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Brexit: MPs vote Against Giving Public Fresh Referendum

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Benjamin Kentish

Political Correspondent 

@BenKentish

MPs have voted against giving the public a fresh Brexit referendum, rejecting a Commons motion that would have triggered a Final Say vote.

The Commons divided 334 to 85 against the amendment, which was put forward by The Independent Group’s Sarah Wollaston.

The motion, voted on during a debate on delaying Brexit, demanded that Theresa May delay Britain’s exit from the EU “for the purposes of legislating for and conducting a public vote in which the people of the United Kingdom may give their consent” for either leaving the EU on the terms of a deal agreed by Parliament or remaining in the bloc.

It was the first time that MPs have formally voted on whether to give the public a Final Say vote on Brexit.

But Ms Wollaston’s decision to put forward the amendment angered many other pro-referendum MPs, who had wanted to wait until there it had more chance of being passed. 

Labour orders MPs not to support motion for fresh Brexit referendum

The defeat came after Labour ordered its MPs to abstain on the vote and dozens of other MPs who support another referendum also abstained, insisting now was not the right time to push the motion. 

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Labour has said it would support a public vote to stop “a damaging Tory Brexit” or a no-deal outcome but whipped its MPs not to support Ms Wollaston’s motion.

Explaining the decision in the Commons, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “Today is about the question of whether Article 50 should be extended and whether we can find a purpose.

“Many colleagues in and out of this place absolutely supportive of the cause of a People’s Vote vehemently disagree with this amendment being tabled and voted on today.”

“He added: “Those pressing this amendment seem to be out of step with the vast majority of co-campaigners who are campaigning for exactly the same cause. “They may genuinely have a difference of opinion but we will not be supporting [amendment] H tonight.”

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Defying party orders, 25 Labour MPs voted for Ms Wollaston’s motion, while 18 broke ranks to vote against it. 

But dozens more of the party’s MPs who support a People’s Vote also refused to back the proposal. 

In a statement explaining their decision to abstain, more than 30 of them said the were instead waiting to back a different amendment, being drawn up by Labour backbenchers Peter Kyle and Phil Wilson, that would see parliament withhold support  for Theresa May’s Brexit deal until she put it to a public vote. 

They said: “We are all deeply committed to securing a People’s Vote. But to win that vote, we need to win a vote in the House of Commons. 

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“The best chance of that is via the so-called Kyle/Wilson amendment, which isn’t being voted on today.”

The group, which included Mr Kyle and Mr Wilson, said they were abstaining “because we know amendment H won’t pass today and we need to bring colleagues who have concerns about a People’s Vote with us as we move towards voting for Kyle/Wilson”, adding: “We will have the opportunity to vote for Kyle/Wilson and secure a People’s Vote within a matter of days.:

They continued: “Some of us have campaigned for a People’s Vote before the campaign even came into existence. Many of us have broken our party whips to get us this far.

“We hope our supporters outside the House of Commons today trust our political judgement so that, together, we can win the votes required to secure the People’s Vote we all want.”

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Politics

Museveni sworn in for sixth term as Ugandan president

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Museveni, 76, won re-election in January despite widespread reports of irregularities

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni was sworn in Wednesday for his sixth term as president, as police surrounded the home of his main opposition rival who decried the inauguration as a “sham”.

Museveni, who won re-election in January despite widespread reports of irregularities, took the oath of office at a ceremony in Kampala broadcast on national television and attended by several African heads of state and other foreign dignitaries.

The 76-year-old, wearing a dark blue suit and his trademark wide-brimmed safari hat, promised to “pay true allegiance” to the East African country he has ruled nonstop since taking power as a rebel leader in 1986.

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His victory in January was overshadowed by the bloodiest pre-election crackdown in years, with opposition candidates forcibly prevented from campaigning and dozens of protesters killed by security forces.

Opposition leader Bobi Wine, who came second to Museveni in the ballot but declared the vote rigged, said police and soldiers had “besieged” his home on the outskirts of Kampala and prevented him from leaving.

“Dictator Museveni is swearing in well aware he stole the elections and disenfranchised Ugandans and he is scared of people opposing the sham ceremony,” the 39-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker told AFP.

“Even if he has sworn in, we will continue the struggle to dislodge him from power through peaceful means and this will come soon.”

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Kizza Besigye, an opposition veteran who ran and lost against Museveni in four disputed and often violent presidential elections, was also placed under effective house arrest.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga described the measures as “normal” precautions taken to protect Wine and Besigye.

“There was intelligence reports that some people wanted to cause disruptions during the swearing-in ceremony and we took precaution to provide security for some leaders, including the opposition leaders including Bobi Wine and Besigye,” he said.

“This is normal security deployment for VIPs.”

However, Enanga also said Wine was planning to hold a parallel swearing-in ceremony and this would be “illegal and treasonous and police will not allow him to do so.”

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Wine challenged the election result in court but later withdrew his petition, saying the judiciary was stacked in favour of Museveni.

In March he urged Ugandans to “rise up peacefully and unarmed” in protest against Museveni’s ongoing rule. Since the election, the opposition has alleged that security forces have been abducting their supporters.

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Benin: Court confirms the re-election of President Talon

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The re-election of President Patrice Talon was confirmed Wednesday by the Constitutional Court of Benin.

Talon, 62, in power since 2016, won the April 11 poll alongside Vice President Mariam Chabi Talata, with 1,982,534 votes out of a total of 2,297,315 valid votes cast, according to the court.

The re-elected president is the 14th head of state of the Republic of Benin.

Some opposition parties boycotted the presidential election due to pre-election violence and their objection to President Patrice Talon’s quest for a second term.

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Somalia: Parliament votes to extend presidential term

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The lower house of Somalia’s parliament voted on Monday to extend the president’s term by two years.

It is about letting the African nation prepare for direct elections, said Mohamed Mursal Sheikh, speaker of parliament.

One hundred and forty-nine (149) lawmakers voted in favor of the proposal which one rejected and three abstained, Mursal said.

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