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After weekend of violent clashes, Beijing to address Hong Kong unrest

After weekend of violent clashes, Beijing to address Hong Kong unrestHong Kong on Monday bore the scars of another night of violent protests with hard hats, umbrellas and water bottles littering some central streets, as Beijing was set to make an announcement on the Asian financial centre’s worst crisis since 1997. In a highly rare move, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office in Beijing, which has cabinet-level authority over the former British colony, is due to hold a press conference at 0700 GMT regarding the unrest gripping the former British colony. The move comes after another weekend of fierce clashes between protesters and police, who again fired rubber bullets and tear gas as the demonstrations grow increasingly violent.



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Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Says Extradition Bill Is ‘Dead’ as Unrest Continues

Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam Says Extradition Bill Is ‘Dead’ as Unrest Continues(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong protest leaders vowed to return to the streets after the city’s leader declared her controversial extradition bill “dead,” suggesting her latest effort to resolve a weeks-long political crisis had backfired.Demonstrators issued new calls for people to join their rallies despite Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s acknowledgment Tuesday that the legislation, which would for the first time allow extraditions to China, wouldn’t get passed. Although it’s the closest she’s come to admitting defeat after an unprecedented wave of unrest — including the ransacking of the city legislature last week — she stopped short of agreeing to protesters’ demand to withdraw the bill.“The bill is dead,” Lam told reporters Tuesday in Hong Kong. “Our work on the extradition bill amendment is a complete failure.”Lam’s refusal to formally retract the proposal left open the possibility that the government could revive it with 12 days’ notice and provided a new rallying point for a protest movement that has persisted through repeat marches, extreme heat and tear gas volleys from police. Opponents of the bill planned another rally Sunday in East New Territories district of Sha Tin, in an attempt to show support far from the city center.“She’s only putting oil on the fire,” Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki told reporters Tuesday. “We will anticipate more outcry, more people coming out to the streets to demand for democracy in Hong Kong.”Earlier: Beijing’s Message to Hong Kong: Get in Line or Face IrrelevanceThe legislation has helped unify the former British colony’s once-fractured opposition, drawing hundreds of thousands into the streets and illustrating a source of domestic weakness for Chinese President Xi Jinping in the middle of a growing strategic struggle with the U.S. Lam’s attempts to quiet the unrest — first “pausing” efforts to pass the legislation, then apologizing — have only fueled more protests.Besides demanding the complete withdrawal of the bill, opponents want Lam to resign and drop charges against demonstrators arrested during police clashes. Protesters mustered one of the largest marches ever in city’s Kowloon district Sunday, even after the decision by some protesters to break into and vandalize the Legislative Council chamber drew widespread condemnation.The turmoil has raised new questions about Hong Kong’s long-term viability, almost halfway through China’s 50-year promise to preserve capitalist markets and personal freedoms established by the British. Lam and her backers in Beijing so far appeared determined to hang on, or risk emboldening an opposition bent on slowing their agenda and securing a direct election for chief executive.“Stepping down is not an easy thing,” Lam said, in response to a question about whether she planned to resign. “I still have the enthusiasm and responsibility to serve the public. I hope the public can give my team and myself a chance and space to implement a new administration style.”Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing had “nothing new to add” since backing Lam’s June 15 decision to suspend efforts to pass the legislation. “The Chinese central government already expressed our support, understanding and respect,” Geng said.Extradition ConcernsThe legislation would let Hong Kong enter one-time deals to transfer criminal suspects to various jurisdictions, including mainland China. The measure fanned worries among the business community and the city’s democracy advocates about the erosion of the “one country, two systems” framework set up before Hong Kong’s return to China.Hong Kong’s dollar fell back into the weak half of its trading band as traders predicted the city’s recent liquidity squeeze is nearing its end, though there was no indication Lam’s remarks had impacted the move. The currency was down 0.15% at 7.8113 per dollar as of 4:14 p.m. local time.Leaders of student groups that have participated in recent protests also rejected an offer from Lam for public talks to reconcile their differences, saying any such meeting must focus on their core demands. Some activists pointed out that four of the five student leaders who Lam met with during a previous bout of mass protests in 2014, when she was the city’s No. 2 official, were later prosecuted for their roles.“Carrie Lam’s invitation for dialogue is a trap,” said Jimmy Sham, a leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, which has organized the biggest recent protests. “Carrie Lam said she has repeatedly reflected on her work and apologized, but a key thing she hasn’t reflected on is that there’s no one in Hong Kong who trusts her, and she hasn’t contemplated why nobody has faith in her.”Lam has failed to heal divisions in the former British colony two years after taking over from her unpopular former boss, Leung Chun-ying, who was forced to forego seeking a second term due to widespread discontent. While Lam may have underestimated the opposition to her extradition bill, her task was complicated by the requirement to serve two masters — Hong Kong and Beijing — without a public vote to provide a mandate.Billy Gung, a 27-year-old accountant who has attended the largest recent protests, said the extradition bill was a piece of the bigger political problem. “Even if the extradition law is dead, there will be other bills in the future that favor Beijing and are not in the interest of Hong Kong,” Gung said.\–With assistance from Bruce Grant, Fion Li, Will Davies and Sharon Chen.To contact the reporters on this story: Natalie Lung in Hong Kong at flung6@bloomberg.net;Carol Zhong in Hong Kong at yzhong71@bloomberg.net;Kari Lindberg in Hong Kong at klindberg13@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen LeighFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Ethiopia army chief of staff shot amid unrest

Ethiopia army chief of staff shot amid unrestEthiopia’s army chief of staff has been shot, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on television Sunday as the government said it had thwarted an attempted coup in a regional state of this Horn of Africa nation. Abiy took to national television in the early hours dressed in military fatigues and announced that army chief Seare Mekonnen had been shot, an AFP correspondent said.



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Unrest returns to Paris with worst yellow vest violence in weeks

Unrest returns to Paris with worst yellow vest violence in weeksAnti-government protesters hurled rocks and paving slabs at police, looted boutiques, smashed up a luxury restaurant on Paris’s famed Champs-Elysées and set a bank on fire on Saturday. A mother and her baby trapped on the second floor of the building, as flames surged up from the bank branch on the ground floor, were rescued by firefighters. The bank offices were gutted and 11 people were slightly injured, including two police officers. Smoke and tear gas shrouded the Champs-Elysées and at least 109 people were arrested in the worst outbreak of violence on the fringes of a “yellow vest” demonstration in Paris for several weeks. President Emmanuel Macron has cut short his skiing holiday to return to Paris to chair an emergency meeting over what the authorities are describing as "intolerable violence and damage".   Christophe Castaner, the interior minister, tweeted that those who set the bank on fire “are neither demonstrators nor troublemakers: they are killers.”  Grinning “yellow vest” protesters posed for photographs in front of the shattered facade of Le Fouquet’s, a restaurant that earned Nicolas Sarkozy the nickname of “President Bling-bling” when he celebrated his 2007 election victory there.  A Yellow Vest protester gestures in front of a newsagent set alight during clashes with riot police Credit:  ZAKARIA ABDELKAFI/ AFP A Yellow Vest protester destroys a shop window during clashes with riot police forces on the Champs-Elysees Credit: AFP Much of the violence on the 18th consecutive Saturday of protests against President Macron’s economic reforms was blamed on anarchists, far-Right and ultra-leftist agitators rather than the “yellow vests” themselves.  Police estimated the number of demonstrators at about 32,000 across France. About 5,000 police officers were deployed in Paris alone. The numbers of protesters have dwindled since the “yellow vest” movement began in November, amid growing anger over income inequality and a lack of public services in rural areas and small towns.  Fouquet’s was the favoured status restaurant of Nicolas Sarkozy. Was. GiletsJaunespic.twitter.com/LUXGoKy7yW— Peter Allen (@peterallenparis) March 16, 2019 More took to the streets on Saturday compared with recent weeks, following social media calls for a strong turnout to mark the four-month anniversary of the movement’s launch. President Macron wrapped up a “great debate” consultation exercise on Friday to allow people to vent their grievances, which has helped him to regain some of the popularity lost since his election. Some “yellow vests” have dismissed the exercise as a campaign ploy ahead of European elections in May. The Yellow Vest protests About 30,000 people took part in a separate, peaceful demonstration to demand urgent government action to combat climate change



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Netanyahu warns Hamas after Gaza unrest

Netanyahu warns Hamas after Gaza unrestPrime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas Sunday that Israel would not hesitate to launch a “large-scale operation” in Gaza, as daily exchanges with the Palestinian territory threatened a wider escalation. Speaking ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu noted that while “rogue factions” were behind the recent Gaza “provocations”, it “did not exempt Hamas”, the enclave’s Islamist rulers, of responsibility. “I’ve heard people in Gaza saying that since we’re in an election campaign, a large-scale operation is out of the question,” he further said, referring to April 9 Israeli polls.



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Trump phones Venezuelan opposition leader to lend support amid growing unrest

Trump phones Venezuelan opposition leader to lend support amid growing unrestPresident Trump tried to strengthen the hand of Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido on Wednesday amid an intense power struggle.



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France 'yellow vest' protests: timeline of unrest

France 'yellow vest' protests: timeline of unrestHere is a timeline of the “yellow vest” movement in France, from the first online rumblings against a fuel tax hike to nationwide protests that led to the worst Paris riots in decades. A new day of high-risk demonstrations is planned on Saturday. It shows a woman, Jacline Mouraud, addressing French President Emmanuel Macron — “Monsieur Macron”, she says — from her living room.



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Uganda's Museveni blames 'external forces' for opposition unrest

Uganda's Museveni blames 'external forces' for opposition unrestUganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has accused “external forces” of trying to foment trouble by funding his political opponents in a bid to undermine the country’s image abroad. In an hours-long televised speech late on Sunday, the 74-year-old railed against the opposition and accused “external forces” of seeking to “sabotage” Uganda’s growth. Museveni, who took power in 1986, claimed “foreign money” was being funnelled to his political opponents by unnamed NGOs to foment trouble by paying youngsters to burn tyres and throw rocks at police.



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Iran president goes all-in on reform push after unrest

Iran president goes all-in on reform push after unrestPresident Hassan Rouhani went all-in on Monday with a push for greater civil liberties in the wake of the deadly unrest that rocked Iran in recent days. It was a radical call to arms for change, one that has grown more pressing for the reformist faction as it became, for once, the target of the protests that swept the country for several days over the new year. Since May, his failure to appoint any women to his cabinet or make any progress on freeing political prisoners has left many disillusioned with the moderate president and his reformist allies.



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Iran FM warns neighbors against fomenting unrest

Iran FM warns neighbors against fomenting unrestTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's foreign minister on Monday warned neighboring countries against fomenting unrest after anti-government protests roiled the country over the past two weeks.



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