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North Africa Politics

Tripoli airport recaptured by Libyan pro-unity government

The operation to retake the country’s largest civilian airport began Wednesday morning, with drones providing air cover, Mohamad Gnounou, spokesman for forces backing the Government of National Accord said in a statement.

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Mohamad Gnounou, spokesman for forces backing the Government of National Accord.

Armed forces backing Libya’s unity government have recaptured Tripoli international airport after heavy fighting with rival troops supporting strongman Khalifa Haftar, a spokesman announced Wednesday.

“Our forces have fully liberated Tripoli International Airport,” said Mohamad Gnounou, spokesman for forces backing the Government of National Accord in a statement.

The airport, in a strategic area on the capital’s southern edges, has been closed since 2014 and had been seized by pro-Haftar forces last year.

Forces loyal to the east Libyan strongman have been battling since April 2019 to seize Tripoli from the UN-recognised GNA, in fighting that has left hundreds dead and forced 200,000 to flee their homes.

Pro-GNA forces “are chasing Haftar’s militias, who are fleeing (southwards) towards Gasr Ben Gashir”, Gnounou said.

The operation to retake the country’s largest civilian airport began Wednesday morning, with drones providing air cover, Gnounou added.

For the past two weeks, pro-GNA forces have been carrying out large-scale ground and air attacks, surrounding the airport area before the final assault on Wednesday, he said.

Pro-Haftar forces have not commented on the setback, but the loss of the airport follows a string of defeats for Haftar in recent weeks, an AFP report said.

GNA forces buoyed by Turkish drones and air defence systems have taken back a string of coastal towns and a key airbase Haftar had used to launch attacks.

While the GNA is backed by Turkey, Haftar is supported by neighbouring Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as well as Russia.

Libya has been mired in conflict since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival administrations and scores of militias struggling for power.

North Africa Politics

Sudan’s Former PM, Sadiq al-Mahdi, Dies Of COVID-19

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Sudanese politician and former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi has died at the age of 84.

The octogenarian died from a coronavirus infection weeks after being hospitalized in the United Arab Emirates, according to family sources and a party statement early on Thursday.

Mahdi, 84, was Sudan’s last democratically elected prime minister and was overthrown in 1989 in the military coup that brought former president Omar al-Bashir to power. Mahdi’s Umma Party was one of the largest opposition parties under Bashir.

Last month, his family said he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was transferred to the UAE for treatment a few days later following a brief hospitalization in Sudan.

According to a statement by his party, Mahdi would be buried on Friday morning in the city of Omdurman in Sudan.

No successor has been named by the party but al-Mahdi’s daughter Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, who is the party’s deputy leader has been the most visible party leader in political negotiations and the media in recent years.

Leading Sudanese opposition figure Sadiq al Mahdi talks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 25, 2019.

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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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