Briefing: New Kenya election date, Trump talks less tough in NKorea, Kurds push on

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  • Kenya’s electoral commission has announced that the re-run of its presidential election will be held on 26 October. Yesterday the country’s Supreme Court gave its reasoning for voiding the elections from early August, won by incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Explaining the reasoning behind the decision, which made it the first court in Africa to nullify an election result, the Supreme Court criticised the commission for announcing results before verifying them.
  • President Donald J. Trump has continued to create headline on his fourth day at the UN General Assembly. Softening the stance he took on Tuesday when he warned that the U.S. might be forced to “totally destroy” North Korea, he said today that his administration is ready to toughen sanctions against the hermit kingdom. Trump also met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who told reporters that his U.S. counterpart was supportive of proposals to put UN peacekeepers along Ukraine’s border with Russia.
  • Syria’s Kurds will hold elections tomorrow in defiance of Bashar Al Assad as the Syrian autocrat seeks to reassert control over his country. According to Reuters, the vote is not part of a call for total independence from Damascus but is part of a movement for greater autonomy. In contrast, their allies in Iraq are preparing for a referendum on secession from Baghdad on September 25 that has been criticised by most governments in the region and by the U.S.


  • Iraq has launched an operation to take back Hawija – one of the last two areas in the country still held by Islamic State militants. A US-led multinational coalition is carrying out air strikes in support. The United Nations has warned that an estimated 85,000 civilians living in Hawija are at extreme risk.
  • Catalan leaders have said that a referendum on independence is unlikely to go ahead as planned for 1 October. Spanish police raided local government offices and arrested officials in a bid to prevent the referendum, which the government in Madrid has called illegal.
  • The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has found that about 15% of peers in the UK’s House of Lords did not speak in the chamber for at least nine months. Peers can claim up to £300 per day for turning up to the upper chamber but do not have to contribute or vote to get that allowance. The ERS’s conclusions have been challenged by a House of Lords spokesman, who says they failed to factor other work conducted by peers.


  • North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, has described U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s debut speech to the UN “the sound of a barking dog”. His comments follow Trump saying that if forced the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea.  Ri Yong-ho is set to make a speech to the UN on Friday.
  • According to the Guardian, South Korea has approved humanitarian aid to North Korea days after the UN security council agreed further sanctions in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear test. South Korea’s unification ministry has agreed to provide aid for the first time in nearly two years. They plan to spend $8 million on medical supplies through UN programmes. This goes against the U.S and Japan’s foreign policy, which regards engagement with North Korea as conceding.
  • Buddhist protestors throwing petrol bombs have attempted to stop a Red Cross aid shipment from reaching internally displaced Rohingya in Myanmar. About 200 police were needed to break up the protests. Government-led persecution of the Rohingya has forced an estimated 420,000 to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.
  • Social media company Twitter is meeting a U.S. Congress Intelligence committee next week in relation to possible links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.


  • Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google, acquired HTC’s pixel smartphone in a $1.1 billion deal, in efforts to expand its reach into the smartphone technology.
  • Puerto Rico has been left without power and several people are dead after Hurricane Maria swept through the Caribbean. Abner Gómez, head of Puerto Rico’s disaster management agency, said none of the country’s 3.5m residents had power. The US National Hurricane Center said “catastrophic” flooding was sweeping parts of the island.
  • Rescuers in Mexico City are desperately searching for a young girl caught in the rubble of a school that collapsed in the wake of a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The efforts come 24 hours after the quake that left more than 200 people dead. Full story here.
  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang could become an olive branch in helping unite North and South Korea. Speaking to CNN, the president said despite no North Korean athlete having qualified there could be a wildcard entry. “I hope that North Korea will also participate, which will provide a very good opportunity for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation,” he said.

What we are reading and watching

  • Germany’s elections have not stirred up much controversy, with Angela Merkel appearing to be marching toward a fourth term. Buzzfeed has a piece on the AfD, the rhetoric of its supporters and the significance of the return of a nationalist party to mainstream German politics. – Jack Barton
  • This expansive multimedia report looks at the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico and whether it is even possible. Journalists travelled the length of the border, speaking to locals and documenting each step. USA Today’s search for answers became this landmark new investigation called “The Wall.” – Charles Anderson
  • In the most detailed study ever of fatalities and litigation involving police use of stun guns, Reuters finds more than 150 autopsy reports citing Tasers as a cause or contributor to deaths across the United States. – Charles Anderson
  • The feeble response of ruling politicians to the devastating 1985 Mexico City quake sparked a grassroots movement to challenge corruption and secure low-cost housing. This report from the Guardian looks back at how that event helped shape the city.
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