World Tour: Political turmoil in Austria, and protests in Algeria

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Election results in Indonesia—We start today in Indonesia. The Election Commission there declared incumbent President Joko Widodo the winner of April’s election.

AUDIO: [Sound of honking horns and sirens]

Soldiers fanned out across Jakarta in anticipation of violence. Challenger Prabowo Subianto had already claimed widespread cheating and warned of protests should he lose.

Last week, police arrested dozens of ISIS-linked terror suspects allegedly plotting to detonate bombs at post-election protests.

Subianto is a former military commander who courted Islamic hardliners during his campaign. Widodo’s reelection is seen as a victory for democracy in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Subianto has vowed to challenge the results in court.

Political turmoil in Austria—Next we go to Austria. A scandal involving Russian influence there has toppled the coalition government.

AUDIO: [Chancellor Sebastian Kurz speaking]

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz vowed to maintain stability even as he faces a no confidence vote next week. The turmoil started after a German newspaper published video of the country’s vice chancellor meeting with a Russian investor. Heinz-Christian Strache allegedly offered the woman political favors in exchange for her support.

Strache led the conservative Freedom Party. He and several other members of his party resigned their cabinet positions on Monday. Kurz has ordered new elections for September.

US ambassador to China visits Tibet—Next we go to China, where the U.S. ambassador has created a diplomatic stir.

Embassy officials confirmed on Sunday that Terry Branstad is making a rare visit to Tibet this week. He plans to meet with local officials to talk about restrictions on Buddhist practices. He also plans to discuss preserving the region’s unique culture and language.

China considers Tibet part of its territory and has repressed all efforts at autonomy. It also restricts access to the region.

AUDIO: [Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman speaking]

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said he hoped the ambassador’s visit would be “without any prejudice” and “based on an objective attitude.”

Anti-government protests in Algeria—Next we go to Northern Africa. Protesters in Algeria continue to demand free and fair elections.

AUDIO: [Sound of Algerian protesters]

The country’s military has scheduled elections for July 4th. But democracy activists say the country needs more time to vet an independent slate of candidates. They fear quick elections will favor the country’s current political ruling class.

The protests began in February after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced plans to seek a fifth term in office. He eventually stepped aside, but then the country’s military leaders installed a hand-picked interim government.

Pakistan upholds sentence in mob killing—We end today in Pakistan. A court in Lahore has upheld death sentences for three Muslims convicted in the 2014 mob killing of a Christian couple. The court acquitted two others charged in the case.

Last week’s ruling is an encouraging sign the country’s leaders are trying to rein in violence related to blasphemy claims. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often used as a pretext to settle personal disputes and vendettas.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.

(AP Photo/Dita Alangkara) Incumbent Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, waves to reporters as he leaves after declaring his victory in the country’s presidential election, at a slum in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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