👋 Salü bisàmme !*
Welcome to Wednesday, where Kyiv forces target a key bridge in southern Ukraine, at least 15 die in anti-UN protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the auction price for Buzz Aldrin’s jacket skyrockets. Meanwhile, Johannes Jauhiainen helps us unpack the meaning of Tunisia’s newly-approved Constitution.
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• Ukraine-Russia update: Ukrainian forces attacked a key bridge in southern Ukraine in a move to cut off Russia’s supply routes and isolate the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. Kyiv also says it liberated the village of Andriyivka in the same region as a major planned counteroffensive has begun.
• Deadly anti-UN protests in DR Congo: Authorities announced that at least 15 people were killed — including three members of United Nations forces — in anti-UN protests in the Democratic Republic of Congo. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the attacks could constitute a “war crime.”
• Tunisia referendum results: Tunisians voted “yes” to the new Constitution that will expand President Kais Saied’s powers. Though 94,6% of the votes were in favor, political opponents says the low turnout shows the the illegitimacy of such a referendum.
• Ex-president to return to Sri Lanka: Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected to return to Sri Lanka from Singapore. He fled the country on July 13 after mass protests due to a crippling economic crisis causing shortages and submitted his resignation as Sri Lanka’s president two days later.
• Powerful earthquake in the Philippines: According to the U.S. Geological Survey, at least four people are confirmed dead after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck northern Philippines. At least 60 people were also injured, and the earthquake was felt in Manila, 300 kilometers from the epicenter.
• Protesters end roadblocks in Panama: Demonstrators who had taken to the streets in Panama to protest against the rising inflation and corruption in the country have ended their three-week roadblocks — that led to shortages in several cities. Negotiations between the Panamanian government and the protesters continue.
• Australia’s Somerton man mystery solved: After 73 years, the mystery over the identity of Somerton man — an unidentified male body found by a sea wall near Adelaide in Australia — has been solved through DNA, a researcher claims. The police have not yet verified the identity and forensic testings are underway.
Croatian daily Vecernji celebrates on its front page the opening of the Peljesac bridge, which helps connect two parts of Croatia’s Adriatic coast divided by Bosnia and Herzegovina. “A symbol of Croatia, European and modern,” the daily writes. The 2.4-kilometer-long, €526 million bridge received 85% of its funding from the European Union, and was built by a Chinese firm. Croatia is set to introduce the euro single currency on January 1, 2023.
The jacket worn by retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the historic Apollo 11 mission sold for more than $2.7 million at a Sotheby’s auction in New York on Tuesday. The sale broke two records, becoming the most expensive jacket sold at auction, and the most valuable American artifact flown in space. Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the moon after his crewmate Neil Armstrong, whose jacket is exhibited at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. Their moon landing celebrated its 53rd anniversary on July 21.
Tunisia’s new constitution and risks of a return of “presidential dictatorship”
In the cradle of the Arab Spring, democracy is once again at stake.
🇹🇳🗳️ Modern Tunisia has adopted three different constitutions. The first two were linked to proud moments in the nation’s history: independence from France in 1956, and the fruit of the 2011 Arab Spring pro-democracy movement that ousted strongman President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The adoption of a third constitution, which Tunisians were called to vote on in a referendum on Monday, has been a very different story. Though exit polls report that more than 90% of those voting approved the new constitution, the referendum saw a low turnout of just above 30% after the major political parties boycotted the vote.
📃 The new constitution was drafted in just one month behind closed doors, the exclusive project of the current president Kais Saied. The former professor of law, who took over the presidency in 2019, has pushed the new constitution as part of an ongoing consolidation of power that he says is necessary to overcome the parliament’s political gridlock and accelerate much needed reforms. Saied denies any authoritarian ambitions.
⚠️ Mondher Belhaj Ali, a former member of parliament and lawyer, has stated that the new constitution fails to separate the executive branch from the legislative branch, potentially concentrating massive power in the hands of the president. Hamadi Rédissi, Professor in Political Science at the University of Tunis, interviewed by Tunisian news site Kapitalis, said the proposed constitution risks seeing the country “sliding towards a dictatorship.”
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
The U.S. will be responsible for all of the serious consequences.
— Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has warned of “serious consequences” as China would take “firm and resolute measures” if the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, proceeds with a trip to Taiwan she was reportedly considering. Pelosi has been a critic of China over the span of her congressional career, and her trip would come ahead of a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Biden has said that the U.S. military thinks it is “not a good idea right now” for Pelosi to visit Taiwan. Pelosi has not publicly discussed any travel plans.
✍️ Newsletter by Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, McKenna Johnson and Anne-Sophie Goninet
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