What is happening in the world? Edition 5
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UN searches for solution in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta
UN Secretary General António Guterres has called for an immediate halt to all armed conflict in the Eastern Ghouta in Syria, where the rebelling terrorist group holds its last major stronghold near Damascus, the country’s capital. The BBC reports that Guterres described life in the region as “hell on earth” and urged the UN Security Council to consider a plan that calls for a cease-fire within 30 days of its approval. He also described the situation as a “human tragedy” that cannot be permitted to continue. It is possible that Russia, a supporter of the Syrian government’s armed forces, may block the cease-fire proposition from passing. A doctor working in the Eastern Ghouta region characterized the situation as “catastrophic,” and claimed that the international community has abandoned the locals. At least 346 civilians have died, while over 850 have been injured.
China moves to suspend presidential term limits
The reigning Communist Party in China has proposed legislation that would abolish its existing presidential term limits. Party members have suggested the removal of the phrase that the president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms” from the country’s constitution, the Washington Post reports. Political analyst Willy Lam believes that this is a move by President Xi Jinping to “be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century,” and rule for the rest of his life. Xi is in the midst of his second term as China’s president, and political analysts believe that the abolition of the two-term limit will be justified by his theoretical long-term plan that would make China a completely modern, updated society by 2050. According to CNN, the amendment will likely be approved in March. China’s constitution has not been amended since 2004. Xi’s potential extension of his rule was predicted by analysts who observed that he broke party tradition and failed to present a successor.
South Africa’s president resigns
South African president Jacob Zuma has resigned from his position after numerous allegations of corruption. Zuma has held the title for over eight years and fended off many political opponents, but has finally called it quits after his African National Congress abandoned him for a new party leader in December. Zuma, in a televised address last week, stated that “No life should be lost in my name and also the ANC should never be divided in my name." The former president came under fire last year for allegedly using millions of tax dollars for renovations to his personal homestead, and also for involvement in a questionable arms deal in the 1990s. Many critics are also suspicious of Zuma’s close relationship with the Gupta family, who allegedly exerted heavy influence over the president’s policies. According to the BBC, new ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa, who was already expected to win next year’s election anyway, has stepped in as the new president.
Mexico’s president cancels Trump meeting
Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has pulled out of a planned meeting in Washington with President Trump following a hostile phone conversation on Feb. 20. The main tension between the two leaders stems from conflict over the proposed border wall, which Trump insists Mexico will pay for, while Peña Nieto asserts that it will not. One Mexican official stated that Trump “lost his temper,” while representatives from the United States described his temperament as being more characterized by exasperation and frustration reports the Washington Post. Representatives from both countries determined that while the issue of the border wall is still on the table, a face-to-face meeting between Peña Nieto and Trump would be pointless and potentially counterproductive. The two leaders have not met in either country since Trump’s election, although they did meet during the summer at the Group of 20 summit in Germany, and have spoken on the phone before.