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Massive turnout in Hong Kong district polls

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Hong Kong: Voters on Sunday flocked to polling booths in large numbers for the district council elections, in which a record participation is expected after five months of protests.

Long queues were witnessed at polling stations before the voting officially began at 7.30 am. Two hours later, turnout reached 10.4 per cent, three times the turnout (3.85 per cent), recorded in the 2015 local elections, Efe news reported.

There are 4.1 million people (in a city of about 7.5 million residents) eligible to vote in an election to choose 452 councillors out of 1,090 contesting candidates from the 18 districts of Hong Kong.

The number of registered voters has increased by one million compared to the 2015 elections; 392,600 of them were added in the last year, coinciding with the protests, and 58 per cent of them are aged between 18-20.

Although the position of councillor has little political relevance, Sunday’s elections are seen as a barometer to gauge the political leanings of the city in the wake of the pro-democracy movement that has led to prolonged protests on the streets in recent months, as well as determine the support enjoyed by the pro-mainland Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Alex, 24, who was on his way to vote for a pro-democracy candidate and who has actively participated in the protests that started in June, told EFE that Hongkongers still had the freedom to choose and these elections would be an expression of their preferences.

Alex cast his vote early in the morning in South Horizons, an upper-middle-class district, the same district that Joshua Wong — one of the most visible pro-democratic leaders and the only candidate to have been banned from running in this election — hails from.

“Even if they censor me out from the ballot, lock me out in prison, it will just encourage me to continue to fight for the future with even stronger determination,” Wong told the media before voting.

Chief Executive Lam was also among those to cast her vote early morning in the affluent Middle Levels district, where she hoped that the elections would serve restore normalcy in the city, especially given that the most recent protests were particularly violent.

Lam said that in recent days, they had witnessed the city recovering its peace, and that many citizens had appreciated it, alluding to the relative calm in Hong Kong over the last five days to ensure the elections were not cancelled.

Most people came to vote early following rumours spread on social media warning that if any altercations took place, voting would be suspended at 10.30 am and only the votes already polled until that moment would be counted.

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Pakistan marks July 13 as Kashmir Martyrs Day

Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted, saluting the people of Kashmir for fighting against what he called “illegal and oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir”.

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

Islamabad, July 13 : July 13, 2020 is being marked as Kashmir Martyrs Day in Pakistan with homage being paid to the people of Kashmir, who lost their lives in the revolt against the Dogra dynasty in 1931.

The day is being marked as an opportunity for Pakistan to ponder more on what it calls the ongoing struggle of the people of Kashmir, first during Dogra Maharaja of British colonial rule in the sub-continent 89 years ago and then by the Indian forces.

Pakistan military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said the day was declared as national day soon after the birth of India and Pakistan in 1947 and was observed by all sections cutting across political and ideological affiliations.

“Every single drop of blood shed shall not be forgotten nor forgiven,” Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar said in a tweet.

“KashmirMartyrsDay is reminiscent of utmost price paid 4 freedom by brave Kashmiris. Every single drop of blood shed, shall not be forgotten nor forgiven. Decades of Indian atrocities failed 2 suppress insurmountable spirit & legitimate freedom struggle, destined to succeed.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan also tweeted, saluting the people of Kashmir for fighting against what he called “illegal and oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir”.

“Today, on the occasion of Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, we salute the people of Kashmir for their ongoing struggle against the illegal and oppressive Indian occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. The martyrs of July 13, 1931 were the ancestors of today’s Kashmiri resistance,” he said.

On the other hand, Sardar Masood Khan, President of Pakistan Administered Kashmir, has written off any chances of table talks between India and Pakistan, owing to India’s conduct in Kashmir.

He said: “India has changed dynamics of the area unilaterally. So we would not sit with them around the negotiating table.”

Sardar Masood Khan insisted that the issue of Kashmir should not be taken as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan anymore, adding that the Kashmir issue has been internationalized and multi-lateralized.

“So, I think that we have this new space in the international domain. We should use it, not lose it,” he said.

He declared the Simla Agreement between India and Pakistan as redundant because of “unilateral Indian actions in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Sardar Masood Khan maintained that Pakistan is ready for a third-party intervention and mediation on Kashmir dispute.

“I think that as citizens of Pakistan, we are ready for the diplomacy of any kind. I believe that the starting point of such diplomacy should be the UNSecurity Council resolutions because these were drawn after prolonged deliberations and should not be set aside.

“Further, the Kashmiris should be associated with any direct or indirect negotiations on Kashmir. They are the real party to the dispute,” he added.

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Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zindzi dies at 59

State television South African Broadcasting Corporation has reported that Mandela died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning.

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Nelson Mandela daughter Zindzi

Johannesburg, July 13 : Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of South Africa’s anti-apartheid icons Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died here on Monday, according to the country’s public broadcaster SABC reported.

State television South African Broadcasting Corporation has reported that Mandela died at a Johannesburg hospital early Monday morning.

She had been South Africa’s ambassador to Denmark since 2015.

The Mandelas’ daughter came to international prominence in 1985, when the white minority government offered to release Nelson Mandela from prison if he denounced violence perpetrated by his movement, the Africa National Congress, against apartheid, the brutal system of racial discrimination enforced in South Africa at that time.

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”Trump wanted to sell Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria”

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and caused an estimated 2,982 fatalities and US $90 billion in damage, according to official data.

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Trump Sell Puerto Rico

Washington, July 13 : US President Donald Trump considered selling Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the destructive Hurricane Maria in 2017, former acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke has told the New York Times.

In an interview with the newspaper on Friday, Duke said that “the president”s initial ideas were more of as a businessman”, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Can we outsource the electricity? Can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?” Trump reportedly said, according to the New York Times interview.

Nonetheless, the idea of selling the US territory was never seriously considered or discussed after it was raised, Duke said.

Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017 and caused an estimated 2,982 fatalities and US $90 billion in damage, according to official data.

Trump has criticized Puerto Rican officials for their management of the relief fund that his administration provided for the island”s recovery. In November 2018, White House officials told Congress that Trump didn”t want any additional relief funding to the island.

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