Watchlist: Lula Won't Leave

Week of April 9th

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is greeted by supporters in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday (Source: Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)


Kenya and Nigeria Suspect Cambridge Analytica Interference in Elections

Kenyan and Nigerian officially are currently investigated whether Cambridge Analytica tampered with their elections. The British company has recently come into the spotlight for its interference in the 2016 US presidential elections. Garba Shehu, a spokesman for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the country’s leaders are investigating claims that the company held anti-election rallies to dissuade people from voting for opposition candidates, and that they hacked Buhari’s personal data during his campaign. Shehu said, “the government may prosecute, if the reports are found to be true.” In Kenya, managing director of Cambridge Analytica, Mark Turnbull, was secretly filmed by undercover reporters stating that his company had run two of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaigns. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has said that he will seek legal action against the company, and told reporters: “Somebody needs to take responsibility for this. Somebody needs to be made to answer.” MAYA ZREIK


North Korea Will Participate in Denuclearization Discussions

North Korea has informed American officials that they are willing to discuss denuclearization. The discussions are intended to take place at a summit between North Korean Leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump, the first time in history that a sitting US president will meet with a North Korean leader. A date and time for the summit is still unconfirmed. Representatives of the DPRK and the US have met secretly in recent days where the North Korean officials have said that they are willing to meet the pre-meeting conditions that the US has imposed. It is the first time that discussion of the meeting has been held directly between officials of the two nations, instead of via their South Korean counterparts. Further information about the summit is expected to be revealed in the future. MAYA ZREIK


Lula Continues to Defy Prison Ruling For His Arrest

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, or just Lula, has opted to continue to defy a Supreme Court ruling which calls for him to surrender to authorities and go to jail for his various corruption charges. This ruling follows as an appeal after an earlier verdict, as Lula’s sentence for bribery and corruption was increased from nine and half to twelve years and he was called to go to prison immediately. He spoke on Saturday, saying initially he was going to stand down. However, he now is continuing his fight within prison, with his supporters pushing him to stand against the ruling, chanting “Free Lula!” and “We won’t let him leave.” The situation and continuing political uncertainty in the nation reveals a political crisis and presence of corruption over the past decade, especially in the Workers’ Party (PT), where Lula and his protege Dilma Rousseff (who was impeached) are key figures. Lula is also running for President in the impending Brazilian elections, and even if he does not go to prison it is likely he can now no longer run for the position, leading to a power vacuum in the PT. ANDREW MITCHEL

UPDATE: Lula has turned himself in after a two-day standoff with Brazilian police.


Truck Ploughs Through Crowd in Münster, Germany

At least three are dead and 30 injured after a truck ploughed through a crowd in the North-Rhine Westphalia town of Münster, Germany on Saturday. The incident took place at Grosser Kiepenkerl, a popular restaurant near the center of the city’s old town. According to eyewitnesses and local authorities, the driver, a German citizen, ran full speed over a sidewalk where a crowd of diners was eating before shooting himself dead. Police are not considering other suspects at this time, and have closed off the site while emergency services work. Senior security officials said it was too early to call the crash an act of terrorism, but were taking response measures as if it were. They remarked the tragedy is particularly unfortunate, as the regional police union has so far been able to foil and prevent other planned attacks in the area. Germany has been on high alert for two years due to a string of terrorist activity across Europe. The country’s last such incident was in December 2016, when a rejected Tunisian asylum seeker rammed into a Berlin Christmas market. MEGHAN ROWLEY

Middle East

Seventy Reported Dead in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

At least seventy people have been reported dead, with the death toll still rising, in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, the last Syrian town held by rebel forces. Victims of the attack have allegedly shown symptoms consistent with those of exposure to nerve or chlorine gas, leading many to suspect that this may have been a chemical weapons attack. The White Helmets, Syria’s volunteer rescue force, reported, “Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds are still suffocating.” There has not been an independent confirmation of the reports. Russia and the Syrian government have denied the allegations, and Syria’s state news agency Sana claimed that the attack was fabricated by the rebels who hold Douma. Several global leaders had threatened action against Syria should the government use chemical weapons against civilians again, and this suspected latest attack has led to the UK Foreign Office calling for an international response. The fallout over the reports is expected to continue throughout the week. MAYA ZREIK

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