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Just In: Boris Johnson Wins Race to Become Next British Prime Minister

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Boris Johnson won the race to become Britain’s next prime minister on Tuesday but will face a confrontation over Brexit with Brussels and members of his own party as well as a tense diplomatic standoff with Iran.

The former London mayor easily beat his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, in a poll conducted among members of the governing Conservative Party.

He is expected to be confirmed as prime minister on Wednesday when his predecessor Theresa May formally tenders her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.

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Africa

Senegal’s New Govt Cuts Prices of Essential Commodities

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The President Bassirou Diomaye Faye-led government of Senegal has reduced the prices of some essential commodities in the country.

The reductions, which also cover cement and fertiliser, will take effect in the next few days, government secretary general Ahmadou Al Aminou Lo told reporters.

President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who was swept to power in a March election, vowed during the campaign to address high living costs in the West African nation that heavily relies on imports.

The issue has featured widely in the media and on social media in recent weeks, with many saying it is a priority.

Under the measures, the price of a kilo (2.2 pounds) of the most widely consumed type of rice will be reduced by 40 CFA ($0.065, 0.061 euros), while a baguette will cost 15 CFA (0.023 euros) less, the government announced at a media conference.

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Africa

Malawi’s Vice President, Nine Others Confirmed Dead in Plane Crash

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Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima and nine other people died when the small military plane they were traveling in crashed in bad weather in a mountainous region in the north of the country, the president said Tuesday. Chilima was 51.

President Lazarus Chakwera announced that the wreckage of the plane that went missing Monday morning had been located after a search of more than 24 hours in thick forests and hilly terrain near the city of Mzuzu. He said the wreckage was found near a hill and the plane had been “completely destroyed,” with everyone killed on impact.

It was a “terrible tragedy,” Chakwera said. “Words cannot describe how heartbreaking this is, and I can only imagine how much pain and anguish you all must be feeling.” He called Chilima “a good man, a devoted father and husband, a patriotic citizen who served his country with distinction and a formidable vice president.”

Chakwera said the victims’ remains were being brought to the southern African nation’s capital, Lilongwe. The seven passengers included members of Chilima’s staff and security detail along with former first lady Shanil Dzimbiri, the ex-wife of former President Bakili Muluzi. There were three crew members.

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and forest rangers had searched for the plane since it went missing Monday at around 10 a.m. while making the 45-minute flight from Lilongwe to Mzuzu, around 370 kilometers (230 miles) to the north.

The group was traveling to attend the funeral of a former government minister. Air traffic controllers told the plane not to attempt a landing at Mzuzu’s airport because of bad weather and poor visibility and asked it to turn back to Lilongwe. Air traffic control then lost contact with the aircraft and it disappeared from radar.

Chakwera said the wreckage was found in the Chikangawa Forest south of Mzuzu. Images from the site showed thick fog over the hills and remnants of the plane in an open area near the tree line. The president described the aircraft as a small, propeller-driven plane operated by the Malawian armed forces.

Officials with Chilima’s United Transformation Movement political party — a party different from the president’s — criticized the government response as slow and said there was no transponder on the plane, concerning for an aircraft carrying a high-level delegation.

Chilima and Chakwera had led Malawi under unusual circumstances. They both ran for president in 2019 as opposition candidates but teamed up to challenge election results in court over irregularities, and won. They then won the rerun of the election – the first time in Africa that a court-overturned election result resulted in a defeat for the incumbent president.

Chilima had said Chakwera had agreed to step down after his first term and allow him to run for president in next year’s election as part of their alliance. However, Chakwera announced he would run for reelection, and there were signs of friction between the two.

Chilima also had recently faced corruption charges over allegations that he received money in return for influencing the awarding of government procurement contracts for the armed forces and the police. Prosecutors dropped the charges last month. He had denied the allegations.

Chilima had just returned from an official visit to South Korea on Sunday. He was in his second term as vice president after serving from 2014-2019 under former President Peter Mutharika.

The search for the plane prompted an international response. Chakwera said the U.S., the U.K., Norway and Israel had offered assistance and provided “specialized technologies.” The U.S. Embassy in Malawi said it had assisted and offered the use of a Department of Defense small C-12 plane. Malawi also asked neighbors Zambia and Tanzania if they could help.

Malawi, a country of around 21 million people, was ranked as the fourth poorest nation in the world by the World Bank in 2019.

AP

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USA

Guilty As Charged! Trump Convicted in Hush-Money Case, Awaits Sentencing

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A New York jury convicted Donald Trump on all charges in his hush-money case on Thursday in a seismic development barely five months ahead of the election where he seeks to recapture the White House.

The verdict makes Trump the first criminally convicted former US president but does not prevent him from campaigning for another term.

The first criminal trial of a former US president ended with the 77-year-old Trump found guilty on each of the 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide a payment meant to silence porn star Stormy Daniels.Trump – who was released without bail and is all but certain to appeal – initially sat still in the drab Manhattan courtroom, shoulders dipping.

Addressing reporters outside minutes later, though, he branded the result a “disgrace” and “rigged,” vowing that the “real verdict” would come from voters in the November 5 presidential election.

The conviction thrusts the United States into uncharted political territory.

However, it does not bar Trump from his continuing his White House run, even in the unlikely event that Judge Juan Merchan sentences him to prison.

Sentencing was set for July 11 – right before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is due to receive the party’s formal nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the election.

Biden’s campaign issued a statement saying that the trial showed “no one is above the law.” It added that “the threat Trump poses to our democracy has never been greater.”

The 12-member jury deliberated for more than 11 hours over two days before announcing the unanimous conclusion within a matter of minutes.

Merchan thanked the jurors for completing the “difficult and stressful task.”

Their identities had been kept secret throughout proceedings, a rare practice more often seen in cases involving mafia or other violent defendants.

– Election conspiracy –

Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 election, when her claim to have had sex with him could have proved fatal to his campaign.

The trial featured lengthy testimony from the adult performer, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who described to the court in graphic detail what she says was a 2006 sexual encounter with the married Trump.

Prosecutors successfully laid out a case alleging that the hush money and the illegal covering up of the payment was part of a broader crime to prevent voters from knowing about Trump’s behaviour.

Trump’s defence attorneys had countered that “trying to influence an election” was simply “democracy” and that the former president did nothing wrong.

– Campaigning in courthouse –

The trial has distracted Trump from his campaign to unseat Biden.

However, he milked the media attention throughout, with daily speeches in front of the cameras outside the courtroom in which he complained about being a political victim.

Yet after teasing the prospect for weeks, Trump — who denied ever having sex with Daniels at a 2006 celebrity golf tournament — opted not to testify.

Keith Gaddie, a political analyst and professor at Texas Christian University, said the political impact of the shocking events has yet to be determined.

“It probably doesn’t move a lot of votes, but in particular states with particular swing votes, it could matter around the margins. So in particularly tight races, it can tip things back from one direction to the other,” she said.

The Republican, who made his name as a brash real estate mogul before a stunning ascent to the nation’s highest office in the 2016 election, now faces prison or, more likely, probation.

In theory, he could face up to four years in jail for each count of falsifying business records but legal experts said as a first-time offender he is unlikely to go behind bars.

An appeal could take months to complete.

Should he win the presidency he will not be able to pardon himself, given that the case was not brought by the federal government but by the state of New York, where only the governor could clear his name.

Trump also faces federal and state charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election won by Biden, and for hoarding secret documents after leaving the White House.

AFP

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