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Opposition liberals surge ahead in Slovenia election: Exit poll | News



Projections show the opposition Freedom Movement winning 35.8 percent of the vote compared with 22.5 percent for the ruling conservative Slovenian Democratic Party.

A liberal party led by political newcomer Robert Golob leads Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s conservatives in parliamentary elections, according to an exit poll, amid concerns over rule-of-law issues in the deeply polarised European Union member.

Freedom Movement (GS) garnered 35.8 percent of the vote, compared to 22.5 percent for three-time prime minister Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), according to the poll conducted by the Mediana polling agency and published by public broadcaster TV Slovenia and commercial Pop TV on Sunday.

If confirmed in an official tally, the result would mean that the Freedom Movement, a newcomer in the election, stands a better chance of forming the next government in a coalition with smaller centre-left groups, a blow to Jansa, a populist who has been accused of pushing the country to the right while in power.

Higher-than-usual turnout marked the parliamentary election in Slovenia, reflecting strong voter interest in the race between the ruling right-wing populist party of Jansa and opposition green liberals in the politically divided nation.

Members of the liberal Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda) celebrate after exit poll results
Members of the liberal Freedom Movement party celebrate after exit poll results [File: Jure Makovec/AFP]

Nearly 50 percent of Slovenia’s 1.7 million voters had cast ballots by mid-afternoon, according to state election authorities.

If the trend were to continue throughout the day, it would mean that some 15 percent more voters turned up at the polling stations compared with the previous election in 2018.

Observers had predicted a tight race between SDS and GS, which led the polls ahead of the vote for the 90-member legislature.

Pre-vote surveys predicted that no single party would be able to form a government on its own and that after the vote, a coalition government would have to be formed, made up of at least three or four parties.

Leader of Gibanje Svoboda (Freedom Movement) Robert Golob
Golob appears on screen at the party base as people cheer while waiting for the results of the parliamentary election in Ljubljana [Borut Zivulovic/Reuters]

“Today is an important day as these elections decide how Slovenia will develop not only in the next four years, but in the next decade,” Jansa said as he voted on Sunday.

“Expectations are good.”

Jansa became prime minister a little over two years ago after the previous liberal incumbent resigned.

Golob has the backing of several centre-left opposition parties with whose help he could be able to form a majority in the 90-member parliament.

Analysts have given Golob a better chance than Jansa of forming a post-election alliance with the centrist and left-leaning groups that pass the four percent election threshold.

Jansa’s SDS won the most votes in an election four years ago, but couldn’t initially find partners for a coalition government.

Slovenian Prime minister Janez Jansa and his wife Urska Bacovnik Jansa vote
Slovenian Prime minister Janez Jansa and his wife Urska Bacovnik Jansa vote at a polling station [Borut Zivulovic/Reuters]

He took over after legislators from centrist and left-leaning groups switched sides following the resignation in 2020 of liberal Prime Minister Marjan Sarec.

Jansa has since faced accusations of sliding towards authoritarian rule in the style of his ally, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Jansa came under EU scrutiny amid reports that he pressured opponents and public media, and installed loyalists in key positions for control over state institutions. Liberals have described Sunday’s election as a referendum on Slovenia’s future.

The Freedom House democracy watchdog recently said that “while political rights and civil liberties are generally respected [in Slovenia], the current right-wing government has continued attempts to undermine the rule of law and democratic institutions, including the media and judiciary.”

The 63-year-old political veteran Jansa has denied this, portraying himself as a victim of an elaborate leftist smear plot.

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At least 10 dead in US supermarket shooting: Reports | News



Buffalo police confirmed the shooter was in custody in a tweet, but they did not identify the suspect.

A gunman sporting a rifle and body armour opened fire in a supermarket in the US city of Buffalo, New York, killing at least 10 people before being taken into custody, law enforcement officials said.

Details on the number of additional people shot on Saturday at the Tops Friendly Market and their conditions were not immediately available.

“Ten people were killed by a gunman dressed in body armour and armed with a high-powered rifle, while three others were wounded – two of them critically,” The Buffalo News reported citing a police official at the scene and another source close to law enforcement.

Investigators believe the man may have been live-streaming the shooting and were looking into whether he had posted a manifesto online, a police official told the Associated Press.

The official cautioned that the investigation was in its preliminary stages and that authorities had not yet discerned a clear motive, but were investigating whether the shooting was racially motivated.

The supermarket is in a predominately Black neighbourhood, about 3 miles (5 kms) north of downtown Buffalo. The surrounding area is primarily residential.

Buffalo police confirmed the shooter was in custody in a tweet, but did not identify the suspect. Police officials and a spokesperson for the supermarket chain did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Braedyn Kephart and Shane Hill, both 20, pulled into the parking lot just as the shooter was exiting. They described him as a white male in his late teens or early twenties sporting full camouflage, a black helmet and what appeared to be a rifle.

“He was standing there with the gun to his chin. We were like what the heck is going on? Why does this kid have a gun to his face?” Kephart said. He dropped to his knees. “He ripped off his helmet, dropped his gun, and was tackled by the police.”

Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz were at the scene late Saturday afternoon, gathered in a parking lot across the street from the Tops store and expected to address the media.

Governor Kathy Hochul tweeted that she was “closely monitoring the shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo,” her hometown.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office said on social media that it ordered all available personnel to assist Buffalo police.

The shooting comes little more than a year after a March 2021 attack at a King Soopers grocery in Boulder, Colorado, that killed 10 people.

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Nigeria: Curfew declared in Sokoto after student killing protests | News



Deborah Samuel was beaten and burned by fellow students for alleged blasphemous statements about the Prophet Muhammad.

The governor of Nigeria’s Sokoto state has declared an immediate 24-hour curfew to quell protests demanding the release of suspects in the killing of school student Deborah Samuel.

Samuel was beaten and burned by fellow students on Thursday for alleged blasphemous statements about the Prophet Muhammad in a Whatsapp group.

Protests have erupted following the police arrest of two students and a search for other suspects who appeared in footage of the gruesome murder of Samuel, a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, which circulated on social media.

The governor said in a statement on Saturday that the curfew applies to the state capital, Sokoto city.

“Everyone should, please, in the interest of peace go back home,” Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said.

Earlier in the day, hundreds of people demonstrated in the city over the arrest of the students following the murder, residents said.

In the early morning, youths took to the streets, lighting bonfires and demanding the release of the two detainees despite the deployment of police officers to maintain order, residents said.

Some of the protesters besieged the palace of the Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, the sultan of Sokoto and the highest spiritual figure among Muslims in Nigeria who has condemned the killing and demanded those involved face justice.

Map of Nigeria showing Sokoto state [Al Jazeera]

“It was more of a riot by a mob of young men and women who were demanding the release of the two people arrested over the killing of the Christian student,” Sokoto resident Ibrahim Arkilla told AFP.

“The crowd … were also demanding the police stop the manhunt for those identified to have taken part in the killing,” said Arkilla, who witnessed the protests.

A large number of protesters besieged the palace of Abubakar, said resident Bube Ando, who lives near the palace, adding that police first tried to ask the protesters to leave.

“Policemen and soldiers who stood outside the palace hurled tear gas canisters and fired into the air and succeeded in dispersing the crowd,” he said, without giving details about whether anyone was hurt.

The protesters retreated downtown where they attempted to loot shops belonging to Christian residents but were again dispersed by security patrol teams, said another resident Faruk Danhili.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has strongly condemned the murder of the student.

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We need to show Israel the time for accountability has arrived | Opinions



Israel should not be allowed to whitewash the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh with yet another sham ‘investigation’.

The only possible response to the hasty offer Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made to the Palestinians to conduct “a joint pathological investigation” into the killing of renowned Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh can be rage.

Such “investigations” conducted by Israel serve not to uncover the truth but to bury it, not to establish accountability but to preserve impunity, not to indict the perpetrators but to protect them.

That the offer for a “joint investigation” into the killing of Abu Akleh came directly from Foreign Minister Lapid – and was later repeated by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – speaks to the magnitude of Israel’s concern about the public relations crisis it is now facing. Such offers for “investigation” and “analysis” are normally left to lower-ranking officials in Israel’s whitewash apparatus.

Indeed, Israel only engages in such high-level whitewash if it believes the killing of a Palestinian can damage the country’s image. Otherwise, it doesn’t even bother with such empty gestures.

B’Tselem tried in good faith to engage Israel’s domestic investigation mechanisms for decades. Over the years, we have made hundreds of applications to relevant authorities for cases of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces to be investigated, but meaningful accountability was never realised. Six years ago, we concluded that what we were dealing with is not merely a dysfunctional investigation mechanism but an organised, systemic whitewash operation. As a result, we made the decision to continue our work on such killings – but without ever engaging in Israel’s so-called “investigations”.

Israel’s investigation mechanism is clearly a charade. Even if an investigation into the killing of a Palestinian at the hands of Israeli forces is opened, it almost never conclude with someone being charged. The entire mechanism is a charade because its flaws are, in fact, its essential features – the ones that enable it to deliver impunity. To begin with, the army is tasked with investigating itself. Soldiers are typically interviewed without being challenged, almost no effort is made to collect external evidence, and “investigations” are drawn out for years. On top of all this, even the sham described above is directed only at low-ranking soldiers – those who make the policies that enable soldiers to pull the trigger on Palestinians never face any scrutiny.  All this, despite in many cases fatalities being caused not because of any deviations from the policies of the Israeli military but the criminal policies themselves.

Take, for example, the cases of Israeli snipers shooting at unarmed Palestinians at the Gaza fence during the Great March of Return demonstrations. Israel conducted “investigations” into certain specific cases of shooting by snipers. But no one investigated – and no one in Israel will – the rules of engagement themselves.

Israel’s military advocate general – the very same person in charge of Israel’s military investigations – is tasked with giving the green light for such policies. Thus, obviously, nobody is being held to account for giving snipers those flagrantly illegal orders.

Israel needs impunity to maintain its apartheid regime.  It cannot maintain control over a subjugated population without state violence.  Thus it is essential for the regime to provide itself with blanket impunity – while performing what looks like investigations, to appease international expectations.

Impunity paves the way for more killings. Don’t fall for Israel’s propaganda, its promises to “investigate”. Israel will not hold itself to account, just like its apartheid regime won’t dismantle itself. International stakeholders who do not call this out simply cast themselves as a cog in Israel’s whitewashing machine. The grotesque US pressure on Palestinians to accept a “joint” investigation and the statement by US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides vaguely “encouraging” an investigation, only demonstrates the extent to which the Biden administration continues to serve as such a cog.

Shireen Abu Akleh once said while it “might not be easy to change reality”, she could at least bring “the voice of the people to the world”. To keep that voice alive, to honour her legacy and to demand justice, please: Say no to Israeli propaganda, view reality with clarity, and demonstrate to Israel that the time of accountability has finally – even if belatedly – arrived.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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