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People Power Forces Another Political Change in Egypt; Egyptians Not Satisfied With Military Concessions; On the Ground in Tahrir Square; Student Activist Reports on New Uprising; ICC Prosecutor in Libya to Discuss Trial of Gadhafi's Son; Tear Gas Interrupts South Korean Parliament; European Commissioner President Meets With New Italian Prime Minister; Silvio Berlusconi Pens Lyrics of New CD; Afghan Rape Victims Suffer Under Draconian Law; South African Newspapers Condemn New Law; Gateway: World's Longest Tunnel Expected to Revolutionize Rail Transportation Across Europe; On the Move: Holland's Superbus; Newspaper Editor's Take on New South African Censorship Law; Newt Gingrich New Republican Front-Runner in Bid for US Presidency; Republican Presidential Candidates to Debate Foreign Policy

Aired November 22, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


MONITA RAJPAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Bowing to pressure. Egypt's military government finally makes concessions to the protesters in Cairo. Tonight, why that may not be enough to calm this crowd.

Live from London, I'm Monita Rajpal. Also tonight.


GULNAZ, RAPE VICTIM (through translator): When my mother went out, he came into my house and he closed the doors and windows. I started screaming, but he shut me up by putting his hand on my mouth.


RAJPAL: A teenager raped in Afghanistan and considering marriage to the man who attacked her. Tonight, what her decision says about the justice system in that war-torn country.

And secret society outrage over a new law in South Africa that would ban journalists from reporting on corruption.

First, tonight, people power forces another huge political shift in Egypt, but it's far too early to declare the crisis over. On the fifth straight day of protests in Tahrir Square, Egypt's military rulers took steps to diffuse anger over the slow pace of democratic reform.

They are speeding up presidential elections, now promising to hold them by June of next year while parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned next Monday.

The military has also agreed to accept the cabinet's resignation, replacing it with a national salvation government. Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi announced the overtures in a televised address.


MOHAMED HUSSEIN TANTAWI, FIELD MARSHALL, SUPREME COUNCIL OF the ARMED FORCES OF EGYPT (through translator): The armed forces as represented in its supreme council does not want to rule, and puts the interest of the country before everything, and is ready to hand over the responsibility immediately and to go back to its barracks if the country -- if the people of Egypt want that.


RAJPAL: Well, that last remark stating a willingness to hold a referendum on an immediate transfer of power is a dramatic attempt to ease protesters' concerns. They fear the military is delaying a democratic transition so it can cement a powerful role for itself in any future government.

Now, the problem with these new promises is that many protesters have already lost faith in the military leadership. We want to bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman live from Cairo tonight to see how the military concessions are going over there.

Ben, at this point, when we're looking at these pictures, live pictures of the protests that continue there in Tahrir Square, it seems as though whatever the Supreme Council has said, it just doesn't seem to be enough.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, in fact, if you look down into the square, it seems a lot of people are voting with their feet against what they heard in Field Marshall Tantawi's address to the nation.

In fact, what we're -- what's going on here is what was called for yesterday by opposition groups and revolutionary groups. They called for a million-man demonstration in Tahrir Square until the military -- the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces, the military group that runs the country, actually steps down.

And what we're also seeing is the kind of action on the ground as opposed to words on television that have enraged Egyptians over the last four days. In fact, it does appear that the security forces are trying to put pressure on Tahrir Square.

They're not only firing teargas from the area around the interior ministry, but now from several other directions, as well, and most people say this is the real message from Tantawi. It's the teargas. The teargas, he wants people to leave Tahrir, go home, and be quiet. But as we can see from the square, that's not about to happen. Monita?

RAJPAL: And Ben, when we look at the big picture, we talk about teargas as well, and there's some report that indicate that, and some video that show that police are actually using shotguns and firing into the crowd.

What has this really done to the country, as this was a time when the country was expected to move forward and progress in some way, but as we see, the economy is badly affected. So, what has this really done to the country in a big picture sort of way?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly if you look over the last ten months since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the economy has been just falling further and further down. The Cairo stock market fell four percent yesterday, two percent today.

Tourists are staying away. Apparently, some charter companies had canceled flights to Egypt. The economy is taking a real hit.

But at the same time, what we're seeing here is people are focused on the political situation. They're angry at police brutality, they're angry at a military regime that seems to be following from the same rule book or book that Hosni Mubarak followed, which is in the face of dissent, you wield the baton, you fire teargas.

That's made people very angry. They're tired of years and years and police brutality, and whatever Field Marshall Tantawi says, they're, as I said, they're voting with their feet and coming to Tahrir Square.

RAJPAL: Ben Wedeman, there, in Cairo. Thank you so much.

Well clinics set up on sidewalks around Tahrir have been treating a steady stream of protesters over the past few days, some with gunshot wounds from rubber bullets, others with injuries from beatings to the head. Ivan Watson takes us down to street level to show us the battle zone.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the front lines of the running battles over her. The police have set up a barricade in this direction.

The kids have been throwing rocks at them. The teargas is coming constantly. You can see the corrosive effects of it. Everybody's showing these shells that they pick up, and many of them claiming that they're made in the USA. In fact, this is made in Jamestown, Pennsylvania, riot smoke. And that's created a lot of anger against the US right now.

The crowd here angry, young, furious at the loss of life here over the course of the past three days, demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Marshall Tantawi, step down. The soldiers are around the corner here.

Around the corner right here, the army has set up barricades along one road, but it's riot police that they're facing off against. If we turn in this direction, it's riot police down here.

This is one pocket of turmoil in the center of the Egyptian capital, but it is throwing the entire country into a political crisis just days before elections are scheduled to be held. And that's called into question whether those elections can be held at all.

Ivan Watson, CNN, in Cairo.


RAJPAL: Well, young people played a huge roll in Egypt's uprising earlier this year, and they're just as important this time around. Tonight, we're joined by an 18-year-old activist and student whose Twitter page says, quote, "Reality check: we still live in a dictatorship." End quote.

Mohamed Abd-Elhamid is on the line now from Cairo. Mohamed, thank you very much for being with us. What is going through your mind when you heard Field Marshall Tantawi speaking today?

MOHAMED ABD-ELHAMID, ACTIVIST AND STUDENT: Actually, nothing. I had no prior expectations to what Tantawi had to say, so he actually met my expectations.

I knew that Tantawi, as soon as I saw what was happening in Tahrir, that he'd try to go out on TV and tell people at home that we're thugs and we were trying to force the elections -- to not make the elections happen, and we don't -- we want the country to be insecure and all that.

All that things that Mubarak used to say, it would be used again because in the end, Tantawi was interested and is part of Mubarak's regime.

RAJPAL: You grew up -- you were born at the time during Mubarak's regime. Now you are facing what many hope would have been a change in your country at this time.

When you see what's happening now, there, as we show the live pictures of Tahrir Square, and also we've got -- I understand we've got some photographs, there, that you took while down there in Tahrir Square. What do you see happening in your country?

ABD-ELHAMID: I see my country fighting for something that has been taken from it since ever. We've been a country run by Pharaohs, then kings, then military rule.

If we managed to have a free country and to have fair elections, it would be the first time in Egypt's history that that would happen. So, that's a goal that everyone is willing to give his life, his blood, his eyes, his everything to do.

RAJPAL: All right, Mohamed Abd-Elhamid, thank you so much.

Now, if you're also in Egypt and have witnessed or taken part in these protests, we would love to hear from you. Just click onto to send us your stories, your pictures, and video from the demonstrations. That's

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, we're inside an Afghan prison where a rape victim tells her shocking story.


GULNAZ (through translator): A lot of people told me that after your daughter's born, give it to someone else. But my aunt told me to keep her as proof of my innocence.


RAJPAL: Hear the heartbreaking choices a young mother must make to save her daughter and her own life and all in the name of so-called justice.

Plus, is a free press something of the past? The South African bill that threatens the future of post-Apartheid democracy.

And leading the Republican field in the United States, a new name comes out on top in the latest poll as the candidates hoping to take on Obama gear up for a live TV debate. Stay with us here on CNN.


RAJPAL: Hello, I'm Monita Rajpal in London. You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Here's a look at some of the other stories making headlines tonight.

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court says Moammar Gadhafi's son could be put on trial in Libya. Luis Moreno Ocampo is in Tripoli looking at whether that's actually feasible.

Saif al-Islam Gadhafi is accused of crimes against humanity. Red Cross representatives met with him Tuesday, three days after his capture. They say he appears to be in good health.

South Korea's parliament approved a free trade agreement between Seoul and Washington on Tuesday, but the vote wasn't without drama. An opposition politician threw a teargas canister in the chamber shortly before the vote trying to stop it, but he was wrestled out by security guards and the pact was ratified.

"Nobody is expecting miracles." The words of European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso after meeting the new Italian prime minister. Mario Monti made his first visit to Brussels since taking office. He said he is committed to implementing reforms to turn Italy's economy around, and Barroso liked what he was hearing.


JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: I am confident that Italy will pass this difficult test. This is what citizens, markets, the European Union, and also our international partners expect and hope for. Indeed, Europe and the world, I would say, have their eyes on Italy.


RAJPAL: Meanwhile, his political career may have hit a low note, but Silvio Berlusconi's music career could be about to hit a high one. The former Italian prime minister has penned the lyrics for a new CD.




RAJPAL: It's his fourth collaboration with singer Mariano Apicella and it features 11 songs written over two years. Apicella says the songs aren't political. Berlusconi resigned earlier this month over Italy's debt crisis.

It's a huge night in the UEFA Champions League with clashes between Europe's elite clubs underway right now. Several sides are looking to pick up crucial points with the knock-out stages approaching.

Joining us now from CNN Center is "World Sport's" Candy Reid. Candy, bring us up to date with the latest scores.

CANDY REID, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Monita, hello. Thank you very much. Well, I can tell you there are an awful lot of nerves amongst fans of European football right now, because match day five is the penultimate round of group matches and is very likely to give indications as to which teams will advance and which teams will be knocked out.

I can tell you, big game, Bayern began their home match against Villarreal in pole position in Group A. They knew a win would see them progress to the last 16, and right now, it's looking good. I can tell you, they've just scored a third, so it's 3-1 at the Allianz Arena for Bayern Munich.

Meantime, Manchester City, well, they have the chance to advance, too, with Bayern if they could beat Napoli at the Sao Paolo, but it's not looking like they will, because Edinson Cavani has scored a second, so Napoli are 2-1 up there at home.

Now, in Group B, Lille have won the only match completed so far, the French side. They scored two unanswered goals against CSKA Moscow, which moved them onto five points with Moscow and Trabzonspor.

Leaders Inter at at Trabzonspor, and it's 1-1 because Halil Altintop has just scored for the Turks, 1-1 there.

Now, to Group C, where Manchester United and Benfica began tied at the top on eight points. They're playing at Old Trafford, and that is an absolutely thriller. Manchester United went ahead through Darren Fletcher, but Benfica actually tied it up at 2-2 about 80 seconds later. So, that's the score at Old Trafford.

Meantime, it looks like Barca will take all three points from their trip to Romania. Alex Frei, the Swiss legend, scored twice in that one, and that will take them onto eight points, so it's very tight in Group C.

Monita, in Group D, already through, Real Madrid, well, they've made sure of finishing top. They are currently 6-nil winning at the Bernabeu over Dynamo Zagreb. Jose Mourinho has got his team rocking and rolling. Monita?

RAJPAL: Quite the score, there, 6-nil. Candy Reid, there, at CNN Center. Thank you so much for that.

Coming up next, 12 years in jail or marry your rapist. That's what Afghanistan calls justice in the case of this young mother, who's faced with an awful choice. We'll have live reaction from Kabul.


RAJPAL: We take you to Afghanistan, now and a shocking example of justice in a country that we're told is making progress with international help. But CNN has uncovered a draconian law holding its people back, especially women.

In June, US president Barack Obama proclaimed "Afghans are creating new opportunities for women and girls and trying to turn the page on decades of war." Sentiments shared by other world leaders, too.

But you're about to meet a young woman with no opportunities at all. A woman who was raped by a relative, then jailed along with her attacker, and faced with an appalling choice in return for her freedom.

Well, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this powerful story for us, and he joins us now, live from Kabul. Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You are -- about to hear a remarkable story of a woman called Gulnaz who we met in jail quite recently.

And as NATO begins to talk about how quickly it begin the drawdown of its troops to eventually have very few here by 2014, the question is, what kind of Afghanistan do they leave behind? This story showing that women's rights here still already have an incredibly long way to go.


WALSH (voice-over): Gulnaz remembers clearly the smell of her rapist's clothes.

GULNAZ (through translator): He had filthy clothes on, as he does metal and construction work. When my mother went out, he came into my house and he closed the doors and windows. I started screaming, but he shut me up by putting his hand on my mouth.

WALSH: Her rapist was the husband of her cousin, but in Afghanistan's draconian society, this 19-year-old was also blamed. Her rape, sex with a married man, was seen as adultery by the courts, and she was sentenced to 12 years in jail. To her, there's only one way out. A dreadful choice.

GULNAZ (through translator): I was asked if I wanted to start a new life by getting released by marrying this man. My answer was that one man dishonored me, and I want to stay with that man.

WALSH: Inside the prison walls, she agreed to be interviewed with her face hidden. Here, she can't escape her attacker. Her daughter is the child of the rape.

GULNAZ (through translator): My daughter is a little innocent child. Who knew I would have a child in this way? A lot of people told me that after your daughter's born, give it to someone else, but my aunt told me to keep her as proof of my innocence.

WALSH (on camera): In Afghanistan, a rape victim's ordeal often simply begins with the physical attack. Then, there's isolation from society. In Gulnaz's case, the possibility she may have to marry her attacker, and then the risk she could be killed because of the shame of her ordeal.

WALSH (voice-over): We spoke to her convicted rapist in jail, who didn't want to be shown on camera and denied raping her. He said Gulnaz would definitely be killed on release, but by her own family out of shame.

WALSH (on camera): Because of how Afghan justice has treated Gulnaz, she's taken the extraordinary step of speaking out about her attack, but even that has brought her problems.

WALSH (voice-over): She spoke openly, her face uncovered, in a documentary about women's rights, paid for by the European Union. But the EU blocked its release, saying it would endanger her.

Yet the documentary makers say the EU blocked it also because they don't want to make the justice system look bad. The EU ambassador said it was his call.

VYGAUDAS USACKAS, EU AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: What I'm concerned about is the situation of the woman, about her security and well-being. That's of paramount importance. That's the key criteria, according to which I, as a representative of the European Union, will judge.

WALSH: But now, rape victim Gulnaz has been judged an adulterer, her only possible escape, marriage to her rapist. Something she says she'll accept so her child can continue to have a mother.


WALSH: Now, another really terrifying fact about this, perhaps the safest place for Gulnaz at the moment is the jail you just saw her in, given the threats against her life.

During the interview she gave to us, she directly appealed to Afghan president Hamid Karzai to intervene, and frankly at this moment, that is her best option, some kind of intervention and, perhaps, a chance of asylum or sanctuary somewhere in Afghanistan. Monita?

RAJPAL: And the sad reality is, hers is one of perhaps many cases, thousands of cases that are unregistered and that go unreported, as well. And it all happens at a time when the international community, such as the coalition, are planning on withdrawing from Afghanistan.

WALSH: Absolutely. We asked the Afghan prosecutors to comment on this particular case and, in honesty, they said to us, "We're going to have to get back to you in a while," because it wasn't exactly on their radar. These things are horrifyingly common.

And as you say, it points out what kind of Afghanistan is NATO going to be leaving behind, and really highlights that enormous gulf between the initial ambitions the West had when they came here ten years ago to transform the country and where it is now, where so many parts of the country, so much of society still retains these laws that have perhaps more in common with the Taliban culture that originally NATO tried to remove here.

And also, I must point out that many Afghans are sickened by what's happened to Gulnaz, but at the same time, so much of society here is so distant from that original goal NATO had. Monita?

RAJPAL: All right. Nick, thank you very much for that. Nick Paton Walsh, there, for us in Kabul tonight.

Well, both Britain -- as we've been saying, both Britain and the United States are reducing their presence in Afghanistan. The US even has a special public-private partnership for justice reform in the country, and that includes promoting the rights of women.

Well, earlier, I spoke to a former deputy to the EU special representative for Afghanistan and, given the amount of time he spent there, I asked him how he felt when he heard this story.


MICHAEL SEMPLE, AFGHANISTAN ANALYST: This is a particularly worrying case because it does seem clear that the young woman was a victim of rape.

Quite often, what's happened is that when they failed to secure a conviction of rape against the rapist, then the woman ends up being accused of adultery, whereas in this case, it seems that the man has been convicted of rape, and yet still the woman has been done for adultery.

RAJPAL: It makes it seem as though that Afghanistan, the country where it stands now, that things have not really progressed at all.

SEMPLE: Anybody who thought that Afghanistan was going to be transformed overnight and that there would be no issues of, for example, women's rights in Afghanistan a few years after the intervention just simply didn't understand the way that societies work.

You're talking about entrenched attitudes. A conservative society, one which is fairly jealous of, in a sense, its social sovereignty, control over the way that society treats its women. And it certainly was not going to turn around and change overnight.

If you want to look at what has changed, the very fact that there is a human rights commission, an Afghan human rights commission, which is taking up these cases, the fact that the UN does have a presence and is trying to work on these things. Some of these women are alive who might otherwise have been killed by their families or villagers in these cases.

So, what you're talking about is there is an ongoing struggle for human rights, particularly for the rights of women. Not that -- not that it was ever possible that they were going to be transformed overnight.

RAJPAL: But it seems as though the Afghan government in itself is not there to protect women, even though there are female representation within parliament in the Afghan government, it seems as thought he Afghan government is there not to protect women.

Especially when they've passed a law that would essentially allow rape within marriage. They passed a law back in 2009.

SEMPLE: Well, yes. They have failed to reform the criminal code, which creates this problem about the lack of a clear distinction between adultery and rape. They were also involved in passing the law which legalized marital rape for the Shia minority.

And I'm sure that many of the women activists feel that they haven't been getting due protection from their government, but this is something which is a long issue of struggle, which is not going to be changed by somebody waving a magic wand.

RAJPAL: Who needs to do more? Is it more the West, the international community, the United States? Or is it those within Afghanistan itself?

SEMPLE: I think that the -- probably the best that you can hope for the role of the West in this is to try and sort of keep a lid on the situation, help protect the overall security situation and political stability there. And then, it's going to be up for the Afghans to struggle for their rights.

And frankly, any foreigner going over there seem to be making too direct interference in the position of Afghan women, or any Afghan who is in, frankly, is relying too much on the support of foreigners for them to take up the cause of Afghan women, will be weakened in the country.

What they -- what the foreigners can do is try and protect the political stability, and then what we have to hope is that an outcome of the political process that women will indeed be able to achieve their rights there. And it's going to take some time.


RAJPAL: Michael Semple, there.

You are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we return, protecting the people or shielding a corrupt elite? South Africa's government delivers a blow to freedom of the press.

And in the United States, all eyes will be on this man in just a few hours. According to a poll, he is the new front-runner to take on President Obama in next year's election. Stay tuned for more as the Republican candidates gear for a live TV debate.


RAJPAL: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD on CNN. Time now for a check on the world headlines.

New concessions by Egypt's military rulers have failed to satisfy crowds in Tahrir Square. The military promised to speed up presidential elections and replace the cabinet, but many protesters want the military leadership itself to resign.

Turkey's prime minister is warning Syria's president that if he doesn't resign, he could end up like Libya's Moammar Gadhafi. Meanwhile, a UN humanitarian committee voted to condemn Syria's government. Activists say at least 17 Syrians were killed on Tuesday.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is in Libya today for talks on jurisdiction on the cases of two high-profile Moammar Gadhafi loyalists. Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and his former spy chief are both in custody in Libya, and both are wanted by the ICC.

Pakistan's ambassador to the United States has resigned. The move comes amidst a probe into reports that Pakistan's president made a secret offer to Washington to weaken the powers of his country's military. Pakistani media have speculated that Haqqani was involved.

It's a new law that's been branded an affront to democracy. Freedom of speech in South Africa now faces its greatest threat since the Apartheid era, with the government voting overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that critics say will effectively silence the press. CNN's Robyn Curnow explains.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Censorship, blacked out copy, threatening and jailing journalists were all common practice during the Apartheid days as the regime tried to control information.

Now, outside parliament, protests against the ANC-led government, defiance against the brand-new law that people feel will chip away at hard- won media freedoms.

CURNOW (on camera): This is Luthuli House, the headquarters of the ANC, the ruling party here in South Africa. Just across the road are the headquarters of the "Star" newspaper, one of the country's biggest dailies.

Two buildings facing off opposite each other. A representation, perhaps, of what many people see as a clash between the media and the ruling party.

CURNOW (voice-over): At stake, the Protection of Information bill, which Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation have said will limit the right of journalists and whistle- blowers to expose corruption.

Newspaper editors across the board, like Ferial Haffajee, have fought successfully for the bill to be watered down in parts, but what was passed still deeply worries the press.

FERIAL HAFFAJEE, EDITOR, "CITY PRESS": It should be called the Secrecy bill, because what it does is put a dragnet around unbelievable amounts of information currently in the public domain, which could just be declared off limits, classified, top secret.

CURNOW: The South African president and his party have repeatedly knocked heads with the media, who've reported critically on the president's rape trial and his subsequent acquittal, his polygamist lifestyle, as well as corruption by ANC officials during his presidency.

And so, there's little love lost between the president and the press. As he wrote in an ANC newsletter, "Press freedom and the like are noble principles, but we all know what drives the media is money, like all businesses." So, it is the print media, with headlines like these, that infuriate the ruling party.

MONDLI MAKHANYA, SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL EDITORS FORUM: Very powerful investigative that have come out of the media, which a lot of people in the government actually see as very problematic, and if you're threatened by the media.

And some very powerful people in government and in the ruling party have said that the media is the real opposition in South Africa.

CURNOW: Under the new law, journalists and whistle-blowers could be jailed for important stories seen by many to be in the public interest, and the stories would not be told. Scoops, such as the country's former police commissioner's exposure for taking bribes from an underworld kingpin, for which he's been convicted.

HAFFAJEE: And what this law will do is make people very scared, so it'll have a chilling effect on media freedom and the openness which we've come to enjoy.

CURNOW: The ANC tells CNN the law does not muzzle the media, and that it's important to keep state information classified. Statements that do little to soothe worries that the shadows of the past are coming back to haunt South Africa.

CURNOW (on camera): In the 1970s, Black Wednesday became infamous as the day when the Apartheid government shut down some liberal newspapers.

Today, here in South Africa, it's been called Black Tuesday as journalists in that building and concerned citizens across the country are wearing black in mourning for what they say is the chipping away of press freedom.

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg.


RAJPAL: Well, as you can imagine, newspapers in South Africa marked Black Tuesday by running front page spreads condemning the government in this morning's papers.

Take a look at this. Now, this is the "Times" newspaper, a dramatic front page with the headline, "Not in our name."

Now, this is the newspaper "Die Burger," which is published in Afrikaans. That had -- headline translates as "D-Day for media freedom."

Now, "The Herald" news paper has this front page. "Dark day for freedom." And another paper, "The Witness," goes with this simple headline saying "Say no."

Then there are the news websites, such as News 24, which had the question, "The future of SA media? Censored." And it wasn't just these media which changed their looks in solidarity with Black Tuesday. The University of Capetown had the word "Censored" plastered right across its official website.

We will, of course -- we will bring you a voice, a leading voice from one of the editors of the newspapers here in South Africa a little bit later on here on CONNECT THE WORLD, but for now, we'll be right back.


RAJPAL: Many thought it was impossible, but after years of digging and boring through mountains of rock, engineers broke through on the longest tunnel in the world last October, linking Italy and Switzerland. The Gotthard Rail Tunnel is expected to revolutionize transport across Europe, as Becky Anderson reports.


BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At 7:00 in the morning, Zurich Main Station is already bustling. I'm here to catch a train heading south through Switzerland, crossing the Italian border, and onto the city of Milan. Every day, about 10,000 people make this journey.

The train will follow an old, winding route across the Alps and through the famous Gotthard Tunnel.

The tunnel was first opened in 1882. It's ten miles long and was the first to be built through this mountain range.

ANDERSON (on camera): And way back then, the idea of having tunnels at some of the highest points was considered absolutely revolutionary.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Today, with the help of modern engineering, a new tunnel is being built below the existing one.

ANDERSON (on camera): We're now traveling above what is considered to be the longest tunnel in the world, 600 meters or about 2,000 feet below us is the Gotthard Base Tunnel. And when it's open, it will provide a flatter and faster route through the Swiss Alps.

ANDERSON (voice-over): For centuries, the Alps, a huge natural barrier, have hampered the smooth trade between countries like Germany and Italy. The rail and road routes are an important link along the north- south axis in Europe. Traffic has increased sharply in the past 30 years, and we are now operating at capacity.

SIMON PEGGS, ALPTRANSIT GOTTHARD: The main reason for the construction of the tunnel was to get the goods traffic off the motorway onto the trains. Imagine like this that the Alps are like a speed bump in the middle of a motorway. To get rid of that speed bump, we have to go underneath.

The old railway line climbs about 1,000 meters, so the trains have to be shorter and they can't go that fast. They have to wind their way all the way up to get over, down the other side.

With this, it runs at 500 meters above sea level all the way through, all the way to Milan. So trains can go faster, and they don't need that much energy to go all the way through.

At the moment, down there, in that part, they're finishing the cross section. That's where the intermediate attack came into the axis of the tunnel. So, they're doing the finishing work there, the concrete work. And further up the tunnel, the railway fitting has already started.

At this stage here, this has become about a whole lot of electrical mechanical stuff being put in. It's like if you install a DVD player, you've got to get all the switches in the right place to get it to work. So, that's the challenging part.

A few years ago, the challenge was the mountain, the rock.

ANDERSON: It took about 14 years of digging, blasting, and boring through 20 different rock strata. Eight people lost their lives in the process.

The final breakthrough happened in 2010.

PEGGS: We've excavated underneath an overburden of 2,500 meters. That's never been done before. A tunnel, this size.

ANDERSON: The tunnel is scheduled to be fully functioning by 2016 and will take up to 300 trains each day underneath the Alps.

ANDERSON (on camera): Well, that has taken just less than four hours. When the Base Tunnel is complete, the trains will run as fast as 250 kilometers an hour. That will cut the journey between Zurich and Milan by about an hour.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Today, Zurich is the gateway to Switzerland and the center of one of the most modern and efficient railway networks in the world. This is thanks to Alfred Escher, considered by many as the founding father of modern Switzerland.

He had a vision of an extensive rail network that went beyond the country. Over 150 years later the new Gotthard Tunnel bears witness to his vision, and Zurich Hauptbahnhof remains an important hub within the European rail network.


RAJPAL: You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, Republican candidates in the US are brushing up on their foreign policy. They're getting ready for another TV debate. And it seems a new face is leading the race. All the details just ahead.



ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's called the Superbus, but it's more like a 15-meter-long race car designed to carry 23 passengers in style.

Imagine a luxury service tailored to your schedule. You call it, it comes to your door, and whisks you off to your destination at high speed. This is the brainchild of Holland's first man in space, Wubbo Ockels.

WUBBO OCKELS, GENERAL MANAGER, SUPERBUS: I wanted to have something which is sexy or powerful. When you're in there, you have a good experience. It needs to be fast. You make a statement that way.

This is a 1,500 kilograms of batteries. You could drive 200 kilometers with that. And then the idea is that you make a stop, which we call a pit stop. And in the pit stop, you slide out the battery, you slide in a new battery, and you continue.

SHUBERT: Right now, there's only one person who gets behind the wheel of Superbus, its designer, Antonia Verzi, Formula One engineer and former race car driver.

ANTONIA VERZI, CHIEF DESIGNER, SUPERBUS: There are a number of things that really are taken to the extreme of racing level.

For example, the chassis had to be very lightweight, of course, because you want to consume less energy, you want the right position, center of gravity, and so forth. I mean, a number of design decisions I had to go through.

And of course, when you start to put all these holes for the doors, you create yourself a really big nightmare.

SHUBERT: On dedicated highway lanes, Superbus travels like a race car at 250 kilometers an hour. But as public transport, Superbus needs to negotiate the tight turns and obstacles of a city. Rear wheel steering ensures it can turn a diameter of 24 meters, easily negotiating roundabouts and corners.

And then, there's its height.

VERZI: When it travels at high speed, it travels on the dedicated infrastructure, and when it travels on that speed, at 250 kilometers per hour, it travels at seven centimeters from the ground. Very, very low to the ground in order to, of course, to optimize aerodynamics and the center of gravity. You wouldn't be able to run it anywhere else than the high speed track at that height from the ground.

We use six hydraulic cylinders. The vehicle can go up to 43 centimeters from the ground, so it can move quite a bit.

SHUBERT (on camera): A Superbus can be configured in a number of ways for a different kind of experience. Right now, I'm in the racing car seat, complete with racing car straps.

Or you can ride in the luxury of what feels like your own private suite seating comfortably six people.

SHUBERT (voice-over): British entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson was so impressed that he took a ride in the Superbus himself.

RICHARD BRANSON, ENTREPRENEUR: It's quite something, isn't it?

SHUBERT: So, is it a bus? A train? A plane? Or a super limo? No. It's Superbus, possibly coming soon to a road near you.

Atika Shubert, for On the Move.


RAJPAL: And we'll have more from our On the Move series all this week on CONNECT THE WORLD.

We want to bring you more, now, on the South African government's decision to pass a secrecy bill that many see as a major blow for democracy. Despite a public outcry, the ruling ANC party insists the bill will protect the security of the country and its people.

Joining us now live from Johannesburg is Nic Dawes, he's the editor of South Africa's "Mail and Guardian" newspaper. Nic, thank you very much for being with us. Do you buy it? Do you buy that it's to protect security?

NIC DAWES, EDITOR, "MAIL AND GUARDIAN": Look, there was a need to reform the intelligence legislation that we had, which dated from the Apartheid era.

The trouble is that in the process of enacting those reforms, the government has really restricted basic freedoms, freedoms of speech and freedoms of information, which they've heard from many, many South Africans over the last two years that we're deeply unhappy with.

So, the need was there, but certainly I don't buy that the legislation in this shape does the job that they think it's going to do.

RAJPAL: So, do you believe that they're to protect the politicians themselves?

DAWES: Well, I think that's the only way you can understand their refusal to insert in the bill a public interest defense, and that is a clause in the bill that would allow us to publish information that's clearly in the public interest that is showing wrongdoing, corruption, human rights abuses, other crimes. There's no reason to leave such language out unless you're trying to hide your own bad acts.

RAJPAL: I mean, there are countries around the world that do have classified information that obviously cannot be published, that they would expect that journalists would not publish classified information. So, there is a delicate balance to be had here.

But that said, what kind of position do you think that puts journalists in now in South Africa?

DAWES: Everyone understands and accepts the need for some state secrets. The question is, has the balance been struck correctly here?

And the way this law is framed right now, journalists are going to have to choose between doing their jobs, telling the public things that they need to know, or going to jail for up to 25 years. And that's a choice that no journalist in a democracy should be faced with.

RAJPAL: And that's not even -- that doesn't just leave -- talk about journalists, as well, they talk about even civilians, people, citizens who, perhaps, may see or know something, people known as whistle-blowers, who may now feel endangered, that they may actually be put in jail for actually revealing any information that actually would be in the public's interest to know, right?

DAWES: Absolutely. Look, it should be the job of government officials to keep secrets, not the job of ordinary citizens, activists, and journalists. And clearly this bill is an affront to the rights of all South Africans, not just those of journalists.

RAJPAL: But it seems as though -- globally-respected figures like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, they have condemned this, but it seems as though their cries have gone unheard. This bill has been -- is now passed, now. So, where does it -- where do you stand at this point?

DAWES: Well, there is one outstanding possibility that the second house of our parliament can make some of the adjustments that we've all been calling for, and we really hope they do that, and we'll be asking them to do that.

If they don't, and if the president signs the bill into law in its current form, then we will challenge it in our constitutional court, ask them to scrutinize it against the basic values of our democracy, and ask them to reject it.

RAJPAL: All right. Nic Dawes, thank you so much.

Now, in the United States, Republican candidates hoping to win the nomination for next year's election are getting ready for battle. In just over three hours time, they'll face off in a live TV debate focusing on foreign policy, national security, and the economy.

There are eight candidates, but only one will eventually take on President Barack Obama, and according to the latest CNN-ORC poll, there is a new front-runner in town. Joe Johns joins us now from Constitution Hall in Washington, and that's where the debate is taking place.

And who is this front-runner, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Monita. That would be the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich. He is from the state of Georgia, married three times, a very colorful figure and well- known here in the United States. A very outspoken conservative Republican, if you will.

So, he will join the other candidates here in the historic DAR Constitution Hall, and they're going to have a little conversation, that conversation being about national security. Also about the economy here tonight.

National security thought to be sort of in the wheelhouse of Newt Gingrich, his sweet spot, if you will. Because as the Speaker of the House, he was privy to a lot of information about foreign policy and matters relating to foreign policy that perhaps some of the other 435 or so members of the House of Representatives wouldn't necessarily hear, just being a member of the leadership.

So, looking forward to him and all the others in this very important debate, which is about so much of what the president of the United States does, though a lot of Americans always think of a president as a domestic president before he's a foreign policy president. Monita, back --

RAJPAL: Yes, that said, Joe, we also know that with this particular election campaign, it's going to be based so much on the economy simply because of the state of the economy as it is around the world.

That said, when it comes to the American public, how important is foreign policy when they are making their decisions?

JOHNS: It doesn't always rate up there really high unless there's a crisis, but there was a period of time, of course, when the Iraq war was very important to Americans because it was front and center almost every day.

Osama bin Laden, capturing, eliminating him. Very important, one of the top issues out there. But nothing more important, at least right now, than the economy for Americans, because there are so many suffering with very high unemployment rate out of recession.

And the question, of course, is what is the next president of the United States, whoever that may be, going to do about it?

RAJPAL: And the interesting thing, also, when I -- President Barack Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, he made his name on national security, and that was a huge issue for him, and he made -- I guess he was reelected based on national security. What do we think about this time around for President Obama? It's going to be -- it's going to come down to jobs, isn't it?

JOHNS: Yes, very probably it is going to come down to jobs, and this has been something that has plagued this president ever since he took office. If you look at the timeline from the day he took office right until now, unemployment in the United States has hovered at or near about nine percent almost constantly.

And for many Americans, that's simply too high. So, a lot of Republicans here tonight certainly take the president to task for that. The president says he's doing what he could.

And of course he blames the United States Congress for not doing more, and this is sort of the cycle that we have here in the United States.

RAJPAL: All right, Joe Johns, there, Constitution Hall in Washington. Thank you so much.

And of course, you can catch CNN's Republican Presidential Debate live about three hours from now, that's 8:00 PM in Washington, 1:00 AM here in London, only on CNN.

And in tonight's Parting Shots, a time lapse video of the big setup. CNN crews have been working nonstop to get Washington's Constitution Hall ready for the debate.

I'm Monita Rajpal, thank you for watching us. Up next, the world headlines, and then, "BACKSTORY" after this short break.