Egypt Independent: World-Main news en Red Cross: Two killed in Burundi protests against president <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Police in Burundi&#39;s capital Bujumbura shot dead two people on Sunday who were taking part in protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza&#39;s seeking a third term, the Burundi Red Cross said.</p><p>&quot;We counted two protesters killed by police, four others were injured and one is in a coma in hospital after being hit by a bullet,&quot; Alexis Manirakiza, spokesman for the Burundi Red Cross, told Reuters.</p><p>Earlier riot police used water cannon, tear gas and in some cases live bullets to scatter demonstrators, a day after Burundi&#39;s ruling party nominated Nkurunziza as its presidential candidate. The constitution limits leaders to two terms in office.</p> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 14:10:00 +0000 Reuters 2448720 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/26/499612/burundi_protests.jpg Chernobyl nuclear disaster - 29 years later <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>According to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), only two accidents in history can be classified as level 7 events: the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and the Chernobyl power plant explosion, which took place 29 years ago, on April 26, 1986. Whereas the partial nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima&#39;s six reactors occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by a powerfule earthquake,&nbsp;the fire at the Ukrainian power plant, the world&#39;s worst nuclear accident in terms of death toll, was caused by human error.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>Facility operators, in violation of safety regulations, had switched off important control systems at the plant&#39;s reactor number four, allowing it to reach unstable, low-power conditions, according to an official report issued by UNSCEAR in 2008. The sudden power surge led to a series of explosions, sending a cloud of radioactive dust across northern and western Europe, affecting mainly Ukraine and neighboring Belarus. The risky experiment caused dozens of plant staff to die on the spot or immediately afterwards in the hospital, due to severe radiation exposure. Hundreds of thousands of rescue workers, including army conscripts, were sent to the accident site to put out the fire and build a concrete shell around the damaged reactor &nbsp;- &nbsp;the &quot;Sarcophagus&quot;, which still shields the remains of the explosion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Soviet authorities, however, had initially attempted to conceal the accident from the world&#39;s public opinion. Only on April 28, after alarming radiation levels were detected in Sweden, did the Soviet Union publicly admit the explosion had occurred. Also, in spite of the high risk of potentially lethal radiation sickness, the authorities did not begin to evacuate citizens of the nearby town of Pripyat until over 36 hours after the accident. The residents, who were being transferred by buses to the nearby Kiev Oblast, were instructed to only carry the most vital items with them, as they did not expect to be out of the city for more than three days. As a result, the ghost town of Pripyat, as well as other municipalities in the 30 km &quot;exclusion zone&quot; still holds the remains of the everyday life the way it was in 1986, as few residents have ventured back into the area due to the government-imposed ban.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In total, approximately 115,000 people were evacuated and subsequently relocated from Pripyat and the surrounding cities, causing vast economic losses for the entire region. However, the death toll and the ultimate health impact of the radiation, according to official estimates, have been lower than those initially expected and are still a subject of debate among international expert bodies. The highest figure offered by the environmental group Greenpeace reaches as many as 93,000 cancer deaths worldwide, whereas Ukranian NGOs claim almost 734,000 people died as a result of post-accident radiation wthin the last 29 years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As for the environmental impact, scientific assessments show that, except for the highly contaminated exclusion area surrounding the reactor, radiation levels in the three most-affected countries have mostly returned to acceptable levels, as confirmed by the WHO report entitled &quot;Chernobyl: the true scale of the accident.&quot; Although the psychological impact of the accident has been disastrous, and in spite of the fact that those exposed are still at increased risk of radiation-induced effects, &quot;the vast majority of the population need not live in fear of serious health consequences due to the radiation from the Chernobyl accident,&quot; UNSCEAR report states.&nbsp;</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 13:23:00 +0000 Julia Haremska 2448723 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/26/501271/cher.jpg Turkish Cypriots pick new leader ahead of planned peace talks <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Turkish Cypriots voted for a new leader on Sunday in a closely fought election pitting the conservative incumbent against a leftist who promises to inject new impetus into stalled peace talks on the divided island.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some 177,000 voters in northern Cyprus face a choice between conservative Dervis Eroglu or left-wing independent Mustafa Akinci as they vote for a president to handle negotiations on a peace deal with Greek Cypriots.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We have reached the end of a marathon. Today is an important date for the Turkish Cypriots. When the time come for a real change, no power can stop that change,&quot; Akinci told reporters as he cast his ballot.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In the first round of voting on April 19, Eroglu received 28.4 percent and Akinci 26.8 percent. Akinci&#39;s bid to win the run-off has been boosted by support from socialist candidate Sibel Siber, who polled third in the first round.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It was unclear how a 40 percent abstention rate in the first round could swing the vote on Sunday. Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT, with unofficial results expected by 1700 GMT, two hours after voting ends.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974, triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Its lingering division is a source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and also weighs on Turkish relations with the European Union, where Greek Cypriots represent the entire island.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We&#39;ve suffered a lot in the past. We don&#39;t want our children to suffer as well,&quot; said Huseyin Sefketoglu, 80, as he cast his vote on Sunday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Reunification talks have limped on for years, leaving Turkish Cypriots in political isolation and tens of thousands of Cypriots on both sides internally displaced.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The United Nations says it expects talks to restart after a six-month hiatus next month.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Eroglu, 77, who was elected five years ago, said this would be his last campaign.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It has become a political tradition to say I&#39;m against a solution, but I am the one who has taken negotiations to the trade-off stage,&quot; he told local TV.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Akinci, 67, has worked closely with Greek Cypriots in the past and says he will actively pursue confidence-building measures with that community if elected. That includes potentially returning Varosha, a ghost town whose Greek Cypriot inhabitants fled from advancing Turkish troops in 1974.</div> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 11:07:00 +0000 Reuters 2448697 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/19/501271/cyprus.jpg Kazakh leader sails to re-election with 'stability' mantra <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev was set to renew his 26-year grip on power on Sunday, offering the multi-ethnic Central Asian state economic and social stability in return for what rights groups call systematic suppression of opposition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nazarbayev, 74, officially titled &quot;Leader of the Nation&quot;, called presidential elections more than a year early in a move that could quash any speculation about a successor. He faces no real challenge from the other contenders, a low-profile Communist Party functionary and a loyal ex-regional governor.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Upbeat and smiling, the former steelworker appeared confident of his landslide win as he voted in his futuristic capital Astana.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I am confident ... Kazakhstanis will vote for stability in our state, to support the policy which the country has so far been following under my leadership,&quot; he told reporters after casting his ballot at polling station No. 81 in central Astana.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I am confident people will vote for their future and the future of their children, for our flourishing Kazakhstan.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nazarbayev has promoted market reforms and, with the help of more than US$200 billion in foreign direct investment, turned his steppe nation into the second-largest economy in the former Soviet Union and the biggest former Soviet oil producer after Russia.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kazakhstan has built good ties with neighbours Russia and China and developed warm relations with the United States and the European Union.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As the vote started at 7 a.m., queues for ballots formed quickly at the polling station in the cavernous Schoolchildren&#39;s Palace, where Nazarbayev voted later.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I voted for our beloved Nazarbayev, of course,&quot; said Vera Kalinina, a 68-year-old pensioner, as joyous Kazakh songs blared from loudspeakers.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;He gave us everything - pensions, free medications, we have food. What else do we need? God give him good health.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Democracy can wait</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Stable in a region that has been troubled by ethnic violence and includes Afghanistan, Kazakhstan has been criticised by the West and human rights bodies for crackdowns on dissent. No election held here has yet been given a clean bill of health by monitors.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Most of Nazarbayev&#39;s vocal critics have either been jailed or fled the country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The biggest challenge to his authority has been a riot in the western oil town of Zhanaozen and a nearby village in 2011 where police opened fire, killing at least 15 people.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A prominent opposition leader was jailed after the Zhanaozen riot, which the authorities described as an attempted coup to topple the government.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Now there is no united force which could resist today&#39;s regime,&quot; opposition activist Amirzhan Kosanov told Reuters. He said he had not voted.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We do not plan any rallies,&quot; he said. &quot;This election is a staged show and buffoonery.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nazarbayev&#39;s references to conflicts in some parts of the former Soviet Union appeal to many of his young compatriots who have grown up knowing no other leader.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We all voted for Nazarbayev, because he is our true leader. We have got used to him, we trust him, There will be stability with him,&quot; said Dina Dosmukhanova, a 20-year-old foreign languages student who voted in Kazakhstan&#39;s financial centre and biggest city, Almaty.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;There will be no revolt here - like in Ukraine, for instance,&quot; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nazarbayev, a former member of the Soviet Union&#39;s ruling Politburo, says before launching democratic reform, he aims to build a strong state and ensure prosperity for a population including Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians, ethnic Germans and Tatars.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With the same mantras of stability, inter-ethnic harmony and social cohesion, he won nearly 96 percent of the vote in the previous election in April 2011.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As of 2 p.m., 68.48 percent of Kazakhstan&#39;s 9.5 million eligible voters had cast their ballots, the Central Election Commission said. Voting ends at 8 p.m. local time.</div> Sun, 26 Apr 2015 10:55:00 +0000 Reuters 2448696 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/04/26/501271/nazarbaev.jpg