Many voters, including Ahmadinejad, boycott ‘sham’ Iran election

Many voters, including Ahmadinejad, boycott ‘sham’ Iran election
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A voter fills out her ballot papers at a polling station during the presidential elections in Tehran. (AP)
Many voters, including Ahmadinejad, boycott ‘sham’ Iran election
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Voters queue at a polling station during the presidential elections in Tehran. (AP)
Many voters, including Ahmadinejad, boycott ‘sham’ Iran election
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Ebrahim Raisi, a candidate in Iran's presidential elections waves to the media after casting his vote at a polling station in Tehran. (AP)
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Updated 19 June 2021

Many voters, including Ahmadinejad, boycott ‘sham’ Iran election

Many voters, including Ahmadinejad, boycott ‘sham’ Iran election
  • Despite polling stations across 220 cities in 31 provinces, presidential election met with widespread boycott
  • Some polls virtually deserted as apathy grows over a presidential vote tipped in favor of hard-line candidate Ebrahim Raisi

JEDDAH: As Iranian state TV showed people streaming to cast their ballots on Friday and news anchors praising the voters, very different scenes played out on the streets of Tehran, where many polling places appeared relatively empty.

Amid rising anger and apathy over a presidential vote tipped in favor of Ebrahim Raisi, the hard-line judiciary chief cultivated by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the election atmosphere was distinctly subdued, the Associated Press reported.

“It is useless,” said Ali Hosseini, a 36-year-old unemployed resident in southern Tehran, about the exercise of voting.

“Anyone who wins the election after some time says he cannot solve the problem of the economy because of intervention by influential people. He then forgets his promises and we poor people again are disappointed.”

At 16 different polling stations across Tehran, witnesses described lines of voters as “short” as no more than eight voters at a time could be seen casting ballots.

Some polls remained virtually deserted throughout the day. Listless poll workers listened to state radio, looked at their phones, or chatted calmly.

Farid Mahoutchi, the spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a Europe-based opposition group, said that according to reports, pictures, and video clips from polling stations across 220 cities in 31 provinces, the “sham” election was met with a widespread boycott.

Reports from polling station staff in many areas of Tehran, such as the Qamar Bani Hashem Mosque, Armaghan Alam, and polling stations in Tehran’s second district, which includes 64 polling stations, show participation was very meager.

“None of the candidates are trustworthy,” said Nasrin, a 31-year-old accountant in central Tehran.

Another passerby in a middle-class Tehran district, Rojin Ahmadi, 23, said: “None of them dared to offer a plan to show they would bring the country into normalcy.”

Ahmadi said she did not cast a vote.

Former hard-line populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seized on popular anger by repeating his decision to stay home and not vote. He warned that the heavily restricted process will produce a government without domestic or international legitimacy.

“I am not going to vote. And the main reason is that I am witnessing a major part of the people is put aside,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“A weak government is coming to power. And a weak government will weaken the situation in Iran. It will weaken the domestic situation and it will weaken our relations with the world. It will turn our relations with the rest of the world against Iran.”

In Lebanon, the Iranian Embassy set up three polling stations — one inside the embassy and the others in the city of Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon and in the city of Baalbek.

When asked about the number of Iranians in Lebanon, a media official from the embassy told Arab News: “Disclosing this number is not in the embassy’s interest.”

The turnout was low in Nabatiyeh despite many families of Iranian origin residing in the area.


Tunisia president takes new powers, says will reform system

Tunisia president takes new powers, says will reform system
Updated 25 min 17 sec ago

Tunisia president takes new powers, says will reform system

Tunisia president takes new powers, says will reform system

TUNIS: Tunisian President Kais Saied has put in place special measures for wielding legislative and executive power, the presidency said on Wednesday, without elaborating.
It added that Saied would form a committee to prepare amendments to Tunisia's political system and that he would maintain the suspension of parliament that he declared in July.

More to follow...


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman addresses the UN General Assembly

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman addresses the UN General Assembly
Updated 46 min 21 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman addresses the UN General Assembly

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman addresses the UN General Assembly

RIYADH: King Salman of Saudi Arabia will address the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Developing


UEFA says FIFA snubs request for talks on World Cup concerns

UEFA says FIFA snubs request for talks on World Cup concerns
Updated 53 min 12 sec ago

UEFA says FIFA snubs request for talks on World Cup concerns

UEFA says FIFA snubs request for talks on World Cup concerns
  • Gianni Infantino has been deploying retired players and Arsenal’s ex-manager Arsene Wenger in a campaign to win support for the overhaul of world football
  • “UEFA is disappointed with the methodology adopted, which has so far led to radical reform projects being communicated," European football's governing body said

LONDON: Intensifying its opposition to FIFA’s push for biennial World Cups, UEFA complained Wednesday that Gianni Infantino’s world body has yet to respond to its request for talks to discuss the concerns of European nations.
Infantino has been deploying retired players and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in a campaign to win support for the overhaul of world football, which UEFA said is a sign of “promotional campaigns of unilaterally pre-determined concepts” rather than an open consultation process.
Doubling the frequency of World Cups would create significant disruption for club competitions, continental tournaments, including the European Championship, and existing global events like the Olympics.
“UEFA is disappointed with the methodology adopted, which has so far led to radical reform projects being communicated and openly promoted before having been given, together with other stakeholders, the chance to participate in any consultation meeting,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin has already said that Europe could boycott the World Cup if Infantino succeeds in securing approval for his plan from the FIFA Congress of 211 member associations. Most of those countries never get to play at the World Cup, which will feature 32 men’s teams for the last time in 2022 before expanding to 48 nations in 2026.
“There are real dangers associated with this plan,” UEFA said in a statement after an executive committee meeting, “the dilution of the value of the No. 1 world football event, whose quadrennial occurrence gives it a mystique that generations of fans have grown up with; the erosion of sporting opportunities for the weaker national teams by replacing regular matches with final tournaments; the risk to sustainability for players, forced to engage in summer high intensity competitions every year instead of longer recuperation breaks in alternate years.”
More than a week after asking FIFA “to organize a special meeting with them to be able to voice their concerns on the impact of such plans,” UEFA said it “to date not yet received a reply.”
Major women’s tournaments, such as the World Cup and continental events like the European Championship, are currently held in odd-numbered years. The men’s World Cup and Euros are held in even-numbered years. FIFA’s new vision would mean every year would feature a men’s tournament, including continental events.
“We are grateful for the attention reserved to the UEFA European Championship, with the proposed double frequency of its final event,” UEFA said, “but we prefer to address such a sensitive matter with a comprehensive rather than speculative approach.”
UEFA flagged up “the risk for the future of women’s tournaments, deprived of exclusive slots and overshadowed by the proximity of top men’s events.”
A World Cup would also clash with the Olympics, unlike now, if the new plans are approved.
UEFA highlighted “the impact on the global sports system and respect that football, as the most followed sport worldwide, must show to consolidated spaces of exposure and exploitation used by other sports.”
FIFA has been stepping up the publication of in-house interviews featuring former players stating the case for a review of the international match calendar and for holding the World Cup every two years. Infantino has not been made available for comment since May.
“The serious concerns that the FIFA proposal provokes ... cannot be dispelled simply with unsubstantiated promotional slogans on the supposed benefits of a thicker calendar for final tournaments,” UEFA said.
“The respect for a consultation process with the stakeholders — which should be unbiased — would suggest abstaining from promotional campaigns of unilaterally pre-determined concepts that nobody has been given the possibility to see in detail and which have wide-ranging, often unexpected, effects.”


PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says

PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says
Updated 22 September 2021

PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says

PIF first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, Al-Rumayyan says
  • The PIF has been given the mandate to develop nearly 70 percent of renewable projects in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will be the first sovereign wealth fund to issue green bonds, PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan said at an event organized by the Future Investment Initiative Institute on Tuesday.

The issuance is part of the fund’s plan of shifting toward green investments.

“The Kingdom aims to deploy 50 percent of its investments in renewable and sustainable power sources,” Al-Rumayyan said.

The PIF has been given the mandate to develop nearly 70 percent of renewable projects in Saudi Arabia through its portfolio companies, the organization’s chief said.

Utilities and renewables are among the 13 sectors identified by the fund as part of its Vision 2030 strategy.

Saudi Arabia has seen a surge of interest in initiatives related to environmental, social, and governance amid growing awareness among global investors about ESG risks.

Al-Rumayyan said PIF was working with BlackRock on the ESG framework.

“We’re working with many partners from all over the world, domestically and internationally, to have better ESG compliance (in) all the things that we do,” Al-Rumayyan said.

One of the companies PIF owns, the Red Sea Development Co. which is building a new beach resort in the kingdom, secured a $3.8 billion green loan earlier this year for new hotels powered by renewable energy.

Saudi Arabia will announce its “Green Initiative” next month, followed by the “Middle East Initiative,” which includes planting 50 billion trees, Al-Rumayyan said.

“We have long-term views. We don’t want to exploit all of our resources overnight,” he said.

The PIF governor said Saudi oil has the lowest emission in the world. “Our oil is the best when it comes to emission,” Al-Rumayyan added.

Saudi Arabia is now more interested to invest in lower impacting energies toward the environment.

“We are one of the most efficient when it comes to sustainability and renewable energy. So today, as I said, our solar power production is costing us only 1.2 cents per kWh versus some other pretty restrictions, it’s over $0.15,” Al-Rumayyan said.


Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters

Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters
Updated 22 September 2021

Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters

Stocks rebound as Evergrande jitters ease: Reuters

U.S. and European stocks churned higher on Wednesday as market jitters around property developer China Evergrande eased, while the dollar index edged lower ahead of a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, Reuters has reported.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.62 percent, bouncing back for a second day after it logged its biggest one-day percentage drop in two months on Monday.

Wall Street's main indexes moved higher in early Wednesday trade following solid gains for markets in Europe.

China Evergrande agreed to settle interest payments on a domestic bond, while the Chinese central bank injected cash into the banking system, soothing investors' fears of imminent contagion from the debt-laden property developer that had pressured equities and other riskier assets at the start of the week.

"Right or wrong, people I think are starting to show signs that they think maybe this pullback has reached its worst point," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas. "It wasn't entirely the Evergrande situation, but it seems like that was one of the biggest pieces of it."

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 361.36 points, or 1.07 percent, to 34,281.2, the S&P 500 gained 37.02 points, or 0.85 percent, to 4,391.21 and the Nasdaq Composite added 88.66 points, or 0.6 percent, to 14,835.06.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.93 percent, with bank stocks surging.

With a number of central banks around the world meeting this week, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) offered a bleaker view on exports and output as Asian factory shutdowns caused supply bottlenecks, but maintained its optimism that robust global growth would keep the economic recovery on track. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda also brushed aside fears that the debt problems of Evergrande could disrupt the global financial system.

Investors were closely watching the Fed, with the U.S. central bank expected to clear the way on Wednesday for reductions to its monthly asset purchases later this year.

The dollar index fell 0.102 percent, with the euro up 0.16 percent to $1.1742. The Japanese yen weakened 0.32 percent versus the greenback at 109.56 per dollar.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 1.3209 percent, from 1.324 percent late on Tuesday.

Oil prices climbed after industry data showed U.S. crude stocks fell more than expected last week after two hurricanes, highlighting tight supply as demand improves.

U.S. crude rose 1.93 percent to $71.85 per barrel and Brent was at $75.77, up 1.9 perncet on the day.

Spot gold dropped 0.1 percent to $1,773.31 an ounce, after three sessions of gains.