Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule

Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule
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A general view in N'Djamena of a poster calling people to vote 'yes' in the referendum scheduled on December 17, 2023 on a new constitution, in a key step towards elections seen as a test of legitimacy for the Deby dynasty's more than 30-year rule. (Denis Sassou Gueipeur / AFP)
Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule
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A general view of a banner saying: "I decide, Chad advances" of the national commission in charge of organizing the referendum. Chadians vote on December 17, 2023 on a new constitution, in a key step towards elections seen as a test of legitimacy for the Deby dynasty's more than 30-year rule. (AFP)
Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule
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A general view of a poster in a street that says "Halt the Referendum", in N'Djamena on December 13, 2023. Chadians vote on December 17, 2023 on a new constitution, in a key step towards elections promised but postponed by the ruling junta and seen as a test of legitimacy for the Deby dynasty's more than 30-year rule. (Denis Sassou Gueipeur / AFP)
Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule
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A general view of a banner of the National Rally for Democracy in Chad calling on citizens to stay at home during the referendum vote, in N'Djamena on December 13, 2023. The "yes" vote is expected to win the constitutional referendum after a well-financed campaign by the ruling junta against a divided opposition. (Denis Sassou Gueipeur / AFP)
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Updated 17 December 2023
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Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule

Chad votes on new constitution ahead of promised end of military rule
  • Mahamat Deby was proclaimed transitional president by the army in April 2021, following the death of his father Idriss Deby Itno
  • Deby senior had ruled Chad, who ruled for more than 30 years, was killed by rebels on his way to the front line of the fighting
  • A large section of the opposition and civil society in the central African country are calling for a boycott

N’DJAMENA: Chad voters go to the polls on Sunday for a referendum on a new constitution, in a key step toward elections and the return of civilian rule promised, but postponed, by the ruling military junta.

A large section of the opposition and civil society in the central African country are calling for a boycott.
They argue the plebiscite is designed to pave the way for the election of the current transitional president, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, and the continuation of a “dynasty” begun by his late father 33 years ago following a coup.
The “yes” camp seems assured of victory after a well-financed campaign by the ruling junta against a divided opposition, which has faced arrest, intimidation and threats for more than a year.
The capital N’Djamena has been plastered with posters championing a “yes” vote to bring in a constitution for a “unitary and decentralized state.”
It is not very different from the constitution that the military repealed in 2021, enshrining a regime in which most of the power is concentrated in the head of state.
The opposition, which advocates federalism, backs the “no” vote.
The “yes” camp retorts that a unitary state is the only way to preserve unity, while federalism would encourage “separatism” and “chaos.”




A general view of a poster in a street that says "Halt the Referendum", in N'Djamena on December 13, 2023. (Denis Sassou Gueipeur / AFP)

Provisional results are scheduled to be published in late December, with the Supreme Court due to validate them four days later.

The two main platforms of parties and civil society organizations hostile to the junta have called for a boycott, hoping a low turnout will delegitimize a leader whom they accuse of perpetuating a 33-year “Deby dynasty.”
Where they can find space, they have put up posters with the words “Stop the referendum” and a big red cross.
They are hoping a low turnout will undermine the credibility of the referendum, which is “purely and simply legitimising the dynasty that they want to impose on us,” said Max Loalngar, coordinator of one of the groups, Wakit Tamma.
He was speaking to AFP by telephone from a country of exile that he declined to name.
Some advocates of a boycott were dismissive of both sides.
“They’re all the same, whether they’re campaigning for ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They’ve shared the money out between themselves,” Badono Daigou for the GCAP opposition platform told a rally.
“The result is a foregone conclusion. The ‘yes’ vote will win.”
Mahamat Deby, 37, was proclaimed transitional president by the army in April 2021, following the death of his father Idriss Deby Itno, who was killed by rebels on his way to the front line of the fighting.
Deby senior had ruled Chad, the second least developed country in the world according to the United Nations, with an iron fist for more than 30 years.
When he took power, his son promised elections after a transition period of 18 months and made a commitment to the African Union not to stand in them.
But 18 months later, his regime extended the transition by two years and authorized him to run in the presidential election, now scheduled for the end of 2024.




 general view of a banner saying: "I decide, Chad advances" of the national commission in charge of organizing the referendum. Chadians vote on December 17, 2023 on a new constitution, in a key step towards elections seen as a test of legitimacy for the Deby dynasty's more than 30-year rule. (AFP)

On the anniversary of the 18-month transition — October 20, 2022 — between 100 and 300 young men and teenagers were shot dead in N’Djamena by police and military, according to the opposition and national and international NGOs.
They had been peacefully demonstrating against the two-year extension of the transitional government.
More than 1,000 others were imprisoned before being pardoned, while dozens more were tortured or disappeared, according to NGOs and the opposition.
Most were supporters of prominent opposition figure Succes Masra, a longtime opponent of the Deby dynasty.
Yet in late October, Masra signed a reconciliation agreement with the regime and went into exile, from where he has been encouraging his followers to vote “yes” on Sunday.
Since what has come to be known as the “Black Thursday” crackdown, demonstrations have been systematically banned and many opposition leaders have fled Chad in fear of their lives.
“For there to be any legitimacy, the opposition parties and their activists must feel free to meet and campaign,” the Human Rights Watch group said in October.
“Otherwise, there is a risk that the referendum will be seen as a means of transforming the transitional government into a permanent one.”
 


Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
Updated 28 May 2024
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Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video

Deputy leader of UK’s Labour Party promises to fight to end Gaza’s suffering, in leaked video
  • Labour, if elected, would recognize Palestinian statehood, says Angela Rayner

LONDON: Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK’s Labour Party, has promised that her party will do everything in its power to ease the suffering in Gaza as it bids to regain Muslim voters’ support, a leaked video surfacing on social media has revealed.

The footage was first reported by the political blog Guido Fawkes, which claimed to have obtained the leaked tape from a meeting in Ashton-under-Lyne, Rayner’s constituency.

The MP is seen appealing to voters upset with the party’s stance on Israel’s assault on Gaza, The Telegraph reported.

Rayner — claiming she worked “day and night” to get three British doctors out of Rafah and is now attempting to secure aid for the enclave — said: “I promise you, the Labour Party, including myself, is doing everything we can, because nobody wants to see what’s happening.”

She acknowledged the party’s current inability to halt the fighting, admitting that Labour’s influence would be “limited,” even if it came to power after July’s general election.

Rayner added: “Only last week the Labour Party were supporting the ICC (International Criminal Court). The Conservatives didn’t support the ICC, so with this general election on that issue, we can’t affect anything when we’re not in government.

“And I’ll be honest with you, if Labour gets into government, we are limited. I will be honest. I’m not going to promise you … because (Joe) Biden, who’s the US (president), who has way more influence, has only got limited influence in that.

“And Qatar, Saudi Arabia, all of these people, we are all working to stop what’s happening at the moment; we want to see that. So I promise you, that’s what we want to see.”

Rayner also promised that, if Labour was elected, the party would recognize Palestinian statehood.

She added: “If Labour gets into power, we will recognize Palestine. I will push not only to recognize … there is nothing to recognize at the moment, sadly. It’s decimated.

“We have to rebuild Palestine; we have to rebuild Gaza. That takes more than just recognizing it.”

Gaza has been a divisive issue for Labour since Oct. 7, with reports revealing that Muslim voters have abandoned the party as a result of what they perceive as its politicians enabling the war.

The Telegraph found that Labour’s support had dropped in local elections in areas with large Muslim populations, including Oldham in Greater Manchester, where the party lost control of the council in a surprise defeat.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has expressed his determination to re-establish trust among those who have abandoned his party due to his handling of the Gaza war.

However, when probed on particular commitments, he remained vague.

Rayner said in the video: “I know that people are angry about what’s happening in the Middle East.

“If my resignation as an MP now would bring a ceasefire, I would do it. I would do it if I could effect change.”

However, she said such an eventuality was not “in my gift” due to the “failure of the international community.”

In response to the footage, Nigel Farage, Reform UK’s honorary president, accused Rayner of “begging” for the Muslim vote, The Telegraph reported.


12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
Updated 28 May 2024
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12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains

12 Indians killed in quarry collapse after cyclone rains
  • Several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides, and all schools were shut
  • India’s weather office warned of extremely heavy rains in northeastern states on Tuesday

Guwahati: Torrential rains in the wake of a powerful cyclone caused the collapse of a quarry in India’s Mizoram state killing 12 people, government officials said Tuesday.

“So far 12 bodies have been found, we are looking for more,” deputy commissioner of Aizawl district Nazuk Kumar told AFP.

Rescue efforts in the quarry were being hampered by “heavy rains,” police director general Anil Shukla said, NDTV news network reported.

Mizoram Chief Minister Lalduhoma offered compensation to families of the victims of the “landslide due to Cyclone Remal.”

“I pray for the success of rescue and relief operations and wish a speedy recovery of the injured,” India’s President Droupadi Murmu said on social media.

In Mizoram, several highways and key roads were disrupted by landslides. All schools were shut and government employees asked to work from home.

India’s weather office has issued warnings of extremely heavy rainfall across Mizoram and other northeastern states on Tuesday.

In India’s neighboring Assam state, one person was killed and heavy rains had cut the power supply, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said in a statement.

The cyclone made landfall in low-lying Bangladesh and neighboring India on Sunday evening with fierce gales and crashing waves.

Overall, at least 38 people died in the cyclone or storms in its wake.

In India, eight people died in West Bengal state, officials said Tuesday, updating an earlier toll of six, taking the total killed in the country to at least 21.

In neighboring Bangladesh, which bore the brunt of the cyclone that made landfall on Sunday, at least 17 people died, according to the disaster management office and police.


Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
Updated 28 May 2024
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Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine

Poland’s foreign minister says it should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine
  • Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily
  • “We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do”

WARSAW: Poland’s foreign minister says the NATO nation should not exclude the possibility of sending troops to Ukraine and should keep Russian President Vladimir Putin in suspense over whether such a decision would ever be made.
Radek Sikorski made the comments in an interview published Tuesday in the Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“We should not exclude any option. Let Putin be guessing as to what we will do,” Sikorski said when asked whether he would send Polish troops to Ukraine.
Sikorski said he has gone to Ukraine with his family to deliver humanitarian aid.
But a spokesperson for Poland’s Defense Ministry, Janusz Sejmej, told Polish media on Tuesday he had “no knowledge of that” when asked about a report in Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine suggesting Poland might send troops to Ukraine.
The idea of sending foreign soldiers to Ukraine, which is battling Russian military aggression, was floated earlier this year in France, but no country, including Poland, has publicly embraced it.
Poland supports neighboring Ukraine politically and by providing military equipment and humanitarian aid.


Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
Updated 28 May 2024
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Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy

Baby found dead in stricken migrant boat heading for Italy
  • The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia
  • SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted

LAMPEDUSA, Italy: The body of a five-month-old baby was found on Tuesday when some 85 migrants heading for Italy from Tunisia were rescued from distress at sea, according to a Reuters witness.
The infant girl, her mother and 4-year-old sister were in an unseaworthy boat laden with migrants that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia two days earlier bound for Italy, according to charity group SOS Humanity.
SOS Humanity workers aboard its “Humanity 1” vessel found many of the migrants exhausted and suffering from seasickness and fuel burns as they were rescued before dawn on Tuesday, the group said in a statement.
Some 185 migrants rescued in separate operations this week, including the stricken boat overnight, were being taken aboard “Humanity 1” to the port of Livorno in northwest Italy. Another 120 migrants were transferred by coast guard boat to the Italian island of Lampedusa in the southern Mediterranean.
Tunisia is grappling with a migrant crisis and has replaced Libya as the main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict further south in Africa as well as the Middle East in hopes of a better life in Europe.
Italy has sought to curb migrant arrivals from Africa, making it harder charity ships to operate in the Mediterranean, limiting the number of rescues they can carry out and often forcing them to make huge detours to bring migrants ashore.


Putin warns West not to let Ukraine use its missiles to hit Russia

Putin warns West not to let Ukraine use its missiles to hit Russia
Updated 28 May 2024
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Putin warns West not to let Ukraine use its missiles to hit Russia

Putin warns West not to let Ukraine use its missiles to hit Russia
  • “Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences,” Putin told reporters in Tashkent
  • “If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?“

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Tuesday that NATO members in Europe were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike deep inside Russia, which he said could trigger a global conflict.
More than two years into the deadliest land war in Europe since World War Two, Putin has increasingly spoken of the risk of a much broader global conflict as the West grapples with what to do about the advance of Russian troops in Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told The Economist that alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, a view supported by some NATO members but not by the United States.
“Constant escalation can lead to serious consequences,” Putin told reporters in Tashkent. “If these serious consequences occur in Europe, how will the United States behave, bearing in mind our parity in the field of strategic weapons?“
“It’s hard to say — do they want a global conflict?“
Putin said Ukrainian strikes on Russia with long-range weapons would need Western satellite, intelligence and military help — so the West would be directly involved. He said sending French troops to Ukraine would be a step toward a global conflict.
Speaking of NATO members in Europe, Putin said that small countries there “should be aware of what they are playing with,” as they had small land areas and very dense populations.
“This is a factor that they should keep in mind before talking about striking deep into Russian territory,” Putin said.

RUSSIAN ADVANCES TRIGGER DEBATE IN WEST
Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine touched off the worst breakdown in relations with the West for 60 years, and the crisis is escalating into what diplomats say is its most dangerous phase to date.
The invasion has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians, driven millions to flee abroad, and reduced neighborhoods and whole cities to rubble.
Russia, which controls 18 percent of Ukraine, is advancing and has opened a new front in the Kharkiv region, triggering a debate in the West about what else it can do after giving Kyiv hundreds of billions of dollars in aid, weapons and intelligence.
Western leaders and Ukraine have played down Russia’s warnings about the risk of a broader war involving Russia, the world’s biggest nuclear power, and NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance led by the United States.
Ukraine says it should be able to hit behind Russian lines, including against Russian sovereign territory, to fight back.
But Russian officials say Moscow’s patience is wearing thin after repeated Ukrainian attacks on Russian cities, oil refineries, and, in recent days, even against elements of its nuclear early warning system.
Asked by Russian state television about the legitimacy of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Putin said the only legitimate authority in Ukraine now was parliament, and that its head should be given power.
Zelensky has not faced an election despite the expiry of his term due to martial law which was imposed after the invasion.