you're watching bbc news. i'm reged ahmad. our top stories: tens of thousands take to the streets of venezuela in rival mass rallies for and against president nicolas maduro. there is a sense here of celebration. the mood is relaxed, but the intent is serious — and also developing a new range of missiles. virginia governor ralph northam refuses to quit and insists he is not the person in a racist photo. in the hours since i made my statement yesterday, i reflected with my family and classmates from the time and affirmed my conclusion that i am not the person in that photo. and punxsutawney phil did not see his shadow, so can the us expect an early spring?
leader luau guaidg if theyarenhtr ﬂ ,, ,,,, . called by midnight on sunday. at a. rival. rallyinthe-cgpitélr- promising to bring in humanitarian supplies if he took power. orla guerin reports from caracas. the opposition called and, from early morning, they came. that word, freedom, was on many lips in caracas today. and we met plenty who believed
venezuela's opposition leader, juan guaido, will be the one to deliver it. we are very proud of him because he has taken us through the right route to have liberty, democracy and what we have yearned for so many years. 20 years, more or less, yearning for this moment. well, there's a sense here of celebration. the mood is very relaxed, but the intent is serious — to send a message to president nicolas maduro that time is up. the opposition has gathered here in numbers. they believe that a process of change is under way in venezuela and that it won't be stopped. a military helicopter passed overhead but the security forces kept their distance. speakers told the crowd this was a moment of history, a moment of hope for venezuela. beaming on stage, the man many now
look to as a saviour, juan guaido. already being called venezuela's obama, he's a powerful symbol, but an untested leader. today, he tried to court the military with what voice he had left. "welcome to every officer "thatjoins the side of the constitution," he said. "we have amnesties. "soldier of the nation, you have a role in the recovery "of the nation of venezuela." these were the images broadcast by state tv — massive crowds that some claim were suspiciously large. president maduro offered to bring forward parliamentary elections to this year. that might sound like a concession, but the opposition already control
parliament, so he's not giving much. back at thejuan guaido rally, venezuelans literally throwing their money away. it's worth little or nothing anyway. the opposition has called for protests to continue until the maduro era is consigned to history. orla guerin, bbc news, caracas. magnus boding hansen is a danish freelance journalist and he's in caracas now. you also regularly travel to venezuela. how have you seen the country change? well, these last few weeks have been the first time in a while there is optimism among the
opposition in venezuela that things can change. the first 1.5 years, there has been a feeling that nicolas maduro has things under control and a feeling that it is not worth going to the streets anymore because the opposition don't have a plan but that has changed and people are seeing is the first time in 1.5 yea rs are seeing is the first time in 1.5 years that they think they can have a change, they think they can have a new government there. but does the other that ——of the opposition‘s juan guaido have a plan for what are quite protracted economic problems in the country? i think he has been realistic at the moment, not trying to solve all the problems that venezuela has but focusing on three steps that he has repeated again and again, for the government of nicolas maduro to stop the violence, the him to be the intra— president and then for free elections. he did to be the intra— president and then forfree elections. he did put to be the intra— president and then for free elections. he did put a programme forward of what he wants to do with the country and it is not
really the problem —— the focus, the focus is on him and the people i spoke to on the streets of caracas todayis spoke to on the streets of caracas today is for free elections and a transitional government. some of the criticism of juan transitional government. some of the criticism ofjuan guaido has been he may be too close to the united states, that was a criticism for nicolas maduro as well, he calls juan guaido a puppet. is there something in that? isjuan guaido maybe seen as too aligned to the current us administration?” maybe seen as too aligned to the current us administration? i think evenif current us administration? i think even if it was not true at all, that is what nicolas maduro would say because that is the standard critique of the opposition. you could say it is true in the sense that he is banking a blot on the assistance of the us and off the eu, the countries that support him, but if you mean puppet in the sense that he is not acting on behalf of the opposition in venezuela, the majority of venezuelans support a
change of government, if that is what you mean as puppet that i don't think that is a fair way to characterise it. he seems to be taking his own decisions, even though of course he is dependent on the support of the outside world at the support of the outside world at the moment. on the other side, nicolas maduro continues to hold onto power. he defies calls from the us and many other countries to hold elections, hold presidential elections, hold presidential elections, and yet he has offered parliamentary elections. why has he done that? in the past, whenever he has been cornered, he has offered negotiations and usually it is the same as this time, negotiations on his terms, negotiations not of what the opposition is demanding which are free elections and for him to leave but as you also said in your introduction to this programme, he
is not in control of the parliament so is not in control of the parliament so it is not really anything important for him to say that you can have new parliamentary elections. of course much of the focus on this is around the economic situation because we hear so many stories of people really struggling just to find food to feed themselves. what of that have you seen? i mean, venezuela for a long time has been a place where there is a desperate lack of food. even so, i have seen soldiers looking for food in the garbage so you have low ranking soldiers, they are very tired, they are under a lot of pressure from families as well because people are suffering here, a lack of medicine, a lack of food, a lot of essential things, so there is a big element in this current legal crisis that the fact that people cannot feed their families, it is something again and again when you talk to people on the streets of
caracas, as during protests and the rest of the time, people go hungry and people that make it is a big situation for them to get into the streets. magnus, thank you. let's get some of the day's other news. the government of the central african republic has agreed a peace deal with 1a of the armed groups operating in the country. it comes after peace talks were held in sudan, sponsored by the african union and the un. the treaty is to be signed next week, but six previous agreements have failed to hold. the car has been torn apart by six years of sectarian and ethnic violence. australia's prime minister, scott morrison, says all children detained as asylum seekers on the island of nauru are being moved to other countries. just four remain, and they and their families have now been cleared to move to the united states. six months ago, there had been more than 100 children in the camps, where there have been reports of abuse and suicide. australia sends all asylum seekers to detention camps on pacific islands until their applications have been processed.
a privately funded search to try to find the missing footballer emiliano sala is beginning today off the island of guernsey in the english channel. —— is beginning on sunday off the island of guernsey in the english channel. the argentine striker went missing last month when his flight from nantes in france to cardiff disappeared. he'd just signed for cardiff, who play in the english premier league. an official search for sala and his pilot was called off last week. president vladimir putin has responded to a decision by the united states to suspend its involvement in the intermediate—range nuclear forces treaty by saying russia will do the same. he said russia would also start to develop new mid—range hypersonic missiles, but insisted the door remained open for negotiations. both sides accuse the other of violating the cold war—era pact. from moscow, steve rosenberg sent this report. at the kremlin, vladimir putin and his ministers sent a clear message to washington
over the inf treaty — "you intend to pull out, do you? "well, two can play at that game." translation: our response will be symmetrical. our us partners announced that they are suspending their participation in the inf treaty, so we are suspending it too. and there was more. moscow, president putin said, would develop new weapons, including a land—based version of this cruise missile, and missiles more than five times the speed of sound. it's a far cry from us—russian cooperation three decades ago, when presidents reagan and gorbachev signed the inf treaty. it eliminated a whole class of short— and medium—range missiles and became a cornerstone of european security. but the chill in relations is palpable. it's beginning to feel
like the cold war is back. president putin said the one thing he didn't want was russia being dragged into a costly new arms race. but with both america and russia now having suspended the inf treaty, that is a huge blow to east—west arms control. the inf treaty is breaking apart, and america blames russia. russia has jeopardised the united states' security interests and we can no longer be restricted by the treaty while russia shamelessly violates it. america says these russian missiles violated the inf treaty. moscow denies it, and claims washington broke the agreement. a high—stakes blame game for the two biggest nuclear powers. steve rosenberg, bbc news, moscow. el salvador goes to the polls on sunday. the two parties that have ruled the central american nation for decades could lose their grip as support for a candidate from a small third party grows. eliza philippidis reports.
it is one of the world's most violent countries, with corruption rooted deep at its core. these people are ready for something new, and this is the man they think can deliver it. nayib bukele is the former mayor of san salvador and the favourite to win the presidential elections. backed by a small right—wing party, he has promised to tackle corruption and generate morejobs through a series of infrastructure projects. voter surveys indicate turnout could be higher than ever on sunday. translation: it may be over 7596. because i see that there is a lot of enthusiasm among the population to exercise their suffrage, i think the volume will exceed 72—75% of the electoral rolls. boxes of electoral material are being delivered to voting stations across the country.
authorities have ramped up security. the european union electoral observation mission is on hand to ensure the process runs smoothly. translation: we are going to be present for the entire electoral process, meaning until the end of the process, whether it be one round or two rounds. supporters of the ruling farabundo national liberation front hope the leftist party might cling to power, but it has failed to rein in gang violence and the economy is the slowest—growing in central america. despite strong support and a manifesto pledge to create jobs and clean up the government, the conservative nationalist republican alliance candidate also lags behind nayib bukele. to win outright, bukele must secure more than 50% of the vote or face a run—off election against his closest rival on the 10th of march. but voters on sunday could make him the first leader not to be drawn
from the parties which have ruled el salvador since 1989. eliza philippidis, bbc news. stay with us on bbc world news. still to come, priests on the piste: the competition for thejohn paul ii trophy. this is the moment that millions in iran had been waiting for. after his long years in exile, the first hesitant steps of ayatollah khomeini on iranian soil. south africa's white government has offered its black opponents concessions unparalleled in the history of apartheid. and the anc leader, nelson mandela, is to be set free unconditionally. four, three, two, one... a countdown to a critical moment. the world's most powerful rocket
ignited all 27 of its engines at once. and apart from its power, it's this recycling of the rocket, slashing the cost of a launch, that makes this a breakthrough in the business of space travel. two americans have become the first humans to walk in space without any lifeline to their spaceship. one of them called it a piece of cake. thousands of people have given the yachtswoman ellen macarthur a spectacular homecoming in the cornish port of falmouth after she smashed the world record for sailing solo around the world non—stop. this is bbc world news. the latest headlines: tens of thousands take to the streets of venezuela in rival mass rallies for and against president nicolas maduro. russia says it will follow the us and pull out of a key nuclear treaty, and start to develop a new mid—range hypersonic missile. the democratic governor
of the us state of virginia, ralph northam, insists he won't resign over an offensive photograph showing two men in racist costumes in his student yearbook. he'd initially apologised, but then said he didn't believe that he was in the picture. chris buckler has the story. ralph northam called the photograph on his own college yearbook page " racist and despicable". 0n the right of the picture, it features a man in black face and someone in a ku klux klan costume. i am deeply sorry. when it surfaced, he immediately released a statement apologising, but after countless calls for his resignation, the virginia governor is continuing to fight for his political career, and now he's changed his story, claiming he wasn't in the picture. we're here today standing in the very space that created the laws that created slavery. —— codified the laws.
governor northam was elected as a democrat who presented himself as a staunch opponent of racism. there is an undeniable anger among voters in virginia. many simply can't accept that he could have made a mistake about appearing in such a photograph. a former soldier and doctor, ralph northam has for years been a respected figure within the democratic party, but a politician who had the public support of president obama, now has the former vice president joe biden saying "he's lost all moral authority and should resign immediately. " at his news conference, ralph northam was questioned about his past, including claims of a very questionable nickname, and although he denied being the man in black face in the yearbook photograph, he admitted that on another occasion he had used boot polish to darken his skin to perform as michaeljackson in a talent contest. i had always liked michaeljackson. i actually won the contest because i had learned how to do the moonwalk.
mr northam said resigning would be the easy option and as long as he remains governor, he faces more scrutiny of his past and further questions about this controversial picture. authorities in uganda and hong kong have seized two illegal consignments of african ivory and pangolin scales worth millions of dollars each, both on their way to vietnam. the southeast asian nation is one of the world's wildlife trafficking hotspots, where demand for products such as elephant tusks, rhino horns, and pangolin scales is high. and with lunar new year coming, wildlife traffickers may step up their trade, as nga pham reports. ugandan authorities stopped a contraband shipment, which they say is the largest ever seized in the country, with a market value of $8 million. 750 pieces of ivory and thousands of pangolin scales, hidden
inside timber logs, had been smuggled from south sudan into kampala, before leaving for their final destination, vietnam. at least 325 elephants would have been killed for this amount of ivory. one day later, hong kong officials stopped a shipping consignment from nigeria — said to be carrying frozen beef, but containing eight tons of pangolin scales and more than 1000 elephant tusks. again, the container was bound for vietnam. the wildlife products would have ended up here. in vietnam's capital, hanoi, there are shops specialising in traditional chinese medicines, and some, despite the government's ban, offer pangolin scales and rhino horns as miracle cures for cancer and other diseases. similar practices are widespread in neighbouring china. with lunar new year approaching, these animal products make expensive gifts.
and for smugglers, they make lucrative profits. what we are told is that this pangolin particularly is very, very expensive. it is estimated that from one pangolin, the worth of the scales you get is about us$100,000. ugandan authorities have detained two vietnamese men suspected of smuggling, but officials think the suspected traffickers were only part of a very dangerous racquet. —— racket. and experts say unless there is a concerted international effort to stop the trade, hundreds of thousands of pangolins will continue to be killed every year, adding to other dwindling wildlife populations. nga pham, bbc news. as we've seen over the last few days... apologies. mean while, authorities
in india have detained a passenger after they found a month—old leopard cub inside his baggage. they searched his luggage when they heard noises coming from it. the cub was found to be weak and in a state of shock. they are investigating whether the man was part of the smuggling ring. it's been a pretty brutal winter for much of the united states. the polar vortex leading to record low temperatures and lots and lots of snow. but how long will the cold last? someone who it's claimed has the answer is punxsutawney phil, the famous groundhog from pennsylvania. so what's his verdict? the bbc‘s tim allman will tell us. for more than 130 years, they have been coming to gobbler‘s knob. the aim is to glean some vital information from a small, furry mammal, who appears to be blessed with an extraordinary gift. this is punxsutawney phil —
well, not the original one, of course — the groundhog and pa rt—time meteorologist. 0k, look me in the eyes. every year he's asked, can he see his own shadow? if he can, it's said winter will last another six weeks. it's not immediately apparent how he conveys this information. we have a prediction! but convey it, he does. so, is it early spring or a more winter forecast? stop the music. here is my forecast. faithful followers, there is no shadow of me. a beautiful spring it shall be! cheering of course, punxsutawney phil was a relative unknown
until the hollywood blockbuster groundhog day came out in the early 1990s. now, he's a worldwide phenomenon. all hail groundhog supremacy. if i were you, i'd go out and start buying some swimsuits. before you do, you might want to bear in mind that statistical analysis suggests punxsutawney phil is actually wrong more often than he's right. tim allman, bbc news. the polish town of wisla has been hosting an unusual skiing event this week — a competition for catholic priests. bill hayton reports. these bids were made for skiing but that catholic was not. no matter, these men have fate to faith in this event, that is more important and practical skiwear. a prayer and then
the priest hit the piste. it may be a slippery slope, but the competitors say there is no conflict between the skiing and believing. translation: model for us is john paulil translation: model for us is john paul ii, who went skiing in poland. many of us took an example from. the church—goers say being in the mountains makes them closer to god. the priests amongst us, among some believers, who every day and entertainment, to such recreation, show how they live by this faith. -- through. you might say it is an indulgence but for these roaming catholics, this fund has a serious purpose. —— this fun has a serious purpose.
bill hayton, bbc news. hello. snow has been the most prominent feature of the weather over much of the last week. but at least on saturday, the sunshine came back. but that's going to be harder to find through much of sunday. as cloud increases, some of us will see a bit more wet weather. but that comes after quite a hard frost to start the day. in fact, some places could well be into minus double figures, where the snow is deepest. you can see the extent of the frost as well, even in town and city centres, it's a cold start to the day. but for many of us, there will be some sunshine, but from the word go, northern ireland and western scotland, more cloud around here and some rain, sleet and snow, courtesy of these weather fronts coming in from the atlantic. and slowly pushing their way a bit further east as we go through the day. now, the early wet weather should be fairly soon out of the way in northern ireland. a damp start here. but again, the rain preceded by a bit of sleet and snow in places, and in that process, moves across scotland. into northern england, mayjust fringe north wales. but south of that, it
should stay mainly dry. cloud increasing, but still some sunny spells towards east anglia and south—east england. behind the wet weather, it brightens up again in scotland. but it stays cloudy in northern ireland. further outbreaks of rain coming back going into the evening. and temperatures, they‘ re a little bit higher. parts of south—west england could be up to around 10 celsius, for example. and a freshening south—westerly wind. it gets stronger through sunday night and into monday morning, as it feeds in more wet weather, and while most of us will see rain out of this, a bit of snow falling into the pennines and southern uplands, but especially into the higher ground north of the central belt in scotland, where we could see around 5—10 centimetres building up as we go on through monday as well. it will be quite slow to clear, on what will be a much less cold start to the day on monday. some rainjust affecting parts of south—east england as monday starts. it may not clear the far south—east. it looks like we'll hold onto an area of cloud here in east anglia. the snowy weather slowly pulling away from northern scotland, and many other areas will see things brightening up on monday.
and temperatures again are a little bit higher, and some of us in south—west england getting into double figures. they will drop again on monday night and this ridge of high pressure with clear skies, there'll be another frost going into tuesday morning. low pressure gathering to the west, though, sets the scene for quite an unsettled week to come. now, there will be some sunnier days, but there will also be some wetter days. it'll often be windy, but if you take one thing from this chart, it's those temperatures heading upwards. and more of us at times will see temperatures into double figures, and of course, that's going to feel very different compared with what we've had over much of the past week or two. so a change for the milder in the week ahead. this is bbc news. the headlines: tens of thousands have taken to the streets of venezuela in rival mass rallies. the head of the opposition, juan guaido, is trying to force president maduro from power. the president also spoke at a rally in support of his leadership and the current government. russia has announced it is pulling out of a cold war arms control
—— european countries say they will recognise juan guaido if —— european countries say they will recognisejuan guaido if new elections were not called by sunday. if new elections are not called by sunday. russia has announced it is pulling out of a cold war arms control treaty, and says it will develop a new hypersonic missile. it follows a move to withdraw from the treaty by the united states on friday. the governor of the us state of virginia, ralph northam, has refused to resign after he was accused of being in a racist photo in his yearbook. he says the person in the photo is not him. now on bbc news, it's time for click.