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Russia Getting Around Sanctions By Plundering Sudan's Gold; Grain Exports Still On Hold One Week After Deal Between Russian And Ukraine; Police Battle Armed Groups In Haiti's Port-Au-Prince; Democracy In Arab Spring's Only Success Hanging By A Thread. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 10:00   ET




NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: The reason they're so nervous, Al-Solag is a front for the Russian company

Meroe Gold. Wagner is still operating illegally. A foreign company pretending to be Sudanese to evade U.S. sanctions.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: New exclusive reporting on the lengths that Russia is going to evade U.S. sanctions and fund its war on

Ukraine. Plus.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Downtown Port-au-Prince just a latest part of the city where gangs have laid siege. Roughly 75 percent of the city is

either under the control of various gangs, or in the crosshairs of ongoing gang violence.


ANDERSON: Gun violence is surging in Haiti. What the authorities are doing to try to stop it. And.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Analysts say this new constitution could unravel the political gains made by Tunisia over the last decade.


ANDERSON: Critics fear expanding presidential powers will end democracy in Tunisia.

It's 3:00 p.m. in London. Hello, and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you.

While Russia wages war on Ukraine, its tentacles reached far and wide, having a more insidious but still devastating effect thousands of miles

away. In an exclusive report, CNN can reveal how Moscow stopped democratic change in Sudan, one of the world's biggest exporters of gold. Russia has

been illegally exploiting and smuggling this resource from Sudan for years. Well, now it's using those riches to replenish its war chest.

CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team traveled to the north of Sudan to show how Russia manipulates the Sudanese military governments and how it is using

front companies to get around U.S. sanctions, to hold on to the gold.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Deep in Sudan's gold country, miners toil in the searing heat barely surviving in what should be one of Africa's richest

countries. Providing gold for a war a continent away.

We investigate a force more powerful than Sudan's government, controlling its gold. Subverting Sudan's destiny. Threatening me and our sources. And

thwarting democracy to evade sanctions in Russia's war on Ukraine.

(On-camera): Russian managers on his way, they say.

(Voice-over): We uncover the extent of Russia's grip on Sudan.

For millennia, Sudan has produced some of the most sought after gold in the world. And Putin's private army, the notorious paramilitary group Wagner,

knows it.

(On-camera): Sudan's government is denying Wagner's existence in the country, but we're not buying it and we've come to investigate.

(Voice-over): Wagner's tentacles stretch right across Africa. We have discovered some of its most notorious operatives are working on Sudan.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, Mikhail Potepkin, Prigozhin's head of Sudan office, and Alexander Sergeyevich Kuznetsov, Wagner's key

enforcer, previously convicted of kidnap and robbery, working with this man, Sudanese general, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemedti, in a quid pro

quo for training and weaponry.

We traveled 200 miles north from the capital Khartoum to gold country to take a closer look at Wagner's main moneymaker, artisanal gold. Miners

bring rocks they extract here to be processed. 85 percent of Sudan's gold is produced artisanal.

(On-camera): This right here, it may not look like much. This is what's left after the rocks that the miners have brought in is milled. Now,

they've taken what they can out of it, but this gets sold. And when it's properly processed, with someone who has superior technology, you can't

make 10 times what those miners over there are making.


(Voice-over): Ten times more money without any of the backbreaking work. And the only foreign processing plant operational in Sudan is Wagner's

Meroe Gold, despite a Sudanese law limiting ownership to locals. Also troubling, Meroe Gold was sanctioned two years ago by the United States for

exploiting Sudan's natural resources and spreading their malign influence around the globe.

According to the Sudanese government, they officially ceased operations, but they are still here, still evading sanctions. We verified their

location with coordinates provided by Sudanese anti-corruption investigators, and head there to see for ourselves. As we approach the red

flag of the former Soviet Union blows in the wind. Increasingly used by Russian nationalists, it brazenly marks the Meroe Gold compound. A Russian

tanker sits next to it. We get to the entrance and decide to ask a few questions but not before we turn on our covert cameras.

(Through text translation): Is this the Russian company?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): Yes.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Well, that's convenient, they've just confirmed the Russians are at this location.

(Through text translation): We are journalists from CNN. I'd like to see the Russian manager. We'd like to ask him some questions.

There is a black pick-up approaching. OK. The guard just confirmed that the Russian manager is in that black pick-up and is on his way to us.

(Voice-over): A Russian van races to the office but no one seems to be coming over.

(On-camera): Seems the Russian manager has changed his mind.

(Voice-over): But others turn up instead.

(Through text translation): I'm sure you've already been shown our permission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through text translation): But we are a Sudanese company. It's a company called Al-Solag.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): They claim this plant is Sudanese owned and is called Al-Solag. Remember that name, it's important. Al-Solag. We head off the

property to do some more filming, but we're followed. Security approaches, they want us to stop.

(On-camera): This is public ground. This is public ground. Why is your van stopping here? Trying to get us to move on, they're taking pictures of us,

of our license plate.

(Voice-over): The reason they're so nervous, Al-Solag is a front for the Russian company Meroe Gold. Wagner is still operating illegally. A foreign

company pretending to be Sudanese to evade U.S. sanctions. We obtained their registration documents to prove it.

The document on the left is from Meroe Gold. The one on the right, Al- Solag. These dates represent complaints made in employment courts against Meroe Gold. These ones from Al-Solag are the same. Under Sudanese law, when

a company's holdings are transferred, so are any judgments against it. Here you can see the judgments against both companies are identical. All they've

done is change the name.

Wagner, hiding in plain sight, to avoid U.S. sanctions and keep the financial pipeline flowing back to Moscow and its war on Ukraine. A

dangerous business to delve into.

(On-camera): Since we've arrived in the country I have been informed by sources of threats that they believe to be credible against me. They say

that's what happens here when you look too closely at Russia's business dealings. We're off to meet one of those sources, and he's asked that I

come alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Meroe Gold is a front for the Russians. Specifically for the forces of Wagner that are working to exploit

gold in Sudan and its export. It's a front, it's not a company. It extracts gold from tailings and it buys gold from the Sudanese artisanal miners.

That's not legal because the law says that any gold producer is supposed to report the quantity it produces to the central bank and to the Ministry of

Mining, and that does not happen.

ELBAGIR: Inside Sudan's central bank, a whistleblower snapped this photo of a computer screen, showing production in 2021 at 49.7 times. 32.7 times are

unaccounted for by the central bank. But the real figure we're told by whistleblowers could be over 220 tons. That's around $13.4 billion worth of

gold a year that's being stolen from Sudan.

How has this happened?

Two years ago, the Sudanese people successfully overthrew Africa's second longest ruling dictator, Omar al-Bashir. 18 months later the military

staged its own coup, sweeping aside civilian rule. And they did this, we're told, with Wagner's support, in exchange for gold.

This man had a front row seat to Russia's machinations, and has evidence to prove it stood to gain by supporting the Sudanese military's coup. Under

threat of assassination, he's been in hiding for the last nine months, moving from safehouse to safehouse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Russian and Sudanese officers saw the civilians in the government as an obstacle to the plan. The

official anti-corruption task force wasn't caving to pressures or threats or even bribery. The armed forces were thought to be complicit in the

smuggling of gold by the Russians and it was raised with them.

ELBAGIR (on-camera): Do you blame Russia for the death of democracy here in Sudan?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Definitely. Russia carries the majority of the blame for the (INAUDIBLE) of Sudan's democracy.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Just days later, his nephew was killed by state actors trying to stop a pro-democracy demonstration. In the two weeks we've

been in Sudan investigating Russia's illegal gold mining, 10 people were killed protesting for change.

It's not just on the battlefields of Ukraine that Russia is spilling blood. Here, too, there is a human cost. The cost of Russia's support of Sudan's

generals in return for its gold.


ANDERSON: Powerful reporting there. CNN's Nima Elbagir is with me now.

This does beg the question, how has the U.S. allowed this to happen particularly given the enormous revenue gain this has for Russia during its

war on Ukraine?

ELBAGIR: Absolutely, and we asked the U.S. State Department that exact question. And their response is that they're monitoring the situation. That

they continue to make clear their concerns about what they call Wagner's malign influence but while they are monitoring this situation, as you

pointed out Russia continues to build its gold reserves.

And this is why it was so important for us to get the documentation to prove the mechanism that they are doing this with because legally when

you're challenging the evasion of sanctions, being able to define how it's being done, i.e. this false front company, was very important because it

takes the deniability away not just from Russia, but also from Sudan's generals.

When we were in Sudan, inflation was at just under 200 percent. You know, people struggle to live while gold is being siphoned off to buttress Russia

against U.S. sanctions. And that's a responsibility that, yes, absolutely lies with Sudan's military rulership but also lies with the international

community that is allowing Russia to do this.

ANDERSON: Any appetite or ambition on the part of authority there to stop this happening going forward?

ELBAGIR: No. The training, the quid pro quo that we mentioned with General Mohamed Hamdan, aka Hemedti, that training is invaluable for him and his

men, but also, he is now a figure of state. He was just in Russia at the beginning of the Ukraine war. He's number two in the leadership structure,

but realistically, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is the man who benefits the most from this.

And despite concerns raised by Sudan's pro-democracy opposition, the U.S. and others refused to move against him in a meaningful way. And that is now

having ramifications for the U.S. and the war in Ukraine.

ANDERSON: What have the State Department said specifically?

ELBAGIR: That they're monitoring the situation. And what's really interesting is that there is an appetite when we speak to U.S. lawmakers,

there is an appetite to move on this. But the issue has become one of lost time. Russia began its steals in Sudan in 2017. You know, they've had all

this time to build up this infrastructure. It's going to be very difficult to extract them, and it's going to be impossible if there is no statement

of intent or will on behalf of the U.S. and the world.

ANDERSON: Nima, always a pleasure, thank you very much indeed.

You can find a lot more of Nima's excellent reporting online. Nima will be the first to say that she has a terrific team working with her on this. The

reporting includes maps of some of the key reporting in Russia's smuggling scheme, and how it all fits together. There's also a closer look at some of

the players that Nima mentioned. That's on your CNN app, or you can log on to

Well, Russia's war in Ukraine also impacting the global food supply with its prolonged blockade of Ukrainian grain exports as you will be well

aware. As the world waits for those exports to resume, a show of unity in southern Ukraine. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and G7

ambassadors gathered in the port city of Chornomorsk, not far from Odessa, exactly a week after Ukraine and Russia signed mirror agreements to resume

the export.

So what's the holdup? There appears to be resistance by Russia to the maritime routes that the cargo ships would use.

CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in one of those principal ports out of Odessa. And you, Nic, have been talking to some of

those G7 ambassadors. You've also heard from Ukraine's infrastructure minister, who earlier today gave an important update on just when these

ships might start moving. What have you got?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, he was very diplomatic today, the infrastructure minister. Not clear if that's because

of the delicate nature of the situation, but really Ukraine has put itself into the hands of the United Nations, who are, if you, sort of adjudicating

the situation. I found both the British and the American ambassador here much stronger and much clearer that it's Russia that's the holdup at the

moment. That Ukraine has proposed routes out for the shipping to get to the (INAUDIBLE) and to get out the international community.

But Russia is the holdup on that. So I asked the infrastructure minister today when he thought that the grain could come out, and precisely what was

the holdup.


OLEKSANDR KUBRAKOV, UKRAINIAN INFRASTRUCTURE MINISTER: We are waiting for sign and for approval as we discussed with our police (PH) from United

Nation and Turkey corridor, how the vessels will go on the Black Sea, and we are waiting for the approval of the United Nations, first of all, we

need their side to be approved the route how we will go on the Black Sea.

ROBERTSON: And everything is approved from your side right now?

KUBRAKOV: From our side, yes, we provide some options and we are ready.

ROBERTSON: And today that could be shipments?

KUBRAKOV: Let's see. I mean, we are waiting until the end of this week. But it depends on how the United Nations team will work and facilitate.


ROBERTSON: So you'll note there that we're talking to the infrastructure minister and not President Zelenskyy at the port side and that's because

there's a lot to security, really on secrecy I have to say about President Zelenskyy's visit to Odessa. He went to that port at Chornomorsk, as you

said there, Becky, but significantly that press conference that was held there today that we attended in the port here was literally a couple of

hundred meters from where Russian cruise missiles impacted and destroyed equipment less than a week ago.

That gives you a sense of the sort of the secrecy and concern from Ukrainian authorities about bringing the ambassadors here, and in

particular bringing their president down here, so quite a rare trip outside of a capital for all of those people because of the security concerns.

ANDERSON: What's the bottom line here, Nic? When does the grain start moving, effectively, efficiently, with security into the Black Sea, the

Bosphorus Strait, and then on to where it is needed most?

ROBERTSON: You know, interestingly, President Zelenskyy used a sort of colloquial phrase today when he was asked that question or made a statement

about it. He said today, tomorrow. But also that's sort of understood here as that could be the next few days as well.

Look, as we understand at the moment, as I stand here right now, the U.N. is making a decision, and it's making a decision balanced on what Ukraine

has put forward, that is considered by Ukraine's international backers, the G7, the U.S., the U.K., et cetera, et cetera, to support their position on

these routes for the ships to leave. And it's Russia right now that is objecting to those routes that have been proposed.

So the U.N. has to come to a determination on this. And at the moment, it really could be today, tomorrow, or the next few days. I, standing here

right now, wouldn't put an exact timeline on it but the hope is that it can be soon, Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic Robertson is in Odessa for you, folks. Thank you very much, indeed, Nic.

Well, while Haiti has seen its fair share of trouble and tragedy in the past, gang violence in the capital has begun to spiral out of control.

We'll have the details on that after this short break.

And alarm bells sound from the west over Tunisia's new constitution. Is this the beginning of the end, the so-called Arab spring's only lasting

democracy? That after this.



ANDERSON: Since the assassination of Haiti's president last year gang violence on the island has surged. Those gangs control huge swaths of Port-

au-Prince. This was the scene Wednesday for example when gang violence broke out in the capital forcing police to shut down a main avenue and

market. Well, in some parts of the city, it's put food supplies at risk. And now there are fears a prison could be overrun.

Matt Rivers following the story and he joins us now live. And it's been just over a year since the president was assassinated. Where do things

stand politically, and what hope of getting this violence under control at this point, Matt?

RIVERS: Well, politically, there is just a vacuum at this point, Becky. Because the president was assassinated last year there have not been

elections held since his death. There is essentially a vacuum of political leadership. And what you're hearing when you talk to experts, when you talk

to Haitians on the island, they will tell you that that leadership is part of the reason that gang violence in this city, which is something that has

been a problem for a long time now, but right now it's never been worse.


RIVERS (voice-over): For months now, Port-au-Prince has been trapped in a brutal cycle of gang violence and the latest crisis point in the city's

downtown. In a video obtained by CNN first published by the "Miami Herald," officers with the Haitian National Police can be seen engaged in a tense

shootout with suspected gang members on Wednesday. The fighting brought this part of the city to a virtual standstill with fears mounting over what

might happen here, Haiti's national prison just a few blocks from the fighting.

A source inside the prison said that when the fighting broke out, prisoners had not received food or water for three days. Desperate and scared amidst

the gunfire, the source says hundreds of prisoners managed to escape from their cells and into the prison's courtyard, where they were met by police.

Quote, "The police began to shoot indiscriminately," said the source. It's still unclear if there were any injuries.

The Haitian law enforcement source confirmed the partial breakout to CNN, saying the hundreds of prisoners were eventually put back in their cells

when riot police entered. But the source added that this could happen again. Gangs in the area could attempt to overrun police and free prisoners

from inside. Quote, "The gangsters are taking over the area around the prison and they have pushed the police back. The police keep losing with

poor management and a command staff that is not qualified," said our source.

In addition to Haitian prisoners, the facility houses the roughly two dozen Colombians accused by authorities of participating in last year's

assassination of President Jovenel Moise. They've sat in prison for more than a year and is still yet to be formally charged. The National Police

did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

Downtown Port-au-Prince, just the latest part of the city where gangs have laid siege. Roughly 75 percent of the city is either under the control of

various gangs or in the crosshairs of ongoing gang violence, according to the Haitian law enforcement source. Including the neighborhood of Cite

Soleil, where more than 200 people have been killed in July alone due to fighting between gangs according to the mayor.

He says the situation is very critical. People are in a very bad place and the ongoing violence makes it worse. It has created a dire humanitarian

crisis in the neighborhood, where people are struggling with basic access to food and water, a bleak reality that might be replicated in more parts

of the city if this fighting continues unabated.



RIVERS: And Becky, my team and I actually went into that prison last December to interview a handful of the Colombians that were inside there.

And the conditions that we saw inside that prison, and this was last December, were horrific. Incredibly unsanitary. All the prisoners that we

saw incredibly malnourished. Very few places to go to the bathroom, it was just a horrific situation. And it's only gotten worse since then.

And so that's why our law enforcement sources telling us look, if the prisoners feel like they have an opportunity to break out due to ongoing

violence, they're going to take advantage of that opportunity. What human will want to stay in conditions like that?

ANDERSON: Matt, where is the federal government in all of this?

RIVERS: That is a fantastic question. And the answer is basically nowhere. They either are unwilling or unable to stop this gang violence. You know,

the federal government led or not led frankly by this current prime minister in Haiti, clearly has shown that they have no ability to push

these gangs back. I mean, 75 percent of the capital city, think about that. 75 percent of the entire city is either controlled by the gangs or actively

being fought over by the gangs.

There are 120,000 National Police officers throughout all of Haiti, and yet due to a lack of training, a lack of arms, a lack of motivation, a lack of

support, a lack of pay from the government, and oftentimes they are just completely overmatched. And the gangs right now are winning this battle

against the federal government.

ANDERSON: Frightening stuff. Matt, thank you. Matt Rivers on the story for you.

Well, just ahead it was the birthplace of the Arab Spring and a democratic success story for many, but is Tunisia's new constitution a death knell for

everything that was envisaged since 2011? Well, opinions falling on both sides of this, we head to the region for analysis, up next.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. I'm Becky Anderson in London, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. And wherever you are watching the show, you're more than


The U.S. is expressing serious concern about Tunisia. The secretary of State warming of an alarming erosion of democracy there. Monday, Tunisians

voted to approve a new constitution which hands the country's President Kais Saied significantly more executive power. Well, opponents say it

creates a lopsided system absent of the checks and balances that protect human rights. Some fears it's the final blow to what was he sold democratic

success story of Arab Spring.


Well, Nada Bashir has been following the constitutional referendum and the fallout. She's joining me today out of Istanbul -- Nada.

NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Becky, this really has been a disappointment for many in Tunisia but also across the region. As you

mentioned, Tunisia the birthplace of the Arab Spring as we saw those protests back in 2011, was seen as the sole democracy to have emerged from

those mass protests and for many pro-democracy voices and activists across the region, particularly in countries like Libya and Egypt which have seen

real failings since the Arab Spring.

This has come as a disappointment. President Kais Saied just last summer dissolving parliament, essentially ruling by decree since last summer but

now this referendum on the constitution will allow Kais Saied to consolidate his powers. As you said they're shifting power away from

parliament and to the executive under the president's watch, giving him powers to suggest new treaties, new laws, sat and appoint new ministers and

judges, even to extend his term if he feels there is a risk to state security.

So significant powers being placed in his hands. He says that this is an aim of his to eradicate corruption from the political elite in Tunisia, to

decentralize power which he says has been stretched too thin and stabilize the Tunisian economy. But for many critics in Tunisia and opposition

movements, this is an attempt to really push Tunisia back to an era of one- man rule.


BASHIR (voice-over): A new constitution for Tunisia and new powers for the country's president. It was an overwhelming referendum win for Kasi Saied,

though riddled with controversy, with less than a third of eligible voters casting ballots.

KAIS SAIED, TUNISIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We will continue to build Tunis that it becomes like it was once and even better than it once


BASHIR: The new constitution will shift significant powers away from parliament and back to the presidency. A move Saied claims will give him

the mandate to rid the country of corruption. But opposition leaders fear this could take Tunisia back to an era of one-man rule.

RACHED GHANNOUCHI, OPPOSITION POLITICIAN (through translator): The constitution is for an individual regime that reminds us of the Gadhafi

regime and other Arab dictators.

BASHIR: Tunisia was once regarded as the only democracy to emerge from the mass protests of the 2011 Arab Spring. Now analysts say this new

constitution could unravel the political gains made by Tunisia over the last decade.

SARAH YERKES, SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Unfortunately the referendum that was passed on July 25th is really sort of

the final death blow to democracy in Tunisia.

BASHIR (on-camera): What signal does this send to other countries in the region, where people do still have aspirations for democratic change?

YERKES: I don't think it's the end. I don't think we're going to see the democracy activists go home and give up. I think we're going to see them

continue to fight. And hopefully that will inspire others in countries that are in worse situations to continue to fight for democracy as well.

BASHIR (voice-over): But for Tunisia's neighbors, aspirations for democratic change have proven nay impossible to realize.

In Libya, a decade of violent clashes between rival factions had left the country in a state of political paralysis. And in Egypt, President Abd Al-

Fattah As-Sisi has faced widespread condemnation by rights groups over his oppressive and undemocratic regime.

But with severe economic crises across the region and growing concerns over the erosion of civil rights, analysts say pro-democracy movements could

still prove successful in demanding political reform.

YERKES: I do think people, they learned in 2010, 2011, that their voices can be heard and that they matter. And that lesson has not gone away. I

think we will continue to see protests. We will continue to see people use the street to try to demand change and try to improve their lives.

BASHIR: For now those across the region hoping for change will be watching to see whether this truly is the final nail in the coffin of Tunisians

short-lived democratic era.


BASHIR: And look, Becky, while these opposition movements and figures are still very much active in Tunisia demanding change, as we saw there, there

is a sense of disillusionment amongst the wider public. A turnout just around 30 percent. That is of course because some were boycotting the

referendum against Kais Saied, but also because people have become disillusioned.

In Tunisia, we are seeing an economic crisis. People struggling to pay for food, for fuel, for basic goods. And really we've seen major chaos and

stagnation within the parliament and throughout the whole political system.


So there is a major sense of disillusionment in Tunisia and a real sense of concern over the future for the country's democratic transition. Real

worries that this new move by President Kais Saied will roll back all the progress that we've seen over the last decade. Much as we've seen in

Tunisia's neighboring Arab Spring nations including Libya and Egypt.

ANDERSON: Yes. Is that sentiment reflected across the wider region, North Africa and other parts of the Middle East? I mean, the coming out of COVID

and the problems that were experienced there, and then added to that the sort of economic instability and Tunisia's economy is in dire straits, this

story reflected to a degree, isn't it, across the wider region?

BASHIR: Absolutely. And there is a real sense of frustration amongst those who have been fighting for democracy, for political reform, since the Arab

Spring, because we simply haven't seen the results that many have aspired for during those protests back in 2011. And when you look at Tunisia now,

you speak to people on the ground, there are many who say, well, look at Libya, look at Egypt, look at what happened there.

Democracy clearly hasn't worked in those instances. And there are concerns that further instability in Tunisia could see them eventually turned into

something similar, in similar situation in those countries. In Libya, for example, for the last decade, we've seen those clashes between rival

factions, a complete inability to really unify the legislature, establish a stable government. We've seen attempts at elections fail time and time

again. And it really is becoming less and less hopeful that there will be any elections anytime soon.

And in Egypt, we've seen analysts, human rights groups, say that this has reverted back to an autocratic regime that is more harsh than that of Hosni

Mubarak. We've seen human rights which really raising the concern and alarm bells around those human rights abuses in Egypt. We've seen Abd Al-Fattah

As-Sisi really crackdown on the situation there.

ANDERSON: All right.

BASHIR: So there are real concerns across North Africa.

ANDERSON: Thank you, Nada. Nada Bashir is in Turkey for you today.

Well, in response to the referendum, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, and I quote here, "We note the widespread concerns among many

Tunisians regarding the lack of an inclusive and transparent process and limited scope for genuine public debate during the drafting of the new

constitution." He went on to say, "We also note concerns that the new constitution includes weakened checks and balances that could compromise

the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Note the fact that the U.S. is saying we note the widespread concerns among Tunisians. That is not their position, as it were, but the position

reflected by the wider community.

Well, I put that response to Rached Ghannouchi, who you saw in Nada's report there. The co-founder of the Ennahda Party, and asked him, if in his

mind, that response from Washington was sufficient. Have a listen.


GHANNOUCHI (through translator): I believe that the Western and U.S. position will evolve towards exerting further pressure, and it's worth

realizing that what they've done so far has not led to any positive result. We believe that the democratic family around the world has not reached the

required level which is -- which starts by calling things with their real name because so far they have criticized Kais Saied for undermining

democracy and that human rights are being violated, and they have exerted pressure to respect a pluralistic system.

But none of this has led to anything. These countries have so far not called what happened on the 25th of July as a coup.


ANDERSON: The position of the co-founder of Tunisia's Ennahda Party speaking to me earlier. And you can catch the full interview in the next

hour of CONNECT THE WORLD. And if you get our Middle East -- meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, you will have seen our deep dive this week into

the chipping away of Tunisian democracy. If you haven't signed up yet, we invite you to do so at The biggest stories and

trends in the region, and what it means for all of us around the world. Reported from the region, on the region, delivered to your inbox three

times a week.

Well, let's get you up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. And U.S. and Taliban officials have met to discuss a

humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The Americans pushed the effort to free up money to help the Afghan people. Billions of Afghan dollars have

been frozen overseas since the Taliban took over. President Biden ordered some of it unfrozen earlier this year.


Well, despite having 100 percent of the monkeypox deaths, Africa has exactly zero percent of the vaccine doses for it. That's the word from the

African CDC which adds it's working with international partners to get the vaccine soon. 75 people have died in Africa from this latest outbreak of


Well, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of American lawmakers are leaving for Asia today, but it is not clear if Taiwan is on

their itinerary. She's said to hold news conferences. We'll let you know if she reveals her plans. China certainly has warned it would take resolute

and forceful measures if Pelosi visits the island.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD, live from London today, with Becky Anderson. Still ahead, Donald Trump in the rough for hosting a Saudi-backed

golf tournament at his New Jersey country club. More on that after this.


ANDERSON: The third event of the Saudi-backed LIV golf series tees up a little later on Friday and to add to the drama, it takes place at one of

Donald Trump's courses in New Jersey. The former U.S. president has already made an appearance himself.

"WORLD SPORT" anchor Alex Thomas is here. Another day, another headline for or on the LIV golf series this time with a former U.S. president himself.

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Yes, I mean, if you own the course where the LIV Golf events are taking place, you're obviously going to take

part in the pro-am and lead it off with Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau and your son Eric, and your group of four. Eric actually

carrying a bag saying "Trump 2024" on it. I think someone in the crowd shouts out, are you going to stand for president again, he said, we'll be

able to tell you something very soon. So read into that what you will.

ANDERSON: Excellent. How did he do that of interest?

THOMAS: His first drive went straight at the very least.

ANDERSON: Excellent.

THOMAS: He knows how to play to a crowd.


ANDERSON: Good stuff. Thank you. More on "WORLD SPORT" coming up with Alex, that's after this short break. I'll be back after that. See you.