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Sunday, 20th May 2018
3:35:34pm

North Africa

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday urged Israel and the Palestinians to abstain from further steps that could lead to more Palestinian deaths, following Monday's deadly violence on the Gaza-Israel border.

Israel has come under international pressure after its border forces on Monday killed some 60 Palestinians protesting against the transfer the same day of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

"I hope that this message reaches our Palestinian brothers that self-expression and protest over this decision does not lead them to measures that could lead to more victims," Sisi said.

"On the other side, I hope that the Israelis understand that the Palestinian reactions towards this issue are legitimate and that they deal with it with extreme care over the lives of Palestinians," he added. 

Speaking in a live youth conference on state TV, Sisi spoke on Egypt's role in the conflict, stating its previous peace efforts, saying that Egypt was in communication with both sides "so that this bloodshed would stop".

The Egyptian president said he had previously warned that the US embassy move "will have negative implications in the Arab and Muslim public opinion".

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in seven weeks of protests, mainly from Israeli sniper fire.

Arab foreign ministers are to hold an "extraordinary" meeting Thursday in Cairo to discuss their future steps over the issue.

-AFP

An Egyptian court has referred the case of 13 defendants facing terrorism charges to the country's top religious authority, the Grand Mufi, for a non-binding opinion on whether they can be potentially executed as the prosecution seeks.

The Ismailia Criminal Court says Monday that they are members of a local affiliate of the Islamic State group in the restive northern Sinai peninsula.

The men are accused of killing two people, including a police officer, while trying to escape from their prison in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia in October.

The verdict can be appealed, and the presiding judge may rule independently of the Mufti. The verdict is set for July 12. 

Egypt has struggled to contain a long-running Islamic insurgency in Sinai.

-AP

The U.N. refugee agency is resuming evacuations of migrants from Libya with a flight of 132 mostly Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers to Niger for resettlement in third countries. 

The group left Tripoli’s Mitiga airport late on Tuesday but the plane had a technical problem and had to turn back, U.N. officials said. They were due to depart again late on Wednesday.

UNHCR previously evacuated about 1,020 refugees and asylum seekers to Niger, but the process had been suspended from late February because of delays in resettling them in Western countries.

Several hundred refugees have been resettled directly from Libya, but numbers have been limited because most Western embassies evacuated from Tripoli in 2014. 

Another evacuation flight from Libya to Niger is planned for next week, said UNHCR official Omar Bugharsa.

There are hundreds of thousands of mainly sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya, some of whom travelled to the country hoping to cross to Europe by sea. 

Many experience dire conditions and abuse including forced labour and torture in Libya as they pass through the hands of smuggling networks and armed groups.

-Reuters

A top newspaper editor known to be close to President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is hinting that the Egyptian leader should be allowed to rule beyond the maximum two, four-year terms set by the constitution.

Yasser Rizq, chairperson of the state-owned al-Akhbar daily, did not explicitly call for amending the constitutional clause limiting the number of terms a president can serve, but argued that time is running short for the emergence of another leader who "can shoulder the responsibilities of a head of state of a country of Egypt's weight and prestige."

Sisi led the military's 2013 ouster of Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist president whose one-year rule proved divisive. He was elected to office a year later and, running virtually unopposed, won a second term following an election in March

-AP

Egyptian police have arrested an atheist blogger who was previously detained for promoting his views, a rights lawyer said on Saturday.

Sherif Gaber was in police custody on Saturday and set to be questioned by the prosecution on Sunday, Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told AFP.

"He has been arrested and should be questioned tomorrow," Eid said.

It was not immediately clear when Gaber was arrested. 

In late March, Gaber tweeted that "some Muslim lawyers" filed a complaint against him with the attorney general.

"I'll probably get arrested in the next few days, but I don't want you to get mad," he wrote.

Gaber was detained in 2013 for allegedly promoting atheism.

Promoting atheism can be punished in Egypt under a law that bans "insults to religions".

-AFP

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