Both the incumbent, Ashraf Ghani, and his main electoral opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, were sworn in as president of Afghanistan in rival inauguration ceremonies. In the meantime, talks between Afghan politicians and the insurgents of the Taliban, which had been due to start on March 10th, are on hold, as the two sides argue about a planned prisoner exchange.
Myanmar's army vetoed constitutional amendments that would have reduced its political power. The ruling National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, had proposed shrinking the proportion of MPs appointed by the army and making it easier to amend the constitution, among other things.
North Korea launched several missiles into the Sea of Japan in an apparent military drill. It was its second missile test in the space of a week.
Mired in economic crisis, Lebanon did not repay a $1.2bn Eurobond, defaulting on its debts for the first time. Foreign reserves have plummeted and unemployment is rising. The government will try to negotiate a restructuring with its creditors, as it struggles with debt that is about 170% of GDP.
Two Americans and a Briton were killed by a rocket attack on a military base near Baghdad. Tensions have been high in Iraq, as Iranian-backed militia have sworn revenge for America's assassination of a senior Iranian commander at Baghdad airport in January.
Prince Ahmed bin Abdel-Aziz, a brother of Saudi Arabia's King Salman, and Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, a nephew of his who was previously the crown prince, were arrested with several other senior figures. The arrests were presumably ordered by the current crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman, who runs the show. This suggests that opposition to the crown prince's authoritarian ways may be stirring in rival royal circles.
Abdalla Hamdok, the prime minister of Sudan, survived a gun-and-bomb attack on his motorcade. The assassination attempt highlights the precariousness of the country's transition towards democracy.
The coronavirus crisis. The World Health Organisation officially declared covid-19 to be a pandemic: "We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear." America announced a travel ban on visitors from Europe (except Britain and Ireland). The lockdown in northern Italy was extended to the whole country. Most shops were ordered to close. In Germany, Angela Merkel said that 60-70% of the country's population may contract the disease at some point. Xi Jinping said there had been a positive turn to contain covid-19 in the province of Hubei. Outside Hubei, China reported three days with no newly confirmed cases of local infection. The central bank of Nigeria will, in effect, ban imports of hand sanitiser. The governor said this would boost local production.