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A supporter of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reacts as people gather after polling stations were closed in the presidential election in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

What We're Watching: Brazilian runoff, Burkina Faso coup 2.0, Ukraine's response to Russian annexations

Lula’s bittersweet first-round win

Left-wing former President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva won the first round of Brazil's presidential election on Sunday but fell short of the outright majority needed to avoid an Oct. 30 runoff that might now be tighter than expected. With almost 97% of the ballots counted, Lula got 47.9% of the vote, 4.2 percentage points more than his nemesis: the far-right incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro. Although Lula is still favored to also win in the second round, the result is good news for Bolsonaro because he outperformed the polls, which had him trailing Lula by a wide margin and led many to believe his rival could win it all in the first round. Some experts think that Bolsonaro is consistently underestimated because many Brazilians are hesitant to admit they vote for him — a theory pollsters deny. Lula's narrower-than-expected victory might give Bolsonaro even more fodder to claim that the surveys are rigged against him. Brazil's president has spent months firing up his base with baseless doubts about the integrity of the election process, and no one would be surprised if he tries to pull a 6 de Janeiro if he loses the runoff.

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US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a Jan. 6 committee hearing.

USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: The outgoing Liz Cheney, trouble in Kosovo, France out of Mali

Liz Cheney’s next move

Liz Cheney, a three-term Republican US congresswoman from Wyoming, suffered a stinging defeat Tuesday night at the hands of well-funded primary opponent Harriet Hageman, enthusiastically backed by former president Donald Trump. Sarah Palin — the former vice presidential candidate and governor, also supported by Trump — won the Alaska primary to run for Congress. Cheney’s defeat marks a remarkable political fall for a nationally known conservative politician who is the daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, the previous generation of Republicans’ best-known Washington powerbroker. Her political future and her potential impact on American politics will be defined by her central role on the congressional committee investigating the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and Trump’s role in it. Trump, according to Cheney, is “guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation’s history.” Cheney raised some $13 million for her now-failed House campaign. She can still spend that money on a future race. Next up: speculation that Cheney will run for president in 2024 in a campaign defined by opposition to Trump, who is still the Republican presidential frontrunner.

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Junta announces on TV it has taken power in Burkina Faso.

RTB/Handout via EYEPRESS

West Africa needs a fresh approach to democracy

A recent string of coups in West Africa has sent a troubling sign about the health of democracy in the region. Can anything be done to reduce the likelihood of future military takeovers? According to Amaka Anku, head of Eurasia Group’s Africa practice, the situation requires new approaches to governance and institution-building. We sat down with Amaka to learn more about her views.

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GZERO Media

Other pressing issues to discuss in Munich

Much of the media attention on the Munich Security Conference will focus, understandably, on the Russia-Ukraine standoff. But other important security questions will be discussed. Here are three of the most important.

The Balkans. Bosnia now faces its most worrisome threat since the end of the Yugoslav civil war in 1995. To keep warring factions apart, the peace agreement ending that war created a special enclave within Bosnia for ethnic Serbs. The leader of that enclave, Milorad Dodik, has threatened secession over a new law banning the denial of the genocide that Serbs inflicted on Bosnian Muslims during that conflict. A breakup of Bosnia could trigger a new war.

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Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro adjusts his protective face mask during a news conference to announce measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brasilia, Brazil March 18, 2020.

REUTERS/Adriano Machado

What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s COVID crimes, Mali calls al-Qaeda, Facebook gets a facelift

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A long-running Senate investigation in Brazil has found that by downplaying the severity of COVID, dithering on vaccines, and promoting quack cures, President Jair Bolsonaro directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. An earlier version of the report went so far as to recommend charges of homicide and genocide as well, but that was pulled back in the final copy to a mere charge of "crimes against humanity", according to the New York Times. The 1,200-page report alleges Bolsonaro's policies led directly to the deaths of at least half of the 600,000 Brazilians who have succumbed to the virus. It's a bombshell charge, but it's unlikely to land Bolsonaro in the dock — for that to happen he'd have to be formally accused by the justice minister, an ally whom he appointed, and the lower house of parliament, which his supporters control. Still, as the deeply unpopular Bolsonaro limps towards next year's presidential election, a rap of this kind isn't going to help.

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Myanmar migrant workers protesting against the military junta hold a picture of leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a candlelight vigil at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand.

REUTERS/Jorge Silva

What We’re Watching: Suu Kyi on trial, Blinken in Israel, Mali coup 2.0

Suu Kyi in the dock: Myanmar's former leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday made her first court appearance since the military coup that deposed her last February. Suu Kyi, 75, faces uncorroborated charges — ranging from illegally importing walkie-talkies to breaching COVID rules — that could put her behind bars for the rest of her life. The National League for Democracy, Suu Kyi's political party that defended her in court, is now also at risk as the military junta is trying to dissolve it — mainly because it trounced the pro-military party in the December parliamentary election. Myanmar's generals seem to think that they can go back in time to the days of complete dominance if they throw Suu Kyi in jail and ban the NLD. But they may be underestimating the popular appetite for democratic change in a country where the military is as powerful as it is unpopular. Whatever the junta decrees, expect the NLD to continue its political activities underground and in exile.

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Mahamat Idriss Deby, son of late Chadian President Idriss Deby, attends his father's state funeral in N'Djamena.

Christophe Petit Tesson/Pool via REUTERS

What We’re Watching: Chad unrest continues, Brazil spikes Sputnik, Chinese population falls

Chadians reject "soft" coup: Street protests against Chad's new military-led government have turned bloody a week after the killing of longtime President Idriss Déby. Interim leader Mahamat Idriss Déby, son of the slain Idriss, has named one of his dad's former allies as prime minister, but the opposition says he has no right to do so because he took over in a coup (and neighboring countries agree). Meanwhile France, the former colonial power which backed Déby père for 30 years, was initially open to a civilian-military transition, but has changed its position and now wants a civilian-only government before a fresh election in 18 months. But as long as the younger Déby follows in his father's footsteps by remaining a strong ally of the West against jihadists in the wider Sahel region, Paris surely won't put up too much of a fuss.

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Reaction to the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

What We’re Watching: George Floyd's family gets justice, India’s COVID mess, political turmoil in Chad

Guilty: Eleven months after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, on a Minneapolis street corner, we finally have a verdict in the murder trial. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges: second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was celebrated by advocates for racial justice and police reform. Last summer, video footage of Floyd suffocating to death as he cried out "I can't breathe" galvanized anti-racism protests across America (some of which turned violent) that went global. We're watching to see if the jury's verdict gives fresh impetus to the nationwide movement for police accountability and broader criminal justice reform, both of which have been met with fierce resistance from law-and-order conservatives and police unions. And we'll also be keeping an eye on the sentence, as Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison for his crimes.

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