Bahrain has held parliamentary elections in an environment that human rights groups have described as political repression. The Manama regime has dissolved main opposition groups and cracked down on dissent. The restrictions have prompted calls by Bahrain’s top Shia cleric Sheikh Isa Qassem to boycott the elections. Rights groups say the ban on opposition candidates means the elections will bring no meaningful results. The London-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy has described the vote as a sham. But the government insists that the elections are democratic. A government spokesperson says nobody is penalized for choosing not to vote and the elections have seen more candidates than even before. The vote is held for the 40-member lower house of parliament. Members of the upper house are appointed by the king.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the world has failed Myanmar amid ongoing bloodshed in the country. Guterres also called on the junta to stop the country's unending nightmare and to get the democratic transition back on track. He made the remarks in a presser at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Myanmar was heavily discussed at the summit. The ASEAN has spoken of little progress on the five-point consensus agreed to last April. ASEAN leaders also issued a warning to Myanmar to make measurable progress on peace or risk being barred from the bloc’s meetings. Myanmar’s junta has slammed its exclusion from the summit as one-sided and malicious. Myanmar spiraled into a bloody conflict in 2020 when the military disputed the elections and ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government, killing thousands of people.
The Ukraine war goes on. That’s what the Ukrainian foreign minister has said a day after his country proclaimed victory in the southern city of Kherson following the withdrawal of Russian forces. In his address to the ASEAN summit in Cambodia, Dmytro Kuleba said Ukrainian forces are winning battles on the ground. He added, Kiev will continue to count on the West’s military support by the time Russia keeps bringing more weapons and mobilizing drafts to Ukraine. On Friday, Moscow said it had pulled out troops of the entire pocket it held on the west bank of the Dnipro River, including the city of Kherson. Ukrainian forces have now entered the city, months after it fell to Russia. Moscow annexed Kherson in September, and says the city’s status remains unchanged even after the troop pullout.