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N Korea reports 1st opposing votes in decades
Seoul, Nov 28: North Korea on Tuesday said there were votes against candidates for deputies to local assemblies in the latest local elections, marking the first time in decades that the repressive regime has reported opposing votes in its polls. A total of 27,858 workers, peasants, intellectuals and officials were elected new deputies for local assemblies of provinces, cities and counties in the local elections Sunday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The voter turnout was recorded at 99.63 per cent, reports Yonhap News Agency. Among voters who cast ballots, 99.91 per cent voted for the candidates for deputies to provincial people’s assemblies and 0.09 per cent voted against them, the KCNA said. Elections in the North are widely viewed as a formality, as the candidates are hand-picked by the North’s ruling Workers’ Party and rubber-stamped into office. (IANS)


Rajesh Agrawal steps down as Deputy Mayor of London
London, Nov 28: Rajesh Agrawal, the Indian-origin Deputy Mayor of London for Business, is stepping down from the role to focus on the city of Leicester, from where he will be contesting to be elected a member of Parliament in the next general election. The 46-year-old Indore-born entrepreneur-politician was recently selected as the Labour Party’s candidate from the constituency of Leicester East for an election expected next year. He announced his departure from the London Mayor’s office on social media on Monday evening after serving two terms in Mayor Sadiq Khan’s team in charge of the UK capital’s business and investment policies. “After my recent selection as the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate and careful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to step down as Deputy Mayor of London to focus on campaigning in Leicester East,” said Agrawal. On his selection to contest as an MP, Agrawal pledged to continue to champion the ideals he was committed to as London’s Deputy Mayor. (PTI)


SL implements free tourist visas to Indian nationals
Colombo, Nov 28: Aimed at boosting the tourism sector, Indian tourists – the largest inbound group – to Sri Lanka, would receive free tourist visas with immediate effect, the Department of Immigration and Emigration has announced here. The facility follows a Cabinet decision from October to issue free tourist visas to travellers from India, China, Russia, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand amidst efforts to rebuild the debt-trapped island nation’s tourism sector that had slumped since the 2019 Easter Sunday bombings. The pilot project to offer free visas for the first 30 days would be in force till March 31, 2024, the announcement said. The travellers would be given dual entry status on arrival and the visa validity would be limited to 30 days’ stay in the island nation. India is traditionally Sri Lanka’s top inbound tourism market. In October 2023, arrival figures for India topped with over 28,000 arrivals or 26 per cent with Russian tourists trailing at over 10,000 arrivals as the second largest group. (PTI)


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