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Mugabe Ouster Anticipated; Alabama Newspaper Endorses Roy Moore's Opponent; Puerto Rico Facing Food Shortages after Maria. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): History unfolding in Zimbabwe as thousands gather for a historic anti-Mugabe rally. The 93-year-old autocrat is running out of options with his own political party turning against him.

And CNN's investigation into modern-day slavery in Libya sparks anger outside the Libyan embassy in Paris.

Plus almost two months after Hurricane Maria, we're back in Puerto Rico. CNN will show you how people are coping with the aftermath.

Hi, I'm Cyril Vanier, live from the CNN NEWSROOM here in Atlanta. Thank you for joining us.


VANIER: And the fate of president Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe could be decided any time now. A senior source says his party is meeting this hour to discuss a no confidence vote in Mr. Mugabe's leadership.

This comes after a military coup on Wednesday. Mr. Mugabe was placed under house arrest and many are now demanding end to his almost 40- year rule. This was the scene Saturday in the capital Harare, thousands turned out to call for the president to step down. CNN's Farai Sevenzo was in Harare at this rally.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not supposed to happen here. This is supposed to be Robert Mugabe's capital, Harare. But Zimbabweans woke up to a new reality.


SEVENZO (voice-over): They finally had a chance to tell the president what they really think. And we, as journalists, were freely allowed to record it, which was never allowed in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

"Mugabe out."

"Gucci Grace, stop it."

And "Thou art fallen."

And, remember, in the past, these are thoughts a Zimbabwean would never have dared to say, let alone put it on paper.

(INAUDIBLE) is a great day (INAUDIBLE) jubilation. They all say that November the 18th is independence day. Everywhere, they're coming from all over the place. (INAUDIBLE). SEVENZO (voice-over): Insulting the president's name would normally

land you in jail. These guys don't care. It feels like the nation, as it once was, has finally emerged from the darkness, the young, the old, the black, the white, all Zimbabweans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we all came out together and decided to have a chance so we could use our voices.

SEVENZO: Are you usually this political?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to. How could we not be? It's our Zimbabwe. It is our chance. We must speak after seven years of silence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need all their liberties back. They are freedom everything, which has been stolen by one person, one family, one dynasty. And they're saying enough is enough.

SEVENZO: What this feels like is that a massive 37-year buildup of pressure has suddenly been released and erupted like a volcano. The joyous scenes you see here are people being able to express themselves for the first time in a very, very long time.

SEVENZO (voice-over): Barbara says she's finally giving her father a voice. She tells us he was beaten up in 2008 by Mugabe's loyalists.

Zimbabweans hope this is a new beginning for them and they also quietly pray that today's savior, the army, does not become tomorrow's Mugabe. The president once said only the people could end his rule. The people now wonder if the old man heard their message -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Harare, Zimbabwe.


VANIER: Let's get more on this. I'm joined from South Africa now by Redi Tlhabi. She's a talk show host and broadcast journalist in Johannesburg.

So what happens on Sunday is going to be key. Mr. Mugabe's own political party, it seems, is turning against him.

REDI TLHABI, JOURNALIST: And Cyril, that is absolutely significant because thus far he has ignored the people. He has ignored the army. And the party is where his support has been for many decades.

He has been able to amend the constitution to extend his term. He has been able to repress all sorts of dissent, precisely because he was strong and powerful in his party. But now the tide has turned with the firing of his deputy president almost two weeks ago, who is also as influential and powerful in the party. That was a political risk.

And the tide is turning against Robert Mugabe. The next few hours will be critical indeed, Cyril.

VANIER: And so in your analysis that was really the --


VANIER: -- turning point when he tried to sideline his V.P., his vice president?

TLHABI: Absolutely, Cyril. We must remember, it's not the first time that Robert Mugabe has fired a vice president. Joyce Majuro (ph) was fired a couple of years ago and nothing happened precisely because he didn't command the kind of influence and authority that Emmerson Mnangagwa, the recent former vice president, was fired almost two weeks, he didn't command that. Zimbabwe just went on and he kind of wilted away into obscurity.

But this time around, someone like Emmerson Mnangagwa, with his credentials, with his role in the liberation of Zimbabwe, his high office and power and authority in the Zanu-PF party, that was the political risk for Robert Mugabe.

And also I think that people have an aversion to a family dynasty. Grace Mugabe is not powerful. She is not the most likable person. So when Robert Mugabe is trying to impose her on Zimbabwean society, that wasn't going to go down well and that's what sparked this movement.

VANIER: The sidelining, the ouster of Robert Mugabe seems to be following a slow but very deliberate process. It's been five days already. He still has his title of president. But first the military moved in, now the political party is moving in, after showing that they had popular support.

How do you analyze this?

The party has all -- the military has all the leverage here. It seems Mr. Mugabe has none. Yet they're moving very cautiously.

TLHABI: That's a very important question, Cyril. And that's why we've been at pains to explain that this is not a coup. It doesn't look like a coup.


VANIER: All right, we're getting back to Redi; slight problem with the connection there.

Protesters shouting no to slavery filled the streets in Central Paris on Saturday. The demonstration came after CNN's exclusive reporting on African migrants being sold into slavery in Libya. Protesters are demanding the Libyan government investigate, which it has said it will do. Riot police used tear gas to stop the marchers as they approached the

Champs-Elysees, you see it there. Sparking the protest was a CNN investigation that uncovered recent slave auctions at multiple locations in Libya. CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team pursued the story as part of CNN's Freedom Project.



The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1,200 Libya pounds, $400


VANIER: Saturday's massive demonstration in Paris was a direct response to those shocking and inhumane images. Protesters could barely contain their anger (INAUDIBLE).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It feels like we are going backyards to four centuries ago. We have to mobilize. We can't let this kind of thing happen.

Do we really need to see such shocking pictures before taking a stand?

I don't think so. Now there needs to be a real struggle, a real fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is no difference between human beings, black people, white people, Arabs. Everybody is the same. It's the same blood in our veins.

So why are we putting Africans in cages in Libya?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): How can it be that, in the 21st century, we are selling human beings like merchandise?

I cannot get my head around that.


VANIER: The head of the African Union condemned the barbaric practice. Alpha Conde released this statement, "On behalf of the African Union, I express my outrage at the despicable trade of migrants currently taking place in Libya and strongly condemn this practice of another age."

Now Gerry Adams says that he is going to step down as president of Sinn Fein next year to make way for a new generation of Northern Irish leaders. Adams has led the Irish Republican Party since 1983 and when he leaves, he will go out with a reputation as peacemaker.

In the '90s, Adams helped broker a ceasefire that ended the conflict called The Troubles. For 30 years Catholics who wanted to unite with the Republic of Ireland clashed with Protestants, who wanted Northern Ireland to stay under British rule.

The crew of a missing Argentinian navy submarine may have recently tried to reach out. The submarine has been missing since Wednesday with 44 crew members on board. It disappeared off Argentina's southern Atlantic coast midway to its destination. Officials are now trying to locate the seven satellite signals that they detected on Saturday.

Various countries are helping in the search. The U.S. is sending a rescue mission capable of searching underwater.

And to the southern United States now, the editorial board of the "Birmingham News," Alabama's largest newspaper, has just come out endorsing Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate race there and against Republican candidate Roy Moore, who is facing numerous allegations of sexual misconduct --


VANIER: -- from decades ago.

The paper says this election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders, adding that a vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse.

Moore has long been known for his fervent Christian views and his support among evangelicals but now some religious leaders in Alabama say that he is unfit for office and that he has cynically used Christianity for his own goals. But Moore is definitely not backing down. Here is CNN's Nick Valencia.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a difficult week and a half for Roy Moore and his campaign in the face of these sexual assault allegations. However, the Republican Senate candidate has remained defiant, as have his most ardent supporters. It was just yesterday that his wife, Kayla Moore, was joined by about

30 or 40 women, who say that they personally know Roy Moore and that the allegations leveled against him don't speak to the character of the man they know.

It was just days before that that faith leaders here in Alabama gathered to testify to the character of Moore, saying that his character is being assassinated and that he's being framed by the GOP establishment.

They went so far as to allege that "The Washington Post" paid the women to come forward. "The Washington Post" denies those allegations, as do the women, saying that they waited nearly 40 years to tell their stories because they felt, at the time of these alleged incidents, no one would have believed them.

It was today that faith leaders convened in Birmingham to echo the sentiments of his accusers, saying that Roy Moore is dangerous to the state of Alabama for his policies and his principles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unlikely that any of Roy Moore's accuser can definitely prove that he sexually assaulted them 30 years ago, a point the defiant former judge knows well.

But even -- and this is critical, particularly for the media to hear and where we have to stand as Christian ministers -- even before these allegations made national headlines, it was clear that Moore's policy agenda endangered the children of Alabama.


VALENCIA: Moore's biggest supporter has been his wife, Kayla. As she spoke at the press conference yesterday, she said she and her husband are in a political fight, a battle, she said, that will not end with her husband withdrawing from the race. This special election is set to take place on December 12th -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Gadsden, Alabama.


VANIER: With the spotlight of sexual misconduct now shining on U.S. politics, the White House is in an awkward position. For instance, President Trump did not hesitate to weigh in when accusations came out against Democratic senator Al Franken. Yet he has not directly commented on the arguably more serious allegations against the Republican Senate candidate, Roy Moore.


VANIER: Joining me now is CNN senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.

Ron, why did Donald Trump feel compelled to weigh in on this issue?

It was sure to reignite concerns and questions over the allegations that were leveled against him by women.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And the fact that he was willing to do this nonetheless really reinforces my belief that he views it as a conscious strategy to incite a virtually endless succession of culturally, racially tinged or personal fights.

And that essentially that he view as a big part of his job, a way that he stirs up his base, is by taking aim at a virtually unending succession of targets. Meanwhile you have, in the executive agencies and the Congress, the advancing of a very hardline agenda on taxes, on spinning the tax bill that's moving forward.

While I think the president very consciously by now -- and, as you say, the fact that he was willing to do it on something that was so unlikely for him to weigh in, I think he used it as a conscious strategy, trying to keep the public focused on this almost reality- show style of rotating feuds.

VANIER: White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says that the reason that Mr. Trump commented on accusations against the Democrat, Al Franken, but not accusations again the Republican Roy Moore is simply to do with timing, because he had been on his Asia trip and by the time he came back, the big story that was breaking was Al Franken.

Do you buy that?

BROWNSTEIN: No, and I mean that does not pass even the really laugh test. He had many opportunities in Asia and here. He has seen the same evidence as everyone else on Roy Moore.

Of course with Roy Moore, he is saying we should leave it to the voters and on Al Franken he is condemning im. But again, I think the point here is that this has to be seen in the context of if we did a tally, so how many would we be up to? 150? 175 inappropriate or strange kinds of feuds on Twitter?

I mean, Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin and assorted Democrats and Little Marco. It just never ends and I think it's never --


BROWNSTEIN: -- going to end because I think he views it -- you know, we see it as a distraction. I think he sees it as a useful misdirection and a way to keep the public focused on this and, in particular the media focused on this, as I say, reality-show style succession of feuds while the agenda grinds on with less attention than it might otherwise receive.

VANIER: Ron, on the face of it, accusations of sexual misconduct against anyone are not a political debate. It has to do with morals, it has to do with the law, it has to do with what is acceptable in society.

Yet, in this country, in the U.S., it's not that simple.

BROWNSTEIN: Not at all. And in fact, I think the Roy Moore episode is really going to be, I think, a landmark in the evolution of our politics in a more tribal direction. What the governor of Alabama said was very striking the other day.

She said, I have no reason to disbelieve these accusations but I'm going to vote for him anyway because I want a Republican vote to confirm future Supreme Court justices in the Senate.

In essence, the name on the back of the jersey, the individual candidate matters increasingly less in our politics than the color on the front of the jersey, which team you are on.

VANIER: I think we need to point out also especially to our international audience that the outcome of this Senate race in Alabama could have an effect on national politics if it ends up affecting the balance of power in the Senate.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, right. So the Republicans have a 52 to 48 majority in the Senate. So even if a Democrat wins, and I'm sure the Democrats would feel they have a better chance of winning if it was Tuesday than several more weeks from Tuesday, because the opportunity for the partisanship to seep back in.

But even if the Democrats win, the Republicans will still have a 51-49 majority. That will (INAUDIBLE) essentially no margin for error on votes. And two Republicans now will -- if, in fact, the Democrat wins -- will be able to sink their agenda. And that's one of the reasons why they rushing on tax reform because they are not sure they can keep their defections below two on their tax bill.

And if, in fact, they are not finished before December 12th, when this election is held, that could be (INAUDIBLE). But more importantly, in 2018, they could face obviously a greater risk. Democrats don't have that many opportunities to win Republican-held states. There are really only two and a half -- Arizona, Nevada and maybe Tennessee -- that might be at risk.

But if it's a 51-49 Senate and you win Arizona and Nevada and don't lose any of your own, that's enough for the Democrats to take the majority.

VANIER: Absolutely. And that's why what's happening in Alabama is colliding with national politics as well. Ron Brownstein, thank you very much for your time. We always appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Good to be here.

VANIER: The Trump administration is threatening to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization's office in Washington unless the Palestinians enter serious peace talks with Israel. The U.S. State Department says Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas violated a U.S. law allowing the mission to stay open when he urged the International Criminal Court, the ICC, to prosecute alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

President Trump has 90 days to decide whether to close the office. The Palestinians say that if that happens, they will cut off contact with the Trump administration altogether.

On the border of the United States and Mexico, a door of hope swings open just for a few minutes. Here it is, giving 12 families, separated by a fence, an emotional reunion visa-free. Relatives clung to each other, seeing family members for the first time in years. Many on the U.S. side are undocumented immigrants and if they were to visit Mexico, they may have trouble returning back to the U.S. The advocacy group Border Angels organized the event with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are happy and grateful that, for the sixth time, Border Patrol officers have given us permission to open up the gate of hope so that 12 families could cross. And in many cases, there were grandparents meeting their grandchildren for the first time. It was 12 families. We've never had that many before.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: Two months after Hurricane Maria, half of Puerto Rico is still without power. Next, even more challenges on the island. How people are adapting to food shortages. Stay with us for more on that.





VANIER: In the history of hard rock, there's never been a band quite like AC/DC. And a big reason was that man right there, guitarist Malcolm Young, who started band in 1975 with his younger brother, Angus. The band announced on Saturday that Malcolm Young passed away after several years of declining health. He was 64.

Also in music news, former teen heartthrob David Cassidy has been hospitalized in critical condition with organ failure. Cassidy, who is 67, catapulted to fame in the early 1970s in the hit TV show, "The Partridge Family."

Cassidy struggled with alcohol for many years and recently disclosed that he had dementia. His publicist says he's taking it day by day at a Florida hospital, surrounded by family and by friends.

Puerto Rico, in a few hours, thousands of protesters worried about Puerto Rico's slow recovery are set to march in Washington. About half of the island still has no electricity two months after Hurricane Maria. Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans are getting used to having less food to buy. Our Rafael Romo has more from San Juan.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): At first sight, it looks like a well-stocked supermarket, doing brisk business. And then you notice people only buy enough food for a day or two.

ROMO: So how has the way in which you buy at the supermarket changed since the hurricane?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Basically you have to buy less ingredients, less quantity, because if the power goes out, then you don't want to lose 75 percent of what you purchased.

ROMO (voice-over): It has been two months since Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. About half the island remains without power. Those with no refrigeration have had to adapt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stuff like milk and meat and eggs, I buy less quantity and more stuff that is canned.

ROMO (voice-over): Supermarkets have also been forced to adapt. Just take a look at this frozen goods section in this San Juan supermarket. Shelves are empty most of the time. ROMO: So the problem is not that the suppliers are not being able to

deliver, the problem is that people are not buying these things?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People aren't buying these things.

ROMO: How does this compare to what you had before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are only selling 2 percent.

ROMO (voice-over): But there is also a distribution problem. A shortage of canned goods means this store has to ration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Used to have 10 brands. And we only have four brands of corned beef.

ROMO: Ten brands of corned beef before and only two now?


ROMO (voice-over): They used to carry 20 different kinds of soft drinks. Now they have three.

For Anna Josefina Perez (ph), the hurricane revealed something that is hard to admit.

ANNA JOSEFINA PEREZ (PH), PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: Living in a country that actually goes through hurricanes -- not as often as we could, obviously -- it is very sad to see that we're not prepared, whether it is the government or people in general.

ROMO (voice-over): A hard lesson she hopes the island has learned, as Puerto Rico slowly tries to recover from its worst natural disaster in decades -- Rafael Romo, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


VANIER: OK, now we're also following, as we always do this hour, every day, the top weather related stories around the world. This one concerns a medicane -- you're going to tell us what that is, Derek -- which continues to cause havoc across Italy and Greece -- Derek from the CNN Weather Center.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not a made-up term, Cyril, actually a term that meteorologists and people in the weather community use for a hurricane type --


VAN DAM: -- storm that forms in the Mediterranean. So we've got a medicane. It's got similar characteristics; winds can get pretty strong. Rain can be very heavy and, in this case, this particular medicane brought flash flooding to places like Greece and into Southern Italy. The cleanup continuing. Unfortunately, the death toll about 19 people have perished from this. This was earlier in the week. But they are still recovering people and actually identifying people from the flash flooding that occurred there. (WEATHER REPORT)

VANIER: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I will be back with the headlines in a few moments. Stay with us. Thank you for watching CNN.