Emmanuel Macron topped the first round of the presidential election in
France and will meet Marine Le Pen in a run off on May 7th. Markets were
buoyed by Mr Macron’s performance: opinion polls put the former economy
minister well ahead of his nationalist rival. A few days before the vote
a policeman was killed by an Islamist on the Champs Élysées in Paris.
Turkey broadened its purge of people in public positions who the
government claims belong to the movement allegedly behind last
year’s failed coup. Some 1,000 people, mostly police officers, were
arrested, and another 2,200 were being sought. Another 9,000 police were
suspended from duty.
A court in South Africa knocked back the government’s plan to spend as
much as 1trn rand ($76bn) building nuclear power stations with help from
Russia in a deal that critics say the country cannot afford. The courts
ruled that an agreement signed with Russia was unconstitutional as it
was not approved by parliament.
America started to withdraw its soldiers from the Central African
Republic where they had been assisting in the fight against the Lord’s
Resistance Army, a rebel group notorious for using child soldiers that
was formed in Uganda but later fled across the border.
The leader of the main opposition party in Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema,
appeared in court. Mr Hichilem, who has been repeatedly arrested by the
government since narrowly losing an election in August 2016, was charged
with treason after his motorcade failed to halt as it was being
passed by one containing Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu.
Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, snubbed Germany’s
foreign minister, refusing to meet him during a trip to Jerusalem
because he had visited two human-rights groups that Mr Netanyahu views
Iran’s Guardian Council ruled that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former
president, is ineligible to run in this year’s presidential election.
And on, and on…
More deaths during protests in Venezuela meant that at least 29 people
have died in nearly a month of demonstrations for and against the
country’s authoritarian regime. They began after the supreme court
usurped the powers of the legislature, which is controlled by the
opposition, and continued even though the court changed its mind.
Opposition politicians blamed some of the deaths on paramilitary groups.
Venezuela said it will withdraw from the Organisation of American
States, which has criticised its regime for crushing democracy.
A gang of about 50 men raided a security firm in the Paraguayan city of
Ciudad del Este. After killing a police officer, they reportedly made
off with millions of dollars. Some crossed the reservoir at the Itaipu
hydroelectric dam to Brazil, where three robbers were killed in a
America levied duties averaging 20% on imports of softwood lumber
from Canada. America claims that Canada subsidises the lumber by
charging too little to firms that harvest the trees, which are mostly
grown on public land. Donald Trump called Canada’s protection for its
dairy farmers “a disgrace”. But he also said that America would not pull
out of NAFTA and would instead seek to renegotiate the free-trade
Don’t hold your breath
Donald Trump laid out a wide ranging tax-reform plan, the
centrepiece of which is slashing corporation tax from 35% to 15%.
Months of negotiations lie ahead with Congress, especially over the
effect on future budget deficits.
The threat of a government shutdown seemed to be averted when Mr
Trump backed away from insisting that funding for the wall he wants
to build along the Mexican border should be included in a spending bill
that will keep the government running until September 30th.
Arkansas began executing the eight prisoners it wants to put to death
before a batch of a drug used in lethal injections reaches its
expiry date. Two inmates were executed on the same evening.
An 18-year-old youth in Israel with American and Israeli citizenship was
charged with making hoax bomb threats to Jewish centres in America. The
threats sparked a furore earlier this year, which many people blamed
on Mr Trump’s supporters among the alt-right.
Taliban insurgents killed 140 soldiers in an assault on an
Afghan army base. It was the deadliest attack on a military facility in
Afghanistan since the toppling of the Taliban government in 2001.
India ordered telecoms firms to block the use of social networks in the
state of Kashmir, which has been paralysed by violent protests that
the security services have been attempting to quell by force.
America began installing THAAD, an anti-missile system, in South Korea,
despite local protests and objections from China.
Yameen Rasheed, an outspoken blogger in the Maldives, was murdered. He
had been leading a campaign to locate an abducted journalist who had
written about the nexus between politics, criminals and Islamic
A Chinese court sentenced an American woman to threeand-a-half years in
prison for spying. Sandy Phan-Gillis was detained in 2015 during a
business trip. As she has already spent time in detention, she could be
China launched its first domestically made aircraft-carrier. The ship
will undergo extensive tests before being put into service. Meanwhile,
China’s first cargo spacecraft docked successfully with an orbiting
space lab. It aims to build a manned space station by 2022.
The Tories’ purple patch
Britain’s political parties hit the trail in the first week of
election campaigning. The governing Conservative Party capitalised on
its position on Brexit. Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, claimed his
party could win. But rather than his fairy tale, the polls tell a sorry
tale for Labour, showing it lagging far behind the Tories. The UK
Independence Party has also slumped. UKIP’s leader said he will not
put up candidates in some seats where a pro-Brexit candidate can
oust a pro-Remain one.