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European Parliament to punish Hungary for erosion of democracy

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The European Parliament on Wednesday voted to punish Hungary for cracking down on democratic institutions, setting off a process that could ultimately lead to the suspension of the country’s voting rights in the European Union.

It is the first time that the parliament has launched the EU disciplinary process against a member state, known as Article 7, and it exposes the deep unease in parts of Europe about the policies pursued by Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orbán.

The vote comes nine months after the European Commission used its power to launch the same process against Poland. The rarely invoked process is designed to prevent member states from breaching the EU’s “core values.”

Wednesday’s vote in Strasbourg, France, followed a report from Dutch Green member of the European Parliament Judith Sargentini that raised concerns about Hungary’s erosion of democracy in recent years, including crackdowns on migrants, the media and academic institutions.

The vote was passed 448-197 with 48 abstentions, giving it the crucial two-thirds majority needed.

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But in a text message sent to CNN, Hungary’s government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs called the results into question, “Clearly: less than two-thirds voted yes under the treaty. Pro-migration political representatives are so desperate to punish us for our stance that they even violate the rule of law.”

“The whol(e) procedure is not simply a witch hunt and shameful for the EP(P) — but a FRAUD,” he added.

Musings From Abroad

Russian state company, Malian junta negotiate nuclear deal

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According to Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear business and the ruling military junta in Mali have signed three cooperation agreements and discussed several projects, including the construction of a low-power nuclear power plant with Russian design, on Wednesday.

For years, Rosatom has been pursuing a charm offensive in Africa in an attempt to secure business through the signing of cooperation agreements with nations all over the continent. As part of that effort, closer ties have been made with juntas in the Sahel region of West Africa, who have retreated from conventional Western allies after seizing power in coups before 2020.

Junta-led administrations in the West African states of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger Republic, and Mali have all tilted towards Russia for military ties, severing relations with former colony France and its international ally, the United States.

In a statement, Rosatom claimed that it had met with Assimi Goita, the head of Mali’s junta, on July 2 and 3. It has talks with junta authorities in charge of energy, education, and economics.

The statement added that in addition to talking about a “strategic project to build a Russian-designed low-power nuclear power plant in Mali,” junta leaders and Rosatom also discussed geological exploration projects and solar power generating.

Regarding the projected low-power nuclear power station that might be constructed in Mali, Rosatom withheld information.

“The parties agreed to continue maintaining close contacts and periodically coordinate positions as joint work progresses,” it said.

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Musings From Abroad

UN review shows Uganda supported the M23 rebels in the Congo

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According to a United Nations report released on Monday, the Ugandan army has assisted the M23 rebel group that is active in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This comes as growing hostilities in the area heighten concerns about the possibility of a new all-out war. Uganda denied involvement and stated that it worked closely with the government forces in the Congo.

Long-standing accusations by the United Nations that Rwanda supports the M23, which has taken control of significant areas of the mineral-rich eastern Congo, have been refuted by Rwanda.

The conflict has torn through the Congo for many years. In 1996 and 1998, Uganda and Rwanda launched invasions under the pretext of defending themselves against regional militias. Uganda and Congolese forces continue to work together to combat a rebel group in Uganda.

Since 2022, the Tutsi-led M23 rebels have been fighting a new insurgency in the militia-ridden east of Congo. A regional force sent in November 2022 to oversee a truce with the M23 included Ugandan soldiers. Last year, Congolese officials demanded that the military leave their country, citing its inefficiency.

“Since the resurgence of the M23 crisis, Uganda has not prevented the presence of M23 and Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) troops on its territory or passage through it,” the U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts said in the report, which was sent to the U.N. Security Council Sanctions Committee at the end of April and then to members of the Security Council in June.

The UN panel added that it had proof of active military and military intelligence backing for M23, with M23 leaders—including the banned Sultani Makenga—visiting Uganda for meetings.

When contacted by Reuters, Deo Akiiki, the deputy spokesman for Uganda’s armed forces, stated that these accusations were untrue and unfairly blamed the army of the East African nation during its most favourable relationship with the Congolese troops (FARDC).

“It would be mad for us to destabilise the same area we are sacrificing it all to have it stable,” Akiiki said.

 

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