Widespread anti-Trump protests amid calls for unity

Demonstrators chanting 'Love Trumps Hate,' gathered outside the Trump Hotel in Washington, in protest over the election of Donald Trump to serve as the next US president.
Demonstrators marching in an anti-Trump protest in Oakland, California, on Wednesday. Protesters marched in college campuses, blocked roads and surrounded Trump properties in at least 25 cities nationwide as they rallied against Mr Trump's victory in
Demonstrators marching in an anti-Trump protest in Oakland, California, on Wednesday. Protesters marched in college campuses, blocked roads and surrounded Trump properties in at least 25 cities nationwide as they rallied against Mr Trump's victory in the US presidential election.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Obama and Democratic leaders urge Americans to give President-elect a chance

President-elect Donald Trump met President Barack Obama at the White House yesterday amid widespread anti-Trump protests - as the slow transfer of power began under a cloud.

In scenes unprecedented in contemporary US history, protesters marched in college campuses, blocked roads and surrounded Trump properties in at least 25 cities nationwide. Some even torched effigies of the President-elect and displayed pinatas of the tycoon with a noose around the neck.

And though there was elation through much of rural America - which backed the Republican over Mrs Hillary Clinton 62 per cent to 34 per cent, according to exit polls - protests on this scale against an incoming leader were unheard of, even going back to 2000 when the election between Mr George W. Bush and Mr Al Gore had to be settled in court.

President Obama and other Democratic Party leaders issued repeated calls for unity, urging Americans to give Mr Trump a chance.

Speaking to the media at the White House on Wednesday, Mr Obama said: "We are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world."

 

Meetings were also scheduled yesterday between Vice-President Joe Biden and his successor Mike Pence, and between First Lady Michelle Obama and Mrs Melania Trump.

Mr Trump has reportedly started assembling his new leadership team. Former New York mayor and long-time Trump supporter Rudy Giuliani is considered a favourite to be attorney-general, while Senator Jeff Sessions is seen as a possible defence secretary. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Senator Bob Corker and former ambassador to the UN John Bolton are on the shortlist for secretary of state.

The uncertainty on the streets, however, failed to dampen global markets as stocks in Asia recovered from the shock of Mr Trump's win on Wednesday. The Dow Jones surged 300 points to hit a record high yesterday.

There were also some reassurances coming out of Asia as leaders who spoke to the President-elect expressed confidence that the incoming administration would not abandon the pivot to Asia.

However, backers of the landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal - of which Singapore is a party - are growing increasingly pessimistic that it could be ratified by the US Congress before the Jan 20 presidential inauguration.

Mr Trump has said on the campaign trail that he intends to take the US out of the TPP and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Reports said China will push for a Beijing-led free trade deal at the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, amid predictions of the TPP's demise.

With results of the election still being finalised in the states of Michigan and Arizona, the current electoral vote count stands at 279 for Mr Trump and 228 for Mrs Clinton, though the Democrat looks likely to have won the popular vote.

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Widespread anti-Trump protests amid calls for unity'. Print Edition | Subscribe