World Tour – Protests in Iraq, floods in Brazil, and Brexit Day

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

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Protests continue in Iraq—We start today in the Middle East.

AUDIO: [Iraqi student protest]

Student-led, anti-government protests in Iraq show no signs of slowing despite an increasingly violent response from security forces and other armed groups.

AUDIO: [Shots at Iraqi protest]

On Monday, gunmen stormed a protest camp in the southern city of Nasiriyah. They set fire to tents and shot at sleeping protesters, killing one and wounding four others. Hours later, defiant protesters put up new tents in a signal they would not be intimidated.

The protesters are demanding snap elections and an end to outside influence in the country, including from the United States and Iran. When the rallies began in early October they had the backing of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr. But he withdrew his support last week, prompting fears of more violence.

Russian parliament approves constitutional changes—Next to Russia.

Lawmakers in Moscow unanimously approved changes to the country’s constitution in a preliminary vote last week. The bill must pass two more readings before it can become law.

AUDIO: [Russian parliament changes]

A few days before the parliamentary vote, President Vladimir Putin announced appointments to his new cabinet.

PUTIN: [Speaking Russian]

Putin told the new ministers he hoped they would do everything in their power to achieve his goals. But Kremlin watchers say it’s not clear what those goals are.

Putin’s constitutional reforms transfer some governing authority to parliament, including the power to choose the prime minister. They also increase the role of an advisory body called the State Council.

But analysts say Putin has no intention of giving up any control. They speculate he’s strengthening the State Council to give himself a powerful new role to fill when his presidential term ends in 2024.

Brazil cleans up from floods after record rainfall—Next to South America.

AUDIO: [Brazil flood cleanup]

Brazilians are cleaning up after record rainfall caused flash flooding and mudslides in the southeastern region of the country. At least 54 people died. Eighteen remain missing.

Many of the damaged and destroyed houses were built without permits in high-risk areas. Nearly 7 inches of rain fell in a 24-hour period, the heaviest rainfall in 1-hundred-10 years. And more rain is expected this week.

More than 120 cities have already declared a state of emergency.

Britain prepares for Brexit—And finally, we end today in Europe.

This is Great Britain’s last week as a member of the European Union. After years of delays, Brexit will finally happen on Friday. But the continental strife is far from over.

Michel Barnier is the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

BARNIER: It is absolutely clear that there will be negative consequences. Whatever agreement we reach on our future relationship, Brexit will always be a matter of damage limitation.

In early March, the countries begin a transition phase to hash out their future relationship. Talks will include issues like domestic labor and environmental standards, data sharing, security, and law enforcement. They are supposed to reach an agreement by December 31st. But many analysts expect that deadline to be extended.

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

(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) A protester prepares to put a tear gas canister into the water to extinguish it, during clashes with Iraqi security forces in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. 

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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