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North Africa Politics

Libya’s GNA suspect new military escalation by Haftar-led forces1 minute read

Videos circulated on social media in recent days show columns of LNA military vehicles trucking towards Tripoli.

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Photo credit: AFP

Libya’s UN-recognised government said Saturday it feared forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar were prepping a new “military escalation” in their months-long push to take Tripoli.

Deadly fighting has rocked the capital’s outskirts since Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 4 to take the city from the Government of National Accord.

The GNA said on its Facebook page it was “concerned over reports, confirmed by the UN and the media, on preparations for a new military escalation”.

The United Nations mission in Libya said in a tweet Saturday that it was “doing its outmost with all local and foreign actors to avoid military escalation and to ensure protection of civilians”.

Videos circulated on social media in recent days, some by a pro-Haftar television channel, show columns of LNA military vehicles trucking towards the south of the capital. The footage could not be independently verified.

Haftar’s campaign to wrestle Tripoli from pro-GNA forces has left nearly 1,093 people dead, including 106 civilians, and over 5,750 wounded, according to the UN’s World Health Organization.

The fighting has also forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes. 

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North Africa Politics

Algeria’s presidential election to hold on Thursday amidst nationwide protest

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Algeria’s presidential election to hold on Thursday amidst nationwide protest
Algerians wave a national flag from a balcony as they watch anti-government demonstrators march in the capital Algiers on December 6, 2019, ahead of the presidential vote scheduled for December 12. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

Algerians are expected to come out en masse on Thursday and cast their votes in the widely opposed presidential election. There have been protests against the presidential election spanning a period of 9 months. Algerians are protesting because they see the election as the regime ploy to hijack power. 

Though no opinion polls have been published, observers predict high voter apathy in Thursday’s election. This is not surprising judging from a widely-held view by the voters that the political system is rigid and uncountable.

Overseas polling booths for expat Algerians opened Saturday, but have been almost empty. The few who cast their votes face a barrage of insults from angry protesters.

Direche, of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), said that despite being traditionally conservative and close to the regime, today the diaspora “is mobilised against the election”.

Read: Protesters march against December general elections in Algeria

The outcome of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s February announcement of a fifth term bid was an unprecedented nationwide protest that forced the 82-year-old to resign. 

Protesters continued with their weekly rallies, demanding the total dismantling of the military-dominated system that has ruled Algeria since independence in 1962.

Algeria’s presidential election to hold on Thursday amidst nationwide protest
An Algerian student holds a placard reading in Arabic, “student against the elections”, during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on December 9, 2019, ahead of the presidential vote scheduled for December 12. (Photo by RYAD KRAMDI / AFP)

The military high command which has wielded power from behind the scenes was forced to take a front-line role in government but refused to bow to pressures from protesters calling for reforms.

The regime has also refused to yield to demands to replace the constitution that served to legitimise Bouteflika’s grip on power.

Rather, the army pushed for an election to pick a replacement for Bouteflika, saying it is the only way to resolve the political crisis.

A previous poll set for July 4 was abandoned for lack of viable candidates and interim president Abdelkader Bensalah’s term technically ended five months ago.

A caretaker government, appointed by Bouteflika two days before he quit, remains in post, led by his longtime ally Noureddine Bedoui.

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Relief International says gunmen attacked office in north of South Sudan

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Gunmen attacked our office in north of South Sudan -Relief International
People gathered at Relief International premises in Sudan (Photo credit : https://www.ri.org/countries/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.”

Read: Fighting between South Sudanese government and NAS rebels near Juba

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.

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North Africa Politics

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

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Egypt ready to hold fresh talks with neighbouring countries on disputed Nile dam

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.

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