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Erdogan to skip COP26 at the last minute, blames UK RT World News



President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced he will not be attending the COP26 climate conference, after the UK failed to meet the security protocol standards that were requested by the Turkish government.

Speaking on Monday, Erdogan stated that he would no longer be travelling from the G20 Summit in Rome to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, after the UK informed the Turkish government “at the last minute” that it could not meet their security demands.

“There were security protocol standards that we had demanded for the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow. These are standards in protocols that are always applied to us and all leaders in all visits. However, we were told that these will not be met at the last minute,” the Turkish president claimed.

According to Erdogan, the last straw was when Turkish officials learned the security measures that would not be implemented for his government had been “provided for another country as an exception,” accusing the UK of failing to “comply with diplomatic practices.”

The Turkish stated that the issue had initially been resolved by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but British officials informed Ankara that the Scottish government had blocked the request, resulting in the decision to pull out of the summit.

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Back in October, ahead of COP26, Turkey’s parliament formally ratified the Paris Climate Accord, the last G20 country to do so. The decision to back the agreement came after years of debate between Ankara and other signatories over claims that Turkey should not be classed as a developed nation, reducing its access to climate funding.

On Wednesday, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding that will see it receive $3.2 billion in loans to meet the climate goals laid out in the Paris Climate Accord. The funding will be provided as part of a deal backed by the World Bank, France, and Germany.

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Colombia protesters faced intentional police violence: Report | Protests News



Bogota, Colombia More than 100 people sustained eye injuries in a violent crackdown on mass protests this year by the Colombian security forces, notably the countrys anti-riot squad (ESMAD), Amnesty International and other rights groups have found.

Colombia saw a wave of nationwide protests that began at the end of April over a tax reform, but public anger later spiralled over a myriad of other social issues.

Violent clashes between protesters and security forces broke out during the demonstrations, which went on for over a month. More than 80 people mostly young student protesters were killed and many others suffered serious injuries, including security forces.

In a report published on Friday, Amnesty International said 103 protesters suffered eye injuries during the protests, including at least 12 demonstrators who lost eyes or some of their vision after being hit by police projectiles during rallies around the country.

More than 80 people, most of them young students, were killed during this years wave of protests across Colombia [File: Santiago Mesa/Reuters]

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnestys Americas director, said the eye injuries are an indication of the intentionality of the police to damage those who were protesting.

Several victims have faced challenges to receive specialised health and psycho-social care, as well as increased obstacles in accessing decent work or continuing their education due to their injuries, the rights group found.

We have documented enough evidence to believe that the repression of protesters in the national strike [was] intentional, as a way to punish those who were taking to the streets and as a way to try to prevent more people taking to the streets, Guevara-Rosas told Al Jazeera in an interview ahead of the reports release.

Government reforms

Colombian police were internationally condemned earlier this year for their heavy-handed response to the protests, with Human Rights Watch saying in June that officers had committed egregious abuses.

Colombian President Ivan Duque has promised to modernise the countrys police force, including providing human rights training and increased oversight for officers. One of the protesters main demands was the dissolution of ESMAD, the main perpetrator of the alleged abuses, which comes under the ministry of national defence.

But Guevara-Rosas said government measures taken so far have been feeble.

Colombias President Ivan Duque has promised to modernise the countrys police force, including providing human rights training and increased oversight for officers [File: Nathalia Angarita/Reuters]

We are concerned that the efforts are still very insufficient to address the root causes of the problems, she said, adding that officer accountability and impunity for human rights violations need to be addressed. This needs to be done in order to really build a police force thats going to protect citizens.

A spokeswoman for President Duque told Al Jazeera she could not comment on Amnestys findings before seeing the report, while a spokesperson for Colombias National Police Department also did not respond to direct questions from Al Jazeera about the report.

In messages sent via WhatsApp, the police spokesperson said 231 investigations have been opened against officers in relation to the national strike, while 1,758 police officers were injured during the unrest.

The department said civilians have the right to peacefully protest, but protesters dressed up as police to attack security forces and should face the full weight of justice. Police officers also were targeted by demonstrators and criminal groups that infiltrated the protests, such as leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) rebels, the spokesperson said.

However, Guevara-Rosas said that even though some protesters engaged in acts of violence, the authorities have their responsibility to ensure and to protect the right of people to peacefully demonstrate.

A face lift

Meanwhile, calls for Bogota to do more to address allegations of police violence continue to grow.

Alejandro Rodriguez, co-ordinator of the Observatory on Police Violence at Temblores, a Bogota-based non-profit involved in Fridays report, said the government has failed to meet citizens demands on police reforms.

The government is doing it internally and theres not enough participation. Theyre not taking the reports of police abuse seriously, Rodriguez told Al Jazeera.

Sergio Guzman, a political analyst and director of Colombia Risk Analysis, agreed, calling the proposed reforms to policing in the South American nation just a face lift.

Theres a lot of scepticism about the governments ability to bring those people who have committed crimes to justice. [This is] further compounded by the fact the government has in the past denied any allegations of wrongdoing on behalf of the police force, so not recognising the problem has been a huge part of it, Guzman told Al Jazeera.

Theres not really a profound attempt at addressing some of the problems from within.

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Decoration behind US-backed Venezuelan leader falls apart RT World News



Juan Guaido, the opposition politician recognized by the US as interim president of Venezuela, was in the midst of a passionate speech when the coat of arms mounted on the stage behind him collapsed on the floor.

The round wooden sign displaying Venezuela’s insignia seems to have been nudged by someone passing behind the stage and clattered to the ground behind Guaido as he was answering a question. The moment was caught on camera and quickly made rounds on social media on Monday. One Twitter user captioned it, “when the theater drops.”

Guaido had broadcast the event live on his Twitter account, and the moment of the seal’s collapse can be seen about 58 minutes in.

The opposition politician declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January 2019, denouncing the incumbent President Nicolas Maduro as an illegitimate “dictator.”

Newly released documents expose how US intelligence meddled in Venezuelan elections via social media

Newly released documents expose how US intelligence meddled in Venezuelan elections via social media

Guaido has made multiple attempts to take power in Caracas, with the backing of the Trump administration and later the Biden administration in Washington. The EU withdrew its support in January 2021.

Monday’s speech followed the weekend’s regional elections in which the ruling Socialist party won 20 governorships while the opposition managed only three. Guaido said now was the time for “reflection, unity and work” among the opposition leaders, who need to set their egos aside and work together to “remove the dictator.” 

The US has condemned the election results as “skewed” in favor of Maduro’s party, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowing to continue supporting Guaido, including with sanctions against Caracas. EU election observers are expected to comment on their experience in Venezuela on Tuesday.

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Change is possible: Honduras prepares for critical election | Elections News



Tegucigalpa, Honduras Amid widespread fear of fraud and ensuing social unrest, Hondurans are preparing to vote in a tense presidential election that could end 12 years of rule for the conservative National Party, which has governed since a 2009 coup.

The National Partys time in office has been marked by corruption, alleged involvement in drug trafficking, and increased militarisation, spurring mass migration to the United States. The coronavirus pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes in November 2020 sunk the country deeper into a sociopolitical crisis.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who could face extradition to the US on drug trafficking charges after he was named as a co-conspirator in a case against his brother, may have the most at stake, although he is not up for re-election.

His partys candidate, current Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Tito Asfura, is trailing by 17 percent behind former first lady Xiomara Castro of the left-wing Libre Party, according to an October poll by the Honduran Center of Studies for Democracy (CESPAD).

The elections on Sunday during which voters will also elect congress members, mayors, and members of the Central American Parliament mark a turning point for Honduras as two opposing political visions battle for dominance, said Joaquin Mejia, a researcher with the Honduran Team for Research, Investigation and Communication (ERIC-SJ).

The first represented by Asfura is the continuity of the regime, Mejia told Al Jazeera, while the second would mark a first step towards national dialogue to begin to reconstruct the country.

Nasry Asfura, the presidential candidate of the National Party, is trailing Xiomara Castro by 17 percent, according to an October poll [Fredy Rodriguez/Reuters]

New election, old faces

Castro is making her third presidential run as candidate for the Libre Party, founded by her husband Manuel Mel Zelaya, who was removed from office in the 2009 coup.

Polling at 38 percent according to the CESPAD poll, she pulled ahead in the race after making an alliance in October with opposition candidate and former TV host Salvador Nasralla. Prior to that pact, polls showed Asfura with a slight lead.

What Honduras needs right now is symbols, said Mejia. The fact that theyve managed to form this alliance has sent a symbolic message to the population in the sense that they feel a change is possible.

Castro has promised to bring back social programmes, decriminalise abortion in three cases, and ban special economic zones. Many voters see her candidacy as a continuation of her husbands presidency, although she also has a respectable political trajectory of her own, leading a massive protest movement.

Things are going to improve with Xiomara because we saw it with the presidency of Mel Zelaya, said 58-year-old subsistence farmer Blanca Rodriguez at a rally November 19 for Castro in rural Intibuca. She cited social programmes that helped rural Hondurans as her reason for voting for Castro.

Others believe she will end government corruption and impunity, and restore democratic institutions that have been debilitated during 12 years of National Party rule. With Xiomara, were going to rescue the rule of law, said 67-year old retiree Isidro Luna, another rally participant.

But Castros record is also tainted. An allegation that Zelaya accepted a bribe from a drug trafficker also surfaced in the US case against Hernandezs brother.

Xiomara Castro is presidential candidate for the left-wing Libre Party [File: Yoseph Amaya/Reuters]

With the people

About 21 percent of voters surveyed by CESPAD in October said they would vote for National Party candidate Asfura, whose campaign has tried to portray him as a reliable leader by playing on his nickname Papi a la Orden Papi at your service.

His ads emphasise that he is different and with the people.

Hes the only one who convinces me because, with the others, everything is just promises, said 59-year-old Julio Figueroa, an unemployed voter from Tegucigalpa, who cited public works projects in the capital as proof that Asfura is qualified. Hes a hardworking person, Figueroa added.

Asfura faces an investigation by the countrys special anti-corruption prosecution unit into alleged embezzlement of $1m in government funds in 2017 and 2018 as Tegucigalpa mayor. Yet this may not influence Honduran voters, many of whom are deciding to vote based on which candidate they hate less, according to Julio Raudales, vice-rector for international relations at the National Autonomous University of Honduras.

More than 60 percent of Hondurans surveyed by CESPAD said they disapproved of Hernandezs presidency and a rejection of the current government is driving some voters towards Castro, explained Raudales. At the same time, some voters reject Castro over concerns her left-wing policies are too communist and will turn the country into Cuba or Venezuela a fear that her opponents have used to attack her.

A third candidate, Yani Rosenthal from the Liberal Party, who previously served three years in US prison for laundering drug money, is trailing behind both Castro and Asfura with just 3 percent.

Its not wanting to vote for Tito [Asfura] that makes someone vote for him, but rather that someone hates Mel Zelaya, said Raudales. For others, theyre going to vote for Xiomara [Castro] so Juan Orlando [Hernandez] doesnt get away with anything.

Fears of fraud

Despite a wide lead for Castro, Honduran voters and analysts fear the election results will be manipulated. About 70 percent of Honduran voters said they believed the elections would be fraudulent to some degree, according to the CESPAD poll.

Everything seems to indicate that she will win, Raudales said. But the National Party has the power and it has the possibility of committing fraud, which would be terrible for the country.

This fear of fraud and distrust in the political system could lead to low voter turnout. Despite compulsory voting in Honduras, only 60 percent of Hondurans said they planned to cast a ballot in the October CESPAD poll.

Twenty-year-old street vendor Evelyn Vasquez said days before the election that she did not plan on voting. I dont trust any of them [the candidates] because they are all thieves, Vasquez said.

Fraud allegations marred the 2017 presidential elections, leading to mass protests. The Organization of American States (OAS) ordered new elections, but Hernandez ultimately was declared the winner. International observers, including the OAS and European Union, will be monitoring the elections again this year.

In a statement on November 23 denouncing irregularities in the electoral process, the National Party said it was committed to transparent and peaceful elections and accused the Libre Party of engaging in a hate campaign to generate fear.

In 2018, the countrys three main parties the National Party, Libre, and the Liberal Party had agreed to a set of electoral reforms meant to increase fairness and transparency in the process. The changes included modifications to the electoral body, a new voting registry to prevent fraud, and measures to ensure independent vote observation tables.

But analysts have said the odds are still stacked in favour of the National Party. Using state resources to campaign, bussing voters from remote, rural areas to the polls, and stacking vote observation tables with loyalists are just some ways the National Party can manipulate the results, said Mejia.

Its a bit naive to think that the same people who carried out the coup, who committed grave human rights abuses and electoral fraud and violated the constitution to stay in power, today have converted into democrats and are going to easily accept losing power with all the implications that it carries, said Mejia.

Meanwhile, voters, such as Rodriguez from Intibuca, say they will be on alert on election day. Theyve committed fraud, she said. But weve woken up, and if they do it again the people are going to rise up.

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