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President Kais Saied Urges Restraint, 4 Days into Protests in Tunisia

The Tunisian President Kais Saied visited Ariana, a city near the capital Tunis, and asked people not to let others take advantage of their anger and poverty

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The Tunisian President has showed up at a rally where demonstrators were protesting and pleaded with them to put an end to the protests which are already in their fourth consecutive day against the worsening social and economic crisis in the country.

Blocking streets and setting barricades on fire on Monday, demonstrators clashed with police who responded by firing tear gas. The Protests have led to the looting of shops and protesters have thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at official buildings and businesses in some areas.

The Tunisian President Kais Saied visited Ariana, a city near the capital Tunis, and asked people not to let others take advantage of their anger and poverty.

“Through you, I want to speak to all the Tunisian people, I know the state of poverty and I also know who is exploiting your poverty.  Don’t let anyone exploit your misery, don’t attack private or public property. We live today because of moral values and not because of theft or looting,” Saied said to the crowd.

Angry about the high unemployment rate and the financial crisis in the North African nation, Tunisians have protested since Friday in Kasserine, Tunis and several other cities.

On Monday, demonstrators shouted: “Dissolve the parliament, dissolve the parliament.”

In some regions, the defence ministry deployed the army to protect private and public property. It said troops will conduct joint patrols with security forces in the regions of Siliana, Kasserine, Sousse and Bizerte, where police and protesters clashed.

Authorities made 630 arrests linked to the violence on Sunday alone, the interior ministry reported.

Amnesty International has called for restraint, citing footage showing officers beating and manhandling people they had detained. They have also demanded the immediate release of Hamza Nassri Jeridi, a rights activist arrested on Monday.

“Security forces must immediately refrain from using unnecessary and excessive force to disperse protesters in the capital and several governorates against marginalisation, police violence, poverty and lack of job opportunities,” it said.

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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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North Africa Politics

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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