Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: The African Union struck a deal to obtain 400 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for the continent with the Serum Institute of India.
  • AMERICAS: Mexico’s coronavirus death toll surpassed that of India’s and is now the third largest globally.
  • ASIA: The Taliban rejected US accusations that it had not lived up to its promises in Afghanistan and instead accused Washington of “bombarding civilians”.
  • EUROPE: The European Commission published a redacted version of its contract with AstraZeneca, as it seeks to prove its claims in the row between the two over coronavirus vaccine supplies.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country will not accept US demands to reverse an acceleration of its nuclear program before the US lifts its sanctions.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: Pakistan’s government appealed the Supreme Court’s decision to release an Islamist convicted of kidnapping and beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl, after the US expressed “deep concerns” over the ruling.

Top Story

  • Global: China derecognizes British National Overseas passport after UK launches new visa scheme for Hong Kong citizens.
    • The British government has launched a scheme that will allow millions of Hongkongers with overseas British National status to move to and settle in the country.
    • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the new scheme, saying he was “immensely proud” of it.
    • The UK is launching the scheme after it accused China of breaching the terms of a 1997 Hong Kong handover agreement with its introduction of new national security laws the UK says are aimed at silencing dissent in Hong Kong.
    • In response to the launch of the British visa scheme, China said it will no longer recognize the British National Overseas passport as a valid travel document or form of identification, in a move which adds uncertainty to the new British plan.
    • The Chinese Foreign Ministry said, “The British side’s attempt to turn a large number of Hong Kong people into second-class British citizens has completely changed the nature of the two sides’ original understanding of BNO,” adding that the scheme “seriously infringes on China’s sovereignty”.
    • Reporting: Guardian, AFP, NYT, AP, Reuters

Africa

  • Region: Zambia and Ethiopia are reportedly set to follow Chad in seeking a debt restructuring under a new G20 common framework. (Reuters)
  • Region: The African Union struck a deal to obtain 400 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for the continent with the Serum Institute of India. (BBC)
  • Central African Republic: The UN said that more than 200,000 people have been displaced by the recent election-based violence within the country. (AFP)
  • DR Congo: Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba accepted Parliament’s vote of no confidence in his government, paving the way for President Felix Tshisekedi to appoint his loyalists to key ministries. (Reuters)
  • Morocco: Dissident writer and rights activist Maati Mounjib was sentenced to one year in prison on charges of endangering internal state security and fraud, in a case which has been denounced by rights groups. (Reuters)

Americas

  • Region: The new Joe Biden administration will review US policy on Cuba, the White House said. (Reuters)
  • Region: The first batches of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine arrived in Bolivia, as Moscow also delivered a larger shipment of the vaccine to Argentina. (Reuters)
  • Colombia: A special tribunal accused eight former rebel commanders of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their practice of kidnapping people during the country’s decades-old civil conflict. (WSJ)
  • Mexico: The country’s coronavirus death toll surpassed that of India’s and is now the third largest globally. (NYT)
  • United States: President Joe Biden named Middle East expert and former Obama administration official Robert Malley as his special envoy for Iran. (NYT)

Asia  

  • Afghanistan: The Taliban rejected US accusations that it had not lived up to its promises and instead accused Washington of “bombarding civilians”. (AFP)
  • Bangladesh: Authorities sent a third group of Rohingya refugees to the remote Bhasan Char island. (AP)
  • China: Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan activist who was imprisoned for “inciting separatism” by appearing in a New York Times documentary, was released from jail. (AFP)
  • Myanmar: Newly elected members of parliament are set to take up their seats amid worries of a potential military coup in the aftermath of an election the army says was fraudulent. (Reuters)

Europe

  • Region: The European Commission published a redacted version of its contract with AstraZeneca, as it seeks to prove its claims in the row between the two over coronavirus vaccine supplies. (BBC)
  • Germany: The country’s vaccine regulatory authority said it expects the EU to approve AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine without any age restrictions. (Reuters)
  • Russia: The country’s population shrank by around half a million last year, marking its first contraction in 15 years. (DPA)
  • United Kingdom: A new coronavirus vaccine being developed by US company Novavax showed an 89.3% efficacy rate in trials in the country. (BBC)

Middle East

  • Region: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “there are reasons to hope” for progress to be made in resolving the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict after years of inaction. (AP)
  • Iran: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country will not accept US demands to reverse an acceleration of its nuclear program before the US lifts its sanctions. (Reuters)
  • Iraq: Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi said the military had killed a man identified as the Islamic State’s “wali”, or governor, in the country. (AFP)
  • Lebanon: Protesters set a government building alight in the city of Tripoli on the fourth night of protests against strict coronavirus lockdown measures. (BBC)

Tech & Communications

  • Media: Pakistan’s government appealed the Supreme Court’s decision to release an Islamist convicted of kidnapping and beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl, after the US expressed “deep concerns” over the ruling. (Reuters)

World

  • Cyclones: Nothing to report.
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 29JAN21)
      • Confirmed cases: 101,536,128
      • Total recovered cases: 56,152,962
      • Deaths: 2,192,912
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 192
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (30JAN21)

  • Europe: The trilateral working group (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia) for the Nagorno-Karabakh region will hold a meeting.
  • Bangladesh: The government will send a fourth group of Rohingya refugees to the remote Bhasan Char island.
  • Russia: Supporters of detained opposition politician Alexei Navalny could hold another round of weekend protests.
  • Vietnam: The 13th National Congress of the country’s ruling Communist Party will be held. (to 02FEB)

END