Australia’s High Court ruled on Friday that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce is ineligible to remain in parliament, a stunning decision that cost the government its one-seat parliamentary majority and forced a by-election.
The Australian dollar fell a quarter of a US cent after the court announced its ruling and ordered that Joyce must seek a new mandate in his rural New South Wales state electorate.
That left Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s center-right coalition in the precarious position of a minority government. Turnbull’s Liberal Party is the senior party in a coalition with the smaller National Party, which Joyce led.
Turnbull must now win the support of one of three independent lawmakers to keep his minority government afloat, with two sitting weeks of parliament left until it recesses for the year.
Joyce was one of seven politicians whose eligibility to sit in parliament was thrown into doubt in recent months when it was found they were dual citizens, which bars them from being elected to the national parliament under Australia’s constitution.
Joyce, who renounced his dual New Zealand citizenship in August, said he would stand in the by-election, which is likely to be held in early December.
“It is a tough game, politics,” Joyce told reporters in the rural town of Tamworth in his electorate. “You take the hits and the sacrifices.”
All seven lawmakers accepted they were dual nationals when they were elected last year but had claimed they were unaware of their status at the time. Some were conferred a second nationality by birth, others by descent.
Of the remaining six, who were from the coalition and minority parties, four were also found ineligible to hold parliamentary office.
Some had already resigned. All were senators, which meant seats in the upper house of parliament could be assigned to party alternatives if they were ruled ineligible.
Australian Solicitor-General Stephen Donaghue had urged the seven justices of the High Court not to interpret the constitution literally. He argued that five of the seven, including three Cabinet members, should be cleared because they were unaware that they had contravened the constitutional requirement at the time.
A Turkish court has ordered the release, on bail, of eight defendants, including the director of Amnesty International in Turkey and two foreign nationals, pending a verdict in their ongoing terrorism trial. Eleven activists, most of whom were detained in July, having participated in a digital security workshop held on island off the coast of Istanbul, face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty. The charges include membership of and aid for an “armed terrorist organization.” They were arrested amid Ankara’s crackdown following last year’s failed coup attempt. The next hearing is set for November 22.
Israel is willing to take military action to ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons, according to the country’s intelligence minister. “If international efforts led these days by US President Trump don’t help stop Iran attaining nuclear capabilities, Israel will act militarily by itself,” Yisrael Katz said during a visit to Tokyo, as quoted by Reuters. “There are changes that can be made [to the agreement] to ensure that they will never have the ability to have a nuclear weapon,” he added. Katz has asked the Japanese government to support steps led by Trump to change the historic 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers, which the US president declined to recertify earlier this month. Iran, however, insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes and has repeatedly denied developing atomic weapons.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that Iraq should not trust the United States in its fight against Islamic State, state TV reported. “Unity was the most important factor in your gains against terrorists and their supporters… Don’t trust America… It will harm you in the future,” Khamenei told al-Abadi on Thursday, as cited by Reuters. Al-Abadi’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei marks his second visit to Tehran in four months.
NATO has not provided any documentary evidence in support of its claims that Russia supports the Taliban movement in Afghanistan. “There is no proof, it is mere rhetoric,”Zamir Kabulov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Second Asian Department, said at the NATO-Russia Council meeting on Thursday, as quoted by TASS news agency.
The accusations that Russia might be supplying Taliban first emerged in February, when General John Nicholson, US Commander in Afghanistan, told a Senate Committee that Russia had significantly increased overt and covert support for Taliban militants with a goal of “undermining the United States and NATO.”
Russian officials have repeatedly denied the allegations. “The accusations of mythical Russian assistance to the Taliban aim to distract the international community from Washington’s numerous mistakes,” the Foreign Ministry in a statement in September.
US State Department official today said the Trump administration has communicated to Pakistan that it must take “decisive” action against terrorist groups and dismantle their safe havens on its soil.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US has communicated its expectations to Pakistan numerous times that they must take decisive action against terrorist groups based within their own borders. Nauert told this to PTI a day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson concluded his maiden trip to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
The spokesperson said that Tillerson on his trip has put the US “expectations” in front of the leadership of Pakistan.
UN Security Council has urged the Iraqi government and regional leaders in Kurdistan to set a timetable for talks to end a crisis triggered by last month’s Kurdish referendum on independence. The appeal from the top UN body came yesterday after Baghdad dismissed an offer from Iraqi Kurdish leaders to freeze the outcome of the referendum, which delivered a resounding yes to independence, and hold talks.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who holds this month’s UNSC Presidency, said the Council members noted that the federal and regional governments have both expressed willingness to engage in dialogue.
The Council met behind closed doors at the request of France and Sweden to hear a report form UN envoy Jan Kubis on the crisis.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had, earlier, rejected the Kurdish offer for a freeze and demanded the annulment of the last month’s vote for independence.