Politics this week

After 20 years in power and weeks of mass protests, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s ailing president, resigned. The announcement sparked celebrations in the capital, Algiers. Some fear that the old guard will try to hang on to power. Abdelkader Bensalah, the Speaker of the Senate (and a Bouteflika loyalist), is next in line as president, according to the constitution. He has 90 days to organise new elections. See article.

The Iranian government ordered the evacuation of more than 70 villages in the province of Khuzestan because of flooding. Dozens of people have been killed in the past two weeks, during Iran’s worst rains in years. Iranian officials blamed American sanctions for impeding their aid efforts. American officials said Iran was mismanaging the crisis.

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Thousands of Palestinians marked the first anniversary of an uprising along the Israel-Gaza border. Scores of activists approached the perimeter fence, throwing stones and explosives at the Israeli side. Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli soldiers. A broader ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, appeared to be holding.

The number of cholera cases in Mozambique rose sharply in areas affected by Cyclone Idai. Over 1,400 people have been infected, up from the 249 cases reported recently. Many of the affected areas still cannot be reached by road, complicating a mass vaccination campaign.

A return to the dark ages

Harsh new penalties came into force under Brunei’s Islamic criminal code. Anal sex and sex outside marriage (including gay sex) can earn death by stoning. Thieves risk the amputation of a hand or foot. See article.

Australia approved a new law imposing severe penalties on social-media firms that fail to remove footage of crimes such as murder and rape. Singapore proposed a new law that would allow similarly harsh punishments for those disseminating fake news. See article.

Activists in Thailand questioned the opaque conduct of the Election Commission, which has not yet announced the results of last month’s election. In response, the head of the military junta, which is supposedly soon to give way to civilian government, denounced the “incorrect thinking” on social media.

A bill was introduced to Hong Kong’s legislature that would allow the…

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