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Austrian chancellor to remain in government coalition despite his minister's controversial EU vote

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Austrian chancellor to remain in government coalition despite his minister's controversial EU vote
News

News

Austrian chancellor to remain in government coalition despite his minister's controversial EU vote

2024-06-18 01:08 Last Updated At:01:10

BERLIN (AP) — Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said his conservative Austrian People's Party would remain in the current government coalition with its Green party junior partner — even though the Green's environment minister voted on Monday for the so-called Nature Restoration plan, which Nehammer has opposed.

Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler's vote in a European Union ballot earlier on Monday came after months of domestic political debate and infuriated the senior partner in the coalition government ahead of a national election set for Sept. 29.

Before Nehammer's statement, speculation had been growing in Austria about whether he would break up the coalition government.

“The emotion would be there” for an end to the coalition, but Nehammer told journalists it was his "responsibility, as federal chancellor, to ensure an orderly path” until the parliamentary elections, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported.

“I won't do it,” he added.

After her vote, Gewesseler wrote on X that “my conscience tells me unmistakably (that) when the healthy and happy life of future generations is at stake, courageous decisions are needed.”

Earlier, the chancellery said Nehammer informed the Belgian EU presidency that a vote in favor of the plan by Gewessler would be unlawful, the Austria Press Agency reported. Nehammer’s office later said Austria plans to file a suit at the European Court of Justice to nullify the vote.

His party also announced that it would press criminal charges against Gewessler for alleged abuse of office.

The Nature Restoration plan is part of the EU’s European Green Deal that seeks to establish the world’s most ambitious climate and biodiversity targets and make the bloc the global point of reference on all climate issues.

In the buildup to the EU elections that saw a shift to the right earlier this month, European farmers complained about the many environmental laws governing the way they work, arguing that the rules were harming their livelihoods and strangling them with red tape.

Nehammer himself is under pressure in Austria after a narrow win by the far-right Freedom Party over the chancellor's conservative Austrian People’s Party in the European Parliament election last week that saw hard-right parties achieving major gains across the 27-nation bloc.

Following his party’s defeat in the European election, Nehammer acknowledged there is “great dissatisfaction,” APA reported. He also vowed his party would convince voters of how seriously it took their concerns over the coming months confronting issues of migration and overregulation.

FILE - The Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer speaks at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, at Federal Chancellery Ballhausplatz in Vienna, during a visit to Austria, Tuesday May 21, 2024. Nehammer said Monday, June 17, 2024, that his conservative Austrian People's Party would continue the current government coalition with its Green party junior partner even though his environment minister voted in a European Union vote in favor of the the so-called Nature Restoration plan that Nehammer's has opposed. (Jordan Pettitt/pool photo via AP, File)

FILE - The Chancellor of Austria, Karl Nehammer speaks at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, at Federal Chancellery Ballhausplatz in Vienna, during a visit to Austria, Tuesday May 21, 2024. Nehammer said Monday, June 17, 2024, that his conservative Austrian People's Party would continue the current government coalition with its Green party junior partner even though his environment minister voted in a European Union vote in favor of the the so-called Nature Restoration plan that Nehammer's has opposed. (Jordan Pettitt/pool photo via AP, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations traveled to Haiti on Monday to meet leaders of the new transitional government and the Kenyan police who are the vanguard of a U.N.-backed force meant to help the country’s national police curb widespread gang violence.

A senior U.S. administration official said Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s one-day visit also seeks to encourage action on Haiti's humanitarian crisis and political reform leading to democratic elections in 2026.

The ambassador will make two major announcements related to Haiti’s security and humanitarian crises, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the visit.

Gangs have grown in power since the July 7, 2021, assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and are now estimated to control up to 80% of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and have spread into surrounding areas. The surge in killings, rapes and kidnappings has led to a violent uprising by civilian vigilante groups.

There has been wide international support for the new transitional government led by Prime Minister Garry Conille, a former U.N. development specialist who arrived in the country in early June. Earlier this month, he told the U.N. Security Council that the Kenyan police will be crucial to helping control the country’s gangs and moving toward democratic elections.

According to U.N. agencies, the violence has displaced 580,000 people, more than half of whom are children, and resulted in 4 million people facing food insecurity.

In a signal of support for the U.N. mission to Haiti and the Kenyan police, Thomas-Greenfield will visit the police force’s living complex and meet Conille, members of the transitional presidential council and U.N. and civil society representatives.

Haiti asked for an international force to combat gangs in 2022, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed for months for a country to lead the force before the Kenyans came forward.

A second Kenyan contingent of 200 police officers landed in Haiti last week, following the first contingent of 200 officers last month. The multinational force will eventually total 2,500 personnel from Kenya, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Chad and Jamaica. They will be deployed in phases at a cost of some $600 million a year, according to the U.N. Security Council.

The U.S. has provided over $300 million to the force, which Thomas-Greenfield helped establish through a U.N. resolution, the official said, adding that the ambassador played a “central role” in securing international pledges of funding, equipment, and logistical support.

The Kenyan police will train the Haitian national police for joint security operations that have not yet begun, the official said.

Follow AP coverage of Haiti at https://apnews.com/hub/haiti

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, waves upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 22, 2024. Thomas-Greenfield is scheduled to hold talks with the country's transitional presidential council and new Prime Minister Garry Conille during the day-long trip. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, waves upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 22, 2024. Thomas-Greenfield is scheduled to hold talks with the country's transitional presidential council and new Prime Minister Garry Conille during the day-long trip. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, second right, steps off a U.S. Air Force plane upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 22, 2024. Thomas-Greenfield is scheduled to hold talks with the country's transitional presidential council and new Prime Minister Garry Conille during the day-long trip. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, second right, steps off a U.S. Air Force plane upon arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Monday, July 22, 2024. Thomas-Greenfield is scheduled to hold talks with the country's transitional presidential council and new Prime Minister Garry Conille during the day-long trip. (Roberto Schmidt/Pool via AP)

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