World News in Brief: December 24

Fiji's new coalition government announced its cabinet on Saturday after Sitiveni Rabuka, leader of the People's Alliance (PA), was elected as prime minister of the Pacific island nation.
There have been at least 18 million illnesses, 190,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 deaths from flu so far this season in the United States, according to the latest estimates released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There have been at least 18 million illnesses, 190,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 deaths from flu so far this season in the United States, according to the latest estimates released Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

* About 550,000 voters will go to the polls in Cyprus on Feb. 12, 2023, to elect a new state president, who will succeed incumbent Nicos Anastasiades, according to a decree published on Friday.

* Four Chinese law enforcement vessels returned to port in southwest China's Yunnan Province on Friday, concluding the 124th joint Mekong River patrol by China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

* A latest poll showed on Friday that 74.3 percent of Russians approved of Vladimir Putin's work as the Russian president. The survey conducted by the government-owned research center VTSIOM found that 78.1 percent of the respondents trusted Putin.

* China has moved to prioritize the provision of medical services in elderly care facilities and social welfare institutions amid the COVID-19 epidemic, according to a video conference held by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

* Diplomatic efforts to establish a nuclear safety and security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) in Ukraine are "making headway," Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Friday.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that Kyiv would intensify diplomatic efforts in Africa, Latin America and Asia to take advantage of "colossal economic potential" and other international benefits.

* Germany's government is suspending state measures designed to foster business with Iran due to the repression of nationwide protests in the Islamic Republic, the economy ministry said on Friday.

* The District Magistrate of Pakistan's capital Islamabad said on Friday that all public gatherings and meetings will be banned for two weeks in the city following a suicide attack that left two people killed and eight others injured.

* Iraq has put forward a proposal for holding talks between Tehran and Cairo at political and security levels to restore relations between the two countries, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.

* Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that the Israeli practices in Palestine are rejected and will be confronted with peaceful popular resistance.

* Iran has sent a shipment of Iran-made goods to Venezuela, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Friday.

* Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' al-Sudani on Friday met with his visiting Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni, during which they discussed bilateral ties and cooperation in the fields of agriculture, water, health and trade.

* The Paris prosecutor's office has confirmed that three people, including a woman and two men, were killed in Friday morning's shooting in central Paris. French Interior minister Gerard Darmanin said the "exact motives of the killer" were yet unknown, but the suspect "obviously acted alone."

* Uzbekistan's National Power Grid company and Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power have signed a power purchase agreement on a wind power plant in northwestern Uzbekistan, the Uzbek Energy Ministry said on Friday.

* Malaysia's inflation rate, as measured by the consumer price index (CPI), remained unchanged at 4 percent in November, official data showed Friday.

* Inflation is likely to remain high for another two years as companies pass on higher input costs and in some cases exaggerate them, the head of the council of economists that advises the German government was quoted as saying on Saturday.

* Albania's gross domestic product (GDP) increased by an annual 4.02 percent in the third quarter (Q3) of 2022, the National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT) said in a report on Friday.

* The number of children suffering dire drought conditions across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has more than doubled in five months, according to figures released by the United Nations Friday.

* At least 20 people were killed and six others injured in a fire at a private nursing home in the city of Kemerovo in Russia's Western Siberia region, TASS reported on Saturday.

* A total of 10 people died on the scene and approximately 50 others were injured after a gas explosion in Boksburg in South Africa's largest city of Johannesburg Saturday morning, local authorities said.

* The regional force of the East African Community (EAC) on Friday officially took control of Kibumba, a town about 20 km from Goma, capital of the province of North Kivu in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which was once occupied by the rebels of the March 23 Movement (M23).

* Al Qaeda has released a 35-minute recording the group claims was narrated by its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was believed to have been killed in a US raid in August 2022, SITE intelligence group said on Friday.

* Airlines canceled over 3,900 US flights on Friday as a massive winter storm snarled airport operations around the United States and frustrated thousands of holiday travelers.

* Recent heavy snow in Japan's north and elsewhere have killed 13 people injured more than 80 and left more than 10,000 households without power, the authorities said on Saturday.

* Strong winds, freezing rain and heavy snowfall closed schools, cut power to homes and cancelled flights across Canada on Friday as a powerful winter storm swept across the country, prompting authorities to warn people to stay indoors ahead of worsening conditions.

* The premier of the Australian state of South Australia (SA) has warned flooding in the state's Riverland region could peak at the highest level in more than 60 years.

* The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa said Friday that measles cases in the country had risen to 227 as of Dec. 17.