Regional and Int’l News Briefs
US supports calls for external ethics probe into OAS chief
The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) is facing growing calls, including from the Biden administration, for an external probe into possible misconduct tied to his intimate relationship with a subordinate.
The Washington-based group’s own inspector general in a memo last week said it is in the organisation’s “best interest” to hire an outside firm to investigate allegations that Secretary General Luis Almagro may have violated the ethics code.
The inspector general’s recommendation was based on a report by The Associated Press finding that Almagro carried on a relationship with a Mexican-born staffer described online, including on the organisation’s own website, as “head adviser” to the secretary general.
The inspector general said the AP report followed a loosely detailed, anonymous whistleblower complaint forwarded to his office by Almagro himself on June 3.
The peace and democracy-building organisation’s ethics code prohibits managers from supervising or participating in decisions that benefit individuals with whom they are romantically involved.
The proposal to hire an outside firm to look into Almagro’s behaviour is scheduled to be discussed Wednesday at the next meeting of the 34-member organisation’s permanent council.
The United States – which has contributed about half of the organisation’s US$100 million in funding this year – has already expressed support for an external probe ahead of the meeting.
French far-right party elects new leader to replace Le Pen
European lawmaker Jordan Bardella replaced his mentor Marine Le Pen on Saturday at the helm of France’s leading far-right party, and pledged to defend French civilization from perceived threats posed by immigration and work closely with far-right parties around Europe.
Bardella, 27, won an internal party vote with 85 per cent support, marking a symbolic changing of the guard at the resurgent National Rally party. He is the first person to lead the party who does not have the Le Pen name since it was founded a half-century ago.
The National Rally is seeking to capitalise on its recent breakthrough in France’s legislative election and growing support for far-right parties in Europe, notably in neighbouring Italy. It’s also facing broad public anger over a racist comment this week by a National Rally member in parliament.
Marine Le Pen is still expected to wield significant power in the party’s leadership and run again for France’s presidency in 2027. She says she stepped aside to focus on leading the party’s 89 lawmakers in France’s National Assembly.
Le Pen said Bardella’s main challenge will be pursuing the party “road map” of taking power in France.
“We are going to win!” supporters chanted.
Belize asks for funds in the aftermath of Hurricane Lisa
In the aftermath of Hurricane Lisa, Belize is seeking some US$11 million to meet immediate needs and to provide basic food, household supplies and construction materials to enable the affected population to have a level of human dignity.
Last Wednesday, Hurricane Lisa crossed the mainland of the CARICOM country at approximately five miles south of Belize City.
While there were no reported loss of life or major injuries, approximately 39 per cent of the population was affected, with initial estimates of losses to the housing sector amounting to approximately US$9.6 million.
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute has expressed willingness to support the government and conduct damage assessments and the distribution of supplies to farmers.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency is on standby to provide assistance concerning the reduction of waterborne illnesses and overall disease surveillance and eradication.
Assistance is also coming from the International Federation of Red Cross, which has procured shelter kits, cleaning and hygiene kits that can assist approximately 500 families as needed.
Other regional and international entities have pledged support to Belize as needed.