In October, Ecuador acknowledged that it partly restricted Internet access for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is taking refuge at its London embassy. Ecuador has disclosed that Mr Assange had in recent weeks released material that could have an impact on the presidential election in the United States, which will take place on 8 November.
In a statement, the Ecuadorean foreign ministry disclosed that WikiLeaks’ decision to publish documents could have an impact on the US presidential election adding that the release was entirely the responsibility of the organization, and that Ecuador did not want to interfere in the electoral process. The statement went on to say “in that respect, Ecuador, exercising its sovereign right, has temporarily restricted access to part of its communications systems in the UK Embassy,” adding that “Ecuador does not yield to pressure from other countries.” WikiLeaks had earlier stated that Ecuador had cut off Mr Assange’s Internet access on the evening of 15 October. The US has denied WikiLeaks accusations that it had asked Ecuador to stop the site from publishing documents relating to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
WikiLeaks has recently been releasing material from Hillary Clinton’s campaign, including those from a hack of Mrs Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails. On 15 October, the site released transcripts of paid speeches that Mrs Clinton made to the US investment bank Goldman Sachs in the past, which her campaign had long refused to release. According to the latest leaked emails, Mrs Clinton told a Goldman Sachs conference that she would like to intervene secretly in Syria. She made the remark in answer to a question from Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, in 2013, just months after she left office as secretary of state. She also told employees of a bank in South Carolina, which had paid here about US $225,000 to give a speech, that “my view was you intervene as covertly as is possible for Americans to intervene,” adding,” we used to be much better at this than we are now. Now, you know, everybody can’t help themselves…They have to go out and tell their friendly reporters and somebody else: Look what we’re doing and I want credit for it.” The scripts revealed bantering exchanges with bank executives, which sources say may increase concerns among liberal Democrats that she is too cosy with Wall Street. The Democratic White House candidate’s camp has claimed that the cyber-breach was carried out by Russian hackers with the aim of undermining the US democratic process. Furthermore, while Mrs Clinton’s team has neither confirmed nor denied the leaked emails are authentic, there have been no indications that they are fake.
Transparency activist Julian Assange has sought asylum at London’s Ecuadorean embassy since 2012 in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault allegations.
On 26 September, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald held their first of three debates with each accusing the other and a snap poll indicating that the debate gave Mrs Clinton a boost in her chances to win the White House on 8 November
Mrs Clinton was under pressure to perform well in the wake of her bout with pneumonia and a recent drop in opinion polls. However he days of preparation appeared to have paid off in her highly anticipated first 90-minute standoff with Mr Trump, with a CNN/ORC snap poll stating that 62 percent of respondents felt that Mrs Clinton won the debate while 27 percent believed that Mr Trump was the winner.
While initially, Mr trump was strong early on, as the night wore on he appeared to become repetitive and more undisciplined. During the debate, Mrs Clinton accused Mr Trump of racism, sexism and tax avoidance, effectively putting him on the defensive. She sought to raise questions about her opponent’s temperament, business acumen and knowledge. Mr Trump, who is making his first run for public office, used much of his time to argue that the former first lady, US senator and secretary of state had achieved little in public life and that she wants to pursue policies, which have been started by President Barack Obama but which have failed to repair a shattered middle class. He suggested that her disavowal of a trade agreement with Asian countries was insincere and argued that her handling of a nuclear deal with Iran and the so-called Islamic State were disasters. In one of the more heated exchanges during the evening, Mrs Clinton accused Mr Trump of promulgating a “racist lie” by suggesting that President Obama was not born in the United States. The president, who was born in Hawaii, released a long-form birth certificate in 2011 in a bid to put the issue to rest. Only earlier this month did Mr Trump state publically that he believed the president was US-born. In a bid to get a reaction out of Mr Trump, Mrs Clinton suggested that he was refusing to release his tax returns to avoid showing Americans that he either paid next to nothing in federal taxes or that he is not as wealthy as he says he is. Mr Trump replied by saying that as a businessman, paying low taxes was important, adding, “that makes me smart.” He later stated, “I have tremendous income,” adding that it was about time that someone running the country knew something about money. Where Mrs Clinton seemed to pique Mr Trump’s ire was when she brought up his past insults about women, stating, “he loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them and he called this one ‘Miss Piggy’ and then he called her ‘Miss Housekeeping.’” During the debate, Mr Trump hinted at wanting to say something but stopped short. Afterwards, he told reporters tat he had though off raising the sex scandal involving Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who was in the audience with their daughter Chelsea. He stated, “I was going to say something extremely tough to Hillary and her family and I said I can’t do it. I just can do it. Is inappropriate, its not nice.”
After a week of shocking statements made by Republican candidate Donald Trump, new divisions have emerged within the United States Republican Party over its presidential candidate.
In the latest controversy to hit the Republican Party, Mr Trump has refused to support two senior figures within his own party. When asked in an interview for the Washington Post whether he would endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain, who are both up for re-election in November, Mr Trump replied that he was “just not quite there yet.” Both men publicly criticized him.
In recent days, Mr Trump has come under fire for criticizing the parents of a US Muslim soldier who was killed in Iraq. Speaking at the Democratic National Convention at the end of July, the soldier’s father, Khazr Khan, lambasted Mr Trump over his plan to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US. Mr Trump responded by attacking the couple. Both Democratic and Republican leaders, as well as veterans’ group, were quick to criticise Mr Trump, with the incident leading US President Barack Obama to make his strongest comments yet on Mr Trump. On 2 August, President Obama stated that “the Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president and he keeps on proving it,” adding, “the notion that he would attack a Gold Star family that made such extraordinary sacrifices, means that he is woefully unprepared to do this job.” In response, Mr Trump dismissed President Obama’s time in the White House, calling it a “disaster,” and stating in a Fox News interview that “he’s been weak, he’s been ineffective…the worst president, maybe, in the history of our country.”
Mr Trump’s campaign has been marked by a series of controversial statements, which appear to be creating further divides within his own party. On 1 August, New York Representative Richard Hanna became the first Republican member of Congress to publicly say that he would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. On Monday, Sally Bradshaw, a top adviser to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, disclosed that Mr Trump’s candidacy had convinced her to leave the Republican Party. Just days later, Republican donor Meg Whitman also announced that she has endorsed his Mrs Clinton, stating that Mr Trump’s “demagoguery” had undermined the national fabric. Writing on Facebook, Ms Whitman stated that to vote Republican out of party loyalty alone “would be to endorse a candidacy that I believe has exploited anger, grievance, xenophobia and racial division,” adding that “Trump’s unsteady hand would endanger our prosperity and national security. His authoritarian character could threaten much more.” Meanwhile senior party activist Jan Halper-Hayes has told the BBC that she though Mr Trump was “psychologically unbalanced.” Dr Halper-Hayes, vice president of Republicans Overseas Worldwide, told the BBC’s Today Programme that she was “very concerned” about Mr Trump’s behaviour, however she did not go so far as to endorse Mrs Clinton. She further stated, “I think there is an element of him that truly is psychologically unbalanced, and I feel very guilty for saying this because I’m a Republican and I want the Republican ticket to win…But Donald is out of control right now and he’s not listening to anyone.” Dozens of senior Republican party figures have already stated that they will not vote for Mr Trump. They include the party’s’ 2012 nominee Mitt Romney and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
In recent weeks, Mrs Clinton has been actively courting moderate Republicans. Furthermore the latest Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll suggests that she has extended her lead over Mr Trump to eight percentage points, from six points in the previous poll.
List of Republicans Not Voting for Mr Trump
- Barbara Bush, former first lady
- Jeb Bush, former Florida governor, 2016 presidential candidate
- William Cohen, former secretary of defense
- Jeff Flake, Arizona senator
- Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator, 2016 presidential candidate
- Larry Hogan, Maryland governor
- John Kasich, Ohio governor, 2016 presidential candidate
- Mark Kirk, Illinois senator
- Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor, 2012 Republican presidential nominee
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Congresswoman
- Ben Sasse, Nebraska senator
List of Republicans Voting for Mrs Clinton
- Richard Armitage, former deputy secretary of state
- Hank Paulson, former treasury secretary
- Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser
- Richard Hanna, New York Congressman
- Meg Whitman, party donor and fundraiser
Moldova has seen a rough start of this year as the political crisis since the voting down of the Strelet government has carried on. Large masses of people have taken to protesting what is considered political corruption and demanding new elections. In October 2015 the government, led by Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet, was voted down with a vote of no confidence. The joint motion from the Democratic Party (PDM), Party of Socialists (PSRM) and Party of Communists (PCRM) was carried after it won 65 votes in the 101 seat parliament. The no confidence motion was a response to the series of popular protests against the government accusing it of official corruption. The Moldovan government has gone through a longer period of political instability after it was discovered that 1 billion US dollars had been fraudulently siphoned from the Banca de Economii. Since 1 billion USD is the rough equivalent of 15% of the Gross Domestic Product of Moldova, the theft of this money has brought severe financial hardship to a lot of its citizens. In the middle of December last year, about two weeks after the motion of no confidence was carried, President Nicolae Timofti unexpectedly nominated Ion Sturza, one of Moldova’s former Prime Ministers, as his candidate for the head of a new government. Sturza was unlikely to get the support of lawmakers though, and a majority of the Moldovan parliament boycotted voting for Sturza’s government in early January of this year. On the 15 of January president Timofti instead nominated former technology minister and ex-candy factory manager, Pavel Filip as his candidate for the Prime Minister position. The constitution of Moldova states that the President can nominate a candidate for the post as Prime Minister, a candidate who then has 15 days to form a government and present, for parliamentary approval, a political programme. It further states that the President can dissolve the parliament and appoint early elections if no vote of confidence for the new government is agreed on within 45 days of nomination. That period would have expired on 29 January. A parliamentary vote was held on 20 January and resulted in the approval of the new government. It thereby ended the three-month deadlock between Parliament and President. The approval of the new government led masses of the population to hold large-scale protests in the streets of Chisinau and throughout the country for three days. The popular discontent has since then sparked other anti-government protests around the country but mainly concentrated to the capital area. It seems the people of Moldova refuse to accept the new government and call for early parliamentary elections. Parliamentary elections take place every four years and the next one is scheduled for 2018. Some protests have been peaceful while others have resulted in clashes between protesters and authorities. On 20 January, the day the new Prime Minister was approved and presented his new government to Parliament, hundreds of protesters were reported to have stormed the Parliament building, pushing their way through the lines of police officers trying to hold them back. 15 people were injured in these clashes, nine of them reportedly from the authorities. The government of Moldova has been viewed by many as a corrupt ruling class who prioritises their own interest over the good of the republic. This is something the common people have had enough of, and it seems the Moldovans are ready to express just how fed up they are. Experts on the matter say some Moldovans prefer pro-Russian parties as an alternative to the pro-European government, which has been in power since 2009. Some protesters have directed a lot of criticism towards the government for failing to carry out promised reform and fight the corruption that has been one of the biggest problems in the country. “There is very real anger at the Moldovan political elite,” said Daniel Brett, an associate professor at the Open University. Protests have been arranged by the pro-Russian parties of the opposition and by a civic group called Dignity and Truth. On 24 January, local police blocked access to all administrative buildings in the capital as opposition went on with its anti-government protests. The numbers were estimated to 15000, still calling for new elections and the Parliament dissolved. In a way this is similar to the situation in Kiev a couple of years back. But the political lay-out is in reverse, instead of a popular strive towards closer cooperation with the west and the EU, the current political climate of Moldova is characterized by strong scepticism towards the EU. The large numbers and the passion with which people have participated in the protests might indicate that many are willing to go far for change. The question is how far and whether or not the discontent will lead to further escalations and more violence. It would seem that the leaders of the opposition would do better to discourage violence, avert possible attempts to topple the regime, and rather take power through winning fair and democratic elections. Change of rule without the people’s consent is generally not sustainable.