US Intelligence Whistleblower On the Run
The mystery surrounding the location of US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden grew on Monday as he failed to board a Havana-bound flight from Moscow. The intelligence leaker left Hong Kong bound for Moscow hours after the US asked local authorities to issue a warrant for his arrest. The local government later issued a statement saying the US had failed to “fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law”, letting him depart the territory. Snowden was widely expected to board a flight to Cuba after WikiLeaks, the whistleblowing group, said that he was “bound for the Republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks”. He failed to do so and some journalists, who had bought tickets to his flight in the expectation of talking to him, were left to tweet pictures of his empty seat. There were unconfirmed reports he would board the next Cuba-bound flight out of Russia on Monday night.
Nelson Mandela in Critical Condition, ‘At Peace with Himself’
Former South African President Nelson Mandela was in a critical condition in a hospital in Pretoria on Monday morning, according to South African President Jacob Zuma. Speaking at a press conference, Zuma said the doctors at the Pretoria hospital who were treating the former 94-year-old leader were doing their utmost to ensure he was “comfortable”, a notable change to previous updates where he had informed the press that all efforts were being made to ensure his recovery. The president’s spokesman, Mac Marahaj, told the BBC that “I think there is need to be sombre about the news. There is a need not to hold out false hopes but at the same time let’s keep him in our thoughts and let’s will him more strength”. Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe said that she believed he was “at peace”, but that the family had not yet let go of the former leader because he had not asked them to.
Emir of Qatar Announces Transfer of Power to 33-Year-Old Son
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is expected to announce that he will step down and transfer power to his 33 year-old son, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. The 61 year-old Sheikh, who is due to address the nation on Tuesday, has been in power since 1995 after deposing his father in a bloodless coup and was responsible for transforming the country into a major economy in the Middle East. Analysts predict that the transition will not lead to changes in the country’s foreign or domestic policies as the heir apparent is said to be close to his father and the prime minister.
Saudi Arabia Shifts Weekends to Boost Economy
A royal decree by Saudi King Abdullah has changed the country’s weekend from Thursday to Friday to Friday to Saturday. The move will come into effect on June 29 and is meant to help open up the economy of the world’s largest oil exporter and most populous country in the Gulf to foreign investors. The change will “put an end to the negative effects and the lost economic opportunities” associated from having different working days between national and international institutions, according to a statement from the national Saudi news agency SPA. The Saudi financial market will now have four days matching those of main global markets instead of three, facilitating trade. “We had only three days left to do business,” said Mutlaq al-Morished, chief financial officer of Saudi Basic Corp., the biggest petrochemicals company by market value in the world. “If you add in the time zones, like with US, we found ourselves with limited hours to do business in the week.” Saudi Arabia’s working week is now in line with that of the other five countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic union of Arab states bordering the Persian Gulf. Friday remains a holiday due to its status as a holy day set aside for communal prayer.