Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen sworn in as first female president

Tsai Ing-wen has been sworn in as the new president of Taiwan, becoming its first female leader and calling for "positive dialogue" with Beijing.

Ms Tsai, seen as an unassuming but determined leader, led the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to a landslide win in elections in January.

The DPP has traditionally leaned towards independence from China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.

In the past, it has threatened to take the island by force if necessary.

It still has hundreds of missiles pointing towards the island.

Taiwan, the place to be a woman in politics

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's shy but steely leader

Cats, K-pop and trolls: Tsai's strange first week

China and economy among Tsai's challenges

What's behind the China-Taiwan divide?

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Chen Chien-jen was sworn in as vice-president, in front of a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China

Ms Tsai, 59, swore the presidential oath in front of the national flag, before being presented with the official seal.

She and outgoing President Ma Ying-jeou then came out to wave at the crowds watching on screens outside the presidential building.

In her inaugural speech, she said Taiwanese people had shown they were "committed to the defence of our freedom and democracy as a way of life".

The "stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted", she said, calling on both sides to "set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides".


Speech likely to irk China: Cindy Sui, BBC News, Taipei

What Ms Tsai said in her speech is unlikely to satisfy Beijing. It sees eventual unification with the island as non-negotiable.

With tensions rising in the South China Sea, Beijing is also keen for Taiwan to be its ally rather than be aligned with rival claimants to the disputed islets in the sea.

What may also irk China is her focus on Taiwan's democracy and freedom - saying it's every Taiwanese person's responsibility to safeguard this.

This is a clear message to Beijing that Taiwanese people cherish these characteristics of their society and their self-rule more than economic ties with China, even if the mainland is the island's biggest trade partner and export market.

Democracy and freedom to Beijing mean pro-independence, so China will likely continue to distrust Ms Tsai.

Ms Tsai's election win was only the second ever for the DPP - the Kuomintang (KMT) has been in power for most of the past 70 years.

But Mr Ma lost public support over his handling of the economy, the widening wealth gap, as well as what many say was too friendly an approach to Beijing.

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Ms Tsai and her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou then came out together to greet the public

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A military parade and a display of Taiwanese history are being held in the capital in celebration

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The event involves thousands of military personnel as well as schoolchildren and artistic performances

Source: bbc.com

 

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9/11 bill passes US Senate despite Saudi 'warning'

A bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government has passed a key hurdle in the US Senate.

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) now moves to the House of Representatives.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister warned that the move could cause his government to withdraw US investments.

President Barack Obama said he will veto the bill, but a Democratic senator is "confident" he'd be overruled.

If it became law the legislation would allow victims' families to sue any member of the government of Saudi Arabia thought to have played a role in any element of the attack.

Saudi Arabia denies any involvement in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Fifteen out of the nineteen hijackers in 2001 were Saudi citizens.

In 2004 the 9/11 Commission Report found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation".

A White House spokesman said President Obama had serious concerns about the bill, and it was difficult to imagine he would sign it into law.

It was sponsored by Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and is expected to be passed by the House of Representatives as well.


Analysis - Barbara Plett Usher, BBC News, Washington

The 9/11 bill puts Congress on a collision course with the Obama administration, which has lobbied intensely against it.

The White House argues the legislation would remove the sovereign immunity that prevents lawsuits against governments, and could expose Americans to a legal backlash overseas.

For Congress, however, this is about fighting terrorism and pursuing justice for victims, and there is unusual bipartisan support for the bill. Some of its most outspoken supporters are Democrats who are confident that Congress has the necessary two-thirds vote to override a presidential veto.

There is no evidence to support claims that Saudi officials provided financial support to the hijackers, although some believe a classified section of the report into the 9/11 attacks might show otherwise.

But Congress is also playing to the strong emotions triggered by this dispute - the relative of a victim recently told the New York Times it was "stunning" to think the government would back the Saudis over its citizens. One suspects many Americans might agree.


Senator Schumer said: "Today the Senate has spoken loudly and unanimously that the families of the victims of terror attacks should be able to hold the perpetrators even if it's a country a nation accountable.

"It will serve as a deterrent and warning to any other nation who assists in terror attacks against American."

He said he was confident the bill would be passed by a large margin in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia denied it had threatened to sell its US bonds, which would pull billions of dollars from the US economy.

"We said that a law like this is going to cause investor confidence to shrink," Foreign Minister Ahmed Al-Jubeir said while attending a conference in Geneva. "Not just for Saudi Arabia, but for everybody".

Last year an inmate in US custody, Zacarias Moussaoui, claimed that a Saudi prince had helped finance the attack that flew passenger planes into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Virginia.

A fourth plane crashed into an empty field in western Pennsylvania.

Saudi Arabia had rejected the accusation from a "deranged criminal" with no credibility.

Source: bbc.com

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Four more ways the CIA has meddled in Africa

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has a long history of involvement in African affairs, so Sunday's reports that the 1962 arrest of Nelson Mandela came following a CIA tip-off don't come as a huge surprise. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned in 1962 and later convicted of trying to violently overthrow the government.

Most incidents came during the Cold War, when the US and the Soviet Union battled for influence across the continent.

CIA covert operations are by their very nature hard to prove definitively. But research into the agency's work, as well as revelations by former CIA employees, has thrown up several cases where the agency tried to influence events.

Here are four examples:


1) 1961 - Patrice Lumumba's assassination in Congo

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Patrice Lumumba became the first prime minister of the newly-independent Congo in 1960, but he lasted just a few months in the job before he was overthrown and assassinated in January 1961.

In 2002, former colonial power Belgium admitted responsibility for its role in the killing, however, the US has never explained its role despite long-held suspicions.

US President Dwight D Eisenhower, concerned about communism, was worried about Congo following a similar path to Cuba.

According to a source quoted in Death in the Congo, a book about the assassination, President Eisenhower gave "an order for the assassination of Lumumba. There was no discussion; the [National Security Council] meeting simply moved on".

However, a CIA plan to lace Lumumba's toothpaste with poison was never carried out, Lawrence Devlin, who was a station chief in Congo at the time, told the BBC in 2000.

A survey of declassified US government documents from the era notes that the CIA "initially focussed on removing Lumumba, not only through assassination if necessary but also with an array of non-lethal undertakings".

While there is no doubt the CIA wanted him dead, the survey does not indicate direct US involvement in his eventual killing.


2) 1965 - Overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana

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Ghana's first President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup in 1966 while he was out of the country.

He later suspected that the US had a role in his downfall and in a 1978 book, former CIA intelligence officer John Stockwell backed this theory up.

In In Search of Enemies he writes that an official sanction for the coup does not appear in CIA documents, but he writes "the Accra station was nevertheless encouraged by headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents.

"It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched."

He says that the CIA in Ghana got more involved and its operatives were given "unofficial credit for the eventual coup".

A declassified US government document does show awareness of a plot to overthrow the president, but does not indicate any official backing.

Another declassified document written after the coup describes Nkrumah's fall as a "fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African".


3) 1970s - Opposition to the MPLA in Angola

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In Angola three competing groups fought for control after independence from Portugal in 1975, with the MPLA under Agostinho Neto taking over the capital Luanda.

Mr Stockwell, chief of CIA's covert operations in Angola in 1975, writes that Washington decided to oppose the MPLA, as it was seen as closer to the Soviet Union, and support the FNLA and Unita instead, even though all three had help from communist countries.

The CIA then helped secretly import weapons, including 30,000 rifles, through Kinshasa in neighbouring Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Stockwell says in a video documentary.

He adds that CIA officers also trained fighters for armed combat.

A declassified US government document detailing a discussion between the head of the CIA, the secretary of state and others indicates the support the CIA gave to the forces fighting the MPLA.

The US continued to support Unita through much of the civil war as Cuba was backing the MPLA.


4) 1982 - Supporting Hissene Habre in Chad

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Hissene Habre failed in his attempt to take power by force in Chad in 1980.

But his efforts led President Goukouni Oueddei to call on help from the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whose soldiers successfully beat back Habre's challenge and forced him into exile.

A proposed alliance between Libya and Chad began to unsettle the US especially as Gaddafi began to be seen as a supporter of anti-US activities.

In Foreign Policy magazine Michael Bronner writes that the CIA director, with the secretary of state, "coalesced around the idea of launching a covert war in partnership with Habre".

It is alleged that the US then backed Habre's overthrow of the president in 1982 and then supported him throughout his brutal rule.

Source: bbc.com

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Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton vie for Kentucky and Oregon

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is hoping to keep his campaign alive with strong showings in the Kentucky and Oregon primaries.

Front-runner Hillary Clinton is almost certain to secure the nomination in July, with a significant delegate lead.

She has been campaigning in Kentucky, saying husband and former President Bill Clinton would take charge of revitalising the economy.

Both races could be fairly competitive, national polls predict.

Mrs Clinton has won 94% of delegates needed to win the nomination, a total of 24 states to Mr Sanders' 19.

Republicans will vote in Oregon on Tuesday, but that race is all but decided, with front-runner Donald Trump having pushed out all of his competitors.

The Kentucky Democratic primary will award 60 delegates to go to the party's convention in Philadelphia while Oregon's primary will award 74.

Kentucky's primary is closed, meaning only registered Democratic voters can participate.

In Oregon, voters cast ballots entirely by mail.

Pressure is rising on Mr Sanders, a senator from Vermont who has historically been an independent, not a Democrat, to drop out of the race.

Some Democrats worry that his presence is hurting their chances of beating Mr Trump, a billionaire businessman with no political experience, in the general election in the autumn.

Mr Sanders recently won primaries in Indiana and West Virginia, but that did not help him cut into Mrs Clinton's delegate lead.

"I don't think they think of the downside of this," said Senator Dianne Feinstein, who supports Mrs Clinton.

"It's actually harmful because she can't make that general election pivot the way she should. Trump has made that pivot."

Vice President Joe Biden has said he is confident Mrs Clinton will be the nominee.

Mr Sanders has argued that he still has a path to the Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, Mr Trump is slowly gaining support among the GOP establishment.

He met House Speaker Paul Ryan last week and the two had a "productive" conversation but Mr Ryan has yet to formally support him.

Mr Trump is only 103 delegates short of the 1,237 needed to clinch the Republican nomination and Mrs Clinton is 143 short of the 2,383 Democratic delegates she needs.

Source: bbc.com

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Hezbollah killing: Thousands mourn Badreddine at Beirut funeral

Thousands of people have attended the funeral in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, of top Hezbollah military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine.

He died in an explosion near Damascus airport, the Lebanon-based group said, adding it would announce "within hours" its report into the killing.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to support Syria's President Assad.

In 2015, the US said that Badreddine was behind all Hezbollah's military operations in Syria since 2011.

He was also charged with leading the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005.

Obituary: Mustafa Badreddine

Profile: Lebanon's Hezbollah

Who stands accused of Hariri killing?

Images from the funeral showed the coffin being carried among a mass of supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut, some of them chanting "Death to America" and Shia slogans.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in the capital, says some at the funeral blamed Israel for the killing, with one mourner saying: "Hezbollah has many spies."

Another said that without Badreddine, "Daesh [another name for so-called Islamic State] would be here".


A thousand conspiracy theories: Quentin Sommerville, BBC News, Beirut

The crowd at the funeral pointed the finger at the usual suspect. Who carried out the attack, I asked three young women in black abayas: "Israel!" they replied in unison.

But the circumstances around Mustafa Badreddine's death are unclear, and have already sparked a thousand conspiracy theories.

It appears he was the militant group's top commander in Syria. Hezbollah is already stretched thin there, more than 1,600 of its fighters have been killed, and the pictures of its fresh "martyrs" increasingly show very young, or older men, rather than fighters in their prime. The group has promised to retaliate, but that will be difficult. It is already preoccupied in Syria.

And despite a pledge to avenge the death of its previous military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, killed in Damascus in 2008, it failed to do so. Mughniyeh was Badreddine's brother-in-law, the two men are now buried side by side in the same cemetery in Beirut's southern suburbs.


What do we know of the killing?

An initial report by Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV said that Badreddine, 55, had died in an Israeli air strike. But a later statement by Hezbollah on al-Manar's website did not mention Israel.

Israel's government traditionally refuses to comment on such deaths and has done so again.

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Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem spoke at the funeral, flanked on his right by leader Hassan Nasrallah

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Hezbollah says it will soon report on who it believed killed Badreddine

But Israel has been accused by Hezbollah of killing a number of its fighters in Syria since the conflict began.

The group was established in the wake of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and has called for the "obliteration" of Israel.

Asked who might have carried out the attack, Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said that, within hours "we will announce in detail the cause of the explosion and the party responsible for it", adding there were clear indications of those responsible.

One Hezbollah MP in Lebanon, Nawar al-Saheli, said: "This is an open war and we should not pre-empt the investigation but certainly Israel is behind this. The resistance will carry out its duties at the appropriate time."

Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We don't know if Israel is responsible for this. Remember that those operating in Syria today have a lot of haters without Israel.

"But from Israel's view, the more people with experience, like Badreddine, who disappear from the wanted list, the better."

However, any of the armed groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad might have have sought to kill the man co-ordinating Hezbollah military activities.

What is Badreddine's background?

Born in 1961, Badreddine is believed to have been a senior figure in Hezbollah's military wing. He was a cousin and brother-in-law of Imad Mughniyeh, who was the military wing's chief until his assassination by car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

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Badreddine was on a US sanctions list

According to one report, a Hezbollah member interrogated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), described Badreddine as "more dangerous" than Mughniyeh, who was "his teacher in terrorism".

They are alleged to have worked together on the October 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 personnel.

Badreddine is reported to have sat on Hezbollah's Shura Council and served as an adviser to the group's overall leader Hassan Nasrallah.

An indictment from the ongoing Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague details Badreddine's role in bombings in Kuwait in 1983, that targeted the French and US embassies and other facilities, and killed six people.

He was sentenced to death over the attacks, but later escaped from prison.

Was he involved in the killing of Hariri?

Badreddine was tried in absentia by the Hague tribunal over the killing of Rafik Hariri.

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Former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri was killed in a huge explosion in Beirut in February 2005

He was indicted on four charges and was said by the tribunal to be "the overall controller of the operation" to kill Mr Hariri.

Three other Hezbollah members also stand accused of their role in the assassination.

One mourner at the funeral asked about Badreddine's involvement said simply "lies".

What is Hezbollah doing in Syria?

The Lebanese Shia Islamist movement has played a major role in helping Iran, its main military and financial backer, to prop up the government of President Assad since the uprising erupted in 2011.

Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are assisting government forces on battlefields across Syria, particularly those near the Lebanese border, and hundreds are believed to have been killed.

 Source: bbc.com

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US election: Trump and Ryan 'totally committed' to party unity

Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are "totally committed" to party unity in a statement following their meeting.

The two are trying to find common ground after Mr Ryan said he could not endorse the presumptive Republican nominee.

He has said the businessman lacked conservative principles.

"We had a great conversation this morning," the two wrote in a joint statement.

"While we were honest about our few differences, we recognise that there are also many important areas of common ground."

They said they would be having "additional discussions" but think they can unify the party and win the election.

At a press conference following the meeting, Mr Ryan said he was "very encouraged" by what he heard from Mr Trump.

Trump v Paul Ryan - the split explained

How Trump captures the White House

Trump softens stance on Muslim ban

Mr Trump arrived for the meeting at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington amid protesters brandishing placards.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Paul Ryan sounds like a man trying to make peace with his shotgun marriage. Sure, the circumstances are unfortunate, but maybe life together won't be that bad.

The House speaker, who once condemned Trump's proposed Muslim ban as "not conservatism", now says there are "core principles" of conservatism that tie them together. They both love the Constitution, it seems, and they're all about the separation of powers between the branches of government.

Beyond that? Who knows. Mr Ryan declined to go into details during his Thursday press conference, instead talking about the processes being started, seeds being planted and differences being bridged.

It was not the endorsement, full-throated or otherwise, that Mr Trump desires, but it was a first step toward the reconciliation of a party that desperately wants to win back the White House in November.

If Mr Ryan eventually makes peace with what he called a "whole new wing" of the Republican Party that Mr Trump represents, this desire for power - for a prize that has been denied Republicans for two straight presidential elections - will be the driving force behind it.


Afterwards, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who mediated the talks in his office, said it was a success.

Reince Priebus tweet

In December 2015, Mr Ryan harshly criticised Mr Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the US.

He said it was "not what this party stands for and more importantly it's not what this country stands for".

But on Wednesday, Mr Trump appeared to soften, saying it was "just a suggestion".

Mr Ryan, who ran as 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's vice president, clashes with Mr Trump on many issues, including religious freedom and trade.

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Mr Trump has said he would be fine without Mr Ryan's support

He has remained popular on Capitol Hill, after being urged to take over as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the autumn.

Many who view him as a more electable figure than Mr Trump have urged him - in vain - to run for president.

But more Republicans are throwing their support behind Mr Trump, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The New Yorker is one of the least politically experienced nominees in US history, having never held elected office.

That outsider status has appealed to voters who feel let down by Washington.

A recent Gallup Poll shows that two in three Republican-leaning voters view Mr Trump favourably.

But protests have plagued his campaign, with particular focus on his plan to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport 11 million undocumented immigrants.


Top Republicans divided over Trump

Supporting:

  • New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte
  • Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
  • Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
  • Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry
  • Florida Senator Marco Rubio

Not supporting:

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush
  • Former President George H W Bush
  • Former President George W Bush
  • Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
  • Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse

Yet to comment:

  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich

Source: bbc.com

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How Donald Trump captures the White House

In the week since Donald Trump effectively secured the Republican presidential nomination, a great deal of ink and airtime have been devoted to explaining why he will have a difficult time winning the presidency in the autumn.

The Republican Party is too badly divided. His rhetoric is too incendiary. Republican voters may be "idiots", but the general public is wiser. The US electoral map, which places a premium on winning key high-population "swing" states, is tilted against the Republican Party.

About that last point. On Tuesday a survey of three key swing states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - revealed a virtual dead heat between the two likely standard-bearers.

Those states - which account for 67 electoral votes - all went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Add them to the states Republican Mitt Romney carried in 2012, and it delivers 273 electoral votes - three more than the 270 necessary to win the presidency.

Throw in a national tracking poll released on Wednesday that has Donald Trump surging to within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, and it's a recipe for acute hyperventilation on the part of Democrats.

But… but… but… cooler-heads respond.

The Reuters/Ipsos national poll, which has Mrs Clinton ahead 41% to Mr Trump's 40% and 19% undecided, was conducted online.

That Quinnipiac swing-state poll oversampled white voters - a demographic group that is more inclined to Republicans. In addition, it doesn't represent that big a shift from the group's battleground-state poll from last autumn, which undermines the theory that Mr Trump's support is growing.

The news caused election guru Nate Silver to go on a Twitter tirade, asserting that it's way too early to start gaming out the state-by-state electoral map based on opinion polls.

"The election will go through a lot of twists and turns, and polls are noisy," he writes. "Don't sweat individual polls or short-term fluctuations."

Sweating polls is what US pundits and commentators do, however. And at the very least, signs that Mr Trump is within reach of Mrs Clinton should cast doubts on the early predictions that the Democrats will win in the autumn by historic, Goldwater-esque margins. Mr Trump has a pathway to the presidency.

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Several recent polls show Hillary Clinton may be in for a tight general election race against Donald Trump

He may not get there. It is not the most likely outcome. But it's real.

That linchpin of a Trump victory centres on the so-called Rust Belt - states like the aforementioned Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin. Even if Florida, due to its rapidly growing Hispanic population, goes to Mrs Clinton, Mr Trump could still win if he sweeps those states.

It's a strategy that Mr Trump already appears to understand.

"We'll win places that a lot of people say you're not going to win, that as a Republican you can't win," Mr Trump said at an April rally in Indiana. "Michigan is a great example; nobody else will go to Michigan. We're going to be encamped in Michigan because I think I can win it."

The challenge for Mr Trump is that the mid-west, particularly, Wisconsin and Michigan, have served as a Democratic firewall that Republicans have been unable to penetrate since 1988.

"These states constantly intrigue Republican presidential strategists because the Democratic advantage in them depends largely on an act of political levitation: the ability to consistently win a slightly greater share of working-class white voters here than almost anywhere else," writes the Atlantic's Ronald Brownstein.

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Disaffected white voters could be the key to unlocking the mid-west for Mr Trump

If Mr Trump is to find success, then, he likely will have to finally win over this stubborn portion of the mid-western electorate or, perhaps, energise what Sean Trende of RealClear Politics has called the "missing white voters".

Trende points to a national drop-off more than 3.5 million white voters from the elections of 2008 to 2012, when population growth should have resulted in an increase of 1.5 million.

These voters, he theorised, were largely working-class whites who had previously supported iconoclasts like Ross Perot, the 1992 anti-free-trade independent candidate.

It's the type of voter that Mr Trump, with his populist economic pitch, has been turning out in the Republican primaries.

In 2012 Mr Obama beat Mr Romney by roughly 5 million votes. If Mr Trump can bring those disaffected white voters back to the polls in 2016, it would cut into that margin. If Mrs Clinton is unable to produce the record-setting turnout among young and minority voters that Mr Obama achieved, the gap shrinks further still.

That's a lot of "if's", of course. Young and minority voters - particularly Hispanics - may yet turn out to the polls in high numbers, if only to cast ballots against Mr Trump. There are already indications of record-setting Hispanic voter registration in places like California.

There's also the risk that Mr Trump's reliance on populist rhetoric and controversial views on immigration could lead white-collar voters to favour Mrs Clinton. For every disaffected member of the working-class he brings in, he could lose a suburban mum or college-educated businessman.

Even giving Mr Trump the benefit of the doubt, and viewing the recent polls as a trend and not a blip, there are still more electoral scenarios that end up with Mrs Clinton in the White House come 2017.

For Mr Trump, the political stars have to re-align in his favour. For Mrs Clinton, a general-election status quo likely means victory.

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Mr Trump could win the presidency if he takes key states in the industrial mid-west

Source: bbc.com

 

 

 

 

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Brazil impeachment: New leader Temer calls for trust

Brazil's new interim President Michel Temer has addressed the nation after the Senate voted to back the impeachment trial of Dilma Rousseff.

"Trust in the values of our people and in our ability to rebuild the economy," Mr Temer said.

He has named a business-friendly cabinet that includes respected former central bank chief Henrique Meirelles as finance minster.

Ms Rousseff denounced her removal as a "farce" and "sabotage".

Mr Temer was the leftist Ms Rousseff's vice-president before withdrawing his party's support in March. She has accused him of involvement in a "coup".

After Wednesday's all-night session that lasted more than 20 hours, senators voted by 55 votes to 22 to suspend her and put her on trial for budgetary violations.

In her final speech on Thursday afternoon, she again denied the allegations and vowed to fight what she called an "injustice" by all legal means.

Mr Temer, 75, has now taken over as president for up to 180 days - the maximum time allowed for the impeachment trial of Ms Rousseff, 68.

He said: "It is urgent to restore peace and unite Brazil. We must form a government that will save the nation."

Stressing that "economic vitality" was his key task, he added: "It is essential to rebuild the credibility of the country at home and abroad to attract new investments and get the economy growing again."

But he also said Brazil was still a poor nation and that he would protect and expand social programmes.

"Let's stop talking about crisis. Let's work instead," he said.


Who is stand-in President Michel Temer?

Michel Temer became interim president as soon as Ms Rousseff was suspended.

  • The 75-year-old law professor of Lebanese origin was Ms Rousseff's vice-president and was a key figure in the recent upheaval
  • Up until now, he's been the kingmaker, but never the king, having helped form coalitions with every president in the past two decades
  • He is president of Brazil's largest party, the PMDB, which abandoned the coalition in March
  • In recent months, his role has become even more influential; in a WhatsApp recording leaked in April, he outlined how Brazil needed a "government to save the country".

Michel Temer also said he would support the sweeping investigation into corruption at state oil company Petrobras that has embroiled many politicians and officials.

Mr Temer has nominated a 22-strong cabinet.

There are no women, although two more names are expected to be added to the cabinet. Ms Rousseff had earlier suggested that sexism in the male-dominated Congress had played a key part in the impeachment process.

Mr Meirelles, the new finance minister, built a reputation for calming nerves in the markets when heading the central bank, and helped tame inflation to create one of the country's biggest economic booms.

But analysts say Mr Temer's popularity ratings are as bad as Ms Rousseff's and he faces many challenges.

During the overnight debate, Senator Jose Serra, who has been named the new foreign minister, said the impeachment process was "a bitter though necessary medicine".

"Having the Rousseff government continue would be a bigger tragedy," he said.

Brazil is suffering from its worst recession in 10 years, unemployment reached 9% in 2015 and inflation is at a 12-year high.

'Fraudulent'

In her TV speech, flanked by ministers at the presidential palace, Ms Rousseff said that she may have made mistakes but had committed no crimes, adding: "I did not violate budgetary laws."

She said: "What is at stake is respect for the ballot box, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people and the constitution."

Branding the process "fraudulent" and saying her government was "undergoing sabotage", she vowed to fight the charges against her and said she was confident she would be found innocent.

Her removal ends 13 years of leftist rule.


What happens next?

The 180 days allocated for the trial to take place expire on 8 November.

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Source: bbc.com

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India Hindu group prays for Donald Trump win

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has gained some unlikely fans - including a right-wing Hindu group in India.

Members of the Hindu Sena held a prayer in support of Mr Trump winning the US presidential election.

The little-known group said they supported Mr Trump "because he is hope for humanity against Islamic terror".

Mr Trump has proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US - drawing widespread criticism at home and abroad.

He has also advocated killing the families of terrorists and invading Syria to eradicate the so-called Islamic State group and appropriate its oil.

Around a dozen members of Hindu Sena lit a ritual fire and prayers in a park in Delhi on Wednesday, and hung a banner declaring their support for Mr Trump.

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Surrounded by statues of Hindu gods, they threw offerings such as seeds, grass and ghee (clarified butter) into a small ritual fire.

"Only Donald Trump can save humanity," Vishnu Gupta, founder of the group, told the Associated Press news agency.

He also told The Indian Express newspaper that the group had planned "several events to express its wholehearted support for Mr Trump".

The nationalist group has previously been known for vandalism and assault, attacking the office of a political party in 2014, and spraying a legislator who protested against a ban on eating beef.

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Donald Trump softens stance on Muslim ban

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to have softened his stance on temporarily barring Muslims from travelling to the US.

Responding to remarks by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Mr Trump told Fox News Radio the ban was "just a suggestion".

Mr Khan has expressed concern that he would not be able to travel to the US under a Trump administration because of his Muslim faith.

Mr Trump had offered to make an "exception" for Mr Khan.

Mr Khan refused Mr Trump's offer, saying the New York businessman's views were "ignorant" and would make the UK and the US "less safe".

Mr Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the US after attacks in Paris killed 130 people last year.

The suggested ban has been widely criticised in the US and abroad but Mr Trump until now has stood by the proposal, saying it was needed to ensure US security.

"It's a temporary ban. It hasn't been called for yet," Mr Trump said on Wednesday. "This is just a suggestion until we find out what's going on."

Mr Trump has shifted positions in the past on a variety of issues only to change his stance days later.

Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump and Paul Ryan

House Speaker Paul Ryan (right) says he is not ready to support Donald Trump's bid for presidency

It's likely no coincidence that Donald Trump has softened the rhetoric surrounding his call for a sweeping ban on Muslim immigration into the US on the eve of his closely watched Washington meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

When Mr Trump first unveiled his proposal, Mr Ryan's response was short and sharp.

"This is not conservatism," he said.

At the time Mr Ryan's voice was just one of many in the Republican establishment condemning what seemed an extremely controversial proposal from the New York businessman.

Now Mr Trump is the presumptive nominee, and that Republican establishment has been moving - grudgingly - toward backing their new standard-bearer. Mr Ryan has been a holdout, however, saying he wants evidence that Mr Trump shares conservative values and principles.

Mr Trump's latest rhetorical swivel could be an olive branch to the speaker - and, perhaps, a fig leaf allowing Mr Ryan to eventually offer his support.

He has often given conflicting accounts on issues including his tax plan, abortion and transgender people accessing public toilets.

This flexibility has led to concerns among Republican Party leaders about his candidacy.

Top Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan have said they are not ready to support Mr Trump in the general election.

Mr Trump will meet Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Ryan and others on Thursday in an attempt to resolve differences.

Also on Wednesday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney - who ran against President Barack Obama in 2012 - separately raised questions about Mr Trump's tax returns.

Mr Trump has so far refused to release his tax records - a common practice among presidential nominees. Mrs Clinton has posted her past eight tax returns on her website.

"It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service," Mr Romney said.

Source: bbc.com

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Supreme court orders cleaning of register before November polls

A seven-member Supreme Court panel chaired by the Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, has ordered the Electoral Commission to clean the voters register before the 2016 elections.

The ruling follows a suit filed by former PNC youth organiser Abu Ramada challenging the credibility of the 2012 voters’ register as a valid database for the November general polls.

The Supreme court ordered the EC to delete names of deceased persons, persons who registered using the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards as well as ineligible persons whose names are on the register, but also asked the commission to make provisions for those affected to register again under the law.

Abu Ramadan in the suit claims the voters’ register contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered and therefore inconsistent with Article 45(a) of the Constitution thereby making same unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

Abu Ramadan in the suit was seeking the following reliefs:

1. A declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, 1992 (hereinafter, the “Constitution”) the mandate of the Electoral Commission of Ghana to compile the register of voters implies a duty to compile, fair and transparent register.

2. A declaration that the 2012 Voters Register which contains the names of persons who have not established qualification to be registered is inconsistent with Article 42 and 45 (a) and therefore unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.

3. An order setting aside the 2012 Voters Register and compelling the Electoral Commission to compile fresh Voters Register before any new public election or referendum is conducted in this country.

The Supreme Court a year ago ruled that the National Health Insurance card (NHIS) does not qualify anyone to be registered as a voter. That suit was filed by Abu Ramadan.

Source: kasapafmonline.com

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US election: How Trump defied all predictions

America tonight stands on the doorstep of greatness, or the precipice of doom.

Under a candidate this divisive, there's not much room for feeling anything in between, as the realisation dawns that Donald Trump now has a plausible shot at being America's next president.

There has never been a candidate for the White House quite like this. He came into the race something of a joke, he conducted his campaign in ways that sometimes seemed like a joke (remember the steaks) but he won the nomination with totally serious conviction, demolishing his large field of competitors.

One by one, the primary wins stacked up and the other candidates fell. It was extraordinary to watch. The man almost no-one in the American political world took seriously defied all the predictions.

How did he do it?

Trump tapped into something we all should have seen, but failed to. For years, working class Americans have suffered from low employment and stagnant wages. They've watched the spread of globalisation, immigration and free trade and they felt left behind.

The US economy appeared to boom, but their lives didn't reflect that triumph. They had got a bad deal. Add to that an America that seemed to have faltered on the global stage and a president congenitally averse to nationalistic chest-thumping and Donald Trump was a gift.

From the billionaire's New York penthouse, he somehow understood the concerns of less educated Americans, particularly less educated American men.

Coal miners in Pennsylvania

The coal industry in places like Pennsylvania has been drawn to Trump's message

He appeared to have an intuitive understanding of their loves and hates. He even said at one point in this absurdly long campaign that he loved the poorly educated. He knew they felt shackled by political correctness, and he gave them freedom to rail against it.

He knew they were afraid that their country was changing around them, increasingly populated by people whose first language was Spanish not English. When he suggested that Mexico was sending rapists across the border, he vindicated those fears. When he proposed to ban all Muslims from America, he gave voice to the anti-Islamic sentiment that's simmered in the US since 9/11.

It has been a remarkable display of political instinct from a man who's never been in politics. His supporters are so devoted to him that he could do no wrong. When he said Vietnam torture victim and war vet Senator John McCain wasn't a war hero, his approval ratings went up.

When he suggested a female reporter posed a tough question because she was menstruating, his numbers improved again.

Mexico, Muslims, Lyin' Ted... they all just fuelled the Trump train. And they love him most because he doesn't sound like all the politicians who have promised much and delivered little.

Families crossing from Mexico to US

The southern border has become a key Trump issue

And yet, at the risk of being churlish on the night Mr Trump celebrates a stunning victory, it is worth noting how he has also alienated millions of Americans in a way we have not seen here in modern history.

Never has a candidate for the presidency been this reviled and rejected by some members of their own party. There is a long list (literally, you can find it on the website of The Hill newspaper) of Republican politicians and strategists who have said they will never vote for Trump.

In private there are many more who have said they will vote for Hillary rather than Donald.

These are the people - and I have spoken to many of them - who say their party's candidate is a "bigot", "racist", "misogynist". They call him "crass", "rude", "a bully".

Some of these people may now fall in line with the party leadership, hold their nose and tick the Trump box, but they don't like him.

If you broaden the surveys out to all Americans, Trump breaks records with his unfavourability ratings.

Protest against Trump

Protests against Trump are common in California

Which is why two groups are cheering tonight, team Trump and team Clinton.

The Clinton campaign remains convinced that this is the perfect race for them. They see Trump's negatives and they believe he is the best candidate they could have hoped for as their Republican opponent.

Moreover, the demographics of America would suggest that whoever is the Democratic nominee stands an odds-on chance of winning the White House - there are just more Democratic than Republican voters in the country.

But this is a curious year, the political rule book has been shredded and Donald Trump hates losing almost more than he loves winning.

The Clinton camp would be wrong to get too confident too soon. If we have learned one thing in this crazy campaign, it is that predictions are foolish.

Call me a fool, but I'm prepared to make just one more - the Clinton-Trump match-up is going to be brutal.

You thought the last 24 hours was ugly. You haven't seen anything yet.

Source: bbc.com

 

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John Kasich, last Republican Trump rival, quits race

Ohio Governor John Kasich has dropped out of the presidential race after struggling to gain traction against Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

"As I suspend my campaign today I have renewed faith, deeper faith that the Lord will show me the way forward," he told supporters in Columbus.

Mr Kasich only won his home state but had hoped to lobby for his candidacy at July's Republican convention.

Mr Trump holds a commanding lead and is closing in on the nomination.

His likely opponent will be Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who lost the Indiana primary to Bernie Sanders.

It was a surprise win for the Vermont senator who continues to attract huge crowds to his rallies, but his opponent has an almost insurmountable lead in votes and delegates.

Speaking to CNN about taking on Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton said he was a "loose cannon" who had run a "negative, bullying" campaign.

The New York businessman has made a series of controversial remarks ever since he launched his White House bid by labelling Mexicans as rapists and criminals.

Several senior Republicans said on Wednesday they would not back him, with some saying they would prefer to vote for Mrs Clinton.

Trump nomination divides Republicans

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has taken more than a year to unfold, but in a flash it is over.

Ted Cruz's withdrawal from the race Tuesday night meant John Kasich's long-shot path to the nomination - deadlocked delegates in a contested convention turning to him as a compromise candidate - was definitively closed.

The Ohio governor, once thought to be the saviour of the moderate, establishment wing of the Republican Party, could have soldiered on, but with little money and no hope of winning, such a course bordered on the absurd.

Although Mr Trump had effectively sewn up the nomination regardless of what Mr Kasich decided to do, his withdrawal does have one benefit. Now the New York businessman will not have to make even pro forma campaign stops in California, which holds its primary on 6 June.

Just last week the front-runner faced massive protests while attending the state's Republican convention. California looked to be a powder keg for Mr Trump in the coming weeks. Thanks to Mr Kasich, it has been defused.


Texas Senator Ted Cruz dropped out of the race on Tuesday after losing heavily to Mr Trump in the Indiana primary.

It is now certain Mr Trump will have the 1,237 delegates needed to become the nominee before the July convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mr Kasich had been widely seen as the most moderate and electable Republican candidate but this did not garner him enough support among Republican primary voters.

Republicans are now divided over whether to support Mr Trump as the Republican nominee.

"If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed... and we will deserve it," South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham said on Tuesday.

Mr Kasich's named has been floated as a possible vice presidential pick but he has denied that he would accept it.

Source: bbc.com

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US election: Trump closes in on Republican nomination

Donald Trump has become the US Republican presidential nominee in all but name after victory in Indiana forced rival Ted Cruz from the race.

Mr Trump, unpopular with many in his own party, now has a clear path to the 1,237 delegates needed to claim his party's crown.

That would mark a stunning victory for a businessman few took seriously when he launched his campaign last year.

Bernie Sanders has defeated Hillary Clinton in Indiana's Democratic race.

He trails Mrs Clinton in the all-important delegate count but after this victory he said the contest was still alive.

"Clinton campaign thinks this campaign is over. They're wrong," he said.

What will Clinton v Trump look like?

As it happened - reaction to Cruz quitting

Indiana results as they come in

Mr Cruz's advisers had targeted Indiana as the Texas senator's best hope of halting Mr Trump's march to the nomination.

"We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path," he told supporters in Indiana.

His departure means Mr Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee, with plenty of state contests this month and next to reach the 1,237 delegates required to win.

The New York businessman is the first nominee since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 to lack any previous experience of elected office.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has vowed to remain in the Republican race, but trails far behind Mr Trump in terms of delegates.

The Cruz party is over - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Indianapolis

Turn out the lights, the party's over. Ted Cruz and the #NeverTrump movement threw everything they had at Donald Trump in Indiana, and it wasn't enough. It wasn't even close to enough.

They outspent him by more than a million dollars. Mr Cruz practically took up residence in the state for the past two weeks. He named Carly Fiorina as his running mate. Nothing worked.

If there was a defining moment of the Indiana campaign, it was Mr Cruz's fruitless attempt to reason with a group of pro-Trump supporters on Sunday.

Every argument he advanced was rebuffed. Every bit of evidence of Trump malfeasance was denied. Mr Cruz was shouting in the wind.

In the coming days there will be a great reckoning, as the party comes to terms with the prospect of Mr Trump as their standard bearer in the autumn. Some will make peace. Some will despair. Others will say "I'm with her" and reluctantly move to Hillary Clinton's side.

It will be an unprecedented spectacle in modern US political history.

"It is a beautiful thing to watch, and a beautiful thing to behold," Trump said during a victory speech. "We are going to make America great again."

He praised Mr Cruz as a "tough, smart competitor", which marked a sharp reversal in tone after a day when the two men slung mud at each other from close quarters.

The verbal attacks reached a new level of intensity when Mr Cruz attacked the billionaire businessman as a "pathological liar" and "serial philanderer".

That was provoked by a bizarre claim from Mr Trump that Mr Cruz's father was linked to one of the most traumatic episodes in US history, the assassination of President John F Kennedy.

Trump links Cruz's father to JFK death

It is now increasingly likely that Mr Trump will face Mrs Clinton in the autumn in the battle to succeed President Barack Obama, who will be leaving the White House after two terms.

But Republicans have expressed reservations about Mr Trump's outspoken remarks, which have offended women and Hispanics.

There are also concerns about some of his policies on immigration and national security, like building a wall on the southern US border paid for by Mexico, a ban on Muslims coming to the US and the killing of the families of terrorists.

Source: bbc.com

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Trump accuses China of 'raping' US with unfair trade policy

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has accused China of "raping" the US, in renewed criticism of China's trade policy.

He told a rally in Indiana that China was responsible for "the greatest theft in the history of the world".

Mr Trump, a billionaire businessman, has long accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more competitive globally.

This, he says, has badly damaged US businesses and workers.

"We can't continue to allow China to rape our country, and that's what we're doing," he told the campaign rally on Sunday.

"We're going to turn it around, and we have the cards, don't forget it," he added. "We have a lot of power with China."

Donald Trump's deal diplomacy

Trump's foreign policy - still no details

Newspapers react to Trump's foreign policy

Trump's foreign policy: So crazy it might just work?

Trump favours high tariffs on China exports


What China thinks of Trump

Premier Li Keqiang has said the US election "has been lively and has caught the eye", but many in China see it as more than that.

They consider the flamboyant New York billionaire an inspiration rather than an antagonist.

Read more: China's complex relationship with Donald Trump


In his campaign manifesto, Mr Trump pledges to "cut a better deal with China that helps American businesses and workers compete".

He sets out four goals that include immediately declaring China "a currency manipulator" and putting "an end to China's illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards".

Latest figures from the US government show the trade deficit with China reached an all-time high of $365.7bn (£250.1bn) last year. By February this year it had already reached $57bn.

Protesters

This is the first time Mr Trump has used the word "rape" in the context of China and trade, but his campaign has been punctuated by inflammatory comments.

He was confronted by hundreds of protesters in California on Friday before giving a speech to the state's Republican convention. Mr Trump was forced to enter the building by the back entrance.

Protesters were angry at his views on immigration: he has advocated building a border wall with Mexico, and has also referred to Mexicans as "rapists" and criminals responsible for bringing illegal drugs into the US.

Anti-Trump protesters were also out in force during the annual May Day rallies in California.

Protestors display giant effigy of Trump at demonstrations in California on 1 May 2016

Donald Trump was the focus of anger for some at the May Day protest in Los Angeles on Sunday

The Trump campaign had to cancel several rallies in March after hundreds of protesters threatened to disrupt events in Chicago and St Louis.

Mr Trump has called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after a string of primary wins.

In terms of delegate support, the property tycoon is far ahead of his nearest rivals, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and John Kasich, the governor of Ohio.

On the other side of the race, Hillary Clinton is expected to beat Bernie Sanders to the Democratic nomination and fight for the presidency in November's general election.

Source: bbc.com

 

 

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Liberia ex-footballer George Weah to run for president again

The former international footballer George Weah will run for president of Liberia for a second time.

He said he had the "vision" to transform the country.

Mr Weah, who played for teams including Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea, was the highest-ranking African footballer in Fifa's list of greatest players of the 20th century.

His previous presidential bid, in 2005, was defeated by current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Her second term in office will end in 2017 and under the country's constitution she cannot run again.

During his football career, Mr Weah became a UN goodwill ambassador.

Later he turned to politics. He is currently a senator for the western province of Montserrado, which includes the capital Monrovia.

In 2011 he ran for vice-president under Winston Tubman but did not win.

Mr Weah belongs to the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party.

Announcing his presidential bid in Monrovia, he said he had been a "victim of poverty" like many of his supporters, and said he would boost vocational education.


Anthem and portraits - Jonathan Paye-Layleh, BBC News, Monrovia

Liberia's national anthem was played before Mr Weah took to the stage.

First, he held a moment of silence in memory of the thousands of people who died of Ebola.

He told his crowd of supporters: "Our gathering here today is about the future of our country and our people.

"In the last ten years our people have continued to live in abject poverty, education a mess, health delivery system a disaster, electricity and pipe-borne water elusive."

"Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty," he said. "There were times I didn't have school fees."

A leading research organization has recently rated Mr Weah's performance in the Senate as low.

Party members from across Liberia presented a petition asking him to run, saying they believed he was the man "to solve Liberia's numerous problems".

Some party members paraded up and down the sandy party headquarters, beneath giant portraits of Mr Weah.

They sang: "George Weah is the man we want, George Weah is the man we want."

Mr Weah pledged to increase the national budget, work towards religious harmony, and support vocational education.

To wild applause, he said: "God is with us, and hope is alive."

a crowd of faces, and one sign that reads

Thousands of CDC supporters turned out to petition George Weah to contest the presidential elections

Source: bbc.com

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US election 2016: Former House Speaker Boehner calls Ted Cruz 'Lucifer'

US presidential hopeful Ted Cruz has been called "Lucifer in the flesh" by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

Mr Boehner, a fellow Republican, has also reportedly said he will not vote for Mr Cruz if he becomes the nominee.

Their rift dates back to when Mr Cruz led a group of hard-core conservatives to force a government shutdown in 2013, against his party's leadership.

Meanwhile, Mr Boehner has described Donald Trump as a "texting buddy".

He also said they have played golf together for years and that he would vote for the billionaire if he were the Republican nominee, the Stanford Daily reported.

The billionaire is the front-runner on the race for the Republican nomination, ahead of Mr Cruz.

The Texas senator is seen by many Republicans as the only option to prevent Mr Trump from being the party's candidate. Others, however, dispute this, saying he is a divisive figure.

Mr Boehner, who was the most powerful Republican in US politics for a time until he resigned last October, used strong language when he spoke about Mr Cruz during a talk at Stanford University.

"I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life," he said.


Inside divisions, by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner

Mr Boehner had once called Mr Cruz a "jackass"

John Boehner tells us how he really feels.

At a time when Ted Cruz is struggling to save his presidential campaign, having a former high-ranking member of the Republican Party compare him to Beelzebub is, shall we say, unhelpful. It further reinforces the perception - hammered time and time again by Donald Trump - that Mr Cruz is too divisive, too abrasive, too unliked to be a successful leader.

The Texas senator likely would counter that he has made the right kind of enemies and the ire of the party establishment is a badge he will proudly wear. Unfortunately for him, however, the party establishment is just about the only thing left keeping his candidacy afloat. He has become the vessel for the #NeverTrump efforts - the last realistic candidate between Mr Trump on the nomination - and that movement is populated by insiders who, in any other situation, would not hesitate to stick a knife in Mr Cruz's back.

It seems Mr Boehner, happy in his retirement from politics, had no such reservations.

More about their rift


Mr Cruz is credited with having a large role in the federal government shutdown in 2013, when Mr Boehner was Speaker of the House.

The Texas senator is seen as having an aggressive posture and considers himself as an anti-establishment politician.

He reacted to Mr Boehner's remarks on Twitter, saying: "Tell me again who will stand up to Washington? Trump, who's Boehner's "texting and golfing buddy," or Carly & me?", he wrote, referring to Carly Fiorina, his pick for vice-president in an eventual candidacy."

When asked about the Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, Mr Boehner reportedly impersonated her saying "Oh I'm a woman, vote for me," which received a negative reaction from the crowd.

He later said they had known each other for 25 years and that he finds the former secretary of state to be very accomplished and smart.

Source: bbc.com

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US election 2016: Trump details his foreign policy goals

Donald Trump has detailed his foreign policy in a speech, a day after sweeping to a win in five US primaries.

Mr Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican candidacy in the 2016 presidential race, said he would pursue an "America First" policy.

He called the foreign policy of President Obama's administration "a complete and total disaster".

On Tuesday, Mr Trump called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after his primary wins.

He claimed victories in Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

What has Trump said so far on foreign policy?

While he has used his campaign to outline some of his foreign policy goals, this is the first time he has detailed them in a speech. He used a teleprompter, having previously said no candidate for the presidency should do so.

Earlier, he said the speech would not be a "Trump doctrine", and that he would retain some flexibility to make changes if elected.

Here are some of the main points he has made so far:

An Islamic State fighter fires a weapon in this still image taken from a video said to be taken on the outskirts of Palmyra and uploaded on March 21, 2016

Mr Trump supports stronger interrogation of IS suspects

He says that no other candidate would be tougher on the so-called Islamic State (IS) and he would weaken the militants by cutting off their access to oil.

He has also said he supports waterboarding and other strong interrogation methods against IS. And while he says he would stay within the law, he would like laws on interrogation techniques expanded.

Read more: 26 things Trump believes

On nuclear weapons

The nuclear threat, and the risk of proliferation, is "the biggest problem the world has", Mr Trump told the New York Times last month. Using a nuclear weapon first would be "an absolute last step", he said.

On US allies

Mr Trump has decried what he calls the United States' position of "the world's policeman", and calls it a weakness. He has called for a reassessment of ties with some of Washington's closest allies.

Speaking to the New York Times about the US-Japan relationship, he said: "If we're attacked, they do not have to come to our defence, if they're attacked, we have to come totally to their defence. And that is a, that's a real problem."

Trump's foreign policy: So crazy it just might work?

On trade

On China, for example, he says it should be taken to task on a number of issues in order to make trade with the US more equitable. If elected, he says he will make China stop undervaluing its currency.

Who are his advisers?

Mr Trump once said he was his own best foreign policy adviser, but, in recent months, has expanded his back-room team. Some of his appointments had proved controversial.

The team is led by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who has helped shape Mr Trump's policies.

Another member, retired Gen Joseph Schmitz, resigned from the military in 2005 amid accusations of misconduct. However, Mr Schmitz was never charged with wrongdoing.

Another adviser, Walid Phares, was criticised when he was named as part of Mitt Romney's foreign policy team in 2011.

Muslim advocacy groups took issue with Mr Phares's close ties to right-wing Christian militia groups during the Lebanese civil war.

Read more: Trump names foreign policy advisers

What have others said?

  • "It's a perfect storm of isolationism, muscular nationalism, with a dash of pragmatism and realism" - Aaron David Miller, former adviser to Republican and Democratic administrations between 1978 and 2003
  • "He needs to show that he has the substance, the depth of knowledge and the vision to be the American commander-in-chief" - Steve Schmidt, former campaign manager to 2008 Republican candidate John McCain, to Reuters

Unorthodox foreign policy views?

What happened on Tuesday?

After his sweep of the five mid-Atlantic states, Mr Trump said of the battle for the Republican nomination: "It's over. As far as I'm concerned, it's over."

He told supporters in New York he would not moderate his policies if elected president.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton was denied a clean sweep by Bernie Sanders, after he won in Rhode Island.

The story of the night

Full results state by state

After their victories, Mr Trump and Mrs Clinton turned their fire on each other.

Mr Trump said his Democratic rival's only advantage in the presidential race was being a woman.

"Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5% of the vote," he said.

Mrs Clinton hit back at his accusation that she was playing the "woman card".

"Well, if fighting for women's healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in," she told cheering supporters in Philadelphia.

Playing 'the woman card': How would a female Trump do?

Source: bbc

 

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US election 2016: Trump sweeps all five US states

Donald Trump has won presidential primaries in all five US states that voted on Tuesday, while Hillary Clinton took four out of five.

Mr Trump called himself the Republican "presumptive nominee" after victories in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The results bring him closer to the number of delegates he needs before the party's national convention in July.

For the Democrats, Mrs Clinton was denied a clean sweep by Bernie Sanders.

Mr Sanders won the vote in Rhode Island, and vowed to fight to the end of the primaries process.

Speaking at Philadelphia Convention Center after securing the four other states, Mrs Clinton said her campaign was setting "bold, progressive goals" to improve lives in the US.

"We believe in the goodness of our people and the greatness of our nation," she said.

The story of the night

Full results state by state

Chart of results from US primaries on 26 April 2016

Meanwhile Mr Trump told supporters in New York he would not moderate his policies if elected president.

"I'm not changing," he said. "You know I went to the best schools. I'm like a very smart person. I'm going to represent our country with dignity and very well.

"But I don't really want to change my personality. You know, it got me here."

His rivals, Ted Cruz and John Kasich, have already shifted their attention to upcoming states, teaming up to help each other in the Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico primaries.

Mr Trump has condemned their pact as a sign of weakness and desperation, and another sign of the Republican party colluding against him. "The Republican party needs something much better than that," he said after his latest victories were announced on Tuesday.

Neither Mr Kasich nor Mr Cruz has a chance of securing the Republican nomination outright. The hope of a contested convention this July in Cleveland is keeping them in the race.

This scenario would see party delegates - Republican officials and activists - choose the nominee. However Mr Trump is edging closer to securing 1,237 delegates, which would mean he could secure the nomination before the convention.


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

There's winning, and then there's WINNING.

Donald Trump's night is shaping up to be the latter, as he steamrolls his opposition in all five of mid-Atlantic states voting on Tuesday.

This campaign season has been punctuated with a series of theories about how and why Mr Trump's presidential ambitions would eventually be thwarted. The latest was that he'd never be able to win more than 50% of the vote as the field narrows. It appears likely that he'll easily surpass that mark across the board and claim the lion's share of the delegates at stake.

During a primary night speech that took place before the polls even closed, Texas Senator Ted Cruz promised that his campaign was now heading to "more favourable terrain". He's setting up a firewall in Indiana, but there's a Trump-fuelled conflagration heading his way.

The New Yorker still has work to do to clinch the Republican nomination, but after his latest performance such a prospect seems increasingly likely.

Read more on the US election:

Can the Cruz-Kasich tag-team beat Trump?

Can Trump really change his image?

Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton?


Speaking in Huntington, West Virginia, after the vote, Bernie Sanders vowed to fight to the end of the nomination process, saying he would attract broad support in November's election.

"The reason that we are generating this enthusiasm is because we are doing something very unusual in contemporary politics. We are telling the truth," he said.

Despite some success, it is unlikely Mr Sanders will be able to overcome Mrs Clinton's lead to become the Democratic nominee for president.

Bernie Sanders addresses supporters in West Virginia on 26 April

Bernie Sanders has vowed to remain in the Democratic contest until the end

The pact between Mr Kasich and Mr Cruz got off to a rocky start on Tuesday. The Ohio governor is to give Mr Cruz a "clear path" by not campaigning in Indiana and Mr Cruz will reciprocate in New Mexico and Oregon. But neither has endorsed tactical voting among their supporters.

Speaking in Indiana on Tuesday night, Mr Cruz said his supporters could look forward to some success as the race moved on to more conservative states.

His event was held at a basketball court where some scenes were filmed for the 1986 film Hoosiers, about a small-town high school basketball team that wins the state championship.

The Texas senator attempted to recreate a scene from the film but was mocked on social media for referring to a basketball "ring" rather than a "hoop".

Source: bbc.com

 

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US election 2016: Trump and Clinton 'score early wins'

Donald Trump has won the presidential primaries in Connecticut, Maryland and Pennsylvania while Hillary Clinton is top in Maryland, US media project.

The two front-runners in the race for the White House are hoping to cement their leads after voters in five north-eastern states went to the polls.

Mr Trump's rivals have already shifted focus away from the north-east.

Ted Cruz and John Kasich have teamed up to help each other in the Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico primaries.

Mr Trump has condemned their pact as a sign of weakness and desperation. More to follow.

Source: bbc.com

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Kenya's former first lady Lucy Kibaki dies in London

Kenya's controversial former first lady, Lucy Kibaki, has died in a London hospital of an undisclosed illness.

She gained notoriety for slapping a cameraman in 2005 when she stormed the offices of a private media group in anger at the way a story about her had been reported.

In a tribute to Mrs Kibaki, President Uhuru Kenyatta praised her for her role in fighting HIV/Aids in Kenya.

Mr Kenyatta succeeded her husband Mwai Kibaki, who governed from 2002 to 2013.

Mrs Kibaki, who was born in 1940, had withdrawn from public life during the latter part of her husband's rule.

She was last seen at a public function in August 2010, when she seemed excited about the adoption of a new constitution, dancing to a famous gospel song, Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper reports.

Mr Kenyatta said she had been unwell for the last month, receiving treatment in both Kenya and the UK.

Mrs Kibaki trained as a teacher, leaving her job not long after her marriage in 1962 to raise her four children.

"Her Excellency will be remembered for her immense contribution in the development of country," Mr Kenyatta said in a statement.

According to the Daily Nation, she organised the First International Aids Run in 2003.

But correspondents say she also provoked condemnation when she said unmarried young people had "no business" using condoms, calling on students to abstain from sex in order to avoid infection with HIV.

'Disturbing the peace'

Mrs Kibaki was the most controversial of Kenya's first ladies, crossing swords with politicians, diplomats, journalists and policemen she believed had not treated her with sufficient respect.

Just months after her husband became president, she is reported to have shut down a bar inside State House that was a watering hole for ministers and close allies of Mr Kibaki.

Laura Bush (R) with her Kenyan counterpart, Lucy Kibaki acknowledges the applause of the Kenyan delegation during official arrival ceremonies on the South Lawn of the White House 06 October, 2003 in Washington, DC

Former US First Lady Laura Bush hosted Mrs Kibaki at the White House in 2003

In 2005, she stormed into the house of her neighbour, the World Bank's then-country director Makhtar Diop, in a tracksuit at midnight and demanded he turn his music down at a private party to mark the end of his posting in Kenya.

She also went to the local police station in shorts to demand that Mr Diop and his guests be arrested for disturbing the peace.

Later, she burst into the offices of the influential Nation Media Group with her bodyguards and demanded that the reporter who had written about her confrontation with Mr Diop be arrested.

She slapped cameraman Clifford Derrick who was filming her and refused to leave the offices until 0530 the next day.

He tried to sue for assault, but the case was thrown out of court.

In 2007, Mrs Kibaki was filmed by Nation TV slapping an official during an independence day celebration at State House.

Security officials seized the video images and erased the slapping incident, before returning them.

Source: bbc.com

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US election: Cruz-Kasich pact 'desperate' says Trump

Donald Trump says a pact formed by his two rivals for the Republican presidential crown is a desperate act.

He lambasted Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich over the alliance they announced late on Sunday.

Under their plan, Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich will give each other a free run in state primary votes next month.

Before then, five US states go to the polls on Tuesday, when Mr Trump is expected to tighten his grip on the nomination.

He has a clear lead in party delegates but may still fall short of the 1,237 needed to win outright.

If he does not reach that figure, the vote will go to a contested convention - where delegates are free to back another candidate. A different nominee like Mr Cruz or Mr Kasich may emerge.

On Monday, Mr Cruz defended the deal, saying it was "great for Indiana and great for the country".


Can the pact work? - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

This announcement comes just days before Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich are likely to receive a thorough drubbing in a handful of states in the mid-Atlantic, including delegate-rich Pennsylvania.

By Wednesday morning Mr Trump could have put considerably more distance between himself and his two opponents.

So this accord may be an early effort to push the focus past the next round of voting and on to more friendly contests.

Indiana is shaping up to be a pivotal battleground. A recent poll shows Mr Trump with a comfortable lead in a three-way race that narrows considerably if Mr Kasich is taken out of the equation.

Given the rules in Indiana - 30 delegates to the candidate who wins a statewide plurality and three delegates to the top finisher in each of the state's nine congressional districts - every bit of help Mr Cruz can get to edge past Mr Trump will be invaluable.

Read Anthony's piece in full


Speaking in Indiana, the Texas senator said Mr Trump winning the nomination would hand the White House to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in November's election.

But in a series of tweets on Monday, Mr Trump, a New York businessman with no experience of elected office, said this was collusion from two weak candidates.

Shows how weak and desperate Lyin'Ted is when he teams up with a guy who can't openly stand him and is only 1 win and 38 losses - Trump

And in a statement, he said: "It is sad that two grown politicians have to collude against one person who has only been a politician for ten months in order to try and stop that person from getting the Republican nomination."

Mr Trump has waged war on the Republican National Committee over the process by which delegates are allocated, saying the system is "rigged" against him.


Read more on the US election

Can Trump really change his image?

Trump v Cruz v Kasich

Ted Cruz, the Texan Tea Partier

John Kasich, the governor of positivity


Five states go to the polls on Tuesday - Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Under the Cruz-Kasich plan, Mr Cruz will cut campaigning in the Oregon and New Mexico primaries and Mr Kasich will give Mr Cruz a "clear path" in Indiana.

Indiana and Oregon vote next month, with New Mexico to follow in June.

In the Democratic race, Mrs Clinton will be looking to tighten her grip on the nomination after her big New York win, but Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders says he still has a path to victory.

Source: bbc.com

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US election 2016: Trump and Clinton win New York primaries

Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential primary in New York while Hillary Clinton has triumphed in the Democratic race.

With the majority of votes counted, Mr Trump looks set to extend his lead over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

Meanwhile Democratic hopeful Mrs Clinton, a former senator for New York, is on course for a resounding victory over Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders.

Wins will put Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump closer to securing their nominations.

With almost 95% of the results in, Mr Trump is leading with just over 60% of the vote while Mrs Clinton has just under 58%.

As it happened: Trump and Clinton win in New York

New York primary results

US networks projected that Mr Trump had won in his home state barely seconds after the polls closed at 21:00 EDT (01:00 GMT).

Speaking at Trump Tower in Manhattan, he said: "I have to say to the people that know me the best - the people of New York - when they give us this kind of a vote it's just incredible."

He said he was going to get more delegates than "anyone projected even in their wildest imaginations".

The big question is whether the billionaire businessman will make a clean sweep of all 95 Republican delegates at stake in New York by earning the majority of votes.

This would reduce the chances of a contested nomination at the Republican party convention in July.

A new-look Trump has a chance - by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump needed a commanding victory, and he got it. Although the results in the state's 29 congressional districts - which allocate three convention delegates apiece - have yet to be finalised, it appears likely that Mr Trump will claim the lion's share of the 95 delegates at play.

Perhaps even more importantly, however, is the new, restrained Donald Trump on the campaign trail in the past few days. Gone are the incendiary tweets bashing his opponents (and their spouses). Instead on Tuesday night the candidate gave a short speech hammering home his economic message, emphasising his delegate and vote lead, and laying the groundwork to argue that he should be the party's nominee even if he doesn't win the 1,237 delegates necessary to claim the nomination outright.

Mr Trump recently brought in several experienced political hands to manage his campaign after a turbulent few weeks. If this new demeanour is part of the change they have inspired, Mr Trump could prove to be a more formidable opponent not just at the ballot box in upcoming primaries but in the contest to win over those in the party still deeply suspicious of his candidacy.

"Tomorrow, we go back to work," Mr Trump said during his victory speech. It was a very un-Trump-like line - and something that should have his opponents very concerned.

Read more: Trump's surprising new style and other New York lessons

Claiming her win, Mrs Clinton told supporters her campaign for the nomination was "in the home stretch and victory is in sight".

"New Yorkers, you've always had my back and I've always tried to have yours," she said. "Today together we did it again and I am deeply, deeply grateful."

It has been a fierce campaign in the state, with the leading candidates using their local ties to attract voters.

The Democratic campaign has turned increasingly negative, with Mrs Clinton and Mr Sanders trading barbs about their qualifications.

But following the latest result in the race for the Democratic nomination, Mrs Clinton said there was "much more that unites us than divides us".

New York presidential primaries

Has New York shaped the Trump campaign? - It's the place where he built both his personal brand and his politics

What's New York's state of mind? - The issues that matter to voters from Buffalo to Brooklyn

Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton? - The 2016 presidential election is proving a trying time for this longstanding relationship

Full US election coverage from the BBC

The two front-runners for both parties cast their own votes in New York on Tuesday. Mr Trump cast his ballot at Central Synagogue in Manhattan in the morning, while Mrs Clinton voted with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, near their home in the suburb of Chappaqua.

They are the last presidential candidates to vote in the primary contest. Mr Sanders voted in his home state of Vermont in March, while Republican challengers Mr Cruz and Mr Kasich went to the polls in Texas and Ohio.

The voting in New York was marred by widespread complaints of irregularities, including more than 125,000 people missing from New York City voter rolls. The city's chief auditing officer, Scott Stringer, ordered a review of the city's Board of Elections (BOE) over what he called "chaotic and inefficient" organisation.

Although Mr Trump was sweeping to victory across most of the state, Ohio Governor Mr Kasich, otherwise in a distant second place, was leading in his home borough of Manhattan.

Meanwhile Mr Sanders, who has vowed to fight on in the nomination process, spent Tuesday in Pennsylvania before heading home to Vermont for a day off the campaign trail.

Republican hopeful Mr Cruz, whose criticism of "New York values" attracted scorn in the state, had also moved onto Pennsylvania and dismissed the New York result as nothing more than "a politician winning his home state", according to the Associated Press.

Pennsylvania is the most important of five states holding both Republican and Democratic primaries on 26 April, and then candidates will look to score successes in Indiana on 3 May.

Source: bbc.com

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Germany Turkey: Merkel allows inquiry into comic's Erdogan insult

Germany will allow the potential prosecution of a top comedian after the Turkish president filed a complaint.

Jan Boehmermann had recited a satirical poem on television which made sexual references to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Under German law, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government had to approve a criminal inquiry.

Mrs Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.

The chancellor added that her government would move to repeal the controversial and little-used Article 103 of the penal code, which concerns insults against foreign heads of state, by 2018.

Boehmermann is a satirist and television presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humour. He was given police protection earlier this week.

Some experts say he has a strong defence against potential charges, because his poem could be seen as part of a wider piece of satire about free speech, rather than a deliberate insult, the BBC's Damien McGuinness reports from Berlin.

An earlier remark by Mrs Merkel that the poem was "deliberately offensive" had led to accusations in Germany that she was not standing up for free speech.

The poem was broadcast on ZDF television two weeks ago. The public TV channel has decided not to broadcast Boehmermann's weekly satire programme this week because of the furore surrounding him.

Turkish row stirs German free speech fears


A rarely used article of the criminal code

Paragraph 103 of Germany's penal code, on defamation of organs and representatives of foreign states, has the following to say:

(1) Whosoever insults a foreign head of state, or, with respect to his position, a member of a foreign government who is in Germany in his official capacity, or a head of a foreign diplomatic mission who is accredited in the Federal territory shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine, in case of a slanderous insult to imprisonment from three months to five years.

The article dates back to the penal code drafted when the German Empire was formed in 1871, although at that time it just applied to monarchs.

It has been little used in recent years and is colloquially known as the "Shah law" among German lawyers after the Shah of Persia successfully brought a case against a Cologne newspaper in 1964.

A Swiss man living in Bavaria was also prosecuted under the article in 2007, after he posted offensive comments about the then-Swiss President, Micheline Calmy-Rey, on the internet, according to German and Swiss media.

Criminal code in full (in English)


Before announcing that Boehmermann could be prosecuted, Mrs Merkel stressed her government expected Turkey to comply with EU democratic norms in the areas of free speech and judicial independence.

"In a state under the rule of law, it is not a matter for the government but rather for state prosecutors and courts to weigh personal rights issues and other concerns affecting press and artistic freedom," she said.

"The presumption of innocence applies," she added, explaining that she was not making any prejudgement about Boehmermann.

In her statement in Berlin, Mrs Merkel said that the approval of the federal government was a legal precondition for the prosecution of this specific offence.

"The foreign office, the justice ministry, the interior ministry and the chancellery took part in this review," she said.

"There were diverging opinions between the coalition partners... The result is that in the present case the federal government will grant its approval."

Mr Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.

Some Germans worry that Mrs Merkel is compromising on freedom of expression in order to ensure Turkey's continued co-operation to stem the influx of migrants into the EU.

Thomas Oppermann, head of the Social Democrat (SPD) group in the German parliament, tweeted: "Prosecution of satire due to 'lese majesty' does not fit with modern democracy."

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Top UN official condemns Trump

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the policies of US Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, equating them to bigotry.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein did not mention Mr Trump by name, but he singled out the businessman's support of torture and his policies towards Muslims.

"Bigotry is not proof of strong leadership," Mr Hussein said.

The commissioner also criticised a plan by rival candidate Ted Cruz to conduct surveillance on Muslim neighbourhoods.

"Hate speech, incitement and marginalisation of the 'other' are not a tittering form of entertainment, or a respectable vehicle for political profit," Mr Hussein told an audience in Cleveland, Ohio.

He added: "A front-running candidate to be president of this country declared, just a few months ago, his enthusiastic support for torture (...) inflicting intolerable pain on people, in order to force them to deliver or invent information that they may not have."

During the campaign, Mr Trump has said that "torture works" and promised to bring back "a lot worse than waterboarding".

Waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques previously used by US forces on terror suspects have been banned by the Obama administration.

Mr Trump's controversial statements have been criticised by world leaders including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Pope Francis.

Mr Cameron called Mr Trump's plan to ban Muslims from travelling to the US "divisive, stupid and wrong".

Both Pena Neito and the Pope have taken issue with Mr Trump's call for a border wall between the US and Mexico.

Correspondents say Mr Hussein's tough talk is unlikely to sway Mr Trump. The New York billionaire has been a harsh critic of the UN on the campaign trail.

"The United Nations is not a friend of democracy," Mr Trump told Israeli activists in March. "It's not a friend even to the United States of America, where as all know, it has its home. And it surely isn't a friend to Israel."

Source: bbc.com

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Kerry: Shooting down Russia jets 'would have been justified'

The US military would have been within its rights to shoot down Russian aircraft that flew close to one of its warships in the Baltic Sea, Secretary of State John Kerry says.

Two Russian jets flew within metres of the ship on Monday, US officials said.

Russia's defence ministry said the Su-24 fighter jets "turned away in observance of all safety measures" after observing the USS Donald Cook.

Mr Kerry criticised the gesture and said contact had been made with Moscow.

"We condemn this kind of behaviour," he told the Miami Herald and CNN Espanol in a joint interview.

"It is reckless. It is provocative. It is dangerous. And under the rules of engagement, that could have been a shoot-down."

He added that the US "is not going to be intimidated on the high seas" and that a message had been conveyed to Russia over the danger of such a gesture.

The chill between Putin & Obama

Individual Nato members' rules of engagement should clearly outline what are defined as "actions that might be construed as provocative", according to the organisation's own guidelines.

Applying those rules of engagement "requires commanders at all levels to exercise considerable judgment", Nato says.

Mr Kerry did not specify why the US Navy did not fire at the jets.

The two Russian jets flew over the US destroyer almost a dozen times, American officials said.

At one point the jets were so close, about 9m (30ft), that they created wakes in the water around the ship.

The ship was sailing close to a Russian navy base, Russia's defence ministry said.

"After spotting the ship, Russian pilots turned away from it in full compliance with safety measures.

"All flights of the Russian aircraft are in strict compliance with international rules of the use of air space above neutral waters."

The commander of the Donald Cook described the flights as a "simulated attack".

The passes were "unsafe, potentially provocative" and "could have caused an accident," officials said in a release.

The actions of the Russian jets may have violated a 1970s agreement meant to prevent dangerous incidents at sea, but it is not clear whether the US is going to protest.

A Russian helicopter taking pictures also passed by the ship seven times.

The Donald Cook was conducting deck landing drills with an allied military helicopter when the jets made their passes, according to a statement from the United States European Command.

The US suspended flight operations from the ship until the Russian jets left the area.

The next day, a Russian KA-27 helicopter flew circles at low altitude around the ship, followed by more jet passes.

The aircraft did not respond to safety warnings in English or Russian.

Source: bbc.com

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North Korea missile test fails, says South

North Korea conducted a missile test off its east coast on Friday morning, but the launch appears to have failed, say US and South Korean officials.

The rocket has not yet been identified but is suspected to have been a previously untested "Musudan" medium-range ballistic missile.

The launch coincided with the birthday of North Korea's founding leader, Kim Il-sung.

It also comes amid particularly high tension on the Korean peninsula.

This satellite image released by DigitalGlobe shows the Musudan-ri launch pad, centre right, and assembly building, left, in blue, in at the North Korean missile facility at Musudan-Ri, in southern North Hamgyong Province, North Korea on Sunday 29 March 2009.

The missile is named after the Musudan village in the northeast, where a launchpad is sited

South Korea's Yonhap national news agency quoted government sources as saying that the missile was a type of intermediate-range ballistic missile known as a Musudan, also called the BM-25.

North Korean forces were seen recently moving two such missiles.

The report said it would be the North's first Musudan test, and that it may have at least 50 more.

The Musudan is named after the village in North Korea's northeast where a launch pad is sited.

It has a range of about 3,000 km (1,800 miles), which extends to the US Army base on the Pacific island of Guam, but not as far as the mainland US.

The US said it had tracked the latest launch, but could also not confirm details,

"We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations," a State Department official said.

China also criticised what it called "the latest in a string of sabre-rattling that, if unchecked, will lead the country to nowhere," according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The BBC's Stephen Evans in Seoul says that even though it failed, the test illustrates the determination of current leader Kim Jong-un to get the ability to strike the United States, but also the North's technological limitations.

The North has made a series of threats against the South and the US since the UN imposed some of its toughest ever sanctions on the country.

The move was a response to the North's fourth nuclear test in January and its launching of a satellite in February, both of which broke existing sanctions.

In March, North Korea said it had developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles. However, experts cast doubt on the claims.

The birthday of North Korea's founder - Mr Kim's grandfather - is significant. Four years ago, the North tried to celebrate it with a similar missile launch, but that, too failed.

Source: bbc.com

 

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US Election 2016: Clinton and Sanders raise the volume in feisty debate

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ratcheted up their attacks in a bruising, final debate before next Tuesday's New York primary.

The Democratic race has turned increasingly negative in recent days as the candidates traded barbs about their qualifications for the presidency.

They also clashed on Wall Street banks, gun controls and the minimum wage.

Mr Sanders has won seven of the past eight contests, but Mrs Clinton holds a clear lead in race for the nomination.

The Democrats have largely avoided the personal attacks that have dominated the Republicans' debates.

But with so much at stake that changed in Thursday's debate.

"Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and intelligence to be president? Of course she does," Mr Sanders said at the debate. "But I do question her judgement."

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America Reporter

New York has a reputation for brashness and bellicosity, and it seemed that attitude may have rubbed off on the two participants in the Democratic debate in Brooklyn.

Practically from the opening bell, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went after each other's policy positions and records with a vigour that stood in stark contrast to the polite exchanges of past debates. Sure, they were both qualified to be president, they admitted, but both questioned their opponent's "judgment".

The former secretary of state knocked Mr Sanders off balance on gun control, quipping when he let out a chuckle during her response that 30,000 people dying a year is "not a laughing matter". Meanwhile, the Vermont senator once again bashed Mrs Clinton for her support of the 2003 Iraq War - tying it to the same kind of "mentality" that led to an ill-fated US intervention in Libya.

At one point moderator Wolf Blitzer tried to break up a heated exchange by warning that "if you're both screaming at each other, the viewers won't be able to hear either of you".

They kept talking. At this point in the marathon Democratic campaign, neither side can afford to let an attack go unanswered.

Mr Sanders repeatedly criticised Mrs Clinton for her financial ties to Wall Street, particularly her paid speeches to an investment bank. He also faulted her for supporting the Iraq War.

Meanwhile, Mrs Clinton has questioned whether Mr Sanders has adequately thought out his policy proposals after he struggled to provide specifics during an interview with the New York Daily News.

"It's easy to diagnose the problem. It's another thing to do something about it," Mrs Clinton said.

The candidates' recent tensions were on display on stage. Mr Sanders mocked Mrs Clinton's responses at times while Mrs Clinton occasionally talked over her opponent.

Other highlights included:

  • Mr Sanders promised to release his past tax returns on Friday. but Mrs Clinton said she would not release transcripts of her paid speeches
  • Mrs Clinton said she would support a $15 federal minimum wage if it was passed by a Democratic Congress
  • Mrs Clinton aggressively criticised Mr Sanders' record on gun control, pointing out he voted to shield gun makers from legal liabilities
  • Mr Sanders spoke passionately about the threat of climate change. "Those little steps are not enough," he said of the policies of the Obama administration
  • Mrs Clinton defended her role in the US intervention in Libya; Mr Sanders faulted her for the breakdown in security in that country
  • Mr Sanders called for European allies to contribute more financial support to Nato, echoing sentiments from Republican front-runner Donald Trump
  • "We can't continue to be one sided," Mr Sanders said of America's role in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Mrs Clinton offered a full-throated defence of abortion rights, eliciting cheers from the crowd

More on the 2016 campaign

Ideological spectrum showing Democratic candidates' positions on healthcare

Mr Sanders is one of the most left-leaning candidates in recent history

The Democrats on the issues - How do Mr Sanders and Mrs Clinton compare to past Democrats?

#BernieMadeMeWhite: Minority supporters of Sanders speak out - Supporters push back against "all-white" narrative

Is Wall Street a problem for Hillary Clinton? - Support from the financial sector is an asset and liability

Full US election coverage from the BBC


A resurgent Mr Sanders has won seven of the last eight contests, sparking a groundswell of enthusiasm from his supporters.

The Sanders campaign drew more than 25,000 people to a rally on Wednesday in Washington Square in Manhattan.

However, buoyed by earlier wins across the southern US, Mrs Clinton holds a sizeable lead in the number delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Many analysts believe that Mr Sanders needs to pull off an upset in New York to remain viable in the race.

Mrs Clinton, who represented the state in US Senate for two terms, holds a commanding lead in New York, according to recent polls.

Source: bbc.com

 

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US election: Trump accuses Republican leaders of conspiracy

Republican Donald Trump has said the party's leaders do not want him to win the presidential nomination.

The system was "stacked" against him, he said in New York, accusing the Republican National Committee (RNC) of conspiring against him.

His comments come after his rival Ted Cruz was awarded all the delegates in Colorado without a state-wide vote.

Mr Trump leads the race but may fall short of getting enough delegates to get the nomination outright.

That would lead to a contested convention in July, where delegates are free after the first ballot to back whom they want, opening the door for Texas Senator Mr Cruz or even the third candidate in the race, John Kasich.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Mr Cruz is likely to win on a second vote, because he has persuaded so many delegates to vote for him when they are "unbound" to vote as pledged.

But Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus rejected Mr Trump's charge that the rules in states like Colorado had been changed in response to his rise in the polls.

Mr Priebus tweeted that the nomination process had been well known for more than a year.

"It's the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break."

Asked at a town hall event in New York whether the RNC wanted him to win, Mr Trump said: "No, I don't think so. I really don't."

He has been criticised for not campaigning hard enough on the ground in states like Colorado.

But Mr Trump said delegates who wanted to support him were being pushed out by the RNC.

"They don't like when I put up my own money because it means they don't have any control of me because I'm working for the people," he said.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Donald Trump's insurgent presidential candidacy has proven to be extremely successful in besting a fractured Republican field at the ballot box, propelling him to a commanding lead in the race for the nomination.

What his campaign has not been built to do is engage in the gruelling, behind-the-scenes political combat that comes in the weeks and months after the headline-generating nominating contests. Although Mr Trump has received almost 2 million more votes than Ted Cruz, it's the Texas senator who is prevailing in the unglamorous race to ensure that the Republican National Convention floor is packed with loyalists who, in a nominating free-for-all, will stand by their candidate.

Before Mr Trump complains too loudly about the undemocratic nature of the process, however, it should be noted that at least so far he's won a larger share of pledged convention delegates (45%) than he has of the raw vote in nomination contests (37%).

In this close, contentious primary season, the veneer of accountability is rubbing off, exposing the sometimes unsightly gears that still power the US political system. It isn't a pretty sight - and it's difficult for anyone to claim the moral high ground.

Is the US presidential race 'rigged'?


Most states have opted to hold state-wide primaries or caucuses to determine the number of delegates pledged to a particular candidate.

But Colorado decided last summer to select its delegates in a different way, at its own state convention.

The state-by-state primary contests come to New York next week where a high number of delegates will be up for grabs.

Several senior Republicans have expressed opposition to Mr Trump winning, doubting his ability to win a general election and disagreeing with his hard line on immigration.

Mr Trump has broken an earlier pledge he made to support whoever the Republicans nominate, therefore refusing to rule out a third-party run.

He has said there will be "riots" if he is not chosen as the party's nominee, having headed to the convention with the most delegates.

Source: bbc.com

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Minister John Whittingdale admits relationship with escort

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has admitted he had a relationship with an escort but said he did not know her real occupation.

He said he ended the relationship as soon as he found out, in February 2014.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said it raises questions about his role in press regulation, given some papers had the story but did not publish it.

Mr Whittingdale insisted it had not compromised his job as culture, media and sport secretary, from May 2015.

Downing Street said Mr Whittingdale "is a single man entitled to a private life" and had the full confidence of Prime Minister David Cameron.

'Bit embarrassing'

Mr Whittingdale told BBC Newsnight: "Between August 2013 and February 2014, I had a relationship with someone who I first met through Match.com.

"She was a similar age and lived close to me. At no time did she give me any indication of of her real occupation and I only discovered this when I was made aware that someone was trying to sell a story about me to tabloid newspapers. As soon as I discovered, I ended the relationship.

"This is an old story which was a bit embarrassing at the time. The events occurred long before I took up my present position and it has never had any influence on the decisions I have made as culture secretary."

Labour shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant, who was shadow culture secretary until September last year, said: "It seems the press were quite deliberately holding a sword of Damocles over John Whittingdale.

"He has a perfect right to a private life but as soon as he knew this he should have withdrawn from all regulation of the press.

Mr Bryant added that the prime minister had promised to fully implement the recommendation of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, adding: "That's what he should deliver."

Public interest

Before taking up the cabinet post Mr Whittingdale served as chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee for a decade.

Earlier this month the journalism website Byline reported that Mr Whittingdale had had a relationship with a professional dominatrix and fetish escort.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright says the fact the story stayed out of the press has raised questions about a potential conflict of interest involving the man in charge of media regulation and the motivation of newspapers and broadcasters not to report it.

A number of newspapers told Newsnight they did not run the story because it was not in the public interest.

However, Brian Cathcart, co-founder of campaign group Hacked Off which wants tougher press regulation, said Mr Whittingdale's credibility had been damaged.

Source: bbc.com

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Paul Ryan rules out 2016 presidential bid

US House Speaker Paul Ryan has officially ruled out making a late attempt to become the Republican presidential nominee.

"I do not want, nor will I accept the Republican nomination," he said.

Mr Ryan's name was floated as a late contender if there is a contested convention in July, as doubts persist over the strength of the candidates.

If Donald Trump, John Kasich nor Ted Cruz is able to win 1,237 delegates, the convention will be contested.

The state-by-state primary contests, which come to New York next week, determine the number of delegates pledged to a particular candidate.

Mr Trump is still well ahead in the number of delegates accumulated but may fall short of the magic number required.


Only two men left - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

In 1886 former civil war general William Sherman set the gold standard for disavowing interest in serving as US president. "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected," he bluntly stated.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan may not reach Shermanesque levels of certainty with Tuesday's statement, but the move should put the latest round of rampant speculation and rumour-mongering to rest.

The Ryan presidential boomlet was largely a result of growing desperation among Republicans who see a presidential ticket headed by the epically unpopular Donald Trump as an unmitigated disaster and by absolutist Ted Cruz as only a slightly mitigated disaster.

Mr Ryan won't be their establishment-friendly "white knight", however, and there are few others out there with the stature to pull off such an unlikely convention coup.

Former candidate Mitt Romney? Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker? At this point, anyone other than Mr Cruz or Mr Trump - the two men who have slogged through the presidential season and won the votes and delegates - appears to be pure fantasy.

How does a contested convention work?

Five ways Republican bloodbath could end

Profile: House Speaker Paul Ryan


At a contested convention, the delegates are free after the first ballot to back whom they want, opening the door for Texas Senator Mr Cruz or even the third candidate in the race, Mr Kasich.

Some in the party had hoped Mr Ryan would emerge as a candidate at that stage, believing he would be a more effective and less divisive figure than Mr Trump or Mr Cruz.

Speaking at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, Mr Ryan - who ran as Mitt Romney's running mate in the 2012 presidential election - ruled himself out unequivocally.

But some commentators were quick to point out that he said he did not want to run for Speaker of the House last year before eventually accepting the job.

Source: bbc.com

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President Obama: Libya aftermath 'worst mistake' of presidency

US President Barack Obama has said failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the worst mistake of his presidency.

Mr Obama was answering a series of questions on the highs and lows of his time in office on Fox News.

He said, however, that intervening in Libya had been "the right thing to do".

The US and other countries carried out strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising.

But after the former Libyan leader was killed, Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments forming.

How Obama learned the limits of US power

So-called Islamic State (IS) gained a foothold, and Libya became a major departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe.

A UN-backed national unity government arrived in the capital Tripoli earlier this month but is waiting to take charge.

The leader of the faction ruling western Libya has threatened to prosecute any of his ministers who co-operate with the UN-backed administration, contradicting an earlier announcement the ministers would stand down.


President Obama gave the brief but revealing answer speaking to Chris Wallace:

CW: Worst mistake?

Obama: Probably failing to plan for the day after, what I think was the right thing to do, in intervening in Libya.


It is not the first time President Obama has expressed regret over Libya. He told the Atlantic magazine last month the operation went as well as he had hoped, but Libya was now "a mess".

In that interview, he also criticised France and the UK, in particular saying British Prime Minister David Cameron became "distracted" after the intervention.

It was a rare rebuke for a close ally and one which BBC correspondents at the time said angered Downing Street.

President Obama told Fox that his biggest accomplishment in office was "saving the economy from the great depression".

He said the best day of his presidency was when he passed the healthcare reforms. The worst, he said, was responding to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school.

Mr Obama discussed his legacy in a BBC interview last year, saying his failure to pass tighter gun control laws was the biggest frustration of his presidency.


Libya timeline

February 2011: Protests against Colonel Gaddafi's regime erupt in Libya

March 2011: UN Security Council authorises a no-fly zone over Libya and air strikes to protect civilians

October 2011: Gaddafi is captured and killed by rebel fighters

2012: Splits emerge as the transitional government struggle to rein in local militias

September 2012: The US ambassador and three other Americans are killed when Islamist militants storm the consulate in eastern Benghazi

June 2014: Disputed elections are held. Two governments are formed: one in the capital Tripoli, the other UN-backed administration in eastern Torbruk

January 2015: The UN announces a new interim government but it is yet to take charge

Source: bbc.com

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Venezuela's Supreme Court overturns amnesty bill

Venezuela's Supreme Court has overturned an amnesty for jailed opposition leaders approved by the opposition-controlled parliament.

About 70 activists opposed to President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government had been due for release under the law approved last month.

But the court declared the amnesty law unconstitutional.

President Maduro had condemned the law as an attempt to destabilise his leadership of the country.

The Supreme Court has consistently backed the Venezuelan government since the opposition triumphed in congressional elections in December.

In a statement, the court said the amnesty law was unconstitutional because it covered offences "that are acts of organised crime, which are not related to crimes of a political nature".

Leopoldo Lopez: Venezuela's maverick opposition leader

Venezuela opposition pushed for Maduro's exit

What changes will the new Congress bring?

The opposition won parliamentary elections largely on a promise to work towards the release of dozens of what it considers political prisoners.

Among the detainees is Leopoldo Lopez, a prominent opposition leader who was sentenced to 13 years and nine months in prison last year for inciting violence during mass protests.

The prosecutor in the case later fled Venezuela and told media abroad that Mr Lopez's conviction had been a political show trial.

Government officials maintain that Mr Lopez is responsible for violence that erupted during protests in which 43 people were killed in 2014.

Other political leaders who were set to be freed include the former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who is under house arrest, and the former mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Ceballos.

Members of the governing PSUV party had said the amnesty was a carte blanche for "murderers".

President Maduro had the choice of signing the law, sending it back to the National Assembly or challenging it before the Supreme Court.

Last week, he told supporters that he had decided to ask the court to invalidate the "criminal" bill.

After the Supreme Court's ruling, he said he would set up a truth commission to deal with jailed opposition activists' cases and that opposition members would be invited to join.

Critics of the government say the top court is stacked with supporters of the president.

Venezuela is deeply divided into those who support the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro and those who oppose it.

In February, the opposition announced it would try to drive President Maduro from power by means of a recall referendum or a constitutional amendment to shorten his term.

The government denounced the plans as an attempted coup.

Source: bbc.com

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Brazil impeachment: Vote deals new blow to Rousseff

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has suffered a blow to her hopes of staving off impeachment proceedings, after a committee voted they should go ahead.

The 65-member congressional committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend impeachment over claims she manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit.

All eyes will now be on a full vote in the lower house on 17 or 18 April.

The issue has divided Brazil, with police preparing for mass protests in the capital, Brasilia.

The vote took place amid chaotic scenes with supporters and opponents of President Rousseff shouting slogans and waving placards.

The committee's vote, while largely symbolic, was being watched as a measure of how much support there is for the impeachment process ahead of the crucial vote in the full lower house of Congress.

There, 342 votes in favour are needed to send the matter on to the Senate. The latest opinion poll by the Estadao daily suggests 292 are in favour, 115 against and 106 undecided.

Analysis by Wyre Davies, BBC South America Correspondent

President Rousseff, whose popularity has dived in recent months, has been hit by a faltering economy and a damaging corruption scandal focused on the state-controlled oil giant Petrobras which has implicated several senior politicians and business leaders.

Although opinion polls regularly indicate that a majority of Brazilians support the impeachment process, President Rousseff and her supporters in the ruling Workers Party say the proceedings in Congress amount to a parliamentary coup against a democratically elected government.

They point out that, unlike many of the Congressmen sitting in judgment against her, Ms Rousseff has not been formally accused in the Petrobras corruption probe but is being "tried" on lesser charges of manipulating government accounts to conceal a growing deficit.

During a bad-tempered debate leading up to the vote, Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cordozo, speaking for the president, said the impeachment process was "flawed".

"It is absurd to dismiss a president who has not committed crimes, nor stolen a penny. And such a process without crime or fraud, would be a coup," he said.

Opposition lawmaker Vanderlei Macris said an impeachment would be important to Brazilian society and would bring change.

Rousseff under pressure

The Brazilian president faces a battle to stay in power

  • 513 members of the lower house of Congress

  • 342 votes needed for her suspension

  • 172 votes needed to block her impeachment

  • 180 days she would be suspended for while the Senate debates her impeachment

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US election: Tensions escalate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton has dismissed as "ridiculous" a charge by Bernie Sanders that she is "unqualified" to be president, as tensions rise in the Democratic race.

The Vermont senator stood by his comments, pointing to her Wall Street links and her vote for the war in Iraq.

He said she started the latest war of words by attacking him first.

The two candidates will do battle in a New York showdown in two weeks, a state where both have strong links.

There is much at stake, as the former secretary of state tries to stem the momentum of the self-described democratic socialist, who has a string of wins behind him.

Mr Sanders beat Mrs Clinton in the Wisconsin primary contest on Tuesday, and could pick up more delegates in Wyoming on Saturday before the greater prize of New York is up for grabs.


Analysis - Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Is it a sign of desperation from a losing campaign or a proportional response to an earlier unfair attack? Whatever the reason, Bernie Sanders's recent criticisms of Hillary Clinton as "unqualified" for the presidency represent a marked escalation in the war of words between the two candidates.

Mrs Clinton's supporters are bristling at the remarks, which they consider both sexist and patently untrue, given the former secretary of state's weighty political biography.

The Vermont senator's point, however, is that Mrs Clinton's lengthy experience within the establishment isn't a mark in her favour, it's a flaw that makes her beholden to the special interests he has spent his campaign denouncing.

With what could be a decisive New York primary less than two weeks away, the battle lines are clearly forming and the rhetoric is only just starting to heat up.

Democrats often boast of the substantiveness of their presidential nomination contest, particularly compared to the ongoing Republican slugfest.

This relatively genteel atmosphere may not persist through a rough-and-tumble contest in the Empire State, however, with its tabloid media culture that trumpets every squawk and squabble. In the political pressure cooker that is New York politics, things may be about to take an ugly turn.


The latest row began on Wednesday when Mrs Clinton was asked if Mr Sanders was qualified to be president, after he gave a newspaper interview in which he appeared to struggle to answer some questions.

"I think he hadn't done his homework and he'd been talking for more than a year about doing things that he obviously hasn't really studied or understood, and that does raise a lot of questions," she told MSNBC's Morning Joe.

On Wednesday night, Bernie Sanders told a crowd of supporters at Temple University that Mrs Clinton had accused him of being unqualified.

"Well let me, let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don't believe that she is qualified if she is, through her super PAC [fundraising committee], taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds," he said.

"I don't think you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC."

He went on to list her backing of the Iraq War and her support of trade agreements as other disqualifications. On Thursday, he repeated his comments.

The Clinton campaign hit back, with spokesman Brian Fallon tweeting: "Hillary Clinton did not say Bernie Sanders was 'not qualified.' But he has now, absurdly, said it about her. This is a new low."

One of her senior aides, Christina Reynolds, said it was "a ridiculous and irresponsible attack for someone to make" against one of the most qualified candidates ever to run.

On the campaign trail, Mrs Clinton told Politico she explains things in a way more "open and truthful than my opponent," and said she explains what she would do as president rather than "lots of arm-waving and hot rhetoric".

In the Republican race, the two front-runners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump also traded insults on the campaign trail in New York.

Mr Trump, a businessman with no experience of elected office, accused the Texas senator of "hating" the city when he accused Mr Trump of having "New York values".

Source: bbc.com

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Panama Papers: Iceland PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigns

Iceland's prime minister has resigned - the first major casualty of the leaked Panama Papers that have shone a spotlight on offshore finance.

The leaks, from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife but had not declared it when he entered parliament

He is accused of concealing millions of dollars' worth of family assets.

Mr Gunnlaugsson says he sold his shares to his wife, and denies any wrongdoing.

He is one of dozens of high-profile global figures mentioned in the 11.5 million leaked financial and legal records, which were first published on Sunday.

Pressure on Mr Gunnlaugsson to quit had been building since then, with thousands of people protesting outside the parliament building in the capital Reykjavik on Monday and opposition parties tabling a confidence motion.

Earlier on Tuesday, the prime minister had asked President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to dissolve parliament and call an early election.

But Mr Grimsson said he first wanted to consult leaders of the Independence Party, which has been in the ruling coalition with Mr Gunnlaugsson's Progressive Party since 2013.

Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, the chairman of the Independence Party, said the prime minister's request had come as a "total surprise" and was not "the rational thing to do".

Later, ahead of the proposed confidence vote, Mr Gunnlaugsson announced he was stepping down.

The Progressive Party's deputy leader, Agriculture Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, told reporters after a meeting that the party planned to name him as the new leader and propose that he become prime minister.

Despite the resignation, Katrín Jakobsdottir, head of the Left-Green Movement, told the Reuters news agency that opposition parties still wanted early elections.


Other Panama Papers reaction

  • Fifa president Gianni Infantino signed off on a TV rights contract with businessmen subsequently accused of bribery, leaked documents show
  • France returns Panama to a list of countries which fail to co-operate over tax evasion
  • Panama says it is considering retaliatory measures against France, but reiterates that is ready to co-operate with any investigations stemming from the leaks
  • Chile: the country head of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Gonzalo Delaveau, steps down after his name emerges in the documents
  • US President Barack Obama says tax avoidance is a global problem and governments should not make it easy for illegal funds to move around the world
  • Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif orders judicial investigation into allegations of family links with offshore companies

Panama Papers: Q&A

Watergate to Wikileaks: Leaks that shook the world


The documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca show that Mr Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought the company Wintris in 2007.

He did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009. He sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1 (£0.70) eight months later.

Mr Gunnlaugsson maintains no rules were broken and his wife did not benefit financially.

The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Mrs Palsdottir in 2015.

Court records show that Wintris had significant investments in the bonds of three major Icelandic banks that collapsed during the financial crisis which began in 2008.

Some of Icelanders' anger is believed to stem from the perceived conflict of interest.

The prime minister was involved in negotiations about the banks' future and had characterised foreign creditors who wanted their money back as "vultures", while Wintris itself was a creditor.

Mr Gunnlaugsson had kept his wife's interest in the outcome a secret.

In a resignation statement, Mr Gunnlaugsson said he had no wish to stand in the way of further government work, such as reform of the financial system.

Addressing the issue of his wife's assets, the statement says the couple have "never sought to hide these assets from Icelandic tax authorities and these holdings in Wintris have been reported as an asset on the prime minister's wife's income tax returns since 2008 and taxes have been paid accordingly in Iceland.

"No parliamentary rules on disclosure have been broken. Even the Guardian and other media covering the story have confirmed that they have not seen any evidence to suggest that the prime minister, his wife, or Wintris engaged in any actions involving tax avoidance, tax evasion, or any dishonest financial gain."


Panama Papers - tax havens of the rich and powerful exposed

  • Eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have been passed to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. BBC Panorama is among 107 media organisations - including UK newspaper the Guardian - in 76 countries which have been analysing the documents. The BBC does not know the identity of the source
  • They show how the company has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax
  • Mossack Fonseca says it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing
  • Tricks of the trade: How assets are hidden and taxes evaded
  • Panama Papers: Full coverage; follow reaction on Twitter using #PanamaPapers; in the BBC News app, follow the tag "Panama Papers"
  • Watch Panorama on the BBC iPlayer (UK viewers only)

Source: bbc.com

 

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For Bernie Sanders, it's momentum versus math

Bernie Sanders can now boast four wins in a row and victories in six of the last seven contests for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Despite all the talk about the challenges he faces in trying to catch Hillary Clinton, it's still a remarkable achievement given how far back he started from the former secretary of state when the race began last year.

The Vermont senator wasn't in Wisconsin to relish the win, however. He chose to spend primary night instead at a rally in Wyoming, which holds its Democratic caucus on Saturday.

For Mr Sanders every delegate counts if he wants to catch Mrs Clinton - a formidable task given the sizable lead she built up by routing the Vermont senator in contests across the South last month.

But even if it doesn't give him much of a delegate boost, this Wisconsin result does offer Mr Sanders that most precious of political commodities - momentum.

He'll likely post another victory in Wyoming, and then all eyes turn to New York in two weeks - where Mr Sanders grew up and Mrs Clinton served as a senator for six years.

Mr Sanders, if his recent string of victories is to be anything more than a political footnote, will need to attract black and Hispanic votes in numbers he has yet achieve. If he can do that, then the narrative in this race stops being Mrs Clinton's inevitability and becomes a question of whether the front-runner can hang on.

If New York is the key, however, Mr Sanders's campaign there may be stumbling out of the gate. Today he received a raft of negative press for an interview he gave with the editorial board of the Daily News, a New York City newspaper, that critics say exposes his thin grasp on the issues - and foreign policy in particular.

When asked about Israeli-relations, the senator said he didn't know the answer to some questions and wasn't qualified to respond to others. He said he hasn't thought much about where so-called Islamic State leaders captured by the US should be held and didn't know whether President Barack Obama has the right policy to deal with IS.

He even demurred on questions about whether the US government has the authority to order the breakup of banks that the president determines are too powerful.

"If a bank is too big to fail, it is too big to exist," he said. "And then you have the secretary of treasury and some people who know a lot about this, making that determination."

Gloves come off for Clinton and Sanders - It's crunch time in the Democratic race and nerves are starting to fray

#BernieMadeMeWhite: Minority supporters of Sanders speak out - Supporters push back against "all-white" narrative

Trump, Clinton and the 'None of the Above' era - Rarely have those running for high office been held in such low esteem

Full US election coverage from the BBC


The headlines following the interview were scathing. "This New York Daily News interview was pretty close to a disaster for Bernie Sanders," read the Washington Post.

"Even on bread-and-butter matters like breaking up the big banks, the Democratic presidential hopeful came across as tentative, unprepared or unaware," wrote the Atlantic's David Graham.

It didn't take long for the Clinton camp to pounce, either.

"We've said for a long time that this primary is about who's really going to be able to get things done," the campaign said in a news release on Tuesday night. "And from reading this interview, you get the impression Senator Sanders hasn't thought very much about that."

New York politics can be rough and tumble. The tabloid culture in the New York City tends to reward politicians who are both aggressive and thick-skinned.

The Wisconsin win was sweet for Mr Sanders, but he is about to face the biggest test of his campaign. In two weeks he could be on his way back in the race - or left licking his wounds.

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Cruz wins Wisconsin in blow to Trump

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has decisively won the Wisconsin primary, complicating front-runner Donald Trump's path to the nomination.

In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders scored a strong victory over Hillary Clinton in the Midwestern state.

Mr Trump leads the Republican race, but there are concerns that he could fall short of the number of delegates needed to secure the party's nomination.

Mr Trump's rivals have pinned their hopes on a contested convention.

At a contested convention, party leaders, not voters, would choose the nominee.

"Tonight is a turning point, it is a rallying cry to the people of America," Mr Cruz told supporters in Milwaukee on Tuesday. "We are winning because we are uniting the Republican Party."

Mr Cruz is unlikely to earn enough delegates to win the nomination outright, but Republican Party leaders have rallied around the Texas senator in hopes of wounding Mr Trump.


Analysis: Jon Sopel, BBC News North America Editor

Who knew it? Newton was right; there is such a thing as gravity after all.

I'm not much of a scientist, but I had, well, started to doubt him. I thought maybe he hadn't got it right with the whole thing about the apple falling. After nine months of the most improbable act of levitation ever seen outside of a circus or a weightlessness laboratory, the blond sorcerer has come down to earth.

No, he didn't reach terminal velocity. And as falls go, it wasn't that serious. He's got a few scrapes, and maybe that over-inflated ego has had some of the air knocked out. You could hear the hissing sound from miles away. But a fall it has been.

And that is remarkable and worthy of note. Because for nine months now it has seemed that Donald Trump could say and do whatever he liked without there being consequences.

But then he took on women. And so Wisconsin is lost. And Mr Trump has shown he is mortal.

Read more from Jon


Mr Trump said on Tuesday he would prevail despite the loss and took aim at his rival.

"Ted Cruz is worse than a puppet - he is a Trojan horse, being used by the party bosses attempting to steal the nomination," the Trump campaign said in a statement.

Party leaders are concerned that Mr Trump would be a weak candidate in the general election and could harm other Republicans lawmakers on the ballot.

Polls show that the real estate tycoon is extremely unpopular among key voting blocs including women, Latinos and young people.

Marlow Mittelstaedt holds a sign and cheers while waiting for the arrival of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.,

New York will be a key test for the Sanders campaign

On the Democratic side, Wisconsin adds to a recent spate of wins by the Sanders campaign, giving the Vermont senator a boost before key races in New York and Pennsylvania.

Addressing supporters in Wyoming, Mr Sanders stressed momentum was on his side and that his outsider candidacy could change the status quo.

"Real change never takes place from the top down; it always takes place from the bottom up," Mr Sanders told supporters.

Mrs Clinton still holds a sizeable lead and most analysts say she will eventually become the Democratic nominee despite her recent losses.

While Tuesday's loss was a setback for Mr Trump, his campaign has time to rebound.


More on the 2016 campaign

US election 2016: Wisconsin Primary - Complete results as votes are counted

For Bernie Sanders, it's momentum versus math - The Sanders campaign is on a winning streak

Trump's disastrous women voter problem - This voting bloc could doom in chances in the general election

Full US election coverage from the BBC


The campaign now moves to large north-eastern states, where polls show Mr Trump holds significant leads.

Mr Trump's loss in Wisconsin comes after a rocky week for the campaign, particularly with female voters.

The New York businessman repeatedly struggled to articulate his position on abortion. At one point, he called for women to be punished for having abortions, then quickly changed his mind.

His campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was also arrested, accused of manhandling a female journalist. Mr Trump has vehemently defended Mr Lewandowski and rebuffed calls to fire him.

Meanwhile, outside groups opposed to Mr Trump's nomination stepped up their efforts in Wisconsin, running negative television adverts.

Popular state leaders such as Governor Scott Walker and influential talk radio programme hosts also opposed the Trump campaign and threw their support behind Mr Cruz.

Source: bbc.com

 

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Donald Trump urges John Kasich to quit White House race

Republican front-runner Donald Trump has said he would easily win the Republican nomination if John Kasich drops out of the contest.

He said the Ohio governor should not stay in the contest because he cannot collect enough delegates to win.

His comments came just ahead of Tuesday's Wisconsin vote which could reshape the Republican race.

"If I didn't have Kasich, I automatically win," Mr Trump said at a rally in Wisconsin.

If Mr Trump loses the primary contest on Tuesday, as the polls suggest, it is far less likely he will have the all-important 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Delegates represent their states at the party's convention and are accumulated by the votes in each state.

Currently, Mr Trump has 735 delegates, Texas Senator Ted Cruz 461 and Ohio Governor Mr Kasich 143.

If no-one hits 1,237 after all 50 states have voted, the Republican convention in July is contested, meaning the delegates vote for a nominee, and Mr Trump, who is unpopular among sections of the party, could lose the nomination.

The New York businessman has had a very difficult seven days, sparking outcry over comments he made about abortion, standing by his campaign manager after he was charged with assaulting a reporter and raising eyebrows with remarks about US foreign policy.

"Was this my best week? I guess not," Mr Trump told "Fox News Sunday".


More on the Trump campaign

Femme fatale- How Trump's women problem could doom his chances

Nukes in Asia - Is Trump's foreign policy so crazy it might just work?

What might happen - Five ways Republican bloodbath could end

None of the Above - Rarely have those running for high office been held in such low esteem

How it all works - It's complicated, but here's a handy guide


A loss in Wisconsin, which is the kind of state he has done well in up to now, then questions will be raised about whether his campaign is running out of steam.

He met the Republican National Committee (RNC) in Washington to review delegate and party rules, days after breaking a promise made to them that he would back the eventual nominee.

In response to Mr Trump's comments that Mr Kasich should follow former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Florida Senator Marco Rubio and quit the race, the Ohio Governor said he will stay because no-one will get the required number to win outright.

"Since he thinks it's such a good idea, we look forward to Trump dropping out before the convention," Kasich spokesman Chris Schrimpf said.

Mr Kasich has recognised that he will not be able to gain enough delegates before the convention.

Reince Priebus, president of the RNC, has said the nominee will be someone who is running, but acknowledged that a brokered convention is a possibility.

The Democrats are campaigning ahead of Wisconsin's primary as well, where Hillary Clinton is hoping to hold off a resurgent Bernie Sanders.

What is a brokered convention?

  • no candidate has 1,237 delegates needed to secure nomination
  • someone who was not previously running can be elected by delegates at the party convention
  • delegates can decide not to back their original candidate
  • there can be a "floor fight" in which delegates urge one another to come to their side, with multiple rounds of voting

Source: bbc.com

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Libya's unity government leaders in Tripoli power bid

Leaders of Libya's new unity government have arrived in the capital, Tripoli, by boat in an attempt to take control.

Over recent days, Tripoli's airspace has been intermittently closed to stop the Presidency Council, which has been based in Tunisia, from arriving by air.

Libya's UN envoy called for "a peaceful and orderly handover".

But hardliners in the coalition that controls Tripoli are opposed to the UN-brokered deal aimed at reconciling a nation split by five years of conflict.

In a televised address, the head of the Tripoli authorities, Khalifa Ghweil, said he regarded the politicians as interlopers and said they were not welcome.

He urged "the illegitimate outsiders to surrender and be safe in our custody or to return to where they came from".

Late on Wednesday, journalists from a television channel supportive of authorities in Tripoli said it was taken off air after gunmen stormed its offices. It was not clear to whom the gunmen were affiliated.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 overthrow of long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi by Nato-backed forces.

From 2014 it has had two competing administrations, one in Tripoli backed by powerful militias and the other about 1,000km (620 miles) away in the port city of Tobruk.


Militias in charge, says BBC's North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad

map

In the first hours after the politicians' arrival at the navy base, militias on armed pick-up trucks were seen securing most parts of the capital. But by early evening, gunfire from rival groups started ringing out.

It is not clear what their plan is, but things are now tense.

Many of the brigades in western Libya have fallen in line behind the Presidency Council. However, the reality is that these are the very same militias who led and facilitated the existence of the rival authorities in Tripoli since 2014.

Their continued prominent role means their status will not change - it simply puts any new government at their mercy. Ultimately they are Libya's rulers.

Militia allegiances often shift out of convenience and with the need to survive.

Key to any progress and long-term transformation of Libya will be having a government that can control these brigades.


In December, some rival lawmakers signed up to the UN agreement to form a unity government, but the deal has not yet been backed by all the country's many militia brigades that formed after the uprising.

The deal saw the formation of a nine-member Presidency Council, which includes the unity Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj who arrived with some of his deputies at a naval base in Tripoli on Wednesday.

Mr Sarraj said it was time to turn a new page and reconcile, saying he intended to build state institutions and implement a ceasefire.

"Revenge, alienation, antipathy, and hatred don't build a state," the AP news agency quoted him as saying.

The BBC's North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad says the Presidency Council has faced numerous challenges since its formation, chief of which has been its inability to establish a presence in Tripoli.

UN envoy Martin Kobler said the politicians' arrival in Tripoli - after at least two failed attempts to fly in - marked "an important step in Libya's democratic transition and path to peace, security and prosperity".

In a statement, he "urged all public bodies, including official financial institutions, to facilitate an immediate, orderly and peaceful handover of power".

US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "not the time for obstructionists to hold back progress".

But our reporter says it is not clear how Mr Sarraj and his colleagues will be able to take over state institutions in Tripoli, given the stiff rivalry they face and the fact that members of his proposed cabinet are based all over the country.

The political and security vacuum in Libya has helped the so-called Islamic State group to establish a foothold in the north African country, carrying out attacks on cities and against oil installations.

Source: bbc.com

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Trump says punish women for illegal abortions, then back-tracks

Presidential candidate Donald Trump briefly called for "some form of punishment" for women who have abortions, if abortion became illegal.

His initial comments made during a town hall event with cable network MSNBC sparked a wave of criticism.

However, Mr Trump quickly reversed his position, saying only the person who performed the abortion should be punished.

But he maintained: "My position has not changed."

The front-runner supports a ban on abortions, with certain exceptions.

Abortion has been legal in the United States since 1973 after a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

Only the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment has the power to overturn Roe v Wade and make abortion illegal.

Once a Democrat, Mr Trump has been criticised for supporting abortion rights in the past.


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America reporter

Police keep watch as protesters demonstrate in front of the US Supreme Court

The Republican party's official position is that abortion should be illegal. Conservative politicians and anti-abortion activists who view abortion as akin to murder, however, tend to avoid outlining any criminal punishment for women who undergo the procedure, instead targeting the doctors responsible.

The reason for this is simple - to make abortion bans more acceptable to a general public that does not want to see possibly distraught women grappling with unwanted pregnancies sent to prison.

Donald Trump, as he is wont to do, just trampled through this carefully constructed conservative political dance with all the grace of a rhinoceros at a tea party. Thanks to his assertion, after prodding, that women should face "some form of punishment" for having an illegal abortion, the conservative pro-life movement is going to be forced to defend their beliefs on uncomfortable ground. Republican candidates will be asked, again and again, to defend or denounce Mr Trump's comments.

This is exactly the kind of scenario that terrifies Republican politicians about Mr Trump as their party's nominee. His ill-considered remarks and shoot-from-the-hip approach to media interviews could be a political minefield for their candidates in the autumn.

In all likelihood it's just a taste of things to come.


However, some anti-abortion groups criticised Mr Trump's initial comments as extreme.

"Mr Trump's comment today is completely out of touch with the pro-life movement and even more with women who have chosen such a sad thing as abortion," said Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund.

"No pro-lifer would ever want to punish a woman who has chosen abortion."

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has been an outspoken critic of Mr Trump's stance on women's issues.

"Just when you thought it couldn't get worse. Horrific and telling," said Mrs Clinton after his latest comments.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Mr Trump's closest rival in the Republican race, also condemned the billionaire.

"Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that he hasn't seriously thought through the issues, and he'll say anything just to get attention," Mr Cruz said.

His spokesman Brian Phillips added on Twitter: "Don't overthink it: Trump doesn't understand the pro-life position because he's not pro-life."


More on the Trump campaign

The 40-year hurt - How Bruce Springsteen articulated the forces that underpin the rise of Trump

Trumpisms - 22 things that Trump believes

A civil war - Lifelong Republicans turned off by Trump


Republican leaders have expressed concern about Mr Trump's prospects in the general election because polls show that the New York businessman is extremely unpopular with female voters.

Mr Trump has come under fire for disparaging women including former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina and TV presenter Megyn Kelly.

"If Trump's words about women - calling us 'disgusting', 'slobs' and 'fat pigs' - didn't scare us, this should," said Kate Black of Emily's List, a group committed to electing female Democrats who support abortion rights.

His campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was arrested on Tuesday, accused of a minor assault on a female reporter. Mr Trump has vehemently defended Mr Lewandowski.

Anti-abortion activists traditionally have avoided placing blame on women who undergo abortions, but have focused on those who perform the procedure.

In recent years, conservatives have sought to tighten restrictions on abortion clinics and doctors rather than seek an outright ban.

Abortion rights advocates say these measures are meant to restrict women's access to abortion.

The new laws are particularly widespread in conservative southern states.

Source: bbc.com

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Mozambique police raid Renamo's offices and Dhlakama's home

Police in Mozambique say they have seized 47 weapons from the headquarters of the main opposition party, and the home of its leader, Afonso Dhlakama.

The weapons, which included AK-47 rifles, were used in violent crimes in the capital, Maputo, police alleged.

Mr Dhlakama's Renamo party condemned the raids as an "invasion".

Renamo fighters and government forces have been involved in clashes since disputed elections in 2014, raising fears that a civil war could resume.

The 17-year conflict ended in 1992 with a peace deal which led to the former rebel group turning into an opposition party.

Mr Dhlakama was not at his Maputo home during the police raid, reports the BBC's Jose Tembe from the city.

Fighters of former Mozambican rebel movement 'Renamo' receive military training on November 8, 2012 in Gorongosa's mountains, Mozambique

Some Renamo fighters remain armed, despite a peace deal

He is based in the remote Gorongosa mountains in central Mozambique, which was his headquarters when he was a rebel leader.

Police commander Julio Jane said military uniforms and communication equipment had also been seized during the raids.

"At Mr Dhlakama's house, we found 38 AK-47 rifles and seven pistols," he said.

For its part, Renamo accused police of "stealing" about $4,000 (£2,800) from its properties during the operation.

Mr Dhlakama would respond "politically" to the raids, it added.

Renamo has carried out a spate of attacks on civilians and government targets since the disputed election, as it insists on the right to govern six of Mozambique's 10 provinces.

Source: bbc.com

 

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US Election 2016: Cruz blames Trump for 'tabloid smear'

he feud between Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump is becoming increasingly personal, with Mr Cruz accusing "sleazy Donald" of spreading rumours.

Mr Cruz told reporters that Mr Trump was behind a story in the National Enquirer that alleged Mr Cruz has had extramarital affairs.

Mr Cruz called the story "garbage, complete and utter lies".

"It is a tabloid smear and it has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen."

As evidence that Mr Trump planted the story, Mr Cruz pointed out that the only person quoted by name in the Enquirer story was Roger Stone, a former top adviser to the Trump campaign.

He also noted that Mr Trump and National Enquirer CEO David Pecker are close friends.


Rats, dirty tricks and politics: Tim Swift, BBC News, Washington

Roger Stone is one of the more colourful characters in Republican politics

Roger Stone is one of the more colourful characters in Republican politics

Ted Cruz came out swinging on Friday, condemning the Trump campaign in the strongest possible terms. Some of those terms may require additional explanation.

"He is a man for whom a term was coined for copulating with a rodent," Mr Cruz said of Roger Stone, a former Trump adviser. "Well let me be clear, Donald Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him."

What?

Mr Cruz is referring to an obscene rat-themed euphemism for political dirty tricks. Mr Stone is credited with coining the phrase.

Mr Stone got his start in politics working for President Richard Nixon. He later lost a position with Senator Bob Dole after a newspaper columnist named him as one of Nixon's "dirty tricksters". Such tricks included ordering hundreds of pizzas to be delivered to rival campaigns, cancelling opponents' rallies, and engaging in deplorable behaviour while pretending to represent other candidates.

Through the years, Mr Stone worked for various Republican politicians including Ronald Reagan. And he's never shed his reputation for hardball attacks.

In a 2007 profile in the Weekly Standard, Mr Stone was dubbed the "boastful black prince of Republican sleaze".


Asked whether he would still support Mr Trump, the current front-runner, if he won the Republican nomination, Mr Cruz did not answer directly.

But the Texas senator said: "I'm not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and my family."

"I had absolutely nothing to do with it," Mr Trump said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the candidates, who had been on good terms earlier in the campaign, began trading insults on Twitter.

http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/752A/production/_88949992_trumptweet.jpg

Mistakenly believing the Cruz campaign had produced an attack advert about his wife Melania, Mr Trump on Twitter threatened to "spill the beans" on Mr Cruz's wife, Heidi.

Mr Cruz responded saying his campaign did not produce the advert, calling Mr Trump "classless" and a "coward".

The next day, Mr Trump continued, posting an unflattering photo of Mrs Cruz on Twitter.

Mr Cruz responded, calling Mr Trump a "snivelling coward" and told him to "leave Heidi the hell alone".

Source: bbc.com

 

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US Election 2016: Clinton condemns Trump's plans for Nato

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton rebuked Republicans and defended Nato in a counter-terrorism speech after deadly attacks in Brussels.

Her comments contrasted sharply with her Republican counterparts, namely Donald Trump, who has suggested scaling back US commitments to Nato.

Mrs Clinton said the US should consult more deeply with Arab partners and stand with Europe in its time of need.

"Our European allies stood with us on 9/11. It's time to return the favour."

America should not turn its back on its allies, she said during remarks at Stanford University in California, and insulting them is not a good way to fight terrorism.

She addressed Mr Trump's calls to reinstate the use of torture and water boarding to glean information from those accused of terrorism.

"I am proud to have been part of an administration that outlawed torture," the former secretary of state said.

The deadly attacks in Brussels that killed more than 30 people are the "latest brutal reminder" that more must be one to defeat to so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group, she said.

The US and Europe should take a "harder look" at airport security protocols, and other "soft targets" that IS may attack.

Mrs Clinton also said proposal in Congress to make a national commission on encryption could help fight online radicalisation.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has suggested in the wake of the attacks that police patrol Muslim neighbourhoods to fight terrorism, and has also suggested "carpet-bombing" IS in Syria.

Mrs Clinton called his suggestion "wrong, counterproductive and dangerous," and that it would be similar to "treating American Muslims like criminals".

Mr Trump has said it is acceptable to kill terrorists' families and that the US should not admit any Muslims into its borders.

"If Mr Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin," she said of Mr Trump's foreign policy views.

Source: bbc.com

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US Election 2016: Donald Trump struggles to win over Mormons

US presidential candidate Donald Trump has won over large blocs of religious voters, but one group of faithful conservatives has resisted - Mormons.

He lost contests in Idaho and Wyoming, which have large Mormon populations, and polls show him a distant second in Utah, where the church is based.

Tuesday's Republican caucuses in Utah could signal a weakness for Mr Trump.

Some early polls show that if Mr Trump advances to the general election, Utah voters would choose a Democrat.

The last time the state voted for a Democrat in a presidential election was 1964.

A win in Utah by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders - the two battle in the state's Democratic caucuses on Tuesday - would represent a major shift in the typically static electoral map.

Also on Tuesday, Democrats will vote in Idaho while both parties are holding a primary races in Arizona.

One of the most prominent Mormons in the US, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, has recently led the charge against the Republican front-runner.

Mr Romney, who was the last Republican presidential nominee, has condemned the New York businessman, saying Mr Trump's campaign has become associated with "racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence".

Other religious groups have criticised Mr Trump's campaign rhetoric. This week a group of rabbis protested his speech to an American-Israeli lobbying group in Washington.

In February, Pope Francis expressed concerns about Mr Trump's plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico.

But these condemnations of have done little to halt the Trump campaign's momentum.

Election results and polling data have shown the candidate is extremely popular with working-class Catholics and evangelical Christians.

Founded in 1830, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fourth largest religious group in the US and has throughout much of its history been associated with the Republican Party.

In recent years the church's membership has grown globally with 8 million of its 15 million followers living outside US.


More on the US presidential race

Jorge Ramos on Donald Trump's rise - Meet the Republican front-runner's nemesis

Who is funding the US election? - Money is a big issue in the 2016 US presidential race

Could Hillary Clinton face jail time? - The case of David Petraeus may signal how she will fare


It has a growing presence in Mexico, which Mr Trump has accused of sending criminals into the US and encouraging illegal immigration.

Unlike Mr Trump, the church has generally been supportive of immigration and the rights of immigrants.

Also, Mormons, once persecuted as a religious minority, have been unsettled by his plan to ban Muslims from entering the US.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is neutral in regard to party politics and election campaigns," the church said in a statement after Mr Trump first proposed the ban in December. "However, it is not neutral in relation to religious freedom."

The statement went on to cite the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who preached respect for other religions.

While other US governors sought to block Syrian refugees from their states in late 2015, Utah Governor Gary Herbert welcomed them.

McKay Coppins, a reporter for BuzzFeed who is Mormon, has written extensively about Mr Trump's problems with Mormon voters.

"His blatant religious illiteracy, his penchant for onstage cursing, his habit of flinging crude insults at women, his less-than-virtuous personal life and widely chronicled marital failures — all of this is anathema to the wholesome, family-first lifestyle that Mormonism promotes," Mr Coppins wrote.

Source: bbc.com

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Rob Ford, Toronto ex-mayor, dies aged 46 from cancer

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has died at the age of 46 after fighting cancer, his family has said.

Mr Ford, who battled drug and alcohol addiction, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2014.

He gained international notoriety after admitting smoking crack cocaine in 2013, but he was loved by supporters.

"A dedicated man of the people, Councillor Ford spent his life serving the citizens of Toronto," his family said in a statement.

He could not run for re-election as mayor in 2014 due to his cancer diagnosis, but won a city council seat in a landslide result.

His image contrasted sharply with Canada's usual calm, buttoned-up politics.

Profile: Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

Toronto ex-mayor: Everyone makes mistakes

Reacting to his death, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted: "Rob Ford fought cancer with courage and determination. My condolences and best wishes to the Ford family today."

The current mayor of Toronto, John Tory, said in a statement that "the city is reeling with this news".

"He was a man who spoke his mind and who ran for office because of the deeply felt convictions that he had.

"I know there are many who were affected by his gregarious nature and approach to public service.''

Scandal

While serving as Toronto mayor, Mr Ford was videotaped and photographed intoxicated in public areas.

"Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine," Mr Ford told reporters. "But... do I? Am I addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago."

Despite the crack-smoking scandal, his popularity remained high with fans lining up to take photo with him.

He appealed to conservative, working-class people with his populist message. Many of his supporters in the 2010 Toronto mayoral election came from the outer suburbs of the city.

One of his key campaign promises was to "stop the gravy train" of government spending and he pledged to end "the war on the car".

During Canada's national election last year, Mr Ford threw his support behind former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who lost to Justin Trudeau, a liberal.

Mr Harper tweeted on Tuesday: "Rob was a fighter throughout life & dedicated public servant who will be remembered for his courage, love for Toronto & his family."

New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair tweeted also his condolences to Mr Ford's family, saying "46 is far too young to lose a loved one".

Mr Ford grew up in Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto, dropping out of university after one year to work in his family business.

He is survived by his wife Renata and his two children, Stephanie and Doug.

Source: bbc.com

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Mitt Romney: Vote for Ted Cruz over 'Trumpism'

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney will vote for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, saying he is "repulsed" by Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

Mr Romney said in a Facebook post that the only way to nominate a Republican is to have an open convention, in which party officials choose the nominee.

He campaigned with Governor John Kasich in Ohio but said voting for Mr Cruz is the only way to stop "Trumpism".

He joins other Republican leaders coalescing around Mr Cruz.

Mr Trump has won the most state contests and holds 678 delegates - 1,237 are needed to win the nomination.

"Mitt Romney is a mixed up man who doesn't have a clue. No wonder he lost!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.

However Republican leaders are concerned that his controversial comments about immigrants, women and Muslims would make him a weak candidate in the general election in November.

Some also feel that the onetime Democrat cannot be trusted to implement conservative policies.

"Today, there is a contest between Trumpism and Republicanism," Mr Romney said. "Through the calculated statements of its leader, Trumpism has become associated with racism, misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, vulgarity and, most recently, threats and violence. I am repulsed by each and every one of these."


Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America Reporter

It turns out Mitt Romney's speech roundly condemning Donald Trump two weeks ago was just an opening salvo in what could be a long war against the New York businessman.

With the Utah primary days away, the 2012 Republican nominee, still highly respected among the state's large Mormon population, is casting his lot with - and personal ballot for - Ted Cruz in a last-ditch attempt to stop "Trumpism" from taking over his party.

Mr Romney and the Texas senator are certainly strange political bedfellows. One is the face of the party's genteel establishment; the other a bomb-throwing backbencher who has spent more time condemning his party's leadership than courting it.

The goal for Mr Romney continues to be a political street fight at an open Republican convention. The former Massachusetts governor has apparently concluded that this necessitated sticking the knife in Mr Trump's other opponent, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and going all-in with Mr Cruz.

His efforts prior to the last round of voting did little to slow Mr Trump's momentum. It remains to be seen if his latest moves will be any different.


Earlier, he gave a speech outlining why he was against Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman with no political experience, calling him a "phoney" and a "fraud".

Mr Romney's home state of Utah holds its presidential contest on Tuesday.

A group of conservatives including well-known talk radio host Erick Erickson met on Thursday to discuss ways to defeat Donald Trump, including launching a third party campaign to challenge the New York businessman.

"We encourage all former Republican candidates not currently supporting Trump to unite against him and encourage all candidates to hold their delegates on the first ballot," he said in a statement, put out on behalf of the group.

"We believe that the issue of Donald Trump is greater than an issue of party. It is an issue of morals and character that all Americans, not just those of us in the conservative movement, must confront."


More on the US presidential race

Where did Marco Rubio go wrong? - Tuesday was a bruising night for the establishment hope, and other takeaways from our US correspondents

Jorge Ramos on Donald Trump's rise - Meet the Republican front-runner's nemesis

Who is funding the US election? - Money is a big issue in the 2016 US presidential race


Many party members have also misgiving about Mr Cruz because he has repeatedly and publicly denounced Republican leaders.

However, more prominent Republicans are throwing their support behind Mr Cruz in a last-ditch effort to stop Mr Trump.

Popular South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and senators Mike Lee of Utah and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have recently endorsed Mr Cruz.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who left the Republican race on Tuesday, said this week would not be endorsing any of his former rivals.

He also said he had no interest in becoming a vice-presidential nominee.

Mr Trump won four out five primaries on Tuesday, but the race in Missouri has not been called for the Republicans yet.

Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won the state's Democratic primary after her opponent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders decline to pursue a recount.

Source: bbc.com

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North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the sea, South Korean and US officials say.

They say the missile, launched off the east coast, flew about 800km (500 miles) and fell into the water. North Korea has not commented on the report.

A US defence spokesperson later said a second missile was launched.

US President Barack Obama earlier imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang, after its recent "illicit" nuclear test and satellite launch.

His executive order freezes North Korean government property in the United States. It bans US exports to - or investment in - North Korea and also greatly expands powers to blacklist anyone, including non-Americans, dealing with North Korea.

The 6 January nuclear test and 7 February satellite launch were violations of existing UN sanctions.

'Pre-emptive nuclear strike'

South Korea's Yonhap news agency also cited unnamed sources saying a second missile was detected but it may have disintegrated in mid-air.

They appeared to be medium-range Rodong missiles fired from road-mobile launch vehicles.

With a maximum range of 1,300km, the Rodong would have the capability to reach all of South Korea and parts of Japan.

Lt Col Michelle Baldanza, from the US defence press office said after the latest launch: "We call on North Korea to refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region."

Amid the heightened tensions, the North sentenced a US student to 15 years hard labour on Wednesday for "severe crimes" against the state.

The US demanded North Korea immediately release Otto Warmbier, 21, who was arrested for trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel while on a visit in January.

The US and South Korea are also holding their biggest annual military drills this month, which routinely generate tension.

But this year North Korea threatened to launch a "pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice" against the US and South Korea.

Source: bbc.com

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Brazil judge blocks Lula appointment to government

A Brazilian judge has blocked the appointment of ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as chief of staff to his successor, Dilma Rousseff, shortly after he was sworn in.

The judge's injunction said there was a risk a federal investigation could be derailed if Lula was a minister.

In Brazil, cabinet members can only be investigated by the Supreme Court, not by federal courts.

Lula is under investigation in connection with a corruption scandal.

The government has appealed against the decision.

Legal battle

Prosecutors filed charges against Lula last week accusing him of money laundering and fraud, which he has denied.

Brazilians get that sinking feeling as crisis deepens

Brazil tumbling like 'House of Cards'

Lula: Most hated and loved man in Brazil

Why is Lula caught up in scandal?

Lula's nomination as chief of staff has divided Brazilians.

Some said it was a move to shield him from prosecution while others welcomed his return to active politics.

Ahead of his swearing-in ceremony, groups of supporters and opponents of the government clashed outside the presidential palace.

The ceremony itself was interrupted by a protester who cried "Shame!".

The protester was drowned out by supporters of the governing Workers' Party, who shouted pro-government slogans and Lula's name.

During the ceremony, President Rousseff praised Lula, who she said was "not just a great politician, but a great friend and comrade of many battles".

"We've always stood side by side," she said.

A visibly angry Ms Rousseff then criticised federal Judge Sergio Moro, who is leading the investigation into a massive corruption scandal at state-oil giant Petrobras.

On Wednesday, Judge Moro made public a taped phone conversation between President Rousseff and Lula which has been interpreted by some to show that Lula was given the post of chief of staff to shield him from prosecution.

In the conversation, Ms Rousseff told Lula she would send him the official decree naming him as minister "just to use in case it's necessary".

President Rousseff said Judge Moro had violated the law and the constitution by releasing the tape and that she would order an investigation.

President under fire

President Rousseff herself is under considerable political pressure.

Rousseff facing a perfect storm

Her critics want to impeach her over allegations she manipulated Brazil's account books to hide a growing deficit.

On Thursday, members of the lower house of Congress approved the creation of a 65-member committee to look into the ongoing impeachment.

It will examine the issue over the next few weeks and make a recommendation on whether Ms Rousseff should or not be impeached.

The final decision on her political future will be taken by the Senate.

Brazil's former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hugs Brazil President Dilma Rousseff as he is sworn in as the new chief of staff in the Planalto Palace on March 17, 2016 in Brasilia, Brazil.

President Rousseff showed her support for her mentor at his swearing-in ceremony

Analysts say she named Lula chief of staff so he could use his influence with members of Congress to convince them to vote against her impeachment.

As more and more members of her Workers' Party are being investigated over corruption at Petrobras, she is also facing increased questions about what she may have known.

Ms Rousseff was head of the board at Petrobras from 2003 to 2010 and has always denied any wrongdoing.

On Sunday, a record number of people took part in anti-government marches across Brazil.

An estimated three million people called for an end to corruption and for Ms Rousseff's impeachment.

There have also been rallies in support of the government, but they have been smaller than those opposing the administration.

The political upheaval comes at a time of economic problems, with Brazil going through its worst recession in more than three decades.

Source: bbc.com

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Brazil's Lula to be President Rousseff's chief of staff

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has appointed her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as her new chief of staff.

The move shields Lula from possible prosecution by a federal judge investigating a massive corruption scandal named Operation Car Wash.

The move sparked protests in several cities by those angry at the decision.

But Ms Rousseff said that protecting Lula from prosecution was not the motivation for the appointment.

"Lula's arrival in my government strengthens it and there are people who don't want it to be stronger."

Under Brazilian law, cabinet members can only be tried by the Supreme Court.

On 4 March, Lula was briefly detained and questioned over allegations of money laundering connected to Operation Car Wash, a massive investigation into corruption at the state oil giant, Petrobras.

He denies the allegations and says they are aimed at preventing him from running for president again in 2018.

In a taped telephone conversation released by the judge overseeing the investigation, Ms Rousseff offered to send Lula a copy of his appointment "in case of necessity" - interpreted by some as meaning in case he needed it to avoid arrest.

Hours after the announcement of Lula's appointment, protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia and in at least three other cities.

"I'm tired. I'm not the police; I'm a Brazilian who is tired of so much corruption," one protester in Brasilia told Reuters.

In Congress, opposition politicians gathered around a microphone during a chaotic session and chanted "resignation".

Protesters outside the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia

Some 2,000 protesters gathered outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia on Wednesday evening

Demonstrators protest against Lula's appointment in Sao Paulo

Protesters also turned out in Sao Paulo

Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, presser, Brasilia

President Rousseff dismissed claims that Lula's appointment was aimed at shielding him from a corruption investigation

Ms Rousseff says the appointment is due to Lula being a "skilful political negotiator" and experienced leader who will help kick off economic recovery.

During his time in office, the Brazilian economy experienced unprecedented economic growth and wealth redistribution.

"I believe [former] President Lula, who was in charge of the country for eight years, cannot have his reputation destroyed in this manner," added Ms Rousseff.

Lula in the spotlight

Fight against impeachment

Lula and other ministers appointed on Wednesday are expected to be sworn in at 10:00 local time (13:00 GMT) on Thursday.

As chief of staff, Lula is expected to lead the fight against moves in Congress to impeach President Rousseff over allegations she manipulated Brazil's account books to hide a growing deficit.

Analysts say President Rousseff is hoping that Lula will use his political nous and influence with members of Congress to block impeachment proceedings.

The two politicians have been close for decades. Lula was Ms Rousseff's political mentor and she is his hand-picked successor.

Lula: 'Man of the people'

Lula at a campaign rally for President Dilma Rousseff in October 2014

  • Born 27 October 1945 into a poor, illiterate family in Pernambuco state
  • Worked in Sao Paulo's car industry
  • Achieved national fame leading strikes during Brazil's dictatorship
  • In 1980 he founded the Workers' Party (PT), the first major socialist party in Brazil's history
  • Elected president in 2002 at the fourth attempt and went on to serve two terms
  • Pumped billions of dollars into social programmes such as Bolsa Familia that benefited tens of millions of Brazilians
  • When he left office in 2010 he said: "I am leaving government to live life on the streets. Man of the people that I always was, I will be more of the people than ever before"
  • Currently under investigation over his deals with construction firms

Source: bbc.com

 

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