Australian Citizenship Overhaul Thwarted in Senate
After a more stringent citizenship bill failed in the Senate Wednesday, the Australian government says it will lower its standard for English language skills in a trade-off for other, tougher citizenship legislation.
Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday the government is willing to lower its competency requirement for English language skills to "modest" -- a designation of basic communication skills with many mistakes.
Language skills are not currently tested in the Australian citizenship process although some English is required.
The opposition has said asking applicants to pass a language test had the potential to create an underclass of noncitizens.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull announced plans to abolish a temporary work visa program popular with foreigners and replace it with a new program requiring better English-language and job skills.
Dutton said the government will work with opposition lawmakers to amend the bill, including changing the language requirements.
But opposition leader Bill Shorten suggested the government abandon the bill. "If it's bad for the interests of ordinary people, we won't vote for it,'' Shorten said.
At Least Four Dead in Anti-Government Protests in Togo
At least four people have been killed across the small West African nation of Togo in clashes between security forces and protesters demanding an end to the rule of President Faure Gnassingbe.
Security Minister Colonel Damehame Yark said Wednesday that one person was shot dead in the capital, Lome, while three others were killed in Togo's second-largest city of Sokode, located more than 300 kilometers north of Lome.
Yark says 60 demonstrators were arrested in Wednesday's clashes.
Opposition leaders have planned two days of demonstrations against President Gnassingbe, who has been in power since 2005, succeeding his late father. Protests have broken out across Togo since August over the current president's proposal to amend the constitution by removing presidential term limits, which could potentially allow him to stay in office until at least 2030.
The elder Gnassingbe himself served as president of Togo from 1968 until his death.