Reuters World News Summary

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Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

German SPD's new leadership casts doubt over Merkel coalition

Sharp critics of the coalition with Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives won a vote for the leadership of Germany's Social Democrats (SPD) on Saturday, raising big questions over the future of the government. The SPD said leftists Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, who ran on a joint ticket, won 53.06% of the vote by members. They want to renegotiate the coalition deal to focus more on social justice, investment and climate policies.

UK PM Johnson pressured on jail terms after London Bridge attack

The London Bridge attack pushed law and order towards the top of the British political agenda on Saturday, with days to go before a snap election, after police said the assailant had previously been convicted of terrorism offences but freed early from prison. Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, went on the rampage at a conference on criminal rehabilitation beside London Bridge on Friday, killing two people. The 28-year old Briton was wrestled to the ground by bystanders then shot dead by police.

Maltese businessman Fenech charged with complicity to murder in journalist case

One of Malta's wealthiest men, Yorgen Fenech, was charged in a Valletta court on Saturday with complicity to murder in the car bomb killing of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. The leveling of official charges against Fenech marked a milestone in the investigation into the murder of Caruana Galizia, a campaigning journalist who investigated and exposed corruption. Fenech's alleged ties to ministers and senior officials has also spawned a political crisis for the government of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who appeared close to resigning on Saturday.

Iraq protesters burn shrine entrance in holy city, PM quitting 'not enough'

Iraqi protesters set fire to the entrance of a shrine in the southern holy city of Najaf on Saturday and security forces fired tear gas to disperse them, police and a demonstrator at the scene said, risking more bloodshed after a rare day of calm. The demonstrator sent a video to Reuters of a doorway to the Hakim shrine blazing as protesters cheered and filmed it on their mobile phones. Reuters could not immediately verify the footage.

Iranian opposition leader compares Supreme Leader to toppled Shah

Story continues

Iranian opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi has compared Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Shah, the monarch deposed in a 1979 revolution, following the government's crackdown on protests this month. The unrest began on Nov. 15 after the government of the Islamic Republic, one of OPEC's biggest oil producers, announced gasoline price hikes. But the protests quickly turned political, with demonstrators demanding the removal of top leaders.

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Incumbent Geingob wins Namibia presidential election with 56.3% of the vote

Namibia's incumbent President Hage Geingob has won the 2019 presidential election with 56.3% of the vote, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) said on Saturday, surviving the country’s biggest corruption scandal, an economic recession and a fractured ruling party. Geingob, Namibia's third leader since the sparsely populated and mostly arid country freed itself from the shackles of apartheid South Africa in 1990, was seeking a second and final term in the Nov. 27 election.

A relic of Jesus' manger, Christmas gift from pope to Bethlehem

A fragment of wood reputed to be from the manger where Jesus was laid after his humble birth arrived in Bethlehem as a gift from the Vatican on Saturday, kicking off Christmas season at the town revered as the place of Jesus' birth. The wood piece, just a few centimeters (inches) long, was once kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in . It was handed over earlier this week to the custodian of the Bethlehem church, who said it brought "great honor to believers and pilgrims in the area".

Pensioners and students gather for Hong Kong protest

Secondary-school students and retirees joined forces at a protest in Hong Kong on Saturday, the first of several rallies planned across the China-ruled city a day after police withdrew from a university that had been rocked by a two-week siege. Police in neighboring Guangzhou city have arrested a Belizean citizen for allegedly meddling in Hong Kong affairs, the local Communist party newspaper said.

Israeli troops kill Palestinian in the West Bank: health ministry

Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank opened fire at a Palestinian who threw a fire-bomb at a car on Saturday, the Israeli military said, and the Palestinian Health Ministry said the man was killed. The military said the troops were carrying out operations in the area to prevent militant attacks when they saw three Palestinians throwing petrol bombs at an Israeli car traveling on a nearby road.

Ivorian president says he will stand in 2020 election if former leaders run again

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said on Saturday he would run for a third term if his predecessors decided to compete in the 2020 election, a vote seen as a major test of stability for the country after two civil wars this century. The election already looks highly unpredictable. Ouattara's main coalition partner defected last year, and his bitter rival, former president Laurent Gbagbo, could return after being acquitted of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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