AUSTRIA: Social Democratic Party officials put forward state railways head Christian Kern yesterday as their nominee for chancellor to replace Werner Faymann.
Mr Faymann stepped down after a poor result in the first round of the presidential election, won by the far-right Freedom Party’s Norbert Hofer.
The social-democrats’ coalition partner the People’s Party has said it will only back a candidate who shares Mr Faymann’s anti-migrant stance.
Russian garrison on manoeuvres
TRANS-DNIESTER: Russian forces stationed in Moldova’s breakaway territory began weeks of military exercises yesterday.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said the exercises aimed to test troops’ ability to confront and defeat conventional fighting groups engaged in trying to destabilise Trans-Dniester and seize strategic objectives.
Dmitry Zelenkov, who commands Russian troops in Trans-Dniester, said that the drills would last until the end of May.
UN torture team worried by army
ISRAEL: The UN committee against torture released “concluding observations” yesterday that expressed concern about allegations of “excessive use of force,” including deadly force, by occupation forces against Palestinians.
The committee said that it was worried about the conduct by Israeli troops at demonstrations, in response to attacks or alleged attacks against Israelis and about restriction of access in areas of Gaza.
Hezbollah Syria chief killed
LEBANON: National resistance group Hezbollah announced yesterday that top military commander Mustafa Badreddine was killed in an explosion in the Syrian capital Damascus while supervising military operations.
Several others were wounded in the blast and Hezbollah is investigating whether the explosion resulted from an air raid, missile attack or artillery shelling.
Beirut-based TV service al-Mayadeen reported that he had been killed by an Israeli air strike but this was later deleted.
N Africa asylum returns made easy
GERMANY: Bundestag deputies approved a plan yesterday to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia “safe countries of origin” and make it easier to repatriate asylum-seekers from them and deter others from coming.
The Bundestag voted 424-143 to back the measure, which still requires approval from the upper house, representing Germany’s 16 states.
Berlin registered nearly 1.1 million asylum-seekers in 2015 and wants fewer.
Last-ditch talks on migrant deal
TURKEY: European Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkir held last-ditch talks with senior EU officials yesterday to end an impasse over the two sides’ anti-migrant deal.
Their meeting marked the latest stage in talks over the EU demand that Ankara should modify its anti-terror laws to secure visa-free travel in Europe for its citizens.
Mr Bozkir warned on Thursday that the impasse could jeopardise the whole agreement.
Island arrivals drop by 90 per cent
REFUGEES: EU border agency Frontex said yesterday that the number of refugees arriving in the Greek islands dropped by 90 per cent last month compared to March.
“The drop in the number of arrivals on the Greek islands was dramatic,” said director Fabrice Leggeri.
He suggested that the decline to 2,700 people was because of the EU anti-migrant agreement with Turkey.