India’s Congress to stage massive rally

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Updated 04 November 2012
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India’s Congress to stage massive rally

NEW DELHI: Sonia Gandhi, chief of India’s ruling Congress party, and Premier Manmohan Singh will speak at a massive rally today to whip up support for the scandal-tainted government ahead of 2014 elections.
Italian-born Gandhi, India’s political grand matriarch who led Congress to back-to-back wins in 2004 and 2009, is moving into high gear as she seeks to persuade voters to elect the party for a third straight term, analysts say.
At the rally in the Indian capital, leaders will defend the government’s blitz of controversial reforms to allow wider foreign investment in the retail, insurance and aviation sectors aimed at spurring a sharply slowing economy.
“We want to tell people that these are people-friendly measures — these are for the betterment of the common man,” a senior Congress party official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
The left-leaning government is deeply wary of a voter backlash in the elections due within 18 months over the reforms that have drawn strong political opposition in the still heavily poor country of 1.2 billion people.
Also due to speak along with Gandhi and Singh at the rally in the capital New Delhi will be Sonia’s 42-year-old son Rahul Gandhi, expected to be the party’s candidate for prime minister in the polls, the party official said.
“All three of them are scheduled to give speeches,” he said.
The rally is being staged a week after 80-year-old Singh overhauled his Cabinet to give it a more youthful face with the inclusion of younger ministers to appeal to the country’s vast youth population.
Congress is struggling to restore its credibility as a force fit to govern in the face of a drumroll of corruption charges that have put it on the defensive almost since the last elections in 2009.
The Congress party official said the party is hoping Sunday’s rally would be attended by over 100,000 people.


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 19 min 2 sec ago
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

  • Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
  • The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”