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North Africa Politics

Egypt Frees 461 Jailed Political Activists

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An Egyptian court has ordered the release of 461 political activists from detention after they were charged with spreading false news, a rights lawyer said on Thursday.

The journalists and students had been detained in connection with 19 different cases over the past four years, lawyer Ramadan Mohammed said.

Authorities have freed the majority of them in response to orders issued by the Cairo Criminal Court earlier this week, he added.

Charges levelled against them included misusing social media to publish false news and promoting the agenda of a terrorist group, a reference to the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, according to the lawyer.

So far, there has been no comment from authorities.

The reported releases come more than a month after rare, small protests erupted in some parts of Egypt against the government of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

Al-Sissi has repeatedly warned Egyptians against protests, saying that they could lead to chaos.

In 2013, the army, then led by al-Sissi, deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, a senior official in the Muslim Brotherhood and a divisive figure in the country.

Thousands of secular and Islamist opposition figures have since been rounded up.

Street demonstrations are heavily restricted in Egypt under a contested 2013 law that the government said was necessary to restore stability to the country.

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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