Month in brief

Sharif gets temporary reprieve

Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, escaped immediate removal from office by the country’s Supreme Court over corruption allegations. In a 549-page judgement, it ruled that there was insufficient evidence, but ordered two months of further investigations of three of his children, whose offshore dealings were exposed in the Panama Papers leak. Two of the five judges said Sharif was dishonest ‘to the nation as well as to the parliament’ and should step down, but were outvoted.

Christian governor of Jakarta ousted

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, the Christian governor of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, conceded defeat to his Muslim opponent in an election which was seen as a test of religious and ethnic tolerance in the world’s largest Muslim nation. Ahok, an ethnic Chinese, was well ahead earlier in the campaign, but was charged with blasphemy after Islamic hardliners demanded that he be punished for quoting the Koran in a speech.

Thailand cracks down on critics

Thailand’s military government threatened to prosecute citizens who interacted online with three of the country’s most prominent critics abroad – historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, academic Pavin Chachavanpongpun and journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall. The three have commented on military rule, the monarchy and the law that bans any criticism of the royals. Amnesty International said the threat ‘showed brazen determination to silence dissent’.

Newsreader announces husband’s death

Supreet Kaur, an Indian TV anchor, found out about her husband’s death while reading the news live on air. Presenting a report of a fatal car crash on the IBC24 channel in Chhattisgarh, she realised it involved her husband, Harshad Kawade. She kept on reading the news for another 10 minutes and broke down in tears when the programme ended.

Trump bonds with Xi

President Donald Trump changed tack on China after meeting his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. He withdrew previous accusations that Beijing was manipulating its currency to gain trade advantages, after having accused China of ‘raping our country’ during the election campaign, and suggested instead that the US dollar was too strong. Trump said he had ‘great chemistry’ with Xi, and that they had shared the ‘most beautiful piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen’.

Indian tycoon arrested in London

Vijay Mallya, whose flamboyant lifestyle attracted as much attention as his investments in brewing, an airline and motor racing, was arrested in London as the Indian authorities sought his extradition on fraud charges. Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines collapsed with debts of over $1 billion, fled to Britain in early 2016. The tycoon, former chairman of India’s largest spirits company and co-owner of the Force India F1 team, was bailed after a court hearing.

Many killed in rubbish dump collapse

At least 30 people were killed and a similar number were still believed missing, days after a giant rubbish dump collapsed in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Repeated promises to level the 90-meter-high Meethotamulla garbage mountain had been unfulfilled, and a fire in the dump caused a landslide that buried more than 100 houses.

Rare tigers discovered

A breeding population of the critically endangered Indochinese tiger has been found in a jungle in eastern Thailand. Footage and photographs of the tigers, including six cubs from four mothers, was released, giving hope for the survival of the subspecies. There are thought to be only just over 200 Indochinese tigers, smaller than Bengal or Siberian tigers, left in Thailand and Myanmar.

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