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Algerian President Tebboune Signs New Constitution Into Law

The newly signed constitution was pitched as responding to the demands of the Hirak but still maintains Algeria’s presidential regime and further expands the powers of the army, a central pillar of the state.

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The Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has signed into law the country’s new constitution, months after the document was approved in a referendum that recorded an extremely low voter turnout, his office disclosed.

The 75-year-old president, who returned to Algeria only last week after spending two months in Germany where he was being treated for the coronavirus, has long presented the new charter as meeting the demands of protesters who, in April 2019, forced the stepping down of the country’s former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

But the support which the document received wasn’t as impressive as expected, with less than 15 percent of the population voting in its favour in a November vote which was overshadowed by the novel coronavirus pandemic and following calls for a boycott.

Demonstrators in the North African country first took to the streets in February 2019 after the former president Bouteflika made known his intention to run for a fifth consecutive term in office, despite his health conditions.

Well after Bouteflika’s departure, the protests still continued with the members of the movement, known as the Hirak, demanding a complete overhaul of the country’s entire political system.

The newly signed constitution was pitched as responding to the demands of the Hirak but still maintains Algeria’s presidential regime and further expands the powers of the army, a central pillar of the state.

The Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune also approved Algeria’s 2021 budget which was in deficit, and is hoping to launch an inoculation campaign against the novel coronavirus, making use of the Sputnik V vaccine which was produced by its Russian ally as early as this month.

The president is also looking to diversify the economy of the nation which is heavily dependent on oil.

Oil and gas account for about 90 percent of Algeria’s total exports, and the revenue generated from this export is used to subsidise fuel, water, health care, housing and basic goods.

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News

Libya Welcomes Dutch Ambassador to Tripoli

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The Libyan Interior Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fathi Bachagha, has welcomed the Dutch Ambassador to Libya, Lars Tomers, back to the Embassy in Tripoli.

Most diplomatic missions left Tripoli in 2014 due to the deteriorating security situation, but in recent years, many of them have resumed work again following the improvement of the situation.

“We will continue to cooperate together in the fight against corruption, terrorism and organised crime,” Mr Bachagha said in a tweet published after meeting Mr. Tomers.

During the meeting, which was held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior in Tripoli, Mr Bachagha and Tomers discussed the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in the areas of fighting organised crime, terrorism, money laundering, drugs and psychotropic substances, illegal immigration and other issues of common interest.

Earlier, Mr Tomers wrote in a tweet that he had “an open and fruitful discussion with Mr Bachagha regarding the strengthening of bilateral cooperation between Libya and the Netherlands in the fight against organised crime, corruption, terrorism and illegal immigration”.

He said he also reaffirmed his support for the UN Mission and the Libyan Forum for Political Dialogue.

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North Africa

South Sudan Detains Russia’s Pussy Riot Activist, Blogger over Drone Remote

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Four high-profile Russian tourists, including Pyotr Verzilov, spent an uncomfortable day in detention in the town of Kapoeta, South Sudan on Wednesday in a mix-up over a drone.

The other three are blogger Ilya Varlamov, his wife Lyubov, and lecturer Ivan Bogantsev.

The four Russians are in Africa on tourist visas.

Verzilov, a member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, and the others had been touring in Uganda, where Mr Varlamov’s drone was confiscated – but not its remote control, which remained in his luggage.

When their bags were searched at Kapoeta airport, where they were due to take a plane to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, security officials demanded to know the location of the drone when they found the remote.

According to Varlamov, a Russian household name with over 2 million YouTube subscribers, despite not locating the actual aircraft itself, the officers then accused the tourists of illegally flying it.

Varlamov claims it had already been confiscated when they were in Uganda.

“They decided that we flew a drone, although we didn’t, and in the end, they took us off the plane and detained us,” Varlamov said.

“We are now in some incomprehensible department. They tried to take our phones, but we didn’t give them.”

Most African countries have strict laws either banning or restricting the use of drones.

Attempts to explain that they didn’t have the drone fell on deaf ears, and the group were hauled off to a ramshackle room where they were placed under arrest.

Meanwhile, the group insisted on keeping their phones so they could contact their embassy and others for help – and tweeted and blogged about their day.

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Conservation News

Egypt’s Asmarat Alternative Housing to Receive Dozens of Families

Asmarat is receiving over 130 slum-dwelling families in fully-furnished buildings, offering succour to underprivileged women, children and the physically challenged.

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Over 130 families and former residents of Sayeda Aicha neighbourhoods have started arriving at Asmarat social housing due to fears of collapse of their buildings.  

Cairo municipal authority has marked 47 buildings for demolition and has bulldozed 31 buildings used sheltering 35 families.

Asmarat is offers alternative housing to slum dwellers. The current occupants of its fully-furnished buildings were formerly resident in shanties of Qaleat Al Kabsh, Al Mawardy, Ezbet Khair Allah, Mansheyet Nasser Maspero Triangle among others.

Head of Asmarat Municipal Authority Hassan al-Ghandour said its alternative housing project plans to collaborate with Orman Charity Organization to exempt widows, divorced women, and the disabled persons from paying LE3600 annual rent.

Ghandour explained that the neighborhood is of a great interest to the political leadership and that Cairo governor visits the place weekly. He added that the neighborhood is home to several factories that secure 1,400 jobs to women paying them LE3,500 as income salary and offering paid internships at LE1,000.

The third phase of the project also includes a football pitch, four multi-purpose playgrounds, two swimming pools, a social building, a garden for children, four nurseries, four health units, a car mark that can hold up to 1,000 cars. Also, a mosque, a church and an automatic bakery production line will be established.

Social Solidarity Minister Nevin Al-Qabbaj explained last year that 13.6 percent of Asmarat families have female breadwinners with one in every two family having more than four members most of whom have unstable and irregular jobs.

Egypt’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Ma’it said in July last year that the country plans to implement 100,000 housing units during fiscal year of 2020/2021, in addition to planning to complete 105,000 units in 2021/2022.

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