At least 42 people were killed and dozens wounded in an airstrike targeting a town hall meeting in southern Libya, a local official and the UN-recognised government said Monday, accusing forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar.
The Government of National Accord (GNA) said Sunday’s raid struck the residential district of Qalaa in the town of Murzuq.
The air raid left “42 dead and more than 60 injured, 30 of them critically,” municipal council official Ibrahim Omar told reporters.
He said a government building at which more than 200 local dignitaries were gathered “to settle social differences” was targeted three times.
“No armed or wanted people were among them… Haftar bombed unarmed civilians,” he said, calling for humanitarian aid since the local hospital could not cope with the high number of casualties.
The GNA condemned the attack on its Facebook page, also blaming it on Haftar’s forces.
Haftar, who seized swathes of southern Libya earlier in the year, has been battling since April to oust pro-GNA forces from the capital Tripoli.
The GNA urged the UN’s Libya mission and international community “to carry out an investigation into the crimes committed by Haftar’s militias in Murzuq”.
There was no immediate comment on the raid from Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).
With its 50,000 inhabitants, mostly from the Toubou ethnic group, and its ancient fortress, the oasis town is located almost 900 kilometres by road south of Tripoli.
The Toubou have remained at odds with rival Arab tribes which have rallied with Haftar’s forces who took control of the region in January in an operation to “purge it of terrorists and criminals”.
Narrow escape at airport –
The European Union, which has previously called for those breaching international law in Libya to be brought to justice, condemned the strike.
“Indiscriminate attacks on densely populated residential areas may amount to war crimes and must cease immediately,” said EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic.
With fighting for Tripoli stalled on the ground after initial advances by Haftar’s forces, the two sides have increasingly taken their fight to the skies with warplanes and drones.
Aviation officials said Monday that a Libyan passenger plane had narrowly escaped being hit by incoming fire as it landed at Tripoli’s sole functioning airport.
“The crew on the flight from Benghazi, which was carrying 124 passengers, avoided being hit by bombing on Mitiga International Airport” on Sunday, the airport’s management wrote on Facebook.
The incident forced the airport to close to air traffic and re-route flights to Misrata, some 200 kilometres further east, until late Sunday night.
The origin of the bombs was not clear, and no side has yet claimed responsibility.
Relief International says gunmen attacked office in north of South Sudan
An international aid organisation, Relief International, on Monday said that a group of armed men stormed its premises in northeastern South Sudan, assaulting and injuring five staff members.
Relief International said the attack took place on Sunday in a field office in Upper Nile State.
“Multiple gunmen, armed with assault rifles, pistols and knives, invaded a staff compound. During this assault, five of our staff were assaulted and sustained injuries,” the agency said in a statement.
“We have relocated our team to safety, and they are receiving all necessary care,” said Nancy Wilson, Relief International Chief Executive Officer
“They endured a senseless act of violence in the course of their assignment providing life-saving care to the refugee community in Upper Nile State, South Sudan.”
Humanitarian workers have been repeatedly targeted with at least 115 killed since the country was plunged into conflict in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup against him.
The unrest has left nearly 400,000 dead and displaced millions.
A peace deal was signed in September last year and a ceasefire has largely held but efforts to form a power-sharing government have been repeatedly delayed.
Egypt ready to hold fresh talks with neighbouring countries on disputed Nile dam
The Ministers of Water Resources in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan are meeting on Monday and Tuesday for more talks
Egypt is ready to host new talks with neighbouring countries Ethiopia and Sudan on the disputed dam built by Ethiopia on the Nile, as part of an agreement reached in Washington in November.
The Washington agreement was reached last month to bring an end to the deadlock in their long-standing dispute over the river’s critical water supply.
The Ministers of Water Resources in Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan are meeting on Monday and Tuesday for talks to agree on the rules of operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and filling its reservoir.
Ethiopia started building the $4.8 billion hydroelectric Grand Renaissance Dam in 2010 with the aim of becoming Africa’s biggest power exporter.
Because Egypt relies solely on the Nile for farming, industry and domestic water use, it fears that the dam will harm its supply. However, Ethiopia calls Egypt’s worries baseless.
The fresh talks in Egypt’s capital of Cairo are the second of four rounds agreed in Washington in November, during negotiations attended by the Foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, as well as representatives of the U.S. government and the World Bank.
The third meeting in Khartoum is set to be decided following the conclusion of Monday and Tuesday’s meetings.
A fourth meeting will then be held in January in Addis Ababa, before a meeting of the foreign and water ministers of the three countries in Washington in mid-January 2020.
Sudan approves new law dissolving former Bahir party, NCP
On Wednesday, local Sudanese media reported that the NCP had warned against any move to dissolve it
The Sudanese government and Sovereign Council on Friday enacted a new legislation dissolving the country’s former ruling party, the National Congress Party, and also outlawed the Public Order Law that had infringed on the rights of many citizens, especially women.
“The endorsement of the two laws came in fulfilment of the revolution’s slogans in freedom, peace and justice,” Mohamed Al-Faki Suleiman, a spokesman of the Sovereign Council said in a statement after the joint meeting held for the first time with the Council of Ministers ended early Friday.
On Wednesday, local Sudanese media reported that the NCP had warned against any move to dissolve it or prevent it from exercising its political and legal rights.
But despite the NCP threat, the two powerful bodies which currently operate using executive and legislative powers due to the non-constitution of a transitional parliament yet agreed to endorse the “law for dismantling the June 30th regime and removing empowerment” which is concerned with dissolving the NCP and confiscating its properties and the “law for cancelling the public order law.”
Sudan’s Justice Minister, Nasredeen Abdelbari, after the meeting, stated that “the law for dismantling the NCP comes in implementation of the constitutional document and it directly dissolves the NCP and seizes the party’s properties, money and affiliates to be affiliated to the Federal Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.”
Abdelbari said the law stipulates the establishment of an 18-member committee to be tasked with instructing the concerned authorities to dissolve any government or partisan body, organization, union, commission, company or partisan arm that belongs to the June 30th regime and end the service of its personnel.
The constitutional declaration, previously approved by the sovereign council and the cabinet, stipulates that the council and the cabinet have the right to pass laws until the transitional parliament is established.
NCP is Sudan’s oldest party
The NCP, under former President Omar al-Bashir, had ruled Sudan for 30 years since 1989 until the Sudanese army ousted the government and party on April 11 amid popular protests that erupted in December last year. It is the successor organization to the Brotherhood-affiliated National Islamic Front (NIF).
Long steeped in controversy, the NCP and its precursors have associated themselves with such notorious terrorists as Osama bin Laden and a variety of extremist groups including al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Although formally registered as a political party, NCP precursors have at times embraced genocidal violence against the country’s non-Muslims to advance their Islamist agenda.
Former President, al-Bashir was NCP chairman. He is currently on trial locally for corruption and stands accused at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide for his violence against religious and ethnic groups throughout Sudan.
While strongly criticized by the opposition for its domestic policies, especially its harsh reaction to the rebellion in Darfur, the NCP has been widely credited for settling the second civil war in the South through an agreement in 2005.
In the 2010 general elections, which were boycotted by some major parties, the NCP won 324 out of 450 seats in the national parliament and majorities in all the state assemblies.
While the polls were criticized by observers for legal and administrative flaws, many analysts agree that the result did represent more or less the extent to which the NCP enjoys popular support, especially in the centre of the country.
After the secession of the South, the NCP also included the DUP and some smaller parties in the government.
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