Posts Tagged ‘state of emergency’

Eight Egyptian soldiers, 14 militants killed in Sinai attack: army

April 14, 2018

Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) – Eight Egyptian soldiers and 14 militants were killed in fighting in central Sinai on Saturday when gunmen carrying explosive belts and grenades targeted a military checkpoint, the army said.

The attack was the largest against Egyptian security forces since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won a second term in office last month, promising to work for stability and security in Egypt.

It also came just hours after the country extended a state of emergency imposed a year ago.

The militants attacked the checkpoint at around dawn, an army statement said. Four of them detonated their explosive belts, killing the soldiers and wounding 15 others, it added.

 Illustrative: Egyptian army conscripts stand guard outside the Suez Canal University hospital in the eastern port city of Ismailia on November 25, 2017, where the victims of a bomb and gun assault on the North Sinai Rawda mosque a day earlier.. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

Illustrative: Egyptian army conscripts stand guard outside the Suez Canal University (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed) — FILE photo

Egypt has been fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula since Sisi ousted Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, after popular protests against Mursi’s rule.

Sisi in November ordered the military to defeat militants in north Sinai within three months, after an attack on a mosque that killed more than 300 people, the deadliest such incident in the Arab world’s most populous country.

The military launched what it said was a major operation against the militants in February, a month before Sisi was re-elected in a vote featuring just one other candidate, a strong supporter of the president.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; writing by Arwa Gaballa; editing by Clelia Oziel

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Buddhist mobs target Sri Lanka’s Muslims despite state of emergency

March 7, 2018

Reuters

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Buddhist mobs attacked mosques and businesses belonging to Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims overnight, police said on Wednesday, despite the imposition of a state of emergency to restore peace in the bitterly divided island.

Police imposed an indefinite curfew in the central highlands district of Kandy where the violence has been centered since Sunday night following the death of a Buddhist youth in an altercation with a group of Muslims.

But police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there had been “several incidents” throughout Tuesday night in the Kandy area, popular with tourists for its tea gardens.

Sri Lankan soldiers and police officers outside a vandalized building in Digana, a suburb of Kandy, on Tuesday after mob attacks there. Credit Pradeep Pathiran/Associated Press

“The police arrested seven people. Three police officers were injured from the incidents,” Gunasekara told Reuters. There was no information about how many civilians had been injured in the attacks, he said.

Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites.

Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

President Maithripala Sirisena imposed a state of emergency for seven days on Tuesday, aiming to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country still healing from a 26-year civil war against Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.

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Elite Sri Lankan forces and police officers stand guard near a house burnt down in the clashes in Digana, central Kandy (Reuters)

A government minister said the latest violence in Kandy had been whipped up by people from outside the area. “There is an organized conspiracy behind these incidents,” Sarath Amunugama, a senior minister told reporters in Colombo.

He said the government will implement the rule of law impartially in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation in which Muslims make up 9 percent of the 21 million population, the smallest minority after ethnic Tamils, most of whom are Hindus.

Police ordered Dialog Axiata, the country’s largest mobile phone service provider, to restrain internet connections in the Kandy district after postings appeared on Facebook threatening attacks on Muslims.

Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilalt; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Michael Perry

Sri Lanka declares emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots

March 6, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | Sri Lankan police have imposed a curfew in the riot-hit central district of Kandy, home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics
COLOMBO (AFP) – Sri Lanka Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots that have killed at least two people and damaged dozens of mosques and homes.”The cabinet of ministers decided on tough measures, including a 10-day nationwide state of emergency,” Minister of City Planning Rauff Hakeem said as police imposed a curfew in the riot-hit central district of Kandy.

The government deployed heavily-armed police commandos in the hill station region, which is popular with tourists, after rioters defied an overnight curfew and went on the rampage.

The curfew in the district was extended after the body of a Muslim man was pulled from the ashes of a burnt building, threatening to further raise communal tensions that have flared up across Sri Lanka in recent weeks.

The emergency declaration gives authorities sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods, and allows the government to deploy forces where needed.

It is the first time in seven years Sri Lanka has resorted to such a measure. The island nation was under a state of emergency for nearly three decades as government forces battled Tamil rebels in a civil war that ended in 2009.

Hakeem said the riots were concentrated in Kandy — home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics — but the government wanted to send a strong message given outbreaks of communal violence elsewhere recently.

A police spokesman said earlier Tuesday hundreds of commandos from the police Special Task Force had been deployed to Kandy to restore order and enforce the curfew.

Muslim homes, business and mosques were badly damaged in riots Monday triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob last week.

The Sinhalese are a mainly Buddhist ethnic group making up nearly three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. Muslims account for 10 percent of its population.

More than two dozen arrests have been made and an inquiry opened into police conduct in Kandy, just the latest region to be plagued by religious and ethnic conflict.

Mobs set fire to Muslim-owned businesses and attacked a mosque in the east of the country last week after a Muslim chef was accused of adding contraceptives to food sold to Sinhalese.

The government dismissed the allegation as baseless and ordered the arrest of those fomenting unrest in the area.

Last November riots in the south of the island left one man dead and homes and vehicles damaged.

In June 2014 riots between Buddhists and Muslims left four dead and many injured.

That violence was instigated by a Buddhist extremist group whose leaders are on trial accused of spurring religious conflict.

Maldives detains, deports international lawyers sent to study emergency rule

February 28, 2018

Maldivian opposition supporters scuffle with security forces officers during a protest demanding the release of political prisoners in Male. Maldives President Abdulla Yameen extended a draconian state of emergency by another month on February 20. (AFP)
COLOMBO: The Maldives detained and deported a group of international lawyers who traveled to the troubled honeymoon islands to study the impact of emergency rule, their organization said Wednesday.
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Law Asia, a regional lawyers’ association, said it had sent four members in response to an open invitation the government issued two days after President Abdulla Yameen imposed a state of emergency.
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That followed a Supreme Court order, later rescinded, to release political prisoners and reinstate sacked lawmakers — a move that would have cost Yameen his majority in parliament.
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The president has overseen a major crackdown on dissent in recent years, jailing a series of prominent critics including the opposition leader and sacking MPs who defected from the ruling party.
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Earlier this month Yameen sacked the chief justice and another senior judge before imposing emergency rule, sparking international condemnation.
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The crisis has hit the image of the Maldives as a peaceful holiday paradise, although it has had little impact on life away from the capital in the upmarket resort islands popular with honeymooners.
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The four lawyers were detained on Sunday when they arrived at Male international airport, where they were held and subsequently deported, Law Asia said.
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“By such action, the government of Maldives deprived itself of the benefit of an independent and impartial assessment by a fact-finding team not sponsored by any individuals, parties or organizations in the Maldives,” it said.
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The government had invited international organizations to send representatives to “assess the situation in the Maldives and witness the safety and security of Male” under emergency rule.
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Law Asia said they had been trying for more than two weeks to arrange special visas before deciding to send the delegation after informing the immigration authorities.
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Separately, Yameen’s niece Dunya Maumoon resigned late Tuesday as health minister.
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She had been under pressure to resign since Yameen ordered the arrest of her father, ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
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The 80-year-old was president for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008 and was initially see as the power behind the throne until he became estranged from his half-brother and backed the opposition.
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He was arrested on a charge of trying to topple the government hours after the emergency was declared.

After Maldives Ignores Advice On Emergency, India Sends Sharp Message

February 22, 2018

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.

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After Maldives Ignores Advice On Emergency, India Sends Sharp Message

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5

NEW DELHI: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. India said it was “deeply dismayed” with Maldives’ extension of emergency
  2. India stressed extension would delay restoration of democracy in Maldives
  3. Maldives president Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India

Maldives President Abdulla Yameen’s decision to extend Emergency for 30 more days has provoked a sharp response from New Delhi that had been trying to persuade the tiny island nation to restore democracy. The Foreign Ministry said India was “deeply dismayed” by the development and underscored that the manner in which the Emergency had been extended was “in contravention” of its Constitution.

President Yameen has overlooked repeated appeals from India urging him to roll back the emergency provisions imposed early February; the last one made just a few hours before he announced the 30-day extension.

New Delhi stressed that the extension of emergency would lead to delay in the resumption of the political process and the continuing suspension of the functioning of democratic institutions including the judiciary.

“We are deeply dismayed that the government of Maldives has extended the State of Emergency for a further 30 days. The manner in which the extension of the State of Emergency was approved by the Majlis in contravention of the Constitution of Maldives is also a matter of concern,” India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Under Maldives Constitution, matters that require compliance by citizens can only be passed if more than half of its total members are present in the House.

Because the opposition parties refused to consider extending Emergency, President Yameen was not able to fulfil this basic requirement. He has attempted to work around the provision by claiming that the state of Emergency would not apply to law-abiding citizens but only “those alleged to have carried out illegal activities”.

According to a Reuters report, Maldives prosecutor general Aishath Bisham had told police that the extended state of emergency was unconstitutional. There has, however, been no word from the police on this communication. President Yameen had earlier removed two police chiefs who had refused to follow his directions.

President Yameen had initially imposed the emergency on February 5 for 15 days to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed convictions against nine opposition leaders and ordered his government to free those held in prison. Among them was exiled ex-president Mohamed Nasheed. The court had also reinstated 12 members unseated from the parliament last July for floor-crossing.

President Yameen’s soldiers had responded by storming the Supreme Court and charging the country’s two senior judges and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with bribery.

Since then, the remaining judges of the top court have, one by one, surrendered their power to decide cases individuals and struck down provisions of the 1 February Supreme Court verdict that had triggered the crisis for President Yameen.

The court has also restored convictions against the nine opposition leaders, ruled that there was nothing wrong in the Emergency and gone on to again cancel the membership of the 12 members who crossed from the ruling party to the opposition.

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Ethiopia declares ‘state of emergency’ to last six months

February 17, 2018

This file photo taken on June 10, 2015 shows Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attending the closing session of an African summit meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. (AFP)
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ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia said Saturday that a state of emergency will remain in place for six months, as the authorities move to quell “chaos and unruliness.”
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The council of ministers declared the country’s second emergency decree in two years on Friday evening.
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It capped a tumultuous week that saw Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn resign, a strike in the country’s largest region and a massive prisoner amnesty.
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“The state of emergency will be for six months and will be approved by parliament,” state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) wrote on Facebook, quoting Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa.
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The government had cited “ethnic-based clashes” and “chaos and unruliness” as the reasons for the declaration.
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“To be able to protect the constitutional system, declaring a state of emergency has become necessary,” EBC said, quoting a government communique.
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While the decree is already in effect, parliamentary approval for the requested six-month period appears likely as the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies control all the seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
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Ethiopia last declared a state of emergency in October 2016 after months of protests in Oromia — home to the country’s largest ethnicity, the Oromos — and neighboring Amhara region.
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The 10-month decree succeeded in quelling the unrest, which killed hundreds and resulted in tens of thousands of arrests, despite criticism from rights groups.
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But anti-government sentiment remained in the two regions and the analysts believe Hailemariam’s response to the protests eventually led to his surprise resignation, a first in modern Ethiopia.
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The prime minister said he was leaving to give the EPRDF space as it pursued political reforms.
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“I myself want to become part of the solution,” he said in announcing his resignation Thursday.
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Last month, Hailemariam announced Ethiopia would release some jailed “politicians” in order to “improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform.”
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In the weeks since, hundreds of prisoners were pardoned or released from custody, including some of the country’s most prominent dissidents.
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Nonetheless, Oromo activists called a strike earlier this week that saw businesses shutter and young men armed with rocks and sticks block roads in Oromia to push the government to keep its prisoner amnesty promise.
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The strike was called off after detained Oromo politicians were freed along with hundreds of other prisoners including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage.
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The next day, Hailemariam announced his resignation.
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He will remain in office until parliament and the EPRDF coalition confirm his resignation. It remains unclear who will then take over.
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Turkey set to extend post-coup state of emergency for 6 years

January 17, 2018

Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu speaks during a meeting about the “State of Emergency” in Ankara, on Monday. (AFP)
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ANKARA: Turkey is set to extend a state of emergency for the sixth time since it was imposed following failed 2016 coup attempt, worrying government opponents and allies who fear the special powers are thrusting Turkey toward an increasingly authoritarian direction.
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The state of emergency, declared five days after the July 15, 2016 coup, has allowed a massive government crackdown aimed at suspected supporters of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says was behind the coup attempt. Gulen denies any involvement.
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The state of emergency has also paved the way for the arrest of other government opponents, including activists, journalists and politicians and the closure of media and non-governmental organizations over alleged links to extremist groups.
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Most crucially, it has allowed President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rule through decrees, often bypassing Parliament which he has long accused of slowing down his government’s ability to perform.
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Among the more than 30 decrees issued since the coup, some have regulated the use of winter tires, obliged detainees accused of links to extremism to wear uniforms in court and gave full-employment rights to temporary workers. One vaguely-worded decree granting legal immunity to civilians who helped thwart the coup sparked an outcry and fears that it would encourage vigilante groups.
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Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of Turkey’s pro-secular main opposition party, this week accused Erdogan of taking advantage of the failed military coup to trample on democracy and lead a “civilian coup” of his own through his emergency powers.
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“What have winter tires got to do with the state of emergency?” he asked.
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“Through the decrees with the force of law, the government can now do whatever it pleases,” Kilicdaroglu said. “The constitution is of no importance. The government has obtained the power to carry out all unlawful arrangements.”
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Turkey’s National Security Council is meeting Wednesday to recommend prolonging the state of emergency by a further three months, before the extension is due to be approved by the Council of Ministers later in the day and voted on in Parliament Thursday. Its current term expires on Jan. 19.
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The government has defended its move to extend the emergency rule pointing to the severity of the coup attempt — during which rogue soldiers attacked Parliament and other state buildings leading to more than 250 deaths — and citing a continued security threat from Gulen’s network of supporters.
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Erdogan has said the state of emergency will remain as long as security threats persist. Few believe that Erdogan will allow the emergency rule to end before a presidential election in 2019, when a set of constitutional amendments, narrowly approved in a referendum in April, come into effect, giving the president sweeping powers.
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Observers say Erdogan is unlikely to take any step that would put a victory at the 2019 election at risk, including ending the state of emergency that has permitted authorities to ban public gatherings, which some say limited opposition parties’ ability to run effective campaigns during the referendum.
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The EU, which Turkey once hoped to join, and the Council of Europe — the continent’s top human rights and democracy body — have expressed concerns over the state of emergency. The EU has called on Turkish authorities to respect the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
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The Council of Europe last year specifically criticized decrees that dismissed elected mayors and other municipal officials in Turkey’s mainly-Kurdish southeast over terror-related charges and the reappointment of unelected officials in their place.
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The rights advocacy group, Freedom House, this week reduced Turkey’s status from a “Partly Free” country to “Not Free,” citing among other things, the replacement of elected mayors, and the arrests and purges of public sector workers for alleged links to Gulen. The group said the moves had left “citizens hesitant to express their views on sensitive topics.”
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Under the state of emergency, Turkey has arrested around 50,000 people and purged 110,000 civil servants in a crackdown aimed at cleansing the state of Gulen’s followers.

Egypt to extend state of emergency to fight terrorists

January 2, 2018

Reuters

Image result for egypt police, photos

Egyptian police

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is to extend its nationwide state of emergency for three months from Jan. 13 to help tackle “the dangers and funding of terrorism”, state news agency MENA said on Tuesday.

Egypt first imposed the current state of emergency last April after two church bombings killed at least 45 people. It was extended in July and again in October.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is widely expected to run for a second term in an election due early this year, issued a decree on Tuesday to extend the state of emergency.

The latest extension was to allow security forces to “take (measures) necessary to confront the dangers and funding of terrorism and safeguard security in all parts of the country,” MENA reported, citing Egypt’s official gazette.

Egypt faces an Islamic State insurgency in the remote North Sinai region that has killed hundreds of soldiers and policemen in recent years and has expanded to include attacks on civilians.

Other Islamists operating in the western desert bordering Libya have also attacked security forces.

Attacks south of Cairo in the past week, one of them claimed by Islamic State, have targeted Christians.

The election date is to be announced next Monday, local media reported.

Reporting by Ahmed Tolba and John Davison; Editing by Gareth Jones

State of emergency in Honduras after post-vote violence

December 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Violence erupted for the second consecutive day after opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla claimed fraud and urged his supporters to take to the streets in protest

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) – The Honduran government declared a state of emergency late Friday and imposed a 10-day curfew in an attempt to stop violent demonstrations across the country triggered by claims of presidential election fraud.Police said at least two officers and 12 civilians were injured, some by gunfire, after clashes in several parts of the country between riot police and opposition supporters.

The violence was sparked by opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla claiming election fraud and calling his supporters onto the streets.

 

An executive decree issued by President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who is seeking re-election despite a constitutional ban on a second term, imposes a nighttime curfew from 6:00 pm to 6:00 am.

Representatives of the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and political parties, national and international observers and journalists accredited to cover the elections are exempt.

Thousands of Nasralla supporters blocked roads across the country, and footage of their confrontations with the police — who attempted to disperse demonstrators with tear gas — went viral on social media.

In the capital Tegucigalpa, protesters lit bonfires of sticks and tires on boulevards and on exit routes.

The unrest sparked panic, with people rushing to supermarkets and gas stations to stock up, fearing the riots would prevent them from leaving their homes.

Shops closed by the afternoon and some international flights were suspended at the capital’s airport.

– Cliffhanger vote –

With nearly 95 percent of the ballots counted from last week’s vote, Hernandez had a razor-thin lead of 42.92 percent over Nasralla’s 41.42 percent.

TSE president David Matamoros postponed until Saturday a special count — with officials from both camps present — to review ballots with inconsistencies, blurs and other errors before a result can be declared, following new demands from leftist leader and ex-president Manuel Zelaya.

“Within three days, we will have the result. We accept to recognise the final result if they accept these points,” Zelaya said.

But in an television interview, Nasralla demanded a full recount, warning of possible collusion between the TSE and the government.

“Do not let them steal the presidency,” said activist Juan Barahona of Nasralla’s Alliance of Opposition Against the Dictatorship.

Police said they had arrested 50 people for alleged looting between Thursday and Friday.

Security forces said rioters had damaged businesses and vehicles, some of which had been doused in gasoline and set on fire.

Earlier, Hernandez broadcast a statement calling for calm and predicting “we are going to do very well” in the vote.

The Organization of American States observer mission urged the TSE in a letter Thursday to ensure that 100 percent of the ballots were processed before declaring a result.

“Political parties should be given the opportunity to present challenges. These will have to be dealt with impartially and within a reasonable timeframe and following due process,” it said.

“This is the only way to restore confidence in this election and in the integrity of the popular will.”

French MPs to vote on tough anti-terror law

October 2, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Loïc VENNIN | French soldiers stand guard outside the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

PARIS (AFP) – French lawmakers will vote Tuesday on a tough new counter-terrorism law designed to end the country’s two-year state of emergency which critics say expands police powers at a cost to civil liberties.

The vote comes following a string of attacks in France since 2015 and just two days after more bloodshed in the southern port city of Marseille when a suspected Islamist knifeman killed two women.

While Interior Minister Gerard Collomb defends the bill as a “lasting response to a lasting threat”, it has come under fire from the French left and human rights groups.

“What makes us angry is that it’s a state of emergency that would become permanent and roll back our freedoms,” said Christine Lazerges, the head of the National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a state body.

The law, designed to replace the state of emergency that France has been under since the November 2015 Paris attacks, would come into force on November 1 if approved by both houses of parliament.

The lower house will vote Tuesday on the bill which will give authorities the power to place people under house arrest, order house searches and ban public gatherings without the prior approval of a judge.

– Marseille attack –

The state of emergency was meant to be temporary but was extended six times for various reasons, such as the need to protect major sporting and cultural events, as well as presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year.

The vote comes after a knifeman stabbed two women to death on Sunday at the main train station in Marseille shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”). He was shot dead by soldiers.

The Islamic State claimed the attacker was one of its “soldiers”, though a source close to the investigation told AFP no solid evidence linked him to the group.

The stabbings bring to 241 the number of people killed in jihadist attacks in France since January 2015, while Collomb said last month that 12 planned attacks have been foiled since the start of the year.

In an environment of widespread fear about Islamist violence, extensions of the state of emergency have met with little public opposition, with critics of the new law limited to the hard left and human rights groups.

“Gradually our public freedoms… are being eroded,” said lawmaker Alexis Corbiere of the hard-left France Unbowed party.

Last week two UN experts raised fears that the bill could see security forces discriminate against Muslims and undermine France’s standing as a beacon for human rights.

“The normalisation of emergency powers has grave consequences for the integrity of rights protection in France, both within and beyond the context of counter-terrorism,” UN human rights expert Fionnuala Ni Aolain warned.

– Too harsh or too ‘soft’? –

Under international human rights standards, “the duration of the state of emergency must be time-bound, revised regularly, and meet the criteria of necessity and proportionality,” she wrote in a letter co-signed by Michel Forst, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights defenders.

In their letter, addressed to the French authorities, they said the bill’s “vague definition of terrorism” deepened fears that “emergency powers could be used in an arbitrary way”.

Some lawmakers from the French right-wing Republicans party as well as the leader of the far-right National Front have criticised the bill for not going far enough.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, calling the proposed legislation “soft”, said it could not be considered “the great law to eradicate Islamist terrorism”.

Interior Minister Collomb said last week the bill “aims to guarantee the fullness of our individual and collective freedoms but promises that all measures will be taken to ensure the security of the French people.”

Macron, whose centrist party has a comfortable parliamentary majority, has promised that the legislation, which was approved by the Senate in July, would be reviewed in 2020.

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by Loïc VENNIN