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CONNECT THE WORLD

In Crisis, Europe Turns To Extremist Parties; Rafael Nadal Loses On Clay For First Time In 22 Matches

Aired May 10, 2012 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MAX FOSTER, HOST: Tonight on Connect the World: third time lucky? Greece's Socialists try to seal a deal to form a coalition. They say the omens are good, but failure would send Greeks back to the polls.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

FOSTER: A new opinion poll puts the far left out in front if the election is re-run leaving the country's future in the hands of parties on the political extremes.

Also tonight, why some South Africans say they're being forced to take the law into their own hands.

As in ancient Greece to the heart of London, the Olympic flame steps off to the greatest sporting event on Earth.

Financial chaos, a country divided, and now more political turmoil: tonight Greece needs to be third time lucky. Its Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos says he's making progress towards forming a coalition government after first place and second place parties failed. His Pasok Party, which came in third has only three days to cobble together a deal that gives it a much sought after 151 seats majority.

It's a last ditch effort, really, for avoid new elections which could put Greece's bailout in danger. In Sunday's ballot, voters let Athens know they're fed up with harsh austerity cuts. Right now, one in five Greeks is out of work.

When people have no money, no jobs, and plenty of anger, extremists suddenly get more of a looking. It's a worrying trend through history and it's showing up again in Europe. For some, it's echoes -- it echoes chilling memories of the 1930s. Tonight, senior international correspondent Matthew Chance looks at how ongoing hardship has changed the political debate in Greece.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are some things in Greece that just don't change. This old Athens eatery in Monastiraki has been serving up traditional gyros or kababs for generations. Politics in recent decades has been another constant.

But as the restaurant's owner shows me photographs of past celebrities and politicians who have eaten here, the political landscape has radically changed. The old guard had been swept aside.

SPIROS BAIRAKTARIS, RESTAURANT OWNER: I am sad, because I believe Greeks are very peaceful people. This is where democracy was founded. We are a democratic country. We were never extremists.

CHANCE: But for the first time in a Greek election, an extreme ultra nationalist party has been elected to parliament. Golden Dawn are a thinly veiled Neo Nazi group linked with attacks on immigrants they want deported.

ELIZA PANAYIOTAROS, GOLDEN DAWN: Sometimes there have been some big accusations about us and in the end what was it, it was between immigrants from Pakistan, but someone from Pakistan beat another guy from Pakistan for their own reasons and he was blaming us and so on and so forth. We have proofs for this. You can just go and...

CHANCE: Are you denying that members of the Golden Dawn carry out violent attacks against immigrants.

PANAYIOTAROS: Yes. Maybe they are protecting themselves.

CHANCE: Are you -- you say you're acknowledging they do do it.

PANAYIOTAROS: Maybe they are protecting themselves like people...

CHANCE: Now you're explaining it.

PANAYIOTAROS: Yeah. People -- no, no, no, no, no. I'm saying that the situation is -- the situation in Greece is terrible. People are going out on their homes and they are robbed, raped, killed for nothing.

CHANCE: Well, sitting in this sunny cafe outside parliament, you might be mistaken in thinking that nothing has really changed in Greece and that things aren't so bad after all. But there has been a dramatic shift here away from the center ground. Austerity and economic hardship has pushed ordinary Greeks to look for solutions in the extremes. Views once only voiced on the fringes of political debate now appear mainstream.

And it's not just the Neo Nazis who have benefited. For months now, popular, often violent protests against austerity have been spearheaded by anarchists and far left-wing groups like Communists. The election was the first chance the Greeks to vent their anger at the ballot box instead of the streets.

Now, the coalition of the radical left who I met in their own television studio has emerged as a major political force. Their utopian pledge to cancel Greek debt and restore living standards to pre-austerity levels. They could form the next government.

YIANNIS BOURNOUS, SYRIZA: Our basic priorities is are the salvation of all the minimum social standards. And this means wages, pensions, health care and public education.

CHANCE: You want to increase pensions and wages and living standards. Who is going to pay for that?

BOURNOUS: The answer is very simple, the rich will pay for the crisis they created.

CHANCE: Back in Monastiraki there are still many things that unite Greece. But this election has exposed and widened their divisions setting Greece down an uncertain path.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Athens.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, for many it is very worrying trend as Matthew just touched on the Golden Dawn party won 7 percent of Sunday's vote in Greece. But it's not the only extremist group growing in popularity. Italy's far right CasaPound Italia has seen a boost amid the country's economic woes. In The Netherlands, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders walked out of budget talks triggering the collapse of the government in April. The Freedom Party was a key player in the Dutch ruling coalition. To France now where Marine Le Pen's National Front produced a strong showing at the polls. She captured 18 percent of the presidential vote in the first round ballot last month.

So Europe's pain looks like the extremists' gain.

I want to talk about the rise of radical groups with two guests. Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis. He was an economic adviser to the former Greek prime minister George Papandreou. He joins us from Seattle. And from Athens in Greece with -- we're talking live to pensioner Yiannis Pantzos. Now he may be a pensioner, but he's only 50 and he has four children to look after. So you've got a very busy life, Mr. Pantzos.

I just wondered if you could somehow reflect the mood in your community right now about politics which may explain why extremist groups are doing well there.

YIANNIS PANTZOS, GREEK PENSIONER: Well, I think Greece with the result of these elections is playing the politics that followed the last 12 years. We permitted to many people from abroad to come in and (inaudible) our country in a very, very great percentage. We are talking now of about 1,200,000 immigrants here. So as a result of this we had the results of the recent elections with the extremist parties of Greece gaining some percentage, to 7 percent. This is a result of some politics we followed as a country and Europe is regarded with the lows that made for the immigration in Dublin one and Dublin two.

CHANCE: Can I just ask you, did your politics shift in this election? Did you become -- did you vote for a different party further to the right?

PANTZOS: Yes. Many people changed their preferences to vote, because as a result of the last three years of economic memorandum in Greece, many people are -- do not see any results of economic politics were pulling into the last three years. So they're trying to find a way out through a vote to a new political party, a political party that gives them some better hope.

CHANCE: Mr. Varoufakis, it's interesting isn't it, because people feel more desperate they do look for stronger opinions from their politicians. And that's what's happening in Greece right now. How would you epitomize the mood in that country right now?

YANIS VAROUFAKIS, FRM. ECONOMIC ADVISER TO GEORGE PAPANDREOU: Well, following an economic collapse, an economic implosion, and a spectacular failure on the part of the political elite to deal with it, not just the political elite in Greece, but in the EuroZone. And following three years of consistent subterfuge on the part of politicians -- let me remind you that for the last three years every single prediction on the part of the IMF, the European Central Bank, of the Greek government as to what would transpire in Greece in the next few months has been proven wrong. So people have lost confidence in the political leadership at a time when the social economy all around them is collapsing.

So in that environment, there's the obvious solution: an inverted canvas (ph) disaster of scapegoating. So what we hear about the migrants being the problem is just the typical case of scapegoating that we have seen in Europe in the 1930s.

CHANCE: Mr. Pantzos, if there is another election and a coalition can't be formed this time around, are you going to vote in the same way or are you going to have a more rational vote as some people would see it which would provide a better chance of forming a more stable government?

PANTZOS: The decisions for me and for every Greek are two. Either respect this very, very strict economic memorandum, either to -- renegotiate it in the euro and be a recent country into the euro and into Europe. I will vote the same party I voted before, because I believe something has to change. We do not have the follow the same we followed the last three years. And I believe the most of the Greeks will do the same. They will try to invert this rule that is very, very strict for human beings.

CHANCE: You're going to vote the same way. I'm just going to bring you an opinion poll. This is the latest one we've got by Marc-Alpha TV suggesting if new elections are held Syriza would come out on top with nearly 24 percent of the vote followed by New Democracy, 17.4 percent, and PASOK with just under 11 percent.

A coalition would still need to be formed, Mr. Varoufakis, but do you think if there is another election there is hope for a more stable government than the current sort of election results that we've got right now?

VAROUFAKIS: Well, there's not doubt that at some point we're going to have a coalition government. How stable it is is neither here nor there. The tragedy that Greece is facing is that even a stable government now doesn't have any levers to pull that wold help the country steer a course out of its present mire.

And the great conundrum that Greece is facing and Europe is facing is that we're presented with a false dilemma, a dilemma between sticking to the bailout austerity package and trying to implement the reform package that was agreed with (inaudible). Or exiting the euro. This is a false dilemma, because the way that this package has been put together it guarantees failure.

So there has to be a third way. And the difficulty we have at the moment is that the political scene has lost legitimacy and it's very hard for me to envisage a government that is not only stable, but has the noose and the strategy for steering a third course out of that false dilemma.

CHANCE: Yanis Varoufakis and Yiannis Pantzos, thank you very much indeed for joining us. We'll be following the Greek elections here of course if we do head into more elections and hopefully the formation of the government, though it seems unlikely at this point.

You are watching Connect the World live from London. Our top story progress tonight as Greece tries to form a new government, that's according to Socialist leader Evangelos Vienizelos even though his PASOK Party came in third in Sunday's vote. He's got to get a coalition together after the first and second place parties both failed to do it. The big question now how much will extreme parties play a role in the final outcome?

Still to come tonight, carnage in Damascus as two suicide bombers kill dozens. We'll be live in Beirut for more on one of the worst attacks since the Syrian uprising began.

And the countdown begins as the Olympic flame is lit in Greece.

And it's known as the Rainbow Nation, but some dark clouds are hovering over South Africa right now. Our South Africa series focuses on the allegations of corruption in the police force.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're watching CNN. And this is Connect the World with me, Max Foster. Welcome back to you.

Now two suicide car bombers killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more in Damascus on Thursday. The bombers used more than 1,000 kilograms of explosives in an attack that took place during the morning rush hour. The Syrian government and the opposition have blamed each other for the attacks.

CNN's Arwa Damon is in Beirut with more for us -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And the blast took place in front of one of the intelligence branches called the Palestine branch, very notorious when it comes to the intelligence apparatus. But just behind that building that had its entire front blown off because of the force of the blast, a university, a number of other primary, secondary schools in the area, and a residential part of the city in very close vicinity as well.

The debris was strewn all over then entire multi lane highway where the attacks took place. No claim of responsibility just yet, Max. But as you were saying there, both sides blaming one another. The government saying that this is the work of terrorists, that it is the very same terrorists that it has been battling since this uprising began. The opposition laying the blame squarely with the Assad regime saying that this is the government's way of trying to distract the international community and further its own narrative that it is, in fact, fighting extremists.

FOSTER: Arwa Damon, thank you very much indeed.

Now here's a look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight. The Saudi agent involved in a recent plot by al Qaeda to bomb a U.S. bound passenger plane held a British passport. A source briefed by Saudi counterterrorism officials told CNN the mole was of Saudi origin, but was a British citizen. The agent worked as an informant for the Saudi government whilst posing as a potential suicide bomber with al Qaeda in Yemen.

Former News of the World editor Andy Coulson says he was unaware of any phone hacking while he was with the tabloid. Andy Coulson testified today in Britain's inquiry into media ethics. He denied his ties to News International played a role when he was hired by the prime minister -- as Prime Minister David Cameron's communications director. He also said he did not believe the relationship between politicians and the press was unhealthy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But don't you agree that there is at least the -- that basis for the perception that this closeness is unhealthy?

ANDY COULSON, FRM. NEWS OF THE WORLD EDITOR: You said the word unhealthy I think sort of implies impropriety. And I'm not sure I agree with that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, Rebecca Brooks, the former CEO of Rupert Murdoch's News International will testify at the inquiry tomorrow. Lots of anticipation around that particular showing.

Now the wreckage of a passenger plane that disappeared during a demonstration flight over Indonesia has been found in a mountainous area. Rescue teams have not found any survivors in the debris on Mount Salak, a dormant volcano. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 vanished off radar screens on Wednesday on what was meant to be a short flight from Jakarta. It's unclear what caused the crashed.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the G8 summit in the U.S. next weekend. Mr. Putin, who was inaugurated as president on Monday told U.S. officials he was busy finalizing a cabinet. He'll send the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to take his place. Mr. Putin and President Barack Obama will now meet in Mexico in June.

We're going to take you to a short break, but when we come back, counting down to the London games, the Olympic flame is lit in Greece.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FOSTER: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Max Foster. The countdown is certainly on. The Olympic flame was lit at a ceremony in Olympia earlier. And now it begins a journey across Greece and the UK, which will end at the opening of the games in London.

Here's a look at today's events.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Set alight by the sun's rays, the Olympic torch, symbol of the modern games, lit in the ancient Greek city of Olympia. This is the birthplace of the games. They were first played here over 2,000 years ago.

Today, crowds looked on as the first torchbearers took the flame through the streets. The lucky runners humbled by the experience.

CHRISTOS THEODOROPOULOS, TORCHBEARER: I am very excited about what I'm doing, carrying the flame. It's a great honor to (inaudible) like that, for carrying the flame for Olympia.

FOSTER: Watching the event, some of the world's top sports executives confident the ceremony would herald a successful Olympics in the summer.

JACQUES ROGE, PRESIDENT, IOC: I think that London will be a great success. They have worked very hard. They respected all the deadlines. The know sport extremely well. They stayed under budget. So I'm very pleased.

FOSTER: The flame now embarks on an eight day tour of Greece before an official hand over in Athens.

In Britain, anticipation is building. The flame will travel the length of the country over 70 days. Dress rehearsals have already taken place.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Well, 20,000 tickets have been sold, meanwhile, since Wednesday for the controversial fight between British boxers Dereck Chisora and David Haye, both fighters are without a license and about as condemned are the British Boxing Board of Control. We'll cross over to Mark McKay at CNN Center.

So no license for either boxer. The British boxing chiefs are being bypassed. How can it carry on?

MARK MCKAY, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Let's bring Luxembourg into the mix, Max. I will explain.

It is obvious, though, that both of these guys don't care for each other. In fact, we saw that vividly play out outside the boxing ring earlier this year, back in February when an all-out brawl broke out during a press conference in Germany between -- or following Chisora's fight with Vitali Klitschko. These two went at it in front of the lights and cameras.

Haye and Chisora, as you said, scheduled to meet in the ring July 14. British Boxing Board of Control threatened to remove the license of anyone involved in this fight. David Haye stopped by CNN London today and shared his thoughts with out Pedro Pinto.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID HAYE, BOXER: They've got their own rights that they -- if they want to ban people who are involved in this, they can do that. They are members club. And if you're a member of their club and you don't follow or adhere to what they want, I think they are in their right to withdraw whatever licenses you may have with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKAY: So indeed the fight is still on and will thus be sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation.

Max, that entire chat with David Haye can be seen next hour on World Sport.

FOSTER: That's fascinating isn't it?

But on to tennis, the blue clay in Madrid, what's going on there? An upset I gather.

MCKAY: Yeah, you could say, Max, that Rafael Nadal was feeling a bit blue on Thursday in Madrid. It had nothing to do with that strange surface they're using this week at the Madrid Masters. Instead, Nadal feeling down. He's no longer a part of this tournament, run from the event by his good friend and Davis Cup teammates Fernando Verdasco in three sets.

To say that Verdasco was emotional after that third round victory an understatement. You would have thought he won the French Open. It was his first win in Nadal in 14 matches. Rafa falls on that slippery surface for the first time since losing the Rome final to Novak Djokovic last year. He had won, Max, 22 in a row Nadal had on clay, that is until Thursday.

What great scenes there in Madrid.

FOSTER: And Mark on -- in terms of golf, the fifth major underway in Florida. More -- a bit more to the famous holy golf than the 17th at Sawgrass I would say.

MCKAY: Yes. This is unlike any other hole that you've ever seen really in the world. Every time the Player's Championship comes around, and indeed Max it is known as golf's fifth major, all the attention turns to the par 3 17th. Such a green that it'll bring the most talented professional golfer to their knees.

In fact, PGAtour.com even has a dedicated camera trained on this green the entire tournament all the way through the weekend. Those who log on can follow each and every group as they attempt to master a hole that is unlike any other.

We will go to TPC Sawgrass and see who is out in front when I come back for World Sport just over an hour from now. Max, I'll see you later.

FOSTER: Yes. Thank you very much, Mark. Looking forward to it.

Still ahead on Connect the World meanwhile. Nobody in Egypt has ever seen anything like it, that's because it is the first time a presidential debate has ever been held there, much less televised. We'll bring you the highlights of that.

And clinging on to his job, why South Africa's main opposition is falling for the country's top spy chief to be suspended.

A court in controversy. We'll speak to Sasha Baron Cohen at the premier of his new movie, always one to cause problems. It's called The Dictator the movie doing it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC PLAYING)

MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST: A very warm welcome to our viewers across Europe and around the world. I'm Max Foster. These are the latest world headlines from CNN.

At least 55 people were killed on Thursday morning when a pair of enormous bombs exploded in the Syrian capital. The Syrian government blames what it calls terrorists. Syrian opposition sources blame the government.

Greek socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos says there's some progress as he tries to form a new government. He's got three days to get it done. The first- and second-place winners of Sunday's vote couldn't manage it. Athens wants to avoid a new election which could endanger Greece's bailout.

Rescuers in Indonesia found the wreckage of the Russian passenger jet that seemed to disappear into thin air yesterday. There were no survivors. The Superjet 100 crashed into the side of a volcano with at least 45 people on board.

A landmark day for democracy in Egypt. Two candidates are facing off in the country's first-ever televised presidential debate. Career diplomat Amre Moussa and former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh are seen as the frontrunners in the race.

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FOSTER: Now South Africa has long been a role model for the world's aspiring democracies. But critics say the country is now heading down a troubling path. All this week, we've been looking at concerns that the very party that fought democracy in South Africa may now be undermining it to strengthen its own grip on power.

On Monday, we heard the story of one mayor (ph) who wears a bulletproof vest, fearing he'll be attacked after the ruling ANC lost the local election. We focused on perceived threats to South Africa's constitution on Tuesday.

And no water, no electricity, no decent housing on Wednesday. We brought you a report on a town which has come to symbolize broken promises. Becky interviewed one of the president's advisers, who defended the government's record on delivering services to the poor, but recognized there are challenges.

It's not just the government's social services which are coming under attack. Many are losing faith in South Africa's police force and now the main opposition is calling for the country's crime intelligence chief to be suspended.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse is covering that story for us in Johannesburg.

What is Richard accused of, as we -- the Richard (ph) you've been investigating in this story?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Max, Richard Mdluli, who is the former head of intelligence here in South Africa is facing very serious allegations, which are ranging from murder to fraud to allegedly looting a police Secret Service fund, basically using it for his own personal consumption.

Now the reason why Mdluli's story is so huge here in South Africa, as you can see, Max, covered in every single newspaper here today is because despite the cloud hanging over his head, Richard Mdluli remains the intelligence head here in South Africa until the national police minister made a crucial announcement in Parliament yesterday, not only confirming that Mdluli is still being investigated. The minister went even further. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATHI MTHETHWA, South African POLICE MINISTER: Once this talk is underway, we have in consultation with the acting national commissioner of police decided that Lt. General Mdluli should be shifted from his current position with effect today as the head of crime intelligence and move to another division as determined by the acting national commissioner.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MABUSE: Now opposition politicians, Max, are criticizing that announcement, saying Mdluli should not merely be shifted to another division.

He's facing very serious allegations and he should be suspended. And there are allegations that are being made in the media in South Africa that Mdluli enjoys the protection of President Jacob Zuma because he has pledged to support the president's battle in the ANC succession race, Max.

FOSTER: As always, problems when communities lose faith in the police service. But how much frustration would you say there is with the police amongst communities in South Africa?

MABUSE: You know, the Richard Mdluli saga, Max, is just one of many crises that the South African police service is facing. And analysts are saying this internal chaos in the police is affecting the daily function of the men and women in blue. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MABUSE (voice-over): He once insisted that his hands were clean, but now South Africa's former police chief, Jackie Selebi, is serving a 15-year prison sentence for corruption.

BHEKI CELE, POLICE CHIEF, SOUTH AFRICA: (Inaudible).

MABUSE (voice-over): His tough-talking replacement, Bheki Cele was suspended last year while he was investigated on corruption allegations. He denies he's done anything wrong.

And apartheid South Africa's police force, was known for its brutality, particularly against blacks. With democracy the force became a police service with an emphasis on equal treatment of all citizens. But corruption, infighting and political interference are now hampering efforts to reduce the country's high crime levels.

While the wealthy and middle class have become increasingly dependent on private security, the majority, mostly black, remain vulnerable.

MABUSE: In some of South Africa's poorest communities like here in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, the breakdown of trust in the police has led some to resort to their own form of justice.

MABUSE (voice-over): Almost every weekend, we're told, ordinary men and women of Diepsloot take the law into their own hands, burning the homes of suspected criminals and meting out the community's own form of justice. This man (inaudible) by a mob.

In Khayelitsha, Cape Town, suspects are being burned alive.

Back in Diepsloot, photojournalist Golden Mtika says he's witnessed more than 300 murders since 2000, many of them he secretly videoed.

GOLDEN MTIKA, PHOTOJOURNALIST: The community thinks that if they hand over a suspect to the police, then after two days he's out. So they think the law has -- the law doesn't save them.

MABUSE (voice-over): He says the stoning of a Zimbabwean accused of being a rapist last year was unbearable.

MTIKA: He was killed like a snake. They bashed him 10 times on his head, you know, openly at the presence of everyone, even kids.

MABUSE: Golden, during these mob killings, there just seems to be no voice of reason. Nobody's saying "stop." Why is it?

MTIKA: Here it's because a lot of people, they have become victims of crime here. So they take out their frustration on whoever.

MABUSE: Regardless of whether the person is guilty or not?

MTIKA: Regardless of that person being guilty or not. They would not ask it. They would just do away with that particular person.

MABUSE (voice-over): A police station meant to serve the 300,000 residents here lies unfinished. Construction began in 2008. Both the national and provincial police departments have been unable to explain why. Both said no one was available for an interview.

The problem is just bad leadership at the moment, poor leadership.

MABUSE (voice-over): Researcher Johan Burger believes what's happening on the ground is a reflection of a much bigger problem, internal turmoil, he says, is affecting police morale.

JOHAN BURGER, INSTITUTE FOR SECURITY STUDIES: When your morale drops, your ability to perform also deteriorates. And the longer this continues, I think the worse service delivery will become.

MABUSE (voice-over): A service that in some townships people are tired of waiting for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MABUSE: Max, this type of vigilantism has reached such worrying levels here in South Africa that the police estimate that more than two people are killed in mob attacks every single day, Max.

FOSTER: Nkepile, thank you very much indeed.

Well, the man who helped bring apartheid to an end and negotiate a transition to majority rule says South Africa is a solid democracy. But former president F.W. de Klerk is concerned. He spoke exclusively to CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

F. W. DE KLERK, FORMER PRES OF SOUTH AFRICA: Any democracy in which one party has 65 percent of the vote and all the other parties share in the remaining 35 is not healthy. What we need is for the ANC alliance to split. They will split; I can't predict when -- and to move away from ethnically-based politics to value-based politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: And you can watch the full interview tonight on "AMANPOUR," coming up in around 20 minutes actually here on CNN, 10:00 pm in London, 11:00 pm in Berlin.

Plenty more to come, though, on CONNECT THE WORLD, including with an historic election looming, Egypt's top two presidential candidates meet in a debate. It's the first of its kind.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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FOSTER: Egypt's presidential election is now less than two weeks away and there's no -- there's so much at stake for the country at the heart of Arab world. Here's a look at the candidates now taking part in Egypt's first-ever televised presidential debate.

Now the secularist Amre Moussa has a considerable lead in opinion polls. He was the secretary-general of the Arab League and a foreign minister under ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh is polling second. The former Brotherhood member is considered a moderate Islamist. He has wide-ranging support endorsed by young revolutionaries by wale doneem (ph) and ultraconservative Islamists alike.

Now tonight's debate in Cairo is still underway. These are live images for you. Moderators take turns asking questions, giving the candidates a couple of minutes to respond. Moussa and Abolfotoh are talking currently about the mandate of the presidency, how they would handle mass protests and their vision of democracy in Egypt after decades of dictatorship.

AMRE MOUSSA, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We aim for the establishment of a state where every citizen is assured of his family's lives and their jobs, to ensure every citizen in all of Egypt, in the north, south, east and west, that the state is moving in the right way to progress and to respond to their personal requirements, to be a respected state in the region and the globe, a state which participates in regional and global progress.

ABDEL-MONEIM ABOLFOTOH, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I don't think if I was the president the Abyssea (ph) incident will happen at all. There was poor performance from different parties. It is important to stress that the right of peaceful demonstration is one of the gains of the 25th January revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER: Well, let's get some reaction to that debate now from Egyptian journalist Shahira Amin. You may remember she was an anchor on state TV but resigned during last year's uprising. She's also a long-time contributor to CNN.

Thank you so much for joining us. First of all, I just want to talk about the spectacle because for Egyptians, just seeing this take place is something in itself, isn't it?

SHAHIRA AMIN, FORMER EGYPTIAN STATE TV HOST: Absolutely. Egyptians are glued to their TV sets tonight. It's an epic moment for Egyptians after 15 months or so of bloody street protests, political turmoil. This debate is like a breath of fresh air, Max. You know, the people of Egypt feel that their revolution is finally bearing fruit. If this isn't democracy in the making, then what is, you know?

No Egyptian would have dreamt that they would live to see the day when we have our first multi-candidate presidential election at last. And not just that, but we have the presidential candidates open to questions. They're being publicly grilled, you know, in front of everybody's eyes. So it is an epic moment.

FOSTER: And it's one of those moments, isn't it, when TV skills become -- or presentation skills become as important as policy, almost, because how you sell things is as much as what you say.

How would you judge the two main contenders we've been talking about most?

AMIN: The contenders, well, I think they handle themselves very well indeed. At the beginning, they were a bit nervous, especially Abolfotoh was kind of stiff at the start. But then (inaudible).

FOSTER: We -- unfortunately, we've lost that signal, as you can clearly see for yourself. But Shahira Amin, thank you very much. We'll try to get back to you. But the debate's ongoing, and it's an incredible event for Egyptians, as she was saying.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. When we come back, you'll probably have heard of Ali G, Borat, Bruno, however you like to know him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOSTER (voice-over): Now meet Admiral General Alladeen. Sacha Baron Cohen reveals his latest satirical incarnation.

"ADMIRAL GENERAL ALLADEEN": Hey, what happens here?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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FOSTER: OK. We're going to try to go back to Shahira Amin, who's giving us reaction to that Egyptian presidential debate as the election looms.

Shahira, thank you very much indeed for joining us. We really want to hear from you who's winning that debate.

AMIN: I think they handle themselves very well indeed. I'm sure they were nervous on the inside, but it didn't show. They were both confident, very assertive and this is very new to the contenders and to everyone watching, you know. And the questions were tough but they were very confident in answering them.

And maybe Abolfotoh was a bit nervous initially to begin with, but they both relaxed and they seemed to be quite at ease and wanting, you know, to prove themselves because they know everyone's watching and everything they say will count and make a difference.

FOSTER: OK, Shahira, we're going to leave it there. We're having big problems with that signal. But thank you very much for calling (ph) your main points across. And it's going to be very interesting to see how that's really consumed by Egyptian society, because it's very new indeed.

But what do you think about Egypt's presidential candidates yourself? The team at CONNECT THE WORLD would love to hear from you at Facebook.com/cnnconnect. Have your say and you can also watch a range of our reports with big interviews again on CNN.com/cnnconnect is where you'll find all the links you need on Twitter.

Now Ali G, Borat, Bruno, the outlandish comic characters of Sacha Baron Cohen are always controversial. Now he's back with "The Dictator." Neal Curry has more.

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NEIL CURRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cinema audiences across the world are about to witness the exploits of Admiral General Alladeen, the military leader of a fictitious North African country of Waadeya.

"ALLADEEN": WTF, (inaudible)?

CURRY (voice-over): The politically incorrect "Dictator" heads to New York to address the United Nations with calamitous consequences.

The movie was shot last year while the Arab Spring was spreading across the Middle East, and the film's publicity machine was quick to take advantage of the political climate which resulted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). (Inaudible) on the ground.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For over four decades the people have lived under the rule of a tyrant who denies them their most basic human rights.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The time has come for him to step aside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must keep on with the NATO mission and bring him to justice.

"ALLADEEN": (Inaudible). I made that up.

CURRY: Londoners awoke to newspaper headlines claiming the prime minister had resigned in a scandal over tickets to the film premiere. But the story was merely the latest promotional prank from an actor who's become world famous for his publicity stunts.

CURRY (voice-over): The entertainment world watched open-mouthed as Baron Cohen turned up on the Oscar red carpet earlier this year and poured an urn of pancake mix on one of Hollywood's best known broadcasters, claiming it to be the ashes of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

His arrival in London at the world premiere of "The Dictator" didn't disappoint the crowds. Flanked by a phalanx of glamorous guards, "General Alladeen" was quick to express his controversial views.

"ALLADEEN": The problem with the same-sex marriage is very hard for two men to make a baby. But I myself have made over 2,000 children, all of them boys.

CURRY: You know, Queen Elizabeth is celebrating her diamond jubilee, 60 years on the throne. What do you think of her and what's your message to her?

"ALLADEEN": I love Queen Elizabeth. I love the royal family. I am the father of Prince Harry. He inherits a lot from both sides, from his mother, the fair complexion, and from the father, his enjoyment of nothing I can answer.

(LAUGHTER)

CURRY: Thank you very much, (inaudible).

"ALLADEEN": OK. Death to the West. Death to (inaudible). Goodbye, Zionist (inaudible).

CURRY (voice-over): The world has become familiar with the many faces of Sacha Baron Cohen. His previous incarnations include the Kazakh TV reporter, Borat, and the Austrian fashionista Bruno, offending and entertaining audiences in equal measure while raising more than $400 million at the box office -- Neil Curry, CNN, London.

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FOSTER: It's tonight's "Parting Shots," a bit of fresh air for you.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got a new member of our weather team tonight. Let me hand (inaudible).

CHARLES, PRINCE OF WALES: Well, it is an unsettled picture as we head towards the end of the week. This afternoon it will be cold, wet and windy across most of Scotland.

We are under the influence of low pressure and this weather front pushing northwards is bringing cloud and outbreaks of rain. The rain, of course, will be heaviest over the borders and around Edinburgh, where it could lead to difficult conditions on the roads. In the west --

FOSTER (voice-over): Well, proof he's not just a prince. The heir to the throne was touring the BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow. But he got the chance to present the weather forecast live on TV. Nothing planned, I'm told.

In addition to the usual cities and towns on the map, there were royal additions of Balmoral and the Castle of Mey, which he caught just there. He proved remarkably comfortable with his live hit and you can say when down storm (ph) we'll be coming for our jobs next. But I'm sure he's got other things to do.

I'm Max Foster. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you so much for watching. The world headlines are up next after a short break.

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FOSTER: This is CNN, the world's news leader. The headlines this hour, at least 55 people were killed on Thursday morning when a pair of enormous bombs exploded in the Syrian capital. The Syrian government blames what it calls terrorists. Syrian opposition sources blame the government.

Greek socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos says there's some progress as he tries to form a new government. He's got three days to get it done. The first- and second-place winners of Sunday's vote couldn't manage it. Athens wants to avoid a new election which could endanger Greece's bailout.

Rescuers in Indonesia found the wreckage of the Russian passenger jet that seemed to disappear into thin air yesterday. There were no survivors. The Superjet 100 crashed into the side of a volcano with at least 45 people on board.

Two leading politicians are squaring off in Egypt's first-ever presidential debate. It's still underway, televised live from Cairo. Former Arab League chief Amre Moussa is ahead in the polls. He debating his closest challenger, former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.

Those are the latest headlines from CNN, the world's news leader. "AMANPOUR" starts right now.

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