Global big-hitters arrive in Argentina for G20 summit

Tourists pose for pictures at the Obelisk along 9 de julio Avenue the in downtown Buenos ahead of the G20 Summit. (AFP)
Updated 29 November 2018

Global big-hitters arrive in Argentina for G20 summit


BUENOS AIRES: The Argentine capital began to go into security lockdown on Wednesday as leaders of the world’s biggest economies started to arrive for the G20 summit starting on Friday.

The two-day summit brings together the most important statesmen in the world, including US President Donald Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for top-level policy meetings and negotiations.

Finance ministers and “sherpas,” the government officials whose job it is to steer negotiations toward some kind of agreement, have been in Buenos Aires since the start of the week. 

Certain to be on their minds — although it is not mentioned formally on the summit agenda — is the looming prospect of a global trade war between the US and China. This is expected be discussed at a dinner on Friday evening between Trump and Xi.

The official mission statement is “Building consensus for fair and sustainable development” in areas such as the future of work, infrastructure, food and gender. If all goes to plan, there will be a joint communiqué of agreement announced on Saturday.

It is the first time a G20 meeting has been held in Latin America (Saudi Arabia is set to host it in 2020), and Argentina’s president Mauricio Macri is taking the opportunity to showcase the reforms that he has introduced in the past two years but which have run into economic problems recently.

The summit has regularly been the focus of organized protests, which have sometimes tuned violent, and Argentina is taking special measures to ensure a peaceful meeting.

Traffic was already being restricted in large areas of Buenos Aires Wednesday, with access limited to the Costa Salguero Center, the business and leisure area where the main summit meetings will be held.

There is also an extensive program of cultural and artistic activities planned to coincide with the event, with wives and partners of many of the leaders hosting events throughout the city.

By Friday, large parts of Buenos Aires will be closed to normal traffic. Much of the public transport network will be closed temporarily, and citizens have been given an extra public holiday on the opening day. They have been advised by the authorities to take a long weekend outside the city for the duration of the event.

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

Updated 14 November 2019

Anti-government protesters block roads in Pakistan as unrest mounts

  • Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined a sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks
  • Firebrand cleric leading the protests called for nationwide demonstrations

ISLAMABAD: Anti-government protesters in Pakistan blocked major roads and highways across the country on Thursday in a bid to force Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign.
The demonstrators — led by the leader of opposition party Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), the firebrand cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman — have taken to the streets as the start of their “Plan B” to topple the government and ensure a general election after failing to push Khan out through a fortnight-long sit-in in Islamabad, which ended on Wednesday.
That same day, Rehman told his party workers to spread their protests to other parts of the country.
“This protest will continue not for a day but for a month, if our leadership instructs,” said JUI-F Secretary-General, Maulana Nasir Mehmood, to a group of protesters who blocked the country’s main Karakoram Highway — an important trade route between Pakistan and China that also connects the country’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province with its northern areas.
The JUI-F protesters also blocked other key routes in KP and a major highway connecting the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. The party’s Balochistan chapter also announced its intention to block the highway connecting Pakistan to neighboring Iran.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators joined the sit-in in Islamabad on Oct. 31 and camped there for about two weeks, demanding the prime minister’s resignation and fresh polls in the country following allegations of electoral fraud last year and the mismanagement of Pakistan’s economy. The government denies both charges.
Rehman is a veteran politician who was a member of the National Assembly for 20 years. He enjoys support in religious circles across the country. His party has yet to share a detailed plan regarding which roads will be closed when, or how long this new phase of protests will continue.
The JUI-F and other opposition parties have been trying to capitalize on the anger and frustration of the public against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruling party, which came to power last year promising 10 million new jobs for the youth, 5 million low-cost houses, and economic reforms to benefit the middle class.
Since then, Pakistan’s economy has nosedived, witnessing double-digit inflation and rampant unemployment. The government signed a $6-billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan has stabilized the deteriorating economy, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman ‘Plan B’ will fail like his ‘Plan A,’” Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, said in a statement to the press.