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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 Welcomes Israeli Intelligence Minister, Eli Cohen, in a Historic First Visit

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The Israeli intelligence minister, Eli Cohen, has visited Sudan to discuss implementing last year’s bilateral agreement to normalise ties.

Cohen has become the first Israeli cabinet minister to visit Sudan.

An Israeli spokesperson said Cohen and the Sudanese defence minister, Lt Gen Yassin Ibrahim, signed a memorandum on diplomatic, security and economic issues.

Cohen led a delegation from his ministry and from the National Security Council. He also held talks with senior Sudanese officials, including Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council.

He also invited Sudanese leaders to visit Israel.

In a statement after his return to Israel, Cohen said he was confident his discussions had laid the foundation for bilateral co-operation and stability in the region.

His return to Israel was just in time before a week-long shutdown of the airport as part of efforts to control the spread of coronavirus variants into Israel.

Sudan earlier this month signed the “Abraham Accords” with the United States, paving the way for the African country to normalize ties with Israel.

The ‘Abraham Accords’ did not officially establish diplomatic ties between Khartoum and Jerusalem, a move that is expected to happen in the near future, at a yet-undetermined date.

Recent U.S.-negotiated deals between Arab and Muslim countries and Israel have been a major foreign policy achievement by former US president Donald Trump’s administration.

The deals were named the Abraham Accords after the biblical patriarch revered by Muslims and Jews.

Sudan’s economy has suffered from decades of U.S. sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since a 1989 terror-backed military coup.

The sanctions date back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted terrorists. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

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North Africa Politics

Tunisia’s Parliament Approves Cabinet Reshuffle Amid Protests

11 new ministers were named by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi who said he hoped it would inject new blood into his government.

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Tunisia’s parliament has confirmed a cabinet reshuffle amid growing unrest that deepened an existing conflict between the prime minister and the president, as hundreds protested outside the heavily barricaded parliament over social inequality and police abuses.

Water cannons were used by riot police on protesters outside the parliament, in an attempt to quell the largest rally since demonstrations began this month.

Protesters in their hundreds had marched from the Ettadhamen district of the capital, Tunis, where young people have clashed with police several nights this month, and hundreds more joined the protesters near the parliament.

11 new ministers were named by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi who said he hoped it would inject new blood into his government.

” Young people protesting outside parliament reminds us of our priorities. Their protests are legitimate and the government will listen to the angry youth,” he said.

Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi told the assembly that by naming 11 new ministers to the interior, which included justice, health and other key portfolios, he aimed to create a “more effective” reform team. 

However, President Kais Saied indicated on Monday that he would reject the cabinet reshuffle, largely condemning the absence of women among the new ministers and said there may be conflicts of interest among some of the new Cabinet members.

Last year, President Saied appointed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi but has taken issue with some of his moves. The president said he would not swear in any ministers suspected of corruption.

Riot police mounted barricades to prevent protesters approaching the parliament building where lawmakers were debating the government reshuffle.

The parliamentary session came a day after protesters clashed with police in the town of Sbeitla, in Tunisia’s marginalized center, following the death of a 20-year-old man who was hit by a tear gas canister last week. 

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Tunisia Cabinet Meet to Confirm Reshuffle as Tension Rises on Death of Protester

A group of young men tried to storm and torch the local police station after news of his death broke, TAP reported.

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A protester in Tunisia who got injured in recent clashes with police died on Monday night. The protester’s death occurred ahead of a Cabinet meeting which is focused on the previously announced reshuffle and the country’s ongoing political crisis.

Calls from activists, several political parties and the major trade unions have been made to thousands of followers to protest the death of the 20-year-old protester, Haykel Rachdi.

As MPs meet to vote on new ministers appointed in a sweeping Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, the protesters will also gather outside the Parliament.

While speaking to local media, Richard’s family said the 20-year-old was struck with a tear gas canister after he joined protests in his home town of Sbeitla that erupted this month on the anniversary of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.

The state news agency TAP, reports that The Public Prosecutor’s office in nearby Kasserine, which is about three hours south of the capital, has ordered a post-mortem to determine the cause of Rachdi’s death.

A group of young men tried to storm and torch the local police station after news of his death broke, TAP reported.

A joint statement by Tunisia’s civil society organisations said thousands are expected to gather on Tuesday, outside the Bardo Palace “in rejection of the government’s approach in dealing with popular protests in which hundreds of youths arrested.”

On Monday, President Kais Saied indicated he would oppose the cabinet reshuffle, a statement which was seen as a further blow to Mr Mechichi.

According to the president, the reshuffle would be unconstitutional on procedural grounds. He condemned the absence of women among the prospective new ministers and said some potential new Cabinet members may have conflicts of interest.

The North African country has been in a political deadlock since 2019 when two separate elections put President Kais Saied in office but left a deeply fragmented parliament where no party now holds more than a quarter of the seats.

After the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy gave parliament the main voice in forming a government, the constitution worked out but this doesn’t leave out the president as he still has a role to play in system of vetoes and approvals.

After the election early in 2020, it still took several months for a government to be formed, but it lasted only until the summer before falling in a scandal as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

The country’s economy which is already struggling, has been further weekend by the COVID-19 crisis.

Government efforts to enact longstanding change have also been further delayed by the political jostling among parties and prominent figures and these have accompanied each stage of the process.

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