Saturday, 10th June 2023

North Africa

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Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni landed in Tunis Tuesday (June 6) for a day of talks with leaders during which she was expected to address the increased numbers of migrants leaving Tunisia for Italy.

Meloni was greeted at the airport by Tunisian Premier Najla Bouden and then held meetings with President Kais Saied.

The two leaders were also expected to talk about energy questions and financial issues that Tunisia is facing. 

Tunisia is trying to secure funds from the European Union while struggling with reforms requested by the International Monetary Fund.

Saied has challenged what he called IMF diktats after the body made the granting of a loan to Tunisia conditional on economic reforms and the lifting of certain state subsidies. 

Tunisia is also a traditional ally of the EU in their efforts to limit illegal migration.

In April, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced plans for Italy to train four-thousand Tunisian workers in Tunisia and then bring them to Italy with work visas and provide them with jobs as part of a new effort to combat migrant flows.

Tajani explained that Tunisia is the first country with which Italy is preparing this type of bi-lateral project.

Italy is struggling with a sharp increase in migrant arrivals this year.

According to Italy’s Interior Ministry, between January and June over 50-thousand migrants have arrived by boat in Italy, compared to just over 20-thousand in the same period in 2022.

Tunisians make up 7% of the total but migrants of other nationalities are increasingly departing from Tunisia rather than Libya.

-Africa News

Several hundred militants from Morocco's left-wing trade union movement denounced the "high cost of living" and "government inaction" in Casablanca, western Morocco, on Sunday, despite a ban on demonstrations, AFP journalists observed on site.

Coming from all over the country, trade unionists from the left-wing Confédération Démocratique du Travail (CDT) gathered in the historic center of the economic capital.

"We're here to voice our discontent at soaring prices and attacks on purchasing power", explained Abdellah Lagbouri, a CDT member who travelled from Agadir (south) to Casablanca, to AFP.

"It's a disgrace, workers' livelihoods are in danger", protested the demonstrators, almost all dressed in yellow chasubles, armbands and caps, the union's color.

"How can the poorest people live" with soaring food prices, they shouted.

Initially, the CDT wanted to organize a national march in Casablanca, but the parade was banned by local authorities, Tarik Alaoui El Housseini, a member of the CDT National Council, told AFP.

"We stuck to a sit-in," he explained.

The rally took place without major incident, with only a few jostles with the police, according to AFP journalists on the scene.

Morocco is faced with soaring prices, particularly for food products, which are affecting the most modest households.

Inflation slowed slightly in April, to 7.8% year-on-year, after 10.1% in February and 8.2% in March, according to official statistics.

But the rise in food prices remains very high (+16.3% year-on-year).

This inflation can be explained in part by the chronic rainfall deficit which is affecting the agricultural sector, the mainstay of the Moroccan economy, and in particular causing fruit and vegetable prices to soar.

The CDT denounces "the government's inaction in implementing the social agreement signed last year", Nadia Soubat, a member of the union's executive board, told AFP.

In April 2022, the executive signed a "social agreement" with the main trade unions and employers, which included as its key measure an increase in the minimum wage in both the private and public sectors.

"The government has honored a large part of its commitments, despite the difficult economic climate", said government spokesman Mustapha Baïtas recently.


Archeologists in Egypt have announced new discoveries at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo.

The new discoveries include two human and animal embalming workshops as well as the tombs of two priests.

"We found two big workshops, one for human and then used in mummifying animals, while the second workshop is for humans only, we found also beds, mummification tools, and materials". (...)  

"During the excavation we also found a tomb that belonged to Ne Hesut Ba, a priest who served in the fifth dynasty of the old kingdom, 4,500 years ago", announced Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Recently, Egypt has unveiled a string of major archaeological discoveries.

The discoveries have been a key component of Egypt's attempts to revive its vital tourism industry.

"This is the first time we discovered embalming workshops (in Saqqara, Ed.) associated with the temples, all the previous embalming workshops were  related to Apis (old Egyptian God of fertility and death, Ed.) in Memphis (part of Giza governorate now, Ed.), that means it is an important discovery to have found embalming workshops here in Saqqara", said Mohamed Youssef, director of the Saqqara archaeological site.

The site director added: 

"We also found many statues representing the masterpieces of the art in the old kingdom which date back 4,500 years, and we also discovered antiquities and pieces dating back 3,300 years that represent the new kingdom, plus some jewellery and accessories. Also we found cheese made by ancient Egyptians who used to store it in pottery jars and put it behind the dead". 

Egypt aims to draw in 30 million tourists a year by 2028, up from 13 million before the Covid pandemic.

The crowning jewel of the government's strategy is the long-delayed inauguration of the Grand Egyptian Museum at the foot of the pyramids in Giza.

-Africa News

Libya's foreign ministry on Tuesday condemned an attack on its embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, whose buildings were ransacked and looted.

Tripoli "denounced the assault and looting" of the Libyan embassy building in Khartoum, whose staff had been evacuated due to the violence, according to a ministry statement.

Expressing its "deep regret and displeasure" at such acts, the Libyan ministry "calls on the parties to the conflict in Sudan to reject violence (....) and to protect diplomatic representations", in the spirit of the Vienna Convention governing diplomatic relations between States, which "stipulates the obligation to protect embassies and diplomatic missions". 

In its statement, Libya stressed its "attachment" to the stability of Sudan and its people, but reiterated its condemnation of the attacks on the headquarters of diplomatic missions in the Sudanese capital.

Last Thursday, the Libyan ministry deplored an attack on the offices of the Libyan military attaché in Khartoum, calling for those responsible for this "criminal act" to be "identified and prosecuted".

Several countries, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have deplored attacks on and looting of their embassies in Khartoum.

The last group of Libyan nationals was evacuated from Sudan on 13 May, according to the Libyan embassy in Khartoum.

A first group of 105 people had been evacuated to Jeddah on 24 April by the Saudi navy from Port Sudan, before being repatriated to Libya by a national airline.

In Sudan on Tuesday, fighting continued between the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, despite the extension of a truce intended to allow the delivery of vital humanitarian aid to a country on the brink of famine.

The war, which began on 15 April, has already claimed more than 1,800 lives, according to the NGO ACLED, and almost one and a half million displaced persons and refugees, according to the UN.

-Africa News

One of Libya’s two administrations voted Tuesday to suspend and investigate its prime minister, accusing him of failing to achieve his government’s objectives, the parliament’s spokesperson said.

Fathi Bashagha was prime minister of Libya’s eastern-based parliament, known as the House of Representatives, which operates in Tobruk.

Torn by civil conflict since 2011, Libya is divided between two rival governments, each backed by international patrons and numerous armed militias on the ground. Libya’s Tripoli-based government is headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah. 

Mohamed Mansour, a spokesperson for Bashagha, said the former prime minister would soon publish an official statement regarding Tuesday’s decision.

In a recorded statement , Abdullah Belhaiq, the parliament spokesperson, criticized Bashagha for failing to deliver on the government’s pledge to enter the capital, Tripoli, the seat of the western rival administration.

Bashagha, who was elected as prime minister in February 2022, tried to seat his government in the capital last May, arriving in Tripoli with a number of his Cabinet ministers.

Clashes soon broke out between rival militias, forcing the former air force pilot to retreat to the city of Sirte.

“A number of members of the House of Representatives asked in more than one session that the Prime Minister be investigated,” Belhaiq said.

However, few details on Bashagha’s other alleged failings were provided. The House of Representatives finance minister, Osama Hamada, took over Bashagha’s duties, he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, however, Bashagha issued a statement to the parliament announcing that he was passing his duties to Deputy Prime Minister Ali Qatrani. No further details were given. The conflict between the two statements could not immediately be reconciled.

Despite Belhaiq’s explanation, Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya specialist and associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, believes the suspended premier may have out-served his usefulness to Khalifa Hifter, commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army. The group is the dominant armed force in the country’s east and south.

Hifter and his family are seeking more influence in Tripoli and have been engaging in regular talks with Dbeibah’s nephew along with militia leaders from the west, Harchaoui said.

The U.N.’s special representative to Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, unveiled a new initiative in late February aiming to usher the divided country to the ballot box before the end of 2023. Both parliaments have agreed on a joint committee to draft electoral law for the vote, however, progress has since slowed.

A previous U.N.-brokered process installed an interim government — with Dbeibah at its head — in early 2021 with the aim of guiding the country to elections later that year. The elections were never held following disagreements over several key issues, including the eligibility for presidential candidacy.

-Africa News

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