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UK Elections : Northern Ireland party agrees to May’s minority government

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London, June 11 : Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has reached an agreement in principle with UK Prime Minister Theresa May to support a Conservative minority government, the media reported on Sunday.

Conservative Party chief whip Gavin Williamson met DUP leaders in Belfast on Saturday to negotiate a deal, details of which are to be discussed Monday at a Cabinet meeting, reports Efe news.

The draft “confidence and supply” agreement specifies that the socially conservative, pro-British Protestant party will support the Conservatives in key parliamentary votes but the two parties will not form a coalition government like the one the former British Prime Minister, David Cameron established with the Liberal Democrats between 2010 and 2015.

“We welcome this commitment, which can provide the stability and certainty the whole country requires as we embark on Brexit and beyond,” a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office said Saturday.

The Conservatives lost an absolute majority they had enjoyed prior to the snap election on June 8, which May had called to strengthen her hand in the upcoming Brexit negotiations slated for June 19.

May’s Conservatives won 318 seats in the election, falling short of the 326 required for an absolute majority.

The opposition Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn took 262 seats, gaining 30.

The new Parliament will be sworn in on Tuesday, although May has until June 19 to work out the full terms of the Conservatives’ agreement with the DUP. That day, Queen Elizabeth II will appear before Parliament and give a speech setting out the new government’s agenda.

According to media accounts, internal pressure on May led to the resignation on Saturday of the Prime Minister’s two co-chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, who have been blamed for their role in designing the Conservatives’ campaign and the parliamentary setback.

A few hours after the two stepped down, May named former Housing Minister Gavin Barwell, who lost his seat in Thursday’s election, as her new chief of staff.

The DUP is a socially conservative party that opposes abortion and gay marriage, and many of its members also are sceptical about man-made climate change and reject the theory of evolution.

May succeeded Cameron last June in the wake of the surprise outcome of the Brexit referendum on leaving the European Union.

In calling for early elections, May said she wanted a strong mandate as her government confronts what are likely to be difficult negotiations with the EU on the terms of Brexit.

IANS

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Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving officially ends

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Saudi Women Driving

Riyadh, June 24 : Saudi women can legally get behind the wheel of a car for the first time Sunday as the Kingdom lifts its decades-old ban on women driving.

The change was announced last September and Saudi Arabia issued the first licences to women earlier this month, BBC reported on Sunday.

It was the only country left in the world where women could not drive and families had to hire private chauffeurs for female relatives.

However, the move comes amid an intensified crackdown on activists who campaigned for the right to drive.

At least eight women’s rights activists are being detained and could face trial in a counter-terrorism court and long prison sentences for their activism, human rights group Amnesty says.

They include Loujain al-Hathloul, a well-known figure in the campaign for women’s driving rights.

Amnesty has also called for wider reforms in Saudi Arabia, where women remain subject to male guardianship laws.

Human rights groups in the kingdom have campaigned for years to allow women to drive.

Dozens of women were arrested for driving in Riyadh in 1990 and some Saudi women began posting videos of themselves at the wheel in 2008, and between 2011 and 2014.

Thousands of women could soon take to the roads.

“It is a historic moment for every Saudi woman,” Saudi television presenter said.

She said she was behind the wheel minutes after the end of the driving ban at midnight local time (21:00 GMT Saturday).

“Those days of waiting long hours for a driver are over,” said pharmacy student Hatoun bin Dakhil, 21. “We no longer need a man.”

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President of Zimbabwe survives ‘assassination attempt’ in Bulawayo

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Cairo, June 24:Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has survived an assassination attempt when he was addressing thousands at his ruling ZANU-PF party election campaign rally in the city of Bulawayo on Saturday.

The Zimbabwean president said he narrowly survived an attempt on his life after a explosion at a party rally that injured two of his vice-presidents and several party officials.

He said an object “exploded a few inches away from me – but it is not my time”.

In a message on Twitter, Mnangagwa called the explosion a “senseless act of violence”.

“The campaign has been conducted in a free and peaceful environment, and we will not allow this cowardly act to get in our way as we move towards elections,” he wrote.

Egypt condemns attack

Egypt has condemned the attack on a rally of Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he was addressing an electoral campaign, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement on Saturday expressed Egypt’s solidarity “with the Zimbabwean government and people to achieve security and stability in the country”.

“Egypt is comfort with the failure of such a sinful attack and the survival of the Zimbabwean president,” said the statement.

Earlier on Saturday, Egypt condemned a failed attempt to “assassinate” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during a mass rally in the capital Addis Ababa, which left at least three people dead and more than 160 injured.

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South Korean former PM Kim Jong-pil dies at 92

Before becoming Prime Minister for the first time, the retired military leader and father of two created and ran the Korean Intelligence Agency and later headed the then ruling Democratic Republican Party.

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PM Kim Jong-pil

Seoul, June 23 (IANS) Former South Korean Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil died here on Saturday at the age of 92 while being taken to a hospital.

Kim, considered among the most influential politicians in the country in previous decades, served as Prime Minister on two occasions, between 1971 and 1975, and between 1998 and 2000, Yonhap agency reported.

Born in 1926, Kim graduated from the Korea Military Academy and played an important role in the 1961 military coup led by former President Park Chung-hee, who ruled the country with an iron fist until his assassination in 1979.

Before becoming Prime Minister for the first time, the retired military leader and father of two created and ran the Korean Intelligence Agency and later headed the then ruling Democratic Republican Party.

Besides holding government posts, the influential and conservative politician served as lawmaker on nine occasions until his retirement in 2004.

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