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One World with Zain Asher
U.S. Secretary Of State Anthony Blinken Commenting On Senseless Violence In Ukraine; Russia Calls Munition Package A Criminal Act; Military Junta Frees Ali Bongo Odimba From House Arrest; CNN Poll Finds Biden's Approval Rating Below 40 Percent; A Manhunt Is Underway In The U.K. For A British Soldier Awaiting Trial On Terror Charges After Escaping London Prison; Abortion Rights Activists In Mexico Celebrate Historic Ruling By Their Nation's Supreme Court; A French Court Is Expected To Rule Soon On The Legality Of A Ban On A Bias In School. Aired 12-1p ET
Aired September 07, 2023 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Zain Asher and this is ONE WORLD. America's top diplomat is reaffirming U.S. support for Ukraine and sending
its leaders a clear message as he wraps up his surprise trip to Kyiv. He's basically saying Washington is with you for the long haul. Antony Blinken
stopped off at a border guard facility on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital on the second day of his visit. He later spent time at a demining
center. It comes as Ukraine is claiming further military gains along the southern front lines.
During his trip, Blinken praised Kyiv's progress in his counteroffensive and says that those who have enabled Russia's senseless war should pay for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Now, what happened here happened at the beginning of the Russian aggression, but the atrocities and the impact
it's having on Ukrainians of all ages continue to this very day. Just yesterday, we saw the bombing of a market. Seventeen people or more killed,
many others injured. A market. For what? This is what Ukrainians are living with every day?
ASHER: CNN's Melissa Bell joins us live now from Kyiv. So, Anthony Blinken commenting on some of the senseless violence we've seen in recent days, but
the overarching theme and message here is that no matter what, the United States stands with you. The United States is with you for the long haul.
Melissa, walk us through it.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Secretary of State Blinken had made it clear as he arrived at the American assessment, Zain, of what
was happening with this counteroffensive, over which so much frustration had been expressed these last few weeks that the current administration's
assessment was that things were progressing. And having met with President Zelenskyy, who himself had just come back from a visit to frontline troops
in the Donetsk region on the Eastern Front, what Secretary Blinken told reporters at that press conference yesterday was that he had heard that
things were progressing well from the Ukrainians, as well.
This is, of course, an important message that the American Secretary of State, as he wraps up this two-day visit, will then be taking home with
him. It had been all about reaffirming the commitment and the reasons for the commitment and the progress being made to the American people, because,
of course, of that waning support, softening support certainly was seen in some of the polls with regard to how Americans feel about the continued
ongoing spending for this war, nineteen months now into it.
That was at the heart of what he had to announce, the billion dollars of extra help. Of course, he announced this will have to do with specific
weaponry and, in particular, ammunition, including controversially depleted uranium munitions, to help Ukrainians on those front lines tackle those
very difficult Russian defenses, Zain, that have been being erected now, almost, since the line stabilized in March of last year.
What we understand is happening now in the counteroffensive is that there have been further gains. That's what Ukrainians are saying this evening
further gains to the north of the strategic aim of the southern center offensive, which is the town of Tokmak. We've watched the troops progress
ever so slightly, ever so with so much difficulty over the course of the last few days to the south of Robotyne. And it is that ultimate aim of
Tokmak that has been made clear.
What they are telling us tonight is that some strategic gains have been made to the north of that town. Essentially, what it would do, Zain, is
give Ukrainians the ability to take on the supply routes of the Russians between Russia proper and their territories in Crimea. That is the aim.
What we're hearing tonight is that slow but steady progress is being made. Zain.
ASHER: All right, Melissa Bell, live for us. Thank you so much. And as Melissa was just talking about there, the billion-dollar aid package
includes depleted uranium munitions, a move that the Kremlin calls a criminal act. But I want to explain to you what exactly are depleted
uranium munitions and why use them? Well, they are much denser than conventional munitions. They're also -- they're so dense, in fact, they can
actually pierce the armor on tanks. As for the safety of troops handling these munitions, the U.S. nuclear watchdog says they are considerably less
radioactive than natural uranium.
When the depleted uranium hits its target, it can ignite and produce uranium dust, which can cause problems if high concentrations enter the
body. Nic Robertson joins us live now with a closer look at these munitions. They're considerably less radioactive, but that doesn't mean
they're not radioactive at all. They are mildly radioactive. So, the onus is really on Ukraine, Nic, to use these munitions as responsibly as
possible to ensure the safety of civilians.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is and in the context of what you were describing there, the real danger when these
evaporate into dust on impact. You know, it's the momentum and the density that allow them to -- these munitions to punch through the armor and
sometimes ignite as they do so, creating this really potentially harmful dust. There are other much more harmful effects for let's say the tank
This was designed back in the 70s to take on and destroy Soviet-era T-72 tanks, which is a principal tank that Ukrainian forces face. And that's
when they're bringing in the British Challenger II tank and the new U.S. Abrams tanks, which these depleted uranium munitions will be used from,
those are going to be high among the targets when you talk about tank battles.
So, there is a danger to the troops in the tank, the physical harm of the destructive nature of a massive explosion. The analysis has generally been
that inhaling the sort of vaporized effect of these munitions, civilians would need to be very, very close to a very intense battle. However, when
it gets into the soil, it settles out into the soil.
This is what we've heard from the World Health Organization saying that where there have been concentrations of this munition used, you should look
at the groundwater supplies afterwards. You should be very aware of what happens in the groundwater in those communities. And this will, it does
potentially create concern going forward. But as far as troops handling the munitions, NATO's own investigations, the IAEA, have also said that there's
no significant effect.
The assessment is if you get some of this depleted uranium on your skin or you inhale it, then probably your body's going to pass it out. But if you
get it in your bloodstream, it can potentially be harmful to your kidneys. But I think it's the long-term groundwater effects that are perhaps going
to be the things that Ukraine will obviously have to monitor in the future.
ASHER: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much for breaking that down for us. Thirty-nine people are now confirmed dead in southern Brazil from
floods caused by a cyclone. It is said to be the worst natural disaster to hit the state of Rio Grande do Sul in about 40 years. The region saw a
month's worth of rain in just a matter of days. The state governor surveyed the flooding on Wednesday and promised to rebuild homes and other flooded
Stefano Pozzebon joins us live now from Bogota. We're talking about 3000 people displaced, just under 40 people dead. Just bridges and other pieces
of infrastructure completely destroyed here. Just walk us through what the search and rescue operation looks like at this point in time for those who
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, Zain, exactly. Over 3500 people have been displaced. We've seen images here of firefighters that had to go and
take some of the survivors out of their bedrooms using boats because corridors in their homes had become rivers by the rising water. And we've
seen hundreds of homes, buildings infrastructures, bridges as high as six and nine meters high over the river that have been completely wiped away by
the force of the elements, by the force of this cyclone.
Unfortunately, however, local meteorologists down in Brazil are saying that the rain is expected to increase and that Rio Grande do Sul will get even
further rain in the upcoming days, at least across the weekend. And I think it's interesting to hear it directly from the words of the governor of Rio
Grande do Sul, Eduardo Leite, who was able to visit the area yesterday of how appalling the situation is down there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDUARDO LEITE, GOVERNOR, RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): When you go on the streets and you speak with survivors, what you see is
appalling. What the force of the water did, we are talking of places that never got more than 10 centimeters of rainfall and this week got over four
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POZZEBON: One thing interesting to note, Zain, is that this is a crazy year for Rio Grande do Sul when it comes to the weather, because in that
interview, Leite was telling our affiliates here in Brazil that the state had to renounce to give up to almost 40 percent of its harvest --
agricultural harvest at the beginning of the year due to droughts and lack of water. And now, it almost seems that the entire water of the year is
raining down on the state in the last few days.
I also want you to know that Mr. Leite will be speaking to CNN in a couple of hours. So, check back in a few hours with us when he will speak on Isa
Soares tonight in a -- live. But it's really a pattern of extreme events, not just in Brazil, not just in that corner of the world, but all-across
the world, frankly, all-across the globe this summer, or actually in Brazil this winter. They are in the middle of the winter. They are in Rio Grande
do Sul and still crazy weather and some unprecedented natural disaster. Zain.
ASHER: All right. Stefano Pozzebon, live for us there. Thank you. The military leaders who staged a coup in Gabon say that ousted president Ali
Bongo Odimba is now allowed to travel abroad for medical checkups if he so wishes. Bongo had been held under house arrest since being overthrown in
late August. Here you see him meeting on Wednesday at his residence. He's meeting with a U.N. official.
In a statement, the junta cited the state of his health, his medical condition, for the decision to free him. Bongo suffered a stroke in 2018
and spent months in Morocco getting treatment. CNN's Stephanie Busari is following this story for us from Lagos, Nigeria. So, Stephanie, just give
us more detail on what prompted this decision by the military junta to free him from house arrest and to actually allow him. They said he's allowed to
leave the country, he's allowed to travel abroad. Do we know if he will take them up on that offer? Will he be leaving the country?
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN SENIOR EDITOR, AFRICA: Well, so the details are still unclear about what Ali Bongo Odimba's next moves will be. But
analysts are telling me that he would be very unwise to remain in a country when he's been given, quite frankly, an easy way out.
It seems that the junta have perhaps shown some compassion to him. He's suffered a stroke, after all, and has some health issues. So, they've
offered him a way out to say, you're not feeling too great, so you can travel. Reading between the lines, he's about to join a long list of former
deposed African leaders who have gone into exile.
France is the most obvious choice because he has his family have amassed a portfolio of luxury real estate in France over the years, over the nearly
42 years that the Bongo family has been in power. And they also have homes in the U.S. So, France -- he's been very close, his Bongo family has been
very close to France over the years, so it's likely that he will end up somewhere in France, in one of those many properties I mentioned.
But the Bongo family will not be off the hook because his son, Noureddin Valentin Bongo, has been charged by the junta with high treason and it
looks likely that he will face some tough sanctions. Not much has been said about him since he was paraded with an aide with millions of seffa found at
his aide's home. So, that will be something that we'll be developing and we'll be monitoring closely to see what happens to him. But, you know, Ali
Bongo, some feel, is being let off quite easily by the junta here, Zain.
ASHER: I see, so he's been given this free pass. People are saying, listen, you would be unwise not to take it. Stephanie Busari, live for us,
thank you. Now, to a desperate rescue effort underway in Turkey for an American trapped in a cave. A hundred and fifty rescuers are rushing to
save Mark Dickey, trapped in one of the deepest caves in Turkey. Dickey fell ill while exploring more than 1100 meters below the surface. The
Turkish Caving Federation says this complex rescue could take days.
Eleni Giokos joins us live now with the very latest. So, Eleni, just give us more details in terms of A, how this happened, how he fell ill, how he
ended up trapped, but also just how complicated and complex this rescue actually is.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zain, he fell ill with gastrointestinal bleeding six days ago. That was on Saturday. So, this has
been going on for quite some time.
He's already received six units of blood since he fell ill on Saturday. He's currently 3300 feet below ground or just over 1000 meters. I want you
to picture the Empire State Building, times that by three. That is how deep here is, or you can imagine Table Mountain in South Africa.
I want you to understand when you go caving, we're talking about narrow passageways, very difficult terrain, lots of climbing. This is a difficult
and complex operation. You need to be physically and mentally very capable to be able to make your way out. A hundred and fifty rescue workers from
around the world including from the United States, have now gone to Turkey to try and assist.
We don't know how he fell ill, but what we do know that he's leading a research expedition, which, of course, he's very experienced. He's been
doing this for over 20 years. This is the third deepest cave in Turkey. It is very difficult to get around. And in fact, there are various base camps
underground. He's one in one of those base camps. And in fact, in terms of communication, they had to try and create more communication lines closer
to the surface to be able to tell people above ground what exactly is going on.
Now, from what we're hearing from authorities this could take many days on any good day with experience. It could take you up to 15 hours to get to
the top. They're using examples like using a stretcher, you know. Will they be able to get through these narrow passageways with a stretcher? Do they
wait for him to be a lot more stable than what he is now? He is currently walking unassisted which is great news, but you usually have to try and
crawl through very, you know, small spaces and also climb.
So, even with this experience, Zain, and that this kind of medical strain, it makes this rescue a lot more difficult, but there are people underground
with him right now at one of those base camps, Camp Hope, which include medical doctors, medical supplies, to try and get him into a better
position to try and execute this evacuation.
ASHER: Now, we're all praying that he makes it out of there quickly and of course, safely. Eleni Giokos, thank you so much for laying that out for us.
Appreciate it. All right, still to come, troubling new poll numbers for Joe Biden are leading some Democrats to ask, why can't we find someone else to
run for president? Plus, reaction from Mexico after the Supreme Court there decriminalizes abortion. We'll talk more about that after the break.
ASHER: If you thought that Donald Trump's legal problems were going to make it impossible for him to beat Joe Biden in next year's presidential
election, you might find a brand-new CNN poll somewhat surprising. The poll finds that Biden's approval rating below 40 percent, which is, by the way,
the lowest of any president at this point in their term since Jimmy Carter in 1979.
There's also broad disapproval of Biden's handling of the economy. In fact, look at these numbers here. Fifty-eight percent of Americans say that he
has only made things worse since he took over a couple of years ago. And it's not just the economy in question after question.
In this CNN poll, we found that three out of four Americans are deeply concerned about Biden's age. They're concerned about his stamina, both
right now and in a potential second term, as well. When asked how they will vote, Biden is either behind or statistically tied against every
significant Republican in the field.
And that, by the way, includes Donald Trump. And Biden's problems do not just come from Republicans or independents who don't like him. Two-thirds
of Democrats say they want their party to find someone else as their nominee. Oh, boy.
I want to dive deeper into Joe Biden's re-election problems right now with Toluse Olorunnipa, White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post". So,
I don't even know where to begin, Toluse. I have no idea where to begin. These numbers are devastating for the Democrats. I think, the interesting
thing here, or rather the unfortunate thing here for Joe Biden, is that age is such a big factor.
And unlike the economy, he can't really do anything about his age. I mean, it's only going to get worse. He's only going to get older. So, what does
Joe Biden do? He has just over a year to turn things around. What can he do if anything?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: It's a very tough situation for Joe Biden, who's going to turn 81 in the next few
weeks. He's only getting older and these numbers are only getting worse. These same questions were asked last year and have been asked in the past.
He's been an octogenarian now for the better part of the year and people have been looking at him and he has said every time he's asked about this,
watch me, that's his response.
People have been watching and the numbers are getting worse. People are saying they're concerned. Even Democrats who support what he's doing are
not too sure that he's going to be able to be, you know, have the stand and be forceful enough to stand up against a Republican nominee. And so, he's
not really doing what he needs to do to convince his party that he has the stamina and strength to take this on.
But he needs to start focusing on his record, talking about what he's done over the past few years, talk about all the laws that he was able to pass
and say, I'm old, but I have experience. And we've started to hear that more from him. But it's not yet translating. He's just looking like he's
going to want to lean more into that message as he gets closer to the election.
ASHER: And the irony is, of course, you know, it's not like Donald Trump is that much younger. Donald Trump is in his late 70s. Joe Biden's 81.
Donald Trump is, you know, only a smidge behind him. But obviously, this is welcome news for the Republicans. Donald Trump sees these numbers in this
poll, and he thinks what?
OLORUNNIPA: Well, he thinks I've been indicted four different times, more than 90 charges, and I'm running even with the current incumbent president.
I have a shot at winning back the presidency. And it wouldn't be too far- fetched for him to think that, because these polls and other polls have shown this is a dead heat if he's going to win the Republican nomination,
as right now he's leading far and beyond all of his rivals in that primary.
There's a good chance that he wins the nomination. And he has a coin-flip shot at winning back the presidency. And this is despite the fact that he's
been indicted four times despite the fact that you know he's being investigated over January 6th and all the other things going on in his
criminal cases. I think he feels pretty good about these polls and the fact that he could win back the presidency here in the next year.
ASHER: I should be surprised but I'm not. I think after 2016 I know that anything is possible. When you think about you know the fact that a lot of
Americans are saying that things in this country just are not going well. That life is difficult in America, especially when it comes to the economy.
When you actually look at the raw numbers, inflation is better, the labor market is pretty strong, GDP for example, second quarter GDP is also very
healthy, as well. Why is that not translating?
OLORUNNIPA: You have all the numbers, you have all the statistics that show that things should be getting better but in a large way and for a
large number of people in this country, America is in a funk. It's lost its swagger. And we've lived through a hard few years. We have everything from
the coronavirus pandemic to racial injustice protests to people, you know, struggling with the economy and inflation and the war.
There's a lot of things that people are concerned about, and they just don't feel like things are on the right track yet. Now, if you're Biden and
you're the Democrats, you, say in a year, people will be feeling better. A lot of the laws that he passed will be really rocking and rolling. But
right now, people aren't feeling it and inflation is such a major impact on people's daily lives and it hasn't gone back to normal yet.
And that is driving a lot of these numbers where people aren't feeling the impact of, you know, positive economic news because they're looking at the
prices at the pump and the prices in the grocery store and they're saying my life is more expensive than it used to be before Biden came into office.
And, you know, that is causing some people to question whether or not Biden should stay in office for another four years.
ASHER: And also, when it comes to other Democrats sort of looking at these numbers and saying, oh, you know, is Joe Biden really going to be our guy
for 2024? Is he actually going to win an election given these numbers? I mean, what can the Democrats realistically do about that at this point in
time, just in terms of challenging him or finding someone else? I mean, I understand that is highly unlikely, but I still have to ask the question.
OLORUNNIPA: There's not too much they can do. They're really fighting on the margins here. Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic nominee, barring
any sort of health issues or anything happening outside of the norm. You know, he has the full party behind him. There's no real challenge that
seems to be gaining enough steam to win any of the primaries that are going to be taking place in the next several months.
And so, what Democrats have to do is make sure that no third-party candidate can really get on these ballots and siphon off some of these
votes. You know, third party candidates like Cornel West from the left or anyone, you know, saying they're a moderate from groups like "No Labels".
Democrats have to fight back and make sure --
ASHER: "No labels" -- I was going to ask you about that, yeah.
OLORUNNIPA: For sure. They have to make sure that those third-party candidates do not get in the mix because that could turn one of these very
close elections into a tipping point that allows Donald Trump or another Republican to get back into office.
ASHER: We didn't have time for me to ask you about Nikki Haley, but I did find it very surprising that in a hypothetical general election, it would
be Nikki Haley who would beat Joe Biden. Next time, I'll ask you about it next time. Toluse, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.
OLORUNNIPA: Appreciate it. Thank you.
ASHER: All right, still to come, it's been a rough start for Nigeria's newly elected president as he copes with a string of challenges at home and
beyond his borders, as well. We'll take a look.
ASHER: Hello and welcome back to ONE WORLD. Let's catch up on the headlines. A manhunt is underway in the U.K. for a British soldier awaiting
trial on terror charges after he escaped the London prison. Police say Daniel Abed Khalife escaped from London's Wandsworth prison Wednesday by
clinging to a delivery truck while wearing a chef's uniform. Khalife is accused of planting fake bombs at a military base.
The manhunt continues in Pennsylvania for a convicted murderer. Surveillance video caught the moment Danelo Cavalcante crab walked his way
up a prison wall. You can actually see it in this video right here. Police say the area around the prison is heavily wooded with lots of outbuildings
and landscaping, making it very easy for the escapee to hide.
A deadly attack in Sudan has killed at least 32 civilians. An activist group says dozens more were wounded in the shelling Tuesday by the Sudanese
armed forces. Several homes were also demolished. A conflict erupted between the Sudanese army and a rival militia, the Rapid Support Forces in
As we mentioned earlier, Gabon's ousted president is now a free man. The military junta that took over his country freed him on Wednesday. Just
after the coup, he was seen on video pleading for help. It was actually an extraordinary image and a sign of the times as military coups become
increasingly common in Africa. David McKenzie looks at the conditions behind this coup contagion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI BONGO ONDIMBA, PRESIDENT OF GABON: I'm Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An extraordinary plea for international help. The ousted president of Gabon,
Ali Bongo, under house arrest.
BONGO ONDIMBA: -- to tell them to make noise -- to make noise, for the people here are arresting me.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): The noise was not enough. On Monday, the new military leader sworn in. I solemnly undertake on my honor to do my utmost
to achieve national unity, says Gabon's junta leader. Is there a fear that there is contagion happening here?
CAMERON HUDSON, SENIOR ASSOCIATE, CSIS: Well, I don't think it's a fear of contagion. There is contagion. I
MCKENZIE (voice-over): It's just the latest domino to fall. In just three years, a cascade of military takeovers spreading across West and now
Central Africa. Most of them former French colonies, but each with a specific cocktail of grievances over security, corruption, and a lack of
HUDSON: This is a wave whose time has not yet crested. I think we're going to see several more of these in the coming months and years before we see a
kind of return to what we thought was a normal state in the kind of post- Cold War era.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): The condemnations have been universal, the impact, minimal. African and Western powers face a dilemma. In Niger, there is
apparent popular support for the coup and deep anger towards France. Plans for a regional military intervention have stalled.
French counterterror forces have withdrawn from two of the countries. The position in Niger is tenuous at best. At stake in Niger for the U.S.,
multimillion-dollar drone bases critical in fighting extremist groups. The State Department is treading carefully.
VEDANT PATEL, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: We continue to advocate for a diplomatic solution that respects the constitutional order in Niger.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): In Gabon, state media showed off bags of cash. They say they were found at the son of the president's home and at the home of
another official. CNN couldn't independently verify these images. For more than 50 years, Omar Bango and his son Ali Bango ran this oil-rich nation.
Much of their wealth was kept in France. Most Gabonese, young and old, had only known the rule of the Bongo family and its cronies.
CHRIS FOMUNYOH, NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: So, for them, the military coup in the short term looks much better than
anything that they've been living through. And one can understand that boost of Immediate support and what the military and various missionary
groups bring to the continent is less opportunities for freedom, for democracy than war.
MCKENZIE (voice-over): David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.
ASHER: Nearly a quarter of a billion people who live in Africa's most populous nation will continue to call Bola Tinubu, their president, at
least for now. Accusations of fraud and irregularities plagued Nigeria's February vote, something that has taken place more often than not since the
West African nation returned to democracy nearly 25 years ago.
But on Wednesday, the country's election tribunal voted to keep President Tinubu in place. News came as the president who is currently in India,
ahead of this weekend's G20 summit marked his 100th day in office. And let me tell you, it has been a very rough start. The 71-year-old leader
succeeded Mahmoud Abouraia and inherited a string of crises, including sky- high inflation, record debt, a cost of living crisis, and spiraling insecurity and violence.
Nigeria is, of course, Africa's largest oil producer, but in May, Mr. Tinubu sent shockwaves through an already battered economy when he
announced that he was ending a fuel subsidy which caused gas prices to skyrocket. And it's not just domestic issues at home in Nigeria that the
president is grappling with. As a new ECOWAS chair, he also faces regional challenges. Here is what he said two weeks before neighboring Niger's
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLA AHMED TINUBU, ECOWAS CHAIRMAN: We will not allow coup after coup. And of course, several coups have happened. Obviously, in West Africa, the most
recent one is in Niger, in Central Africa, in Gabon. Time now for The Exchange and my conversation with Afolabi Adekaiyaoja. He is a Research
Analyst at the Center for Democracy and Development, and he joins us live now from Abuja.
Thank you so much for being with us. One of the things that I want to get at is really the scrapping of the fuel subsidy. When you think about the
fact that after Tinubu decided that the fuel subsidy was gone, it left so many Nigerians needing help and needing economic assistance that I really
want to understand from you what scrapping the fuel subsidy has actually achieved.
AFOLABI ADEKAIYAOJA, RESEARCH ANALYST, CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT: Thank you for having me. So, one of the big concerns before
the new government took office was really the pressure of the subsidy, especially how much it's, of course, over the last couple of years. And the
expectation was that any government coming in would be able to measure and to effectively combine this removal with reform to ensure that these main
citizens are not affected because the full subsidy has a very big impact, especially in issues that range from agriculture to even food and just
But unfortunately, what you find is that the prices have increased, but then there haven't been effective measures put in place by the government
to actively curb the shock that this is actually taking place.
ADEKAIYAOJA: And the concern really is about to what extent and to how far this would go.
ASHER: So, the -- one of Tinubu's sort of goals when he scrapped the fuel subsidy was that, listen, the money that we end up saving from the fuel
subsidy, we can reinvest it in education in Nigeria, in healthcare, both of those industries, of course, in dire need of fresh blood and new
investment. I mean, when will we actually see any kind of difference in those particular sectors in terms of how they are affecting the lives of
ADEKAIYAOJA: Well, the president recently sworn in his cabinet. So, we're expecting that many of the policies that he wants to carry out, and that
many of the ministers themselves who want to roll out will be communicated to citizens in due course. But I think the first major sign that we'll be
looking at will be when he presents the budget for the next fiscal year. And that's when we'll be able to get an idea of where the focus points that
the government decides to really invest much more of the subsidy money in, and then to see how much they will actually back up the promises that
they've made over the course of the campaign. Zain.
ASHER: When you think about the election back in February, I mean, we talked about it on our show quite a bit, just the fact that there were just
so many irregularities. Obviously, I mean, in a lot of Nigerian elections, sad to say there are accusations of rigging, but, you know, people were
concerned, especially in this particular election. I think it was because people had had enough. Just from an economic perspective, Nigerians were
really suffering. So, they wanted, not everybody, but a lot of people wanted change.
We know that the judiciary right now has now backed Tinubu as president. What sort of recourse -- what other recourses, do the likes of Peter Obe
have, just in terms of challenging the election result from February?
ADEKAIYAOJA: So, the electoral law states that after the tribunal has made a ruling, the only other jurisdiction that this can be elevated to is the
Supreme Court. So, we expect that the orators and Ms. Artiko have already made a statement to that effect. So, we expect that the other two
candidates will take this up to the Supreme Court. But ultimately, when it comes to looking at election law in Nigeria, one of the biggest issues is
that it's really more prohibitive and it really supports more the person who has already been declared winner during the election.
So, in terms of any long term, I wouldn't just be the next week or to be looking at making sure that through the representatives that their parties
have in Parliament and even just in actively trying to lobby and legislate to try to get much more needed reform to the electoral act. Because for the
controversy that we've actually mentioned, you know, the elections were actually a bit much more improved that previous polls and that's not to say
that the ballot was even hard to begin with.
But then it's still a situation where things have improved, but then there's still much more that can't be done. There's much more that needs to
be improved. And now the next day, will not be trying to ensure that there's that sufficient to try to make that happen.
ASHER: And just quickly, in terms of the various coups we're seeing spreading across the continent, not just in West Africa, but also in
Central Africa, I do want to talk about Tinubu's role as the head of ECOWAS, because of course, you know, when you are the head of ECOWAS, you
are kind of, you know, a father figure for the region in a sense. He got on stage, I just played a clip before I came to you, he got on stage and said,
you know, now that I'm president of ECOWAS, there's not going to be any more coups.
Then he talked about the possibility of military intervention after the coup in Niger. The fact that he didn't follow through with that, other
potential coup leaders in other countries in West Africa, they sort of see that and they think, what, what message does that send?
ADEKAIYAOJA: Well, on a more personal level, you know, many people don't want to see the specter of war or any of these particular conflicts
happening in the region and that's definitely what would have happened if ECOWAS was met into Niger. The optimism right now is that there have been
much more reports of diplomatic engagements between ECOWAS, between Nigeria and other senior officials really trying to engage with the military on
site in Niger.
But ultimately, I think this is really a crossroads not just for ECOWAS but also for the region for the continent entirely about making sure that as
much as possible whether it's through sang, through discussions that there are actually much more deterrence for any coup leaders. But then it's also
a very important part to actually having much more important conversation.
ASHER: Afolabi we are actually having some technical difficulties with your sound. Afolabi Adekaiyaoja joining us on Tinubu marking his first 100
days in office as Nigeria's president. Hopefully, we'll have it back on later on in the show. Later on, at a different date rather. All right,
still to come, a huge victory for reproductive rights activists in Mexico. The country's Supreme Court ruling a federal abortion ban is
unconstitutional. That story next.
ASHER: Abortion rights activists in Mexico are celebrating historic ruling by their nation's Supreme Court. It struck down a federal law that had
criminalized abortion. CNN's Rafael Romo looks at the impact the ruling will have on abortion access throughout Mexico.
RAFAEL ROMO, SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): The effort to decriminalize abortion in Mexico has been going on for years, especially
in Mexico City, where abortion rights groups have taken to the streets to say, "My body, My decision". In fact, by the time the Mexican Supreme Court
issued a ruling Wednesday decriminalizing abortion at the federal level, twelve out of 32 states had already invalidated laws banning abortion.
MARIA ANTONIETA ALCALDE: Our reaction was of pure joy and celebration but also of being very proud of being part of this green wave, this movement
that have been working to advance the abortion agenda.
ROMO (voice-over): In a statement, the court said that banning an abortion is unconstitutional because it violates the human rights of women and
people with the capacity to gestate. Anti-abortion groups in Mexico blasted the ruling.
ALICIA GALVAN, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER, PATRIA UNIDA FOUNDATION: There are millions more Mexicans who are in favor of life from the moment of
conception until natural death.
ROMO (voice-over): The Supreme Court first ruled that it was unconstitutional to criminalize abortion in 2021, on the same day the
ground shook in Mexico. The earthquake was felt for about a minute, but the shockwaves sent across the nation by that court's ruling are still being
GALVAN: It is a black day for Mexico. The country is mourning. The Supreme Court of Justice. The highest legal institution in the country, the one in
charge of watching over justice and human rights, both betray the first human right, without which no other human right can exist --life.
ROMO: Back in 2021, the court issued a decision on a law enacted in the northern state of Coahuila which said that women who get an abortion may
get punished with up to three years in prison and a fine. Exactly a week before Wednesday's ruling, Aguascalientes had decriminalized abortion,
becoming the 12th state to do so.
Mexico City was the first jurisdiction to end the ban on abortion in the country back in 2007, starting a trend in the still mostly conservative
country where more than three quarters of the population identify as Catholic. Abortion rights groups say even before the ruling, Mexico had
already become a destination for some American women seeking an abortion.
ALCALDE: Before, Mexican women used to go to the U.S. to look for abortion services, and now, in Mexico, more American women are coming to Mexico for
ROMO: And while no woman can be prosecuted any longer for having an abortion in Mexico, there are still 20 states where the procedure remains
illegal, but the ruling paves the way for the federal health care system to start providing abortions. Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
ASHER: All right, still to come here on ONE WORLD, a group of cookie cutter sharks make a snack out of a boat. You'll hear from one of the
survivors, that story next.
ASHER: A French court is expected to rule soon on the legality of a ban on a bias in school. A Muslim rights group is appealing the government's new
ban on the robe-like garb, which is often worn by Muslim women. And as Anna Stewart reports, some argue it's not a religious garment at all.
ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: For some students in France, you can attach it to your bag, that's the rule inside. Put the headscarf in the bag, this
teacher tells a student at the school gates, removing any sign of their Muslim faith before entering the classroom. But as summer vacation ends,
France's 2004 law, banning conspicuous religious symbols in state-run schools, will be applied to loose-fitting full-length dresses known as
abayas for the first time.
GABRIEL ATTAL, FRENCH EDUCATION MINISTER (through translator): The abaya has no place in our schools and neither do religious symbols.
STEWART: The free-flowing garments worn by some Muslim women and girls now prohibited in the name of French licite or secularism. This policy is a new
interpretation of the controversial 2004 law from France's ambitious new education minister. Nearly 300 students wore an abaya to school on Monday,
sixty-seven were sent home for refusing to take it off.
UNKNOWN (through translator): They say that the abaya is a religious dress, but it's not at all. It's not a religious dress. It's a traditional
STEWART: A Muslim rights group has already brought an appeal against the ban to the country's highest court, with their lawyers saying the ban
doesn't legally define what an abaya looks like.
VINCENT BRENGARTH, LAWYER (through translator): The ban is not based on an illegal text. It's purely a political announcement.
STEWART: Another lawsuit is being prepared after a student wearing a kimono and jeans was expelled from class. Disproportionate is how one
teaching union described the abaya debate when issues like funding and bullying also need to be addressed. At least one other major union has
supported the government's ban and that division gets to the heart of the secularism debate in France.
Laicite, a principle upheld by many across the political spectrum as France's blind defense against religious discrimination. But critics
condemn it as a veiled attack on Muslims in France. Hijabs, bikinis, now are buyers, falling under the glare of an unyielding French state. Exactly
what Macron asked of his teachers faced with resistance students this month.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We know that there will be cases because we know that there will be some through negligence, perhaps, but
many to try to defy the republican system. We must be uncompromising.
STEWART: France remains an outlier among Western nations moving into wider acceptance of civil liberties around religious dress. With the hijab
embraced elsewhere by Muslim politicians and major brands like Nike, for schools in France though a new year means new rules.
Anna Stewart, CNN.
ASHER: And actually, as that story was playing, we just got some news into CNN that a French court has actually rejected the Abaya ban appeal. All
right. The cookie cutter sharks may not be big, but their teeth can sink boats. That's what happened to three men on an inflatable catamaran off the
coast of Australia. A group of the sharks attacked their boat on Monday, then came back to actually finish the job. Oh, boy.
On Tuesday, a passing cargo ship heard the distress call and saved the three sailors who now have quite a story to tell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EVGENY KOVALEVSKIY, RESCUED SAILOR: It was many times attacked by Brazilian shark cookie cutter, Brazilian shark. They hunt inflatable boats.
And we just have many, many holes and started to go down. And the last night, the Panama cargo, the Dugon H, come to us and saved us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ASHER: You can learn a lot more about that story on cnn.com. All right, thank you so much for watching ONE WORLD. I'm Zain Asher. "AMANPOUR" is up
next. You're watching CNN.