JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania: US presidential debate organisers vowed on Wednesday (Sep 30) to change the rules to rein in unruly behaviour after President Donald Trump repeatedly interrupted rival Joe Biden and the moderator in the candidates' taunt-filled initial prime-time encounter.
Biden suggested a mute button might help and Trump complained the Commission on Presidential Debates was siding with the Democrats in the aftermath of Tuesday's debate in Cleveland.
The 90-minute face-off triggered widespread criticism of Trump and, to a lesser extent, Biden. The Republican president repeatedly bullied Biden and questioned his intelligence, while the Democratic nominee called Trump a racist, a liar and the worst president ever.
Biden's campaign raised nearly US$10 million during the debate, a campaign aide said, adding to the Democrat's financial advantage with five weeks to go until the Nov 3 election.
The former vice president has held a modest but steady lead in national voter surveys for months, although opinion polls in the battleground states that traditionally decide elections show a closer contest.
Trump did not commit at the debate to accepting the election result, reasserting unfounded complaints that an increase in mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic would lead to widespread voting fraud.
"The president will step down. The American people will not stand for it. No agency would stand for that happening," Biden said on a campaign stop.
TURNING OFF THE MICROPHONE?
The debates commission said it would adopt changes to allow for a "more orderly discussion", with the next debate scheduled for Oct 15 in Miami. There was immediate speculation that this could include a mute button to limit interruptions.
The Trump campaign accused the organisation of "moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game".
Trump also was critical of the debate's moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who spent much of the debate trying to restore order.
"Chris had a tough night," Trump posted on Wednesday morning on Twitter, calling the debate a "two on one" fight.
"Never forget they are coming after me because I am fighting for you," Trump told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally outside an airport hangar in Duluth, Minnesota.
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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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