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Serbia’s governing party set to win elections amid pandemic |NationalTribune.com

Serbia’s governing conservative party led by President Aleksandar Vucic is set for a landslide win in Sunday’s parliamentary election, results projected by Ipsos and CeSID pollsters showed. The projection shows the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) on track to win 62.4 percent of the votes, while the Socialist party – a junior coalition partner in the…

Serbia’s governing party set to win elections amid pandemic |NationalTribune.com

Serbia’s governing conservative party led by President Aleksandar Vucic is set for a landslide win in Sunday’s parliamentary election, results projected by Ipsos and CeSID pollsters showed.
The projection shows the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) on track to win 62.4 percent of the votes, while the Socialist party – a junior coalition partner in the outgoing government – is seen coming second with 10.7 percent of the votes.
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The centre-right Serbian Patriotic Alliance led by former water polo player Aleksandar Sapic is seen in third place with 4.1 percent of the votes.
Polling stations were equipped with face masks and hand sanitisers for the country’s electorate of almost 6.6 million, many of whom were expected to skip voting – partly because of fears of coronavirus infection.
Ipsos and CeSID saw turnout at 48 percent compared with 56.7 percent in 2016. The State Election Commission is due to announce preliminary results, including turnout, later in the evening.
Turnout was hit by a boycott by some opposition parties, who say the vote will not be free or fair owing to Vucic’s grip on the media.
It was the first national election in Europe to take place during the coronavirus epidemic. The voting, initially planned for April but postponed because of the pandemic, comes as Serbia is still reporting dozens of new cases daily after completely relaxing its strict lockdown rules. 
President Vucic’s party had earlier on Sunday appeared set for a landslide victory, having faced little challenge from the divided opposition.

“I am very pleased that today until midday there were no serious irregularities, that the elections are held in a democratic atmosphere,” Vucic said after voting in Belgrade. “I hope for a success. I hope for a good result.”
While Serbian voters are not choosing a president Sunday, Vucic has dominated the campaign through the mainstream media which he controls, denouncing and ridiculing his critics. He has refuted allegations of abusing his formal ceremonial powers as president by taking a leading role in the campaign.
“For the last four years, we really gave our utmost, so I hope that today Serbian voters will come out and confirm that they are satisfied with our work,” Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said at a voting station in Belgrade.
“I hope people will today give their trust to President Aleksandar Vucic and his team.”
Partial opposition boycott
Citing the lack of free and fair voting conditions and a danger to public health, several main opposition groups are boycotting the vote. But a number of smaller parties decided to run, saying the boycott would only sideline an already marginalised opposition.
Sergej Trifunovic, a prominent Serbian movie actor and the leader of an opposition group that broke ranks with the main pro-boycott group, said if you want to be a politician, you have to be in parliament.
“It’s very important that, with gloves and masks, you protect your health and by using a pen (for voting) you maintain your dignity and defend your freedom,” he said. “So, all of you, go out and vote.” 
Health authorities provided face masks, gloves and sanitisers at the polling stations. In Belgrade, people could be seen largely respecting social distancing rules, and many wore masks.
Authorities have said that voting was no more risky than going to a shop or any other closed space.
Serbia reported 91 new virus cases and one more death on Sunday, bringing the country’s COVID-19-related death toll to 261.
A former extreme nationalist, Vucic briefly served as information minister in the government of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic during the 1990s wars in the Balkans. While Vucic now says he seeks European Union membership for Serbia, critics warn that democratic freedoms have eroded since his party came to power in 2012.
The president has called on his supporters to vote in large numbers to get a strong mandate for internationally mediated peace negotiations on the future of Serbia’s breakaway former province of Kosovo.
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COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN,…

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN, Qatar emir questions world inaction on Israeli occupationQatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.Lebanon: Hezbollah arms depot blast caused by ‘technical error’Lebanon’s official news agency said explosion took place in southern village of Ein Qana, about 50km south of Beirut.
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Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year. On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the…

Iran says ‘internal agents’ may be responsible for Natanz blast |NationalTribune.com

Tehran, Iran – The Iranian government said on Tuesday there are strong suspicions that “internal agents” played a role in a massive explosion that occurred at a key nuclear facility earlier this year.
On July 2, a fire ripped through a building at Natanz, a major uranium enrichment site. Satellite images showed it caused the roof to collapse and parts of the building were blackened by the blaze.
“One of the strong theories is based on internal agents being involved in the incident,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters at a news conference, according to the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).

“The issue is being seriously reviewed by the country’s security organisations and we will announce the results after things are clear.”
It is the first time an Iranian official specifically pointed to the possibility of an inside job for the blast.
In late August, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization confirmed the damage to the facility was the result of “sabotage”.
“But how this explosion took place and with what materials … will be announced by security officials in due course,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said at the time, citing “security reasons” for not disclosing further information.
‘Sabotage is certain’
In early September, Kamalvandi announced Natanz saboteurs “have been identified” but refrained from discussing further details, including whether internal agents were complicit.
On Tuesday, Rabiei also reiterated that “sabotage is certain” but the incident still needs to be investigated due to its complexities.
The desert Natanz site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities regularly monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
Following the explosion, international media reports indicated Israel may have been behind the attack. Israel has been deliberately vague, neither confirming nor denying involvement while stressing the danger of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“Everyone can suspect us in everything and all the time, but I don’t think that’s correct,” Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz said days after the attack.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi also said “Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear capabilities”, adding to that end, “We take actions that are better left unsaid.”
IAEA-Iran relations
September’s announcement that Iran knows the saboteurs behind the Natanz explosion came one week after IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the country.
The trip was successful, leading to Iran granting access to two suspected former nuclear sites that the UN watchdog wished to inspect.
“In this present context, based on analysis of available information to the IAEA, the IAEA does not have further questions to Iran and further requests for access to locations other than those declared by Iran,” the IAEA and Iranian officials said in a joint statement following the visit.
In a speech during the 64th session of the General Conference of the IAEA on Monday, the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi referred to the Natanz incident.

“These malicious acts need to be condemned by the agency and member states,” he said via video conference, adding “Iran reserves its rights to protect its facilities and take necessary actions against any threat as appropriate.”
Salehi also urged the UN watchdog not to compromise its “impartiality, independence and professionalism”.
Iran, UN and the United States are locked in a major disagreement centred around the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in May 2018.
The US on Sunday declared it reinstated all UN sanctions on Iran, an announcement that was roundly rejected by the United Nations Security Council as lacking legal basis.
The US is trying to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran that is set to expire in October as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal name of the nuclear deal.
Iran, which has always maintained it never pursued nuclear weapons, accepted the nuclear deal that removed all UN sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The US reneged on the deal, unilaterally imposing a harsh campaign of sanctions that have hit almost all the productive sectors of the Iranian economy. US sanctions have also targeted Iranian officials and organisations.
In response, starting exactly one year after US sanctions were imposed and other parties failed to guarantee economic benefits promised Iran under the deal, Iran started gradually scaling back its nuclear commitments.

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Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel. Palestinians see the deals that the United…

Palestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel deals |NationalTribune.com

Palestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.Palestine has quit its current chairmanship of Arab League meetings, the Palestinian foreign minister said on Tuesday, condemning as dishonourable any Arab agreement to establish formal ties with Israel.
Palestinians see the deals that the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed with Israel in Washington a week ago as a betrayal of their cause and a blow to their quest for an independent state in Israeli-occupied territory.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians failed to persuade the Arab League to condemn nations breaking ranks and normalising relations with Israel.
Palestine was supposed to chair Arab League meetings for the next six months, but Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told a news conference in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah that it no longer wanted the position.
“Palestine has decided to concede its right to chair the League’s council [of foreign ministers] at its current session. There is no honour in seeing Arabs rush towards normalisation during its presidency,” Maliki said.
In his remarks, he did not specifically name the UAE and Bahrain, Gulf Arab countries that share with Israel concern over Iran. He said Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit had been informed of the Palestinian decision.

Palestinians rally against Bahrain-Israel normalisation

The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state, in exchange for establishing ties with it.
In a new move addressing internal Palestinian divisions, officials from West Bank-based President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based Hamas movement were due to hold reconciliation talks in Turkey on Tuesday.
Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in 2007 from Fatah forces during a brief round of fighting. Differences over power-sharing have delayed implementation of unity deals agreed since then.
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies
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