Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim won a vote of confidence on December 19, weeks after being appointed as chief executive by the country’s king. Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof had moved the motion which was passed through a voice vote after at least two hours of debate. The voice vote is a testimony that 148 or 2/3 of 222 MPs support Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister. Anwar needed at least 112 votes. Johari Abdul was elected the new speaker of the parliament, locally known as Dewan Rakyat, replacing Azhar Azizan Harun. Johari’s name was proposed by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim which was supported by deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. A reformist leader, Anwar, 75, is leading the unity government, formed among his Alliance of Hope or Pakatan Harapan (PH), National Front, or Barisan Nasional (BN) and Sarawak Parties Alliance or Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS). Malaysia held its 15th general elections on Nov. 19 which threw up a hung parliament of 222 seats. PH was leading with 82 seats. Anwar announced his Cabinet of 27 members, including two deputy prime ministers – Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of the BN and Fadillah Yusof of the GPS.


Libyan authorities exhumed two bodies from a new mass grave south of the capital Tripoli on December 19. In a statement, the General Authority for Research and Identification of Missing Persons said the two unidentified bodies were found in a grave in the town of Sog Al-Khamies, nearly 50 kilometers south of Tripoli. The town was under the control of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar before he was defeated by Libyan government forces in June 2020, and was consequently forced to retract to his stronghold in Benghazi city in eastern Libya. Discoveries of mass graves are common in war-torn Libya, especially in Tarhuna city, a former stronghold for Haftar. According to Libyan official sources, Haftar’s forces and affiliated militias committed war crimes and acts of genocide in the period between April 2019 and June 2020.


The Houthi group called on Egypt to distance itself from the ongoing struggle for power in Yemen which has been ongoing for eight years, vowing to inflict pain on those who hurt Yemen. Commenting on Egypt’s assumption of command of international missions in the Red Sea, Hussein Al-Ezzi, deputy foreign minister in the National Salvation Government formed by the Houthis, said via Twitter: “I hope that beloved Egypt will distance itself from any hostile actions against Sanaa.” He added, “Frankly, we love Egypt and do not want it to be harmed, but we also will not accept turning our water into wasted water or an open platform to harm the interests of our people.” Al-Ezzi, who is the head of the Houthi political bureau and foreign relations of the Houthis, directed an indirect threat to Egypt, saying: “We deeply respect everyone who respects Yemen, and we are very keen to hurt only those who hurt Yemen.”


Less than one per cent of soldiers accused of harming Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are ever charged with crimes, according to a report by an Israeli rights group. The data shows that Israel has a “complete disregard for Palestinians’ lives and encourages the continued use of the deadly trigger-happy policy that has claimed so many Palestinian lives,” said Israeli rights group Yesh Din. The report comes as a spike in Israeli violence in the occupied West Bank, as well as a resurgence of Palestinian armed resistance, has resulted in one of the deadliest years on record for Palestinians since 2005. Since January, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces has risen to 218, including 52 in the Gaza Strip and 166 in the West Bank. Meanwhile, 29 Israelis, including soldiers, have been killed by Palestinians in the same period, the highest number since 2008. The report, compiled from military data obtained by Yesh Din, found that between 2017 and 2021, the Israeli army received 1,260 cases of alleged offences by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians.


Violent clashes between Arab and non-Arab groups have left at least seven dead and more than a dozen wounded in Sudan’s Darfur region, the country’s state media reported on December 24. The clashes erupted on December 21, 20km from the South Darfur state capital Nyala, but the casualty numbers only emerged this weekend. According to witnesses, the violence pitted Arab herders against farmers from the Daju minority and other non-Arab ethnic groups. Another Sudanese media outlet put the number of dead as high as 12. “A group of herders riding camels and vehicles attacked the village of Amuri on December 23, leaving the site burnt and four people killed,” the official SUNA news agency said, adding that two people were killed between December 21 and December 22. According to local media sources, as many as nine villages may have been burnt down and their residents displaced. At least 20 people were treated at Nyala hospital for bullet wounds.


Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the latest situation in the Lachin district in Karabakh. According to a statement, the phone talk was held on December 23 at the initiative of the French leader, who wanted to speak about relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the situation on the road leading to the city of Khankendi through the Lachin district of Azerbaijan. Aliyev emphasised that nothing hinders the use of the road for civil and humanitarian purposes and that the passage of medical vehicles is ensured through the local office of the International Committee of the Red Cross. “The main demand of the civil society representatives is to stop the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits and to ensure environmental monitoring activities in the territory,” the statement noted.


Qatar has estimated that it will make $17 billion in revenue after hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar News Agency (QNA) has reported. With 1.2 million visitors and the sale of three million tickets for matches, the immediate revenue will be linked directly to visitor spending. No host country has ever taken such a huge income from hosting the tournament. Added to the direct financial revenue from organising the World Cup, estimated at about 8 billion riyals ($2.2bn), is the long-term economic boost from now until 2025 estimated at another 9.9 billion riyals ($2.7bn) along with an increase in tourism revenue. The aviation and hospitality sectors are among the biggest beneficiaries from Qatar hosting the prominent sporting event. It is believed that Qatar’s economy will grow by 3.4 per cent in 2022 and 2023, thanks to the momentum of the World Cup.


Sharing his experience over having nonuplet, the husband of Halima Cisse, a young woman from Mali’s Timbuktu, said initially the couple thought they were having seven babies but it is during the surgery, they realised they were having nine babies. ‘Started with 7 and Allah blessed us 9,” said Cisse’s husband while thanking God for blessing them with nonuplet. Guinness World Records recently shared a post about the record created by Cisse by giving birth to nine babies, including five girls and four boys, in a single delivery.

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