Friday, January 20

Friday, January 20

Donald Trump inaugurated, third time around for Venezuelan demonetisation and the first India-UAE strategic talks.

TRUMPED

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Donald Trump becomes US president on Friday.

Since winning the election in November, Mr Trump has led an unusual transition. Traditionally, presidents-in-waiting use this period to build their administration, get up to speed and ensure a smooth handover process. Donald Trump has opted for a far more disruptive approach.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, has been front and centre of the new president’s domestic agenda. While Mr Trump says he has a plan to replace the legislation with an improved universal health care program, it’s unlikely Republicans in Congress will support any such plan (if it exists at all).

On foreign policy, the president-elect has already started to ruffle feathers, questioning the One China Policy and labelling NATO “obsolete”.

Not all of Donald Trump’s nominations have panned out either. Monica Crowley, the president’s pick to be the National Security Council’s communications director, bowed out earlier this week after being accused of plagiarism. Trump’s labour and health secretary picks are also under pressure.

But the big question hanging over the Trump administration ­– and indeed populists the world over – is how he will govern. One thing’s for certain:

Donald Trump’s presidency will be historic. Only time will tell whether that’s for the right or wrong reasons.

VENEZUELA’S DEMONETISATION: THIRD TIME LUCKY?

Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Friday is the day Venezuela’s 100 bolivar note may finally be withdrawn.

President Nicholas Maduro initially said the note would be withdrawn in mid-December. He then delayed the process to Jan. 2, before postponing it once more to Jan. 20. This process has been symbolic of Venezuela’s current state of affairs: shambolic.

The official reasoning behind the demonetisation policy is just as confusing as its execution. While Mr Maduro said the measures were necessary to prevent “mafias” from hoarding the bolivar, in reality hyperinflation has made the 100 bolivar bill virtually valueless – certainly not worth hoarding.

Although Venezuela’s economy continues to cause the president grief, he recently enjoyed a quiet victory. By remaining in power past Jan. 10, Maduro has ensured that his United Socialists party will control the presidency until the next election, which isn’t due until April 2018. This means that even if the opposition can secure a recall referendum on Maduro’s tenure and he’s defeated, he’ll merely be replaced by another party cadre.

Policies like Friday’s chaotic demonetisation make it unlikely President Maduro will see out his entire term, but his recent passive political victory will give him comfort.

INDIA-UAE TIES STRENGTHEN WITH FIRST STRATEGIC TALKS

Photo: Philip Cheung/UAE Crown Prince Court

Photo: Philip Cheung/UAE Crown Prince Court

The UAE and India will hold their first ever strategic dialogue in New Delhi on Friday, 18 months after the partnership arrangement was announced.

The talks are expected to lay the foundation for future cooperation between the two countries, which share common interests in defence and counterterrorism.

Forging closer defence ties with the UAE is a relative victory for India. The Emirates has long held close military ties with India’s arch-rival Pakistan. This relationship was strained in 2015 when Pakistan refused to take part in military operations in Yemen – a fissure New Delhi will seek to exploit in Friday’s meeting.

The parties will also discuss a plan for the UAE to invest $75 billion in India’s notoriously overburdened roads, ports and railways.