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Sunday, 29th May 2022
7:58:59am

North Africa

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A veteran left-wing Tunisian politician announced the creation a new alliance aimed at restoring constitutional normality in the country following President Kais Saied's power grab last year.

The president was elected in 2019 and sacked the government on July 25th 2021.

Parliament was also suspended shortly afterwards while the president seized wide ranging powers. 

"We're here to announce the creation of the National Salvation Front, a political front that comprises, up till now, five political parties and five political groups, including six parliamentary groups. It's only the beginning, we plan to keep on consulting with other parties to join the alliance", said Ahmed Nejib Chebbi, founder of the National Salvation Front.

The veteran politician added "we believe that the social crisis will grow and will have extremely strong repercussions on political stability. To create a (political) force, gathering prominent figures in the country, that offers a plan to return to democracy and save Tunisia, is likely to have support. Anyhow, we have no choice but to take a chance".

The new alliance comprises five political parties including the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, along with five civil society groups involving independent political figures.

Tunisians face a referendum on constitutional reforms in July followed by legislative elections in December.

Africa News

The Egyptian judiciary has ordered the release of 41 political prisoners, some of whom have been in pre-trial detention for years,

An Egyptian Member of Parliament, Mohamed Sadat revealed this on Sunday.

The MP promised on Facebook "more releases", referring to "presidential pardons", traditionally granted to hundreds of prisoners for the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan in early May.

Among those released on Sunday was Walid Shawky, one of the founders of the April 6 Movement, which spearheaded the 2011 "revolution" that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

Mr Shawky had been on hunger strike since February to protest against his three years of preventive detention, a regime legally limited to two years.

However, in a technique frequently used by judges, he was declared eligible for release at that point only to be immediately charged with other offences.

The journalist Mohammed Salah suffered the same fate and was also charged with "false information" and "terrorism".

Haitham al-Banna, a member of the liberal Al-Dostour party detained in February for a post commemorating the "revolution", and researcher Abdou Fayed, was arrested in May 2020 for criticising the government's management of Covid-19.

A fifth activist was also released: Hassan Barbari, arrested in 2019 in the "Coalition of Hope" case where several opponents were arrested for trying to run for parliament, lawyer Khaled Ali told AFP.

Radwa Mohamed, jailed for criticising President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in online videos, was among those released, her lawyer Nabih al-Ganadi said.

Several pro-Sissi MPs said the president was behind the releases -- officially ordered by an independent judiciary.

The charge of "terrorism", initially reserved for the Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown by Sissi in 2013, was later used more widely against most pro-democracy parties and organisations.

This week, four comedians from Upper Egypt were arrested on charges of "false information" and "terrorism" after a song denouncing price rises was widely shared online.

Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath, who was released in January, told AFP that he was in prison "hell", while Egypt's most notorious political prisoner, Alaa Abdel Fattah, who recently became a Briton, has been on hunger strike since 2 April to denounce his detention conditions.

-Africa News

Tensions between the Algeria and Morocco have risen again after reports of a Moroccan air strike, which killed 3 people in the contested territory of Western Sahara.

Algeria has claimed that the attack on a convoy close to the Mauritanian border was "targeted."

Although Morocco has de facto control of much of the territory, its claim to it is not recognized by the UN or most of the international community, although the US did agree to recognize its sovereignty in 2020 in exchange for concessions on Israel. 

Neither Morocco nor Mauritania have commented on the claims and the killings could not be independently verified.

Media connected to the Polisario independence movement reported an air strike on Sunday.

The movement that seeks independence for the desert territory is supported by Algeria.

Morocco considers Western Sahara, part of the former Spanish colony that included Morocco itself, to be under its sovereignty.

Algeria had previously accused Morocco of killing three of its citizens and last August, Algeria broke off diplomatic relations with Morocco due to what it called "hostile acts" from its neighbour.

-Africa News

Dozens of refugees and migrants in Tunisia are demanding evacuation to other countries.

The refugees, mostly survivors of illegal immigration attempts by sea to Europe, have been staging a sit-in in front of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Tunisian capital, Tunis since Saturday.

"We need to be evacuated," reads a banner they have hung at the entrance to the building. 

Equipped with blankets, the refugees, many of whom are women and children, spend the night on cardboard boxes spread out on the ground amid suitcases containing their personal belongings.

They denounced the United Nations' inaction.

"The real problem is, the UN commission has abandoned its main role, which is our protection. Instead of doing that, it has left us on the street. We were living in Zarzis, and the UN commission demanded our evacuation from there, cut off all funds and stopped protecting us." Saleh Saeed, Sudanese from Darfur who refused refugee status told the AFP.

-AFP

Swiss prosecutors will not file any charges after concluding a decade-long investigation into alleged money laundering and organized crime linked to late former President Hosni Mubarak’s circles in Egypt, and will release some 400 million Swiss francs ($430 million) frozen in Swiss banks.

The office of the Swiss attorney general said Wednesday that information received as part of cooperation with Egyptian authorities wasn’t sufficient to back up the claims that emerged in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 that felled Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

A Swiss investigation into claims that banks in Switzerland were used to squirrel away ill-gotten funds had originally targeted 14 people, including Mubarak's two sons, as well as dozens of other individuals and entities that had assets totaling some 600 million francs frozen.

More than 210 million francs were already released in an earlier phase of the case, which also could not substantiate the allegations, and Wednesday’s announcement means about 400 million more will be “released and returned to their beneficial owners,” the attorney-general’s office said.

The final part of the Swiss investigation centered on five people, it said, without identifying them.

 
 
-VOA

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