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Rebel Russian Mercenaries Barrel Towards Moscow

Mutinous Russian mercenary fighters barrelled towards Moscow on Saturday after seizing a southern city overnight, with Russia’s military firing on them from the air but seemingly incapable of slowing their lightning advance.

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Russian Mercenaries

Mutinous Russian mercenary fighters barrelled towards Moscow on Saturday after seizing a southern city overnight, with Russia’s military firing on them from the air but seemingly incapable of slowing their lightning advance.

Facing the first serious challenge to his grip on power of his 23-year rule, President Vladimir Putin vowed to crush an armed mutiny he compared to Russia’s Civil War a century ago.

The fighters of the Wagner private army run by former Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin were already most of the way to the capital, having captured the city of Rostov and set off on an 1,100 km (680 mile) race to Moscow.

Reuters saw troop carriers and a flatbed truck carrying a tank careening past the city of Voronezh more than half way to Moscow, where a helicopter fired on them. But there were no reports of the rebels meeting any substantial resistance on the highway.

Russian media showed pictures of small groups of police manning machine gun positions on Moscow’s southern outskirts Authorities in the Lipetsk region south of the capital told residents to stay home.

More than 100 firefighters were in action at a fuel depot ablaze in Voronezh. Video footage obtained by Reuters showed it blowing up in a fireball shortly after a helicopter flew by. Prigozhin accused Russia’s military of hitting civilian targets from the air as it tried to slow the column’s advance.

Prigozhin says his men are on a “march for justice” to remove corrupt and incompetent commanders he blames for botching the war in Ukraine.

In a televised address from the Kremlin, Putin said Russia’s very existence was under threat.

“We are fighting for the lives and security of our people, for our sovereignty and independence, for the right to remain Russia, a state with a thousand-year history,” he said.

“All those who deliberately stepped on the path of betrayal, who prepared an armed insurrection, who took the path of blackmail and terrorist methods, will suffer inevitable punishment, will answer both to the law and to our people.”

A defiant Prigozhin swiftly replied that he and his men had no intention of turning themselves in.

“The president makes a deep mistake when he talks about treason. We are patriots of our motherland, we fought and are fighting for it,” Prigozhin said in an audio message. “We don’t want the country to continue to live in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy.”

Prigozhin, whose private army fought the bloodiest battles in Ukraine even as he feuded for months with the top brass, said he had captured the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in Rostov without firing a shot.

In Rostov, which serves as the main rear logistical hub for Russia’s entire invasion force, residents milled about calmly, filming on mobile phones as Wagner fighters in armoured vehicles and battle tanks took up positions.

One tank was wedged between stucco buildings with posters advertising the circus. Another had “Siberia” daubed in red paint across the front, a clear statement of intent to sweep across the breadth of Russia.

In Moscow, there was an increased security presence on the streets. Red Square was blocked off by metal barriers.

In a series of hectic messages overnight, Prigozhin demanded thata Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff Valery Gerasimov should come to see him in Rostov.

Western capitals said they were closely following the situation in nuclear-armed Russia. The White House said President Joe Biden was briefed.

“This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” Britain’s defence ministry said.

“Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how this crisis plays out.”

Putin’s grip on power may depend on whether he can muster enough loyal troops to combat the mercenaries at a time when most of Russia’s military is deployed at the front in southern and eastern Ukraine.

The insurrection also risks leaving Russia’s invasion force in Ukraine in disarray, just as Kyiv is launching its strongest counteroffensive since the war began in February last year.

“Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote in a social media message. “And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain and problems it will have for itself later.”

PRIGOZHIN’S REVOLT
Prigozhin, a former convict and long-time ally of Putin, leads a private army that includes thousands of former prisoners recruited from Russian jails.

His men took on the fiercest fighting of the 16-month Ukraine war, including the protracted battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut.

He railed for months against the regular army’s top brass, accusing generals of incompetence and of withholding ammunition from his fighters. This month, he defied orders to sign a contract placing his troops under Defence Ministry command.

He launched the apparent mutiny on Friday after alleging that the military had killed many of his fighters in an air strike. The Defence Ministry denied it.

“There are 25,000 of us and we are going to figure out why chaos is happening in the country,” he said, promising to destroy any checkpoints or air forces that got in Wagner’s way. He later said his men had been involved in clashes with regular soldiers and had shot down a helicopter.

Army Lieutenant-General Vladimir Alekseyev issued a video appeal asking Prigozhin to reconsider.

“Only the president has the right to appoint the top leadership of the armed forces, and you are trying to encroach on his authority,” he said.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Kagame Dominates Election with 99.15% of Votes Counted

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President Paul Kagame has taken a commanding lead in the Rwandan presidential election, securing 99.15% of the votes counted thus far, according to the National Electoral Commission.

The provisional results, reported by the state broadcaster Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, indicate a decisive victory for the Rwandan Patriotic Front candidate.

With 79% of the ballots tallied, Kagame’s overwhelming lead leaves his opponents trailing significantly.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has garnered only 0.53% of the votes, while independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has received 0.32%.

The voter turnout has been reported at an impressive 98%, underscoring the high level of public engagement in the electoral process.

The early results suggest a strong mandate for Kagame, who has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 2000.

Kagame’s administration has been marked by significant economic growth and development, but it has also faced criticism for its stance on political dissent and freedom of expression.

Despite this, Kagame remains a highly popular figure in Rwanda, with many citizens crediting him for the country’s stability and progress.

The National Electoral Commission is expected to release the final results in the coming days. As the tallying continues, Kagame’s supporters have already begun celebrating his anticipated victory.

Analysts believe that Kagame’s likely re-election will provide continuity in Rwanda’s economic policies and development programs.

However, they also call for more inclusive governance and respect for political freedoms to ensure long-term stability and growth.

Kagame’s near-unanimous support in the early results reflects his entrenched position in Rwandan politics.

His ability to maintain such high levels of support will be a focal point of discussion in the aftermath of the election.

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Kenya Prepares for More Protests Over Unresolved Political Crisis

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Kenya is on the brink of another wave of anti-government protests as efforts to resolve the nation’s escalating political crisis appear to have stalled.

President William Ruto’s proposal for a national dialogue has yet to take off, leaving the nation in a state of heightened tension.

Activists have called for demonstrations across the East African nation on Tuesday, protesting the government’s failure to hold security forces accountable for the deaths of at least 41 people.

These casualties occurred during protests against Ruto’s contentious plan to raise taxes over the past month.

Despite the president’s announcement last week that national dialogue would commence on Monday to defuse the situation, progress has been elusive.

The main opposition party, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), expressed uncertainty regarding the proposed talks.

“We haven’t received any invitation,” ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna stated. “When called, we’ll go because we are keen on getting broad-based reforms.”

A spokesperson for the presidency indicated that parliamentary leaders were managing the planned talks, but National Assembly majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah did not respond to requests for comment.

Protests initially erupted in mid-June over Ruto’s plans to increase taxes on essential goods, including bread and diapers, aiming to raise over $2 billion to reduce the government’s budget shortfall.

The public outcry forced Ruto to abandon the proposal, but dissatisfaction remains high.

Last week, in a dramatic move to quell public anger, Ruto fired almost all his cabinet members, underscoring the severity of the discontent.

The scrapping of the tax measures is expected to widen the government’s budget deficit to 3.6% of GDP in the current fiscal year, up from a previous projection of 3.3%.

This financial strain has not gone unnoticed; Moody’s Ratings downgraded Kenya’s rating by a step to Caa1, plunging it deeper into junk status, highlighting the country’s deteriorating fiscal condition.

On Saturday, Ruto vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the recent killings. However, his efforts to address public concerns seem insufficient to stem the tide of unrest.

On Monday, he called on the Ford Foundation, an organization promoting civic engagement, to clarify its role in the protests, though the foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

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Rishi Sunak Announces Resignation Amid Labour’s Sweeping Victory

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Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced his resignation as the leader of the Conservative Party following a historic victory by Labour in the general election.

Addressing the nation from the steps of 10 Downing Street, Sunak expressed his deep regret and took full responsibility for the party’s defeat.

“I would like to say, first and foremost, I am sorry. I have given this job my all,” Sunak began, visibly moved.

“But you have sent a clear signal that the government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgement that matters. I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility for this loss.”

The Conservatives experienced a staggering loss, with more seats taken by Labour than in any previous election.

This shift marked a dramatic change in the political landscape, as large swathes of the country turned red. Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, claimed victory early Friday morning, addressing a jubilant crowd of supporters.

“The UK has the opportunity after 14 years to get its future back,” Starmer proclaimed.

Sunak, who retained his seat in Richmond, North Yorkshire, described the night as “sobering.”

In his concession, he stated, “The Labour Party has won this general election, and I have called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory. The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight; there is much to learn, and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Following his resignation speech, Sunak and his wife, Akshata, departed from Downing Street for Buckingham Palace to formally tender his resignation to King Charles III.

A spokesperson for the King confirmed, “His Majesty was graciously pleased to accept.”

Reflecting on his tenure, Sunak said, “I am honoured to have been your prime minister. This is the best country in the world.”

He also acknowledged the many Conservative MPs who lost their seats, stating, “It pains me to think how many good colleagues who contributed so much to their communities and our country will now no longer sit in the House of Commons. I thank them for their hard work and their service.”

As the Conservative Party faces a period of introspection and rebuilding, Sunak emphasized the importance of the party’s role in opposition.

“It is important that the Conservative Party now rebuilds and also takes up its crucial role in opposition, professionally and effectively,” he noted.

The leadership race within the Conservative Party is expected to commence shortly, as the party seeks to navigate its path forward after this significant electoral defeat.

For now, the UK braces for a new political era under Labour’s leadership, with the promise of significant changes on the horizon.

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