Global Review – 2nd October

129 dead in Indonesia post-football match clashes

At least 129 people died and another 180 mere injuted at a football stadium in Indonesia when fans invaded the pitch and police responded with tear gas, triggering a stampede, authorities said Sunday. Arema FC supporters at the Kanjuruhan stadium in the eastern city of Malang, in the province of East Java, stormed the pitch late on Saturday after their team lost 3-2 to Persebaya Surabaya – the first loss in more than two decades to their bitter rival. Police, who characterised the unrest as “riots”, tried to persuade fans to return to the stands and fired tear gas after two officers were killed. FIFA, the world’s governing football body, states that no “crowd control gas” should be carried or used by stewards or police at matches.

Many of the victims were trampled to death, according to police. “129 people died in the clashes, including two officers,” explained East Java police police chief Nico Afinta, adding that 34 people died inside the stadium while the others in hospital”. Images captured from inside the stadium during the stampeded showed huge amounts of tear gas and people clambering over fences. People were carrying injured spectators through the chaos. Torched vehicles, including a police truck, littered the streets outside the stadium on Sunday morning.

The Indonesian government apologised for the incident and promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding the stampede. “We’re sorry for this incident… this is a regrettable incident that ‘injures’ our football at a time when supporters can watch football matches from the stadium,” Indonesian Sports and Youth Minister Zainudin Amali told broadcaster Kompas. The Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) suspended football matches for one week, banned Arema FC from hosting home games for the rest of the season and said it would send an investigation team to Malang to establish the cause of the crush. “We’re sorry and apologise to families of the victims and all parties over the incident,” PSSI chairman Mochamad Iriawan said. Fan violence is a problem in Indonesia, where deep rivalries have preciously turn into deadly confrontations. For some away matches,  players from top teams have to travel to away games under heavy protection.

‘Voters abandon Tories’

“Voters abandon Tories as faith in economic competence dives” is the headline leading ‘The Observer’. According to a poll for the paper, three-quarters of UK voters, including 71% of those who supported the Conservatives in the 2019 general election, believe the prime minister and chancellor have lost control of the economy. Labour has also extended its lead by 14 percentage points in the past week, according to the survey by Opinium. In further grim news for the government, Liz Truss’s ratings are lower than Boris Johnson’s were at the height of the Partygate scandal, the paper adds. Yet the prime minister appears defiant on the front of ‘The Sunday Telegraph’. Defending last month’s mini-budget, Truss tells the paper that “tough decisions” are required to boost growth, adding that voters are more concerned with education and jobs than with polls. The PM wants to cut red tape for businesses, the paper reports, and plans to combat what she calls Britain’s “lack of dynamism”. Her comments come ahead of the Conservative Party conference, starting today.

Latvia: Exit polls put PM’s New Unity party ahead

Exit polls show the centre-right New Unity Party of Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš was set to win Saturday’s general election, overshadowed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising energy costs. Kariņš is given 22.5% of the vote, ahead of the United List (Greens and regional parties, 11.5%) and the Greens and Farmers (centre-right, 10.9%). This should strengthen Kariņš’ chances of being asked to form a new government when the new parliament starts functioning in early November. If confirmed, the result should mean Latvia remains a leading voice alongside its Baltic neighbours Lithuania and Estonia in pushing the European Union for a decisive stance against Russia.

Close encounter for the Brazilians

Brazilians are heading to the polls Sunday in an election which could see one of the world’s most populous democracies switch from a far-right to a left-wing leader. Voting is compulsory for the more than 156 million Brazilians eligible. Incumbent Jair Bolsonaro is seeking a second term after four years in power but is being challenged by ex-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Opinion polls have consistently shown Lula in the lead and there is a small chance he could win the presidency in the first round. However, many Bolsonaro supporters remain confident of victory and the president himself believes he can win outright in the first round.

Meloni sets her government’s objectives

Fratelli d’Italia leader Giorgia Meloni has declared that the objective of her government would be “not to disturb those who produce”. She told the Coldiretti Village in Milan, “The wealth is made by workers and businesses, the state must enable them to produce it.” She promised: “If we are called to govern this nation, it is immediately clear that we plan to give effective and immediate answers to the main problems. Italy must return to the defence of its interests to find common solutions.” Meanwhile, Meloni met Silvio Berlusconi and the two leaders had a meeting “in a climate of great collaboration and unity of purpose”, the two parties reported. They also examined the most urgent dossiers on the agenda, starting with expensive energy.

Russia’s humiliating withdrawal from Lyman

A day after Russia annexed four Ukraine provinces, its troops have been forced to withdraw from a strategic occupied city for its operations in the east. Russia says its retreat from the town of Lyman – which has served for months as a logistics and transport hub – was to avoid being surrounded by Ukraine’s army. The Ukrainian military has said its capture would allow Kyiv to advance into the Luhansk region, whose full capture Moscow announced at the beginning of July after weeks of slow, grinding advances. “Lyman is important because it is the next step towards the liberation of the Ukrainian Donbas,” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern forces, said. Manwhile, as Russia abandoned the Lyman bastion, one of Mr Putin’s most hawkish allies –  Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the southern Chechnya region – said it was time for a nuclear response. Washington said it would respond decisively to any use of nuclear weapons and has spelled out to Moscow the “catastrophic consequences” it would face.

13 children, pregnant woman killed in Kharkiv

The toll of the Russian attack against a convoy of Ukrainian civilians fleeing the eastern region of Kharkiv has risen to 24, including 13 children and a pregnant woman, according to Governor Oleg Synegubov. “Such are the dire consequences of the bombing of a convoy of seven cars by the occupiers between the villages of Kurylivka and Pishchane, in the Kupyansk district. The Russians fired on civilians at almost close range,” the governor said.

64 dead as Hurricane Ian hit Florida

The number of victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida has risen from 45 to at least 64,  CNN reports, quoting local authorities. Hurricane Ian, weakened and now declassified as a post-tropical cyclone, continues its run in North Carolina (where Joe Biden approved a state of emergency) and Virginia, after causing the worst devastation in Florida and South Carolina. Overall, 1.7 million people are still without electricity in these four states.

Venezuela frees Americans in swap for Maduro wife’s nephews

US President Joe Biden took the “painful decision” of greenlighting a prisoner swap Saturday with Caracas that freed seven Americans for two Venezuelans who are nephews of that country’s first lady, a US official said. The two governments, which have endured strained relations for years, announced the exchange in nearly simultaneous twin statements.

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