We tell you five things you need to know this morning.
1. Donetsk protesters declare independence from Kyiv. The pro-Russian occupiers of Donetsk’s main administration building joined similar attempts in Luhansk and Kharkiv to overwhelm local seats of government and, ultimately, fly the Russian flag. So far, only the crowd in Donetsk has declared its fledgling independence, but any move by ethnic Russians in south and eastern Ukraine to distance themselves from the country’s new government has western leaders nervous about Russian armed forces mobilized along the nearby border.
2. Oscar Pistorius testifies. The famed Olympian who stands accused of murder told a courtroom in Pretoria, South Africa that he’s taking anti-depressants, has had trouble sleeping and won’t handle a firearm since he killed—accidentally, he claims—his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine’s Day in 2013. Pistorius apologized to Steenkamp’s family. If he’s convicted, Pistorius could face 25 years in prison.
3. Quebec votes. Pauline Marois’s Parti Quebecois was heavily favoured when the writ dropped on March 5, but a month of campaigning has sunk the premier’s chances of re-election. Possibly, every poll that’s charted her party’s decline in the last fortnight are misleading at best, and dead wrong at worst. Pollsters were wildly incorrect when they predicted the outcomes of Alberta’s and British Columbia’s most recent elections. But in Quebec, as Paul Wells writes, there’s a method to the PQ’s self-destruction, and that could sink sovereignty’s hope for at least another term.
4. India votes. And nobody votes like India. This time, more than 814 million people are eligible to cast a ballot in a general election that sends representatives to the country’s 543-member parliament. The process requires nine phases and culminates in a counting of votes on May 16. Assam and Tripura, a pair of northeastern states, kick things off today. The ruling Congress party is threatened by the BJP and upstart Aam Aadmi Party.
5. Mohamed Fahmy is 100 days in prison. The Egyptian-Canadian journalist and Al Jazeera bureau chief, who the Egyptian government accuses of terrorism-related crimes, continues to languish in a Cairo prison. Journalists around the world have demanded the unconditional release of Fahmy and his two colleagues, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed. Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey lauded the “outstanding” campaign to free his staff. Canadian consular officials have remained mostly behind the scenes during Fahmy’s imprisonment.