Former U.S. President Donald Trump is not immune from being prosecuted on charges that he illegally plotted to overturn his 2020 reelection loss to stay in power, a U.S. appellate court panel in Washington unanimously ruled Tuesday.
The 3-0 decision rejected Trump’s claim that special counsel Jack Smith cannot prosecute him for the actions Trump took in the waning days of his presidency to upend his loss to Democrat Joe Biden because they were related to his official duties as president.
“Former President Trump has become citizen Trump, with all of the defences of any other criminal defendant,” the court ruled. “But any executive immunity that may have protected him while he served as President no longer protects him against this prosecution.”
In a four-count indictment, Smith accused Trump of using false claims of voter fraud to pressure state election officials, the Justice Department and his vice president, Mike Pence, to thwart congressional certification of the election results showing he had lost.
Trump, the first president accused in a criminal case, has denied wrongdoing in the election subversion case and three other indictments he is facing that encompass a total of 91 charges. Some of the trials in the cases could occur this year as Trump, the leading 2024 Republican presidential candidate, seeks to reclaim the White House in the November election, again facing Biden.
King Charles III’s Cancer Caught Early, UK PM Says
King Charles III’s cancer was caught early and the whole country is hoping for a speedy recovery, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Tuesday, as the monarch’s son Prince Harry reportedly flew from the U.S. to visit his father.
Buckingham Palace announced Monday evening that the king has begun outpatient treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer. It was found during his recent hospital treatment for an enlarged prostate but is a “separate issue” and not prostate cancer, the palace said.
“Thankfully, this has been caught early,” Sunak told BBC radio, adding that as prime minister he would “continue to communicate with him as normal.”
Less than 18 months into the reign that he’d famously waited decades to begin, the 75-year-old monarch has suspended public engagements but will continue with state business — including weekly meetings with the prime minister — and won’t be handing over his constitutional roles as head of state.
The palace said Charles, who has generally enjoyed good health, “remains wholly positive about his treatment and looks forward to returning to full public duty as soon as possible.”
Opposition Protests Postponement of Senegal Election
Opposition leaders in Senegal are protesting the move to postpone elections set for February 25, while some analysts say the delay hurts Senegal’s reputation as a beacon of democracy.
President Macky Sall announced the delay this past weekend, saying it was necessary because of allegations of corruption in election-related cases and the disqualification of some leading candidates, including Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 elections, and Karim Wade, son of former President Abdoulaye Wade.
Lloyd Kuveya, assistant director at the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria law school in South Africa, said, “Some people are saying because of the chaos that is prevailing in Senegal, where some opposition party leaders are imprisoned, including Sonko, which is really disturbing … the elections will not be a legitimate election.”
Senegal’s parliament voted Monday to delay the election until December. The parliamentary process was chaotic as security forces escorted out some opposition lawmakers as they tried to block the vote.
On Monday, two opposition parties filed a court petition challenging the delay.
Millions of Survivors of 2023 Turkey-Syria Quakes Remain Destitute, Traumatised
On the first anniversary of devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, millions of survivors remain destitute and traumatised while still awaiting the pledged assistance they desperately need, say UN and relief organisations.
“A year since a series of earthquakes killed 50,000 people in Turkey and 5,900 people in Syria, thousands of families have yet to heal from the impact of the devastation,” Martin Griffiths, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, said Tuesday.
“Survivors live with the loss and trauma of those frightful days,” he said. “As I saw firsthand in both countries, entire communities lost their homes and thousands of buildings were flattened, with schools, hospitals, mosques and churches destroyed or damaged.”
Turkey is one of the world’s most active earthquake regions.
The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said hundreds of thousands of new homes would be built as a result of the quake, but so far, only a fraction has been constructed.
Gallup Poll: 70% of Pakistanis Lack Trust in Elections, Gallup
A new survey indicates that more than two-thirds of Pakistan citizens lack faith in the integrity of their electoral process and government ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary elections.
The U.S.-based Gallup polling company found that Pakistanis are increasingly discouraged by economic, political, and security challenges threatening their country’s stability, with discontent reaching a record high before the vote.
The survey said the political atmosphere “is equally as glum as the economic one” ahead of Pakistan’s first general election since 2018. “Seven in 10 Pakistanis lack confidence in the honesty of their elections,” it added.
In addition to their scepticism about elections, 88% of Pakistanis also believe corruption is widespread within their government.
Pakistanis’ economic pessimism has hit an 18-year high, with 70% believing conditions are worsening where they live.
Gallup said it conducted face-to-face interviews with a random sample of 1,000 adults aged 15 and older in Pakistan between September and October 2023.
Death Toll Rises to 131 in Central Chile Wildfires
The death toll from a series of wildfires that have burned across central Chile now stands at 131 people.
Authorities say hundreds of people remain unaccounted for after several days of fires that have destroyed thousands of homes near the popular coastal cities of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.
Residents who fled the fires have begun returning to their destroyed or damaged homes, picking through the rubble to recover any possessions that survived.
President Gabriel Boric announced two days of national mourning on Monday.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a statement late Monday saying that he and his wife, Jill, were “deeply saddened by the loss of life and devastation” in Chile and that the “United States is ready to provide necessary assistance to the Chilean people.”
Afghan Oil Production Jumps with $49m Chinese Investment
A Chinese energy company’s investment of $49 million in Afghanistan’s oil production has helped boost the country’s daily crude oil output to more than 1,100 metric tons. But the funding is just one-third of what Beijing originally pledged.
One year ago, China’s Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co, or CAPEIC, signed a major oil extraction contract with Taliban authorities in Afghanistan. That 25-year contract requires CAPEIC to invest $150 million by the first year and $540 million by 2026.
According to a top Taliban official who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity, the company fell short of its investment target due to inaccurate estimates of material and labour costs and a three-month delay in the approval of its financial plan by Afghan authorities.
“The investments will add up as the contract stipulates,” the official said, adding that the Taliban’s treasury earned about $26 million from the project last year.
The Amu Darya basin, spanning Afghanistan and Tajikistan, is estimated to contain 962 million barrels of crude oil and 52,025 billion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a 2011 assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey.
EU’s Borrell Visits Kyiv After New Ukraine Aid Deal
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he would discuss the EU’s “unwavering” military and financial support for Ukraine as he visited Kyiv on Tuesday.
The visit comes days after the EU approved a four-year, $54 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Borrell said he would also use the meetings in Kyiv to talk about reforms in Ukraine as the country works toward EU membership.
Tuesday also brought a visit from Rafal Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was due to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Grossi said he would be talking with officials and assessing “the still fragile nuclear safety and security situation at the site,” which is in an area of Ukraine under Russian control.
In addition to worries about the safety of nuclear fuel at the site, the IAEA has also expressed concern about a reduced number of staff working there.
Colombian Government, Rebel Group Agree to Extend Ceasefire
The Colombian government and fighters with the National Liberation Army rebel group have agreed to extend their current ceasefire for another six months while they negotiate a peace deal.
The agreement was announced Tuesday in Havana, where negotiators have been holding a sixth round of peace talks. The rebel group, known by its acronym ELN, will suspend kidnappings for ransom under the agreement.
The initial ceasefire pact was reached last August. It expired last Wednesday, but the two sides agreed to extend it for five days.
Colombian President Gustavo Petro took office in 2022, vowing to bring an end to six decades of war between the government and numerous armed groups that have left more than 450,000 Colombians dead.
The government reached a landmark peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, IN 2016.
The negotiations between ELN and the government were nearly derailed when the rebel group kidnapped the father of Colombian football star Luis Diaz and held him for several days.
US Pushing for Ceasefire Progress in Egypt, Qatar Talks
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was holding talks Tuesday with Egyptian and Qatari leaders amid a push for a new temporary ceasefire in Gaza and an increase in humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians.
In Cairo, Blinken met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and was due to travel to Doha for talks with Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
The U.S., Egypt and Qatar helped craft the ceasefire proposal that is currently under consideration, which would include a pause in fighting lasting several weeks and the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
“The ball right now is in Hamas’ court,” a senior U.S. State Department official told reporters. The official said Egypt and Qatar have pushed Hamas to accept what the U.S. described as a “strong, compelling proposal,” but ultimately Hamas has to decide.
Houthis Fire Six More Anti-ship Missiles into Red Sea
Iranian-backed Houthi militants have once again ignored U.S. calls to stop attacking international shipping lanes or face consequences, this time firing six anti-ship missiles from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen into the Red Sea, a U.S. official tells VOA.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said U.S. naval forces had shot at least one of the missiles down on Tuesday, with others falling into the sea.
According to the British security firm Ambrey, one of the Houthi weapons caused minor damage to the port side of a Barbados-flagged, UK-owned cargo ship during Tuesday’s attacks.