Juan Guaidó, who is recognised as interim president of Venezuela by many democracies, appeared outside an air-force base in Caracas and urged the armed forces to overthrow the socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. Leopoldo López, an opposition figure kept under house arrest by the regime, appeared with Mr Guaidó after being freed by security personnel. America reiterated its support for Mr Guaidó. Backed by Russia and Cuba, Mr Maduro said he had defeated an attempted coup. Amid more protests, Mr Guaidó called for strikes to topple the government. See article.
Unions staged a national strike in Argentina to protest against the austerity policies of Mauricio Macri, the president. Mr Macri’s popularity has taken a dive of late, and he is up for re-election in October. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a spendthrift populist ex-president, could unseat him, a prospect that scares investors. See article.
China sentenced a Canadian citizen to death for drug-trafficking. It is the second time this year a Canadian has received a death sentence in China. Some observers think this is in reprisal for Canada arresting the finance director of Huawei, a Chinese telecoms-equipment company.
Reports of my death…
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, appeared in a video for the first time since proclaiming the creation of a caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria five years ago. (He has been heard in audio recordings since then.) In the new video Mr Baghdadi notes his group’s defeat at Baghuz, its last stronghold in Syria, but vows to fight on. See article.
The White House said it was working towards designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation. The decision would bring sanctions on what was once the world’s pre-eminent Islamist movement. Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who toppled a Brotherhood-led government in 2013, reportedly requested the move.
The IMF said Iran’s GDP would contract by 6% this year, caused in large part by American sanctions on Iranian oil exports. Annual inflation could reach 37%, the fund warned. The crisis is fuelling popular discontent with the government and ruling clerics. See article.
The African Union extended a deadline imposed on coup leaders in Sudan to hand power to a civilian administration. The military junta was initially given 15 days. This has been extended by another 60 days.
The limits to friendship
China dropped its objection to a proposal in the UN to list Masood Azhar, the leader of a Pakistani jihadist group, as a terrorist. This allowed the UN to declare sanctions on Mr Azhar, including the freezing of his assets and a travel ban. His group, Jaish-e-Muhammad, claimed responsibility for a suicide-bombing that killed 40 soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir in February. China had previously opposed such sanctions, apparently in deference to Pakistan, a close ally.
Akihito, the emperor of Japan, abdicated. He was succeeded by his son, Naruhito. Akihito won acclaim during his 30-year reign for apologising for Japan’s misdeeds in the second world war. See article.
The Indonesian government declared its intention to move its capital. Jakarta, with a population of 30m, is congested and polluted. Although a new location has not yet been chosen, Palangkaraya, a city of 260,000 in the Indonesian part of Borneo, is being considered. See article.
Riots engulfed Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands, after parliament picked Manasseh Sogavare to serve a fourth non-consecutive term as prime minister. An opponent had secured a court order delaying the vote, but the governor-general ignored it. See article.
Done, but not dusted
William Barr, America’s attorney-general, was grilled in Congress over his handling of the publication of the Mueller report. Mr Barr issued a summary of the report before its full publication, but two letters emerged this week from Robert Mueller criticising that summary for its lack of context.
A gunman opened fire at a synagogue near San Diego, killing a woman. The 19-year-old suspect had posted an anti-Semitic diatribe online shortly beforehand. The Anti-Defamation League recorded a big increase in the harassment of, and assaults on, Jews in America last year.
Joe Biden said he would seek the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. He went to Pennsylvania, where he touted his working-class credentials and played down the kind of identity politics that his rivals espouse. The 76-year-old former vice-president is leading the polls at this early stage. See article.
A court ruled that Michigan’s congressional districts had been drawn by the state legislature to favour Republicans and ordered that they be redrawn in time for the 2020 election. Several courts have ruled that partisan gerrymandering can be unconstitutional.
That elusive winning line
Spain’s ruling Socialist Party won the most seats in a general election, though it is still well short of a majority. Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, may try to continue in office as head of a minority government, or cobble together a coalition. There are obstacles to reaching a deal with either Podemos or Ciudadanos, two possible partners. Vox, a nationalist party, entered parliament for the first time. See article.
The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, made new promises after long talks with voters. They included tax cuts, tax exemptions for bonuses and a commitment to close the elite civil-service college, ENA. The gilets jaunes protesters seemed unmollified. More than 200 arrests were made in Paris during riots on May Day. See article.
Julian Assange was sentenced by a British court to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail in 2012, when he took refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Mr Assange still faces extradition to America, where he has been charged in relation to the leak of a trove of classified documents by WikiLeaks, which he founded.
Gavin Williamson was sacked as Britain’s defence secretary for leaking information from a national-security meeting that had discussed allowing Huawei to build 5G networks. Theresa May, the prime minister, dismissed him after a speedy inquiry. Mr Williamson denies the allegation and complains of a “kangaroo court”. The new defence secretary is Penny Mordaunt, who wrongly claimed during the Brexit campaign that as an EU member Britain would have no veto if Turkey tried to join the European Union. See article.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”