Tag Archives: North Africa

Breaking: Fathi Bashagha escapes assassination attempt.

Advertisements

The 58-year-old has served as interior minister in the Government of National Accord since 2018 and has staked his reputation on battling corruption.

The interior minister of Libya’s unity government, Fathi Bashagha, survived an assassination attempt Sunday on a highway near the capital Tripoli, an official from his inner circle told AFP.

Official sources indicate that his convoy “was fired on from an armored car while he was on the highway.

His police escort then returned fire. Two of the assailants were arrested and a third is in hospital. A reliable source indicated that the minister is fine.

Advertisements

Bashagha, a heavyweight in Libyan politics, was returning from a routine visit to a new security unit overseen by his department, the same source said.

The 58-year-old has served as interior minister in the Government of National Accord since 2018 and has staked his reputation on battling corruption.

Libya has been riven by violence since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Two rival administrations, backed by an array of militias and foreign powers, have vied for control of the oil-rich country.

Advertisements

Bashagha had been seen as a favorite to lead a new interim government under UN-led peace efforts following an October ceasefire last year.

The post finally went to businessman Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, a 61-year-old engineer, who has called for reconstruction, democracy, and reunification in Libya.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Sudan economic crisis thickens.

Advertisements

The exchange rate policy shift comes amid concern that Sudan’s level of foreign currency holdings are approaching exhaustion.

Sudan announced Sunday it was ditching its fixed exchange rate and adopting a managed float, in line with an IMF programme but at the risk of fanning already-smouldering discontent.

The move aims to stem a flourishing black market that has seen the local pound recently trade at around 400 to the dollar, while the official rate was fixed at 55 pounds to the greenback.

It is expected to substantially devalue the official exchange rate towards black market levels, sending prices higher even as citizens grapple with an inflation rate that topped 300 percent last month.

Advertisements

The transitional government has decided to undertake policies “aimed at reforming and unifying the exchange rate system by applying a managed flexible exchange rate system,” the central bank said in a statement.

Closing the yawning gap between the official and black market exchange rates is central to a reform programme agreed with the International Monetary Fund last year.

Advertisements

The central bank said its policy shift, which follows the recent appointment of a new cabinet tasked with tackling the economic crisis, is “imperative” to help achieve stability.

It is one of several painful IMF mandated reforms, which also include reducing costly subsidies, aimed at securing debt relief and attracting investment following the April 2019 ouster of autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

Newly-appointed finance minister Gibril Ibrahim urged citizens to tolerate the impact of the policy change, saying in a press conference on Sunday that it “will require a high patriotic spirit” and “cooperation”.

Advertisements

Ominously for Sudan’s transitional authorities, protests have already flared in recent weeks in several areas over the skyrocketing prices, alongside bread and medicine shortages.

Sudan’s economy was decimated by decades of US sanctions under Bashir, mismanagement and civil war, as well as oil-rich South Sudan’s 2011 secession.

– Cushioning the blow –

The finance minister and the central bank governor, Mohamed al-Fatih, said the exchange rate policy shift will be cushioned by international donors financing a project aimed at supporting poor families from Monday.

The programme offers $5 dollars per month each to around 80 percent of the country’s 45 million population.

Advertisements

In January, the IMF said it was “working very intensively” with Sudan to build the preconditions for debt relief.

The US recently removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism blacklist, another move Khartoum hopes will unlock debt relief and aid.

Advertisements

The central bank governor said Sudan has begun applying a dual banking system, instead of solely Islamic banking, in a move allowing international banks to operate in the country.

The exchange rate policy shift comes amid concern that Sudan’s level of foreign currency holdings are approaching exhaustion.

If the central bank is to be successful in drawing transactions away from the black market, then reserves need to stand at around $5 billion, Mohamed el-Nayer, a Sudanese economist, told AFP.

Advertisements

Authorities have not lately disclosed the level of reserves.

Asked if the country had enough reserves, the Ibrahim replied that funds had lately been received, but did not specify the origin or amount.

But the recent bread shortages — and also of fuel — point to the possibility of “severely lacking” foreign reserves, the economist Nayer said.

Bashir’s fall nearly two years ago came after months of protests against his autocratic rule that were triggered by his cash strapped government effectively trebling bread prices.

Advertisements

In October, Sudan signed a peace deal with rebel groups that observers hoped would end long-running conflicts in the country’s far-flung regions.

Last month, the government approved this year’s budget and it is aiming for inflation of 95 percent by end-2021.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Abdelmadjid Tebboune free Dozens from prison.

Advertisements

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune called for the dissolution of parliament and early legislative elections on Thursday.

In an address to the nation, the Head of State expressed his decision to carry out ministerial reshuffle within 48 hours at most.

Advertisements

He announced:

“I have decided to dissolve the National People’s Assembly to call for elections that are free of money, whether it comes from corruption or not, and to open the doors to young people.”

Tebboune also announced an amnesty for dozens of jailed activists of the ‘Hirak’ protest movement — which swept former strongman Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power in 2019.

The leader stated that around 30 members will be granted a presidential pardon.

Advertisements

“I decided to grant presidential pardon to about thirty people, for whom a decision had been given and others for whom no verdict had been reached. Between 55 and 60 people will be joining their families from this evening or tomorrow.”

Tebboune, who has previously expressed dissatisfaction with the cabinet of Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad, made the announcements as the North African nation’s government faces multiple challenges — political and economic crises compounded by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Inflation tops 300% as economic crisis deepens in Sudan.

Advertisements

Protests have flared in recent weeks in several parts of Sudan over skyrocketing costs of living.

Sudan’s inflation rate has soared above 300 percent, officials said Monday, posing a major challenge for a newly-appointed government tasked with tackling an economic crisis that has triggered recent protests.

“The annual inflation rate reached 304.3 percent in January, compared to 269.3 percent in December,” the Central Bureau of Statistics said in a statement, attributing the rise to price hikes including on food.

Advertisements

Protests have flared in recent weeks in several parts of Sudan over skyrocketing costs of living.

Sudanese authorities have blamed the sometimes violent demonstrations on supporters of ousted president Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in April 2019 following mass youth-led protests triggered mainly by economic hardship.

Last week, Sudan swore in a new inclusive cabinet with the aim of rebuilding the country’s economy, which was decimated by decades of US sanctions, mismanagement and civil war under Bashir.

Advertisements

The new government appointments included veteran rebel leader and economist Gibril Ibrahim as Sudan’s finance minister.

Sudan has been undergoing a rocky transition since Bashir’s ouster.

It has been struggling with a severe economic crisis characterised by a galloping inflation, chronic hard currency shortage, and a volatile black market.

The crisis has been exacerbated further by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Advertisements

The government hopes Sudan’s recent removal from the US blacklist as state sponsors of terrorism would allow for debt relief and bring in much-needed foreign investment.

Last month, the government said it hopes to bring inflation down to 95 percent by the end of the year.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Abdelmadjid returns after post-covid surgery in Germany.

Advertisements

Algeria has recorded over 110,000 cases including over 2,900 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune returned home Friday after a one-month stay in Germany for surgery following post-Covid-19 complications in his foot, state television said.

“The President of the Republic, Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Defence, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, returned today,” the state broadcaster said, but did not broadcast images of his arrival.

Advertisements

Tebboune, 75, had been hospitalised in Germany last year after contracting Covid-19, and stayed there for two months before returning to Algeria.

He returned to Germany on January 10, and underwent a “successful” operation on his foot 10 days later, according to the presidency.

Advertisements

Algeria has recorded over 110,000 cases including over 2,900 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

On the eve of his return, Tebboune had called German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to thank him for the medical care he had received.

Among the key issues that await him include the development of the new electoral law ahead of anticipated local and legislative elections slated to be held by the end of the year.

Advertisements

A government reshuffle is also expected.

Tebboune won office in December 2019, eight months after the popular Hirak protest movement swept out his ailing predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Tebboune’s initial convalescence in Germany had reminded many Algerians of octogenarian Bouteflika’s frequent hospitalisations abroad.

Tebboune’s return comes amid tension in the North African nation ahead of the second anniversary of the launch of the Hirak protests on February 22.

Advertisements

Hirak protesters continued after Bouteflika’s fall, demanding a full overhaul of the ruling system in place since the Algeria’s 1962 independence from France.

However, social distancing rules to stem the coronavirus pandemic meant that protesters had to halt their street rallies early last year.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Reform calls amid Tunisia’s massive year jail term over use of Cannabis.

Advertisements

..since the outcry over the three men sentenced last month, several MPs have come out in favour of reforming Law 52.

Thirty years’ jail for smoking a joint after a football game? Tunisia has seen calls for reforms to dictatorship-era drug laws after a court handed down heavy sentences to three young men.

Tunisians have taken to social media to demand changes to the law after the court in the northern city of Kef issued the sentence last month.

Advertisements

A fourth man, arrested when he got back to his car, was sentenced to five years in jail but has not been imprisoned, according to the lawyer for the group, Molka Bouderbala.

She said the four — among them one employee and two small business owners, all aged in their 30s — had shared a joint in a disused locker room after a football match between friends.

They faced heavier penalties because they were caught in a public place, a court spokesman told AFP.

Advertisements

“The judge applied the existing law blindly,” Bouderbala said, adding that her clients, who had previously been sentenced for similar offences, had lodged an appeal.

Thousands of Tunisian youth are incarcerated every year on drug charges, with little in the way of prevention, rehabilitation or alternative punishment, in a country where around a third of young people are unemployed.

A cannabis seedling is seen at the Government Pharmaceuticals Organisation (GPO) medicinal marijuana greenhouse outside Chon Buri, south of Bangkok on October 8, 2020. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

Zero tolerance
According to the current legislation, known as Law 52, possession of drugs for personal use is punishable by one to five years in prison, while dealing attracts 10 years’ jail.

But when considered organised crime, the penalties can go up to life behind bars.

Advertisements

The former regime of autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali — ousted from power in Arab Spring protests a decade ago — enacted the law in 1992 in a bid to show the world it had a zero-tolerance approach to drugs.

The move came the same year that Moncef Ben Ali, the former leader’s brother, was sentenced in absentia in France to 10 years in prison over the so-called “Couscous Connection” case, involving international cocaine and heroin trafficking.

Advertisements

“The motivation was above all political — the goal was not to try to reduce consumption,” said Bochra Belhaj Hmida, a lawyer and former member of parliament.

The law is applied unfairly, she added, because “young people who have the means get out of trouble by paying the police”.

The lawyer said she supported changing the drug laws, which she said generated corruption and worsened inequality, and criticised a lack of political will due “conservatism” and “ignorance” on the matter.

Advertisements

‘Excessive penalties’
Limited drug law reform was adopted in 2017. It allowed judges to consider extenuating circumstances rather than sentencing all small-time users to prison time.

Since then, penalties for drug use “are very often fines or suspended sentences, at least in courts in the capital”, said lawyer Ghazi Mrabet.

But since the outcry over the three men sentenced last month, several MPs have come out in favour of reforming Law 52.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, faced with strong dissatisfaction over the government’s response to recent social unrest, said Monday that “excessive penalties” for drug use were counterproductive and called for “alternatives” to prison.

Advertisements

But it remains to be seen whether Tunisia’s highly divided parliament, with a strong conservative make-up, will be able to enact reforms.

While awaiting an in-depth debate, lawyer Mrabet said there was an urgent need to “revoke articles that always, in certain cases, require incarceration for simple drug use” — and to give judges greater leeway to pass alternative sentences.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Tunisia President Kais Saied’s aide, hospitalised.

Advertisements

Authorities have launched an investigation to analyse the contents of the envelope and are awaiting the results, Tunis prosecutor Mohsen Dali said.

The Tunisian president’s chief of staff has been hospitalised after handling a suspicious letter addressed to head of state Kais Saied, his office said Thursday, suggesting an attempted poisoning.

Nadia Akacha had opened the envelope addressed to Saied but found it empty and later suffered from short-term vision loss and headaches, and was briefly hospitalised, according to a statement from the presidency.

Advertisements

She was discharged on Wednesday but is still suffering from headaches and is being monitored by doctors, the statement said.

Another employee, who was in the same room with Akacha when she opened the envelope, had similar symptoms but of lesser intensity, it added.

Tunisian media suggested the letter may have contained ricin, a poison that can be lethal in high doses.

Advertisements

The presidency did not say when the incident occurred but stressed that Saied did not come into contact with the envelope — which was eventually destroyed — and was in good health.

There were no suspects so far, he added.

Tensions are high in Tunisia, following wrangling over a cabinet reshuffle and growing unrest that has seen protesters take to the streets to demonstrate against poverty, unemployment and police repression.

Saied has said he was not consulted about Tuesday’s reshuffle, during which Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi named 11 new ministers to the interior, justice, health and other key portfolios.

Advertisements

The president, an independent academic, has charged that one of the ministers was involved in a corruption case and that three others were suspected of conflicts of interest.

The political tensions also involve a power struggle between Saied and the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha movement, which came out on top in October 2019 parliamentary elections.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Tunisia Gov’t reshuffles cabinet after protesters clash with Police.

Advertisements

Islamist-inspired Ennahdha came top in the polls but fell far short of a majority and eventually agreed to join a coalition government.

Hundreds of anti-government protesters faced off against riot police outside the Tunisian parliament Tuesday as lawmakers inside confirmed a cabinet reshuffle amid growing unrest.

Mired in a political and economic crisis worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, the North African country has been rocked by a wave of anger at a political class seen as obsessed with power struggles and disconnected from the suffering of ordinary people.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi told the assembly that by naming 11 new ministers to the interior, justice, health and other key portfolios, he aimed to create a “more effective” reform team.

Advertisements

He faced opposition from President Kais Saied, however, who said he was not consulted. Saied charged that one of the proposed ministers was involved in a corruption case and that three others were suspected of conflicts of interest.

Mechichi said the new cabinet would listen to the demands of the protesters.

Security forces have carried out mass arrests during more than a week of night-time riots and daytime protests against police repression, poverty, inequality and corruption.

Tunisia has often been praised as a rare success story for its democratic transition after the Arab Spring regional uprisings sparked by its 2011 revolution.

Advertisements

But many Tunisians are angered by a political class seen as disconnected from the suffering of the poor, amid high unemployment and spiralling prices.

“Poverty is growing, hunger is growing,” read one sign carried by the protesters, while another demanded “Dignity and freedom for working-class neighbourhoods”.

Advertisements

‘Threat of the baton’
The session came a day after protesters clashed with police in the town of Sbeitla, in Tunisia’s marginalised centre, after a young man hit by a tear gas canister last week died in hospital.

Some chanted slogans against the government and Ennahdha, the biggest party in parliament.

But police forces stopped demonstrators from gathering at the usual square in front of the parliament.

Advertisements

“The politicians are producing the same strategies that until now have only led to failure,” said Yosra Frawes, head of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women.

“They must change their governance model or step down.”

Some lawmakers criticised the heavy security deployment around the assembly and called for further dialogue.

One complained of a vote held “under police siege” and said: “All that’s missing is to vote under the threat of the baton.”

Advertisements

Some members of the opposition-held up pictures of the young man who was killed.

An AFP correspondent said there were clashes between police and demonstrators on Tuesday on the sidelines of his funeral.

Advertisements

Protests have been held in defiance of a coronavirus-related ban on gatherings and a night-time curfew recently extended until February 14.

The virus has killed more than 6,000 people in Tunisia and wreaked havoc on an already struggling economy.

Fragile alliances
Tunisia’s politics have also been turbulent and seen a deepening rift between the prime minister and head of state.

Advertisements

President Saied — an independent academic who has criticised parliamentary democracy — has been seeking to reposition himself at the centre of an unstable political scene.

The task of forming a government has become more difficult since elections in October 2019 resulted in a parliament split among myriad parties and fragile alliances.

Mechichi’s outgoing cabinet was sworn in in September after the previous executive, the second since the polls, resigned in July.

Mechichi had initially put together a team including civil servants and academics, some close to the president.

Advertisements

But he gradually moved away from Saied, and made changes with the support of Ennahdha, which is allied with the liberal Qalb Tounes party and Islamist group Karama.

Saied has threatened to block the swearing-in of some new ministers, a move that could aggravate animosities that have paralysed political action.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Western Sahara Rebels attack Morocco Border.

Advertisements

Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

Western Sahara’s pro-independence Polisario Front has bombarded the Guerguerat buffer zone under Moroccan control in the far south of the desert territory in an attack Rabat described as part of a “propaganda war”.

“The Saharawi army launched four rockets in the direction of … Guerguerat,” on the border between Morocco and Mauritania, Saharawi press agency SPS said in a statement on Sunday, citing a military leader of the separatist Saharawi forces.

Morocco launched a military operation on November 13 in the buffer zone of Guerguerat – in the extreme south of the former Spanish colony – to drive out a group of Saharawi rebels who were blocking a transit route to neighbouring Mauritania.

Advertisements

The SPS statement also reported attacks along the security wall that separates Saharawi fighters from Moroccan forces in the vast desert expanse.

‘Harassing fire’
A senior Moroccan official in Rabat told AFP news agency: “There was harassing fire near the area of Guerguerat, but it did not affect the trunk road, traffic was not disrupted.”

“It’s been part of a cycle of harassment for more than three months,” he said.

“There is a desire to create a propaganda war, a media war, on the existence of a war in the Sahara” but “the situation is normal”, he said.

Advertisements

In November, Morocco sent troops into a UN-patrolled buffer zone to reopen a key road leading to Mauritania.

The Polisario responded by declaring a 1991 ceasefire null and void, arguing the road had not existed when the truce was signed.

Advertisements

The two sides are reported to have since exchanged regular fire along the demarcation line.

The UN-backed ceasefire deal was meant to lead to a referendum on self-determination. Morocco has offered autonomy but maintains the territory is a sovereign part of the kingdom.

UN-led negotiations involving Morocco and the Polisario, with Algeria and Mauritania as observers, have been suspended since March 2019.

Advertisements

The Polisario Front, which fought a war for independence from Morocco from 1975 to 1991, said it was still willing to join UN talks on the territory’s future – but would not lay down its arms.

‘Broken promises’
“In the past, we put all our trust in the international community and definitively ended our armed struggle,” senior Polisario security official Sidi Ould Oukal said on Tuesday. “We have waited 30 years. Thirty years of broken promises, prevarication and untenable waiting.”

Ould Oukal insisted the group was “open to any mediation”.

“But at the same time, we will keep up the armed struggle, based on past experiences,” he said.

Advertisements

For its part, Morocco’s position was reinforced last year by US recognition of its sovereignty over the entire disputed territory, breaking decades of precedent.

The move came under then-President Donald Trump in exchange for Rabat normalising relations with Israel.

Western Sahara is a disputed and divided former Spanish colony, mostly under Morocco’s control, where tensions with the Polisario Front have simmered since the 1970s.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Tunisia police arrest over 600 rioters

Advertisements

The key tourism sector, already on its knees after a string of deadly jihadist attacks in 2015, has been dealt a devastating blow by the pandemic.

More than 600 people have been arrested and troops have been deployed after a third consecutive night of riots in several Tunisian cities, officials said Monday.

Advertisements

The unrest came after Tunisia imposed a nationwide lockdown to stem a rise in coronavirus infections on Thursday — the same day as it marked the 10th anniversary of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall from power.

Interior ministry spokesman Khaled Hayouni said a total of 632 people were arrested, notably “groups of people between the ages of 15, 20 and 25 who burned tyres and bins in order to block movements by the security forces”.

Advertisements

Defence ministry spokesman Mohamed Zikri meanwhile said the army has deployed reinforcements in several areas of the country.

Hayouni said that some of those arrested lobbed stones at police and clashed with security forces.

“This has nothing to do with protest movements that are guaranteed by the law and the constitution,” said Hayouni.

Advertisements

“Protests take place in broad daylight normally… without any criminal acts involved,” he added.

Hayouni said two policemen were wounded in the unrest.

It was not immediately clear if there were injuries among the youths and Hayouni did not say what charges those arrested faced.

The clashes took place in several cities across Tunisia, mostly in working-class neighbourhoods, with the exact reasons for the disturbances not immediately known.

Advertisements

But it came as many Tunisians are increasingly angered by poor public services and a political class that has repeatedly proved unable to govern coherently a decade on from the 2011 revolution.

GDP shrank by nine percent last year, consumer prices have spiralled and one-third of young people are unemployed.

Advertisements

Tunisia has registered more than 177,000 coronavirus infections, including over 5,600 deaths since the pandemic erupted last year.

The four-day lockdown ended on Sunday night, but it was not immediately know if other restrictions would be imposed.

No ‘future here’
The army has deployed troops in Bizerte in the north, Sousse in the east and Kasserine and Siliana in central Tunisia, the defence ministry spokesman said.

Advertisements

Sousse, a coastal resort overlooking the Mediterranean, is a magnet for foreign holidaymaking that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

The health crisis and ensuing economic misery have pushed growing numbers of Tunisians to seek to leave the country.

On Sunday evening in Ettadhamen, a restive working-class neighbourhood on the edge of the Tunisian capital, the mood was sombre.

“I don’t see any future here,” said Abdelmoneim, a waiter, as the unrest unfolded around him.

Advertisements

He blamed the violence on the country’s post-revolution political class and said the rioting youths were “bored adolescents” who reflected the “failure” of politicians.

Abdelmoneim said he was determined to take a boat across the Mediterranean to Europe “as soon as possible, and never come back to this miserable place”.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Tunisia Boat Mishap: Twenty bodies reportedly recovered

Advertisements

Tunisia is just a few hundred kilometres (miles) from mainland Europe, and has long been a launchpad for illegal migration to the continent.

Tunisia’s coastguard on Thursday retrieved the bodies of 20 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa after their boat capsized at sea, a spokesman for the defence ministry said.

Advertisements

Five other migrants who were on board were rescued, ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri told AFP, adding that a search operation was underway.

Zekri did not give further details, but said the rescue operation took place off the port of Sfax in central Tunisia.

Khaled Hayouni, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said the boat was heading to Italy from the Sidi Mansour district of Sfax when it sank.

Advertisements

More than 40 people were on board the makeshift boat, Mourad Turki, a spokesman for the Sfax court, told AFP.

He said that some of the 20 bodies recovered were taken to a Sfax hospital for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Departures by desperate migrants seeking a new life in Europe peaked in 2011, following the revolution that overthrew Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Although numbers have dropped significantly in recent years, illegal crossings from Tunisia to Europe jumped by more than 150 percent in January to April compared to the same period last year, according to the UN refugee agency.

Advertisements

Many of the migrants are from sub-Saharan African countries fleeing economic hardship and crisis at home.

According to the interior ministry, 8,581 migrants were intercepted after setting off on the perilous Mediterranean crossing between.

Advertisements

#Newsworthy

Sudan PM welcomes Rebel leader back to Khartoum after peace deal.

Advertisements

Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok welcomed rebel leaders to the capital Khartoum on Sunday, as crowds celebrated what they hoped was the end of war following a landmark peace deal.

“We have been looking forward to this day,” Hamdok said as he greeted the leaders, according to a broadcast by the official news agency SUNA.

Advertisements

“Today we are taking the first steps to put an end to the suffering of our people.”

It was the first time the leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel and political groups, had come to the capital since the signing of an October 3 peace agreement in neighbouring South Sudan.

“We have come to put the peace agreement into effect on the ground,” said Minni Minawi, who leads a faction of the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement, according to SUNA.

“We must work to assume responsibility and abandon the political quarrels to move towards democracy.”

Advertisements

The peace deal is hoped to end decades of fighting, including the war in the western Darfur region that erupted in 2003.

The United Nations estimates at least 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million were displaced in the Darfur conflict.

“This is the first time in Sudan’s history we reached a deal that truly addresses the roots of the Sudanese crisis,” said Hamdok.

Jubilant crowds packed a central square in Khartoum, chanting and carrying banners to celebrate.

Advertisements

The SRF — founded in 2011 — is an alliance of armed rebel groups and political movements including from Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Sudan’s transitional government seized power after the April 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir, following unprecedented street protests against his rule.

Bashir has been jailed in Khartoum’s high security Kober prison and was found guilty last December of corruption.

He is currently on trial in Khartoum for his role in the 1989 coup that brought him to power, and has also been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) accused of genocide in Darfur.


#Newsworthy…

Algeria protesters begin constitutional reform campaign.

Advertisements

Protesters demanded radical changes to the entire state system they revile as undemocratic and corrupt.

Algeria launched its campaign Wednesday for constitutional reforms for a “New Republic” that the government hopes will satisfy a popular protest movement — to the apparent indifference of many.

The constitutional changes, a flagship initiative of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, are set to be put to a referendum on November 1, the anniversary of the start of Algeria’s 1954-1962 war of independence from France.

“November 1954: liberation, November 2020: change,” the official campaign slogan reads.

But many ordinary Algerians — struggling during a deep economic crisis that has seen unemployment soar — appear sceptical it will make any meaningful difference.

“What change are we talking about? Nothing has changed with these people in power,” said Ali, a former trade union official.

Advertisements

Popular anti-government demonstrations led by the Hirak — meaning in Arabic, “the movement” — pushed ailing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power last year.

In a bid to shore up his mandate, Bouteflika’s successor Tebboune pledged to revise the constitution and allow people to approve or reject proposals in a referendum.

But some see the referendum as a cynical way for the government to appear to bring change while maintaining its power. “They want to steal the hopes born from Hirak,” Ali added.

While the referendum was mentioned on radio and television stations, there were no campaign posters seen on the streets of Algiers.

Advertisements

“Why vote for a project to which I do not have access?” said elderly Algerian Brahim Bahmed, complaining that the “promised broad debate did not take place”.

“It’s hard to imagine popular enthusiasm during the campaign,” said political scientist Mansour Kedidir, noting that ordinary citizens “care more about the precariousness of life than the rhetoric of reform.”

Opposition parties are themselves divided, with some calling for people to vote against the changes, and others to boycott the referendum entirely.

“Abstention risks being… the main winner and a crisis of legitimacy its logical consequence,” said Louisa Dris-Ait-Hamadouche, a lecturer from the University of Algiers.


#Newsworthy…

Rebel group, Sudan sign ‘peace deal.’

Advertisements

Sudan’s transitional authorities and a rebel alliance signed on Saturday a peace deal agreed in August that aims to put an end to the country’s decades-long civil wars, in a televised ceremony in Juba.

“The next biggest challenge is to work with all local and international partners to preach the agreement and its benefits,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok tweeted on Friday upon his arrival in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.


SEE MORE


Reaching a negotiated settlement with rebels in Sudan’s far-flung provinces has been a crucial goal for the transitional government, which assumed power after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Advertisements

Sudanese civilian leaders hope the deal will allow them to revive the country’s battered economy by slashing military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

Saturday’s official signing in Juba sealed the peace deal reached in late August between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a coalition of several armed groups.

The summit was attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose own country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of civil war. The head of Sudan’s sovereign council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and his deputy Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, also attended the ceremony. Dagalo, the commander of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, signed the agreement along with rebel leaders.

The deal would grant self-rule for the southern provinces of Blue Nile, South Kordofan and West Kordofan, according to a draft obtained by The Associated Press. Rebel forces would be integrated into Sudan’s armed forces.

Advertisements

The Sudan Revolutionary Front, centered in the western Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, is part of the pro-democracy movement that led to the uprising against al-Bashir, but the rebels didn’t fully support the military-civilian power-sharing deal. That deal includes a six-month deadline for achieving peace, which ran out in February.

Sudan’s largest single rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-North led by Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, was involved in the talks but has yet to reach a deal with the government.

Al-Hilu has called for a secular state with no role for religion in lawmaking, the disbanding of al-Bashir’s militias and the revamping of the country’s military. The group has said if its demands are not met, it would call for self-determination in areas it controls in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces.

Al-Hilu attended Saturday’s ceremony and met with Hamdok and Kiir to discuss the ongoing talks between his movement and the government, according to Hamdok’s office.

Advertisements

Another major rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Army, which is led by Abdel-Wahid Nour, rejects the transitional government and has not taken part in the talks.

Nour’s movement criticized the deal, saying in a statement it was “not different from” other previous deals that did not end the wars.

The Sudanese communist party, which is part of the protest movement that helped topple al-Bashir, also denounced the deal as a “true threat to Sudan’s integrity and future.”

The party said in a statement Thursday that the deal would “create tensions and new disputes” because other rebel groups and victims of the civil war did not join these talks.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: Morocco signs 10-year military co-op deal with United States

Advertisements

The United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed a 10-year military cooperation deal in Rabat, Morocco on Friday — two days after signing a similar deal in Tunisia as he made his final stop on a North African tour aimed at strengthening the fight against Islamist extremists in war-torn Libya and the Sahel-Sahara region.

Advertisements

Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Foreign Minister, shared a few words in a public address, “Our long-standing alliance has not only endured the test of time. We have stood side by side throughout the major challenges that shaped the 20th century, and we have transitioned into the 21st century stronger than ever.”

A sentiment which seems to be shared by the States who sees Morocco as a key ally in this terrorist-challenged area of the continent. Esper followed in kind, “Now more than ever, our two nations are working closely together to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment – ranging from counterterrorism and other transnational threats to regional instability and broader strategic challenges.”

The goal of Esper’s visit was to reinforce mutual cooperation between the two nations as Morocco already hosts the largest annual US joint military exercise in Africa, “African Lion” — cancelled this year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His visit came as talks between Libyan rivals were set to restart Friday evening in Bouznika, near Rabat, according to a Moroccan official.


#Newsworthy…

U.S. defense sec, Mark Esper arrives Tunisia on tour to North Africa.

Advertisements

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived Wednesday in Tunisia, his first stop on a North Africa tour where he was set to reaffirm US engagement in the Maghreb region.

As the raging conflict in neighbouring Libya has attracted foreign jihadists and world powers backing rival sides, Washington has increasingly cooperated with the Tunisian military, particularly on counter-terror operations.

Advertisements

Esper was set to meet President Kais Saied and Defence Minister Ibrahim Bartagi before delivering a speech at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, where over 2,800 American soldiers were buried, most of them killed during World War II.

Washington in 2015 classified Tunisia as a Major Non-NATO Ally, allowing for reinforced military cooperation.

Since 2011, it has invested more than $1 billion in the Tunisian military, according to Washington’s Africa command, Africom.

The US armed forces organised a military air display in March on the southern island of Djerba.

Advertisements

Tunisia in 2016 denied a Washington Post report that it had allowed the US to operate drones from its territory for missions in Libya against the Islamic State group.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

But a court martial in 2017 in a case of sexual harassment by an American officer, reported in the US defence press, publicly confirmed the presence of an American squadron operating drones from within a Tunisian base in the northern region of Bizerte.

This May, the head of Africom said the US would send more troops to the country in light of the deteriorating situation in Libya, triggering an outcry in Tunisia.

Africom later clarified that it was only deploying “a small training unit” that would not engage in combat missions, and the Tunisian government said there were no plans for an American base in the country.

Advertisements

Esper, during his Tunisia visit, was due to warn of growing Russian and Chinese influence on the continent, according to a US official speaking before the trip.

The other goal of the visit was to reinforce ties and discuss the threat of jihadists such as the Islamic State group, the official said.

Esper was set to visit neighbouring Algeria on Thursday, becoming the first US defense secretary to do so since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006.

Esper will then head to Morocco, the other US Major Non-NATO Ally in the Maghreb region.


#Newsworthy..

Tunisia leader, Kais Saied supports hanging amid woman’s murder uproar

Advertisements

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has said he backs capital punishment after public outrage over a woman’s murder sparked calls for executions to restart following a three-decade-long pause.

“Anyone who kills a person for no reason deserves the death penalty,” Saied told the nation’s security council late Monday, according to a video posted by the presidency.

Tunisia carried out its last hanging in 1991, according to Amnesty International, but death by hanging remains on the statute books of the North African nation.

Presidential candidate Kais Saied speaks as he attends a news conference after the announcement of the results in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed/File Photo

By Clever Advertising
Convicts have regularly been handed death sentences in recent years — mainly in trials related to national security — but a moratorium on carrying out the punishment has been in place.

“Each society has its choices, we have our principles, and the text is there,” Saied added.

A recent murder revived the debate on the death penalty.

Advertisements

The body of a 29-year-old woman, who had vanished after leaving work, was discovered last week near a highway that runs from the capital Tunis to the suburb of Marsa.

A man was swiftly arrested and confessed to killing her and stealing her phone, according to the interior ministry.

The justice ministry said that the suspect had previously been accused in an earlier murder case that was dismissed, without giving further details.

“If it is proven that he has killed one or more people, I don’t think the solution is … not to apply the death penalty,” Saied added.


#Newsworthy…

Breaking: Tunisian leader, Kais Saied condemns resort attack.

Advertisements

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Sunday condemned the attack in the coastal resort town of Sousse that killed one security officer and injured another.

Three suspected Islamic militants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives were shot dead by Tunisian forces, authorities said Sunday.

“I do not know the intentions, the arrangements, of those who carried out this terrorist act, but they did not succeed in the past and will not succeed in the future,” Saied said.

Saied spoke to journalists during a short visit to the coastal town.

An Interior Ministry statement said the assailants took refuge in a school after the attack and died in a shootout with security forces.

Advertisements

The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest that the assailants’ planning may have been faulty.

The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.

The story at length
Tunisian forces shot dead three suspected Islamic militants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives, killing one and injuring another in the coastal resort town of Sousse, authorities said Sunday.

Advertisements

Police officers and forensic workers could be seen examining the site after the attack.

Sousse was the site of Tunisia’s deadliest extremist attack in 2015, when a massacre killed 38 people, most of them British tourists.

An Interior Ministry statement said Sunday that the assailants took refuge in a school after the attack and died in a shootout with security forces.

The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest that the assailants’ planning may have been faulty.

Advertisements

He also announced the arrest of a fourth suspect who had been aboard the vehicle that rammed the National Guard officers.

Hatem Zargouni, director of security for Sousse, said the assailants stabbed the officers and then fled with their weapons.

The injured officer was hospitalized.

The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.


#Newsworthy…

Talks hold in Morocco amongst rival Libyan administrations

Advertisements

Delegates from Tripoli-based Government of National Accord and rival eastern-based parliament meet after ceasefire.

Delegates from Libya’s rival administrations met for talks in Morocco more than two weeks after the two sides announced a surprise ceasefire.

The meeting, held on Sunday at the initiative of Morocco, which hosted peace talks in 2015 that led to the creation of a United Nations-recognised government for Libya, kicked off in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Rabat.

Dubbed “Libyan Dialogue”, the talks brought together five members of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and five from a parliament in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk.

The discussions were a prelude to a major meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, on Monday and Tuesday that brings together the leaders of rival Libyan groups.

Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, in remarks before Sunday’s meeting got under way, said his country was offering Libyans “space” to discuss points of contention dividing them.

“The kingdom is ready to provide Libyans with a space to discuss [issues], according to their will, and will applaud them regardless of the outcome,” Bourita said.

Advertisements

“Morocco has no agenda or initiative to submit” to the two sides, Bourita added.

A solution to Libya’s crisis must be decided by the Libyans themselves under the auspices of the United Nations, he said, before delegates met behind closed doors.

Beaten back
Libya has endured about 10 years of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The crisis worsened last year when renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar – who backs the Tobruk parliament and is supported by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia – launched an offensive to seize the capital Tripoli from the GNA.

Advertisements

Haftar was beaten back earlier this year by Turkish-backed GNA forces and fighting has now stalled around the Mediterranean city of Sirte, the gateway to Libya’s eastern oilfields and export terminals.

On August 22, the rival administrations announced separately they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections, drawing praise from world powers.

Peter Millett, a former British ambassador to Libya, said the rival sides talking was a good first step, but there is much work to do to achieve lasting peace.

Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s minister of foreign affairs, chairs a meeting of Libya’s rival administrations [Fadel Senna/AFP]

“First of all, it needs the buy-in of broader group of political players – tribal leaders, society leaders, municipal leaders. Secondly, it needs the buy-in from the military factions, particularly Haftar, and it has to be a genuine ceasefire,” Millett told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media. “Thirdly, it needs the buy-in of the entire international community.”

Advertisements

‘Foreign players’
Mohamed Chtatou, a professor at Mohammed V University in Rabat, said Sunday’s talks were “historic in many ways” and likely touched on possible appointees for a future government and key positions, including head of the Central Bank of Libya, chairman of the National Oil Corporation, and the prosecutor general.

“This meeting is good for the reunification of Libya and bringing the country back on its feet,” Chtatou told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media. “I’m sure the foreign players are not happy about what is happening because they all have their stakes in Libya. The Libyans want peace and it’s Libyans talking to Libyans – so that is very important.”

Reporting from Tripoli, Noble Reporters Media said the fact that Haftar is not represented at the meeting does not mean he is excluded.

“In fact, the delegation representing the Tobruk-based parliament is considered in one way or another the political arm of Haftar’s forces on the ground. So the Tobruk-based parliament, which is affiliated to the warlord Khalifa Haftar, is now representing Haftar’s view in the meeting in Morocco,” he said.

Advertisements

Delegates from the two sides will also meet other factions, including political parties and remnants of Gaddafi’s regime, for talks brokered by the European Union and the UN mission (UNSMIL) in Switzerland starting on Monday.

Sunday’s meeting in Morocco coincided with closed-door talks in Istanbul between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj, the Turkish presidency said.

During the meeting, Erdogan stated Turkey will “continue to stand in solidarity with Libya’s UN-recognised legitimate government, and reiterated that Turkey’s priority is to restore Libya’s stability, without further delay”, a statement said.

“Libya’s peace and stability would benefit its neighbours and the entire region, starting with Europe,” said Erdogan. “The international community ought to assume a principled stance in that regard.”

Advertisements

Future settlement ‘complicated’
At a January summit in Berlin, the main countries involved in the Libyan conflict agreed to respect an arms embargo and to stop interfering in Libya’s domestic affairs.

But on Wednesday, the interim UN envoy for Libya, Stephanie Williams, denounced what she called “blatant” ongoing violations of the arms embargo in the North African country.

According to an interim report from UN experts, “the arms embargo remains totally ineffective” and violations are “extensive, blatant and with complete disregard for the sanctions”.

Williams said UNSMIL was also receiving reports of the “large-scale presence of foreign mercenaries and operatives” in Libya, adding this complicates chances of a future settlement.


#Newsworthy…

Three Assailants, Officer killed in Tunisia resort attack.

Advertisements

The attack took place in the coastal resort town of Sousse, where a gunman killed 38 people in 2015.

Tunisian forces shot dead three assailants who rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives, killing one officer and injuring another in the coastal resort town of Sousse.

Sousse was the site of Tunisia’s deadliest attack in 2015 when a gunman killed 38 people, most of them British tourists.

A patrol of two National Guard officers was targeted in the knife attack on Sunday in Sousse, 140km (87 miles) south of the capital Tunis, said National Guard spokesman Houcem Eddine Jebabli.

“One died as a martyr and the other was wounded and is hospitalised,” he said, adding “this was a terrorist attack.”

Advertisements

The attackers first rammed the gendarmes with a vehicle at about 6:40am (05:40 GMT).

After the knife attack, security forces pursued the assailants who took the officers’ guns and vehicle through the Akouda district of the city’s tourist area of El-Kantaoui, said Jebabli.

“In a firefight, three terrorists were killed,” he said, adding security forces “managed to recover” the car and two pistols the assailants had stolen.

Advertisements

The North African nation’s prime minister, Hicham Mechichi, appeared to suggest the assailants’ planning might have been faulty.

Attackers with knives killed a Tunisian National Guard officer and wounded another before three assailants were shot dead [Bechir Taieb/AFP]

Speaking in Sousse at the site of the attack, he announced the arrest of a fourth suspect who had been on board the vehicle that rammed the National Guard officers.

“These terrorist groups wanted to signal their presence,” he said. “But they got the wrong address this time. The clearest proof of that is that the authors of this attack were eliminated in a few minutes.”

Tunisian President Kais Saied, on a visit hours later to the sealed-off scene of the knife attack, said police were investigating whether it was planned “by individuals or an organisation”.

Advertisements

Struggling to rebound
The previous attack in Sousse on June 26, 2015, dealt a heavy blow to Tunisia’s tourism sector, a pillar of its economy.

The ISIL (ISIS) armed group had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Aymen Rezgui, a Tunisian student who trained with Libyan fighters, walked onto the beach of the Imperial Hotel and used an assault rifle to shoot at tourists in lounge chairs. He then continued onto the hotel pool before throwing a grenade into the hotel. He was later killed by police.

The year 2015 was a particularly bloody one with three deadly attacks claimed by ISIL. An assault at the capital’s Bardo National Museum in March 2015 had killed 21 foreign tourists and a security guard. In November that year, a bus bombing in central Tunis had killed 12 presidential guards.

Advertisements

While the situation has significantly improved since then, Tunisia has maintained a state of emergency.

Assaults on security forces have persisted, mainly in remote areas along the border with Algeria.

Last week, Tunisia’s parliament approved a new technocratic government led by Mechichi, which faces the task of tackling deep social and economic woes in the North African country.

The 46-year-old premier pledged to revitalise the economy, including the crucial tourism sector, which had rebounded after the attacks but has been hit hard this year by the coronavirus pandemic.


#Newsworthy…

Nile Flood: Almost 100 Lose to Death in Sudan.

Advertisements

On Sudan’s Tuti Island, where the Blue and White Nile meet, the highest river waters since records began have left locals trying to hold back the floods.

Residents are filling bags with sand and small stones to try and stop the waters, which has washed away thousands of homes.

“Three days ago the water invaded my house around midnight,” said Swakin Ahmad.

Advertisements

“We were knee-deep in it. My husband and I, with our five children, fled… carrying a few things in our hands.”

Every year during the rainy season the river floods, and the people of the island expect the waters to rise.

But this year has seen waters rising to record levels.

The level of the Blue Nile has risen to 17.57 metres (57 feet), the Ministry of Water and Irrigation said this week, breaking all records since measurements began over a century ago.

Advertisements

Heavy rains forecast
Government civil defence officials say that seasonal floods have killed 94 people, injured 46 and destroyed or damaged over 60,000 homes across Sudan during the current season.

But many fear the worst is yet to come.

Heavy rains are forecast to continue through September, both in Sudan and upstream in neighbouring Ethiopia, the source of the Blue Nile.

“Young people tried to rescue things from my house,” Ahmad said. “But it was hopeless, because they had water up to their necks and could not see anything.”

Residents have set up homemade barrages to block the water, but their efforts have been engulfed by the rising river.

Advertisements

The army has been sent in to help them.

Iqbal Mohamed Abbas, who welcomed many of those forced from their homes at her educational centre, described “the courage with which young people tried with simple means to slow down the flood.”

“I am proud of these young people who came to try to stop the Nile with their bodies,” Abbas said.

Sudan’s water ministry predicts that this year’s flood is larger than that of 1998, which destroyed tens of thousands of homes in several states and displaced more than a million people.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that over 380,000 people have already been affected across the country.


#Newsworthy…

Shut all migrant detention centres in Libya – United Nations

Advertisements

Report by Antonio Guterres says more than 2,780 people held in centres, with about one fifth of them being children.


United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called for the closure of all detention centres holding refugees and migrants in Libya, condemning what he described as human rights violations committed there.

“Nothing can justify the horrendous conditions under which refugees and migrants are detained in Libya,” Guterres said in a report submitted on Thursday to the UN Security Council, according to Noble Reporters Media‘s known Agency.

“I renew my appeal to the Libyan authorities … to fulfil their obligations under international law and to close all detention centres, in close coordination with United Nations entities,” he added.

According to the secretary-general’s report, more than 2,780 people were being detained as of July 31 in centres across Libya. Twenty-two percent of the detainees were children.

“Children should never be detained, particularly when they are unaccompanied or separated from their parents,” Guterres said, calling on Libyan authorities to ensure the children are protected until “long-term solutions” are found.

Advertisements

Libya has been mired in chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, with warring rival administrations based in the country’s west and east battling for power.

Guterres: ‘Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money’ [File: Mahmud Turkia/AFP]

As the country slid into conflict, traffickers have exploited the unrest to turn the North African country into a key route for migration towards Europe, across the Mediterranean. In the past three years, however, crossings dropped sharply due to European Union and Italian-backed efforts to disrupt trafficking networks and to increase interceptions by Libya’s coastguard.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticised the systematic return of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean to Libya, where they are held in crowded detention centres nominally under the control of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

“The conditions in these centres are crazy,” Alkaol, 17, a migrant from The Gambia, told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media earlier this year.

Advertisements

“Sometimes you get food, sometimes you don’t. If they give you bread, you eat half and save half. You don’t know when you will eat next. If you don’t have money, your only way out is either escaping or death.

“If they catch people running away, they shoot at you. They may shoot you in the leg, they may shoot you in the head.”

Guterres also cited reports of torture, enforced disappearances, and sexual and gender-based violence in the centres, committed by those running the facilities.

He also mentioned a reported lack of food and healthcare.

“Men and boys are routinely threatened with violence when they are calling their families, to pressure them to send ransom money,” he wrote.

Advertisements

“Migrants and refugees have been shot at when they attempted to escape, resulting in injuries and deaths,” the report said, alleging that some are even “left on the streets or bushes to die” when they are deemed too weak to survive.

In centres where arms and munitions are stored, some refugees and migrants are recruited by force, while others are forced to repair or reload firearms for armed groups, it said.

More than a year after a July 2019 air raid killed more than 50 refugees and migrants and wounded dozens more at a detention centre near Tripoli, no one has been forced to account for the deaths, Guterres said.

The attack followed repeated warnings about the vulnerability of people detained close to Libya’s conflict zones and raised tough questions about whether it was necessary to lock them up in the first place.


#Nnewsworthy…

Storyline: Tunisia cabinet wins confidence vote.

Advertisements

Tunisia’s parliament has granted its vote of confidence to the new cabinet led by Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi.

A total of 134 deputies voted in favor of forming the cabinet in a vote in parliament which lasted more than 14 hours.

The cabinet would be the third Tunisia has seen since October and the ninth since the revolution that brought down the North African autocratic regime in 2011 and triggered Arab Spring uprisings across the region.

The parliament voted down a previous prime minister-designate earlier this year after a marathon debate.

  • Prime MInister Designate Hichem Mechichi’s Speech-

During his speech to parliament, Mechichi discussed reducing tax evasion and supporting institutions affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mechichi, 46, is a former interior minister and lawyer who studied in Tunisia and France.

Advertisements

He proposed a government with 25 ministers and three secretaries of state that includes seven women and a blind man.

If the government had been rejected, the president Kais Saied would have been obliged to dissolve parliament and call a new election but this surely has been avoided by the confidence vote.

Mechichi, was not nominated by any party but President Saied appointed him as premier last month after Elyes Fakhfakh resigned from the post over allegations of a conflict of interest.

Mechichi’s cabinet should take an oath in front of President Kais Saied later this week.


#Newsworthy…