Must-Reads from Around the World

A new World Bank report is released on sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth, Sunni candidates in Iraq are being assassinated ahead of the country's elections, and a senior Syrian government minister has alleged that Britain and France are supporting al-Qaeda

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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim speaks during an event on "The Private Sector and Ending Poverty" April 15, 2013 at the International Finance Corporation in Washington, DC.

Africa’s Economic Growth – According to the World Bank, the economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa should outpace the global average over the next three years, the BBC reports. The continent’s higher commodities, increasing investment and a general increase in the world economy should boost its growth to more than 5%. The Bank’s report said Africa’s strong economic growth had significantly reduced the extent of poverty in the region over the past decade, but infrastructural development was essential to ensure the strong pace of economic growth, the BBC notes. The Bank pointed out that poverty reduction was being held back by income inequality and a reliance on mineral and mining exports in some African countries.

Iraqi Assassinations Grow – In the first Iraqi elections since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the country, candidates who are from the minority Sunni community are being attacked and killed in greater numbers than in recent campaigns, according to the New York Times. The assassinations are allegedly being carried out by political opponents or radical Sunni militants who are affiliated with al-Qaeda. As some candidates are being wounded, kidnapped or threatened, many are withdrawing their candidacy. The Iraqi government postponed elections for a month citing security concerns, despite objections from local leaders, the Iraqi election commission, the U.N. and American diplomats, the New York Times notes.

Syrian Minister Claims – A senior Syrian government minister has said that Britain and France are supporting al-Qaeda, reports the Guardian. Faisal al-Miqdad, Syria’s vice-foreign minister, dubbed the U.K. and France “new colonialists” for providing political and military support to opposition fighters, who are seeking to overthrow president Bashar al-Assad, but who Damascus maintains are terrorists. Miqdad pointed to last week’s announcement that Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist fighting force currently battling government troops, had pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda in Iraq – a move that has been condemned by Syria’s opposition coalition and caused western concern. Miquad also said the rebels have used chemical weapons – claims that British Foreign Secretary William Hague said must be investigated.

Nigerian Christians Threat – A Christian group in Nigeria has threatened to bomb mosques and assassinate Muslim clerics in retaliation for Islamist attacks, reports Bloomberg. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said the campaign will start on May 31 “to save Christianity in Nigeria from annihilation,” writes Bloomberg. The threats seem to be in response to the activities of the jihadist militant organization Boko Haram, which has waged a violent campaign since 2009 to impose Islamic law in Nigeria, killing hundreds of people. MEND’s statement prompted concern in Nigeria, but questions were raised about whether the group, which has appeared increasingly fragmented in recent months, had the capacity to launch widespread attacks, the Guardian reports.

Kuwaiti Politician Jailed – A prominent Kuwaiti opposition politician has been jailed for five years for insulting the country’s emir, sparking mass protests, reports Reuters. Musallam el-Barrak, a former member of parliament, appealed to Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to avoid “autocratic rule,” in a speech last year. The New York Times writes that the gulf state is prosecuting such crimes more frequently in an attempt to quell emboldened protest movements, or to stop protests before they start. The demonstrations also underlined the continuing tension between former members of parliament and the government, which has long been dominated by the al-Sabah family, writes Reuters.