Duterte vows to get tough and bring back hang­ing

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Author­i­ties locked down Afghanistan’s cap­i­tal yes­ter­day as tens of thou­sands of eth­nic Hazaras marched through the streets call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to reroute a power line through their poverty-stricken prov­ince in a mas­sive protest that re­flected pub­lic dis­may with the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani.

Amid con­cerns the protest could turn vi­o­lent, roads lead­ing into cen­tral Kabul’s com­mer­cial district were blocked to all traf­fic by po­lice, who used stacked ship­ping con­tain­ers to pre­vent the marchers reach­ing the pres­i­den­tial palace.

Most of the city’s shops were shut­tered and armed po­lice units took up po­si­tions around the city.

The back­ing of other eth­nic groups for the protest high­lighted the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis fac­ing Afghanistan, as Ghani be­comes in­creas­ingly iso­lated amid a stalled econ­omy, ris- ing un­em­ploy­ment, and an es­ca­lat­ing in­sur­gency, in its 15th year.

Since tak­ing of­fice in 2014, Ghani has made lit­tle progress in keep­ing prom­ises to bring peace and pros­per­ity to the coun­try, in­stead pre­sid­ing over an ad­min­is­tra­tion that seems to lurch from cri­sis to cri­sis.

Daud Naji, a protest leader, said the Hazaras were de­mand­ing ac­cess to a planned mul­ti­mil­lion­dol­lar re­gional elec­tric­ity line. The so-called TUTAP line is backed by the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank with the in­volve­ment of Turk­menistan, Uzbek­istan, Ta­jik­istan, Afghanistan and Pak­istan. The orig­i­nal plan routed the line through Bamiyan prov­ince, in the cen­tral high­lands, where most of the coun­try’s Hazaras live. But that route was changed in 2013 by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

Lead­ers of yes­ter­day’s demon­stra­tion have called the rout­ing of the line away from their ter­ri­tory ev­i­dence of en­dur­ing bias against the Hazara mi­nor­ity. Hazaras ac­count for up to 15 per cent of Afghanistan’s es­ti­mated 30 mil­lion­strong pop­u­la­tion; they are con­sid­ered the poor­est of the coun­try’s eth­nic groups.

Bamiyan is poverty stricken, though it is largely peace­ful and has po­ten­tial as a tourist des­ti­na­tion. Hazaras, most of whom are Shia Mus­lims, have been per­se­cuted in the past, no­tably by the ex­trem­ist Sunni Tal­iban’s 1996-2001 regime.

Afghanistan is des­per­ately short of power, with less than 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion con­nected to the na­tional grid, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank. Al­most 75 per cent of the coun­try’s power is im­ported.

Karim Khalili, a Hazara leader and former vice pres­i­dent, told sup­port­ers from the back of A truck that the “peo­ple will never keep quiet when fac­ing in­jus­tice.”

“Again I want call on Dr Ashraf Ghani and (chief ex­ec­u­tive) Dr Abdullah Abdullah to change the de­ci­sion - don’t you think a change of mind re­gard­ing the elec­tric­ity line would be bet­ter?” he shouted to the crowd. Philip­pine Pres­i­dent-elect Ro­drigo Duterte said he will reim­pose the death penalty, of­fer Cab­i­net posts to com­mu­nist rebels, and amend the con­sti­tu­tion to give more power to the prov­inces. In his first for­mal news con­fer­ence since the May 9 vote, which saw him de­clared win­ner on an unofficial count, Duterte also said he will launch an of­fen­sive to de­stroy Abu Sayyaf ex­trem­ists on south­ern Jolo Is­land. Duterte said he would likely of­fer the Cab­i­net posts of en­vi­ron­ment and nat­u­ral re­sources, agrar­ian re­form, so­cial wel­fare, and labour to the com­mu­nist rebels. “They are the most vig­i­lant group in the Philip­pines about labour so they would get it,” Duterte said. The move would likely be strongly op­posed by big busi­ness and in­dus­try. Duterte said he would ask Congress to reim­pose the death penalty, which has been sus­pended since 2006. “Af­ter the first hang­ing, there will be an­other cer­e­mony for the second time un­til the head is com­pletely sev­ered from the body,” he said on na­tional TV. Duterte said he would sell the pres­i­den­tial yacht and buy med­i­cal equip­ment for mil­i­tary and po­lice.

PRES­I­DENT-ELECT: Ro­drigo Duterte

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