Press digest

The following are the top stories in the Maltese and overseas press.

The Sunday Times says the political parties are expected to launch their electoral campaigns on January 7 for a general election on March 9 if the Budget fails to make it through the House tomorrow.  It also says that the Chief Justice has lamented on the unhappy state of affairs in the Commission for the Administration of Justice

The Malta Independent on Sunday quotes Franco Debono saying that voting against the Budget would be a privilege. It also says European Olympic Committees have backed officials named in the London Olympics ticketing controversy.

MaltaToday also says the election is expected on March 9. It says Labour is leading by nine points.

It-Torca says top government audit official Rita Schenbri did not appeal before the Public Service Commission after allegations were made against her. It also says Malta is among the most criticised countries in a Russian report on human rights in the EU.

Il-Mument reports that Malta’s economy is among the best performing in the EU. It also reports that despite its measures, the PL will still vote against the Budget.

Illum carries claims by Cyrus Engerer that he was not employed by the minister because he is gay.

KullHadd asks if the prime minister will announce the date of the election before the Budget vote is taken tomorrow.

The overseas press

Ansa quotes Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announcing he had told President Napolitano he was resigning because he could no longer govern after Silvio Berlusconi's party withdrew crucial support. The move paves the way for early elections a year after the unelected economist helped pull the country back from the brink of financial disaster. Hours earlier, 76-year-old billionaire media baron Berlusconi had announced he would run for a fourth term as premier, aiming for a dramatic comeback after he quit in disgrace last November.

Al-Ayyam reports exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, making his first ever visit to the Gaza Strip, has vowed never to recognise Israel and said his Islamist group would never abandon its claim to all Israeli territory. In an uncompromising speech, the highlight of his three-day stay in Gaza, Meshaal also vowed to free Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, indicating Islamist militants would try to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as a bargaining chip.

Al Ahram says Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has annulled a decree he issued last month granting him sweeping emergency powers, in a push to defuse political tensions and deadly violence gripping the country. But a referendum on a controversial draft constitution will still go forward as planned on Saturday. Both the decree and the referendum are at the heart of anti-Morsi demonstrations that have rocked the country for much of the past two weeks.

Earth Week announces a UN climate conference with representatives of some 200 countries meeting in Qatar, has adopted an extension of the Kyoto Protocol through to 2020. The 1997 pact, which controls the greenhouse gas emissions of rich countries, expires this year. Countries aim to adopt in 2015 a wider treaty that would apply to all countries and enter force when the Kyoto extension expires.

Jakarta Post reports weather forecasters say a typhoon Bopha that swept through the southern Philippines last week, killing hundreds of people and leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, has made landfall again, this time in the north. Forecasters say rainfall is the major concern, with landslides and flash flooding likely. Rescuers are still searching for bodies in the affected regions.

Globvision says Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has told the nation that his cancer had returned and named his successor should he not survive a new battle against the disease. Chavez, who won re-election on October 7, also said for the first time that if his health were to worsen, his successor would be vice president Nicolas Maduro. He returns to Havana today and undergo surgery in the coming days.

According to Mail & Guardian, former South African President Nelson Mandela was admitted to hospital on Saturday to undergo medical tests. However, according to the country's President Jacob Zuma, there was "no cause for alarm" over the 94-year-old's health.

ABC reports the Australian radio station responsible for a hoax call to a London hospital enquiring about the health of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge insisted on Saturday it had done nothing wrong nor anything illegal. No one could have foreseen the tragic outcome, it said. There had been renewed soul-searching over media ethics after Jacintha Saldanha, 46, the nurse who was duped by the station’s call to the King Edward VII hospital, was found dead on Friday in a suspected suicide. The hoax, in which the radio hosts - posing as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles despite Australian accents - successfully inquired after Kate’s medical condition, has made worldwide headlines.

Dawn says the President of Pakistan has visited a 15-year-old schoolgirl who is being treated in hospital in Britain after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. President Asif Ali Zardari also met with the father and brothers of Malala Yousafzai during a private meeting at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

La Corse Matin reports a nightclub boss was shot and at least 24 holiday homes were bombed on Friday in the latest wave of violence to hit Corsica. Corsica has long been dogged by bloodshed linked to demands for independence from France as well as feuding criminal gangs.



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