Archive For The “News” Category

2 Police Officers Shot And Killed Near Orlando

By |

2 Police Officers Shot And Killed Near Orlando

Editor’s note: This is a developing story; we’ll provide updates as they become available.

Police in Kissimmee, Fla., just south of Orlando, reported late Friday that two officers there had been shot.

Both were killed, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs confirmed on Twitter.

Heartbreaking loss of two of Kissimmee’s finest officers. Please join in prayers for families, friends, and law enforcement.

— Mayor Teresa Jacobs (@Mayor_Jacobs) August 19, 2017

A suspect has been arrested, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“There are no county or jurisdiction lines when it comes to our Law Enforcement Brotherhood,” Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins Jr. wrote in response to the shootings.

There are no county or jurisdiction lines when it comes to our Law Enforcement Brotherhood. Thank U 4 the support & Prayers

— Fred Hawkins, Jr. (@fhawkinsjr) August 19, 2017

Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes told the Sentinel that one person was in custody.

Details of the shootings, including whether the officers were on duty or responding to a call at the time, have not been released yet, the Sentinel reported.

Further north in Jacksonville, the local sheriff’s office also reported that two of their officers had been shot, with information about the circumstances or their conditions withheld until family members were notified.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Venezuela's Pro-Maduro Assembly Seizes Congressional Powers

By |

Venezuela's Pro-Maduro Assembly Seizes Congressional Powers

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro addresses the constituent assembly earlier this month. The group, which Maduro called for and which enjoys wide-ranging powers, granted itself the ability to pass laws.

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

The Venezuelan Constituent Assembly, an extremely powerful group called into existence by President Nicolas Maduro, just granted itself another power — one that was once the exclusive province of the country’s elected congress: The 2-week-old assembly packed with Maduro supporters decreed Friday it has the power to pass laws.

While the move does not officially dissolve the Venezuelan legislature, it effectively renders the body of lawmakers moot by appropriating its principle responsibility. The Venezuelan congress, which has been filled with opposition politicians since their big wins in 2015 elections, has long been a thorn in the side of a president who has been tightening his hold on power.

As NPR’s Philip Reeves notes, the assembly’s maneuver Friday marks “another milestone in a rapid journey toward dictatorship.”

As the pro-Maduro legislative superbody accumulates powers, the Venezuelan president and his Socialist Party now enjoy wide-ranging influence over every branch of government — including the Supreme Court, whose abortive attempt to nullify the country’s opposition-controlled congress at the end of March helped set off months of violent unrest.

Earlier this year, amid the rampant protests against his administration, Maduro called for the election of the Constituent Assembly to rewrite the country’s 18-year-old constitution. He did not allow voters a say in whether they wanted such a group — only in which pro-Maduro politicians they wanted as its members.

Since the controversial vote was held, many international observers — including the U.S. — have censured Maduro’s government for what they called a “sham election.” In the process, Maduro became only the fourth sitting head of state to be sanctioned by the U.S. government.

Still, Maduro allies deride the outside criticism as overblown and driven by foreign powers seeking to undermine his government.

“Those lazy bums have to work,” Delcy Rodriguez, president of the assembly, said Friday of the opposition lawmakers, according to Reuters. She says the move does not amount to a power grab. Rather, she said, “What we are doing is telling them ‘Gentlemen, we are not going to let you take a holiday.’ “

The wire service notes the congressional lawmakers rejected the assembly’s invitation to attend the session, saying the group “was fraudulently created and usurped their powers.”

“The Constituent Assembly is null, and its acts are illegal and unconstitutional,” the opposition tweeted, as translated by The Washington Post. “The National Assembly [Venezuela’s congress], the international community and the people will not abide by the annulment decision.”

For now, though, the opposition faces diminishing options in its struggle against Maduro, who — after months of protests, the deaths of more than 120 people in the unrest, and thousands more arbitrary detentions — now appears to have a stronger hold on power than ever before.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

By |

Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

Police officers and rescuers in the Finnish city of Turku after several people were stabbed on Friday.

Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

Two people were killed in a stabbing attack in Turku, Finland, and police say they have apprehended a suspect after shooting him in the leg.

Regional police forces said on Twitter that six other people were injured in the attack, which took place in the center of the city about 100 miles away from the capital, Helsinki. It wasn’t immediately clear what condition they were in.

Authorities did not immediately identify the attacker or state what his motivations may be. The Associated Press reports that Finland’s YLE broadcaster quotes the county’s top police chief Seppo Kolehmainen saying that “nothing is known about the motives … or what precisely has happened in Turku.”

Police said the incident “was not being investigated as a terror attack, but that could change as new information comes to light,” according to YLE.

It’s also not clear how many people took part in the attack. Local police say they are “searching for possible more perpetrators in Turku.”

They asked people to avoid the area in the center of the city, though according to YLE, by evening authorities said they “were confident that the centre of Turku was safe for the general public once again.”

Police presence has been ramped up around the country, and YLE quotes the interior minister saying that “surveillance of foreigners was to be stepped up at ports and airports.”

The Interior Ministry says the case has been turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The AP reports that witness Laura Laine described the attack to YLE: “We heard that a young woman was screaming. We saw a man on the square and a knife glittered. He was waving it in the air. I understood that he had stabbed someone.”

Another eyewitness, Jesse Brown, told the BBC: “I saw police shoot a person, a man I think. People were running and there was talk about a knife attack, possibly multiple perpetrators.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

By |

Two Dead In Stabbing Attack In Turku, Finland

Police officers and rescuers in the Finnish city of Turku after several people were stabbed on Friday.

Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Bernat Majo /AFP/Getty Images

Two people were killed in a stabbing attack in Turku, Finland, and police say they have apprehended a suspect after shooting him in the leg.

Regional police forces said on Twitter that six other people were injured in the attack, which took place in the center of the city about 100 miles away from the capital, Helsinki. It wasn’t immediately clear what condition they were in.

Authorities did not immediately identify the attacker or state what his motivations may be. The Associated Press reports that Finland’s YLE broadcaster quotes the county’s top police chief Seppo Kolehmainen saying that “nothing is known about the motives … or what precisely has happened in Turku.”

Police said the incident “was not being investigated as a terror attack, but that could change as new information comes to light,” according to YLE.

It’s also not clear how many people took part in the attack. Local police say they are “searching for possible more perpetrators in Turku.”

They asked people to avoid the area in the center of the city, though according to YLE, by evening authorities said they “were confident that the centre of Turku was safe for the general public once again.”

Police presence has been ramped up around the country, and YLE quotes the interior minister saying that “surveillance of foreigners was to be stepped up at ports and airports.”

The Interior Ministry says the case has been turned over to the National Bureau of Investigation.

The AP reports that witness Laura Laine described the attack to YLE: “We heard that a young woman was screaming. We saw a man on the square and a knife glittered. He was waving it in the air. I understood that he had stabbed someone.”

Another eyewitness, Jesse Brown, told the BBC: “I saw police shoot a person, a man I think. People were running and there was talk about a knife attack, possibly multiple perpetrators.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

By |

South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

South African model Gabriella Engels, allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe, looks on during a press conference at the civil rights organization AfriForum on Thursday.

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

A 20-year old South African model accusing Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe of beating her with an extension cord has rejected a proposed cash settlement, according to her legal team.

Mugabe’s whereabouts are unknown, and South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters that the country implemented a “red alert” for her at its borders. “She is not somebody who has been running away,” Mbalula said, according to South Africa’s News24.

The first lady, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, “failed to turn herself in to South African authorities Tuesday,” NPR’s Colin Dwyer reported. Mugabe allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel in the presence of her body guards, and her two sons were reportedly in a nearby room, Colin added.

“On Wednesday, the government of Zimbabwe requested diplomatic immunity for Mugabe, saying she was in South Africa for a regional summit,” reporter Peter Granitz tells our Newscast unit. “But the victim’s lawyers said she was in the country for personal reasons, including shopping and medical treatment, and that means she would not qualify for the immunity.”

Engels’ legal team said that an unnamed third party “offered to settle the case out of court for an undisclosed amount of money,” which she has rejected, Granitz added.

Engels appeared at a press conference Thursday with a large white bandage on her forehead. “One feels powerless if you are the victim of violence by a person like Mrs Mugabe, who occupies a position of power,” she said, according to the advocacy group representing her.

Her lawyer Gerrie Nel, who is known for winning a murder conviction against Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, said “no one, not even Mrs Grace Mugabe, must be allowed to bypass the law as a result of their position of power.” He vowed to pursue private prosecution if the National Prosecuting Authority “fail to prosecute Mrs. Mugabe without good cause.”

Should Mugabe be granted diplomatic immunity, the organization representing Engels says it is “prepared to fight this in the highest court.”

A police official told Reuters that authorities have not yet issued an arrest warrant because they are still considering Mugabe’s request for diplomatic immunity.

The situation is delicate diplomatically and politically. South Africa’s primary opposition group is pressuring President Jacob Zuma to make sure Mugabe doesn’t leave, The Associated Press reported.

Robert Mugabe – the world’s oldest sitting president – arrived in South Africa Wednesday evening. Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper says he is there for a regional summit and does not mention his wife’s legal troubles. Other news outlets suggest the leader is there at least partially to manage the crisis.

According to Reuters, “the South African government has made no official comment on the case and foreign ministry spokesmen have not answered their phones for two days but the issue is causing waves at the highest level.”

This isn’t the first time that the Zimbabwean first lady has faced accusations of assault. The AP says several prior alleged incidents include “a 2009 visit to Hong Kong in which a photographer accused her of beating him up.”

Grace Mugabe is seen as a possible successor to her aging husband. Nel has said that a conviction could result in jail time, according to the AP.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

By |

South Africa Puts A 'Red Alert' At Its Borders For Zimbabwe's Grace Mugabe

South African model Gabriella Engels, allegedly assaulted by Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe, looks on during a press conference at the civil rights organization AfriForum on Thursday.

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Phill Magakoe /AFP/Getty Images

A 20-year old South African model accusing Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe of beating her with an extension cord has rejected a proposed cash settlement, according to her legal team.

Mugabe’s whereabouts are unknown, and South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula told reporters that the country implemented a “red alert” for her at its borders. “She is not somebody who has been running away,” Mbalula said, according to South Africa’s News24.

The first lady, wife of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, “failed to turn herself in to South African authorities Tuesday,” NPR’s Colin Dwyer reported. Mugabe allegedly assaulted Gabriella Engels at a Johannesburg hotel in the presence of her body guards, and her two sons were reportedly in a nearby room, Colin added.

“On Wednesday, the government of Zimbabwe requested diplomatic immunity for Mugabe, saying she was in South Africa for a regional summit,” reporter Peter Granitz tells our Newscast unit. “But the victim’s lawyers said she was in the country for personal reasons, including shopping and medical treatment, and that means she would not qualify for the immunity.”

Engels’ legal team said that an unnamed third party “offered to settle the case out of court for an undisclosed amount of money,” which she has rejected, Granitz added.

Engels appeared at a press conference Thursday with a large white bandage on her forehead. “One feels powerless if you are the victim of violence by a person like Mrs Mugabe, who occupies a position of power,” she said, according to the advocacy group representing her.

Her lawyer Gerrie Nel, who is known for winning a murder conviction against Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, said “no one, not even Mrs Grace Mugabe, must be allowed to bypass the law as a result of their position of power.” He vowed to pursue private prosecution if the National Prosecuting Authority “fail to prosecute Mrs. Mugabe without good cause.”

Should Mugabe be granted diplomatic immunity, the organization representing Engels says it is “prepared to fight this in the highest court.”

A police official told Reuters that authorities have not yet issued an arrest warrant because they are still considering Mugabe’s request for diplomatic immunity.

The situation is delicate diplomatically and politically. South Africa’s primary opposition group is pressuring President Jacob Zuma to make sure Mugabe doesn’t leave, The Associated Press reported.

Robert Mugabe – the world’s oldest sitting president – arrived in South Africa Wednesday evening. Zimbabwe’s Herald newspaper says he is there for a regional summit and does not mention his wife’s legal troubles. Other news outlets suggest the leader is there at least partially to manage the crisis.

According to Reuters, “the South African government has made no official comment on the case and foreign ministry spokesmen have not answered their phones for two days but the issue is causing waves at the highest level.”

This isn’t the first time that the Zimbabwean first lady has faced accusations of assault. The AP says several prior alleged incidents include “a 2009 visit to Hong Kong in which a photographer accused her of beating him up.”

Grace Mugabe is seen as a possible successor to her aging husband. Nel has said that a conviction could result in jail time, according to the AP.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Despite Rift, Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Qatari Pilgrims To Attend Hajj

By |

Despite Rift, Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Qatari Pilgrims To Attend Hajj

After a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, Saudi Arabia said Thursday it is reopening its border with Qatar to allow Qataris to attend the hajj.

AP

hide caption

toggle caption

AP

Qatar has been isolated by neighboring countries in a heated diplomatic standoff. But on Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced it plans to open its border to allow pilgrims from the tiny Gulf country to attend the annual hajj to Islam’s holiest sites.

The announcement comes after a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani.

According to a report in the Saudi state news agency, both men spoke about the “brotherly feelings” between the two nations — a marked change in tone from the highly public spat in which Saudi has accusing Qatar of funding terrorist organizations and is blockading the country.

The Saudi crown prince said the country would open the Salwa border crossing to Qatari citizens who wanted to perform the hajj, without requiring them to obtain electronic permits. The hajj begins later this month and ends in early September.

The official news agency added that the Saudi king would dispatch Saudi planes to Qatar’s capital, Doha, “to fly all Qatari pilgrims at his own expense to the city of Jeddah and host them completely at the expense of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

A Saudi official named Hussein Al-Sharif, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told the Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya that Saudi has reserved a 4,000 square meter plot for some 2,400 Qatari pilgrims in “the most desirable area” along a primary hajj route.

Just last month, Saudi had said pilgrims from Qatar “would face certain restrictions if they wanted to attend the Hajj,” according to the BBC. In response, a Qatari human rights organization complained to the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion.

It’s worth noting that the Qatari royal family member who met with the Saudi crown prince does not hold an official government position and his “branch of the family was ousted in a place coup in 1972,” The Associated Press reports.

“He’s certainly not an envoy of the Qatari government. This was not a deal that was struck,” Gerd Nonneman, professor of International Relations and Gulf Studies at Georgetown University in Qatar, tells the wire service.

Nonnemann added that Sheikh Abdullah has lived in Saudi previously and “his last position was as head of the equestrian and camel racing federation in the 1970s and 1980s.”

There was no comment from Qatari government officials for about 12 hours after the news broke, according to the AP.

At a news conference in Sweden, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called it a “step forward” but warned that it was “politically motivated,” the BBC reported.

Saudi Arabia’s actions are being praised by regional allies such as the UAE. The country’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted, “Every day, Saudi proves how big it is, and Qatar’s clamor and politicization of the hajj must end. … There are things bigger than politics.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Despite Rift, Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Qatari Pilgrims To Attend Hajj

By |

Despite Rift, Saudi Arabia Says It Will Allow Qatari Pilgrims To Attend Hajj

After a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, Saudi Arabia said Thursday it is reopening its border with Qatar to allow Qataris to attend the hajj.

AP

hide caption

toggle caption

AP

Qatar has been isolated by neighboring countries in a heated diplomatic standoff. But on Thursday, Saudi Arabia announced it plans to open its border to allow pilgrims from the tiny Gulf country to attend the annual hajj to Islam’s holiest sites.

The announcement comes after a meeting between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a member of the Qatari royal family, Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani.

According to a report in the Saudi state news agency, both men spoke about the “brotherly feelings” between the two nations — a marked change in tone from the highly public spat in which Saudi has accusing Qatar of funding terrorist organizations and is blockading the country.

The Saudi crown prince said the country would open the Salwa border crossing to Qatari citizens who wanted to perform the hajj, without requiring them to obtain electronic permits. The hajj begins later this month and ends in early September.

The official news agency added that the Saudi king would dispatch Saudi planes to Qatar’s capital, Doha, “to fly all Qatari pilgrims at his own expense to the city of Jeddah and host them completely at the expense of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.”

A Saudi official named Hussein Al-Sharif, undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told the Saudi broadcaster Al Arabiya that Saudi has reserved a 4,000 square meter plot for some 2,400 Qatari pilgrims in “the most desirable area” along a primary hajj route.

Just last month, Saudi had said pilgrims from Qatar “would face certain restrictions if they wanted to attend the Hajj,” according to the BBC. In response, a Qatari human rights organization complained to the U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of belief and religion.

It’s worth noting that the Qatari royal family member who met with the Saudi crown prince does not hold an official government position and his “branch of the family was ousted in a place coup in 1972,” The Associated Press reports.

“He’s certainly not an envoy of the Qatari government. This was not a deal that was struck,” Gerd Nonneman, professor of International Relations and Gulf Studies at Georgetown University in Qatar, tells the wire service.

Nonnemann added that Sheikh Abdullah has lived in Saudi previously and “his last position was as head of the equestrian and camel racing federation in the 1970s and 1980s.”

There was no comment from Qatari government officials for about 12 hours after the news broke, according to the AP.

At a news conference in Sweden, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called it a “step forward” but warned that it was “politically motivated,” the BBC reported.

Saudi Arabia’s actions are being praised by regional allies such as the UAE. The country’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted, “Every day, Saudi proves how big it is, and Qatar’s clamor and politicization of the hajj must end. … There are things bigger than politics.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Federal Appeals Court Says Arkansas Can Block Medicaid Payments To Planned Parenthood

By |

Federal Appeals Court Says Arkansas Can Block Medicaid Payments To Planned Parenthood

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, pictured here during an interview last month, ended the state’s Medicaid contract with Planned Parenthood two years ago. He praised the circuit court’s decision.

Stephan Savoia/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Stephan Savoia/AP

A federal appeals court has sided with the state of Arkansas against Planned Parenthood, saying it can block Medicaid payments to the medical provider. It reversed earlier injunctions that forbade the state from suspending the money in the wake of a controversial leaked video of Planned Parenthood staff.

That video, leaked by anti-abortion activists, purports to show Planned Parenthood staff outside Arkansas discussing fetal tissue sales. Planned Parenthood has said the tapes are fraudulent and multiple investigations have deemed the allegations as false.

In 2015, citing the video, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson terminated the state’s Medicaid provider agreements with Planned Parenthood’s local affiliate.

Then, three unnamed Planned Parenthood patients sued the director of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, saying that it was violating their federal right to choose any qualified provider offering the services they were seeking.

A district court then blocked the state from cutting off payments to Planned Parenthood for these three patients. A second injunction expanded that to an entire class of Medicaid beneficiaries in Arkansas who used Planned Parenthood services.

Today, in a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit vacated those injunctions. U.S. Circuit Judge Steven Colloton wrote that in the provision of the Medicaid Act cited by the plaintiffs, it is not clear that Congress intended to create a judicially-enforceable right for individual patients to choose any qualified provider that offers the services they seek.

He said that it would create a “curious system” to review a provider’s qualifications. “Under the Jane Does’ vision, while the provider is litigating its qualifications in the state courts, or after the provider unsuccessfully appeals a determination that it is not qualified, individual patients separately could litigate or relitigate the qualifications of the provider in federal court,” Colloton wrote.

At the same time, Colloton says “the lack of a judicially enforceable federal right for Medicaid patients does not mean that state officials have unfettered authority to terminate providers,” and notes that providers whose contracts are cancelled have the right to appeal.

In a dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Michael Melloy notes that four other circuit courts and numerous district courts have ruled the opposite way, finding that there is a “private right of enforcement” to choose any qualified provider, such as Planned Parenthood.

The decision does not comment on the video as the rationale that Hutchinson provided for seeking to end the contract.

Planned Parenthood says it is “evaluating all options to ensure our patients receive uninterrupted care.”

“This is not over,” said Planned Parenthood Federation of America Chief Medical Officer Raegan McDonald-Mosley. “We will do everything in our power to protect our patients’ access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other lifesaving care. Extreme politicians are trying to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood — and this is not what Americans want.”

In a statement, Hutchinson described this as “a substantial legal victory for the right of the state to determine whether Medicaid providers are acting in accordance with best practices and affirms the prerogative of the state to make reasoned judgments on the Medicaid program.”

Jerry Cox, the executive director of the Family Council, an Arkansas-based conservative group, tells KUAR’s Michael Hibblen: “The videos aside, the question is should the state of Arkansas do business with an organization that aborts babies when they don’t need to.”

According to The Associated Press, “the state has said Planned Parenthood received $51,000 in Medicaid funds in the fiscal year before Hutchinson’s decision to terminate the contract,” and “none of the money paid for abortions.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

Kenyan Opposition Leader Vows To Take Election Challenge To Supreme Court

By |

Kenyan Opposition Leader Vows To Take Election Challenge To Supreme Court

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga addresses the media Wednesday at the offices of his National Super Alliance, or NASA, coalition in Nairobi. Odinga said he would take his allegations of electoral fraud to the country’s Supreme Court — after previously refusing to do so — and vowed to protest peacefully.

Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

Just over a week after Kenyans went to polls to decide their president, opposition leader Raila Odinga has vowed a legal challenge to the official results that re-elected his rival, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. At a news conference Wednesday, Odinga announced that he plans to take allegations of “computer-generated fraud” to the country’s Supreme Court.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “We will not accept and move on.”

Odinga and his campaign have vehemently disputed the outcome of the election since provisional results began to dribble out to the public last week. By Friday night, when Kenya’s electoral commission released official tallies that showed Kenyatta winning by more than 1.4 million votes, Odinga had already made clear he believes those results were doctored by a logarithm introduced in the country’s electronic voting system.

He has not publicly provided evidence to support his claim or clarified where he obtained alternative tallies showing him leading by several hundred thousand votes.

Still, he kept up his objections in the days that followed, rejecting the assessments of international observers who initially largely approved the election and calling on his supporters to boycott the results. At least 24 people have been killed in the ensuing clashes between his supporters and Kenyan security forces.

But as Odinga declared Wednesday, he remains undeterred.

“No one should believe — and especially not those behind this election fraud — that Kenyans are sheep who will willingly go along with the democracy’s slaughter,” he told reporters. “This country is now divided between those prepared to live under autocracy and the forces of freedom and democracy.”

[embedded content]
YouTube

Despite their initial approval, some international observers have increasingly expressed reservations about how the election has been handled — particularly the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s delays in releasing results forms. Only today, after international pressure, did the commission release the 34B forms, which show the results found at regional tallying centers; as of this writing, the commission still has not released all of the 34A forms, which show individual polling station results.

“The availability of results forms at all levels enables trust by allowing all stakeholders to have confidence in and insight into the totals announced,” the European Union’s Election Observation Mission Kenya said in a statement Wednesday. The mission called on “the IEBC to continue to publish all results forms online promptly.”

Raila Odinga’s supporters in Nairobi gather at an electronics repair shop to watch his Wednesday news conference. Beside the television is a poster for Odinga’s political coalition, the National Super Alliance.

Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

hide caption

toggle caption

Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images

In the meantime, eyebrows were raised when the federal authorities moved Wednesday to suspend two non-governmental organizations that had been critical of the elections process and its aftermath. The Kenya Revenue Authority even attempted to raid one of those groups, the Africa Centre for Open Governance, prompting some popular backlash.

Shortly afterward, Kenyan Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i sent a letter scaling back the federal actions, citing “various concerns and petitions from a number of stakeholders.”

Despite “weighty legal non-compliance and regulatory issues on the said organisations, my view is that before conclusive and final action such as deregistration, comprehensive and exhaustive engagement needs to happen,” Matiang’i said in the letter seen by NPR.

To that end, he gave the groups 90 days “to meet the regulatory and compliance needs of the NGOs Coordination Board” before incurring suspension.

Added to these concerns was an episode Tuesday night at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, where a high-ranking IEBC official was delayed by security guards from boarding a plane to the U.S. The stop prompted speculation it had something do do with electoral concerns — though Roselyn Akombe, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Kenya, said this speculation was “completely false and unwarranted.”

“While it is unfortunate that my departure was delayed,” she said in a tweeted statement, “I at no time indicated that I am fleeing my beloved Kenya due to questions raised on the credibility of our electoral process.”

The statements attributed to me on social media following my delayed flight in Nairobi are false and unwarranted- Dr Akombe pic.twitter.com/co9PvxUdbT

— IEBC (@IEBCKenya) August 16, 2017

Nevertheless, some critics remain unconvinced that there’s nothing to all of these recent question marks. The government is acting “like people who have stolen” elections, Maina Kiai, a former U.N. expert on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, told The Associated Press.

As for Odinga, he declared Wednesday that his case will offer the Supreme Court a “second chance.” The opposition leader, who lost three presidential campaigns before this one, also took the 2013 election to the high court — only to be defeated in what he called a “travesty of justice.”

At the same time, he encouraged his followers to refrain from violence as they resist.

“Wage a peaceful campaign of civil disobedience,” he told them. “We shall hold vigils, moments of silence, beat drums and do everything else to peacefully draw attention to the gross election injustices being meted upon our country and demand redress.

“Kenyans have no need to use violence to achieve justice.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read more »

AdSense
Wordpress SEO Plugin by SEOPressor