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Museveni ‘short on imagination, innovation’ to fix Uganda

President Museveni has been sworn in for a fifth consecutive term. Under his 30 year rule, Uganda has made some economic progress, but he is criticized for rights abuses and enabling a deep political divide. On Thursday, President Yoweri Museveni took an oath of office, marking his fifth consecutive term at the helm of Uganda. The 71-year-old leader promised to "uphold, preserve, protect and defend the constitution, and observe the laws of Uganda." But opposition parties have however been challenging the results of February's elections, which saw him re-elected. His key rival Kizza Besigye has been arrested and detained after every public appearance. Another opposition leader, former ally and prime minister, Amama Mbabazi did manage to file a petition in time, but the country's Supreme Court threw the case out for "lack of evidence." Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer and political commentator, spoke to DW about the expectations of Ugandans from their veteran leader. DW: What should be his top priority now that he has been sworn in? Nicholas Opiyo: President Museveni will have to address the bigger question of youth employment. Uganda is a very young country with about 78 percent of the population below the age of 35 and yet they have the highest unemployment rate in the country. If he doesn't, they are becoming a security threat; they are becoming redundant and are not being productive for this country. Beyond the youth unemployment problem, President Museveni will have to address the increasing concern about the conscription of civic space, the retrogression of our democratic processes. There is no question that his election has been challenged not just by local opposition leaders, but has been called by the national observers as falling short of meeting international standards. Thirdly, President Museveni will have to resolve the problem of the poor state of social services across the country. You've just highlighted some of the problems facing the country. Just keep us in this topic, what can Ugandans expect from President Museveni considering that he has been in power for the last 30 years? We do not believe that there is something new that President Museveni is going to do in the next five years that he has not been able to do in the last thirty years. President Museveni is very short on imagination, very short of innovative doings of addressing the problems that this country has. How challenging is it going to be for President Museveni to unite the country that is so much divided along party lines? It is going to be difficult for President Museveni to reconcile this country and to address the concerns of people of who challenge this election. There is no doubt that there is a very big percentage of people in this country who think that this election was stolen. No matter what the Supreme Court said, no matter what the electoral commission declared, there is a general challenge to the legitimacy of this election. What President Museveni has done in response is to deploy soldiers on the streets, is to unleash weapon of terror on its own population, and is to lock up the opposition leaders. I think that is unhelpful. What he needs to do is to open up the channel for discussion and to allow for free expression of those who challenge his rule in power. He must reach out to them and reconcile, he must seek a dialogue, and he must seek negotiations and agreement on the minimum governance agenda for this country. Even with his contested age, do you see Museveni retiring once he hits the constitutional age limit? President Museveni has shown an insatiable and unquenchable thirst to stay in power, to hold on to power no matter what it is. There is no doubt that President Museveni will also seek to amend the constitution to lift age limit and perpetuate his stay in power. You talked about a big percentage of Ugandans being convinced that election was stolen, is there a possibility that Museveni can work with the opposition? I think that the divide between the opposition and the NRM [National Resistance Movement] is so deep, the level of discuss is so unfriendly that for them to be able to come together and agree on a minimum governance agenda will require a lot of efforts on the parts of Ugandans, but also on the part of development partners. Kizza Besigye, who is Museveni's closest opponent, is equally also not so young. Are there any prospective young Ugandans keen on taking on the political lead? There are so many qualified Ugandans who would step up the plate and offer to lead this country. But in the current context of suffocation, of being intimidated, of people being beaten primarily because they are just opposition, I don't see many Ugandans choosing to join politics for that reason. The middle class in this country, the elite in this country, have stayed away from politics because the nature of our politics is very acrimonies, it involves daily dosage of teargas, false accusation, arrests, and nobody wants to do that. Nicholas Opiyo is a human rights lawyer and political commentator speaking to DW's AfricaLink radio program. Interview: Jane Ayeko-Kümmeth

President Museveni has been sworn in for a fifth consecutive term. Under his 30 year rule, Uganda has made some economic progress, but he is criticized for rights abuses and enabling a deep political divide. On Thursday, President Yoweri Museveni took an oath of office, marking his fifth consecutive term at the helm of Uganda. The 71-year-old leader promised to ... Read More »

Brazil’s interim President Michel Temer vows to restore economic growth

Brazil's new acting president has formed a pro-business cabinet and vowed to work towards lifting the economy. Many analysts argue a tanking economy played a major role in Rousseff's downfall. In his first words to the nation, Brazil's acting President Michel Temer said Thursday he would work to revive Latin America's largest economy and seek dialogue in a country divided along multiple fault lines. "Dialogue is the first step to facing the challenges we must overcome to move forward and guarantee a return to growth," said Temer, only hours after taking over from Dilma Rousseff, who was suspending as president pending an impeachment trial. "It is urgent to restore peace and unite Brazil," said Temer. Immediate opposition The opposition immediately slammed his new pro-business cabinet. The 21- member cabinet is composed of all-white men, a possible indication that the traditional elite would seek to undermine 13 years of left-wing policies. Brazil has been on an up and down rollercoaster ride over the past months, leading to a senate vote on Thursday to try Rousseff on allegations she hid a budget shortfall ahead of her 2014 reelection bid. Rousseff has described the opposition move as a "coup" and vowed to fight on through legal challenges. She was supported in street protests from left-wing Workers' Party supporters. She argues the budget maneuvers were a common practice used by previous governments and not illegal. "I may have committed errors but I never committed crimes," Rousseff said at a news conference earlier on Thursday. "It's the most brutal of things that can happen to a human being - to be condemned for a crime you didn't commit." The senate will now spend up to six months deciding whether to remove Rousseff permanently from the presidency. Two-thirds of the senate is needed to remove her from office. Temer under investigation for corruption Unlike many of the senators and Temer himself, Rousseff is not under investigation for corruption, even though much of the graft at state owned oil giant Petrobras happened while the Workers' Party was in power. Temer vowed to fight corruption and maintain the wide reaching investigation into graft, though critics worry he will use his power to undermine investigations into the country's political and business elite. Temer sought to smooth concerns he would unravel social programs implemented by the Workers' Party that brought an estimated 35 million people out of poverty over the past decade. Economic recovery? Supporters of the impeachment argue Temer could be the best bet for restoring growth to Brazil's economy. After years of robust growth the economy entered a recession, contracting nearly four percent last year with soaring inflation and unemployment. Growth estimates for this year are similar. Many analysts argue the economy played a major role in Rousseff's downfall. Her support has tanked alongside the economy.

Brazil’s new acting president has formed a pro-business cabinet and vowed to work towards lifting the economy. Many analysts argue a tanking economy played a major role in Rousseff’s downfall. In his first words to the nation, Brazil’s acting President Michel Temer said Thursday he would work to revive Latin America’s largest economy and seek dialogue in a country divided ... Read More »

Australia stops five people suspected of plotting sailing trip to Syria

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of trying to leave Australia illegally on a small boat to sail to Indonesia. Officials believe the men wanted to join jihadis in Syria and 'engage in hostile acts.' The men taken into custody had bought a seven-meter (23-foot) boat to make the trip to Indonesia, Australian Federal Police said Wednesday. "The suspicion is that they were seeking to leave Australia by vessel to avoid the fact that they couldn't travel by air because their passports had been canceled," said Attorney-General George Brandis. The group is suspected of having towed their power boat behind a car for 2,800 kilometers (1,700 miles) from Melbourne to Cairns, in northern Australia, police said. According to Brandis, they intended to "leave Australia by sea, transiting to Indonesia and, from Indonesia, seeking to reach Syria to engage in hostile acts in that country." 'Serious attempt' to leave country The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that one of the five men was Melbourne-born Islamic preacher Musa Cerantonio. Cerantonio, who converted from Catholicism at age 17, was deported from the Philippines two years ago for urging people to join jihadi movements. The police, however, declined to identify all the men in the group, saying only they were aged between 21 and 33 and known to have "extremist views." "This is a serious attempt by five men who are of security interest to us who have had their passports canceled in attempting to exit Australia," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton told reporters. "We're investigating the intention to possibly end up in Syria to fight. "We can't allow Australians to leave Australia and support terrorism anywhere," he said. Canberra estimates that some 110 of its citizens are already fighting in the Middle East. Between 50 and 59 nationals have been killed so far, according to Brandis. The country has also been targeted by several terrorist attacks, including a 2014 café siege in Sydney that left two hostages dead and an attack on a police employee last year.

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of trying to leave Australia illegally on a small boat to sail to Indonesia. Officials believe the men wanted to join jihadis in Syria and ‘engage in hostile acts.’ The men taken into custody had bought a seven-meter (23-foot) boat to make the trip to Indonesia, Australian Federal Police said Wednesday. “The suspicion ... Read More »

Austrian chancellor’s resignation allows party to rebuild

Austrian Werner Faymann has stepped down as chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats. As Alison Langley in Vienna reports, his resignation throws the future of the Austria's government into question. Next to Germany's Angela Merkel, Faymann was one of the longest ruling leaders in Europe. But his inability to tackle systemic problems caused his downfall. While Social Democratic leaders say his departure will help them rebuild the party, their government coalition partner, the conservative Austrian People's Party, could decide to change allegiances and side with the far-right Freedom Party and call for a new election. Should that happen, Austria could be the first western European country to elect the first far right government since World War Two. "Austria could be the beginning of the return of the right," said Alexandra Foederl-Schmid, editor-in-chief of Der Standard. "This is a very real possibility." Faymann's resignation comes two weeks after his party's candidate received an embarrassing pummeling in the first round of presidential elections. Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer received more than 35 percent of the vote and is the top runner to be Austria's next president. Voters expressed their anger over the government's inability to solve many of the country's problems, including rising unemployment, the refugee crisis and education reform. "When you've had the honor of being chancellor for seven and a half years, then one can only say thank you, and I say that from my deepest inner conviction," said Faymann, 56, in a hastily called press conference just before lunch. Coalition partner, the Austrian People's Party, has called an emergency meeting for Tuesday. It could vote to leave the coalition. If it does so, elections would be held in September. Vienna Mayor Michael Häupl to be interim leader Vienna's mayor, Michael Häupl, will be the party's interim leader. A successor for the chancellory has not yet been announced. Two likely successors for Faymann could be Christian Kern, the current head of Austria's Railway, and Gerhard Zeiler, a former head of Austria's public broadcaster and currently an executive at private media group RTL. 'Werner let us be' The weekend was filled with speculation over Faymann's future. At one point, Josef Muchitsch, a prominent union leader, pleaded in a letter: "Werner, let us be!" However, by Monday morning, conventional wisdom was that the chancellor would hang on at least until the party convention in November mainly because there was no obvious successor. The long-time party leader had spent Monday morning meeting with union leaders and midday with party leaders from each state before announcing his resignation. Faymann was Austria's 13th chancellor. He took office Dec. 2, 2008. When he took office, unemployment was at 4.7 percent. At a time when the jobless rate has fallen in other European nations, it has gone up in this Alpine country: In April it stood at 5.7 percent. "The strong support of the party has disappeared," Fayman said, adding that he accepts the consequence. SPÖ now must rebuild Still his resignation was a surprise to many, even Salzburg's governor Walter Steidl, who told reporters "I'm surprised; reason has won," he said, as he left the midday meeting. Most party members greeted the politician's departure, but said more needed to be done to turn around rising unemployment and help to integrate 90,000 refugees who flooded the country last year. "This is a first step, but it's not enough," Camila del Pilar Garfias, a leader of the youth wing of the Social Democrat party, told DW. Austria has been deeply divided over many issues, but perhaps the toughest issue has been how to solve the refugee crisis. Last year, when the wave of migrants turned into a rush, Faymann stood beside Merkel in welcoming those fleeing war. When the country was overwhelmed with 90,000 asylum requests, Faymann, who prided himself on a "stable" governing style, was at a loss for what to do. The party seemed ruderless; he left the policy to governing partner, the People's Party, which has erected fences, resurrected border controls and announced an upper limit on the number of asylum seekers the country will accept this year. Faymann's resignation on Monday came two days after hundreds of protesters gathered at the Brenner Pass, on the border with Italy, to demonstrate against Austria's latest checks. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also criticized the new border controls, saying they would be a "political disaster" for Europe. Political commentator Thomas Hofer agreed that Faymann's departure paves the way for the Social Democrats and the People's Party to renegotiate a program acceptible to voters before national elections, which must be held by 2018 at the latest. However, if the Social Democrats appoint a strong, decisive leader, it could ironically play into the hands of the far right, said Foederl-Schmid. That's because a rebuilt center-left party might hurt the People's Party chances of re-election. The fate of the country now lies in the hands of the junior partner. The center-right party could choose instead to partner with the far-right Freedom Party. Coalition partner could switch allegiance Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner from the People's Party called for an emergency party meeting to discuss the future of the coalition. In a statement released to the press, Neo Party leader, Matthias Strolz, greeted Faymann's resignation, saying he hoped it would be the end to the "power cartel" of the two parties, which have ruled Austria since the end of the Second World War. Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of the right-wing Freedom Party, said the change in leadership wasn't enough. "The new decoration in the display case doesn't change the poor assortment."

Austrian Werner Faymann has stepped down as chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats. As Alison Langley in Vienna reports, his resignation throws the future of the Austria’s government into question. Next to Germany’s Angela Merkel, Faymann was one of the longest ruling leaders in Europe. But his inability to tackle systemic problems caused his downfall. While Social Democratic leaders ... Read More »

North Korea ‘to boost nuke production’

North Korea has declared it will strengthen the country's nuclear arsenal in tandem with developing its economy. The announcement came at the first communist Workers' Party congress held in nearly 40 years. North Korea said Monday it would further strengthen self-defensive nuclear weapons capability "in quality and quantity" in a decision adopted at a rare party congress, its KCNA news agency reported. The congress, which opened on Friday, has largely been seen as an elaborate coronation for Kim Jong-Un, securing his status as supreme leader and confirming his legacy "byungjin" doctrine of twin economic and nuclear development. "We will consistently take hold on the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and boost self-defensive nuclear force both in quality and quantity as long as the imperialists persist in their nuclear threat and arbitrary practices," Kim said at the conference. Delegates at the conference also enshrined a policy of not using nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is threatened by another nuclear power, and of working towards the eventual reunification of the divided Korean peninsula. "But if the south Korean authorities opt for a war... we will turn out in the just war to mercilessly wipe out the anti-reunification forces," said the document published by the state-run KCNA news agency. A coronation of sorts The 33-year-old leader was not even born when the last congress was held in 1980 to affirm his father, Kim Jong-Il, as the heir apparent to founding leader Kim Il-Sung. The nuclear aspect of the twin doctrine had dominated the run-up to the party congress, starting with a fourth nuclear test in January that was followed by a long-range rocket launch and a flurry of other missile and weapons tests. Kim urged all the delegates to press ahead with the byungjin policy. "This strategic line is the most revolutionary and scientific one reflecting the lawful requirements of building a thriving socialist nation and the specific conditions of our country," he said. North Korea came under the latest United Nations sanctions in March but it has defied international pressure with more activities under its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea has declared it will strengthen the country’s nuclear arsenal in tandem with developing its economy. The announcement came at the first communist Workers’ Party congress held in nearly 40 years. North Korea said Monday it would further strengthen self-defensive nuclear weapons capability “in quality and quantity” in a decision adopted at a rare party congress, its KCNA news ... Read More »

Raging wildfire in western Canadian province of Alberta expected to spread

کینیڈا کے صوبے البیٹرا میں آسمان کو چھوتی ہوئی آگ بے قابو انداز میں مسلسل آگے بڑھ رہی ہے۔ حکام نے کسی بڑے نقصان کے پیش نظر علاقے میں ہنگامی حالت نافذ کر دی ہے۔ البیٹرا کے حکام کے مطابق آگ بجھانے والا عملہ تیز ہواؤں کی وجہ سے ابھی تک آگ کو آگے بڑھنے سے روکنے میں ناکام ہے، جس کی وجہ سے ہنگامی حالت نافذ کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا گیا ہے۔ شعلوں کی زد میں آ کر ابھی تک سولہ سو مکانات اور کئی دیگر عمارتیں خاکستر ہو چکی ہیں۔ آگ سے سب سے زیادہ متاثر ہونے والا علاقہ فورٹ میک مری ہے، جہاں سے اسی ہزار سے زائد شہریوں کو محفوظ مقامات پر منتقل کیا جا چکا ہے۔ البیٹرا کی وزیر اعلٰی ریشل نوٹلی نے آگ سے ہونے والے نقصان کی تصدیق کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ فائر بریگیڈ کے کارکنوں کی ناقابل بیان کوششوں کی وجہ سے شعلے شہر کے مرکز تک نہیں پہنچ سکے۔ ابھی تک کسی بھی شخص کی ہلاکت یا شدید زخمی ہونے کی کوئی اطلاع نہیں ہے۔ بدھ کو رات دیر گئے آگ ہوائی اڈے کے قریب پہنچ گئی تھی تاہم وہاں موجود عملے نے فوری طور پر شعلوں پر قابو پا لیا۔ اس دوران فورٹ میک مری آنے اور وہاں سے جانے والی تمام پروازیں منسوخ کر دی گئی تھیں۔ غیر متوقع شدید گرمی اور خشک موسم کی وجہ سے البیٹرا کے دیگر جنگلاتی علاقوں میں کسی وقت بھی آگ بھڑک سکتی ہے۔ فورٹ میک مری کا علاقہ بھی جنگلات میں گھرا ہوا ہے اور یہاں پر سعودی عرب اور وینیزویلا کے بعد دنیا میں خام تیل کے تیسرے بڑے ذخائر پائے جاتے ہیں۔ البیرٹا کی وزیر اعلی نوٹلی نے متاثرہ علاقوں کا دورہ بھی کیا اور فضائی جائزے کے دوران اتاری گئی تصاویر بھی پوسٹ کیں، ’’ فضا سے دکھائی دینے والے مناظر دل دہلا دینے والے ہیں۔‘‘ اس دوران ایک جانب فائر بریگیڈ کا عملہ آگ کو آگے بڑھنے سے روک رہا ہے جبکہ دوسری جانب ہائی وے اور ایک اہم پل کو تحفظ فراہم کرنے کی کوشش کی جا رہی ہے۔ بتایا گیا ہے کہ ہائی وے 63 پر گاڑیوں کی قطاریں لگی ہوئی ہیں اور بہت سی گاڑیاں ایندھن بھی ختم ہو گیا ہے۔ آگ کے پھیلنے کے ڈر سے ہائی وے پر کئی پٹرول پمپ بھی بند کر دیے گئے تھے، جن میں اب کئی کو کھول دیا گیا تھا۔

A massive wildfire in Alberta, Canada has forced the largest fire evacuation in the province’s history. Officials have cautioned that the fire is expected to spread further due to high winds and “tinder dry” conditions. The Alberta government said in a special briefing on Thursday that more than 1,110 firefighters, 145 helicopters, 138 pieces of heavy equipment and 22 air ... Read More »

Brazil’s Supreme Court confirms suspension of house speaker Eduardo Cunha

Eduardo Cunha, speaker of Brazil's lower house of Congress, has been officially suspended from his post following a Supreme Court decision. Cunha was the architect behind the effort to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Brazil's top court made the decision on Thursday following a ruling earlier in the day by Justice Teori Zavascki. Zavascki ordered that Cunha (pictured above) be stripped of his powers, a decision confirmed just hours later by the full court. An immensely powerful and divisive figure, Cunha was charged with taking bribes in a case that involves state-owned oil company Petrobras. Despite repeated efforts to hold him accountable, however, he has managed to avoid being brought to justice. Cunha has denied any wrongdoing and plans to appeal the decision. A spokesperson was quoted as saying he wouldn't leave office. 'Better late than never': Rousseff Cunha is reviled by some as the main figure behind efforts to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who expressed satisfaction with her archenemy's fate. "Better late than never," Rousseff said. "The only thing I regret [...] is that he was able to sit there stone-faced and preside over these shameful proceedings in the lower house." One of Zavascki's concerns appears to be the fact that Cunha was second-in-line after Vice President Michel Temer to take over the presidency if Rousseff is impeached. Web of corruption Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose Eduardo Cardozo said the court's ruling would mean a new appeal to have the impeachment proceedings dismissed. A poll in April found that 77 percent of Brazilians wanted Cunha to step down or be dismissed from his position. The court ruling is yet another reminder of the overlapping corruption scandals currently plaguing Brazilian political life. In addition to Cunha, dozens of other politicians or executives have been charged with or found guilty of corruption.

Eduardo Cunha, speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, has been officially suspended from his post following a Supreme Court decision. Cunha was the architect behind the effort to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. Brazil’s top court made the decision on Thursday following a ruling earlier in the day by Justice Teori Zavascki. Zavascki ordered that Cunha (pictured above) be stripped ... Read More »

State of emergency declared as Alberta wildfires continue to rage

A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian province of Alberta as firefighters continue to battle raging wildfires. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the northern city of Fort McMurray. The Canadian government announced the state of emergency on Wednesday as wildfires continued to rage through the northern city of Fort McMurray, in the western province of Alberta, displacing tens of thousands of people. The entire population of the city in the center of Canada's oil sands region - around 88,000 residents - has been evacuated. Strong winds are threatening to spread the blaze, which has already incinerated more than 1,500 structures and could destroy much of the city. The evacuation is the largest in the province's history. Nine air tankers, a dozen helicopters and around 250 firefighters were battling the flames, and the military has been put on alert. "Obviously, Fort McMurray being evacuated has been extremely difficult, not just for the province and officials, but for the folks who live there," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trudeau added that he had offered Alberta Premier Rachel Notley "our total support as a government to anything needed in the short-term but obviously anything in the long-term." Shows of solidarity Meanwhile, evacuees clogged highways and filled up work camps operated by local energy companies. Nearby residents used Twitter to offer shelter, supplies and food to the displaced. As emergency workers from other parts of the country flew in to help with the crisis, the fire threatened to spread to neighborhoods on the other side of the river from where it originated. Firefighters told reporters they expected the fire to gain strength as the day moves forward. There is still no end in sight to the wildfires, which have yet to claim any casualties, the local fire chief said. The fire has been blamed on unseasonably hot temperatures and dry conditions in much of Alberta. This is the second major fire around the city in less than a year. Last May, wildfires in the area led to the evacuation of hundreds of workers from Canada's energy heartland.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Canadian province of Alberta as firefighters continue to battle raging wildfires. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the northern city of Fort McMurray. The Canadian government announced the state of emergency on Wednesday as wildfires continued to rage through the northern city of Fort McMurray, in the western ... Read More »

Brazil proscecutor calls for obstruction of justice probe into President Rousseff

Reports said Brazil's state attorney wants President Rousseff questioned for allegedly trying to stall a corruption investigation. She insisted the scandal would not affect the Olympics as she set off the torch relay. Local media reported late on Tuesday that Brazil's top prosecutor filed a request to investigate President Dilma Rousseff for possible obstruction of justice. The case would be the first time Rousseff has been directly implicated in the sprawling corruption scandal surrounding state-owned oil giant Petrobras. This could well spell the political downfall of the president, who despite formerly sitting as chairwoman of the board, has managed thus far to avoid any graft charges related to Petrobras. Rousseff has consistently denied any wrongdoing, despite the fact that much of the billion-dollar kickback scheme happened during her tenure at Petrobras. Some of Brazil's biggest construction executives have already been jailed and convicted for using Petrobras funds for bribes. Around 50 politicians are currently being investigated. The president is also facing a separate impeachment process, on charges of violating budget regulations. Rousseff: Scandal won't taint Olympics Rousseff, however, did her best to remain upbeat as she greeted the Olympic flame on Tuesday ahead of this summer's games in Rio de Janeiro. She said that the scandal would not mar the event. "We are experiencing political instability. We are going through a very difficult period, truly critical in the country's history and in the history of democracy," Rousseff said in the capital Brasilia, where the traditional Olympic torch relay began. "I am certain that a country whose people know how to fight for their rights and to protect their democracy is a country where the Olympics will have great success in the coming months," she said, adding that the games would put the country's beauty on display, rather than its problems. The torch, which arrived from the Greek site of Olympia by way of Switzerland, will now be carried by 12,000 people through 329 towns and cities before ending its journey in Rio's Maracana stadium on August 5. This will be the first Olympic Games hosted by a South American city.

Reports said Brazil’s state attorney wants President Rousseff questioned for allegedly trying to stall a corruption investigation. She insisted the scandal would not affect the Olympics as she set off the torch relay. Local media reported late on Tuesday that Brazil’s top prosecutor filed a request to investigate President Dilma Rousseff for possible obstruction of justice. The case would be ... Read More »

Debate over immunity of Turkish MPs descends into slugfest – again

Turkey's ruling AK Party and opposition lawmakers have brawled over changes to the constitution that could pave the way of prosecuting politicians. Multiple injuries reported after political tensions turn physical. Widely shared footage circulated on social media late Monday showing lawmakers from the ruling AKP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) exchanging blows in a committee room. Parliament's constitutional committee had been meeting to discuss an AKP-backed proposal to strip MPs of their immunity from prosecution, after last week's session also broke up in physical violence. Turkish lawmakers are constitutionally immune from prosecution while in office. Police can file dossiers against politicians, which can lead to a legal process only after the elected official is officially stripped of their title. But the proposed change, championed by the Islamist-rooted AKP founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would strip members of parliament of their legal immunity. Erdogan: HDP 'not legitimate political actors' Erdogan has called for members of the HDP to face prosecution, accusing them of being an extension of the outlawed militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus of the AKP deplored the chaos inside the legislature and put the blame on HDP. "No one should hope to push the government into backing out (of its plans) with this kind of behavior," he warned, adding that "whatever happens, the demand to lift the immunity (of lawmakers)... will be presented to parliament." Meanwhile, the HDP has released statements via Twitter saying its members have been hospitalized with injuries. The party also released a slowed-down version of the scuffles it says proves that its members were struck first by AKP members. The HDP says the bill is directed at its members and warned that prosecutions would only hamper efforts to restart peace talks between the Turkish state and PKK. Over the years, Turkey's Constitutional Court has disbanded several of the HDP's predecessors for allegedly violating the constitution by advocating secession. Washington-based journalist Aliza Marcus - who was expelled from Turkey in the 1990s for alleged PKK sympathies - took to Twitter warning that Ankara's zeal to shut down the HDP was merely repeating past mistakes. Thousands of militants and hundreds of members of security forces and civilians have been killed since a 2-1/2-year ceasefire between the government and the PKK collapsed last summer. The PKK - listed as a terror group by the EU, US and Turkey - has been fighting an insurgency for minority rights and political autonomy for Turkey's Kurds since the 1980s in a long-running conflict that's left more than 40,000 dead.

Turkey’s ruling AK Party and opposition lawmakers have brawled over changes to the constitution that could pave the way of prosecuting politicians. Multiple injuries reported after political tensions turn physical. Widely shared footage circulated on social media late Monday showing lawmakers from the ruling AKP and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) exchanging blows in a committee room. Parliament’s constitutional ... Read More »

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