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International news worth knowing:

🔹Zambia’s important poll

Zambians headed to the polls today in a tight race between President Edgar Lungu and his main opponent, Hakainde Hichilema, who are facing off for the third time. It’s a crucial election: the country is in tough economic straits despite its copper riches. Young people, who make up the majority of the seven million registered voters, are most affected. It’ll take a couple of days to hear the results, but experts expect it to be too close for an outright winner, which may lead to a runoff – another vote to break the tie. 

🔹US withdraws from Afghanistan 

Can you believe 11 September marks 20 years since the 9/11 attacks on the US? The country responded, in part, by cracking down on Afghanistan’s Taliban who refused to hand over Osama bin Laden. The US set up shop in Afghanistan, vowing to support democracy. Two decades and hundreds of billions of dollars later, they’re giving up. US president Joe Biden’s decision to remove US forces from their longest-running war was a rational one for his country. But it’s a bitter one for Afghans, as Taliban hardliners are already quickly taking back control from the fragile government, leading to fears of a new civil war. It’s all the more poignant for what MIGHT have been. In the 1950s and 60s, Afghanistan took steps towards modernising, and prioritising women rights, before a cycle of bloody coups, invasions, and civil wars began. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that democracy really can’t be forced from above. 😕

🔹China clamps down on… karaoke?

Who doesn’t love a good karaoke night out? China’s officials, that’s who – and they’re clearly VERY thin-skinned. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism is banning karaoke songs that may endanger “national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity, violate state religious policies by propagating cults or superstitions, or which encourage illegal activities such as gambling and drugs”.  The ban will be effective from 1 October at karaoke venues across China. The day the music dies, we guess …

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 12 August 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.