Berlusconi claims win for center-right in Sicily vote

This file photo taken on May 22, 2014 shows Former Italian Prime Minister and president of the Italian center-right Forza Italia (FI) party, Silvio Berlusconi during a rally. (AFP)
Updated 07 November 2017
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Berlusconi claims win for center-right in Sicily vote

PALERMO, Italy: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was poised for for a stunning political comeback on Monday, as he claimed victory in an election in Sicily that puts him and his rightist allies in pole position for a national vote due by next May.
With about 85 percent of the votes counted, a center-right bloc backed by the four-times prime minister was running five percentage points ahead of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, with the center-left a distant third.
“Sicily, just as I asked, has chosen the path of real, serious, constructive change, based on honesty, competence and experience,” the 81 year-old said in a video posted on Facebook.
The result puts Berlusconi back on the political map after years of sex scandals and graft allegations. By contrast, it deals a stinging blow to another former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, head of the ruling Democratic Party (PD), which is locked in feuding with erstwhile leftist partners.
After a raft of vote setbacks in recent years, Renzi has many critics inside the PD who may now try to mount a challenge to his leadership.
The regional Sicilian ballot, held on Sunday, is seen as a dry run for the national vote, with many of the island’s problems reflecting those of the country as a whole — high unemployment, a debt mountain and sluggish economic growth.

“A WINNING MODEL“
Sicily is traditionally a center-right stronghold which was poached by the PD in 2012 thanks to splits in the conservative bloc. This time Berlusconi reunited the coalition behind a widely respected leader with a far-right background.
Nello Musumeci, the center-right’s candidate for governor of the island, had 39.8 percent of the vote, while the 5-Star’s Giancarlo Cancelleri had 34.7 percent. The center-left’s Fabrizio Micari was lagging on 18.5 percent.
“From Sicily we will demonstrate that this is a winning model that can triumph at a national level,” said Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party which is the junior partner in the center-right alliance.
The maverick 5-Star, founded by comedian Beppe Grillo, had campaigned relentlessly for months in Sicily, looking to take charge of its first region after a string of successes in municipal ballots in recent years, including in Rome and Turin.
Its leader Luigi Di Maio said the party had been penalized in Sicily by low turnout — less than half of those eligible cast a vote.
“In two or three months I think many of those who abstained will regret not going to vote,” Di Maio said, insisting that if turnout had been 3 or 4 points higher it could have tilted the result in the movement’s favor.
Although defeat is a blow, the 5-Star can take comfort from the fact that it is the largest single political force, taking at least 30 percent of a separate vote on Sicily for party lists against less than 15 percent for its nearest rival — Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!)


Cape Verde opens investigation after migrant boat sails to Brazil

Updated 25 May 2018
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Cape Verde opens investigation after migrant boat sails to Brazil

  • Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Filipe: “There were no Cape Verdeans on board but because the ship began its crossing in Cape Verde we are going to investigate so that other cases do not occur.”
  • There were 25 migrants — all men — on the boat and two Brazilians, reportedly suspected of being people traffickers.

PRAIA: Cape Verde has opened an investigation after 25 African migrants were found off the coast of Brazil after reportedly spending five weeks at sea.
The country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luis Filipe said the migrant boat started its great journey in the west African archipelago.
“There were no Cape Verdeans on board but because the ship began its crossing in Cape Verde we are going to investigate so that other cases do not occur,” Filipe Tavaras said on TV Wednesday night.
On Saturday, local fishermen found the catamaran, flying the Haitian flag, drifting off the Brazilian coastal town of Sao Jose de Ribamar, south of the Amazon river, the Brazilian navy said.
There were 25 migrants — all men — on the boat and two Brazilians, reportedly suspected of being people traffickers.
The migrants came from Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal on the other side of the Atlantic, the human rights department for Brazil’s state of Maranhao said in a statement.
They had reportedly spent 35 days afloat but there was no immediate indication of what route they had taken.
Brazilian police will investigate possible crimes committed against the migrants and evaluate their legal situation.
Cape Verde, a group of nine inhabited volcanic islands, lies some 500 kilometers (300 miles) off the west African countries of Guinea-Bissau and Senegal.
The islands gained independence from Portugal in 1975, after an 11-year liberation war.