05/16/2022, 09.44
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Lebanon elections: Defeat looms for Hezbollah

Today's headlines: Over a million Covid infections in North Korea; Consumer spending slumps and unemployment rises in China; Indonesian President Widodo's approval rating down; Global wheat price rises after heat wave in India; New form of anti-war protest in Russia.


Preliminary results of Lebanese legislative elections signal a series of defeats for Hezbollah allies: it is still in doubt whether the bloc led by the pro-Iranian Shiite party will retain a majority. Christian opposition Lebanese Forces and independent candidates advance.


More than a million are expected to be Covid-19 cases in the country. State media speak of "a fever," with leader Kim Jong-un grooming his health authorities for failing to prevent contagions and ordering the army to deliver medicine to the population. There are 50 deaths so far, while the entire population is in lockdown.


The new wave of Covid-19, with the adoption of lockdowns in many provinces across the country, has dealt a severe blow to the national economy. In April, the unemployment rate rose to 6.1 percent, the highest since February 2020 (the start of the pandemic). Consumption also collapsed: -11.1 percent year-on-year.


Due to rising inflation, President Widodo's approval rating hit its lowest since 2015, falling to 58.1 percent. Especially in the crosshairs of critics is the rising cost of cooking oil, which the export ban on palm oil has failed to curb.


Wheat prices rose 5.9 percent in international markets after Delhi announced an export ban to fill domestic needs. The country's heat wave (49 degrees Celsius in the capital) has affected the harvest, posing risks to domestic supplies. The sector is already under pressure from the war in Ukraine. 


A new form of antiwar protest in the country is the removal of the red tricolor flag from car license plates, leaving the blue-white of pacifism. The more arrests and fines for the protests increase, the more the official press elevates the percentage of supporters of the "special military operation."


Yerevan touted the points of the agreement to normalize Baku relations. Special Ambassador Edmon Marukyan clarified that his government has no territorial claims, but demands guarantees for the security of Armenians in Karabakh. Armenia appeals to previous agreements linked to Russian mediation and that of international bodies.

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