Election commissions in Donetsk and Lugansk are still counting the ballots, but preliminary results show the majority of eastern Ukrainians supported self-rule, despite intensified military operation by Kiev which resulted in several deaths.
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After the last polling stating closed in Lugansk and Donetsk regions at 23:00 local time (20:00 GMT), election commissions began counting the votes.
According to preliminary results – based on phone call reports from local commissions – in Donetsk region 89.7% of votes were cast in favour of political independence from Kiev. In Lugansk region preliminary results have not yet been announced, but the leader of the local “people’s front” said only around 5% voted against the “Act of state self-rule of the Lugansk People's Republic.”Despite fears that amid Kiev’s intensified military crackdown – which killed at least two civilians on referendum day – the turnout will be low, in both of the region it was unexpectedly high. In Donetsk it reached 74.87%, while in Lugansk the central election commission says 81% of eligible voters came to the polling stations.
With such a huge turnout, the referendums have been recognized as valid by both election commissions.
Kiev however, calling the regional voting on self-determination illegal, sent its recently formed paramilitary forces in an apparent move to disrupt referendums.
As armored military vehicles blocked passage to polling stations, voting in four towns across Lugansk region was disrupted. In the Donetsk town of Krasnoarmeysk, the National Guard shot at a crowd and killed two civilians who were protesting their attempt to seize a polling station.
The final results are expected be announced during region wide rallies on Monday.
In what is becoming a weekly ritual, the German press continues to demolish the US case of "idealistic humaniatrian" Ukraine intervention. Recall, that it was a week ago that German tabloid Bild am Sonntag, hardly the most reputable source but certainly one which reaches the broadest audience, reported that dozens of CIA and FBI agents were "advising the Ukraine government." This conclusion is hardly a stretch and certainly based on facts considering the recent semi-secret jaunt by CIA head Brennan to Kiev. Fast forward one week when overnight the same Bild reported that about 400 elite mercenary commandos of the private US security firm, Academi, f/k/a Xe Services, f/k/a Blackwater "are involved in a punitive operation mounted by Ukraine's new government" against east Ukraine separatists.
An army spokeswoman told AFPthe area around the Quneitra crossing was closed "for security reasons."
Speaking to AFP, security sources said they feared fighting between rebels and Syrian army forces would affect the area.
Rebels in southern Syria set up earlier this year the so-called Southern Front, including some 30,000 fighters from more than 55 mainstream rebel groups, and have claimed successes, notably in Quneitra.
The Quneitra crossing was recaptured by Syrian army forces last June after briefly falling into opposition hands.
The IAF airstrike targeted artillery batteries and a Syrian army trainingcamp which had aided in the detonation of an explosive charge on the Israeli-Syrian border, which injured three IDF soldiers.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon at the time warned Assad that he would "regret his actions" in threatening Israeli security, by allowing terrorists a free hand
“One wish, one man… El-Sissi for Egypt’s presidency,” read the campaign placards throughout the streets of Cairo in advance of the elections that will take place in two and a half weeks.
The stirring posters bear a picture of Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, 60, the man behind the last revolution in Egypt — in June 2013. He’s in civilian dress instead of his military uniform, wearing the sunglasses that have become his trademark.
But those expecting to see mass excitement over the elections on Cairo’s streets are likely to be disappointed. Poster-hangers, who were out on every street corner during the last elections two years ago, are around, but in far smaller numbers. Public interest in the elections is low. And that’s because there is no sense of real competition.“The outcome is not pre-determined like it was in Hosni Mubarak’s days,” Amar Zakaria, an Egyptian journalist, told The Times of Israel. “But the nation knows who to choose. This time, the people asked el-Sissi to run in the elections. [Lone rival Hamdeen] Sabahi has his supporters, but it looks like most of us will vote for el-Sissi. He has experience in actually doing. He has results. Sabahi is good at speaking, but we need men of action.”
El-Sissi, the former chief of staff and defense minister and youngest officer on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is expected to triumph in the May 26-27 elections over the Nasserist Sabahi to become Egypt’s fifth president. To this point, there is one clear focus for his political activities and his election campaign – war against the Muslim Brotherhood, whose president, Mohammed Morsi, he ousted.
El-Sissi was interviewed this week on Egyptian television for the first time since he declared his candidacy, and used the occasion to announce that the Brotherhood would be eliminated.
The reality is rather different, of course. The movement continues to operate and maintain some measure of popularity, despite the unceasing efforts from the military and security forces to quash it.
El-Sissi claimed in the interview that he would continue the all-out war against them. “If I am elected president, the Muslim Brotherhood movement will cease to exist,” he promised.
He said he opposes talking with the Brotherhood, and declared that, if elected, “no memory of this movement will remain.”
El-Sissi and the regime are deeply involved in the war against the Muslim Brotherhood. Two days ago, the trial of former president Morsi opened in Cairo, along with the trials of the movement’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, and 36 other members, facing charges of collaboration with enemies and betraying Egypt after they joined “foreign and local terrorist groups.”
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