Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) has conceded defeat in a presidential election held Saturday that is set to bring historic changes to one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies. In a speech hours after voting ended, KMT candidate Eric Chu apologized for failure and congratulated his opponent, Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). KMT’s nearly 70 year monopoly on power is end.
Tsai will become the island’s first female president, taking over for President Ma Ying-jeou, who had served eight years and was constitutionally barred from serving another term. Dealing with the island’s biggest trading partner, China, and helping strengthen a faltering economy and wage stagnation — particularly for young workers — are some of the challenges she will face.
The youth vote is expected to play a crucial role in the elections, not only for president, but in the legislature as well where the opposition DPP could win a majority for the first time ever. Results from Saturday’s legislative elections have yet to be announced.
China has not said much about the vote, but has said it will not work with any candidate who does not support the “one China” principle. Taiwan and China split following a civil war in 1949. But Beijing still regards it as a breakaway province that will someday be unified with the mainland. VOA News
International sanctions against Iran are to be lifted today, the country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has said. Mr Zarif is in Vienna for talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry over Iran’s nuclear deal.
The international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is expected to confirm that Iran has scaled back its atomic activities in line with the agreement. Lifting sanctions would unfreeze billions of dollars of assets and allow Iranian oil to be sold internationally.
The State Department said all parties had “continued making steady progress” towards implementing the deal, adding it would ensure the “exclusively peaceful nature” of Iran’s program.
As part of the deal, Iran had to drastically reduce its number of centrifuges and dismantle a heavy-water reactor near the town of Arak, both of which could be used in creating nuclear weapons. Iran has always maintained its program is peaceful.
The July 2015 agreement was seen by some as a foreign policy landmark – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the deal “historic”. But opponents remain, such as some US Republicans who say it does not do enough to ensure Iran cannot develop a bomb. BBC
Al Qaeda sieges hotel in Burkina Faso
At least 20 people are believed to have been killed in the attack on Ouagadougou’s Splendid Hotel which began late on Friday.
Security forces retake the hotel on Saturday, killing three Islamist gunmen and freeing 126 hostages, the West African nation’s security minister said. He said operations were still under way at a second hotel nearby, the Hotel Yibi, and security forces were trying to determine if some of the fighters were hiding there. “Three jihadists were killed. They are an Arab and two black Africans.”
Burkina Faso’s new government, which was appointed on Wednesday following the election of President Roch Marc Kabore in November, was due to hold an emergency cabinet meeting.
The Splendid Hotel is popular with Westerners and French soldiers based in Burkina Faso. A doctor who treated some of those wounded in the attack said they had told him that the attackers appeared to target Westerners. However, the nationalities of those killed in the assault were not immediately known.
Mexican chain Chipotle will close its over 19,000 restaurants nationwide on Feb. 8 for a few hours for a company-wide food safety meeting. The move comes after the company was forced to shut down clusters of restaurants after outbreaks of E.coli, Salmonella, and norovius sickened customers.
The meeting will give employees an opportunity to discuss changes and ask questions, Chipotle said. In the wake of the infections, Chipotle’s stock has plummeted 42 percent; a new marketing campaign is reportedly planned for February. The Week
Stocks tumbled around the world, with U.S. equities sinking to their lowest levels since August, and bonds and gold jumped as oil’s plunge below $30 sent markets reeling. Treasuries extended gains as economic data and earnings added to concern that global growth is faltering.
Crude’s drop to a 12-year low $29.28 is sending shock waves around the world at the same time concern is mounting that China’s policy interventions will fall short of stoking growth in the world’s second-largest economy. Figures on retail sales and manufacturing Friday showed the U.S. economy ended the year on a weak note, and the start of 2016 wasn’t any better.
Energy firms are laying off workers and currency markets from commodity-producing countries are in turmoil. The slump is also denting the outlook for inflation, causing traders to curb bets on how far the Fed will raise rates this year. Bloomberg business
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