Belarusians call Lukashenko's bluff, go on strike; France recalls ambassador from Turkey; Chileans vote for new constitution
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Workers and students again took to the streets in Belarus on Monday in a nationwide strike demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. In August, he claimed victory in a widely disputed reelection that has fueled weeks of mass protests. Police used force — often violent — to arrest hundreds of people as the Belarusian opposition sought to ramp up pressure on Lukashenko, who defied an ultimatum on Sunday to surrender his power.
Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is calling on Belarusians to block roads and shut down workplaces and withdraw all money from their bank accounts. “The regime has once again showed the Belarusians that violence is the only thing it is capable of,” Tikhanovskaya said in a statement from neighboring Lithuania.
If sustained, the strikes could add to the tensions in Belarus and test whether the opposition has enough support to bring industry across the country of 9.5 million people to a halt.
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France and Turkey spent the weekend trading trading barbs, resulting in the French Foreign Ministry recalling its ambassador to Turkey on Sunday. That was followed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling for a boycott on French goods on Monday. The spat started following the brutal beheading of a teacher and what Erdoğan characterized as Macron's “anti-Islam” response. Erdoğan said French President Emmanuel Macron needed “some sort of mental treatment.” France condemned the remarks, calling them “unacceptable.”
And, voters in Chile gave a resounding endorsement on Sunday to a plan to tear up the country's Pinochet-era constitution in favor of a new charter drafted by citizens. With more than three quarters of votes counted as of Sunday night, more than 78% of voters had opted for a new charter. Chileans poured into the country's main squares in celebration as fireworks bursted overhead and people sang in unison.
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