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Democrats file motion to impeach Trump, to give Pence time to act

The move to impeach Trump has the support of more than 218 Democrat members of the 435-member House ensure its passage.

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New York, Jan 12 (IANS) Democrats launched on Monday a two-pronged attack on US President Donald Trump to remove him from office by starting the process of impeachment and by introducing a resolution in the House of Representatives demanding that Vice President Mike Pence oust him by exercising his Constitutional authority.

Republicans blocked a resolution demanding that Pence and the cabinet remove Trump from office and the Democrats responded by introducing the article of impeachment against the President for his alleged role in the storming of Congress by his supporters last week that left a police officer and four others dead.

“The President’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday.

Pelosi had given Pence a 24-hour ultimatum on Sunday to act on the Constitution’s 25th Amendment that empowers him and a majority of the cabinet to remove Trump by declaring him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.

At the brief session of the House of Representatives on Monday, the resolution needed to be accepted unanimously but a Republican objected necessitating a formal vote, which could take place as early as Tuesday.

Meanwhile, acting on the ultimatum, Democrats retaliated by introducing an article of impeachment charging Trump with “inciting violence against the government of the United States” through his actions mobilising his supporters against the election of Joe Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President and asking them to go to Congress.

The move to impeach Trump has the support of more than 218 Democrat members of the 435-member House ensure its passage.

This will be the second impeachment of Trump. The last one 2019 failed because the Republican-controlled Senate refused to convict him.

There is a sense of urgency to act because Trump’s term is ending in nine days and the leader of the Democratic Party majority in the House, Steny Hoyer, said a vote may be possible on Wednesday.

He explained the dual track action of pursuing the 25th Amendment and impeachment: “Because the timeframe is so short and the need is so immediate and an emergency, we will also proceed on a parallel path.”

He dismissed concerns about timing of impeachment, “Whether impeachment can pass the United States Senate is not the issue.”

Biden has declared Trump unfit to continue as president, but has not called for impeaching him citing the tight timeframe.

If there were six months left “we should be doing everything to get him out of office (like) impeaching him again, trying to evoke the 25th Amendment”, but now, he said, he was focused on getting “our agenda moving as quickly as we can”.

An impeachment is only the framing of charges of by the House — which can be rushed through by the Democrat-controlled body — but Trump will have to be put on trial before the Senate in a judicial-style procedure with the Senators acting as jurors.

One of the reasons Biden does not endorse an impeachment is because he will have to get his cabinet members approved by the Senate quickly and if when it reconvenes on January 19, it is caught up in holding the trial after the impeachment, the confirmation of his nominees will be held up.

Democratic Party’s whip in the House, James Clyburn, left the timeline open while speaking during a CNN programme on Sunday. He said the impeachment could take place at a later date after giving Biden time to get his administration off the ground.

But now it appears that Democrats will continue with the impeachment.

Pence and the cabinet have shown no public interest in invoking the 25th Amendment.

Two members of the cabinet — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao resigned last week.

Two others, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, were reported to have discussed invoking the 25th Amendment.

The attack on the Capitol building took place while Congress was in session considering the ratification of the electoral college votes electing Biden as President and Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Trump, who has claimed that their election was invalid because there was massive fraud, told a rally of his supporters before the Congress session began to go there.

A section of his supporters stormed the Capital and invaded the Senate chamber and the offices of the speaker and others, bring the session to a halt and evacuating the legislators to safe places.

Undeterred, Congress met later and put its seal on the election of Biden and Harris.

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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