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Fraser Anning, the far-right Australian senator who blamed Muslim immigrants for the New Zealand mosque shootings, was voted out of office during Australia’s elections this weekend.
After an Australian white supremacist shot up two mosques and killed 50 people in New Zealand, Anning made a shocking statement in which he blamed the massacre on immigration programs “which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”
“Let us be clear, while Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators,” Anning said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who won re-election, condemned Anning’s “disgusting” comments at the time.
“Those views have no place in Australia, let alone the Australian Parliament,” said Morrison.
Anning’s remark also earned him a raw egg smashed in the back of his head by teenager Will Connolly, aka Eggboy, in a video that immediately went viral.
Watch the egging below:
Australian Egg Boy Connolly full video | egg on Australian Senator Fraser Anning | Uv News - YouTube
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president has asked for the resignations of the defense secretary and national police chief, a dramatic internal shake-up after security forces shrugged off intelligence reports warning of possible attacks before Easter bombings that killed over 350 people, the president’s office said Wednesday.
It wasn’t immediately clear who would be replacing them, but President Maithripala Sirisena said during a televised speech Tuesday that he planned to change the head of the defense forces within 24 hours.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which struck Christians worshipping in three churches and people at three luxury hotels. Authorities remain unsure of its involvement, though many suspect experienced foreign militants were advising, funding or guiding the attackers.
Sri Lanka’s junior defense minister has blamed breakaway members of two obscure local extremist Muslim groups, and said many of the suicide bombers were highly educated and came from well-off families.
“Their thinking is that Islam can be the only religion in this country,” Ruwan Wijewardene told reporters. “They are quite well-educated people,” he said, adding that at least one had a law degree and some may have studied in the UK and Australia.
Leaders have vowed to overhaul the country’s security apparatus after acknowledging that some intelligence units were aware of possible attacks before the Easter bombings.
U.S. Ambassador Alaina Teplitz told reporters that “clearly there was some failure in the system,” but said the U.S. had no prior knowledge of a threat before the attacks, the worst violence in the South Asian island nation since its civil war ended a decade ago.
Teplitz called that breakdown in communication “incredibly tragic.”
Government statements about the attacks have been confused and sometimes contradictory, with police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara telling reporters Wednesday that there were nine suicide bombers — two more than officials said one day earlier.
One of the additional suicide bombers was the wife of another bomber, Gunasekara said. The woman, two children and three policemen died in an explosion as authorities closed in on her late Sunday, hours after attacks were launched against three churches and three hotels. The ninth suicide bomber has not been identified, though two more suspects were killed in a later explosion on the outskirts of Colombo.
Gunasekara said 60 people have been arrested so far. A team of FBI agents and U.S. military officials were helping in the investigation, Teplitz said.
Officials say all of the main suicide bombers were Sri Lankan.
“We are conducting investigations at the moment to see if there is any direct link to any international organizations,” Wijewardene said.
The Islamic State group’s Aamaq news agency released an image it said showed the attackers’ leader standing amid seven others with covered faces. It provided no other evidence for its claim.
The group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility for various attacks around the world.
Sri Lankan authorities had earlier blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaar, whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. On Wednesday, Wijewardene said the attackers had broken away from National Towheed Jamaar and another group, which he identified only as “JMI.”
Teplitz declined to discuss whether U.S. officials knew about National Towheed Jamaar or its leader before the attack. “If we had heard something, we would have tried to do something about this,” Teplitz said.
The country has been on heightened alert since the attacks, with police setting off a series of controlled explosions of suspicious objects. No more bombs were found Wednesday.
On Tuesday, in an address to Parliament, Wijewardene said “weakness” within Sri Lanka’s security system had led to the failure to prevent the bombings.
“By now it has been established that the intelligence units were aware of this attack and a group of responsible people were informed about the impending attack,” Wijewardene said. “However, this information has been circulated among only a few officials.”
In a live address to the nation late Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena said he also was kept in the dark on the intelligence about the planned attacks and vowed to “take stern action” against officials who failed to share the information. He also pledged “a complete restructuring” of the security forces.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Wijewardene also edged away from Tuesday comments that the bombings were retaliation for the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed 50 people. He told reporters Wednesday that the mosque attack may have been a motivation for the bombings, but that there was no direct evidence of that.
An Australian white supremacist was arrested in the Christchurch shootings.
While Sri Lanka’s recent history has been rife with ethnic and sectarian conflict, the Easter Sunday attacks came as a shock.
Sri Lanka is dominated by Sinhalese Buddhists, but the country of 21 million also has a significant Tamil minority, most of whom are Hindu, Muslim or Christian.
Tamil Tiger rebels were known for staging suicide bombings during their 26-year civil war for independence, but religion had little role in that fighting. The Tigers were crushed by the government in 2009. Anti-Muslim bigotry fed by Buddhist nationalists has swept the country since the war ended but Sri Lanka has no history of Islamic militancy. Its small Christian community has seen only scattered incidents of harassment.
Associated Press journalists Bharatha Mallawarachi and Jon Gambrell contributed to this report.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to name a new settlement in the Golan Heights after President Donald Trump out of gratitude for the White House’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the territory.
Netanyahu was touring the Golan Heights on Tuesday and said there was a “need to express our appreciation” to the president. He says he will advance “a resolution calling for a new community on the Golan Heights named after President Donald J. Trump.”
Last month Trump officially recognized Israeli sovereignty over the territory it captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War.
Israel annexed the mountain plateau in 1981, a move unrecognized by most of the international community. An estimated 20,000 Israelis live in Golan Heights settlements, which most of the international community considers illegal.
LONDON (AP) — Police in Northern Ireland arrested two teenagers Saturday in connection with the fatal shooting of a young journalist during rioting in the city of Londonderry and warned of a “new breed” of terrorists threatening the peace.
The men, aged 18 and 19, were detained under anti-terrorism legislation and taken to Belfast for questioning, the Police Service of Northern Ireland said. The men have not been identified or charged.
Authorities believe one man pulled the trigger during the chaotic rioting that began Thursday night but had organizational support.
Lyra McKee, 29, a rising star of investigative journalism, was shot and killed, police say probably by a stray bullet aimed at police, during the rioting. Police said the New IRA dissident group was most likely responsible and called it a “terrorist act.”
The use of a firearm apparently aimed at police marks a dangerous escalation in sporadic violence that continues to plague Northern Ireland 21 years after the Good Friday peace agreement was signed. The New IRA group rejects the peace agreement.
Chief detective Jason Murphy warned Saturday that the situation on the ground has become more dangerous, even though community attitudes have changed since the peace agreement and the use of violence is viewed as abhorrent by the vast majority.
“What we are seeing is a new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks and that for me is a very worrying situation,” he said.
The riot followed a pattern familiar to those who lived through the worst years of violence in Northern Ireland. Police arrived in the city’s Creggan neighborhood to search for weapons and dissidents. They were barraged with gasoline bombs and other flying objects, then someone wearing a black mask appeared, fired some shots and fled.
No police were struck by the bullets, but McKee — who had been trying to film the riot on her phone — was hit. The journalist was rushed to a nearby hospital in a police car but still died.
Police on Friday night released closed-circuit TV footage showing the man suspected of firing the shots that killed McKee and appealed for help from the public in identifying him.
The killing was condemned by all the major political parties as well as the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland.
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said the killing was “a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland” and called for work to preserve the Good Friday peace agreement.
Some politicians believe uncertainty over Britain’s impending departure from the EU and the possible re-introduction of a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are stoking tensions in the region.
The victim was mourned by friends and the wider community. She rose to prominence in 2014 with a moving blog post — “Letter to my 14 year old self” — describing the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. She also had recently signed a contract to write two books.
Shortly before her death, McKee tweeted a photo of the rioting with the words: “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”
Her partner, Sara Canning, told a vigil Friday that McKee’s amazing potential had been snuffed out. Canning said the senseless murder “has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with.”
Catholic priest Joseph Gormley, who administered the last rites to McKee, told the BBC that the rioting was “clearly orchestrated” by a “small group of people who want to play political games with our lives.”
He said he and other community leaders had tried to talk to the dissidents without success.
The New IRA is a small group that rejects the 1998 Good Friday agreement that marked the Irish Republican Army’s embrace of a political solution to the long-running violence known as “The Troubles” that had claimed more than 3,700 lives.
The group is also blamed for a Londonderry car bombing in January and has been linked to several other killings in the past decade.
PARIS (AP) — French yellow vest protesters set fires along a march route through Paris on Saturday to drive home their message to a government they see as out of touch with the problems of the poor: that rebuilding the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral isn’t the only problem France needs to solve.
Like the high-visibility vests the protesters wear, the scattered small fires in Paris appeared to be a collective plea to the government to “look at me — I need help too!”
Police fired water cannon and sprayed tear gas to try to control radical elements on the margins of the largely peaceful march, one of several actions around Paris and other French cities.
The protesters were marking the 23rd straight weekend of yellow vest actions against economic inequality and President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which they see as favoring the wealthy and big business at the expense of ordinary workers. Protesters see themselves as standing up for beleaguered French workers, students and retirees who have been battered by high unemployment, high taxes and shrinking purchasing power.
Associated Press reporters saw a car, motorbikes and barricades set ablaze around the Place de la Republique plaza in eastern Paris. The smell of tear gas fired by police mixed with the smoke, choking the air.
Paris firefighters — who struggled earlier this week to prevent the 12th-century Notre Dame from collapsing — quickly responded to extinguish the flames at Saturday’s protest.
One masked protester dressed in black jumped on a Mercedes parked along the march route, smashing its front and back windshields.
Paris police headquarters said authorities detained 137 people by early afternoon and carried out spot checks on more than 14,000 people trying to enter the capital for Saturday’s protests.
The tensions focused on a march of several thousand people that started at the Finance Ministry in eastern Paris to demand lower taxes on workers and retirees and higher taxes on the rich.
Another group of about 200 people tried to march to the president’s Elysee Palace in central Paris, but riot police blocked them at the neo-classical Madeleine Church.
Yet another group tried to demonstrate yellow vest mourning over the Notre Dame blaze while also keeping up the pressure on Macron. They wanted to march to Notre Dame itself, but were banned by police, who set up a large security perimeter around the area.
One protester carried a huge wooden cross resembling those carried in Good Friday processions as he walked on a nearby Paris embankment.
Many protesters were deeply saddened by the fire at a national monument. But at the same time they are angry at the $1 billion in donations for Notre Dame renovations that poured in from French tycoons while their own economic demands remain largely unmet and they struggle to make ends meet.
“I think what happened at Notre Dame is a great tragedy but humans should be more important than stones. And if humans had a little bit more money, they too could help finance the reconstruction work at Notre Dame. I find this disgusting,” said protester Jose Fraile.
Some 60,000 police officers were mobilized for Saturday’s protests across France. The movement is largely peaceful but extremists have attacked treasured monuments, shops and banks and clashed with police.
The heavy police presence meant subway stations and roads around Paris were closed Saturday, thwarting tourists trying to enjoy the French capital on a warm spring day.
“Paris is very difficult right now,” said Paul Harlow, of Kansas City, Missouri, as he looked sadly at the damaged Notre Dame.
He and his wife Susan were in Paris only for a few days and didn’t make it in time to see the cathedral. On Saturday, their efforts to visit museums were derailed by closed subways and barricaded roads.
“I don’t think we’ll be back,” he said.
Other visitors showed solidarity with the yellow vest cause.
“I am not interested in joining them, but I can understand what they’re angry about,” said Antonio Costes, a retiree from the Paris suburb of Montreuil who came Saturday to see the damage to Notre Dame. “There is a lot of injustice.”
Macron had been scheduled to lay out his responses to yellow vest concerns on Monday night — but canceled the speech because the Notre Dame fire broke out. He’s now expected to do so next Thursday.
Some yellow vest critics accuse Macron of trying to exploit the fire for political gain. One protester carried a sign targeting Macron that read: “Pyromaniac – we are going to carbonize you.”
Another huge sign read: “Victor Hugo thanks all the generous donors ready to save Notre Dame and proposes that they do the same thing with Les Miserables,” referring to the famed author’s novels about the cathedral and the struggles of France’s poor.
Some prominent yellow vest figures who had stopped protesting said they were returning to the streets Saturday out of an even greater sense of being overlooked since the Notre Dame tragedy.
Anti-rich messages have flourished on social media in recent days as yellow vest protesters exhorted wealthy donors to be more generous with France’s working class.
Chris den Hond, Francisco Seco and Deborah Gouffran in Paris contributed to this report.
Read and watch all AP coverage of the Notre Dame fire at https://apnews.com/NotreDameCathedral
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Thursday that it had test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon,” its first such test in nearly half a year, and demanded that Washington remove Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from nuclear negotiations.
The test, which didn’t appear to be of a banned mid- or long-range ballistic missile that could scuttle negotiations, allows North Korea to show its people it is pushing ahead with weapons development while also reassuring domestic military officials worried that diplomacy with Washington signals weakness.
Separately, the North Korean Foreign Ministry accused Pompeo of playing down the significance of comments by leader Kim Jong Un, who said last week that Washington has until the end of the year to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement to salvage the high-stakes nuclear diplomacy. Both the demand for Pompeo’s removal from the talks and the weapon test point to North Korea’s displeasure with the deadlocked negotiations.
In a statement issued under the name of Kwon Jong Gun, director general of the American Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry, North Korea accused Pompeo of “talking nonsense” and misrepresenting Kim’s comments.
During a speech at Texas A&M on Monday, Pompeo said Kim promised to denuclearize during his first summit with President Donald Trump and that U.S. officials were working with the North Koreans to “chart a path forward so we can get there.”
“He (Kim) said he wanted it done by the end of the year,” Pompeo said. “I’d love to see that done sooner.”
The North Korean statement said Pompeo was “misrepresenting the meaning of our requirement” for the negotiations to be finalized by the year’s end, and referred to his “talented skill of fabricating stories.” It said Pompeo’s continued participation in the negotiations would ensure that the talks become “entangled” and called for a different counterpart who is “more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
In a speech at his rubber-stamp parliament last week, Kim said he is open to a third summit with Trump, but only if the United States changes its stance on sanctions enforcement and pressure by the end of the year.
Kim observed the unspecified weapon being fired Wednesday by the Academy of Defense Science, the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said. Kim was reported to have said “the development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power of the People’s Army.”
The Associated Press could not independently verify North Korea’s claim, and it wasn’t immediately clear what had been tested. A major ballistic missile test would jeopardize the diplomatic talks meant to provide the North with concessions in return for disarmament. A South Korean analyst said that details in the North’s media report indicate it could have been a new type of cruise missile. Another possible clue: one of the lower level officials mentioned in the North’s report on the test — Pak Jong Chon — is known as an artillery official.
Some in Seoul worry that the North will turn back to actions seen as provocative by outsiders as a way to force Washington to drop its hard-line negotiating stance and grant the North’s demand for a removal of crushing international sanctions. A string of increasingly powerful weapons tests in 2017 and Trump’s response of “fire and fury” had many fearing war before the North shifted to diplomacy.
Russia announced Thursday that Kim will visit later this month for talks at the invitation of President Vladimir Putin, but gave no further details. Russian media have been abuzz in recent days with rumors about the rare meeting between the leaders.
Putin is to visit China later this month, and some media speculated that he could meet with Kim in Vladivostok, the far eastern port city near the border with North Korea.
Trump said last month that he “would be very disappointed if I saw testing.” There have been fresh reports of new activity at a North Korean missile research center and long-range rocket site where the North is believed to build missiles targeting the U.S. mainland. North Korean media said Wednesday that Kim guided a flight drill of combat pilots from an air force and anti-aircraft unit tasked with defending the North from an attack.
Kim Dong-yub, an analyst from Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said North Korea’s descriptions of the test show the weapon is possibly a newly developed cruise missile. The North’s report said the “tactical guided weapon” successfully tested in a “peculiar mode of guiding flight” and demonstrated the ability to deliver a “powerful warhead.”
The analyst said the test could also be intended as a message to the North Korean people and military of a commitment to maintaining a strong level of defense even as it continues talks with Washington over nukes.
Melissa Hanham, a non-proliferation expert and director of the Datayo Project at the One Earth Future Foundation, said the North Korean weapon could be anything from an anti-tank weapon to a cruise missile.
The North said Thursday that Kim Jong Un mounted an observation post to learn about and guide the test-fire of the weapon.
This is the first known time Kim has observed the testing of a newly developed weapon system since last November, when North Korean media said he watched the successful test of an unspecified “newly developed ultramodern tactical weapon.” Some observers have been expecting North Korea to orchestrate “low-level provocations,” like artillery or short-range missile tests, to register its anger over the way nuclear negotiations were going.
North Korean officials accompanying Kim at the test included Ri Pyong Chol and Kim Jong Sik, two senior officials from the North’s Munitions Industry Department who have been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for their activities related to the country’s ballistic missile program. Ri is believed to be a key official involved in North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile development, while Kim Jong Sik has been linked to the country’s efforts to build solid-fuel missiles. The Pyongyang-based Munitions Industry Department is sanctioned both by the United States and the U.N. Security Council.
“Even if this is not a ‘missile’ test the way we strictly define it, these people and MID are all sanctioned entities for a reason,” Hanham said.
The White House said it was aware of the report and had no comment. The Pentagon also said it was aware but had no information to provide at this point. South Korea’s presidential office said it has no immediate comment. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it is analyzing the test but did not specifically say what the weapon appeared to be.
After the animosity of 2017, last year saw a stunning turn to diplomacy, culminating in the first-ever summit between the U.S. and North Korea in Singapore, and then the Hanoi talks this year. North Korea has suspended nuclear and long-range rocket tests, and the North and South Korean leaders have met three times. But there are growing worries that the progress could be killed by mismatched demands between the U.S. and North Korea over sanctions relief and disarmament.
Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former Peruvian President Alan García died Wednesday after shooting himself in the head moments after police attempted to detain him amid corruption allegations in Latin America’s largest graft probe.
President Martin Vizcarra announced on Twitter that García died after undergoing emergency surgery hours earlier. Doctors at the José Casimiro Ulloa Hospital in the capital city of Lima said they provided cardiac resuscitation three times while trying to save his life.
“Distraught over the death of ex-President Alan García,” Vizcarra wrote. “I send my condolences to his family and loved ones.”
The shocking end for the man who twice ruled Peru but more recently was ensnared in the Odebrecht corruption scandal comes amid national upheaval over endemic corruption involving nearly every former living president.
García repeatedly professed his innocence and said he was the victim of false testimony by political enemies who accused him of taking more than $100,000 from the Brazilian construction giant. Odebrecht admitted in a 2016 plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department that it paid nearly $800 million throughout Latin America in exchange for lucrative public works contracts.
The 69-year-old former head of state’s attorney accused authorities Wednesday of neglecting to provide García information on why he was being detained or show their official identifications when they showed up to arrest him.
“The president, upset over this situation, knowing his absolute innocence … had this terrible accident,” attorney Erasmo Reyna said.
Interior Minister Carlos Morán said police found García on the second floor of his home when they arrived. He asked for a moment to call his lawyer, entering a bedroom of the leafy mansion in Miraflores and closing the door behind him.
“Minutes later the sound of gunfire was heard,” Morán said. “Police forced their way into the room and found him.”
He was immediately transported to the hospital, arriving at 6:45 a.m. local time. A team of doctors, some called from outside hospitals, began operating at 7:10 a.m., according to Peru’s health ministry.
“The situation is very critical,” Health Minister Zulema Tomás said shortly after the incident. “It’s grave.”
The stunning turn of events comes four months after García tried to seek asylum in Uruguay as prosecutors in Peru investigated allegations he illegally took payments from Odebrecht. He remained there for a little more than two weeks before having his request denied. In rejecting his claim, the South American nation’s embassy said there was no evidence to support García’s contention that he was being targeted politically.
“In Peru, the three branches of government function freely and autonomously, especially in the case of judicial power,” Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez said.
Peru has gone further than any other country outside Brazil in prosecuting politicians tied to the Odebrecht probe. All but one living former head of state is being investigated for corruption tied to the scandal.
Just last week, former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was also detained for alleged money laundering tied to the probe. Congressional allies said he was taken Tuesday night to a local clinic with high blood pressure.
On Wednesday, Alberto Quintanilla, a congressman from the left-leaning political party Nuevo Peru, expressed solidarity with the family of García and said that he hoped officials “would advance knowledge of the truth” through their investigations, but also respect due process.
García was a populist firebrand whose erratic first presidency in the 1980s was marked by hyperinflation, rampant corruption and the rise of the Shining Path guerrilla movement.
When he returned to power two decades later he ran a more conservative government, helping usher in a commodities-led investment boom in which Odebrecht played a major supporting role.
A judicial order obtained by The Associated Press shows Judge Juan Sanchez ordered authorities to arrest García and search for documents in his home related to money laundering allegations.
Prosecutors suspect the former president received more than $100,000 from Odebrecht, disguised as a payment to speak at a conference in Brazil.
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May urged lawmakers Thursday to spend the upcoming Easter break to “reflect” on the need for a Brexit compromise, after a clearly frustrated European Union gave the country six more months to find a way to leave the bloc.She said doing so and passing an EU withdrawal agreement quickly would allow Britain to avoid taking part in European parliamentary elections set for late May, an unpalatable prospect to many, particularly in her Conservative Party.
May was addressing lawmakers just hours after returning from a special summit in Brussels at which the other 27 EU leaders delayed Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc from this Friday to Oct. 31.
Given that Britain’s fractious Parliament has rejected her Brexit withdrawal deal with the EU on three occasions this year, her hopes for a quick resolution could rest in large part on whether her Conservative Party-led government can find common ground with the opposition Labour Party.
The talks, which both sides call serious and constructive, are expected to continue in the coming week.
Speaking after May, the usually combative Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he welcomes indications that the government may be altering some of its long-held policies and specifically called for movement on the key issue of remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.
“The government will have to compromise,” he said, warning that any agreement would have to be entrenched because Labour has no idea who will replace May.
Without support from the Labour Party, May’s path toward actually taking Britain out of the EU remains unclear.
She is blocked by a strong faction in her own Conservative Party that hates her withdrawal deal and hopes to oust her.
May’s own authority has been gravely compromised by the long Brexit ordeal and she has promised to step down once Britain leaves the bloc — if efforts to get rid of her more quickly do not bear fruit.
Many in the left-wing Labour Party fear that May, who has indicated she will depart once Brexit is achieved, will be replaced by a staunch Brexiteer like Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary.
Faced with so much uncertainty, EU leaders whose talks went well after midnight, agreed on the Halloween cutoff date.
If no extension had been granted, then Britain faced the prospect of crashing out of the EU this Friday with no deal, a scenario that in Parliament worry would lead to a deep recession as tariffs are slapped on U.K. exports and other restrictions on trade are imposed.
“Please, do not waste this time,” European Council President Donald Tusk pleaded. He said the EU was giving Britain six more months “to find the best possible solution” to its Brexit impasse.
Like many things Brexit-related, the extension was a compromise. May came to the summit in Brussels seeking a delay to June 30. Some European leaders favored a longer extension, but French President Emmanuel Macron was wary of anything than a very short delay. May spoke to EU leaders for just over an hour, before they deliberated among themselves.
Tusk said that during the extension Britain “will continue its sincere cooperation as a full member state, with all its rights, and as a close friend and trusted ally in the future.”
This is the second delay to Brexit. Originally set for March 29, May sought an extension after Parliament’s constant rejections. The EU gave Britain until this Friday to approve a withdrawal plan, change course, seek a further delay to Brexit, or crash out of the EU with no deal to cushion the shock.
The Confederation of British Industry said the Brexit extension means an “imminent economic crisis” has been averted for now.
Pro-EU politicians said the next few months should be used to hold a new referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain. Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon said in a tweet after the extension was granted that the British people should be allowed to “decide if they still want to leave.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the time had come for Britain to decide what it wants.
“We’re giving them a very long time to take a decision,” he said.
“You know, the European Union is not a prison. Nobody has to stay but it is also a home and we are not going to kick anyone out.”
Associated Press writers Raf Casert, Jill Lawless, Mike Corder and Angela Charlton in Brussels. Danica Kirka in London, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed to this report.
Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit
CAIRO (AP) — Tens of thousands of Sudanese marched toward the center of the capital Khartoum on Thursday, cheering, singing and dancing in celebration as two senior officials said the military had forced longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down after 30 years in power.
The circumstances of al-Bashir’s apparent ouster after months of intensifying protests against his rule were not clear, however, and his whereabouts were unknown. The military told the nation to expect an “important statement” soon in an announcement on state TV in the morning.
Word of al-Bashir’s removal comes just over a week after Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power for 20 years, resigned in response to similar demonstrations. The mass protests bear striking resemblances to the popular uprisings in 2011 that swept across several Arab nations and ousted leaders in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen.
The developments raised speculation that, behind the scenes, the military aimed to install one of its one in place of al-Bashir. Organizers of the protests that have drawn tens of thousands into the streets reject that, seeing it as a way for the armed forces to keep the power that it has held under al-Bashir. Instead, they demand a civilian transitional government.
One main organizer, the Sudanese Professionals Association, said the protest leaders were in talks with the military over the transition. Sarah Abdel-Jaleel, a spokeswoman for the association, told The Associated Press they will not accept a military coup and insist on an “unconditional stepping down of al-Bashir and his regime.”
Meanwhile, the movement called on protesters to keep up the pressure by continuing their main sit-in outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum. “We are not leaving. We urge the revolutionaries not to leave the sit-in,” the association said, warning against attempts to “reproduce the old regime.”
Two officials in high positions in Sudan’s government and military, told the AP that the military was in talks about a transitional government after forcing al-Bashir to step down. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
In an apparent concession to a demand of the protesters, the National Security and Intelligence Service said in a statement that all political detainees would be released. It did not indicate when the release would take place.
Sudan’s protests initially erupted last December with rallies against a worsening economy, but quickly escalated into calls for an end to embattled al-Bashir’s rule. They gained new momentum last week after Bouteflika’s resignation.
As the Khartoum sit-in surged in size, the government responded with an increased crackdown. Security forces tried repeatedly to break up the sit-in since Saturday, in violence that killed at least 22 people.
Early Thursday morning, the military deployed to secure key sites and installations around Khartoum, witnesses said. Armored vehicles and tanks were parked in the streets and near bridges over the Nile River, they said, as well as in the vicinity of the military headquarters where the sit-in is taking place. The witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. There were also unconfirmed reports that the airport in the Sudanese capital had been closed.
Ahead of the expected army statement, Sudanese radio played military marches and patriotic music. State TV ceased regular broadcasts, showing only the statement promising the statement and urging the public to “wait for it.”
Thousands waited at the sit-in as crowds of protesters moved through the city converging on the site. The marchers waved flags, flashed “V for victory:” signs and sang and danced. Some rode on the roofs of cars, moving slowly and honking horns in celebration.
But the hours without an army statement raised fears among protesters that the military was seeking to keep its control.
“Is there an attempt to get around the anger of the Sudanese people after they failed to end the protests by violence? If so, the revolution will continue,” said Mariam al-Mahdi, of the opposition Umma Party.
Al-Bashir came to power in a 1989 coup, leading an alliance of the military and Islamist hard-liners. Since then, the military has stuck by him, even as he was forced to allow the separation of South Sudan and as he became a pariah in many countries, wanted by by the international war crimes tribunal for atrocities in Darfur.
The protests that erupted in December have been the biggest challenge to his rule. Security forces responded from the start with a fierce crackdown that killed dozens. Al-Bashir banned unauthorized public gatherings and granted sweeping powers to the police since imposing a state of emergency in February. Security forces have used tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and batons against demonstrators
The military, however, has seemed more equivocal, stating its support the country’s “leadership” and pledging to protect its “achievements” — without mentioning al-Bashir by name. Army troops have not tried to stop protests and, in some cases, appeared to offer a measure of protection for the demonstrators.
Some in the protest movement have seen that as a willingness in the military to drop al-Bashir.