Indian fighter jets bombed what they said was a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, in retaliation for a suicide-bombing in India which killed 40 paramilitary police. Pakistan responded by sending warplanes to strike at targets in India. In the aerial battle that followed, both countries claimed to have shot down some of the other’s fighters. Pakistan captured an Indian pilot. The fighting is the worst since 1999, and marks the first time since the two countries acquired nuclear weapons that they have conducted bombing raids against one another. See article.
Donald Trump walked away from his summit with Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator, in Vietnam. The talks broke down when the North Koreans pushed for all sanctions to be lifted in exchange for dismantling Yongbyon, an old nuclear facility. America wants the North to reveal where all its nuclear weapons are stored, as a prelude to dismantling them. See article.
Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, testified against his former boss before Congress. He accused the president of being a “racist”, and a “cheat”, as well as a “con man” for suppressing the publication of his high-school and college grades. Mr Cohen has already pleaded guilty to several charges, some of which are related to his work for Mr Trump. The White House said no one should trust the testimony of a “disgraced felon”. See article.
Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle came out on top in Chicago’s mayoral election and will advance to the run-off on April 2nd. The city will now get its first black female mayor, and if Ms Lightfoot wins, also the first gay person to hold the office. William Daley, a scion of Chicago’s most famous political dynasty, came third. See article.
On the brink
Venezuela’s dictatorship blocked deliveries of aid, which it sees as a foreign attempt to undermine it. Police, national guardsmen and paramilitary groups drove back lorries carrying food and medical supplies, and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse people who were trying to escort the aid. Some live bullets were fired, too. Around 300 people were injured and four were killed. Hundreds of Venezuelan soldiers and police deserted. Some of their families were reportedly tortured or raped to discourage further defections. At a meeting attended by Mike Pence, the American vice-president, ten members of the Lima Group of mostly Latin American countries repeated their support for Juan Guaidó, who is recognised as Venezuela’s interim president by Venezuela’s legislature and by most western democracies. But they ruled out military intervention to topple the regime led by Nicolás Maduro. See article.
In a referendum 87% of participants approved a new constitution for Cuba, which will legalise private property, subject to restrictions by the state, and limit the president to two five-year terms.
Brazil’s education minister asked all schools to film their pupils singing the national anthem and to send the films to the government. He also asked schools to read out a message that ends “Brazil above all. God above everyone”. That was the campaign slogan of the country’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro. The minister later admitted that asking schools to read the slogan was a mistake.
Theresa May, Britain’s prime minister, conceded some ground to Parliament over Brexit. As well as voting on her revised withdrawal agreement with the European Union, MPs will also have an option to take “no deal” off the table if her plan is rejected. If MPs reject no-deal, they will then vote on whether to ask for an extension past March 29th, which is when Britain is due to leave the EU. Labour also made a significant shift when its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said it would back a second referendum. See article.
Poland’s government announced a package of tax cuts and spending, including a bonus for pensioners and hefty handouts to parents. The package could cost as much as 2% of GDP. The ruling party faces a tough election this year. See article.
EU leaders visited Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt to meet leaders of Arab League countries and ask for help in keeping refugees out of Europe. The atrocious human-rights records of some participants were barely mentioned.
In the face of huge protests against his dictatorship, President Omar al-Bashir declared a state of emergency in Sudan, dissolving the federal government and replacing all state governors with military and security men. He is still far from secure. Despite a ban on unauthorised gatherings, the protests continued. See article.
In a surprise move Muhammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, publicly offered to resign. The move laid bare the struggle for control of Iran’s foreign policy between pragmatists, such as Mr Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani, and hardliners. Mr Rouhani rejected the resignation. See article.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia named Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan ambassador to America, the first time a woman has been named to such a post.
Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected president of Nigeria. At least 39 people were killed in election-related attacks—fewer than during previous ballots. The opposition claims that the vote was rigged, but observers seem to think it was clean enough. See article.
Tens of thousands of Algerians protested against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s decision to run for a fifth term. The octogenarian leader has made few public appearances since 2013. Most Algerians expect the vote on April 18th to be fixed by the cabal of power brokers who run the country.
Three funeral providers in South Africa said they would sue a pastor after they were “tricked” into taking part in a service in which a man was supposedly raised from the dead. A video that went viral shows the man sitting up in his coffin with a startled look on his face. Social-media users were not convinced. Many posted images implying how easy it is to pretend to be dead, and then wake up.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”