Global Review – 16th August

Kenya on edge as election outcome sparks protests

Kenyans on Tuesday braced for a potentially turbulent time ahead after the disputed outcome of the country’s presidential election triggered violent protests in some areas. After an anxious days-long wait for the results of the August 9 poll, Deputy President William Ruto was declared the winner, beating his rival Raila Odinga by a narrow margin after a largely peaceful voting process. The race remained tight until the end, with Ruto scoring 50.49% of the vote compared to 48.85% for Odinga, according to Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati. But the announcement did little to calm nerves, with the election commission itself split over the outcome and demonstrators in Odinga’s strongholds hurling stones and setting fire to tyres on Monday. With the trauma of previous post-election violence still looming over Kenya, both Odinga and Ruto had previously pledged to deal with any disputes in court rather than on the streets. But that did not stop supporters of 77-year-old Odinga – known by his nickname “Baba” (“father” in Swahili) –from packing the streets in his stomping ground in the lakeside city of Kisumu, where they clashed with police who fired tear gas to disperse them. Protests also erupted on Monday in two Nairobi slums which have long been Odinga bastions. No presidential poll outcome has gone uncontested in Kenya since 2002, and a Supreme Court challenge by Odinga is seen as almost certain, with his running mate Martha Karua saying on Twitter: “It is not over till it is over.” As Kenyans wait to hear from Odinga after losing his fifth bid for the presidency, four of the seven electoral commissioners have already rejected the outcome, with one describing the process as “opaque”. The dispute is likely to further damage the reputation of the commission after it had faced stinging criticism over its handling of Kenya’s annulled 2017 election. But Chebukati, who was also in charge in 2017, insisted he had carried out his duties according to the law of the land despite facing “intimidation and harassment”.

Beijing warns US over Taiwan’s reunification

Beijing has warned Washington and Taipei that any obstacle to Taiwan’s “reunification” with China is doomed to fail and that the Chinese military is trained to “resolutely destroy” all forms of separatism and foreign interference in the issue of the island on which Beijing claims sovereignty. This is the content of a note from the spokesman for the Chinese Defence Ministry, Wu Qian, after the launch of new exercises in the sea and in the airspace around the island, following the arrival in Taipei of a delegation of five members of Congress. “Using Taiwan to control China and relying on the United States to seek independence is doomed to fail,” the spokesman said.

Trump allies ordered to testify in election probe

Two prominent political allies of former US President Donald Trump are being probed by public prosecutors for their involvement in possible election interference in the battleground state of Georgia during the 2020 US presidential elections. Trump narrowly lost the state after unsuccessfully trying to overturn the results by claiming voter fraud. On Monday, a federal judge said US Senator Lindsey Graham is being ordered to testify before a special grand jury in Atlanta next week. Later Monday, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s former lawyer, received notice that he is the target of a criminal investigation by the same court, according to his lawyers and the’ New York Times’. Giuliani is set to testify Wednesday. Both Graham and Giuliani have pitched legal battles to try and avoid testifying. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has accused the FBI of seizing his passports during a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate. In a post on Truth Social – his own social media platform – Trump told his followers it as an “assault on a political opponent”.

UK scraps tariffs on hundreds of imports

The UK is slashing tariffs on hundreds of products from developing countries. As of next year, 99% of goods from Africa will enter the UK duty free, according to the ‘Daily Express’. Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the scheme, which will see everything from certain clothes to olive oil and tomatoes benefiting from reduce tariffs or none at all, was a good example of Britain “taking back control” of its trade policy. Tariffs are being cut on a vast range of products in accordance with the new Developing Countries Trading Scheme.

Iran denies role, blames Rushdie for attack

Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday denied the country’s involvement in the attack on Salman Rushdie and faulted the author himself, issuing the first official statement by Tehran on the violent assault. Rushdie was stabbed roughly 10 times on Friday while speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He suffered multiple injuries, including a damaged liver, and is expected to lose an eye.

Surge in sales of ‘The Satanic Verses’

Rushdie’s novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ is surging up bestseller lists amid renewed interest in the author’s works. The paperback edition of the magical realism novel sits atop Amazon’s contemporary literature and fiction chart, is second in the censorship and politics category and was the 18th bestselling book overall on the e-commerce site on Monday. A Kindle ebook version of the book was also enjoying strong sales, reaching number one in several categories including fiction satire, and censorship and politics.

Germany sets winter gas levy

German consumers learned on Monday that a winter gas surcharge, which will come into effect in October for German households and businesses, was set at 2.4 euro cents per kilowatt hour. Gas prices have been driven up in no small part because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting market concerns about energy security and also shortfalls in deliveries in some cases. So far, consumers have been largely shielded from the increases, with companies unable to pass on their increased costs. Just under half of German households are heated using gas, by far the most popular method in the country.

UK first to approve Omicron-adapted Covid shot

The United Kingdom, the first country to approve a coronavirus vaccine in late 2020, has now also given the first green light to a variant-adapted shot that targets both the original and Omicron version of the virus. The UK medicines regulator gave the so-called bivalent vaccine made by US drug company Moderna conditional approval as a booster for adults today. The decision was based on clinical trial data that showed the booster triggered “a strong immune response” against both Omicron  and the original 2020 virus.

Pfizer CEO positive for Covid

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla made it known via Twitter that he had tested positive for Covid-19. The pharmaceutical company executive said he was “greatful” that he had received four doses of the vaccine and that he felt fine, with “very mild symptoms”. Bourla also reported starting a course of treatment with the antiviral Paxlovid.

Ten Hag inflicts ‘punishment’ on Man Utd squad

A shocked’ Erik ten Hag has punished his Manchester United side following their embarrassing 4-0 loss to Brentford on Saturday, according to reports in the ‘Daily Telegraph’. The Red Devils were absolutely awful in the first half of their defeat to the Bees, allowing Josh Dasilva, Mathias Jensen, Ben Mee and Bryan Mbeumo to score a goal each without response. It is the first time Man Utd have been four goals down at half-time since the Premier League was formed and represented a new low in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Ten Hag was left ‘furious’ with their performance, making the squad come in for an extra training session on their day off on Sunday. And now the Telegraph claims that a ‘shocked’ Ten Hag agreed ‘with the post-match analysis that they had played “like kids”. Ten Hag demanded a response with an intense training session which, surprisingly for the day after a game, included an element of running’.

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