Ruling party keeps Congress
President Cristina Fernandez’s governing bloc held onto control of the Congress in Sunday’s elections, but the results buried hopes of changing the constitution to let her run for a third term and revealed a former loyalist as a political threat. The president’s former chief of the Cabinet, Sergio Massa, beat the candidate that Fernandez hand-picked to lead her slate for Congress, Martin Insaurralde, by a decisive 12-point margin in Buenos Aires Province, where 37 percent of voters live. With 72 percent of the votes counted nationwide, the governing Front for Victory Party won 33 percent of the congressional votes overall, far short of the 54 percent Fernandez carried in her re-election in 2011.
Power stations attacked
Unidentified assailants armed with guns and Molotov cocktails attacked power stations on Sunday, causing blackouts in 14 towns. The Ministry of the Interior said in a statement that national power company equipment, six fueling stations and a convenience store were targeted in Michoacan State, but nobody was hurt. More than 420,000 people were left without power, but service was restored to 60 percent of customers late on Sunday, Federal Electricity Commission spokesman Estefano Conde said. A government official told foreign media that authorities suspect the Knights Templar cartel launched the assault to send a message to the population and self-defense forces in the state. The cartel accuses the self-defense forces of being backed by rivals the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
S African activist arrested
Businessman and anti-apartheid stalwart Mosima Gabriel “Tokyo” Sexwale was briefly arrested in New York last week after his name appeared on a list of people banned from entering the country, the South African Broadcasting Corp (SABC) said on Sunday, citing his lawyer, Lesley Mkhabela. Sexwale, a rival of President Jacob Zuma who was ousted as minister of housing in a Cabinet reshuffle in July, was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport while on a business trip, the SABC said. Some anti-apartheid activists were banned from visiting the US during apartheid. The ban has been lifted, but not all the names have been removed from the list, Mkhabela told the SABC.
Aung San Suu Kyi honored
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Sunday picked up an overdue honor from Rome. The Nobel Peace Prize winner received Rome’s honorary citizenship in City Hall on Capitoline Hill. In 1994, Rome had conferred the honor in absentia on Aung San Suu Kyi, a champion of democracy who spent years as a political prisoner. In picking up the honor, she fondly recalled visiting Rome while a student at Oxford University. She was to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday.
Paper banned for criticism
The country’s press watchdog has imposed a ban on reformist newspaper Bahar for an article seen by critics as questioning the beliefs of Shiite Islam, media said yesterday. Bahar issued an apology note saying the article was an “unintentional mistake” and that it had temporarily suspended activities on Saturday to “ease the tensions.” “The article, which has sadly hurt the feelings of the believers, was published due to a technical error... Editorial has apologized several times and criticized the article to show it was contrary to Bahar’s [political] line,” the note said.