Italy’s president, Sergio Mattarella, vetoed a proposed finance minister put forward by the Five Star Movement and the Northern League, populist movements of respectively the left and the right, who are trying to form a government. After a day of consternation on the markets, alternatives were being considered, including a technocratic government that will run Italy until a fresh election is held. See article.
Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s prime minister, faced a censure motion that might trigger early elections in the country. See article.
Voters in Ireland backed a change to the constitution to make abortion legal, by 66% to 34% in a referendum. After Ireland’s decision, the British government came under pressure to hold a referendum in Northern Ireland, where abortion remains illegal. A spokesman for Theresa May, whose majority in Parliament depends on support from Northern Ireland’s anti-abortion Unionists, said it was a “devolved matter”. See article.
London’s transport commissioner admitted that “super highways” for cyclists had expanded too rapidly, causing more congestion for cars and buses. But he also supported the safe spaces on roads, which have led to a big drop in cycling deaths in the city.
In a bizarre and opaque tale of deception and intrigue, a Russian journalist detested by the Kremlin faked his own murder in Ukraine. He later appeared at a press conference saying that the hoax had been planned to catch Russian agents. He apologised to his wife for the distress he caused.
Murdered in Mozambique
At least ten people, including several children, were beheaded in northern Mozambique. The attack was blamed on a group of jihadists. The group has conducted sporadic attacks in the country since 2015.
Zimbabwe will hold national elections on July 30th, the first since Robert Mugabe was deposed in a military coup last year. Members of the opposition say they have been prevented from campaigning in some areas and complain that Zimbabweans abroad, who are thought mainly to support the opposition, will not be allowed to vote.
Palestinian militants in Gaza fired dozens of mortar shells at Israel. Israeli aircraft struck back, hitting facilities belonging to militant groups, before a tenuous ceasefire took hold. It was the worst flare-up of cross-border fighting since 2014.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, called for the withdrawal of all non-Syrian forces along Syria’s southern border. Russia appeared to reach an agreement with Israel, which shares the border and has carried out attacks on Iranian-backed forces in Syria. See article.
The leaders of Libya’s various factions met in Paris and agreed to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in December. But they were in disagreement about big constitutional issues, such as the role of the armed forces, which they ambitiously hope to resolve by September.
The final two
Iván Duque, a conservative former senator, took 39% of the vote in the first round of Colombia’s presidential election and will face Gustavo Petro, the left’s candidate, who got 25%, in the second round on June 17th. Mr Duque is aligned with Álvaro Uribe, a former president and critic of the peace deal with FARC guerrillas. Mr Petro used to belong to a separate armed group.
A strike by lorry drivers in Brazil continued to affect fuel supplies across the country, bringing businesses to a standstill. The strike began as a protest against rising petrol prices, but thousands of Brazilians have supported the drivers by taking to the streets and blocking motorways to air a wide range of grievances. Brazil’s president, Michel Temer, warned that the army would be used to clear the highways if necessary. See article.
Venezuela released an American Mormon missionary and his wife from prison following talks with an American delegation led by Bob Corker, a senator from Tennessee. Joshua Holt was held without trial for two years for allegedly concealing weapons.
The on-off switch
Preparations continued for a summit in Singapore between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator. Mr Trump, who had called off the meeting because of the North’s “hostility”, tweeted that “we have put a great team together” for the talks. A senior North Korean official met Mike Pompeo, America’s secretary of state, in New York. Mr Kim held a meeting with Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president. See article.
The annual report on religious freedom issued by America’s State Department said that Myanmar’s bloody campaign against Rohingya Muslims still persists, and that the country’s government had also launched an offensive against Christian rebels in Kachin state. Separately, the report highlighted the treatment of hundreds of thousands of Uighur Muslims in China who have been sent to re-education camps, and criticised Saudi Arabia for its non-tolerance of religions other than Sunni Islam.
Burkina Faso became the latest country to break diplomatic ties with Taiwan. After a campaign by China to lure away Taiwan’s allies, only a handful of countries still recognise it.
The latest effort to find the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished from radar screens in 2014, came to an end. An American privately funded firm had deployed eight autonomous submarines scouring 86,000 square kilometres of the Indian Ocean’s floor. There are no more private or official searches planned, so there may never be an answer to what happened to the doomed plane.
Stand by your man
One of Donald Trump’s lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, said the president was ready to be interviewed by Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation into Russian influence. But stepping up criticism of the investigation, Mr Giuliani later said that before any interview was held, Team Trump would need to review documents relating to the FBI’s secretive use of an operative to gather information from Trump aides.
Eric Greitens resigned as the governor of Missouri. He was ensnared in a corruption scandal and faced lurid allegations from a former lover. He denies claims of wrongdoing, believing himself to be the victim of a political vendetta.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”