May 2016: news highlights

2nd May - Cruz Trumped

Ted Cruz dropped his candidacy for the Republican nomination for the US presidency, following a succession of defeats in primary elections. Cruz had been holding on to try to prevent frontrunner Donald Trump from securing enough delegates to automatically become the party’s nominee and to force a second round of voting at the Republican convention. Third-placed candidate John Kasich also dropped out, leaving Trump with a clear run at the nomination.

4th May - Child refugees


UK prime minister David Cameron told Parliament that the UK would take in more unaccompanied Syrian child refugees from Europe, reversing its earlier stance on the issue. The UK takes in some children from refugee camps in the Middle East, but had refused to accept any who had made it to Europe.

5th May - South China meddling


An article in China’s state-owned newspaper quoted a Chinese government official as warning the US and UK to stop “meddling” in the South China Sea. Beijing is engaged in a longrunning territorial spat with its neighbours over a number of reefs and islands in the region.

6th May - Irish stalemate ends


Enda Kenny was re-elected as Ireland’s taoiseach, 70 days after the country’s general election. Kenny’s Fine Gael party failed to win a majority, but has finally managed to secure a deal with independents and the second-largest party, Fianna Fáil, to form a government. The two parties have never previously been in a formal coalition.

9th May - North Korea congress


North Korea closed its party congress, a four-day event in which it trumpeted its military ambition and reaffirmed the primacy of the Kim dynasty that has ruled the country since 1948. The current leader, Kim Jong-un, was officially elevated to chairman of the party, taking over from his late father.

11th May - Italy rights victory


Italy’s lower house has given final approval to a bill that allows same-sex civil unions, despite ongoing opposition from conservative figures and the Vatican. Italy was the last major European country to deny legalised same-sex unions, though LGBT activists have been pushing for the recognition for three decades.

14th May - Venezuela in crisis


Venezuela’s government declared a 60-day state of emergency as the country struggles with unbridled hyperinflation and crippling shortages of food, medicine, fuel and power. The oil price crash has undermined Venezuela’s ability to fund expensive imports of basic necessities.

16th May - Cultural revolution


China marked the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, a brutal purge by the then-leader Mao Zedong, with near silence. However, state-run newspapers the following day carried an admission that the era was “utterly wrong, in both theory and practice”. The Communist Party usually avoids open discussion of the period.

17th May - AIDS setback


The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, an association of 57 Muslim states, blocked 11 gay and transgender groups from attending a UN meeting on the global response to HIV/AIDS. The EU, US and Canada protested against the move, claiming it would impede global progress in combating the pandemic.

17th May - Saudi terror ruling


The US Senate passed legislation allowing survivors and relatives of people killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, which denies any role. The kingdom is one of the US’ largest investors.

19th May - Egyptair crash


An Egyptair flight en route from Paris to Cairo crashed in the Mediterranean, with the presumed loss of all 66 people on board. Some wreckage of the Airbus A320 aircraft has been located, but the cause of the crash has yet to be established. Smoke was reportedly detected in the cabin prior to the plane’s disappearance.

21st May - Taliban leader killed


US and Afghan intelligence agencies say that a drone strike in Baluchistan killed Mullah Mansour, the leader of the Taliban. Pakistan, which has been trying to broker talks with the Taliban, denounced the attack as a violation of its sovereignty. Barack Obama labelled the death “an important milestone”.

23rd May - Vietnam rapprochement


The US has lifted its ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam, more than 40 years after the end of the warbetween the two countries. Hanoi wants closer ties to the US to counter Chinese power in Asia. Vietnam has embarked on a major militarisation in defence of territorial claims in the South China Sea.

24th May - Refugees evicted


Riot police moved in before dawn to break up an informal refugee camp at Idomeni, on the border between Greece and Macedonia. More than 8,000 people are believed to reside at Idomeni; in total, around 50,000 migrants and refugees have been stranded in the region since Balkan countries closed their land borders with Greece.