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Daily Brief: Hardline Mayor Wins Philippines Presidential Election

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May 10, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Hardline Mayor Wins Philippines Presidential Election

A populist mayor who ran on a platform of being tough on crime won the presidency in the Philippines after his rivals conceded defeat. Rodrigo Duterte won about 39 percent of counted votes (Al Jazeera) after a campaign in which he promised to eradicate crime and corruption within six months (AP). Duterte promoted his record of cracking down on crime in the city of Davao, saying his public safety strategy was to "kill them all" (NYT). The president-elect faces allegations of ties to death squads operating in the city of Davao during his time as mayor. 


"Experts say anywhere between 40% and 80% of Philippine legislators are connected to political dynasties with vested interests. A handful of the families control almost all of the country's wealth. And perhaps the bleakest, starkest statistic of all: 25% of the population lives under the poverty line - a figure that hasn't changed much in two decades. So it shouldn't come as a surprise then that Filipinos have chosen Mr Duterte's crime-busting, tough-talking, action-oriented ways over the current administration's candidate Manuel Roxas. Some human rights activists have sounded a note of caution about Mr Duterte's controversial style - comparing him to the Philippine's previous authoritarian leader Ferdinand Marcos. But for many young Filipinos, Mr Duterte is appealing precisely because they don't remember what it was like to grow up during the authoritarian regime of Ferdinand Marcos," writes Karishma Vaswani for the BBC.

"Duterte, 71, has spent three decades in public services, first as a lawyer and prosecutor, and later as mayor and Congressman. His election to his nation’s highest office is based on his zero-tolerance approach fighting crime in Davao, where Amnesty International alleges 'death squads' under his control are responsible for 700 extrajudicial executions. (In response, Duterte put the figure at closer to 1,700.)," writes Charlie Campbell for Time.

"With few specific policies other than this readiness to hunt down and kill the bad guys, the impending arrival of this colourful strongman in Malacañang Palace should alarm international observers. But his message has resonated with the Filipino voters. Mr Duterte is clearly more extreme than other high-profile challengers to political establishment, such as Donald Trump and the many-hued political upstarts in Europe. But there are some echoes of his appeal elsewhere," writes Tony Tassell for the Financial Times.


U.S. Sends Warship Close to South China Sea Island

The Pentagon sent a guided-missile destroyer within twelve nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef (WSJ), a manmade island claimed by China and other nations, in what a U.S. official called an exercise in "global citizenship" to maintain maritime rights. The move was the third time in less than a year that the United States conducted so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. 

This CFR InfoGuide maps the disputing territorial claims in the South China Sea.

JAPAN: The White House announced that U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Hiroshima this month (WaPo), marking the first visit of a sitting U.S. president to the site of the atomic bombing. 


Kidnapped Son of Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Returned

Pakistan's foreign ministry said that U.S. and Afghan forces had rescued the son of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Afghanistan's Ghazni province (AFP). The politician's son was kidnapped in 2013 by suspected Taliban militants.

TAJIKISTAN: Tajik authorities arrested four suspected supporters of the self-proclaimed Islamic State for allegedly planning attacks on Victory Day celebrations on May 9 (RFE/RL). The arrests followed a tip from Russian police. 


Kerry Announces U.S.-Russia Agreement for Syrian Cease-Fire

After meeting with a Syrian opposition leader and diplomats in Paris, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States and Russia agreed to work together to restore a country-wide cease-fire agreement in Syria (WSJ). Meanwhile, a son of the late al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden recorded a message urging militant groups in Syria to unite so as to one day ”liberate Palestine” (AFP).

BAHRAIN: The foreign ministry said a prominent female activist jailed with her infant son would soon be released on humanitarian grounds (AP). The U.S. State Department had called on Bahrain to release Zainab al-Khawaja (BuzzFeed), who was jailed for charges relating to her participation in antigovernment protests.


UN Urges Kenya to Reconsider Plan to Close Refugee Camps

The United Nations said it viewed Kenya's plan to close two camps hosting mostly Somali refugees with "profound concern" (VOA). Kenya's government cited security concerns over the militant group Al-Shabab as a reason to close the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, which together host 385,000 people. 

NAMIBIA: The German ambassador to Namibia (New Era) said by the end of this year Germany and Namibia would conclude negotiations over a formal apology for the genocide of indigenous people during the colonial government in German South-West Africa from 1904 to 1908. The communities have sued Germany for billions in reparations.


Rights Group Accuses Turkey of Shooting at Syrian Refugees

Human Rights Watch issued a report accusing Turkish authorities of beating and shooting Syrian asylum seekers attempting to cross the border in March and April, resulting in five deaths, including a child (HRW). Turkish authorities say the country maintains an open-door policy for refugees, though newly arrived asylum seekers are rare (AP).

Experts discussed Turkey's handling of the migrant crisis in this CFR event.

AUSTRIA: Chancellor Werner Faymann from the center-left Social Democratic party resigned after losing his party's backing (FT). His party's upheaval follows the surge of the right-wing Freedom party, which has rallied voters with anti-immigration rhetoric.


Brazil Senate to Vote Wednesday on Impeachment of Rousseff

A vote to impeach President Dilma Rousseff is set to take place in the country's Senate tomorrow after the speaker of Brazil's lower house revoked his surprise decision to suspend an earlier vote to impeach her (BBC). If Rousseff loses in tomorrow's vote, she will be suspended from office as the Senate puts her on trial.  

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses the push to impeach Rousseff in this interview.

MEXICO: A judge approved the extradition of accused drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman to the United States (LAHT). The Mexican foreign ministry has twenty days to make a decision on the extradition. 

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