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets for four consecutive days to protest the high cost of living and the deteriorating economic situation within the city. Hamas, an Islamist militant group, has controlled Gaza since 2007 after fighting a brief civil war against Fatah, its secular Palestinian rivals. Gaza’s economy has collapsed beneath a crushing blockade imposed by Israel with the help of Egypt. According to the Telegraph, the spark for the protests was been Hamas’ decision to raise taxes on imports, cigarettes, and other household items. Economic frustrations, however, have been building for years, so this tax may be just one of many catalysts.
EASTERN EUROPE & RUSSIA
Russian Government Sentences Human Rights Activist
Prominent human rights activist Oyub Titiev, who helped to lead the human rights group Memorial, has been sentenced in Russia to four years in a penal colony. He was charged last year with possession of more than 200 grams of marijuana found in his car. He claims the drugs were planted. The entire trial process has received condemnation internationally, with colleagues of Titiev holding the belief that it simply serves as a punishment for Titiev’s previous revealing of details regarding Chechnya’s security services. Titiev had to watch the court proceedings from the inside of a cage, while the judge took nine hours to read aloud the entire verdict.
ANC Leader Arrested
Mluleki Ndobe, one of the most influential members of the governing African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal province, was arrested in relation to the assassination of a party member who fought against public corruption. Sindiso Magaqa was assassinated in his car by gunmen in 2017. He was targeted due to his concern over misallocation of public funds in the town of Umzimkulu. The municipal manager of Umzimkulu was also arrested. Mr. Magaqa’s murder was the most high profile killing in a string of political assassinations in South Africa that began in 2016. Due to the political nature of such murders, investigations and convictions remain few.
WESTERN EUROPE & CANADA
Paris Police Chief to be Replaced
In the wake of the “yellow vest” protests, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that Paris police chief Michel Delpuech is to be replaced on March 20 by Didier Lallement, the top police official in the southwest Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. The yellow vest protests began as weekly demonstrations across France in November 2018, initially because of fuel tax rises. The movement escalated into a broader revolt against perceived elitism, for which activists blame President Emmanuel Macron. Philippe also announced that the protests will be banned in select areas following violent riots on March 16: "We will ban 'yellow vest' protests in neighbourhoods that have been the worst hit as soon as we see signs of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage."
Writing contributed by Ben Richmond and Benjamin Barth.