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African Start-up: A Taste Of America In Africa; Oklahoma Halts Executions After Botched Attempt; Russian Militants Seize Police Station IN Horlivka; Despite Violence, Iraqis Head To The Polls; Growing Fear in Egypt; Storms Threaten Southeastern US; Nigeria Missing Schoolgirls; Clippers Win After Owners Punished; Italian Court Explains Knox Ruling; Chemical Weapons in Syria; Scorpions Drummer Stung in Dubai

Aired April 30, 2014 - 11:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, HOST: Ukraine's military readies for action, tensions escalate in eastern Ukraine as militants step up their occupation of government buildings.

Also ahead, Iraq goes to the polls for the first time since U.S. troops pulled out. The security fears look set to impact turnout and the country's post election potential.

And the death penalty on trial in the U.S. after botched lethal injection raises more concerns about the use of the so-called triple drug cocktail.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.

SESAY: Hello everyone. Ukrainian armed forces have been places on full combat readiness, because of what the government calls threats from Russia and pro-Russian saboteurs in the eastern region.

In the latest takeover, pro-Russian militants have seized a police station in the eastern city of Horlivka.

Meanwhile, one day after seizing a government building in Luhansk, pro- Russian separatists are fortifying barricades around the facility and appear to be digging in.

Kiev admits most of the police officials in the east have failed to do their jobs to protect citizens.

Let's bring in our own Arwa Damon. She joins us now live from Luhansk. Arwa, as we said, these pro-Russian elements who seized that building on Tuesday appear to be settling in for the long haul. Describe what you've been seeing today.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, they most certainly are. And they're very confident in their positions here.

This was under the control of Kiev and around 24 hours ago it became under the control of the new authority in town who now have set up barricades, they have sandbag positions. They've sandbagged the outside of the walls. There are armed men blocking the entrance to the building.

We were allowed inside earlier today. We were specifically told, though, not to try to speak to any of the policemen who we saw inside.

Inside the building itself, there are sandbags fighting positions. More armed gunmen. And we also saaw some employees who came in seeming to be incredibly uncomfortable. None of them wanted to speak to us. One young woman telling us off camera that she was simply here to try to pick up some of her personal belongings.

As to that issue of the police force, well we did see some of them inside the building not really doing much. They are also on either side of this main street trying to direct and block traffic.

The ministry of interior building, the local one, was one of the ones that was also attacked by the pro-Russian camp yesterday. The spokeswoman coming out today saying no comment to most of the questions. But also being very critical of Kiev saying that she felt as if Kiev had abandoned them and simply called them traitors.

Around the corner, the local police headquarters where the pro-Russian camp had tried to ram a vehicle through the front door according to the ministry of interior spokeswoman, also threw Molotov cocktails over the gate. There the door was shut in our face when we tried to speak to somebody.

But all of this going to show you how as the government in Kiev has now acknowledged it itself has no control here, the takeover of these particular buildings happening in clear coordination was, according to one of the press people here, because of a deadline that had expired. They'd given the local government here an ultimatum. They want to hold a referendum, the pro-Russian camp does, and because that ultimatum had not been met they decided to take over these particular buildings.

The main regional administration building is where, for example, there are voting lists and polling station sites. They say this is their first step to ensure that that referendum does take place, Isha. SESAY: All right, well the interim government in Kiev saying -- acknowledging that they've lost control of parts of the east, but yet still putting armed forces on full combat readiness. I mean, what does that really mean, in essence. I mean, have you seen any changes in the numbers or posture of armed forces where you are? Or what are you hearing across the east?

DAMON: Well, what's interesting is that when you're in these cities where the pro-Russian camp has firmly established themselves, there aren't really any signs of the Ukrainian forces, except in some isolated areas. And in those cases, they appear to be staying well inside their own camps.

Along the Ukrainian-Russian border, you do see more of a presence. They have beefed up the border guard there. They do have paratroopers on the ground, but again maintaining a distance from the various locations or the barricades that the pro-Russian side has established.

So even if they have beefed up, even if the Ukrainian government has beefed up its presence here, it most certainly is not a presence at this stage that is on the offensive or taking any sort of concrete measures to try to reestablish the central government's authority over this part of the country.

Another quick example of something that we witnessed earlier today, a woman had a Ukrainian flag in her hand and she was trying to set it on fire. A man came, grabbed it, ran away with it. He was quickly tackled as he was shouting please don't take it away from me. It's a sin to burn this.

But no one who was around him came to his assistance. No one was able to stop the burning of that flag from taking place.

So it's very clear that this lawlessness is only deteriorating and getting worse by the day, Isha.

SESAY: Yeah, these are extremely tense times there in the east. Arwa Damon joining us there from Luhansk. Arwa, thank you very much.

Well, in the last few minutes, polling stations have closed across Iraq. The country is holding parliamentary elections amid the worst sectarian violence in five years. The very act of going out to cast the ballot takes immense courage, because it carries so much risk. Seven people have been illed today. And at least 65 people lost their lives in attacks on polling places and political rallies earlier this week.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is facing stiff competition to win a third term in office.

Well, let's go to Baghdad for the latest now. Prashant Rao is Baghdad bureau chief for Agence France-Presse. He joins me now.

Prashant, given the rapidly increasing violence we've seen on this day and leading up to the election, give us your thoughts on how the day has played out. What have you seen?

PRASHANT RAO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE: Well, basically there ahs been a lot of violence, especially in the north and west of Iraq, but Baghdad and the south of the country has been largely peaceful and incident free in terms of security.

So far, we've tracked quite a bit of (inaudible) in the west. We tracked 53 mortars, roadside bombs, suicide bombs, or sound grenades. And those are principally used not to inflict casualties, but to intimidate voters from going to the polls.

Given that, turnout has been according to diplomatic sources, fairly reasonable. There hasn't been an official turnout number released so far, but at the moment diplomatic sources that turnout at midday was at about 40 percent.

SESAY: All right, Prashant Rao joining us with the very latest there from Baghdad. Prachant, we appreciate it. Thank you so much.

We will bring you much more on this story in about 10 minutes right here on Connect the World.

We're going to take you to the flashpoint city of Fallujah and explore why it has once again become a haven for hard line jihadist groups.

We also delve deeper into Iraq's enormous security challenges and how that's impacting its oil bounty and economic growth.

Now, a new battle is brewing over the death penalty in the U.S. after a botched execution in the state of Oklahoma. A reporter and others who witnessed the execution of convicted killer Clayton Lockett say he convulsed and writhed on the gurney after the state used a new lethal drug combination. He eventually died of what's believed to be a heart attack more than 40 minutes after he was first injected.

Well, the governor has ordered an investigation and halted executions for two weeks. CNN's Justice correspondent Pamela Brown joins me now with more.

Pamela, what do we know about this drug cocktail was used here and how this turned out to be such a fiasco?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that three drugs were used. And it's all under investigation, Isha. Authorities are looking into what caused the botched execution, whether it was the way the drugs were administered or the combination of drugs. And the inmate who died had recently lost a court battle to find out the source of the drugs used in his execution. Last night, witnesses say they watched in horror as he seemingly struggled to talk well after he was given the lethal chemical cocktail.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was struggling to talk but those were the words we got out, "Man, I'm not -- and something's wrong."

BROWN (voice-over): They may be the last words spoken by Oklahoma inmate Clayton Locket, uttered during his botched execution. Lockett's vein exploded during the lethal injection, prompting authorities to quickly halt the procedure.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was my decision at that time to stop the execution.

BROWN: The first drug in the lethal injection cocktail is supposed to render a person unconscious but witnesses say Lockett was still conscious seven minutes after that first injection. At 16 minutes, he seemingly tried to get up and talk. It was then that prison officials closed the blinds, shutting out the media gathered to witness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't know what was happening on the other side of the blinds. We didn't know if he was still dying or if they were still pumping drugs in him.

BROWN: 43 minutes after the first injection, Lockett died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The inmate suffered what appears to be a massive heart attack and passed away.

BROWN: Lockett and Charles Warner, the inmate set to be executed after Lockett Tuesday, both convicted of rape and murder, were at the center of a court fight over the drugs used in their execution. Oklahoma's high court initially stayed their executions only the lift the stays last week, saying the men had no right to know the source of the drugs intended to kill them.

DAVID AUTRY, CLAYTON LOCKETT'S ATTORNEY: They wanted to hurry up and get it done with as little transparency as possible. There should not be another execution in this state until there's a full investigation into what went wrong.


BROWN: And Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallon ordered an investigation into the incident and issued an executive order granting a two week delay in executions. And interesting to note here, Isha, Oklahoma is one of several states here in the U.S. that has been fighting to keep information about suppliers of lethal drugs confidential.

SESAY: And Pamela, I think it's important that we dig a little deeper for our international viewers, and given some context as to why we're seeing such disarray or such -- the fact that we're seeing the application of the death penalty result in these very long tortuous deaths of these inmates. Give us some insight into what is going on, because it has a lot to do with these chemicals and access to the drugs.

BROWN: Right. It's very controversial. In fact, the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't signed off on these drugs to be used for lethal injection. So it's controversial in that way. And it's really up to the state to decide how they want to handle these executions. And so that's really what you're seeing here. And we have -- you know, the constitution here in the U.S., the eighth amendment, which bans cruel and unusual punishment, so that's really at the heart of this debate over this recent case, Isha.

There's no doubt about it, this inmate committed heinous crimes. We're talking kidnapping, rape, murder, robbery, those kinds of things. But at the same time, you have the constitution. And the way -- clearly something went wrong and we have an imperfect system here.

And so this debate will continue, no doubt about it.

SESAY: Yeah, no, indeed.

And what do we see as the implications in what has happened during this execution of Mr. Lockett? I mean, going down the road, what are we seeing in terms of the groundswell here in the United States in terms of, you know, abolishing the death penalty across the board. Do we think this will help that case?

BROWN: You know, advocates -- or I should say those against the death penalty hope that it will, certainly. And they're speaking out, saying, you know, the state committed a sin by the way that they handled this execution. But it's really too early to tell. We know that the U.S. Supreme Court did not take up two cases this year that had to do with execution. So it's an issue that we could see picked up in the highest court in the land down the road, but at this point it hasn't.

Interesting to note, though, Isha the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that stay on the execution for this inmate last week and then that's why you saw the execution happen last night. So it's very -- you know, it's a hotly debated topic and this is only adding fuel to the fire.

SESAY: Yeah, it is indeed. Our Pamela Brown joining us there from Washington. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Now this is one of the most read stories on our website right now. And many of you are using it to voice our opinions on the death penalty in general. Some are saying convicted murders get what they deserve, others that governments must be more humane than the prisoners they incarcerate, however heinous the crimes.

Read more about what happened, and of course join in on the conversation. It's all at

Still to come, voters in the world's largest democracy cast their ballots in several key states. Details ahead.

And in Egypt, upcoming elections are overshadowed by crackdown and a climate of fear. We will hear from one man who is hiding from a death sentence. Stay with us.


SESAY: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me Isha Sesay. Welcome back.

Let's return to Iraq where it has been a turbulent election day. Despite a high security presence, the day was marred by violence. At least seven people were killed in attacks targeting polling stations.

This is the nation's first nationwide election since the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011. Sectarian violence is at its most intense in more than five years.

Well, Iraq's prime minister Nouri al Maliki is battling for a third term in office, but he is facing fierce opposition and criticism of his handling of security.

Senior international correspondent Arwa Damon explains what is at stake.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the city that US forces wrested from al Qaeda ten years ago, Fallujah. Now, the black flag that instilled so much terror flies here again. The Islamic State of Iraq in Syria, ISIS, more powerful and menacing than ever, has seized the city.

Fallujah is in Iraq's Sunni heartland. Peaceful protests here against Iraq's predominately Shia government were violently suppressed on the orders of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

KIRK SOWELL, POLITICAL RISK ANALYST: So, there is a very real terrorist threat. The problem is the manner in which Prime Minister Maliki has conducted the war. It has just been unduly polarizing and extremely divisive.

DAMON: Divisions which have fueled the violence. Iraq has seen a surge in car bombing, assassinations, suicide attacks. Violence reaching levels not seen since 2008. As this man said, "We depend on God each time we leave the house, because you don't know what fate holds for you."

And fate continues to fail Iraq. As the nation readies itself for the first parliamentary election since the US occupation ended, Maliki's party still strong. The prime minister is seeking a third term, appealing to his Shia base.

SOWELL: Maliki was taking a more nationalist position in 2010, and at the same time, among those who are either Sunni Arab or secular Shia, there was less polarization, so things are definitely worse in terms of the overall environment. And then, of course, the security environment is substantially worse than it was in 2010.

DAMON: And it's not just security that is in shambles. Iraq's oil output may be at its highest in more than 30 years, but basic services remain a mess, with little of that oil wealth reaching the country's citizens, lost in a web of corruption and politics.

The optimism that followed Saddam Hussein's overthrow now a distant memory. With little hope that elections will change things for the better, Iraqis continue to endure another dark chapter in their history.

Arwa Damon, CNN.


SESAY: Well, as Arwa mentioned there, security and stability remain key issues in Iraq despite all output reaching some of its highest levels. For more on Iraq's energy potential, our emerging markets editor John Defterios joins us now from Abu Dhabi to discuss this in more detail.

And John, we see the violence and attacks on a daily basis. How do they impact the number one cash earner: their oil production?

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isha, it's almost like we have two parallel worlds in Iraq right now. One, in and around the major cities like Baghdad and where we saw the violence today and one in the energy fields where security is at a premium, and that's because Iraq has aspirations to try to catch up with Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production over the next 10 years.

This is where we are in 2014. Let's take a look at some of the numbers here. They're claiming proven reserves right now of 140 billion barrels. I've even seen higher estimates. So that would put them in the top 5 around the world.

February production hit a 35 year high of 3.6 million barrels a day. It's dropped off a little bit in the last month, partially because of the concerns going into the election. But this is the aspiration number there in the third line. By 2020 they want to produce 9 million barrels a day.

The original target, Isha, was for 12 million barrels a day. They've had to come down on that number here, because of the lack of security and the lack of foreign direct investment.

Now going forward, this is very interesting, the Iraqi people have complained despite huge budgets of $140 billion by Nouri al-Maliki, they're not seeing this trickle down to society. It's just one indicator, and something Arwa was talking about in her report, the unemployment rate officially at 11 percent, but you speak to anybody in Iraq that follows the country they say it's at least three times that. So we're looking at unemployment of 30 to 40 percent on the ground. This has been the frustration for the last 10 years in Iraq and particularly after the last two years of the troops pulling out by the United States.

SESAY: I wanted to look at the one region which seems to hold the most promise in terms of oil, southern Iraq. What are you finding there?

DEFTERIOS; Well, we have almost every major oil producer on the ground in southern Iraq, but oil is a very divisive issue. I'll just give you one item that's indicates the political gridlock that we see in the country. They've had a petroleum law to kind of govern how they divide the oil revenues there in the country.

It's been on the table, believe it or not, since 2007. And they have been unable to pass it.

Now having said that, in southern Iraq where they have this huge oil bounty, we see BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Lukoil of Russia all making big investments.

I spoke to the president of Lukoil overseas today. They put $4 billion into that field already and have plans to put ten times that amount over the next 10 years.

Now having swept the fields of the landmines and putting in their own security, they're suggesting that the situation has stabilized. Let's take a listen.


ANDREY KUZYAEV, PRESIDENT, LUKOIL OVERSEAS (through translator): Security is a priority for us. Up to date, we have had zero cases of kidnapping and zero cases of terrorist attack in our contract area. We know these are hard times for the Iraqi people. We think that stability in the country is better.


DEFTERIOS: Better, but of course you wouldn't get the same response from the Iraqi people, Isha. And they're very frustrated by the level of corruption. By Transparency International's measurements, Iraq actually dropped in 2013, ranking 171 out of 175 countries polls, so still a huge problem on the ground. Back to you.

SESAY: Very much so. A long, long way to go. Our John Defterios joining us there. Thank you, John.

We're live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World. Coming up, as Syria's president begins his run for reelection, a chemical weapons expert says he has proof that the Syrian government is still using chemical weapons.

And in Egypt, there's growing fear among Muslim Brotherhood members after a court sentenced hundreds to death this week, we will hear from one man in hiding.


SESAY: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Isha Sesay. Welcome back.

A fusion of traditional Senegalese food with modern American cuisine, now that truly is a Global Exchange. In this week's African Start-Up, we bring you a unique restaurant that has found the right recipe for success.


MAWA HUGHES, RESTAURANTEUR: Hi, my names is Mawa Hughes. This is my husband James Hughes, we started an American restaurant in Dakar, Senegal. Come on in.

I was born here. I went to the U.S. in the 80s to attend school and eventually I wanted to come back and see what I could do in the food market.

You see Senegalese specialties and American specialties.

SESAY: Mawa hopes her multicultural cuisine appeals to all taste buds. They opened their doors last October under the name Mawa Foods Taste of America. So far they're certain about their menu, but not so sure whether the name exactly defines their culinary characteristics.

HUGHES: I don't know what the name could be, because if we say African- American it's confusing. So we definitely combine the names, but the name hasn't hit yet.

Egg and sausage and grits. Chicken and waffles, thank you.

SESAY: A Senegalese-American restaurant is a unique concept in Dakar. Mawa caters to both locals and expats like her husband.

HUGHEST: Banana nut caramel pancakes, yay. Banana nut pancake in Dakar.

My husband always complained of the breakfast quality here. So he was like, why don't we make a restaurant doing breakfast eventually created the concept and sure enough it was a very big buzz around.

Senegalese are more conservative, you have to convince them, you have to. But as soon as they start eating it now you have people coming. You have Senegalese family coming to join, which is great.


What people love is chicken and dumplings. They love chicken and waffles. They love shrimp and grits. I mean, you can't expect that in Dakar, that's what they always tell me.

We do burgers. The theory (ph) is one big profit making here, but we can't complain. It's really going well.

The biggest challenge is the supply, finding the right ingredient.

The basics you can find here, it's getting much better.

SESAY: When Mawa lived in the U.S., she started a Taste of Africa Restaurant in the state of North Carolina, bringing Americans many different African dishes to enjoy. And she plans to cook up some more cross-continental cuisine across Africa.

HUGHES: In the future, I want to see Taste of America in Gambia, in Ivory Coast, in -- all other stable African counties. I think it could be something where you combine both cultures, which could be a good offering to either like expats or the locals.



SESAY: This is CONNECT THE WORLD. The top stories this hour. Pro-Russian separatists have taken control of more government facilities in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Luhansk and Horlivka. Meanwhile, Ukraine's armed forces have been placed on full combat readiness to deal with what the government called the threat from Russia and pro-Russian militants.

Oklahoma is halting executions for two weeks to investigate the botched execution of Clayton Lockett. The convicted killer was left writing on the gurney after the state used a new controversial drug combination. Forty- three minutes after the lethal injection, Lockett died of what's believed to be a heart attack.

Teenagers who survived the ferry disaster in South Korea have paid tribute to classmates who lost their lives. In Ansan, where the students went to high school, about 70 survivors gathered at a memorial site on Wednesday. More than 300 teens were on a school trip two weeks ago when the ship sank.

Polling stations have closed across Iraq in the first nationwide election since US troops withdrew in 2011. It comes amid the worst sectarian violence in five years. At least seven people have been killed today in attacks targeting polling stations.

Now, elections are also underway in India as it continues its multistage vote. About 140 million people were eligible to vote across nine states today, including Gujarat, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. The BJP's Narendra Modi voted in his home state of Gujarat, and election results are expected May 16th. Well, Sumnima Udas takes a look, now, at some of the major issues in India's election.


SUMNIMA UDAS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A controversial day in round seven of India's nine-stage national elections. The man who could be the country's next prime minister, Narendra Modi, landing in trouble with the election committee after casting his own vote in his home state of Gujarat.

He made a speech, he took a selfie, and then he flashed his political party, the BJP party symbol, the lotus flower. We cannot show the video because it violates India's election rules, which prevent canvassing near polling stations and TV campaigning on election day.

The election commission has directed police to file a criminal complaint against Modi. The controversy aside, Modi's rise is no ordinary feat. From tea seller to prime ministerial candidate, he has ruled Gujarat since 2001 as chief minister, credited with turning it into one of India's most successful states.

Big corporations in particular a keep supporter of Modi's business-friendly economic policies, but to his critics -- and he has many -- Modi did not do enough to stop Hindu-Muslim riots in his state in 2002. More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed. He denies the charges and has not apologized.

This election year, though, the main issues on voters' minds, the economy and corruption. To his supporters, Modi personifies everything that perhaps India's prime minister for the past decade, Manmohan Singh, was not -- strong, decisive, and effective.

There are still 17 days to go before the results are known, but there's a lot of excitement here, some 139 million people are eligible to vote on this round on Wednesday.

Sumnima Udas, CNN, New Delhi.


SESAY: Joining me now is more on what's at stake in India's election. Milan Vaishnav is in Washington. He's an associate in the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Thanks so much for your time today.

We just heard our correspondent talking about the key issues at stake here, the economy and corruption. Give me your sense of what's at stake with this vote.

MILAN VAISHNAV, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: There's no question that the number one issue on voters' minds this election year in 2014 is the economy. It's issues related to the sagging levels of economic growth, very pesky high inflation, which people feel reflected in the price of food, for instance, and corruption. And this present government, on all three scores, has performed very poorly, especially in the last two years.

SESAY: With so many people going to the polls, 814 million eligible voters, help us understand people's motivations. Where does caste, religion, and age all fit into this? Give me your perspective on their level importance in the selection.

VAISHNAV: I think this is one of the most important elections India has seen in at least 30 years. I think people feel that the country is heading in the wrong direction. There's an incumbent party, the Congress Party, which has bee in power since 2004.

It is being very strongly challenged by the opposition BJP, led by their prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, who is the sort of very powerful leader of the state of Gujarat, where he's been chief minister since 2002.

And he has been campaigning explicitly on the economy. And he has really been taking the message to the voters of India saying, if you vote for me, I will do what I've done in my own state, which is create jobs, bring in investment.

And issues of caste, religion, they have been a factor. They've been a factor particularly in the northern parts of the country, which are critical battleground states the BJP has to pick up. And so we've seen a lot of mobilization, despite the talk of development, on caste and communal lines, in UP and Bihar in particular.

SESAY: OK. And as we talk about BJP which, according to the data we'd seen leading up to this election, was going to emerge victorious at the polls, what would an India with Narendra Modi at the helm look like? What does it mean for the country?

VAISHNAV: Well, I think Narendra Modi's vision economically is to bring the markets back in and to reduce data intervention in the economy, to make India more hospital to foreign investment, to make it much easier for people to do business.

I think he is much less inclined -- and his party is much less inclined -- to expand the entitlement regime that this present government has been put into place.

I think in foreign policy, he's talked a lot about increasing India's stature in the world, being much tougher in its relations with China, for instance, with Pakistan, which have been two perennial problems in Indian foreign policy. So, a more muscular India.

I think that the priorities at the end of the day, though, have to be developmental. They have to be at home, they have to be getting the economy back on track, and that's going to be job number one, job number two, and job number three.

SESAY: Yes, indeed. And before I let you go, I've got to ask you, when we're talking about such numbers going to the polls, how smoothly has this gone to date?

VAISHNAV: The elections have actually gone remarkably smoothly. There have been a couple of incidences of booth capturing, by which people have used force to capture election machines. In those places, there have been re- polls.

There have been some attacks by national insurgents in certain parts of the country. But when you think about putting on an election for 850 million people across jungles, deserts, glaciers, and everything in between, I think that the election commission of India deserves a lot of credit for pulling this off.

SESAY: Yes, remarkable undertaking. Milan Vaishnav with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, really appreciate your insight today. Thank you.

VAISHNAV: Thank you.

SESAY: Well, India is just the biggest player in a much wider exercise in democracy that has swept the world in April. With 814 million potential voters going to the polls on the subcontinent, the planet really has never seen anything like it.

Afghanistan's 12 million voters are getting set for a runoff election between two presidential candidates after the first round of voting failed to produce a winner. After years of political and social turmoil, there are many issues on the electorates' minds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I have to choose one, I would choose corruption. Corruption is a huge problem in our government right now, and once the government starts addressing those issues, like corruption, I believe everything would start getting better.

The security of the construction, the roads, the AMA, the ALP, everything. School education, everything will get on track once the corruption is solved.


SESAY: Hungary's 8 million are -- re-elected, I should say, Prime Minister Viktor Orban for a third term. But gains by a far-right party are a cause for concern.

Indonesia, like India, has a huge and diverse population, with all hoping the country meets its potential on the world stage. Among the 187 million voters, one issue stands out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the government must put the unemployment issue on top of the priority by improving the quality of education and human resources so more opportunities are available and equal to everyone.


SESAY: Some Algerians felt the result of their election was predetermined, and those opposition supporters boycotted the ballot, 21 million were eligible to vote.

Finally, Iraq, as we've explained this hour, has been hit by security fears. More than anything, voters there want a united country.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should end the sectarian divisions in Iraq, because there is a noticeable division between the sect -- among the sects and parties, ethnic groups. For example, Kurds and Arabs, or Sunnis and Shias.

So, these are main problems in Iraq, and I think the next government should give priority to those issues and work to solve those issues.


SESAY: Let's turn to Egypt, now. And it is gearing up for a presidential election next month, and there are some serious questions being raised about just how free and fair that vote will be.

Just this week, an Egyptian court issued death sentences to the leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood and hundreds of the group's supporters in another mass trial. It is the latest move in a crackdown on the Islamist movement.

And that crackdown has many Muslim Brotherhood supporters fearing for their lives. Let's bring in Reza Sayah. He spoke to one man who was sentenced to death. Reza joins us from Cairo. And Reza, there are fears among some that Egypt is returning to a police state.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what a lot of rights activists are concerned about, Isha. Remember, back in 2011, so many Egyptians fought for democratic values, basic human rights, due process rights. But many here are concerned that those values and rights are being undermined, and they say one of the most troubling signals are the staggering numbers we're seeing.

Over the past ten months, 16,000 people arrested, more than 2,500 people killed. This week alone, more than 600 people were sentenced to death. Many say these numbers show that a crackdown on dissent is underway. And for many, staying here in Egypt is simply not an option.


HOSAM (ph) SHABIB, EGYPTIAN REFUGEE: In my country, I would be imprisoned for 25 years or hanged.

SAYAH (voice-over): On a grainy video call from a secret location, Hosam Shabib can't stop telling me how much he misses Egypt and his family.

SHABIB: I miss Egypt. I miss my wife, I miss my children.

SAYAH: For more than a month now, Shabib, a medical doctor, has been hiding from Egyptian authorities. Coming back home means facing a death sentence in the notorious mass trial, where Shabib says he and hundreds of others were falsely accused of killing a police officer. His aging father wonders when he'll see his son again. "I can't stop my tears from rolling," he says.

Ismail Sarwant (ph) was also sentenced to death. He, too, is hiding. This is his worried son, Mohamed. Ahmed el-Vorani (ph) is also on the run. This is his wife. This, his baby girl.

"My children are waiting for him to show up," she says. "Every time they hear a motorbike, they think it's him."

SAYAH (on camera): These days in Egypt, hundreds are in hiding, many others afraid to speak out because of what rights groups call a growing climate of fear.


SAYAH (voice-over): The fear and silence followed the ouster last year of former president Mohamed Morsy. Within weeks, security forces had killed more than 1,000 Morsy backers and arrested thousands of others in the first signs of a crackdown on dissent.

Soon, authorities outlawed protests without government permission and set up hotlines for Egyptians to report anyone they deemed suspicious.

SAYAH (on camera): Be careful what you say in public is the warning that quickly spread. "We used to say, 'God is watching,'" says Hanaa Gemal. "Now we say, 'security is watching.'"

The arrests and convictions kept piling up. In January, when three young men put up posters against the new constitution, they were arrested and convicted of disturbing the peace. Journalists, locked up with little or no evidence.

Rights groups say hundreds of children have been illegally detained, many allege torture, claims the government denies. The arrests and the new laws, they say, have all been aimed at bringing stability. When secular activists spoke out, they, too, were arrested, including many faces of the 2011 revolution.

HANY EL GAMAL, PRO-DEMOCRACY ACTIVIST: They are trying to frighten ordinary people.

SAYAH: Fear of prison and a death sentence has kept Hosam Shabib underground, and cost him his medical practice.

SHABIB: There is no justice in our country.

SAYAH: Until he sees change, Shabib says, he'll stay in hiding from a country he fears is returning to a police state.


SAYAH: Hosam Shabib obviously wouldn't tell us where he is, but he did acknowledge that he's out of the country, and he says he's planning to find a job there and to settle down. We should point out that he was convicted and sentenced in absentia, and that means, that according to Egyptian law, he could come back and face a new trial. Essentially, that sentence would go away.

But Isha, he has so little trust in the judiciary and the legal system that he says he's staying put unless he's convinced that significant change has taken place here in Egypt.

SESAY: Our Reza Sayah, there, joining us from Cairo. Reza, appreciate the reporting, thank you.

Live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Explosions and deaths still a daily occurrence in Syria. Now, there's a new claim about chemical weapons use there.


SESAY: You're watching CNN and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Isha Sesay. Welcome back everyone. We want to bring you up to date with other stories we're following for you this Wednesday.

Parts of the US are bracing for more violent weather. Torrential rain has caused flooding in parts of Florida and Alabama today. That after violent weather earlier this week unleashed more than a dozen tornadoes in the South and Midwest, 36 people were killed in 6 US states since Sunday.

We're watching the streets of Abuja, Nigeria, where a massive march is expected to get underway. Activists and angry parents are demanding the government do more to find scores of missing girls abducted from their school two weeks ago. The government is blaming the Islamic militant group Boko Haram.

The Los Angeles Clippers are celebrating a big win even thought he future ownership of the team is in doubt. The National Basketball Association has banned owner Donald Sterling from the NBA for life after a recording of him making racist comments surfaced. Commissioner Adam Silver says he'll urge the league's owners to force Sterling to sell the team. No response yet from Sterling.

An Italian appeals court is explaining why it reinstated the murder conviction of American Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend. The court says the evidence indicated more than one person killed British student Meredith Kercher.

The ruling judge said Kercher and Knox disagreed over rent for the house they shared and that the argument escalated. A trial court convicted Knox and her ex-boyfriend in 2009 in Kercher's death. Those verdicts were overturned two years later.

Now, Britain's "Telegraph" newspaper is reporting that it now has conclusive evidence that the Syrian government has been using ammonia and chlorine chemical weapons against civilians in recent weeks. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon is a chemical weapons expert involved in the testing. He joins us by Skype from Wilshire in the UK. Thank you so much for your time today.

Break it down for our international viewers what evidence you have to support your conclusion that the Assad regime is using chemical weapons against its people.

HAMISH DE BRETTON-GORDON, CEO, SECURE BIO: Well, first of all, I've been involved in and out of Syria for the last two years, and I have been trying to get samples out from the very first sarin attacks in (inaudible) in May last year.

After the devastating attack in Ghouta on the 21st of August, where 1400 people died, I then (inaudible) be introduced to a number of activists and the charity No Peace Without Justice organized some training for activists on the Syrian border in October, which I helped out with.

And that was to allow them to take forensically pure samples if chemicals were ever used again so that they could be quickly brought to the international community, who could then take action.

Mid last week, one of my contacts got in touch with me and told me that he had full forensic, legally-binding evidence from the alleged chlorine attacks in Kfar Zeita on the 11th and the 18th of April, and also from Talmenes.

Therefore, with my colleagues at the "Telegraph," we decided to try and recover these samples and get them independently tested as soon as possible. And I flew out to the region at the weekend and we took the samples under our control on Sunday and analyzed them on Monday and found traces of chlorine in the samples, and also ammonia.

But also, very importantly, too, a lot of other supporting evidence that led us to believe that also the casualties who were interviewed, the ones particularly before they died, confirmed what had happened, and the doctors treating them confirmed that they had died from chlorine poisoning.

SESAY: OK. And for our international viewers who may remember the attack you spoke of back in August, we saw the pictures and we know of the hundreds that lost their lives. In these recent cases that you describe of use of chemical weapons, talk to me about the impact, the casualty numbers, and just the physical effects of using this kind of stuff on individuals.

DE BRETTON-GORDON: Well, the casualties are much less, thank God. However, I know, talking to civilians in Syria, they are absolutely petrified by their use. Chlorine is not illegal under the chemical weapons convention, however, it was the first chemical weapons ever used in the first World War in Ypres in 1915.

Therefore, Assad did not have to declare any chlorine that he owned and did not have to give it up, as he's given up most of the rest of his chemical weapons. And that -- it's a gray area in the law. However, if he used any sort of toxic chemical to try and injure or kill somebody, that is against the law in every legal court in the land, and it's against the law in the chemical weapons convention.

Chlorine basically is a choking agent, and once you breathe it in, it mixes with the fluid in your lungs. The water creates hydrochloric acid, which then burns your lungs.

And "The Daily Telegraph" were just about to publish a second article about three people who were affected, two who sadly died, now from the attack on the 21st in April in Talmenes, clearly showing the destruction it has done to their lungs from the chest x-rays and the testimonies before they died and also the testimony from their mother, who has happily survived, but obviously, she sadly lost two children.

SESAY: All right, Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a chemical weapons expert involved in the testing there in Syria. Hamish, we appreciate your time and your perspective. Thank you so much. We'll continue to follow the story. Thank you.


SESAY: Coming up after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, how one 80s rock star got stung when misbehaving in the Middle East. That is coming up next.


SESAY: You're watching CNN, and this is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Isha Sesay. Welcome back everyone.

Do you remember the band The Scorpions? They had a global smash with "The Winds of Change." Well, the drummer was in the United Arab Emirates recently, and let's just say rebellious rock star behavior and the Middle East don't always mix. Leone Lakhani explains.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The allure of Dubai, with its luxury hotels, beaches, and bars, has long run the risk of a culture clash with its more conservative Islamic side.

And James Kottak, the 51-year-old drummers with 80s rock band The Scorpions, apparently clashed with police at Dubai Airport earlier this month when he pushed local tolerance to the limit. Media here in the UA report the musician was under the influence when he arrived on a plane from Moscow on April 3rd.

A passenger services agent is quoted as saying Kottak verbally insulted Muslims and flashed his middle finger. Other witnesses say he removed his trousers. Kottak denies those claims.

The Scorpions star does, however, admit to being drunk in public, and that in itself is enough to land you in jail here in Dubai. The UAE penal code established the authority to imprison people for a period of one to six months. Kottak received just the minimum, a sentence the local Gulf news describes as lenient.

The case serves as a reminder that while Dubai has done much to Westernize its image, certain behavior can get you in trouble wherever you go.

Leone Lakhani, CNN, Dubai.


SESAY: Oh dear, oh dear. I'm Isha Sesay, and that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching.