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Chris Hipkins set to replace Jacinda Ardern as New Zealand PM

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New Zealand Labour MP Chris Hipkins is set to replace Jacinda Ardern as prime minister after becoming the only nominee for the party’s leadership.

He was first elected to parliament in 2008 and was appointed minister for Covid-19 in November 2020.

In Ms Ardern’s shock announcement on Thursday she said she did not have “enough in the tank” to lead.

How long Mr Hipkins will be in office is uncertain as New Zealand holds a general election in October.

Mr Hipkins, 44, is currently minister for police, education and public service.

He will still need to be formally endorsed by the Labour Party in the House of Representatives on Sunday before he can become leader.

Should he receive that backing, Ms Ardern will formally tender her resignation to the governor-general, who will then – on behalf of King Charles III – appoint Mr Hipkins as prime minister.

But the incoming Labour leader faces an uphill battle if he wants to remain in the top job after the 2023 election.

Inflation and increasing social inequality saw Ms Ardern’s popularity fall to all-time lows according to opinion polls.

They also suggested public approval of the country’s Labour Party was similarly low.

Mr Hipkins’ appointment removes the immediate possibility of Justice Minister Kiri Allan becoming the country’s first Maori prime minister.

During her resignation announcement, Ms Ardern – who at 37 became the youngest female head of government in the world when she took office in 2017 – said the past five-and-a-half years had been the “most fulfilling” of her life.

However, she added that leading the country during “crisis” had been difficult – with the Covid pandemic, Christchurch mosque shootings and White Island volcanic eruption taking place during her premiership.

Reaction to Ms Ardern’s announcement was mixed, with some suggesting she was “running away before getting thrown out”.

But renowned New Zealand actor Sam Neill said she had faced “disgraceful” treatment from “bullies” and “misogynists”.

If Labour loses the general election Mr Hipkins will have only spent eight months as the nation’s leader – although the shortest prime ministerial stint was Harry Atkinson’s term in 1884, which lasted just eight days.

(BBC)

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No COVID-19 deaths yesterday

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No COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed yesterday (29) by the Director-General of Health Services.

Accordingly, the current COVID-19 death toll remains at 16,828.

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Racecourse murder : Boyfriend further remanded

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The university student who was held in remand custody for allegedly murdering his girlfriend with a sharp weapon at Race Course grounds in Colombo has been remanded further.

Taking up the case today (30) Colombo Chief Magistrate Prasanna Alwis ordered him to be further remanded till February 13.

The magisterial inquest into the death was held today before Colombo Chief Magistrate and

A testimony of the deceased’s father was recorded before Chief Magistrate and further magisterial inquiry was fixed for February 13.

The suspect was not produced before Court by prison authorities since he is currently receiving treatment at the Mental Health Unit of prison hospital.

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Constitutional Council approves several judicial appointments

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The Constitutional Council met today (30) in Parliament presided by Speaker and the Chairman of the Constitutional Council – Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana.

Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Sajith Premadasa, Leader of the Opposition, Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, MPs Sagara Kariyawasam, other council members Dr. Prathap Ramanujam, Dr. (Mrs) Dilkushi Anula Wijesundere, Dr. (Mrs) Dinesha Samararatne were present at the Council meeting held.

MP Kabir Hashim, had informed his inability to attend this meeting due to unavoidable circumstances.

The Constitutional Council considered the recommendation of the President to appoint K.P. Fernando, President of the Court of Appeal as a Judge of the Supreme Court, to the post which fell vacant with the retirement of L.T.B. Dehideniya, Judge of the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Council unanimously approved the above recommendation.

Further the Constitutional Council unanimously approved the nomination of N.B.P.D.S. Karunarathna, Judge of the Court of Appeal to be appointed as the President of the Court of Appeal, and the nomination of Mr M.A.R. Marikkar, High Court Judge to be appointed as a Judge of the Court of Appeal to the resultant vacancies.  

The Constitutional Council further decided to publish the advertisement on newspapers of 1st February 2023, calling for applications for the appointment as Members of the Commissions specified in Schedule to Article 41B of the Constitution. Draft format of the application would be published on the Official Parliament website. The deadline to submit applications is 15th February 2023.

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