Kathmandu: Prachanda back in government, Nepali Congress in opposition
The other news of the day: Christmas saw some 35,000 people displaced due to heavy rains in northern Mindanao; faced with the spread of COVID-19, India reintroduces testing for travellers entering from China and three other countries; five major NGOs are set to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban ban them from employing female staff; two Tajik nationals convicted in Russia for drug trafficking die in the war in Ukraine.
Former Maoist guerrilla leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda will be Nepal's next prime minister. The leader of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), who served as prime minister twice before, allied himself with his rival and former Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli of the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist-Leninist. The election on 20 November ended without a clear majority. Led by outgoing Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the Nepali Congress won the largest number of seats, but will go into opposition, refusing to accept Prachanda as head of government.
In the Philippines, thousands of people spent Christmas in evacuation centres in the two Misamis provinces after heavy rains caused flooding and landslides in the northern part of Mindanao Island. At least two people died in a landslide in Oroquieta City on Christmas Eve, but the hardest-hit city was Gingoog in Eastern Misamis province, where nearly 35,000 people had to be evacuated by the army.
SOUTH KOREA – NORTH KOREA
According to South Korean sources, suspected North Korean drones crossed the inter-Korean border on Monday without South Korea's authorisation. The aircrafts crossed the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas and were spotted flying in the areas of Gimpo, Ganghwa Island and Paju, causing a temporary halt to civilian flights. The new violation of South Korea’s airspace comes just days after the North launched two short-range ballistic missiles and two medium-range ballistic missiles.
INDIA – CHINA
Faced with news that COVID-19 was spreading in China, India has raised its state of alert. Passengers arriving from China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand – the countries where the disease is spreading fastest – will soon have to undergo mandatory testing when entering India, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced. In a meeting with state health ministers, Mr Mandaviya also called for all necessary measures to be taken to prevent the spread of the contagion.
Five major international NGOs halted their work in Afghanistan after the Taliban government banned women from humanitarian work on Saturday. Care International, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Save the Children said they could not continue their work "without our female staff". The International Rescue Committee also suspended services, while Islamic Relief said it had stopped most of its work.
BELARUS – KAZAKHSTAN – KYRGYZSTAN
After the European Union imposed sanctions on timber imports from Belarus, timber shipments from Central Asia to European countries grew suddenly in a "lateral re-export" scheme, whereby Belarus sells wood through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, despite restrictions by local governments.
TAJIKISTAN – RUSSIA
Two emigrants, 22-year-old Boboaziz Tuydiev and 28-year-old Manuchehr Shodov, were laid to rest in Tajikistan’s Khatlon region. Forcibly sent to war in Ukraine where they died, they had been arrested and convicted in Russia for drug trafficking. Before leaving, they phoned home, saying, “We have no choice.”