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President Sisi of Egypt Pledges Support for AfCFTA

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has reiterated his country’s support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which commenced earlier this month.

Sisi’s remarks came during his meeting in Cairo with Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Egyptian Presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.

Sisi affirmed Egypt’s full support for the activities and work of the AfCFTA, which represents a promising start towards continental integration in Africa, the spokesman said.

The Egyptian president said his country was fully prepared to provide its expertise to help activate the free trade zone, noting that stability is very important as it provides the appropriate climate for the success of the efforts and activities of the agreement.

For his part, Mene expressed his appreciation for the vigorous follow-up of the Egyptian president to the procedures for launching the AfCFTA during his presidency of the African Union.

Mene pointed out that Egypt was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the agreement.

Trading under the AfCFTA began on Jan. 1, making it the world’s largest free trade area in terms of participating member states after the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

Data from the World Bank shows that the trade bloc, which has so far garnered 54 signatories, covers a total population of over 1.2 billion with a collective gross domestic product of 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.

The AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-Africa trade by about 52 per cent by 2022, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

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North Africa Politics

Libya Minister Survives Assassination Attempt

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Fathi Ali Abdul Salam Bashagha, the  Minister of Interior of Libya’s UN-backed government, on Sunday survived an assassination attempt by gunmen in the west of the capital Tripoli.

Mr. Bashagha had finished a meeting on Sunday with the chairman of the National Oil Corporation and was returning to Tripoli, the seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), when his convoy came under attack.

“At 3 p.m. (1300 GMT), an assassination attempt targeted Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha as he was returning from his residence in Janzour district (western Tripoli),” the Interior Ministry said in a statement. “An armoured Toyota opened fire on the minister’s motorcade using machine guns.

“Bashagha’s security guards fired back at the gunmen, killing a gunman and capturing two others, while one guard was injured”, the ministry added.

The ministry confirmed that all necessary legal measures regarding the attempted assassination have been taken.

Libya has been suffering insecurity and chaos ever since the fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

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Family Rejects France’s Plan to Build Statue in Algeria’s Emir AbdelKader’s Honour

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The family of Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine, known as the Emir Abdelkader or Abdelkader El Hassani El Djazairi, has rejected the plan to build a statue in his honour in France.

Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883) was an Algerian religious and military leader who led a struggle against the French colonial invasion in the mid-19th century.

According to Abdelkader’s grandson, Mohamed Boutaleb, the family rejected “the construction of a statue of the Emir in France, where he was imprisoned and held hostage.”

French historian Benjamin Stora had submitted a report on the memory of colonization and Algerian war to President Emmanuel Macron on January 20. In the report, Stora recommended building a statue of AbdelKader.

Boutaleb said the proposed statue was in France’s interest not Algeria’s, adding that the family has prepared “an electronic petition to collect signatures to reject the proposal contained in the French report.”

He said the name of the Algerian Emir is known internationally and his political and resistant standing does not need a statue in France, which occupied his country for 132 years.

While France claims that Emir Abdelkader came to it for the sake of tourism, the historic truth is that he was subjected to imprisonment, hostage detention and assassination attempts with other prisoners in France.

Boutaleb called on Algerian authorities to intervene and stop what he called a “French maneuver” to falsify the history of one of the most prominent symbols of the Algerian resistance.

Abdelkader – a writer, poet, philosopher, politician and fighter against French colonial forces – was imprisoned in France in 1847 where he remained until 1852.

After his freedom, he settled in Istanbul until his death in 1883 at the age of 76.

In 1965, his body was transferred to Algeria and buried in the capital, Algiers.

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Sudan’s PM, Hamdok, Names 7 Ex-Rebel Leaders in New Cabinet

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Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, has announced seven former rebel leaders who were part of a peace deal signed in October 2020 in his new cabinet.

Veteran rebel leader and economist Gibril Ibrahim, of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) — which played a major role in the Darfur conflict — was appointed as Sudan’s new finance minister.

Hamdok had, on Sunday, dissolved the previous cabinet to form a more inclusive government.

Two ministers were selected from the military. Many are from the Forces for Freedom and Change which led the protests that saw Omar al-Bashir ousted from power.

The Prime Minister gave the role of finance minister to the veteran rebel leader and economist Gibril Ibrahim. This at a time of sky high inflation, food and fuel shortages.

Being Sudan’s Foreign Minister will also be a major test. That job has gone to Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi – the daughter of Sudan’s last democratically elected Prime Minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi.

There are still military men in Hamdok’s cabinet – a reminder of the awkward marriage between soldiers and civilians as Sudan continues its planned transition to democracy.

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