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Far-right surge hits Spain for first time as Vox party wins seats in Andalusia – National

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Spain’s far-right Vox party won 12 seats in an election in Andalusia on Sunday and could end up as a kingmaker in the region, in the first electoral success for the far-right since the country’s return to democracy in the late 1970s.


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It was the first time the nationalist surge that has swept much of Europe had reached Spain, long seen as immune because many still remember the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

With the Socialists weakened in a region they governed since Franco’s death and which they could now lose to a right-wing coalition, the Andalusia result is likely to send shockwaves through the Spanish political landscape.

A series of local, municipal and European elections will follow at the end of May with politics in the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy, long dominated by the Socialists and the conservative People’s Party, upended by start-up parties.

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“We are the ones who will bring about change, progress and the reconquest,” Francisco Serrano, Vox’s candidate in Andalusia told a loud crowd gathered in Seville, many of whom waved Spanish flags and chanted “Spain! Spain!”

There are a total of 109 seats in Andalusia’s regional assembly and the vote was very divided, in a fresh sign of how the large parties are finding it harder and harder to secure majorities in Spain.

With 99.9 per cent of ballots counted, the Socialists received the most votes.


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But with only 33 seats for them and 17 for the far-left Podemos and its allies, that is well down from previous elections and they would struggle to secure a majority.

‘Change has won’

The conservative People’s Party (PP), which came second, said they would seek leadership of Spain’s most populous region.

“Change has won in Andalusia!” PP candidate Juanma Moreno told a rally.

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The PP’s national leader Pablo Casado said his party planned to hold talks in Andalusia with all the parties to the right of the Socialists. That would include Vox and the center-right Ciudadanos. Together, they have a majority of seats.

All three hailed the result of the Andalusia election and said they wanted to boot the Socialists out of the region.

The Socialists urged mainstream parties to block the far-right and said they saw Vox’s 12 seats as “very serious.”

“This phenomenon we have seen in the rest of Europe and the world has now reached Spain and is entering the Andalusia parliament,” Susana Diaz, the Socialist candidate in the region, told supporters.


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Andalusia, which has one of Europe’s highest unemployment rates, is the entry point for thousands of Africans who have been reaching Spain by sea in greater numbers as traffic on the other main route across the Mediterranean to Italy has been curbed.

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen congratulated Vox, tweeting: “Strong and warm congratulations to my friends from @Vox, who tonight in Spain scored a very meaningful result for such a young and dynamic movement.”

The vote was the first electoral test for Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who came to power without an election in June after parliament ousted the conservatives over a corruption scandal.


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The next national election is due in 2020 but speculation has been rife for months that Sanchez, who controls fewer than a quarter of seats in the Madrid parliament, could call a snap vote.

However, senior Socialists said before the Andalusia election that they did not expect it to trigger a general election, and there would seem to be little incentive for Sanchez to do so now after the disappointing results for his party in Andalusia.

Much will depend now on whether the Socialists, who have not yet managed to get the country’s budget approved in parliament, gather enough support from smaller parties, including Catalan nationalists.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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