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North Africa Politics

Nabil Karoui arrested in Tunisia for money laundering

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Tunisian authorities arrested presidential candidate and media mogul, Nabil Karoui for alleged money laundering, his party said, hours after his channel was banned from covering campaigns.

“About 15 police cars blocked the road and rushed to Nabil Karoui’s car before armed civilian police asked him to come with them, saying they had instructions to arrest him,” said Oussama Khlifi of the mogul’s Qalb Tounes party.

Private radio station Mosaique FM quoted a judicial official Friday confirming that an arrest warrant had been issued against Karoui and his brother Ghazi for money laundering.

Authorities did not immediately confirm his arrest.

Tunisia has been seen as a rare success story among nations that underwent the Arab Spring uprisings, emerging as a nascent democracy.

Karoui was among 26 presidential candidates given preliminary approval this month to run in the election, set for September 15.  

The tycoon was charged with money laundering in early July shortly after stating his intention to stand in the polls, but has remained a leading candidate.

His apparent arrest came the same day as authorities announced a ban on three local outlets — including Karoui’s Nessma TV — from reporting on the election campaign, after they had broadcast “illegally” without licenses. 

Karoui has been accused by regulators and some politicians of using Nessma to bolster his political ambitions. 

The station, launched in 2007, has played up his charity work with footage of him handing out food and clothing. 

He was nearly removed from the race in June when parliament passed an amended electoral code that would bar any candidate who handed out “favours in cash or in kind” in the year before the vote.

But then-president Beji Caid Essebsi neither rejected nor enacted the bill, leaving the door open for Karoui to run.

The polls were brought forward from November, following Essebsi’s death last month.

Karoui had been an active supporter of Essebsi’s election in 2014 and has become the fiercest rival of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who is also running for president.

He formally stepped down from Nessma’s management after being criticised by international observers for his channel’s partisan conduct during the 2014 campaign, and officially joined Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes party in 2016.

But he subsequently made no secret of continuing to pull the strings at Nessma, while honing his political profile.   

Tunisia’s broadcasting authorities banned Nessma in October 2018, but it did not comply and remains on air.

The regulator accuses the channel of “positioning itself to influence government bodies”, and rebuked it for not having disclosed its shareholders — reportedly including Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi. 

Karoui has said he is being targeted by “attempts to undermine his growing popularity”.

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South Sudan Appoints Awut Deng Acuil as First Woman to Chair University Governing Council

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South Sudan has appointed Awut Deng Acuil to chair the governing council of the University of Bahr El-Ghazal.

Acuil, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation from August 2019 until March 2020 and the current Minister of General Education and Instructions, became the first woman to be appointed to chair the governing body of a university.

Her appointment was announced in a presidential decree read on the national broadcaster, the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation.

The university was established in 1991, when South Sudan was still part of Sudan. The country gained its independence in 2011

Acuil was also the first woman to serve as South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

She relinquished the post following the appointment of a unity government in February to end the conflict between rival groups in South Sudan.

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North Africa Politics

Italy Secretly Repatriating Undocumented Tunisians – Official

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Italy has continued the repatriation of undocumented Tunisians by secret flights that land at Enfidha-Hammamet International Airport, 100 kms south of Tunis, a security source in the Tunisian capital said on Saturday.

The Enfidha-Hammamet International Airport received flights on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday with between 20 and 40 young Tunisians expelled by the Italian authorities, the source said.

Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said recently that Italy has recorded an increase in the flow of migrants since the beginning of the year, reaching 32,000 people of whom 12,000, representing 38.7 percent, were of Tunisian nationality.

The minister had discussed with Tunisian President Kais Saeid the issue of illegal migration and forced repatriation of illegal migrants arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean.

On 10 August, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio, warned that “Tunisians arriving in Italy by boat will be repatriated at the rate of 80 weekly flights”.

Many civil society organisations in Tunisia have demanded the publication of the results of the negotiations between the Tunisian authorities and their Italian counterparts on the repatriation of Tunisians and the revision of the bilateral agreements on clandestine migration signed by the two governments.

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights, the Euro-Mediterranean Commission and the European Union have called for the humane treatment of migrants by providing them with protection instead of forced repatriation.

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Algerian Lawmakers Approve Death Penalty For Child Abductors

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Algeria’s National People’s Assembly (First Chamber of Parliament) has approved a new bill that provides the death penalty for child abductors.

The proposed new law provides harsher punishments for offenders convicted of crimes of abduction involving children.

The death penalty has not been formally abolished in Algeria but it has also not been implemented since 1993, and that was in a terrorism case.

The new bill has to go through a second reading in the Council of the Nation before it becomes law.

The draft law comes after Algeria witnessed an increase in incidents of kidnapping and killing of children and female minors.

Last weekend, Minister of Justice Belkacem Zaghmati hinted that discussions were underway regarding a draft law to combat crimes of child abduction.

Zaghmati said: “We can resume the death penalty [as stipulated by law]. Do not be surprised if this punishment is applied in the future if necessary,” adding that there is a discussion at the national and international levels between supporters and abolishers.

“Algeria is a sovereign state and it is free to apply the death penalty. There is no local or global objection to that,” in reference to pressure exerted by international human rights organisations to abolish capital punishment.

“Algeria has not signed or ratified any international agreement that prohibits the use of the death penalty. If necessary, the death penalty will be resumed,” the minister continued.

Algeria suspended the death penalty in 1993 due to local and international accusations that the authorities were using executions to take revenge on opponents.

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