Italian Elections – Pier Luigi Bersani has ruled out another technocrat government and has issued an ultimatum to the 5-Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo to support a temporary government or “we’ll all go home,” notes Reuters. Grillo is set to meet with the 163 new 5-Star lawmakers, who have never been in parliament before, to discuss their strategy for the upcoming parliamentary session on March 15. Grillo, a comedian and leader of what has become Italy’s single biggest party in its first national test, has called Bersani a “dead man talking.” Last week’s Italian vote resulted in no working majority for any party in parliament, which means an alliance with a rival is the only way to form a new government.
Pacifying Favelas — Brazilian police have moved into shantytowns known as favelas near Rio de Janeiro‘s International Airport to clamp down on drug gangs and boost public security before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, reports the BBC. More than 1,300 security personnel, supported by soldiers, helicopters, and armored vehicles moved into the Caju and Barreira do Vasco neighborhoods. Brazilian authorities have taken control of upwards of 30 favelas in Rio since 2008 but critics said the “pacification” program only benefits districts close to wealthy neighborhoods with tourists or World Cup and Olympic venues, notes the BBC.
Ivory Trade — Thailand‘s government has pledged to end the trade of elephant ivory in what is believed to be the second-largest market for illegal elephant tusks, writes the New York Times. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra promised to revise the nation’s laws to close loopholes that allow wildlife traffickers to smuggle African elephant tusks into Thailand and China, the No. 1 illegal ivory destination. Conservationists have called the prime minister’s plan ambiguous as she did not give a timeline or clarify whether the ban would apply to both domestic sales and international trade.
Schengen Zone — Reuters reports that Germany will prevent Bulgaria and Romania from entering the free-travel Schengen zone. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told Der Spiegel that Germany will veto Bulgaria and Romania’s proposal for a vote on joining the area. Friederich said the two countries, which joined the E.U. in 2007, need to step up their fight against corruption and fulfill further requirements to be included in the Schengen zone.
Kenyan Elections – The presidential polls have opened in Kenya for the first time since the 2007 elections that led to an outbreak in ethnic violence, killing more than 1,200 people, writes Aljazeera. At their final rally Saturday night, members of presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Coalition urged supporters to “maintain peace,” reports the Daily Nation. Kenyatta’s running mate, William Ruto, requested that competitors respect the outcome made at the ballot box, saying, “every coalition and every party must desist from making reckless statements about rigging and about violence.” Outgoing president, Mwai Kibaki, has also appealed for a peaceful vote, reminding voters “peace is a cornerstone of our development.” However, violence has already broken out in the coastal city of Mombasa where at least 12 people were reportedly killed in a nighttime raid. For more on Kenya’s elections, read this TIME magazine article, available to subscribers here.
Londonderry Bomb Raid – Three men in their 30s have been arrested in Northern Ireland following the discovery of four live mortar bombs “primed and ready to go,” reports the BBC. They were intercepted by police minutes before being launched, a senior detective told the British broadcaster. Around 100 families were evacuated from the area in an overnight alert when a van with its roof cut back was found. Police believe the target of the operation was a Londonderry police station. Chief Superintendent Stephen Cargin has called it a “reckless attack by dissident republicans,” that could have led to “mass murder.” “These were people who were mindless, totally reckless (…) with no regard to the people, the residents and the families living in the area,” he told BBC News.