28/11/2011 GMT with George Alagiah


George Alagiah presents international news and analysis. There is a look at Egypt's landmark election - has the online generation merely paved the way for Islamist parties?

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first polls since Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February. First steps on


the road to democracy, the Muslim Brotherhood starts off with the


best organised campaign. This is the beginning of a new era in Egypt,


democracy in action. Not in theory, Welcome to GMT, I'm George Alagiah


with the world of news and opinion. Also in the programme: Thousands of


Syrians show their support for President Assad a day after the


Arab League approved sweeping sanctions against the country.


Floodwaters in Australia cut off thousands of homes. The search is


on for a missing three-year-old. It is lunchtime in London, early


morning in Washington at 2:30pm in Cairo where voters are taking part


in the first polls since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February. The


election pitches the organisational prowess of the Muslim Brotherhood


with the newer parties and candidates from the pro-democracy


movement. Will the election a share in the New era at that the Tahrir


Square generation hoped for. We will be like in Cairo, but first


this report. It has turned into a chaotic


celebration of democracy. At this polling station in Cairo we found


Egyptians fighting to have their voices heard, determined to have a


say in how their country is rebuilt. Many more are queuing patiently,


waiting for hours to get into the polling stations. After years of


virtual one-party rule almost everyone here is voting for the


first time. My first parliament and I am so happy to see something like


that and all people are connecting with us. I want to save my country,


so I have to vote because I have a voice, I have to use it. Some of


the queues had been caused by mislaid ballots and polling


stations opening late. But no one here seems to care too much. The


last election I covered a year ago under Hosni Mubarak the polling


stations were deserted. Now they are having to fight them off.


Follow me around the corner and you can see that you goes on and on


down the street and around the block and merges with acute in the


neighbouring police station. People are seizing the opportunity with


both hands. Once they get inside they are faced with a bewildering


choice. In this polling station voters have to select from 146


candidates. Then they have a second ballot paper on which to choose


from 15 party lists. The whole process will take more than three


months. The heavy turnout appears to be a snub to the protesters


still in Tahrir Square. Many of the demonstrators are Boycott and what


they believe is a flawed process. But many, perhaps most, Egyptians


are saying they prefer an election however flawed to none at all.


I'm joined from outside the polling station in Cairo by Khaled


Ezzelarab, the BBC Arabic correspondent. We have just heard


in that report that perhaps the voters are snubbing the pro-


democracy activists because they did not want his election to take


place and yet people have been voting. Yes, definitely, a lot of


people have been voting. Some observers say the Internet has


exceeded expectations. Word is that the turnout will be huge on this


day. The Tahrir Square demonstrations have not affected


negatively the turnout for these elections. We are here at a polling


station a few hundred yards away from Tahrir Square. The security


situation has been fine, but turnout has been hired. There have


been some irregularities, but so far the general picture is fine.


you think the Tahrir Square generation are out of touch with


the rest of Egypt? Well, the demonstrators in Tahrir Square are


divided, but many of them have said they will participate in this


election. Some have boycotted, but others said the protest in Tahrir


Square is one line of political action, participating in the


elections is another part of guaranteeing the military council's


rule will come to an end quite soon. All the indications are that the


Muslim Brotherhood, the justice and democracy Party, is going into this


election the best organised. Yes, it seems so. Events in displays


which is one of the elite suburbs of Cairo and it is not considered


to be one of that strong points of the Muslim Brotherhood. The only


organised group at the polling stations have been the Muslim


Brotherhood and other Islamic groups. They have been telling


people where their names are in the polling stations. They haven't been


facilitating the traffic in front of the polling stations to ensure


that the turnout is high. This is in a part of Cairo where they are


not that strong, so you can imagine how they are in other parts.


mention some of the hit is around the country. Give us a round-up of


as far as you know how it is going around the country. Well, we have


been receiving reports from very early in the morning that there are


a lot of polling stations which have failed to open on time. Some


of them have been hours late. Some judges have not appear at the


polling stations where they are supposed to supervise the process.


There have been irregularities, we are getting reports of incidents of


violence between people going to the elections in front of their


stations, but nothing as bad as what people feared. We are still at


midday and things could develop and another way, but so far the general


picture seems to be fine. Khaled Ezzelarab, thank you very much.


More on the elections and you can head to the website. You can get


all the latest information and analysis. Lyse Doucet also speaks


to Egyptian youth about what elections mean to them.


Some of the other stories making headlines: Iran's Guardian Council


has given its final approval to a decision to downgrade ties with


Britain. Iran's parliament approved the measures on Sunday in


retaliation for fresh British sanctions. They are accusing the


Iranian banks of facilitating the nuclear programme.


The main Pakistani Association that delivers fuel to NATO forces in


Afghanistan says it has no plans to resume supplies. Many shipments to


NATO forces in Afghanistan arrive via Pakistan, but they came to a


halt after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed at a border post on


Saturday in what appears to have been an 80 air strike.


Three people have been killed and more than 20 injured after a


suspected bomb explosion at a hotel in that Philippines. It started at


the fire in Zamboanga which was full with guests from a wedding


party. Police suspect Islamic militants are to blame.


Averting is under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo for


president and parliament. It is the central African's country's second


election since the Civil War ended eight years ago. The run-up to the


election has been marred by violence and concerned the


Electoral Commission is not ready to hold the event.


In a country that is nearly the size of Western Europe this is an


election on a huge scale. Even the ballot papers are like small


newspapers. There are 11 presidential candidates and more


than 18,000 people running for seats in the National Assembly. It


is thought it could take the average voter seven minutes to vote.


President Joseph Kabila, who is seeking another term, cast his vote


in Kinshasa. Analysts say his track record over the last five years has


been relatively poor, but he has benefited from greater resources


than any of his opponents, including the main challenger. In


the past few days there has been a frantic scramble to get all the


voting materials distributed around the country. This was the scene in


an Eastern city soon after the polling stations opened. All is


well, said this man, even though we started with a bit of a delay a


process is transparent. But hundreds of observers, including


many from abroad, are watching with anxiety. There have been outbreaks


of violence. The Democratic Republic of Congo has so often


proved to be a country that is not governable. This will be an


important test of her stable it really is.


In Australia thousands of people have been stranded by floodwaters


in the northern part of New South Wales. Many of them could be


isolated for up to a week and the Government has been flying


emergency supplies to the area. The flooding has claimed the lives of a


three-year-old boy as Duncan Kennedy in Sydney reports.


Australia is entering its summer season, but look at this. Vast


areas of north-west New South Wales under water. The flooding has been


building over the past few days and thousands of acres of land have


been deluged. Some of the major routes through the region have been


cut off and whilst bigger vehicles have made it through, others reveal


the depth of the rising waters. Towns and settlements like these


have faced the worst flooding. But it is Wee Waa when nearly 2000


residents have been stranded. Only Ariel drops are keeping it


connected to the outside world. do not expect further evacuations,


however those floodwaters can remain in the area for up to 10


days and there is more rain predicted in the middle of this


week. Rescue teams have been searching for a three-year-old boy


who was swept away by the powerful waters. Other people are trying to


get out themselves. Emergency services have received 900 calls


for help. As everybody in this community what is the weather and


the water. The French foreign minister Alain


Juppe has said time is running out for the Syrian President after the


Arab League agreed sanctions against Damascus. In an


unprecedented move unsung day including an asset freeze and an


investment embargo work approved over Syria's crackdown on pro-


democracy protests. Jim Muir is watching the events in Syria from


neighbouring Lebanon. We are expecting to hear the foreign


minister any minute now, are we? The line broke up. That was my


fault. We are expecting to hear the foreign ministers speaking any


minute now. That is right. We are waiting for that. It was supposed


to have happen some time ago, but in the meantime the Syrian


television screens are four of the thousands and thousands of people


who are out in the squares in Damascus and other cities around


Syria. It is hardly spontaneous, but it is a very big state-


supported demonstration denouncing the Arab League moves. The they


want to show this is a very unpopular thing as far as many


Syrians are concerned, certainly as far as the regime's supporters are


concerned. The people are being quoted as saying it is all the


Syrian people of all classes throughout the country who are


targeted by these moves. Of course, the Arab League is trying to be at


pains not to hurt ordinary people, but to isolate and pressurise the


regime. We are looking at some of these protests, stage managed or


not, tell me how unprecedented visit for an organisation like the


Arab League to move in this way against a country like Syria?


completely unprecedented and has not happened before. The Arab


League has been synonymous with lethargy and apathy and not doing


anything, but now it seems under its new Secretary General to have


decided it wants to be in the forefront of change in the Arab


world, not lagging behind or even a obstructing it as it was in the


past. They have rather startlingly taken this move against a fellow


member of the Arab League, isolated it and pressurising its and it has


not been done before. From the Syrian perspective what they are


saying is the Arab League has simply fallen into the hands of the


West and has become an instrument for carrying out a Western-backed


conspiracy and slinking back with the situation on the ground which


they say is also the work of outside forces, manipulating local


Still to come... A wake-up call as delegates gathered for the UN


Climate Conference. The stakes are high, but will they manage to kick


that talks on a global deal back Now let's get the business news.


Lots of reports on the situation and the economic crisis in Europe.


The latest one is from the OECD. The organisation of co-operation


and Development, they released their biannual global economic


outlook. Surprise, surprise, it makes for pretty gloomy reading. It


is a very stark warning for governments and policy makers


around the world to be prepared for the worst. The eurozone crisis...


That's a quote from the board. Absolutely. The eurozone crisis is


at the centre of their worries. They say but have a very big and


negative impact. It will hit the US economy harder than expected. It


will even hit China. Let's listen to the chief economist from the


OECD. Confidence is weakening. Confidence both in households and


in companies. Business and consumer confidence is dropping. And why is


that happening? We think that most of the cause of that confidence


drop, of which turns into low activity, is itself the result of


what is seen as to be an inadequate policy response. Inadequate policy


response. He's not only talking about European politicians, he also


mentions US politicians. I should also throw-in that the OECD is


predicting the British economy will slip back into recession in the


next coming few months. Maybe George Osborne got a sneak preview


because he is due to announce some big spending on infrastructure.


Very ambitious plan. �30 billion to push into the economy. It's really


about big infrastructure projects to get people back to work and to


get growth in the economy. Rail and road schemes, about 40 projects


which have been earmarked. The question is, how do we pay for it?


A lot of money coming from big British pension funds, Chinese


investments, 5 billion coming from areas where the government have


already cut budgets. Given a serious state of our finances, can


we really afford it? We are finding the resources in difficult times to


build the roads and railways. Here, we are talking about an extension


of the tube line which could create 25,000 jobs on this side. We are


doing the scenes -- these things because Britain has got to get away


from the quick fix of debt solutions that got us into this


mess. We got to lay the foundations for a stronger economic future.


We've got to make sure that British savings and things like pension


funds are deployed here and the British taxpayer's money is well


used. The markets, a bumper of a day at the moment. They are all


high off the back of the swimmers at the weekend that the IMF was in


talks with Italy to bail it out. The IMF deny it but the markets are


still hoping. Do we know what's happening here? The FTSE is up as


This is GMT. On main stories this hour. Egyptians of voting at


polling stations and their first elections since the fall of Hosni


Mubarak in February. It follows a week of mass protest against


military rule in the country. Syria is shunned by its allies. Flights


from Arab capitals to Damascus are halted under sweeping sanctions.


The annual UN Conference on Climate Change has opened in the South


African city of Durban. Sharp differences between governments


expected to frustrate efforts to agree a new global treaty. Europe


and poorer countries are already affected by the impact of climate


change are pressing for a new deal to reduce emissions as soon as


possible, other rich countries, including Japan and Russia, they


There is plenty of passion for tackling climate change amongst


those directly threatened by it. Activists in Durban say only swift


action now can prevent the Earth's temperature is rising to dangerous


levels. They are trying to persuade delegates to promise more money to


help the poorest nations Cup. Ladies and gentlemen, this


conference needs to reassure the Honourable, all those who have


already suffered and all those who will continue to suffer from


climate change, that tangible action is being taken for a safer


future. Both in adaptation and in mitigation. At the core of the


summit is a new climate agreement that the UN wants to have finalised


by 2015. But India and Brazil are joining rich nations, such as the


US and Japan, in delaying a legally binding deal. Poorer countries want


a binding deal as soon as possible. That is because they are affected


most by the more extreme weather provoked by climate change. They


say voluntary agreement just aren't enough to get the necessary de cuts


and carbon dioxide emissions. Adding urgency to the need for


action, a new UN report shows that a quarter of the world's farmland


is now highly degraded. South Africa's President, Jacob Zuma,


arrived with the message that a deal was vital and should be


possible with sound leadership. most people in the developing world


and Africa, climate change is a matter of life and death. Europe is


pressing for firm action, but there are major doubts over whether other


rich nations, with their economies struggling, can summon up and a


political and financial world. -- financial world. Joining the is


Richard Black. Emily picked up on this, India and Brazil dragging


their feet. They are basically behaving in the way, for the same


reasons they used to criticise the big countries, America, Japan and


so on. There is this concern that they share with those countries


like the US and Japan that constraining carbon emissions will


Compact their economic growth. They are going up against a number of


blocks, like the EU for example, which see an economic future in


developing green and clean. And against some of the small island


states who can't really afford to ask that question. They simply see


in 20 to 30 years' time the waters lapping over their shores.


Maldives. Absolutely. We should be hearing from some of those later in


the conference. It will be interesting to see whether they


openly criticise countries such as India and Brazil. And some of the


small island states said if they are going to name and shame the


likes of India and Brazil, who was supposed to be in many ways


countries that lead the developing world. That's right. This whole


mass of developing world Block, the G77 China, it now has 131 countries


in it. They tend to behave as a monolith of for all sorts of


reasons. They do share common interests, but it will be


interesting to see whether world leaders from the small island


states do name and shame. That is what is being set behind the scenes


but we will wait to see if it materialises. One of the enduring


means of this is some of the rich countries of the West putting


pressure on the smaller countries. But some of that pressure is coming


from the big, developing world players as well. It is his right,


Brazil and India dragging their feet, America, Japan and Russia and


so on, more or less where they've always been, a reluctant partners,


this thing is dead in the water, isn't it? It's difficult to see how


it can develop anything that goes anywhere near meeting the goals set


out by scientists, who say that in order to have a reasonable chance


of keeping the global temperature rise below two Celsius, you need to


be peaking emissions and having them decline around about 2020,


certainly no later. You can do it later than that but it becomes much


more expensive. If you don't have even talks on a new global deal


beginning until 2015 or later, it's difficult to see and you can meet


that target of beginning to curb emissions by 2020. Rapidly growing


economies mean many Asian countries have encouraged their young workers


to abandon the field and prop to the city's in search of their


fortunes. In Japan, the bloom in the migration took place decades


ago. But for the past 20 years the economy has been in stagnation. As


Roland Buerk reports, some younger people are now leaving the cities


behind to return to the countryside. Bright Lights, Big City. For


decades Tokyo has been a draw. Bringing in people from the


countryside. Now other Asian nations are following suit, a race


to urbanisation. But for some young Japanese the city is losing its


appeal. Like millions of others, this woman can't find a permanent


job. The salary man lifestyle enjoyed by earlier generations has


passed her by. TRANSLATION: I never know if I'm


going to lose my job. Financially my anxiety levels are very height.


I wouldn't know what to do. That's why some young Japanese are looking


for an alternative. This is no ordinary bus trip. These are not


tourists. Instead, they are city dwelling people who've come to the


countryside for the day to see what life would be like as farmers. They


are all considering a radical change of career. This woman has


joined the tour. It's organised by local officials. The average


Japanese farmer is now more than 65, so they are looking for new


recruits. TRANSLATION: There are more people


that want to be farmers now. The numbers are increasing. More people


from the city want a rural life. Here, we want to help them. At 86


years old, this man needs help to look after his cucumbers. And now


he has an apprentice. A young man who gave up his office job in


Yokohama. TRANSLATION: I was really fed up


with my life in the city. I was too busy working every day. I wanted to


change, so I had a slower life. I wanted to become a farmer. His farm


is on the tour. This woman has decided it's what she wants to do,


too. Joining other young Japanese who are rediscovering the way of


life their grandparents left behind. We are coming to the end of GMT.


Before we go, a reminder of our main story. Egyptians are voting in


the first parliamentary elections since the toppling of President


Mubarak in February. Long queues formed at polling stations around


the country. That despite calls from some of the pro-democracy


activists that these elections should be boycotted which, as our


correspondent pointed out when we spoke to him, raises a question


about the extent to which the pro- democracy activists that we've


International news and intelligent analysis going live to the heart of the day's top global story. George Alagiah shares his experience as one of the BBC's most successful foreign correspondents to communicate why world stories matter to a UK and global audience.

Featuring exclusive reports from BBC World News correspondents based around the world, plus up-to-the-minute global business news.

Egypt's landmark election - has the online generation merely paved the way for Islamist parties?

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