President wins second term
The president has won a second four-year term, securing a mandate for his efforts to crack down on corruption and further integrate the landlocked North Asian nation into international society. With all precincts reporting, Elbegdorj Tsakhia won 50.23 percent of the vote in Wednesday’s election, with Baterdene Badmaanyambuu of the main opposition Mongolian People’s Party receiving 41.97 percent, the election commission said yesterday. Udval Natsag, health minister and first female presidential candidate, took 6.5 percent, it said. The result is seen as an affirmation of Elbegdorj’s drive against graft in the Alaska-sized nation of 3 million people, whose fortunes are being transformed by a boom in mining for coal, copper, gold and other resources.
Bid to save trafficker’s life
President Benigno Aquino III is asking his Chinese counterpart to spare the life of a Filipino woman facing execution for trafficking 6kg of heroin into the country. The Department of Foreign Affairs says the 35-year-old woman is scheduled to be executed any time between yesterday and Tuesday next week. Spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters that the woman was arrested at a Chinese airport in January 2011 along with a Filipino man. She traveled as a tourist and has been convicted of hiding the heroin in her luggage. Her companion was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve. Hernandez said Aquino’s letter asking for the death sentence to be commuted would be delivered yesterday. China has previously ignored such appeals. It executed four Filipino drug convicts in 2011.
Mandela on life support
Nelson Mandela is on life support in hospital, a family elder said, as the president canceled a trip abroad following a visit to the revered anti-apartheid hero’s bedside. “Yes, he is using machines to breathe,” Napilisi Mandela said late on Wednesday after he saw the 94-year-old in the Pretoria hospital where he has been treated for a recurrent lung infection for nearly three weeks. “It is bad, but what can we do?” added the elder, who usually presides over family rituals and meetings. President Jacob Zuma late on Wednesday abruptly canceled a trip to neighboring Mozambique after he visited Mandela, who has been in critical condition for several days. Outside the hospital emotional crowds have been holding vigils, offering their own prayers and remembering the life of one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. Supporters sang hymns for the father of South African democracy and the architect of a remarkable transition from almost half a century of white minority rule to landmark multiracial elections.
Billionaire helps fight polio
Billionaire Sir Emeka Offor is donating US$1.25 million to the Rotary Club’s PolioPlus program to eradicate the paralyzing disease that attacks more people in his country than any other in the world. In a statement on Wednesday the oil and gas tycoon says “polio should have no place in our world.” Nigeria is the sticking point for efforts to rid the world of polio because of opposition from northern Muslim leaders who falsely preach that the vaccinations cause sterility and HIV-AIDS. The project is also opposed by Islamic extremists blamed for the killings of nine women health workers as they were vaccinating children against polio in Kano in February. Offor said the number of cases in Nigeria rose from 62 in 2011 to 122 last year.