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North Africa Politics

Algeria seeks 20-year sentence for Said Bouteflika, ex-president’s brother

The once mighty Said Bouteflika, 62, was long seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 19, 2012, Said Bouteflika, brother of Algerian President, attends the funeral of late Algerian singer Warda Al-Jazairia, one of the most famous singers in the Arab world, at the El-Alia cemetery in Algiers. - Sentenced in September to 15 years in prison for conspiring against the army and the state in Algeria, the 62-year-old brother and powerful advisor to ex-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika as well as two former intelligence bosses and a party leader are due to appear on February 9 for a retrial. (Photo by Farouk Batiche / AFP)

Algeria’s state prosecutor is seeking a 20-year jail term for the brother of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, lawyers said Monday, as he seeks to appeal a 15-year sentence.

The once mighty Said Bouteflika, 62, was long seen as the real power behind the presidency after his brother suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013.

He had served as a key presidential aide but was detained in May last year, a month after Bouteflika quit office weeks into mass protests against his bid for a fifth presidential term.

In September Said Bouteflika, along with several other senior regime officials, were sentenced by a military tribunal to 15 years in jail for “conspiring” against the state and undermining the army’s authority.

A court in Blida, south of Algiers, began hearing an appeal against the sentence on Sunday behind closed doors and amid heavy security.

The deliberations continued on Monday, also behind closed doors, with the defence team presenting their arguments, according to defence attorney Farouk Kessentini.

Kessentini is representing General Mohamed Lamine Mediene, known as “Toufik”, who for 25 years headed the powerful Department of Intelligence and Security, and was sentenced in September alongside the former president’s brother.

Also in court were Mediene’s former right-hand man, General Athmane “Bachir” Tartag, and Louisa Hanoune, who had served as secretary general of the left-wing Workers’ Party.

The four defendants are accused of having met in March 2019 in a bid to derail plans by the army high command to force the departure of president Bouteflika.

Said Bouteflika allegedly wanted the intelligence bosses to dismiss the army chief of staff at the time, General Ahmed Gaid Salah.

Defence lawyers hope the four will be released after Algeria’s balance of power shifted following the December 23 death of Gaid Salah at the age of 79.

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North Africa Politics

Algeria’s President Tebboune to Return Home after COVID-19 Treatment in Germany

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Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is set to return home from a German hospital “in the coming days” after treatment for COVID-19.

“The president assures the Algerian people that he is recovering and will return to the homeland in the coming days,” the office said in a statement, published on Facebook.

In late October, Tebboune was transported to Germany for an in-depth medical examination following a doctor recommendation.

Shortly after, the office announced that the president was diagnosed with COVID-19.

In compliance with the recommendations of his medical team, the 75-year-old Algerian leader continues to undergo the rest of recovery procedures after leaving a specialised medical facility in Germany, the office added.

Tebboune has served as the president of Algeria since December 2019.

He assumed the post after the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika following months of protests.

Since the start of the pandemic, 83,199 cases of the coronavirus have been registered in Algeria.

To date, the North African country’s COVID-19 death toll stands at 2,431, while the number of recoveries is approaching 54,000.

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North Africa Politics

Libya Prepares for Elections

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The Libyan National High Electoral Commission (HNEC) has begun discussions with the chairmen of boards of electoral departments of the Commission in all Libyan regions preparations for the general election due in December next year.

An official source in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, said the managing director of the HNEC, Yahya al-Jadid, met with more than 20 participants via Zoom to discuss obstacles, challenges and the means to overcome them.

In a statement, the commission said al-Jadid underlined “the importance of that communication between the general department and its offices, in light of the developments of the political process and tasks awaiting the commission”.

He stressed the need for concerted efforts to raise the level of preparation and address the potential needs and obstacles.

The chiefs of office reviewed the need to procure office materials and to resolve the obstacles linked to the administrative aspect and the state of preparation of the commission.

The HNEC heads the electoral department which in turn counts 24 offices shared in all Libyan regions charged with implementing the electoral process, each within its electoral area.

The participants in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum held on 9-15 November in Tunis, under the aegis of the UN Support Mission in Libya, agreed on a roadmap setting a transitional period and the date for the presidential and parliamentary elections for 24 December 2021.

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North Africa Politics

Sudan’s Former PM, Sadiq al-Mahdi, Dies from COVID-19

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Sudanese politician and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi has died at the age of 84.

The octogenarian died from a coronavirus infection weeks after being hospitalized in the United Arab Emirates, according to family sources and a party statement early on Thursday.

Mahdi, 84, was Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister and was overthrown in 1989 in the military coup that brought former president Omar al-Bashir to power. Mahdi’s Umma Party was one of the largest opposition parties under Bashir.

Last month, his family said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was transferred to the UAE for treatment a few days later following a brief hospitalization in Sudan.

According to a statement by his party, Mahdi would be buried on Friday morning in the city of Omdurman in Sudan.

No successor has been named by the party but al-Mahdi’s daughter Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, who is the party’s deputy leader has been the most visible party leader in political negotiations and the media in recent years.

Leading Sudanese opposition figure Sadiq al Mahdi talks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 25, 2019.

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