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Contenders scramble as Joe Biden zeroes in on running-mate choice | USA News



The scramble to secure the number two spot on the Democratic presidential ticket kicked into high gear on Wednesday in the United States, just a day after the presumptive nominee at the top of the ticket, Joe Biden, promised to announce his pick next week.

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, said to be on Biden’s shortlist to be his running mate, appeared on television and harshly criticised President Donald Trump for failing to question Russian leader Vladimir Putin about reports Moscow paid bounties for the killing of US troops.

“He is absolutely a failure as our commander-in-chief,” Rice said in an appearance on ABC’s The View. “He has got some very bizarre, very inexplicable reason for always giving Putin the benefit of the doubt.”

Biden, who leads Trump in opinion polls ahead of the November 3 election, has been increasingly expected to pick a woman of colour as the nation reels from protests over racial injustice.

While Rice is viewed as a serious contender for the number two spot on the ticket, the favourite is considered to be Senator Kamala Harris of California, who battled Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination. Congresswoman Karen Bass, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, is also said to be in consideration, as are Florida US Congresswoman Val Demings and Illinois US Senator Tammy Duckworth.

Reports on Wednesday said that some of Biden’s supporters, including some of his biggest donors, have been waging a campaign against Harris behind the scenes for a month or more. Citing anonymous sources close to the candidate, CNBC reported that the supporters are still smarting from Harris’s attacks on Biden during the debates last year over his record on race relations.

The donors also expressed concern that Harris is too ambitious for the role and would spend much of her time positioning herself for a presidential bid in 2024.

“She would be running for president the day of the inauguration,” Joe Morgan, a Florida businessman, told CNBC. “For me, loyalty and friendship should mean something. But as [former President] Bill Clinton once told me, the number one cause of Alzheimer’s is ambition.”

Notes prepared for a Tuesday news conference by Joe Biden included a section on Kamala Harris and a suggestion that he holds no grudge against the California senator for her attacks on his race relations record during the Democratic debates last year [Andrew Harnik/AP Photo]

Asked about Harris – the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants – at the White House on Wednesday, Trump passed up a chance to attack the possible VP contender.

“I think she’d be a fine choice, Kamala Harris,” Trump told reporters. “She’d be a fine choice.”

In her interview on ABC, Rice, who is Black, confirmed she was under consideration by the Biden campaign for the job, but did not say whether she had been interviewed.

Rice, 55, has never run for public office and if tapped by Biden, would be an untested presence on the campaign trail. But she had a solid working relationship with Biden when he served as President Barack Obama’s vice president. She was Obama’s national security adviser from 2013 to 2017.

Rice also criticised Trump for not committing to accept the results of November’s election. Democrats are increasingly concerned Trump will refuse to leave the White House even if defeated, and Rice said it would be important that Trump lose “decisively”.

“It has to be a resounding defeat,” she said.

Susan Rice ‘political liability for US administration’ (2:59)

Rice conceded that should she be chosen, her role in the aftermath of the 2012 attack on the US mission on Benghazi, Libya would likely become a campaign issue.

At the time, Rice, as US ambassador to the United Nations, was accused by Republicans of misleading the public about the nature of the attack. Congressional probes, however, found no wrongdoing on her part, and Rice on Wednesday defended her actions, calling Republican charges “dishonest”.

“I don’t doubt that the Republicans will use this and they’ll attack whoever is Joe Biden’s choice to be his vice president,” she said.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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Museveni issues ultimatum to police boss




Museveni flagged off distribution of motorcycles for NRM chairpersons

President Yoweri Museveni has given Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola a chilling ultimatum: You either do your work or I will do it myself!

Museveni disclosed the ultimatum he gave to the IGP today Monday at the NRM secretariat at Plot 10 Kyadondo Road in Kampala where he was flagging off the distribution of motorcycles to parish chairpersons of the ruling National Resistance Movement party across the country. 

“I told the IGP that if the police doesn’t do their work, I will do it myself by arresting the police officers themselves,” Museveni stunned his audience as he commented on the electoral violence that marred the NRM primaries held on Friday last week. At least 4 people were killed across the country during the primaries. 

“There was violence in Bukono county [Namutumba district] where people were beaten. I got information that police has not done much work. Some (policemen) have been arrested and given police bond; there is no police bond for somebody who has attacked Ugandans!,” Museveni added. 

Museveni vowed to deal with all persons who messed up the party primaries.  In some parts of the country, there were massive regularities where candidates who had been defeated ended up being announced winners. In some places like Namutumba, Isingiro, Ntungamo, Jinja, Katakwi, among others, there was violence that led to the killing and wounding of civilians. Museveni said that they are going to make sure that all those who participated in these irregularities and violence are held to account. 

Museveni said although the violence was orchestrated by the politicians, the police personnel are to be held accountable for failing to contain it.

Last week, police spokesman Fred Enanga warned police personnel especially those guarding VIPs against being drawn into the politicians’ political wrangles, reminding them that they would face the music if they did. With the president now threatening to go and conduct the arrests of errant policemen himself, IGP Ochola is likely to move fast to avert the spectacle. 

Museveni wondered why police would shoot at unarmed people who were fighting amongst themselves: “That policeman must be arrested; even the ones who are threatening people you will go to jail for that if we get evidence,” a seemingly incensed Museveni said.

He also said that the state minister of Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana who was captured on camera attempting to shoot people over the weekend in Ntugamo after he lost the  Rushenyi primaries, will be charged with threatening violence and attempted murder. 

 “This game is finished,” Museveni said.

Rukatana has since been charged and remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district in western Uganda. Museveni called upon all those dissatisfied with the election results to write petitions to the regional panels of elders which he said are going to be constituted to hear all election complaints.

“We are going to get three respected people who are not part of the struggles, then we shall go and audit village per village and we shall discover. If you have committed forgery, the registrar or the politician who ordered,  you all shall go to jail. The game is finished; the voting is by lining and if you miss-add, you are ‘miss-add’ yourself,” Museveni said.

Museveni’s speech came shortly before that of Justine Kasule Lumumba, the secretary general of the NRM who called upon the president to reign over some senior people who with impunity were freely changing the results of the elections.

“Some of our staff were lured into changing declaration forms on the way forgetting that people who had participated at the village don’t need to write; they registered the record in their faces…Some have done things with impunity… in Butemba county Kyakwanzi district, one of the candidates who got 3,000 votes brought in soldiers, cordoned off that place and was declared a winner and off they went away,” Lumumba said. 

The ball is now in Ochola’s court to get the police to execute their duties professionally and with impartiality. In March 2017, President Museveni warned Ochola’s predecessor Kale Kayihura to clean the police force of wrong elements. As months passed with no visible sign of police officers shaping up, Museveni resorted to other security agencies who started arresting rogue senior police officers and charging them in the military court for various crimes.

Kayihura was then removed from office, arrested and jointly charged with the errant officers in the army court. To avoid similar fate, Ochola is likely to use a firmer hand on the police officers so that by the time of the February 2021 elections, there is no laxity in the force’s execution of its mandate to maintain law and order.

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