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Lebanese PM-Designate Hariri Steps Down From Forming Government: "God Help This Country"; Lebanese President & PM-Designate Can't Agree on Plan for New Government, Saad Hariri Steps Down; More Troops Called Up As Military Tries to Calm Streets; Ethiopia Says It Will "Curb The Threat" From Tigray Forces; Mauritius Welcoming Travelers Via "Resort Bubble"; Caracalla Dance Theater Faces Big Challenges. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 15, 2021 - 11:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: This hour another failure to form a new government pushes Lebanon further to the brink. I'm Becky

Anderson hello and welcome back to "Connect the World".

Lebanon's Prime Minister Designate Saad Hariri announcing just a short time ago that he and President Michel Aoun could not reach agreement on what

would have been a 24 member cabinet proposal Saad Hariri submitted on Wednesday.

Well, now this is the latest in a series of failures to form a new government in a political stalemate that has dragged on for months throwing

the already very troubled nation into economic chaos with severe shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Hariri says if a new government is formed, it will be without his involvement. He says he's stepped down from his post adding God help this

country. Well, our Senior International Correspondent based in Beirut is Ben Wedeman and he is joining us now. Well the country, Ben needs all the

help it can get just explain the significance of this latest news.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the significance is that those who were hoping that somehow a government would be formed

after the last proper government stepped down on the 10th of August of last year. Those hopes have evaporated.

Saad Al-Hariri was in Baabda Palace where it's with, which is the residence of the President of the Republic for 20 minutes speaking with Michelle Aoun

the President, apparently, Aoun according to Hariri wanted modifications to his proposed 24 names on the list for the new government.

Hariri said those requests for proposals went to the heart of what he was hoping to form as a government, and therefore he has withdrawn as Prime

Minister Designate. So this country carries on with a caretaker government that is largely paralyzed because of the inability of the forces here in

Lebanon to agree on anything.

And so for instance, what we've seen, in addition to multiple blockage, you know, protests blocking roads, around Beirut and elsewhere, in Lebanon,

we've seen that the Lebanese leader just now has hit a historic low of 21,600 Lira to the dollar, it's basically lost 10 percent of its value in

the last hour and a half since Saad Al-Hariri made this announcement.

So basically, all bets are off at this point, the possibility that perhaps with the formation of a government, that aid would come to Lebanon is now

pushed back over the horizon. So the economic crisis will continue that economy between 2018, 2020 shrunk by 40 percent. It's expected to shrink by

another 6 percent this year.

Inflation for food is running at around 400 percent. There's shortage of fuel, there's a shortage of electricity for instance, in the building I

live, which has lost its generator, we only get two hours of electricity a day, people are searching all over town for baby formula for their


People are begging those who are coming from overseas to bring back medicine that is no longer available in the pharmacies. And it was hoped

that with the formation of a government, the tumbling Lebanese Lira would regain some of its value, the door would be open to international aid. All

of those hopes now have disappeared and evaporated Becky?

ANDERSON: Oh, excuse me, Ben. It's reported that Saad Hariri will discuss his failed efforts in a TV interview later tonight. This is a man who

resigned as prime minister back in 2019, following protests that we were in Beirut to cover with you.

He was reappointed a year or so later, as you rightly point out. And he said at the time, he would form a government of technocrats that would

focus on economic reforms that would unlock the billions that have been promised in aid needed to get this economy back in shape.


ANDERSON: What are the options for this dysfunctional system, this political dysfunctional system now that so many want to see the back of


WEDEMAN: Well, there is no mechanism at this point to change the system, as it exists, there will be elections next year in the spring. And the hope is

that perhaps those young, idealistic individuals who we saw taking to the street back in October 2019, in those massive protests, might have the

ability to gain some actual political power, and perhaps changed the course of this country.

But these idealists lacked the organization, the money and I must say the weapons perhaps, to make their strength felt, and therefore this country is

in limbo at this point. There's no optimism there's - that somehow, the fundamental mechanics are going to change.

So perhaps someone else will be designated as the next prime minister. In other words, given the task of forming a new government, but there's no

indication whoever that might be. And there aren't many candidates and you have to question one sanity, if one were to put oneself forward as a prime

minister designate of this country, this ship that is sinking, whether they will be able to succeed where Saad Al-Hariri and others have failed.

So really, anything's possible at this point. And people are really just giving up hope with this political system that has failed for years now, to

address Lebanon's basic problems, even before this crisis there were prolonged power cuts. The economy, for years now has been stagnating at

best and contracting in much of the last few years.

So your guess is as good as anybody else is how they're going to get out of this current mess, especially given the fact that the same people accused

of corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence are essentially the power brokers in this country of just 6 million people. Becky?

ANDERSON: Ben, thank you, I want to bring in Lebanese Politician Paula Yacoubian at this point. She's been a regular on this show throughout this

crisis, and she joins us now for more your response, firstly, to today's news, the resignation or the standing down of Saad Hariri?

PAULA YACOUBIAN, LEBANESE POLITICIAN: It wasn't really a designation, Becky. He just apologized from forming a government. For me this government

wasn't a solution anyway, because it is formed from the same political force that drove this country into this economical-meltdown.

They cannot fix what they have till now accomplished. So I think they didn't want to form a government from the first place. And when I say they,

I talk about the whole political cast the whole corruption that is running this country since 100 years, not 30, not 15 and not since the Civil War

has ended.

Since 100 years it's the same system, the same families, the same political parties, and its failure after failure. So it's true that today the dollar

is skyrocketing. Your reporter in Beirut described it very well. The country is on its knees. But I don't think having a government would have

changed a lot.

It would have been just you know, just a painkiller for a week. And then the dollar was going to again - we would have seen more devaluation, we

would have seen the same problems.

ANDERSON: Function of Lebanese politics is of course nothing new Paula; you know that better than anybody. The World Bank has described Lebanon

economic and financial crisis, as amongst the world's three worst in 150 years. And it accuses the country's political elites.

And this is the World Bank here of deliberate inaction rather, defending a bankrupt economic system, which has benefited a few the World Bank said for

so long. And it went on to say this is a recent report. This is a country on the verge of falling from a dire situation into catastrophe that

potentially has regional and global consequences. What are those consequences Paula?

YACOUBIAN: Let me tell you first that they know exactly what they have done until now. And that's why they don't want to form a government so they

won't be held accountable for all the failure.


YACOUBIAN: So since 10 months ago, since the resignation of the previous government, they didn't want to form any government, they were waiting for

international aid, again, for the help and support of the international community that is not accepting to be fooled once again, by the same

political cast.

So when they felt that there was no money coming to rescue them, again, they decided not to have to form a government. And I think until the

elections in 10 months, they will stay like this blame game, every leader of a clan will say it's not my fault. It's the other one everyone trying to

secure its base to prepare for the election.

Now for the consequences, we can see already that we are in hell, just like the president told us before that we're going to hell apparently, hell is

here. There's no electricity, no milk for babies, there's no medicine, no medication. And we are trying to fill the gap of this failing government.

Lebanon is in a very critical situation, much more than the Civil War much more than anything I've seen since I was born in. The Civil War and it's

just, you know, everything is crumbling apart. And there is no one who wants to be responsible, and in the same place, they don't want to step


They don't want to step aside; everyone is trying to use his base against the other. And now we can see the streets of Beirut also. They're cutting

the streets; it's not the revolution anymore. It's not the anti- establishment forces that are in the street. Now it's their guys who are taking over the streets.

ANDERSON: I just wonder how long Lebanon can go on you know, 10 weeks, 10 months is an awfully long time when we consider just where we have got to

so quickly and we just consider the currency, for example? You know, one has to wonder how much further things could deteriorate in 10 months before

those elections.

Look, before you were a politician. You were a journalist and you very famously interviewed Saad Hariri back in 2017 that were when he had been

allegedly detained or reportedly detained by the Saudi regime in Riyadh.

Look, you know what all of the International and erstwhile some, some would say friends of Lebanon at this point? What does Lebanon need from its Gulf

allies from its other Arab friends from the international community, including the French, the IMF and the World Bank at this point? Is it clear

what a solution would be at this point?

YAVOUBIAN: Lebanon need lots of humanitarian support, but with the humanitarian support, we need to de legitimize the corruption to sanction

them not to let them you know, travel or have assets and bank accounts, anyplace in the world.

They have to be held accountable for what they have done for this country and for the Lebanese people. We also see--

ANDERSON: Do you see - yes, Paula, let me just stop you there. Do you see that happening? Certainly the EU has threatened sanctions against those who

are it seems or deems deliberately preventing action and political change? Are you convinced that the threats will become reality at some point soon?

YAVOUBIAN: Well, for once Becky something is brewing in the international community. They're talking more and more to us. They're asking us, what

should happen for once in the country? They're taking the opposition seriously now, because whatever we told them before, now, it's happening.

We didn't predict it; we knew that this kind of governance will lead into a failed country. So yes, I think they're serious for once. I not sure

there's no clarity from the Biden Administration, what we know right now that they're talking with Iran, on Lebanon. And I really think if they - if

Iran wanted to form a government, it would have been so easy to have a government in place.

So it's not only a Lebanese, political internal issue, the Lebanese here they don't want to see a government because there's nothing they can do and

they're facing an election year where they cannot tell their people anymore we are not responsible


YACOUBIAN: So they prefer not to have a government and to go to election with their, you know, internal blame game. In the same time I'm sure there

was no Iranian pressure to do to form an election. Unfortunately, in Lebanon, nothing is purely internal.

These mercenaries political cast, most of them are mercenaries to foreign countries, and they listen to foreign countries. There was no clear goal in

the government. And if there was one, it would have been so easy to form a government and to try to manage this crisis.

We are facing the worst crisis in the history of Lebanon, and there is no management. There is no one doing his job, not the government, not the

caretaker government and not new government. No one, they're just using their - against another - sectarian sentiments again, and again, trying to

keep their base and trying to do - to go to the elections, putting the blame every party on the other party.

And I don't think fear mongering will help this time. I think people are awakened aware. And we have elections on someday for the engineers and you

will see the results. The opposition is winning by a landslide everywhere. Unfortunately, the awakening came with a very high price. But for once

Lebanese people are saying no to the old corruption.

ANDERSON: And we are just weeks away from what will be the first year anniversary of course of the dreadful port explosion in Beirut August last

year. Paula we'll speak again, no doubt and we will continue to provide some platform for this story for the sake of the Lebanese people not the

politicians but the people.

YACOUBIAN: August 4th in Lebanon--

ANDERSON: I would like to be there. Thank you.

YACOUBIAN: --because the investigation also and what's happening with the judges also surreal just like everything else in this country.

ANDERSON: Paula, thank you. That's Lebanon and we are tracking stunning story in Europe right now. Well, authorities say more than 40 people have

died in Germany and in Belgium, and dozens more are missing after what's been called the worst rainfall in 100 years.

Terrible floods is our affecting Western Europe two days of torrential downpours have turned roads into rivers and left some buildings collapsed.

German troops are being deployed to the hardest hit areas to help in rescue operations.

Chancellor Angela Merkel calls it a catastrophe and says there are people who had to climb into roofs of their homes to survive the floods. Well,

Jennifer Grey is that the World Weather Center and do just explain what is going on and what the forecast is at this point, Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, METEOROLOGIST: Well Becky, this has been unprecedented. We've had this area of low pressure that's basically just sitting over the

region, it's causing these showers and storms to what we call train which is basically they go over the same locations for hours on end and just dump

relentless amounts of rainfall.

So in the last 24 hours across Germany, Western portions of Germany, we've had over 200 millimeters' fall, and that's just in a nine hour time and so

all of that rain in just a short amount of time causes this major flooding event. And that's where you've seen those roads turn into rivers and all of

the catastrophic damage that we've seen in this region.

We also had hail reports across portions of Poland this morning. And so not only the rain, but you have the hail to deal with as well. Here is the

deadly flooding that we've seen images out of this region you can see just cars destroyed, water very, very high. And then it'll recede but then you

have all of the damage left in its wake.

Look at this streets turn into rivers in Belgium and you can see people just trying their best anything they can to get to higher ground. But you

can see all of these cars in the middle of the street, all the trash, all of the debris, and so there will be so many cleanups to do beyond this


ANDERSON: Yes, and the forecast going forward?

GRAY: The forecast moving forward does look better. We're still going to see more showers in the days ahead. But you can see this is the live radar

and a lot of the showers are slowly pushing out of Western Germany. They're just sinking down to the south.

So definitely impacting the Alps region, portions of Switzerland, getting some of these showers now, but we're not expecting the flooding to be

nearly as severe as we've seen over the past couple of days. So showers and storms will continue as mentioned.

But we are going to see them start to trail off which is good news. So maybe we won't see quite as much flooding in the days ahead. So this is the

forecast moving forward over the next couple of days. And you can see that rain basically just seen southward ever so slowly.


GRAY: So we will look and monitor for flooding in the days ahead across portions of Switzerland Austria Northern section of Italy. But as far as

Germany is concerned Poland, Belgium, it looks like those areas will be able to dry out just a bit.

So the forecast precipitation over the next three days to the south, across the Alps anywhere from 50 to 100 millimeters', but this is over a three day

span. So hopefully that rain won't fall quite as quickly as it did to the north Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, better news to come. Thank you. Well still ahead on the show, South African leaders have a plan to end what has been the worst

looting and violence in decades details on that in just a moment.

And then a little later, a combat photographer who managed to get into battle scarred Tigray in Ethiopia during an information blackout shares his

remarkable pictures and insights. And also ahead Mauritius is welcoming international travelers, but they'll have to stay in the so called resort

bubble for two weeks. We will speak with the Minister of Tourism about how that will work?


ANDERSON: The South African Defense Force is asking all of its reserve troops to report for duty, that being deployed to deal with days of looting

street violence that has crippled the South African economy. The situation does appear to be a bit calmer today as those troops began patrolling.

Official say 10,000 additional troops are put on the streets. The unrest began last Friday as a protest of the jailing of the Former President Jacob

Zuma. David McKenzie is in Durban in South Africa. And what have you been seeing on the streets today, David?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What's quite striking coming into Durban, the highways that should be very busy during rush hour, practically

empty. There are neighborhoods as you drive along the highway that are blocked off by residents put barricades they're checking every car that

come through big sign saying residents only you get the sense of the fear that people have been living here through in the last few days.

Just the aerial view of the city you see major warehouses still on fire and the government just recently a senior official saying at least 117 dead in

this horrible violence and unrest across South Africa. 91 at least in this province alone, where they say the situation is still volatile, though the

good news is it does seem that things are calming down in Gauteng Province as people just pick up the pieces of this awful looting Becky.

ANDERSON: Is it clear at this point what the root cause of this is? I mean, this initial - these initial protests, of course in demonstrations were as

result with the jailing of the former president.


ANDERSON: Is it clear what lies behind this are really?

MCKENZIE: Why do you think it has political underpinnings and the way the way that in multiple parts of two provinces there was almost simultaneous

looting, and it didn't extend just deleting there have also been commercial areas burnt down through arson as well as disruption to the port system?

I think there was coordination, we still have to tease that information out and the government says it's investigating it. There have been very

dramatic claims by some senior members of the African National Congress, the ruling party, but that will have to be investigated.

What is clear that it spiraled even more out of control and just what we witnessed were people, some of them desperate, some of them not so

desperate, taking advantage of the chaos and destroying many of the shopping malls and commercial areas in the communities in which I live,


ANDERSON: David McKenzie is in Durban for you today in South Africa thank you David. I want to give you an important update on an ongoing and major

story that we've been following for you. The Taliban in Afghanistan have captured a major border crossing with Pakistan.

This is according to Pakistani officials and eyewitnesses. This is video the Taliban released on Wednesday, showing them taking the area. A

Pakistani customs official tells CNN the insurgents did not face any resistance. Well this is the third border crossings fall into Taliban hands

since the hasty departure of U.S. combat troops from the country.

All this comes as Taliban insurgents take control of hundreds of districts across the country. We are going to keep reporting on this story fewer in

the coming weeks and months and unfortunately, possibly over the years to come.

Well up next, the Ethiopia's new warning over Tigray plus a combat photographer who has seen the war torn region up close shares his

extraordinary pictures. Plus a grim forecast from the World Health Organization deaths from COVID-19 are up after weeks of going down the

latest on the factors fueling the surge.


ANDERSON: Well, a new warning over Tigray that may spark new anxiety over the shattered region security. Ethiopia says it is determined to "Curb the

threat" posed by these great People's Liberation Front. Tigrayan forces claim they've made territorial gains in the neighboring Amhara region in

Northern Ethiopia.

Well, at the end of June, the central government declared a unilateral ceasefire a study about phasing the country's devastating eight month civil

war that unleashed dire hunger on the people of Tigray.


ANDERSON: And you're seeing there, World Food Program trucks, which are clearly designed to be in the area to feed people who the UN describe as in

famine like conditions, and I'm talking about at least 350,000 in famine like conditions and millions more going hungry.

My next guest traveled to the region during the information blackout, obtaining this rare footage in remarkable images shot for the New York

Times that you are seeing here and combat Photographer and Author Finbarr O'Reilly joining me now.

And these images, these pictures that you shot that our viewers are seeing now Finbarr are truly remarkable. Describe for your, in your words, if you

will, what you found and what these images reflect?

FINBARR O'REILLY, COMBAT PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes, I can't see the images. But if I think it's the ones of the prisoners of war being marched.

ANDERSON: Correct.

O'REILLY: Through the city of Mekelle, if I'm not mistaken, yes. So that day was, you know, several days after the Tigrayan forces had retaken the

regional capital of Mekelle. And initially, there'd been huge celebrations that the government forces had left and that the Tigray and fighters had

moved back into the city.

And then several days after that, I was out driving, having a look around. And I just saw this massive column of prisoners of war, who I initially

encountered in the mountain seven days earlier, when the Tigrayan forces were winning the battles against the Ethiopian troops.

And they told us they capture several 1000 we visited the camp where these prisoners were being held. But I didn't know that they were going to be

marched into town on that particular day. And I just saw this column that stretch for more than a mile of several 1000s.

We were told 7100 on that day, may have been closer to 6000. It's not entirely sure. But initially it was - is the Tigrayan fighters escorting

them, they've been walking for more than a day from the mountains.

And as they got into the center of town, more and more of the population crowded onto the roads onto the roadside and we're cheering the Tigrayan

fighters and during the Ethiopian troops whose eyes were downcast.

And you know, they were looking very defeated at that particular time, but there was a sense of joy relief and venting of frustration. The population

was shouting slogans, not slogans, but shouting against the Ethiopian soldiers, some of them saying that these are the ones who were attacked us

who kill their families who raped our women.

And the Tigrayan fighters were keeping some of the crowd away from the prisoners. And it was something that I've been covering conflicts for

decades. And I've never seen this spectacle quite like this. It was remarkable.

ANDERSON: And these images are really truly remarkable - at a time of an inflammation blackout, of course. What was your sense on the ground, the

federal government says that they have called this ceasefire, the - what is the situation on the ground?

Just describe specifically, aside from these POWs that you see these thousands of Ethiopian troops being, as you say, jeered by Tigrayans, who

were applauding their own forces. How would you describe the situation on the ground?

O'REILLY: Well, we were there at a pivotal moment in this conflict for eight months. The Tigrayan forces had appeared now they suffered heavy

losses at the beginning of the conflict eight months ago.

And they kind of retreated to their - minds and hideouts regrouped. And they had a massive kind of recruitment campaign that was driven largely by

the population, the popular support from villages from families and the youth really, who saw their - these many atrocities that have been

reported, massacres, mass rape, committed by the Eritrean forces who are allied with Ethiopian forces.

And there was really a sort of an uprising of support for the Tigrayan leadership. And this, you know, as we seen in Afghanistan, it's very

difficult for an army no matter how powerful Ethiopia is considered to have one of the more powerful armies in Africa.

Even a powerful army can have a very difficult time trying to defeat a guerrilla force that has popular support on the ground. And we happen to

end up there just the day after elections that were held last month.

And very quickly the tide turn, it was a very rapid shift of the Tigrayan forces gaining the upper hand, while we were in an area controlled by the

consumer enforces on June 23. We happened to be there as the shutdown in Ethiopian government plane and that may have been a turning point that

signified a victory.


O'REILLY: It was just around the corner for them. And it was several days later that the Ethiopian forces did indeed pull out of Mekelle.

And they had clearly suffered a series of battlefield losses to the Tigrayan forces. And that was illustrated by the number of POWs that were

presented to recapture from Ethiopian army as well as battlefields that we saw.

ANDERSON: Well, clearly there is no political solution on there - no solution on the ground as far as the military is concerned.

According to some of CNN sources on the ground, there is this sense of troops being marshaled in the Amhara areas and beyond foreboding some big

battles ahead. Did you see or witness anything that might support that notion when you were there?

O'REILLY: So certainly, you know, Tigray is a large region and now that what the Tigrayan forces are trying to do is consolidate their control

across that region. They control, they got control of Mekelle and the mountains around.

But the area that you're talking about is to the west of Tigray in the direction of Sudan. And that is a highly disputed area in terms of land

who, who claims the right to for the Amhara ethnic group claims that that is their land.

The Tigrayans claims that that is theirs, so there isn't these looks like a fight brewing there. And you know, the Tigrayans said that they will

continue to fight to push out the Eritreans to the north that is allied with this Ethiopian government.

They've already pushed them out of the south and then certainly would appear that there could be clashes and major battles ahead in the contested

area where the Amhara militias have really pushed out a lot of the Tigray and civilians who were in that area with a view to and that's where the

allegations of ethnic cleansing come in. This is really a disputed area in terms of who owns the land, which has the right to the land.

ANDERSON: In the past couple of weeks, the Associated Press posted photos and quotes from a young female child soldier in Tigray; these subsequently

ran in New York Times not in your piece I hasten to add.

And in response in the same - to CNN, Ethiopia's government spokesman said, and I, "There is a deafening silence by the international media to call out

a spade a spade, and hold to account the TPLF group, the exploitation of young children for political purposes and use as a human shield in active

combat remaining unaddressed by media entities that have been following in my new detail every aspect of Ethiopia's rule of law operations. And that

beckons great inquiry".

I just want to - do those pictures that we're seeing reflect what you saw on the ground. Did you witness children being used as soldiers?

O'REILLY: So yes, this is obviously you know, whenever there's a conflict like this, there's going to be both sides will want a narrative poll that

reflects their position on it. And certainly, yes, I saw in the areas where I was.

I did see children carrying weapons, I did not see children, the act engaged in fighting, we didn't see active combat. But yes, I have posted

pictures showing that. And as we know, the recruitment of child soldiers is a war crime under the International Criminal Court.

So these things exist. Whether they were fighting or not, I cannot say I didn't see that with my own eyes. I can only report what I witnessed

myself. But there are, you know, young soldiers on, and I saw very young Ethiopian soldiers as well.

And I can't say whether they're children or not, people look very young. Certainly in areas where there's malnourishment, that's possible, too. So I

don't know the specific ages that people saw, but I did see children who appeared to be very young, carrying weapons. But they were not right by the

frontlines, but I did see this kind of thing on multiple occasions. Yes.

ANDERSON: Very briefly. And finally, what is your sense just of having been on the ground and witnessing what you did, of where this country is headed

at present?

O'REILLY: It is a hugely complicated situation for the country. And you know, the Tigrayan leadership has said that they will push as far as

necessary to expel the forces that they say have been committing all these atrocities.

And that could include going as far as Asmara and Eritrea, the neighboring country. So the thing is now Tigray is located largely in terms of there's

no communication and there's no phone network. There's no internet.


O'REILLY: There's very little movement of people and supplies even for the UN and for humanitarian assistance to these hundreds of thousands, you said

or as you pointed out are suffering from hunger.

So the people that I spoke to there, it was never, from what I understood and people I spoke to that Tigrayan didn't want independence necessarily,

that wasn't something they went in seeking, but the wounds that have now been inflicted on them.

The psychological and physical wounds are so deep and so painful, that many people I spoke to there said it will be difficult for them to go back to

being part of Ethiopia as it was before.

So what is not clear is whether there can be a political solution for Tigray to remain as part of the country that it's been.

Or whether this could be leading to other things as we saw with the war between Eritrea when it's separated from Ethiopia decades ago, so that's

not clear. But certainly this is not a conflict that is over now and doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

ANDERSON: It's been a pleasure having you on sir, great to get your analysis and insight having been on the ground so recently and fascinating

to see the images that you shot while you are there, fantastic. Thank you very much indeed. We will be right back.


ANDERSON: To alarming developments on COVID-19 that affects all of us wherever you're watching in the world. The World Health Organization says

global COVID deaths are now sadly on the increase after declining for nine straight weeks.

Africa saw a total overall increase of 50 percent in the number of deaths compared to last week while in Southeast Asia the number is 26 percent,

many countries struggling with the rapid spread of this Delta variant.

Total number of people now killed by COVID-19 is more than 4 million. There's one region in particular which W.H.O says is about to reach a

critical point and it is the one that this program calls home.

Several countries in the Middle East have seen a significant increase in cases after an eight week decline and with Eid celebrations just days away,

W.H.O is warning of catastrophe. Tunisia, now re imposing lockdowns and has been appealing to Arab countries for critical aid to try to avoid disaster.

But it's very different picture on the island of Mauritius which of course depends on tourism. Today the country is reopening its borders to

international travelers. The first phase will require holiday makers to stay in one of the 14 so called resort bubbles for two weeks, sort of like

semi quarantined was earning soon.

As you can see here the country of 1.3 million people has brought a surge of infections in March back under control. Well, the country's Deputy Prime

Minister and Minister of Tourism is Steven Obeegadoo and he joins me now.


ANDERSON: Sir, thank you. Your country expects to welcome 650,000 visitors, as I understand it over the next 12 months following this reopening, how

confident are you of meeting that target?

STEVEN OBEEGADOO, MAURITIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF TOURISM: Hello and thank you for having me. I'm very confident indeed; we are

thrilled at the opportunity for Mauritius, which is a quintessential travel destination to be able to open up safely and securely to the world at


Now, we are opening up as a first phase with a formula known as the resort bubble, which means that a passenger traveling to Mauritius can board the

plane with the guarantee of all the crew being fully vaccinated, flying into Mauritius fully vaccinated front liners at the airport, driven by a

fully vaccinated driver to a resort hotel where that visitor can enjoy our golden beaches, our pristine waters and all the facilities that a hotel

would offer the exotic cuisine for a period of 14 days.

And if within that period, he chooses to fly back, he gets back to his country of origin, again having been in a fully vaccinated environment all



OBEEGADOO: And he decides to stay on that day, and of course, he can discover more of our country.

ANDERSON: I'm sure that the idea is very tempting for many people who haven't been able to travel to not only come to Mauritius, but stay on in

Mauritius after an initial two week period, I can think of a number of people, including myself, who would love to do that. Listen, this is


The tourists who travel to Mauritius mainly come from Europe, from India and from South Africa. So since traveling from India and South Africa is

now not --. You are clearly hoping to target Europeans, I guess.

Much of Europe, though has rigorous vaccination drives underway, but is still struggling with this new Delta variant. Does that not give you cause

to worry, given that you are opening your doors to both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists?

OBEEGADOO: Well, of course, of course, the risk of contamination remains a cause of concern. But Mauritius has addressed the situation differently.

When orders were opening up very early on, we chose to keep our frontiers our borders closed, to make our population safe.

And we manage that. Our success in managing COVID has been widely acknowledged by the W.H. O to World Bank. We've been commented, commended,

sorry, by President Biden himself.

And now we've reached a stage where half of our population has received a first job that is equivalent of, I would say six adults out of 10. And

another four adults out of 10 already have a second job. So we are relatively COVID safe, we would be welcoming travelers in a very safe


And our objective by September is to have two thirds of our population fully vaccinated. That is when we drop all restrictions and open up


ANDERSON: Right. And let me - let's talk about what happens going forward. Because I know that Mauritius is pushing the big pharma industry as a new

element in its economy to manufacture vaccines in Mauritius. What more can you tell us about that and how far down that route are you?

OBEEGADOO: You know, when we started vaccinating in January, we suffered as most all the countries of the global south from constraints in terms of

accessing vaccines. We were lucky initially to have some donations from India, from China, from the United Arab Emirates, and then started


And we purchased different types of vaccines and situation globally has of course, been improving. However, I mean, many countries such as Mauritius

realized that we needed to be able to have more production of vaccines in the south and COVID vaccines was the number one priority.

So Mauritius has decided to invest heavily in facilitating investment in the industry to get persons with the knowhow to come in, investors with

them know how often is going to have to come in.

And the state of Mauritius will be supporting financially. So we can soon have a pharmaceutical industry of our own not only for our country, but to

be able to help neighboring countries of the region of Africa and Indian Ocean --.


ANDERSON: Finally, here's an opportunity to entice those who are watching if they do have an opportunity to come join you. What are they going to

find? We're looking at some marvelous pictures at the moment of people kite surfing, for example, has some gorgeous sunset.

OBEEGADOO: Absolutely, Mauritius of course is known for its beaches, for its lagoons, but it's also an eco-tourism destination. It's also a cultural

destination. And this is the land that was built by immigrants. Travel and tourism, it's what defines us.

I mean, here on this piece of land, Asia Africa, Europe meant to create an exciting and extraordinarily multicultural society. Today, an open and

dynamic economy, a thriving democracy in many ways, Mauritius is unique and today at a time when luxury in times of COVID is safety.

We can offer safety and security to the traveler but the traveler is not just a tourist. Mauritius is an investment hub. We are home to global

business. We are encouraging long term stays in Mauritius.

People can work remotely retirees, students coming into Mauritius to study, so this is really a place that is welcoming to the whole wide world. And

our hospitality has been universally acknowledged as the hallmark of Mauritian avaricious as it is today.

ANDERSON: It's been a pleasure having you on sir, the very best of luck with all of this. We all hope that those who have an opportunity to travel

can travel going forward. And I'm sure many will be excited to join you at some point. Thank you so much.

OBEEGADOO: Business is now open. Thank you.

ANDERSON: Business is open, he tells us, fame Lebanese Dance Company facing maybe its biggest challenge ever that after this.


ANDERSON: Update on our top story for you before we go, the failure to reach agreement on a new Lebanese government. The president's office

tweeting this Prime Minister's refusal to make any amendments indicates his initial desire to resign.

The statement reads accordingly president - is the use of an extra day if the door for discussion is closed. And at that point, the meeting ended and

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Prime Minister designate Hariri left announcing his resignation.

That's the news in the past couple of hours. We're going to take a look at the effect of this ongoing impasse. And that's a polite term for it is

having on its citizens and Lebanese Caracalla Dance Theatre, no stranger to the struggle.

For decades its members have danced through wars, assassinations and political gridlock, but it could now face its biggest challenge, yet.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The colors, the music, the sounds, the stories of this part of the world, people come to watch Caracalla to feel united with their

country to remember their heritage.

Today from the existence of the company, we have formed a dance school that is home to over 1500 students, they come here, because they have a dream.

It's like an escape from reality, what they're living maybe on day to day, what's going on around them.

IVAN CARACALLA, DIRECTOR, CARACALLA DANCE THEATRE: Because of the pandemic, we're learning how to be adaptive; we're learning how to live with it and

how to continue our performances.

But yet again, this is proving a very difficult crossroads for us. And for the first time, we are feeling quite under threat of the possibility,

knowing what to do with the company.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I talk about my father, I'll get emotional about try not to. So Caracalla had a dream, I think he was very inspired by the

Baalbek Festival, which is one of the biggest festivals in Lebanon, that used to be the home of the biggest companies from around the world.

As a child growing up and watching this festival, he realized that why not Lebanon, why not the Arab world that has so much so much depth and richness

and its culture.

And that was his biggest drive, because back then, for a man to study choreography was not such a given in this part of the world.

CARACALLA: We comprehend to go through the Civil War, the Lebanese Civil War, where Lebanon was completely divided into so many sections. But the

Caracalla Company was allowed to perform in all the different sections, because the people came around united around the message and the identity

of this company.

Doesn't matter which side you're on. It doesn't matter what language you speak, it doesn't matter how you pray. And this was one of the successes of

the messages of Caracalla throughout over 52 years now. We've had so many obstacles in this country that we're kind of experts now, in knowing how to

keep the company together.

And that's what we face is the belief it's the dream. It's one thing to be part of something greater than them. And that's what this company offers.


ANDERSON: Dreams can be in short supply as Lebanon's now resigned prime minister said Got to help his country. I'm Becky Anderson. It's a very good