Agence France-Presse

Erdogan to start second term with new powers

ANKARA, Turkey — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will on Monday be sworn in for a second mandate as Turkey’s head of state after his election triumph last month, assuming sweeping powers granted under a new constitution, a presidential source said. Erdogan, who has dominated Turkey first as premier from 2003 then president from 2014, scored an outright victory in the first round of the June 24 elections with 52.6 percent of the vote. Those elections were particularly crucial as it is only after the polls that the new presidential system, which was agreed in a 2017 referendum and opponents fear will lead to one man rule, comes into force. Erdogan will be sworn at the parliament, a presidential source, who asked not to be named, told AFP. State media reports said the oath ceremony would be at 1300 GMT. Two hours later a “transition ceremony” marking the shift to the new system will take place at his vast presidential palace on the outskirts of Ankara, Anadolu news agency reported. The Turkish leader is expected to deliver a speech during the ceremony to be attended by leading figures from the business, art and sports as well as foreign heads of state, according to the Hurriyet daily. The ceremony will be followed by a dinner and then Erdogan is due to announce his new cabinet, it said. Under the new system, Erdogan will enjoy greater powers with the authority to appoint and sack ministers, judges and other state officials. The post of prime minister, currently held by Erdogan’s ally Binali Yildirim, is to be scrapped as of Monday, leaving the president in full and sole charge of the government. A decree published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday formalized the transfer of some duties and authorities of the cabinet to the president. Also, the references in certain laws like “cabinet” and “prime ministry” have been changed to say “president” and the “presidency,” according to the decree. The new regulations will come into force on the day the president is sworn in, Anadolu said. The new parliament is meanwhile expected to be sworn in two days earlier on Saturday. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party has failed to secure a majority in the 600-seat parliament on its own in the June elections. But it does enjoy a clear majority within a pact with its partner the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party.

Ecuador court: Arrest Correa

QUITO, Ecuador — An Ecuadoran court on Tuesday ordered the arrest of Brussels-based former president Rafael Correa over alleged links to the kidnapping of an opponent in Colombia. The National Court of Justice said Judge Daniella Camacho “resolves to impose preventive detention” against Correa and has alerted Interpol. Correa, president from 2007-2017, was one of the feistiest characters in Latin American politics. He now lives in his wife’s native Belgium, but is under investigation at home for involvement in the kidnapping of former lawmaker Fernando Balda in 2012. Correa questioned the motivation for the case, after he and his former ally, the current President Lenin Moreno, struggled for control of their deeply divided leftist ruling Country Alliance party. Balda considered himself a persecuted politician under Correa’s government. Last month, a judge ordered Correa to appear in court every two weeks to assist the investigation. The first appearance was ordered for Monday, when Correa presented himself to the Ecuadoran consulate in Brussels to “comply with the precautionary measure imposed by the illegal and illegitimate link to the so-called Balda Case,” he said on Twitter. Three police intelligence agents have already been ordered arrested in the case, in addition to an ex-police commander and a former top intelligence official, who was detained last month in Spain. Correa has said on Twitter that he had no knowledge of the crime. “I don’t know what they are linking me with, or to whom,” he said. “Maybe they can get some false testimony. But they’ll never prove anything, because there is nothing.” In February Ecuadorans voted to bar Correa from being able to make a comeback in 2021 by backing a referendum question on reimposing presidential term limits. The results were a win for Moreno in his struggle with Correa, who during his term launched vigorous reforms, boosted social spending, curbed oil firms’ profits and suspended some debt payments that he considered illegitimate.

Nikkei index closes lower on tech weakness

Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed lower on Wednesday as high tech shares dropped sharply tracking falls on Wall Street. The Nikkei ended down 0.31 percent or 68.50 points at 21,717.04 yen while the broader Topix index edged up 0.03 percent or 0.45 points to close at 1,693.25. Analysts said tech shares suffered partly due to news that a Chinese court temporarily banned US firm Micron Technology from selling its products. Investors were cautious about the trend in Chinese stocks but “with the prospects that the yuan’s depreciation is bottoming out thanks to an announcement by the People’s Bank of China... buying back supported the Japanese market later,” Okasan Online Securities strategist Yoshihiro Ito said in a commentary. The dollar fetched 110.37 yen in Asian trade, against 110.59 yen in New York late Tuesday. In Tokyo, semiconductor equipment maker Tokyo Electron dropped 4.44 percent to 17,740 and semiconductor testing devices maker Advantest dived 4.28 percent to 2,189 yen. Game giant Nintendo dropped 5.27 percent to 34,510 yen and Uniqlo casual wear operator Fast Retailing fell 2.14 percent to 48,730 yen. In contrast, oil developer Inpex added 2.10 percent to 1,163 yen and oil refiner JXTG fell 2.60 percent to 796 yen.

Uruguay ready to spoil French party

NIZHNY NOVGOROD – Street-wise and tough yet with a razor-sharp edge, Uruguay had moved serenely into the World Cup quarterfinals, side-stepping the chaos that swamped former winners Argentina, Germany and Spain. Uruguay had shown in Russia that it is extremely difficult to beat yet sometimes underwhelming factors you could have predicted from it before the World Cup. A low-key start and an 89th-minute winner that gave it a forgettable 1-0 win over an Egypt side missing Mohamed Salah has now given way to real hope it can win their third World Cup. With a defense built around the central pairing of Jose Gimenez and the vastly experienced 32-year-old Diego Godin -- they also play together at Atletico Madrid -- Uruguay has won all four games in Russia, conceding a solitary goal. It is also the only side to beat Russia, 3-0, in the group stage in what appeared to be a reality check for the host nation before it went on to stun Spain in the Last 16. Uruguay extinguished Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal on a thrilling night in Sochi to reach the quarterfinals, with Edinson Cavani scoring two brilliant goals. Next up the grizzly, experienced World Cup campaigners take on a young France -- including the exciting Kylian Mbappe and Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann -- in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday, bidding for a place in the semifinals. It is a tough assignment for France and any hope that its stars will enjoy the same space they found in their 4-3 win against a disorganized Argentina have already been extinguished. “France’s strongest points are the attackers, Griezmann and Mbappe,” Uruguay’s veteran coach Oscar Tabarez said in his understated yet determined way after the Portugal victory. “If you let France have space it will be very difficult.” “El Maestro” Tabarez has been in charge of Uruguay for 12 years and has not only forged a strong team who rarely fail to deliver on the big stage, but also a side with an immense work ethic and huge experience.

Asian markets down as trade fears linger

Asian markets were down Wednesday, though Hong Kong recovered slightly from an earlier tumble, as trade tensions between the US and China continued to weigh on investor sentiment. Wall Street ended the session down in a shortened trading day ahead of Wednesday’s Independence Day holiday, with falls in tech stocks pressuring the market. Concerns remain for Shanghai, which is down more than 20 percent from its January high on concerns about a slowing economy, even before new US tariffs threatened by Donald Trump kick in Friday. China’s yuan however stabilised after a rally on comments from central bank chief Yi Gang, who pledged to keep the exchange rate stable and avoid using the currency as a weapon in any trade war. The unit has fallen around eight percent since the end of March, adding to fears about the economy as leaders struggle to cap massive debt while supporting growth. Despite the central bank’s reassurances, “the markets remain very bearish on China... well over and above trade tensions, as waning growth momentum has contributed to diverging economic indicators versus the US,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA.

Dozens dead in Indonesia ferry accident

SELAYAR, Indonesia — Nearly three dozen people have died after a ferry ran aground off the coast of Indonesia, according to an updated official toll Wednesday, the latest deadly maritime accident in the Southeast Asian archipelago. The KM Lestari was believed to be carrying nearly 190 people when damage to its hull forced the captain to ground the vessel on Tuesday afternoon about 300 metres (yards) off Selayar island, near the larger island of Sulawesi. Images from the scene showed terrified passengers clinging to the side of the tipped over ferry, while others floated in the sea awaiting help. Waves swamped the boat’s deck, sweeping trucks and other vehicles on the ferry overboard, as rescuers battled high winds and rough seas to pluck victims from the water. Indonesia’s disaster agency said 34 people died in the accident while 155 passengers have been rescued, it added.

Real Madrid denies Neymar recruitment

MADRID, Spain — Real Madrid dismissed as “absolutely untrue” reports of a $360-million bid for Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar that sparked rumors he could serve as a replacement if superstar Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the Spanish giant. The colossal transfer claim, which would dwarf the $222-million deal that made Neymar the world’s most expensive player last year, was made by Spain’s public television station TVE on Monday evening. Real were quick to knock it down, saying in a statement it had not been consulted by TVE before the broadcast. “Real Madrid made no offer of any kind to PSG or the player,” added the European champions, the home of Ronaldo since 2009. TVE stood by its reporting however, saying on its website that the claim came from sources it considered to be the “most reliable”. The report came hours after Neymar’s Brazil saw off Mexico 2-0 in the World Cup last 16 in Russia to set up a tantalizing quarterfinal clash with Belgium. Despite Real’s strong rejection, the transfer rumor mill swirled at the possibility of a galactic swap, following hints that both Neymar and Ronaldo could be unhappy at their star-studded clubs. Neymar, 26, moved to PSG last year and went on to score 19 goals in just 20 league games before suffering a foot injury in February that required surgery in Brazil. He only returned to France in May, fuelling speculation that he could seek to leave the club after just one season. Ronaldo, who shined in the World Cup before his Portugal side was beaten by Uruguay on Saturday, cast doubt over his commitment to Real after winning the Champions League in May. “It was very nice to be in Madrid,” he said, adding that “in the next few days I will give an answer to the fans”. He later walked back the statement, but doubts over his future at Madrid have lingered.

Zimbabwe rugby team sleeps on streets

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Zimbabwe’s national rugby team slept on the streets in Tunisia after being offered accommodation in a “disgusting” hotel before a World Cup qualifier match, a former sports minister said Tuesday. Photographs showed players lying on a pavement wearing blankets and surrounded by their luggage ahead of the Africa Gold Cup match against Tunisia in Monastir on Saturday. “Our national rugby team, the Sables, is being treated in the most appalling way in Tunisia,” former sports minister David Coltart posted on his Facebook account. “They have been forced to sleep on the streets as the accommodation they were provided with is disgusting.” As Zimbabwe sports fans expressed their shock over the pictures, the Rugby Africa governing body apologized for the team’s treatment. “Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables team and management for this unfortunate situation,” it said in a statement. “This does not reflect the standards of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition.” Khaled Babbou of Tunisia Rugby denied the hotel standard was a tactic to win the game. “Something went wrong for which I am sorry, but this was corrected this morning,” he said. “I can assure you that there was absolutely no intention to destabilize our opponents.” Coltart called on Zimbabwean rugby authorities to assist the team, adding that players had been held up at customs for six hours as they did not have money to pay for visas.

Iraq forces hunt jihadists over murders

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi forces launched a major operation against remnants of the Islamic State group on Wednesday following public anger over the jihadists’ murder of a group of abducted civilians. Dubbed “Vengeance for the Martyrs”, the operation will see army, special forces, police and Kurdish peshmerga fighters hunting down IS cells in the center of the country, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement. It comes after the bodies of eight IS captives were found late last month along a highway north of Baghdad. Some of the abductees had appeared in a video in which IS threatened to execute them unless Baghdad released female prisoners. The JOC statement said army, federal police, special forces, peshmerga fighters and the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force had launched “a vast operation to clear out the region east of the Diyala-Kirkuk” highway. The operation was being supported by the Iraqi air force and the US-led coalition that intervened against IS in Iraq and Syria after the jihadists seized control of large parts of both countries in 2014. One jihadist had already been killed and eight captured, the JOC said. The operation marked the first time that federal Iraqi forces and the peshmerga were working together since clashes following last year’s Kurdish independence referendum.
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