Malians head to the polls despite coronavirus fears
BAMAKO • Mali held its long-delayed parliamentary election yesterday despite an insurgency in its central and northern regions, and concerns about the coronavirus.
The election to select 147 lawmakers for the national assembly, originally scheduled for 2018, had been postponed twice due to intensifying violence in parts of Mali where the government struggles to suppress extremist groups.
The coronavirus pandemic has posed a further threat to the vote. Mali has 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Turnout in the capital Bamako appeared low yesterday.
A second round of polling is scheduled for April 19 in constituencies where no candidate wins a majority.
Russian oil giant Rosneft pulls out of Venezuela
MOSCOW • Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, said last Saturday it had terminated operations in Venezuela and sold assets linked to its operations to an unnamed firm owned by the Russian government.
The impact on Rosneft's upstream joint ventures with Venezuelan state oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) was not immediately clear.
The US has upped the pressure on President Nicolas Maduro's government, including imposing sanctions on two Swiss-based Rosneft units that the US said provided PDVSA a lifeline by acting as intermediaries for its crude. The ownership change means any future US sanctions on Russian-controlled oil operations in Venezuela would target the Russian government directly.
US tornado injures six, damages buildings
JONESBORO • A tornado struck Jonesboro, Arkansas, in the US last Saturday evening, injuring at least six people and damaging a mall, local businesses and an airport, according to the authorities.
City Mayor Harold Perrin said the six people had minor injuries, but warned that the tally could increase as the authorities searched damaged buildings.
The tornado cut a swathe from the southern part of the city to the northern part, damaging The Mall at Turtle Creek, the Jonesboro Municipal Airport, an Anheuser-Busch granary and local shops.
Mr Bill Campbell, a city spokesman, said two-thirds of the mall and several hangars at the airport were destroyed. Cars on a freight train were knocked over, potentially leaking hazardous materials, he said.