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Isa Soares Tonight
Rishi Sunak To Become Britain's Next Prime Minister; Russia's Dirty Bomb Claim Raises False Flag Fears; Xi Jinping Solidifies Control Over China After Party Congress; Rishi Sunak To Become Britain's Next Prime Minister; Hindu Festival Of Lights Begins With Colorful Celebrations; Nine Dead, Dozens Wounded In Militant Attack On Hotel. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired October 24, 2022 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, HOST: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Rishi Sunak is set to become the U.K.'s next prime
minister. But an economic crisis and calls for a general election threaten his premiership before it's officially started. Then, Russia says Ukraine
is about to use a dirty bomb.
Officials call the claim baseless, but could foreshadow a dangerous escalation. And then Xi Jinping solidifies control over China, and install
yes men in top spots, Asian markets react too poorly as a result. But first, it is -- but first, it is 7:00 here, and Rishi Sunak will be
Britain's next prime minister, the third in fact in three months.
He's been chosen to lead the country's Conservative Party after beating rivals Penny Mordaunt as well as Boris Johnson. Mr. Sunak is making history
as the first person of color, and the first Hindu to lead the United Kingdom. And at 42 years old, well, he will be the youngest prime minister
in over 200 years.
The former chancellor has his work cut out for him, that is sure, uniting a divided Tory Party, and then bringing stability after months of political
as well as economic chaos. And here's what Mr. Sunak had to say about this earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RISHI SUNAK, PRIME MINISTER-ELECT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: That there's no doubt we face a profound economic challenge. We now need stability and
unity, and I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's take you straight to 10 Downing Street, Bianca Nobilo is there for us this hour. And Bianca, what I've kept hearing from
Conservative MPs who have been joining me here outside the houses of parliament is the word unity. How unified is this party?
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, not at all, that's why everyone keeps talking about it. Especially when you begin to hear MPs say today,
we're unified on everything, we just have differences of personality. Well, if you have to protest that much, he thinks maybe you're not. And the last
few months, in fact, years have underscored that exact point.
And Rishi Sunak is actually a product of this turmoil and of this division. Precisely because he's considered to be the safest pair of hands, maybe the
most sensible, in some ways the most restrained and unexciting, compared to somebody like Boris Johnson, more of a professional character.
That's why he is considered to be, perhaps the right man for this moment. To tackle this economic calamity that has befallen the country and been
exacerbated by the brief premiership of Liz Truss. But Sunak is an interesting character, and even though he is familiar to those in Britain,
particularly because of his role during the pandemic as chancellor, he's still untested.
And there's not that much that we know about the well-rounded policies that he might adopt as prime minister. But one thing is for sure, he is an equal
part conventional and groundbreaking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Sunak, are you confident you'll be --
NOBILO (voice-over): After making the runoff in the second leadership contest in as many months, it's second time lucky for Britain's new Prime
Minister, Rishi Sunak. But that is where his luck runs out. Sunak inherits an economic nightmare stoked by soaring inflation, war in Europe, a party
at its lowest level of popularity in a generation eating itself alive. Changing prime ministers at a pace never seen.
LIZ TRUSS, FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: I am resigning.
NOBILO: The last Liz Truss became Britain's shortest serving leader ever at a mere six weeks. But the former chancellor has not sugar-coated the
challenges Britain faces, assuring that he has the economic credentials to steer the nation through the crisis.
SUNAK: But we have to be honest, borrowing your way out of inflation isn't a plan, it's a fairytale.
NOBILO: The predictions he made about the impact of Truss' tax-cutting economic plans were vindicated. Born to parents of Indian descent, Sunak is
Britain's first person of color to become prime minister. But his path to power is a tale as old as time. Educated at one of Britain's most exclusive
schools, Winchester College, on to Oxford University, like over half of the country's prime ministers, then, into the finance industry.
After being praised for slick performances during the pandemic, he was tipped to become the next leader. Then, his political fortunes took a
nosedive. Sunak's resignation as chancellor in the last days of the Boris Johnson government was seen as being instrumental in Johnson's downfall.
Then, Sunak lost the leadership contest to replace Johnson after his popularity had taken a battering, with many Johnson supporters blaming him
for Johnson's end.
The London police had fined him for attending an illegal gathering in lockdown, and his wife, Akshata Murthy; the daughter of the Indian
billionaire founder of Infosys came under fire for her non-domicile status, sparing her a huge tax bill on her massive foreign income. Sunak ranks
among the U.K.'s richest, and has been labeled out-of-touch with ordinary voters.
SUNAK: My friends who are, you know, working class, but I'm a working class, but I mix and match, and then I go to see kids from an inter-city
state school and tell them, you know, to apply to Oxford and --
NOBILO: This 2001 "BBC" documentary clip when he was still at university later went viral, and it didn't help. He's since walked back that comment,
but this didn't help either. Now Sunak leads Britain at a time when millions fear they won't be able to afford their food and heating this
KEVIN HOLLINRAKE, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: I think Rishi does have the characteristics that could restore faith in our party. Yes, I mean, I think
he's demonstrated that. Judge people on their actions, not their words.
NOBILO: The moment calls for a shrewd political operator, a powerful communicator, a unifier. Sunak will be tested and judged immediately.
NOBILO: Isa, Rishi Sunak was more popular among the parliamentary party than Liz Truss, so that might give him a little bit of an edge in terms of
his early ability to try and unite the Conservative Party. Because clearly, more of them would favor him as a prime minister than the current prime
SOARES: Yes, and Bianca, what we have heard today, we have heard from various voices within the Labor Party, opposition party. Have a listen to
what Angela Rayner; the deputy leader of the Labor Party had to say and then we can talk afterwards. Have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA RAYNER, DEPUTY LEADER, BRITISH LABOR PARTY: Labor thinks that we should be having a general election. I think everybody who I've spoken to,
the public have said we should be having a general election. There is no mandate, now the conservatives have completely broken their promises, broke
And now they want to see a general election. They can't just keep doling out prime ministers every month because they're in total chaos and they've
lost control of the market and haven't got any ideas of how they're going to tackle the cost of living that people are facing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And what we have been hearing, Bianca, from the Labor Party, different voices is, they're calling this -- clearly, slamming Rishi
Sunak's appointment, and calling this a coronation, calling yet again for a general election. The likelihood of that happening though, is very low at
this stage, is it not?
NOBILO: it is very low, indeed. And while you can understand public frustration, they feel like the direction of the government is not --
SOARES: Yes --
NOBILO: Helping them. Obviously, the events of the last six weeks have sent the economy into a worse position. So, it's perfectly normal and
legitimate for public to -- for the public to feel frustrated, and perhaps want a general election in those circumstances. There's actually nothing
peculiar or unusual about this, and that's because the way that it works in this country is voters elect a party, and not a specific individual.
Therefore if that party decides to change the prime minister or the leader of their party throughout their term in office, that is the usual practice.
There is nothing unusual about that. This isn't a presidential democracy, it's a parliamentary democracy. So the notion that Rishi Sunak doesn't have
a mandate to continue if he seeks to affect the manifesto of 2019 that the Conservative Party was elected on, it does not stand up to scrutiny in the
context of a parliamentary democracy.
Where there was more outrage was when Liz Truss, also unelected by the public at large, sought to discard some elements of the manifesto that it
led to the Conservative Party, that argument is much stronger, because obviously she's dispensing with the promises that actually got the party
SOARES: Bianca Nobilo, outside 10 Downing Street, thanks very much, Bianca. Well, I've been speaking to members of parliament throughout the
day here. Crispin Blunt, a conservative MP who had publicly declared his support for Rishi Sunak joined me here a few hours ago, and I asked him
what those decisions by the former party meant for the country. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRISPIN BLUNT, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: It's most enormous to see change. We've had six weeks of pretty much a government of shambles.
SOARES: Shambles, yes.
BLUNT: And what Rishi was able to do today with a vast majority of the parliamentary party nominating him to be our leader and therefore the prime
minister. When he spoke to the 1922 Committee, he was able to -- very short speech, very clearly, actually make clear that we're actually united about
our objectives as a Conservative Party.
About seeking growth and a low tax economy. But of course, how you get there does --
SOARES: Yes --
BLUNT: Require some basic economics and fiscal stability and sound money, and all of that, have the platform to deliver that. But the opportunity is
all there. We've left the European Union, that debate is over --
SOARES: Yes --
BLUNT: There is no division over that. There is unity about taking advantage of the opportunities of leaving the European Union, there is
absolutely unity about standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine.
There's absolutely unity about leveling up in our country and addressing the challenges in the north of England and some of our provincial towns,
who have not been part of the prosperity of recent decades, and actually making sure the people there are scaled up and the infrastructure is in
there. All of that points to the agreement of the Conservative Party --
SOARES: And we saw him, of course, outside the Conservative Party headquarters --
BLUNT: Yes --
SOARES: Everyone applauding --
BLUNT: Yes --
SOARES: And he was greeting everyone. It looked like an image of unity. But is there really unity? Is there still some friction within members of
the party? Because that is of course --
BLUNT: No --
SOARES: The message --
BLUNT: The point -- the point he made to the '22 Committee was that the thing that divides us is personalities, and that stops now. Because we have
a duty to the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Let's look now at the challenges that really lie in store for the new leader, plenty of challenges. Anna Stewart has that, and how this news
is affecting the market. She's in the London Bureau. So, Anna, give us a sense of how the markets have been reacting to news of the new Prime
Minister, Rishi Sunak.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: Well, I think they're probably taking a big sigh of relief in terms of international investors. We haven't seen a huge
amount of market reaction, and that can only be a good thing. Early this morning, I'd say is when --
SOARES: Yes --
STEWART: We saw the biggest news of the day in terms of the bond market. We saw the yield on a ten-year government bond fall below 4 percent. And
actually, I think that was as much to do with Boris Johnson stepping out of the race, as it was about Rishi Sunak looking increasingly likely he was
going to be the next prime minister.
And the pound, while still under pressure, still we compare to the U.S. dollar in those displays there, has been pretty steady, looking at it
through the day. So we haven't had huge market reaction. What happens next? Well, Jeremy Hunt is the newest of the new chancellors and they're certain,
expectation that he will continue in that role.
Now, he is in many ways the hero of the market over the last couple of weeks. Literally by just reversing most of the policies that Liz Truss and
Kwesi Kwarteng, the last chancellor had introduced in that mini budget. So in many senses, the market just wants to see more of the same. We will get
that fiscal statement, we believe, this time next week, Halloween.
Let's hope there are no tricks in it. But going forward, really, it's still about damage control for this new government, isn't it? Before they even
get to what policies they'd like to introduce further afield.
SOARES: Yes, of course, I mean, we've got fear of recession, we've got high inflation that you and I were talking about last week. We've got
really energy prices. So what kind in terms of policy, Anna -- because we have heard some detailed policy from -- during the hustings, didn't we?
Several weeks ago. What can we see from this new prime minister?
STEWART: Well, that is just it, several weeks ago. Because actually we've heard nothing from Rishi Sunak during this last leadership --
SOARES: Yes --
STEWART: Race, it was so quick. Based on what he was saying many weeks ago, through the Summer, when he was going up against Liz Truss. In terms
of the economic policy, a lot of it was just trashing her policy. He has been proven right, I would say was the ultimate told you so moment.
He did say markets would react, and exactly the way they did to Trussanomics(ph). He also said that while he would like to lower taxes, he
wouldn't be doing that before he brought inflation under control. It is now double-digits, so it's only worsened since he was in that position in that
first leadership race.
So I wouldn't expect anything there. I mean, further afield, he once said he wanted to cut income tax from 20 percent to 16 percent by 2029. But I
think any kind of dreams or policies like that will have to be held off. I think we're going to get a lot of tough love and fiscal conservatism from
the new prime minister.
SOARES: Yes, well, I think he acknowledged today, didn't he? That there's a profound economic challenges, I think everyone really knows that already.
Let's see what he has in store for us, come the end of the month. Anna Stewart, thanks very much, Anna, appreciate it. And still to come tonight,
Russia's defense minister phones western officials to warn that Ukraine is planning to use a dirty bomb.
Why the West believes those claims are an ominous pretext. Plus, Xi Jinping cements his spot in history as China's most powerful leader in decades.
What he's doing in his unprecedented third term in office. That is just ahead. You are watching CNN.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. As absurd as they are dangerous, that's what Ukraine calls Russia's new claims that Ukrainians are planning to
escalate the war by using a so-called dirty bomb. Now, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says he has invited U.N. nuclear experts to Ukraine to
disprove those claims firsthand.
He says Ukraine neither has dirty bombs nor wants to acquire them, warning that Russia's accusations could be a troubling indication of what it's
planning to do itself. Western officials also reject the claims as a false flag operation. Now, dirty bombs are conventional explosives packed with
A blast could cause immediate death and destruction, as well as propelling a radioactive cloud far beyond the blast site. Now, affected areas could
have to be painstakingly decontaminated or even demolished. Let's get more now from CNN's Frederik Pleitgen who is live for us tonight in
Zaporizhzhia. So Fred, give us a sense of further what you're hearing from Ukraine as well as its allies to these claims with no proof whatsoever of a
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, hi, Isa. First of all, no one is buying these allegations. You do see though that
these words from the Russian defense minister, they are quite troubling, I think to a lot of western allies of Ukraine, especially because Sergei
Shoigu, late last night and then also today, made some phone calls to several NATO defense ministers.
And in those calls, he reiterated that claim again and again and again. And he made that to the U.S. Secretary of Defense, to the U.K. defense
secretary, and also to the French defense minister. And all of them said, obviously, they don't buy this. Obviously, they think it was transparently
false as they said in a common statement afterwards.
But they also believe that this could be a pretext by the Russians for a further escalation here in Ukraine. Obviously, that is something that could
bode for a very dangerous situation on the ground. As you've said before, the Ukrainians really trying to take the initiative on all of this, saying
that this is absolutely out of the question. These allegations are completely false.
And the first thing -- or one of the first things that they didn't decide to do is ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to go to their civilian
nuclear site and see for themselves that there was nothing illicit or dangerous going on in any of those centers. It was quite interesting,
because it was a briefing by Russia's defense ministry earlier today, where they claimed that there were two sites, one in Kyiv, one closer actually to
where I am right now where all this was allegedly being plotted and all this was allegedly being plotted together with western help.
And the Ukrainians immediately said, look, if the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to go there, we want them to come over and see for
themselves. And the Ukrainians clearly trying to take the initiative on all of this. And then you have the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who
said exactly what you were just saying.
That he believes that the Russians making this claim could be a pretext to them trying to escalate the situation themselves. The Ukrainians once again
saying, they are members of the non-proliferation treaty. They don't have any nuclear weapons and haven't had them for decades, and they certainly do
not plan any of what Russia is alleging. In fact, the Ukrainians believe that one of the reasons why the Russians might be plotting something like
this is because the Russians simply are losing on the battlefield here in Ukraine. Isa.
SOARES: And speaking of losing in the battlefield, Fred, do we know what's happening in Kherson and how Russia is preparing to defend it?
PLEITGEN: Yes, well, it's a very fluid situation down there in Kherson. There was Kherson resident who spoke to CNN earlier today, saying that the
town is basically like a ghost town. A lot of people have left. We've seen since then the Russians evacuating really tens of thousands of people from
the town of Kherson.
Obviously, the Ukrainians are saying, these people are not being brought to safety, but essentially they say that these are a form of deportation. Now,
there are some who believe that the Russians might be leaving that city. But the Russian -- the Ukrainian military Intelligence, they say they
believe that the Russians are actually bringing more forces into that city, and into that region north of that city to try and mount some sort of
Also one of the things that we heard from a local Moscow-installed official from Kherson is that the men who are still in that area are now being asked
to join territorial defense forces to fend off the advancing Ukrainian army. Obviously, unclear whether or not anybody has taken up that offer.
But certainly, it could be an indication that maybe the Russians do want to defend that area, do want to remain there. There are some who believe that
it's almost impossible to defend that area, because the Russians are essentially cut off from major supply routes that they have.
SOARES: Frederik Pleitgen there for us this evening, thanks very much, Fred, appreciate it. Well, residents of Mykolaiv are cleaning up after yet
another Russian missile strike. One missile hit an apartment building, but fortunately, no one was killed. CNN's Clarissa Ward visited the scene.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): This attack took place in the early hours yesterday morning. Two S-300 missiles,
one landing right behind me, you can see here, the size of that crater. And then the second literally slamming right into that apartment building, and
the top couple of floors.
It's something of a miracle that nobody was killed in this. And what's sort of striking is no one here can seem to work out what the target was. This
is a residential area, there is apartment buildings all around. I want to show you over there, this is a children's playground, OK? And you can see
what's left of it. Now, the strike happened in the early hours of the morning as I mentioned, so no children were out playing.
But I think it gives you a feel for just how challenging it is for so many Ukrainians, particularly in this sort of embattled southern regions, to go
about having any semblance of a normal life. It's also very striking, though, you can see right behind me, they are already cleaning up.
They are welding those pipes, those water pipes back together. They are clearing debris. They are coming and grabbing whatever personal possessions
they can salvage to get out of here. Which, again, I think speaks to this sort of broader resilience of the Ukrainian people, and certainly the
people of Mykolaiv.
But definitely they have not had a break between S-300 missile strikes, constant drone strikes. And this place is really bearing the brunt.
Electricity is out all the time, water, you can't get fresh water here now. They have sort of salt water, and then they have daily lines across town
where you can go and get fresh water. But it's a very difficult situation here, indeed.
SOARES: Our chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward in Mykolaiv there for you. Well, markets in Asia have been reacting strongly the day
after Chinese leader Xi Jinping entered a third term in office. We'll show you how stock markets fared, Hong Kong had their worst day since the 2008
global financial crisis, dropping nearly 6.4 percent on Monday, as you can see there.
The Shanghai and Shenzhen Composites also closed down sharply, really red arrows right across the board. And the Chinese yuan hit a 14-year low
against the U.S. dollar on the offshore markets. A really pretty bleak start to the week there in the Asia Pacific region. Well, Xi Jinping's
third term is busting norms and it's spooking more than just the market.
He stacked the ruling body with loyalists, tightening his grip on everything from the economy to foreign policy. Our Selina Wang has the
story for you.
SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're all the boss' men. China's new top leaders have one thing in common, they are Xi
Jinping's closest allies. Xi has ripped up the playbook, re-crowned for a third term.
XI JINPING, PRESIDENT, CHINA (through translator): I wish to thank the whole party, sincerely, for the trust you have placed in us.
WANG: Appointing four new men in the seven-person Politburo Standing Committee. The apex of power. The top man after Xi is Li Qiang; the
Shanghai party chief, and expected to be the next premier. Here he is, back in April, getting shouted at by angry Shanghai residents. He oversaw the
city's draconian two-month lockdown.
Residents struggled to get enough food and medical care. Fights broke out between residents and COVID workers. Rare protests erupted. But in Xi's
VICTOR SHIH, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO: Only one man's opinion matters.
WANG: The current premier Li Keqiang is retiring from party leadership. He's seen as an economic liberal, and not so close to Xi. In fact, he is
the protege of former top leader Hu Jintao who was publicly humiliated at the closing ceremony of the party congress. The 79-year-old who is seated
there next to Xi Jinping. After several confusing moments, he is led out of the room, escorted by two men. He appeared reluctant to leave.
On his way out, he said something to Xi and patted the shoulder of Li Keqiang. Chinese state media later said it was because of health reasons.
SHIH: I am not a believer of the pure health explanation, and it seemed like he sat down in a pretty stable manner. And then suddenly, he was asked
to leave. I'm not sure if he whispered something, said something to Xi Jinping.
WANG: Regardless, it was a symbolic moment. Out with Hu, and the collective leadership of his era. While Xi Jinping is all about one man
rule, and those closest to him, all men. For the first time in at least 25 years, there are zero women in the 24-member Politburo, the second most
powerful group in party hierarchy. Since Xi took power, he's purged rivals, crushed dissent, re-asserted communist party control over every aspect of
He's only expected to double down on his iron rule in his third term and beyond. Xi's next five years may seem more tense U.S.-China relations. More
intimidation of Taiwan, with the world dealing with an ever more authoritarian and aggressive China. Selina Wang, CNN, Hong Kong.
SOARES; And still to come tonight, a historic first as Britain gears up to welcome its first prime minister of color. We'll have more on Rishi Sunak's
rise to the top. That's just ahead. Plus, a hotel in Somalia is the latest target of a deadly attack. We'll bring you both of those stories after this
very short break. You are watching CNN.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. It's 7:30. The heavens have opened. We're still outside Houses of Parliament here. And a reminder really of our top
story this hour if you're just watching us, Rishi Sunak is set to be Britain's next Prime Minister as he defeats opponent Penny Mordaunt in a
fast-tracked race really to become Conservative Party leader. Here he is speaking to the country earlier. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RISHI SUNAK, INCOMING BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The United Kingdom is a great country. But there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge. We
now need stability and unity. And I will make it my utmost priority to bring our party and our country together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, he faces no shortage of challenges from the cost-of-living crisis to the war in Ukraine. And of, of course, resulting the energy
crunch that we've been seeing, not just here in U.K., but right across Europe. But first, he needs to be officially appointed by King Charles,
which is set to place -- take place on Tuesday.
Another challenge, of course, is his lack of a democratic mandate. CNN heard from a few voters just before the new Prime Minister was revealed.
This is what he had -- they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think at this stage, we should have a general election?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Got to have one, haven't we? I mean, this is a joke. You know, it's a total joke. We're the laughingstock of Europe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone seems to think that the obvious thing to do is to have a general election, but the politicians seem to keep faffing
about and trying to keep the power in their own hands, which is understandable from their point of view, but not necessarily from the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A general election now so that people can actually say what they want.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, like we can't keep on having like thousands different prime ministers that are voted in by, like, a -- such a small
group of people. Like I feel like a bigger voice is needed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Very different views there. Well, Rishi Sunak is also set to make history as the country's first prime minister of color. Born in the south
of England to parents of Indian heritage, it's a big moment for the British Asian community. Here's some British Indian people reacting to the news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For many years I am living here, and I am living here in this country about 42 years. It's been 42 years, you know. So, it took a
long time. So, anything can happen, you know. When you are living in a multicultural society, you know. So anyway, all the best for Rishi and for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being somebody who's non-white myself, I would have wanted somebody with a few more, you know, few more scruples, probably,
being a bit more left-leaning maybe, especially coming from, you know, a minority and having suffered certain things, you know. You would want
somebody to understand that and I feel like he doesn't. I might be wrong. Let's see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, non-white or white doesn't make any difference because he is born in England. And he's born and brought up only so I don't
think so there is any difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, he is also the first Hindu Prime Minister and it comes as Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali. If you're celebrating it, happy
Diwali. And Diwali, of course, is a festival of lights as well as new beginnings. And here you can see then Finance Minister Sunak observing the
holiday, this is back in 2020, lighting a candle outside Number 11 Downing Street.
Well, I want to bring in the editor of Eastern Eye newspaper Barnie Choudhury to discuss the significance of this moment. He joins me now live
from Great Yarmouth in England. Barnie, great to have you on the show.
So really a day of many firsts as we just outlined there, first Hindu Prime Minister, first British Asian Prime Minister, what is the significance of
this appointment in your opinion?
BARNIE CHOUDHURY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, EASTERN EYE: Well, can I first of all, wish all your viewers a happy Diwali, which I'm celebrating on my own
tonight without my family which is a great pity.
To the significance, it's ginormous. It's momentous. It's your Obama moment that happened in the United States in 2008. That's how significant it is.
Never in my lifetime, and I came to this country in 1969, did I ever expect to be saying that we would have a prime minister of color in Great Britain.
A year after -- a year before I arrived, there was an MP called Enoch Powell, who was absolutely saying that Britain was being flooded by
immigrants, and that immigrants should not be allowed into the U.K., and to see this happening is truly momentous.
SOARES: And Barnie, happy Diwali to you, of course. Thanks for the greetings to everyone watching. You called it a Barack Obama moment. But is
it, though? He wasn't picked by the country. Do you think he would have made it if the public had a larger say here?
CHOUDHURY: I'm not entirely convinced at the moment, because what happened to Rishi Sunak earlier when he lost to Liz Truss was that, again, we had
the MP back then. But when he went to the country for the Conservative Party, the grassroots, they rejected him. And very recently, on a national
radio station, there was a caller from nearby Suffolk, which is in the East of England. And the guy said that even though Rishi Sunak was born in
England, he was not English. Even though he was born in Britain, he's -- wasn't British, and he couldn't be patriotic. And although Britain is a
fantastic country, you're going to have those doubts whether a brown person can truly lead.
Now, the good news is that he's got two years to prove himself. If he gets across the economic situation, which is the most important thing, he will
survive. But if he doesn't, he's toast.
SOARES: Yes, he has a lot on his plate, of course, not just political challenges, of uniting the party, economic challenges. But what can we see,
though, here from Mr. Sunak? Do you think he'll make a different -- to the U.K. South Asian community?
CHOUDHURY: I think that the South Asians will be expecting him to do something for them, not only in the cost-of-living crisis, but I made the
same comparisons with Barack Obama, he didn't want to be known as the Black president. And I think Rishi Sunak has that same problem. He doesn't want
to be seen as just the brown or the South Asian Prime Minister. He wants to be the prime minister for the whole of the United Kingdom.
And what he knows from his parents, and the other South Asians who are immigrants here, is that he has to work 10 times harder, 10 times smarter.
He has to understand the rules of the game, and he has to get people on the side. So the first thing he has to do is to unite his fractured party. And
if he doesn't do that, boy, is he in big trouble.
SOARES: And finally, Barnie, look, many would say this, regardless of his background, he is privileged, right? He's one of the richest Prime
Ministers, if not the richest. Do you think people will think that he's out of touch with the majority of people in this country given that, you know,
the country is facing a crisis -- a cost of living crisis right now?
CHOUDHURY: I think what he needs to do is to surround himself with people who understand the pain, and he has to prove that he understands the pain.
Now during the pandemic, he brought out measures which allowed people to go on furlough, which meant that they were paid even though they didn't work.
Now, he borrowed to the hilt. I'm not sure he can do that now, but he has to understand that people are choosing between eating and heating, and he
has to understand that very, very quickly. Otherwise, the mood will turn sour. He needs to be different from his predecessor, and he needs to show
that it's not about cutting taxes for rich and privileged people, but the people who really need it.
SOARES: Barnie Choudhury, really great to hear your opinion, your insight here on the show. Thank you. Have a good evening and happy Diwali.
CHOUDHURY: And you, same as well.
SOARES: Well, in London, today's Diwali fireworks -- thank you. Diwali fireworks displays was extended to mark Mr. Sunak's win. Diwali is one of
the most important festivals in Hinduism, but it also has a special significance for Sikhs, as well in Jains, and all of whom celebrate the
spiritual victory of light over darkness. And today marks the beginning of the five-day observers based around the position of the moon, full of
colorful traditions as well as fireworks. Here are some of our favorite pictures so far as the festivities light up the skies off in New Delhi.
SOARES: Now nine people were killed and dozens more wounded in southern Somalia on Sunday in the militant attack on a hotel, al-Shabaab has claimed
responsibility. Let's get more on this. CNN'S Stephanie Busari, Senior Editor for Africa joins me now from Lagos, Nigeria. And Stephanie, what
more do we know unfolded here?
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, AFRICA: Good evening, Isa. So what we are learning is that about noon on Sunday, three gunmen burst into this
hotel and held it to siege and before going into the hotel, they had exploded a car bomb. And they were in there for several hours. And the
siege only ended after all three was shot and killed by Somalian security forces.
Now, the hotel (INAUDIBLE) is popular with government officials who often work from there and hold meetings. But many civilians were also there. And
amongst those who were affected and injured were children and women from this hotel. There was also a school nearby and many of the victims of this
attack were students.
And now the U.S. has condemned the attack saying that it expresses "solidarity and support" to all who project extremist violence. This is
among one of the worst attacks carried out by al-Shabaab this year. In August, they held a hotel -- another hotel to siege for more than 30 hours
battling security officials. And that was in the capital, Mogadishu, which 21 people died and 117 people were wounded, Isa.
SOARES: Stephanie Busari there for us in Lagos, Nigeria. Do keep us posted. As soon as there are more developments, do bring it to us. Thank you,
Stephanie. Good to see you.
Now, a prominent Pakistani journalist who claimed he had been chased and harassed across multiple countries has been killed in Kenya.
50-year-old Arshad Sharif was apparently gunned down when he failed to stop at a police checkpoint in Nairobi. Pakistan's High Commissioner in Kenya
says authorities are trying to figure out why he was shot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAQLAIN SYEDAH, PAKISTANI HIGH COMMISSIONER TO KENYA: It was a mistaken identity case in which is very a senior journalist who was visiting Kenya
was shot and he expired in the accident. This very unfortunate and the investigation will ensue after that -- after this. We have already done the
postmortem and we are trying to send the body back home to the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, the whole situation is very murky. Sharif fled Pakistan to Dubai in August after he was charged with sedition for allegedly
criticizing the state. But an associate said Pakistani authorities harassed him there, too. So, he fled to Kenya. Pakistan's Human Rights Commission
says his killing is part of a "Long, grim record of violent tactics to silence journalists." But Pakistan's Prime Minister calls the killing
Now I want to take you to Iran because more than five weeks after a young Iranian woman died in the custody of morality police and despite a brutal
response by authorities, outraged Iranians are not backing down.
This video looking at from the Independent Student News Network shows protesters, as you can see there, at a Tehran University shouting down an
Iranian government spokesman on man -- on Monday, forcing him to abandon his press conference. But as the pro-freedom demonstrations such as this
one spread, authorities are trying to silence journalists who report on them. Our Nada Bashir has the story.
NADA BASHIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Women, life, freedom, a rallying cry that is only growing stronger as protests in Iran entered the sixth week,
sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini who died in the custody of Iran's notorious morality police in September. But as the regime
intensifies, its brutal and deadly crackdown on protesters, it's also scrambling to control the narrative, jailing at least 40 journalists since
protests first began, according to the CPJ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YEGANEH REZAIAN, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: These are just estimation. I'm sure the correct tally is over 400. Several of the cases of
these journalists that we have covered, as soon as they reported about those news on their Twitter channels, the next day, they were arrested.
BASHIR: And just walk me through the tactics being used by the Iranian regime. How are journalists in Iran being repressed?
REZAIAN: Security forces usually raid the homes of journalists after midnight in order to create an environment of scare and fear. They usually
transfer these journalists immediately to solitary confinement. In most cases, they don't let the journalists have access to lawyer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: Much of Iran's media is under state control with journalists who reject the state's narrative facing harsh penalties, among them Niloofar
Hamedi, one of the first journalists to break the story of Amini's death in Iranian media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know Niloofar Hamedi has been held in solitary confinement. We know --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: Here in London, journalists at the pro-reform news outlet, IranWire, which has been working with CNN to cover the ongoing protests,
are meticulously documenting the detention of journalists in Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of them needs to be confirmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: It's a growing list with a concerning lack of clarity on where many of these journalists are being held. Among them, our citizen journalists,
bravely documenting the regime's crackdown on their phones, and on social media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAZIAR BAHARI, IRANWIRE: So, for our citizen journalists inside the country are the most important colleagues we have and without them, we would not be
able to operate. These are the peoples who risk their lives in order to report.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: with internet blackouts being used by the Iranian authorities as a tool to stem the spread of information, the role of journalists on the
ground bearing witness to atrocities perpetrated by the Iranian regime is growing more important and more dangerous. Nada Bashir, CNN, London.
SOARES: And still to come tonight with weeks to go until the World Cup, Human Rights Watch levels accusations against Qatar over its treatment of
LGBTQ people. We'll have that story next.
SOARES: Now Human Rights Watch says Qatar is targeting LGBTQ people ahead of the World Cup. The group accuses Qatar security forces of arbitrarily
arresting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Let's get more on the story. World Sports Don Riddell is following this from Atlanta. So Don,
this is very alarming indeed. What more are you hearing? What do Qatari authorities had to say about this?
DON RIDDELL, WORLD SPORT: Hi, Isa. Well, the Qatari authorities have dismissed these allegations out of hand to CNN referring to them as
categorically and unequivocally false. But Human Rights Watch has documented what they say are six cases that seem to be deeply concerning.
They have described these cases targeting, as you say, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, arbitrarily arrested. They've then been subjected to ill
treatment and detention severe and frequent beatings. All were detained without charge. Some were sexually harassed while they were in detention.
One case was even a solitary confinement for two months and all were forced to sign a pledge after the end of their ordeals, in which they would pledge
to cease so called immoral activity.
FIFA, of course, is trying to claim that everybody that comes to the World Cup will be safe. Gianni Infantino, the FIFA president just last week said
that the World Cup was open and welcome to all and he specifically referred to sexual orientation. But we have recently spoken to the world's highest
profile male gay football player Josh Cavallo, plays for Adelaide in Australia, he spoke to our Amanda Davies, and he expressed exactly the kind
of concerns that we're now hearing from Human Rights Watch about why people in these communities would fear going to Qatar. Listen to what Josh Cavallo
had to say.
JOSH CAVALLO, FOOTBALLER, ADELAIDE UNITED: I do have a fear of going there. And I do have a fear of walking in the streets there. I know personally, if
I go there, I will be protected because I'm in the public eye. But it's not me that I'm worried about, it's those ones that are messaging me so it's
people that aren't in the public eye that are scared to even be themselves and walk the streets.
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN ANCHOR: Should football be going to places that have rules and laws like this, do you think?
CAVALLO: I don't think it should, no. Look, I think in our world, we've got to equal with everything and to say that we've got -- we're heading into a
country that's criminalizing people like myself is quite concerning.
RIDDELL: Isa, Human Rights Watch say these cases happened between 2019 and as recently as September last month.
SOARES: Very troubling indeed. And, Don, let's stay with the World Cup. Ukrainian team, I believe is calling on FIFA to ban Iran. I mean, how
likely is this to happen?
RIDDELL: I think I'd be amazed if that happens. The World Cup, of course, happening on Iran's doorstep. It's the first ever World Cup in the Middle
East. Iran, the highest profile Middle Eastern team there. But this is notable. This is the second time within a week that FIFA has been called
upon to throw Iran out of the World Cup. In this case, is Shakhtar Donetsk. They're making the claim because of the Iranian-made drones that the
Russian army is using to bomb towns and cities in Ukraine. Shakhtar Donetsk are saying that Iran should be kicked out and Ukraine instead should play
in that group.
SOARES: We'll stay on top of that story. Don Riddell there. Good to see you, Don. Thank you very much.
And finally, we return to one of our top stories, Rishi Sunak's rise to the top of British politics as the first British Indian and first Hindi Prime
Minister. These words of congratulations from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made us pause the thought tonight. "Special Diwali," said
"Wishes to the 'living bridge' of U.K. Indians as we transform our historic ties into modern partnership." The words "living bridge" as you can see
that serve really as a reminder that regardless of politics, this is a big moment for Britain -- people of color in Britain and right around the
And thank you very much for watching tonight. Thanks for your company. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" up next. I'll be back in just a few minutes. Don't