Saturday, January 27

Saturday, January 27

TAKING THE HELM Honduras unrest to continue as Hernandez takes office Today, recently re-elected Juan Hernandez will be sworn in as president of Honduras. The country will also see a nationwide strike begin in protest of his questionable victory last November. Rallying around his leftist opponent, Salvador Nasralla, protesters see the recent election as fraudulent.

TAKING THE HELM

Honduras unrest to continue as Hernandez takes office

Juan Hernandez Honduras

Photo: Acontecer Cristiano

Today, recently re-elected Juan Hernandez will be sworn in as president of Honduras. The country will also see a nationwide strike begin in protest of his questionable victory last November.

Rallying around his leftist opponent, Salvador Nasralla, protesters see the recent election as fraudulent. Clashes with police last weekend turned violent, adding one more death to over 30 in the past two months.

The election also resulted in a win for Hernandez in Congress; his party won a majority by gaining 13 seats. Although strikes and protests may make things difficult for him, control of both the executive and legislative branches should be enough to keep Hernandez in power.

Hernandez’s previous term was successful in cutting the murder rate nearly in half and reducing the deficit. Now, re-elected with congress at his back, he will likely continue to reform the country’s historically corrupt police force and push for further trade with the US, Honduras’s largest trading partner.

BUSINESS FIRST?

Japan and China seek win-wins despite regional tensions

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Photo: AP

Japan’s foreign minister will travel to Beijing today in a bid to improve a historically troubled relationship.

Sino-Japanese relations have been marred by a deep rivalry, which has its roots in Japan’s pre-WW2 imperial expansion and has been exacerbated by other recent territorial disputes. Both countries today are vying for regional influence through the construction of infrastructure across the continent.

Despite their rivalry, these two Asian economic powerhouses boast one of the world’s most valuable trading partnerships, currently worth some $350 billion a year.

Last year, both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed enthusiasm for a “fresh start“. To that end, Tokyo gave its cautious support to China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative last month. Now that relations are warming, Japanese manufacturing businesses have also taken an interest.

Although the forecast is optimistic, if relations were to suddenly sour, these businesses could be harmed through government sanctions and nationalist protests. Expect Tokyo and Beijing to avoid this by building upon their relationship through further deals, such as a free-trade agreement between themselves and South Korea.

BALKANISED POLITICS

Opposition unity presents renewed challenge to government

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Photo: AJ

In a show of unity, Albania’s two main opposition parties will take to the streets of Tirana today to pressure the centre-left government to step down.

The demonstrations follow violent protests last month over the alleged unconstitutionality of the appointment of a new prosecutor general. The position oversees the judiciary and has authority equal to that of the nation’s top courts. While the opposition supports such an independent legal figure, it alleges that the government has used the appointment as a means to shield corrupt MPs from prosecution.

The creation of the office is part of a series of key judicial reforms aimed at curbing political influence in the legal system. They are key to Albania’s next round of EU accession negotiations, which are supported by key allies in the EU and US.

Expect political tensions to remain high as the opposition continues to push for either new elections or a technocrat government. Despite high public disapproval, the government has a comfortable parliamentary majority and is expected to continue to advance its judicial reforms.