Duterte vows to get tough and bring back hanging
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