What We’re Watching: Argentine VP’s legal woes, angry Haitians, Pakistan’s Qatari cash push, Trump’s DOJ suit

A person wears a cap with images of Argentina's President Alberto Fernández and VP Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

Is Argentina's VP on the ropes?

An Argentine prosecutor wants VP Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to spend 12 years behind bars and be disqualified from public office for life for alleged corruption from when her husband was president (2003-2007) and her own two terms in the top job (2007-2015). Cristina — popularly known by her first name — is accused of fixing public works contracts in the southern Patagonia region. The verdict drops in December, but it can be appealed and the process would likely drag on until late 2023 — just in time for the next election. Even if she's convicted, the influential VP is unlikely to see a jail cell. Although she won't have immunity if she loses her Senate seat, the Supreme Court is unlikely to ratify a guilty sentence that would be a political bomb. Still, the trial will have big implications for Cristina and the ruling Peronistas. First, a conviction might compel her to shape the 2023 presidential race by picking a loyal candidate and not the incumbent, Alberto Fernández (no relation), whom Cristina famously doesn't get along with. Second, the legal troubles might help Cristina fire up her base, especially if she decides to run for president. "She views all of this as a conspiracy between the judiciary, businessmen, and the opposition to remove her," says Eurasia Group analyst Luciano Sigalov.


Haitians demand PM’s resignation

Ça suffit! So say thousands of demonstrators in Port-au-Prince. Fed up with sky-high inflation, deepening poverty, and the spread of deadly gang violence, protesters are taking to the streets of Haiti’s capital to demand the resignation of PM and acting President Ariel Henry. Kidnappings and murder are on the rise — more than 200 were killed in just 10 days last month — and Haitians are increasingly worried about their mere survival. Henry has been in power since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, and many suspect that Henry was somehow behind the hit. At least one protester has reportedly died in this week’s demonstrations, and things could quickly grow worse. Some 50% of Haitians are living in poverty, struggling to keep up with inflation upwards of 30%, and saying: enough is enough.

Pakistani PM in Qatar, hat in hand

What would you do if you were staring down the barrel of default and your sworn enemy – who you’re trying to send to jail – was threatening mass unrest? Get out of Dodge, ask for money, and hope the political drama boils over before you return. That's what embattled Pakistani PM Shebhaz Sharif likely hopes to accomplish this week during his visit to Qatar. In Doha, Sharif will offer deals for Qatar to buy shares in Pakistani state-owned businesses like the national airline and — checks notes — the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, as well as opportunities to sell Pakistan more energy. More importantly, Sharif's trip comes ahead of next week's big meeting to secure a $1.2 billion IMF bailout negotiated in 2019 by ... his predecessor Imran Khan, Sharif's other big headache. Khan, who was ousted in an April no-confidence vote, has been charged with violating the anti-terror act for threatening the judiciary in a fiery speech. The former PM has been summoned to appear before the court to answer the charge on Aug. 31, and Khan's supporters have responded by surrounding his residence to thwart his potential arrest. If the former cricket star is convicted, he faces a prison term and lifetime disqualification from politics.

Trump sues DOJ over Mar-a-Lago search

Donald Trump is suing the Justice Department in a bid to stop the FBI from looking over documents taken from the former US president’s Mar-a-Lago home earlier this month. The materials were recovered as part of an investigation into whether Trump mishandled them — but he says he’s done nothing wrong and that the documents were declassified. The lawsuit requests that an independent lawyer review the documents to see whether any are protected by executive privilege. Since Trump is a likely presidential candidate for 2024, the suit warns that law enforcement “cannot be used as a weapon for political purposes." DOJ officials say that the search warrant was authorized by a federal court “upon the required finding of probable cause,” and they’ll get their chance to address the lawsuit in court. Meanwhile, the judge who approved the search warrant is still deciding whether to allow the evidence presented as justification for the search to go public.
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