Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Zimbabwe Celebrates Workers’ Day
 01 MAY, 2019 - 00:05 
Felex Share and Columbus Mabika

Zimbabwe today joins the rest of the world in commemorating Workers’ Day amid calls for all workers to unite and support Government initiatives that focus on the attainment of Vision 2030.

On their part, workers want Government to root out corruption and put in place measures that will end rent-seeking behaviour by retailers who are wantonly increasing prices of basic commodities.

Civil servants will converge at the Harare Gardens for their main celebrations while the country’s two main trade unions, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will commemorate the day in Beitbridge and at Dzivarasekwa Stadium respectively in Harare.

The day has lost its lustre in the past years, with few people attending commemorations due to the politicisation of trade unionism in the country.

Speaking ahead of the commemorations, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke said Government was working flat out to deal with price hikes and profiteering which have affected the majority of workers.

“Last week President Mnangagwa said the prices increase madness should stop forthwith and urged businesses to have a human face by desisting from the act,” he said.

“The new administration led by President Mnangagwa has made the welfare of workers its top priority and is also working to ensure better relations between the private sector and the Government. This is in recognition of the unique role that workers play in delivering Government policies.”

He said Government was committed to zero tolerance to corruption.

“As encapsulated in the Second Republic plans, we are irrevocably committed to the creation of an effective, efficient, highly skilled, merit-driven and integrity-based public service.

“Our goal is to build a public sector management driven by professionalism, projects performance and zero tolerance to corruption because, that is the only way we can entrench good governance in the polity and needless to say. We need the support and cooperation of the labour movement to make this goal a reality,” he said.

He commended Zimbabwean workers for their dedication to duty saying “through their belief, sacrifice and hard work, we have managed to make great strides as a State since our Independence in 1980.”

Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecelia Alexander said civil servants drive Government strategy and Vision 2030 will be achievable if the employer takes into account their concerns.

Mrs Cecelia Alexander

“Civil servants are major stakeholders as they drive Government strategy and implement Government policies,” she said.

“Our employer should then place importance of our welfare as we thrive to achieve Vision 2030 as a country.”

She said their salaries were being eroded by the ever escalating prices.

“We call upon the powers that be to make some interventions to alleviate the situation,” she said.

The Government workers will hold their celebrations under the theme: “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement”.

ZFTU secretary-general Mr Kennias Shamuyarira called on all workers to support President Mnangagwa’s vision of making Zimbabwe an upper middle income economy by 2030.

“I call upon all workers to fight corruption at all levels as we are targeting attaining vision 2030,” he said.

He said the commemorations would focus on issues that have affected workers over the period.

The union will hold its commemorations under the theme “Cartels and proxies of international monopoly capital, your time is up”.

ZCTU secretary-general Mr Japhet Moyo called on Government to end the price madness which has eroded the workers’ buying power.

“We call upon the Government to lament the present unjustified price hikes, a situation that has left citizens and workers finding it difficult to stay afloat economically,” he said.

Mr Moyo said they will also up their campaign for health and safety issues at the workplace.
Stellenbosch University Apologizes for Colored Women Study, Promises Investigation
2019-04-30 19:16
Kamva Somdyala
Stellenbosch University. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Stellenbosch University has apologised for trauma caused by a research article which assessed the cognitive function of a sample of 60 South African coloured women aged between 18 and 64.

The study found that the women presented with "low cognitive function and which is significantly influenced by education".

The highly-criticised study, titled Age- and education-related effects on cognitive functioning in coloured South African women was widely labelled racist and offensive since it was circulated on social media over the Easter weekend.

Initially, the university's deputy vice-chancellor for research, innovation and postgraduate studies, Professor Eugene Cloete, said the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the article were those of the authors alone.

At the time, Cloete also said that although the university acknowledged the importance of the "rigorous academic discussion and critical debate" following its publication, it was "concerned about the pain and anger" the article solicited within the academic community and broader society.

In an email sent to students and staff on Tuesday, Cloete said: "We apologise unconditionally for the pain and the anguish which resulted from this article. We also have empathy towards current and past staff members, our students and our alumni who have had to endure criticism for their association with our institution."

"The rectorate has therefore decided to request a thorough investigation into all aspects of this study, guided by the Stellenbosch University's Policy for Responsible Research Conduct, as well as the university's procedure for the investigation of allegations of breach of research norms and standards. Based on the outcome of this investigation, we will take corrective action, as required."

Cloete added that during the university's centenary year – which was in 2018 – they adopted a restitution statement acknowledging the university's role towards the injustices of the past. He said they would proceed with the investigation [of the breach of research norms of the article] and provide the outcome when it has been concluded.

The Psychological Society of South Africa's (PsySSA) Division for Research and Methodology (DRM) denounced the study saying it was "strongly opposed to the practice of misusing classification in scientific research and the consequent perpetuation of stigma, discrimination and racism within society" as exemplified by the study.
Ramaphosa Declares National Period of Mourning for South Africa Flood Victims
2019-04-30 20:43
Kamva Somdyala

Following the deadly floods that hit KwaZulu-Natal, large stretches of the coastline around Durban has been littered with plastic waste that was washed down the Umgeni River. Watch.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has instructed that the SA flag fly at half-mast at every station in the country from May 1 to 7 as a mark of respect and to observe seven days of mourning for those who lost their lives in floods that ravaged the country over the past week.

Durban and Port St Johns were rocked by heavy rains and flooding last week and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu announced on Monday that the estimated damage was R1.1bn so far.

Additionally, the eThekwini damage alone was estimated to be more than R685m.

Ramaphosa visited affected areas and communities in KZN last week, conveying his condolences to those who lost loved ones and assuring those who were displaced that the government would make relief funds available.

Durban residents try to rebuild after deadly S.Africa floods

Families in Durban are trying to rebuild after a storm in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province killed around 70 and displaced 1,000 more. Government and local NGOs are trying to provide affected families with shelter and food until they get back ...

"The president has expressed the profound appreciation of the government and people of South Africa for the messages of support received from governments around the world in relation to the recent floods," spokesperson Khusela Diko said in a statement.

Addressing the media on Monday, Mchunu said the death toll for the floods had reached 70 in the metro after the body of a young man was recovered in eTshelimnyama near Mariannhill.

Day of prayer and mourning

A total of 1 469 people were displaced and they had to be housed temporarily in community halls or by their neighbours or relatives. More than 50 people were injured and had to be treated in hospital.

A provincial day of prayer and mourning to show solidarity with the bereaved families and to pray for people who died is expected to be held at the Curries Fountain Sports Field in Durban on Thursday.

Mchunu said the provincial executive had resolved to classify the province a disaster area "because the province alone cannot cope with these incidents".

"The provincial executive has also resolved that relevant stakeholders must ensure infrastructure that will be utilised for elections is restored to normalcy without further delays," he added.

Mchunu also revealed that a task team had been appointed to co-ordinate all support, which included burials.

The eThekwini metro has also set up a dedicated support desk at the eThekwini Disaster Management Centre for all the bereaved families.

The support desk has a hotline that can be reached at 031 367 0094.
Fuel Prices Up, South Africans Up In Arms Again
29 April 2019 - 12:38
 Image: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

There's more frustration in store for South African motorists when fuel prices increase on Wednesday.

The department of energy said on Sunday the price of petrol will go up 54c a litre, attributing the increase to domestic and international factors.

The price of diesel with 0.05% sulphur will increase by 1c a litre. Paraffin will go up by 3c a litre (wholesale price) with the national retail price rising by 4c a litre.

In early April, the inland petrol price went up R1.34 a litre for 93 octane unleaded, and R1.31 for 95 unleaded. At the coast, 93 unleaded went up by R1.29 and 95 unleaded by R1.26. Diesel also went up 76c per litre at the coast and 81c inland.

Motorists took to social media after the latest price announcement, with some  contemplating other modes of transportation.
Cyclone Death Toll Jumps; Comoros Struggles to Restore Power
APR 29, 2019 | 7:00 AM

Residents push a car through the floodwater in Mazive, southern Mozambique. Heavy rains from a powerful cyclone lashed northern Mozambique, just weeks after the country suffered one of the worst storms in its history. (Emidio Josine / AFP/Getty Images)

The death toll from tropical Cyclone Kenneth increased to 42 as the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros struggled to restore power and torrential rains caused flooding in Mozambique.

At least 182 people were injured by the hurricane-strength storm that swept across the two nations last week, the United Nations humanitarian office said in an emailed statement. Four people died in Comoros, it said, while Mozambique’s disaster agency said the death toll in its country stood at 38.

Kenneth was the second cyclone to hit Mozambique in two months, after a storm in March left more than 1,000 people dead in the southern African nation, along with deaths in neighboring Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Most of Comoros’ inhabitants have been without power since Kenneth damaged the country’s electricity grid last week, “leaving the majority of people without power and impacting access to healthcare,” the U.N. said.

About 63% of the nation’s food crops have been wiped out, along with a “significant” loss of livestock, the agency said.

The authorities in Comoros reconnected power to about 70% of consumers in the capital, Moroni, while there is a blackout in the rest of Grande Comore island and workers will need at least another week to fully restore power, Fayssoil Moussa, spokesman for the state power company Sonelec, said in a phone interview. On Anjouan, the second-biggest island, only the capital Mutsamadu has power, he said.

Damage in Mozambique includes the destruction of at least 35,100 houses, the U.N. said.
Mozambique Cyclone: Humanitarian Situation is 'Life-threatening'
30 April 2019
BBC World Service

Pemba, the regional capital, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding
Mozambique requires urgent life-saving relief to deal with the destructive aftermath of Cyclone Kenneth, an aid organisation has said.

Save the Children says the humanitarian situation is significant and life-threatening and more funds are needed.

The UN gave Mozambique and Comoros Island $13m (£10m) for food, water and repair of infrastructure.

The death toll in cyclone-hit northern Mozambique is 38, but is expected to rise, officials say.

Meanwhile aid workers are scrambling to reach the areas that were worse hit by the cyclone.

The storm struck the southern African nation last week with winds of 220km/h (140mph), flattening villages and damaging thousands more homes.

It lost its strength, but torrential rain was still battering the area on Tuesday, with more expected.

As a result, aid efforts by air have been hindered.

It is predicted the weather system will dump twice as much rainfall as Cyclone Idai, which struck last month, leaving more than 900 dead across southern Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The flood risk was compounded by Kenneth hitting at the end of the rainy season when river levels were already high, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha) noted.

Already, Pemba, the regional capital of Cabo Delgado state, has experienced more than 2m (6.5ft) of rain and flooding.

What's the latest?

Aid workers have been trying to deliver medical and food supplies to people cut off by the flood waters before more rain falls on Tuesday.

Nicholas Finney, Save the Children's response team leader, says that poor people in the region have been hardest hit.

"Those who were already living on the brink of poverty have now been left with nothing. With donations dwindling, we're facing a critical situation," he said.

According to Mozambique's National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), 38 people have been killed by Cyclone Kenneth, while another 35,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged.

The privately-owned O Pais website reported five people died after part of a rubbish dump collapsed onto homes in Pemba on Sunday evening. It is unclear if these deaths are recorded in the government total.

Ocha says humanitarian needs "have sky-rocketed, and the humanitarian response will need to rapidly scale up".

Some 200,000 people are in danger in Pemba alone, Ocha warned. Spokesman Saviano Abreu added that the situation in the northern towns of Macomia and Quissanga was critical, while there were also worries for the cut-off island of Ibo.

But attempts to reach those areas had not been entirely successful.

"We managed to send one flight with World Food Programme (WFP) supplies of rice and biscuits, and some non-food items," Mr Abreu told news agency AFP.

"But unfortunately the weather conditions are changing too fast and threatening the operation. It's raining again and the second flight couldn't go."

This satellite image shows the cyclone over northern Mozambique and Tanzania on Friday night.

On Sunday a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was appealing for "additional resources" from the international community "to fund the response in the immediate, medium and longer term".

Is it common for two cyclones to hit back-to-back?

Tropical cyclones in this part of the Indian Ocean are not that rare.

However, according to the BBC's Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath, Cyclone Idai was the seventh such major storm of the Indian Ocean season when it struck back in March. That is more than double the average for the time of year.

What's even more unusual, however, is the fact Idai and Kenneth hit in such quick succession.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), "there is no record of two storms of such intensity striking Mozambique in the same season".

It is especially unusual in the context of the trend which has seen tropical cyclones in the region decrease slightly over the past seven decades.

But it is far too early - and too small a sample size - to say whether this frequency is a direct result of climate change. Instead, experts point to other elements making the storm's impact worse which they know are related to climate change.

"There is absolutely no doubt that when there is a tropical cyclone like this, then because of climate change the rainfall intensities are higher," Dr Friederike Otto, from the University of Oxford, told the BBC in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai.

"And also because of sea-level rise, the resulting flooding is more intense than it would be without human-induced climate change."

What is the affected area like?

Cabo Delgado province is not as densely populated as the area hit by Cyclone Idai, and there is apparently more high ground there.

That, in addition to warnings by authorities ahead of the storm, could significantly stem losses compared with Cyclone Idai.

Media captionSarah Keith-Lucas presents an update on the impact from Cyclone Kenneth
But reports said many thousands of homes had been flattened by the winds, and the area has been hit by militant Islamist violence in recent months, which could complicate humanitarian operations.

Thousands of people had already fled their homes to seek shelter from violence in camps for displaced people.
Cyclone Kenneth: 'Relentless Rain' Hampers Mozambique Relief Effort
Around 35,000 homes have been destroyed by the storm, the second natural disaster in the African country in the last six weeks.

By John Sparks, Africa correspondent
Tuesday 30 April 2019 21:52, UK

Mozambique hit by a period of extreme weather

Extreme weather is lingering over Mozambique, bringing misery and frustration to the population.

In the city of Pemba, the rain is absolutely relentless.

Wherever we drove and walked and waded, we were accompanied by the slow-moving weather system that has thrown a saturated blanket across northern Mozambique.

This mighty storm has turned city streets into torrents, and streams into Olympic-sized swimming pools and the urban floodwater has proven perilous for those who live here.

The number of dead stands at 41, with bodies being dragged from mudslides and the rubble of collapsed buildings - and the number of fatalities is expected to rise.

The government thinks 160,000 people have been affected, with many here struggling to get by without food, shelter and clean water.

Members of a number of aid agencies told us they were also struggling - stretched by what is the second natural disaster to hammer this country in the past six weeks and grappling with the rain.

Organisations like the World Food Programme (WFP) cannot run its helicopters in this weather.

They cannot reach people like the residents of Ibo island, who have been denied basic necessities since Cyclone Kenneth hit the coast last Thursday.

Aid agencies say they are struggling to reach people in remote areas

The WFP's spokesperson Deborah Nguyen said: "It is very frustrating because we have everything ready.

"We know that people need this food and we cannot bring it, so it is very frustrating for us."

We trudged into a low-lying neighbourhood called Titi, alongside a creek which used to be the community's main street.

The unofficial waterway has been created by five days of torrential rain.

It was clear to us that everybody in Titi has suffered with one resident claiming he was the victim of an urban tsunami.

"It was really devastating rain," said Jacinto Mateus.

"It flattened the wall of the stadium and then the water flowed down here. It has destroyed so many houses in our neighbourhood."

First, Cyclone Kenneth took the roofs off the dwellings in this neighbourhood.

Then the floodwaters worked their way into the walls and the battered buildings we witnessed make up just a few of the 35,000 partially or fully destroyed homes across the province.

The government has advised people in Titi to move to higher ground, but we discovered that residents were looking for something else from leaders.

A man called Ayuba Mukape told me: "What is happening here is that we are not receiving any aid, nothing, at least nothing in this neighbourhood.

"No one from the authorities or the community leaders have come here to see us. We are on our own."

The people of Titi are feeling angry and uncomfortable in the knowledge that normality in their community has been swept away.
'Incredibly Difficult' for Aid Workers to Reach Mozambique Cyclone Survivors
This is the first time two cyclones have struck the southern African nation in a single season, just six weeks apart.

Damage in the Macomia district following Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique on April 27, 2019.Saviano Abreu / AFP - Getty Images

April 30, 2019, 12:49 PM EDT
By Associated Press

PEMBA, Mozambique — Rains were still pounding parts of northern Mozambique on Tuesday, several days after Cyclone Kenneth, while the United Nations said aid workers faced "an incredibly difficult situation" in reaching thousands of survivors. At least 38 people are dead, the government said.

U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman Gemma Connell said bad weather kept badly needed supplies from arriving in the coastal city of Pemba on Monday. This will be a challenge in the rainy days ahead, she told The Associated Press.

The government again urged Pemba residents to flee to higher ground as flooding continued. More than 22 inches of rain have fallen in Pemba since Kenneth made landfall last Thursday, just six weeks after Cyclone Idai tore into central Mozambique.

This is the first time two cyclones have struck the southern African nation in a single season, and Kenneth was the first cyclone recorded so far north in Mozambique in the modern era of satellite imaging.

Up to 3 inches of rain were forecast over the next 24 hours, and rivers in the region were expected to reach flood peak by Thursday, the U.N. Humanitarian Office said, citing a UK aid analysis. It is the end of the rainy season and rivers were already high.

Scores of thousands of people in the Macomia and Quissanga districts north of Pemba and on Ibo Island need food and shelter. About 35,000 buildings and homes were partly or fully destroyed, the government said. At least three bridges had collapsed, stranding some communities.

"These people lost everything," Connell said. "It is critical that we get them the food that they need to survive." Women and children have been the hardest hit "without the basics that they need to get by," especially shelter, she said.

A lull in the rain on Tuesday allowed a first flight to leave for Quissanga with food and health supplies, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) told reporters in Geneva.

A frustrated Mueller told AG Barr his short summary of the special counsel report caused confusion
The cyclone will affect the region for months to come after wreaking havoc on the key livelihoods of fishing and agriculture in the largely rural region, the WFP said. Some 76,600 acres of crops were lost at the peak of the harvest season.

"The area is already very vulnerable to food insecurity," said UN spokesman Herve Verhoosel. Mozambique's northernmost Cabo Delgado province has the country's second-highest rate of chronic malnutrition at 53%, WFP said.

Authorities were preparing for a possible cholera outbreak as some wells were contaminated and safe drinking water became a growing concern.

With the pair of deadly cyclones — Idai killed more than 600 people last month — Mozambique is "a very complex humanitarian situation," Connell said. Only a quarter of the funding needed for Idai relief efforts has come in while funding for Kenneth has been slow.

"This is a new crisis," she said. "We are having to stretch across the two operations. That is a basic reality we are dealing with every day."
Algeria's Ruling FLN Party Elects New Leader
Fifty-year-old businessman Mohamed Djemai replaces Moad Bouchareb, state television reports.

Djemai (right) is a relatively youthful figure atop the FLN, most of whose senior officials are in their 70s [Ramzi Boudina/Reuters]

Algeria's ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party has elected a new leader, according to state media, a month after former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika quit in the face of mass protests over his bid for a fifth term in office.

Mohamed Djemai, a 50-year-old businessman, was named as the new head of the FLN on Tuesday, state television reported.

Djemai is a relatively youthful figure atop the FLN, most of whose senior officials are in their 70s and have dominated Algeria's politics since independence from France in 1962.

He replaced Moad Bouchareb, who like other associates of the ailing, 82-year-old Bouteflika stepped down when he did on April 2.

Bouteflika's exit failed to placate protesters, however, who have continued to take to the streets to call for a complete political overhaul and a crackdown on corruption.

Until presidential elections on July 4, Algeria will be run by Bouteflika-loyalist and caretaker president Abdelkader Bensalah, though he has also faced demands to resign.

'The judiciary has been freed'

Earlier on Tuesday, the army chief of staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaed Salah - who helped push out Bouteflika after having him declared unfit for office - said several big corruption cases would be brought forward as part of a major crackdown, private Ennahar TV reported.

"The judiciary has been freed from all pressures," Salah said in a speech at a base in the eastern city of Constantine. "The country will be cleansed of corruption and corrupt people."

A number of figures from the ruling political elite, including the finance minister, ex-prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia and several oligarchs, have come under investigation in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Ouyahia appeared before a court to answer questions relating to a corruption probe implicating several associates of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, local media reported.

Footage of Ouyahia, who served as Algeria's prime minister four times, entering the court in central Algiers was broadcast by several private television stations.

Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal was questioned a day earlier at the same court over the misuse of public funds.

Meanwhile, a court in Tipaza, a town roughly 80km west of Algiers, questioned former police chief Abdelghani Hamel as part of a judicial inquiry into alleged bribery.

Billionaires arrested

The moves came after five billionaires were arrested on April 22 on charges ranging from illegally transferring large sums of money internationally to exploiting their proximity to the former head of state to win lucrative state contracts.

They include: Issad Rebrab, who is considered Algeria's richest man, Ali Haddad, who was stopped at a border checkpoint as he tried to cross into neighbouring Tunisia, and the Kouninef brothers.

Amel Boubekeur, a research fellow at the Paris-based School for Advanced Studies, said the reason behind the anti-corruption drive was likely an attempt by Gaid Salah to settle old scores.

"The army and secret services have always used anti-corruption campaigns as a warning to Bouteflika's clients when it was sensed that they became too influential," Boubekeur said.

"In the last 10 years, we had the Chakib Khelil affairs, named after the ex-energy minister, we had the corruption investigation looking into the east-west highway construction ... These never led to any arrests or new clean practices within the regime's ranks."
Algeria’s Army Moves From Arbiter to Central Player in Politics
Ghada Hamrouche
April 30, 2019

The protests have thrust Algeria’s behind-the-scenes kingmaker into an unwelcome limelight.
 REUTERS/Ramzi BoudinaAlgerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (2nd R) and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah (R) attend a June 27, 2012, graduation ceremony of the 40th class of trainee army officers at a military academy in Cherchell, Algeria. Bouteflika resigned April 2; Gaid Salah is currently the country's strongman.

The Algerian army, heir to the national liberation army that fought colonial France, has been at the heart of the country’s political system ever since independence in 1962. Today that arrangement may have reached its limit. The popular revolt that began Feb. 22 is forcing the armed forces to confront their contradictory role as both a key participant and arbiter of government.

The military’s original foray into Algerian politics began with its support for Ahmed Ben Bella as premier in 1962 (Ben Bella was elected Algeria’s first president a year later). In 1965, Col. Houari Boumedienne, the army chief, captured the presidency for himself following a military coup. Since then, directly or indirectly, the army has been making and unmaking nominally civilian governments while guiding the country’s political life.

Engaged in a brutal fight against Islamists in the 1990s, the army sponsored Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s rise to power in 1999. Overexposed during the years of civil war, the military was happy to give Bouteflika free rein and reclaim its behind-the-scenes role as kingmaker.

The scheming Bouteflika in turn adeptly played rival army chiefs off of one another. In 2004, during Bouteflika's first reelection campaign, Gen. Mohamed Lamari, the army chief of staff who opposed Bouteflika and discreetly backed presidential rival Ali Benflis, resigned. Fellow generals — notably the head of the intelligence and security service Mohamed Mediene, commonly known as Gen. Toufik — continued to support Bouteflika, including during constitutional changes that opened the way for presidency for life in 2008.

Things began to get more complicated starting in 2010 as Mediene’s agency investigated corruption, leading to a shakeup of the Sonatrach national oil corporation and allegations against Bouteflika's personal friend, the powerful Energy Minister Chakib Khelil. The January 2013 terrorist attack against the Tigantourine natural gas field near In Amenas gave Bouteflika ammunition to weaken Mediene and strengthen Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah, the army chief of staff and vice minister of defense. Mediene was evicted and his intelligence service restructured in 2015.

When street protests first broke out against Bouteflika on Feb. 22, Gaid Salah was fully behind the ailing 82-year-old’s bid for a fifth term. The general's first reaction was to denounce the “questionable calls” pushing “lost” Algerians toward “perilous” paths. As the protests took on a national dimension, Gaid Salah as recently as March 5 was accusing “certain parties” of seeking to bring back the “years of embers and pain.” The next day, he insisted that he remained “resolutely determined” to hold presidential elections as scheduled for the following month.

It was only on March 10, two days after massive nationwide protests, that the army chief began to drop his threatening tone. On March 18, Gaid Salah began to talk about possible “solutions” to the political upheaval, opening the door to a potential compromise.

With Bouteflika’s regime crumbling, the army found itself back in the spotlight. Under pressure from the street, Gaid Salah pushed the president to step down and obtained the resignation sought by so many Algerians on April 2. Since then, the general has been the public figure who speaks for the government and seeks to set its course.

However, Gaid Salah remains wedded to a political transition as contemplated under the constitution, which calls for elections within 90 days (they have been scheduled for July 4). The popular protest movement, however, rejects this approach, insisting that the old guard cannot be trusted to honestly organize the passage to a new regime in which the people rule.

This arm’s length discussion of sorts between the army chief and the popular movement has been growing ever more tense. Gaid Salah addresses the nation on Tuesdays; the public answers on Fridays with massive street protests. As the strongman of the moment, Gaid Salah embodies the regime. But the Algerian people expect him — and the army he leads — to support a real transition to democracy.

Even as he sends mixed messages outward, Gaid Salah is waging a parallel battle inside the regime against a purported network of pro-Mediene plotters suspected of seeking to undermine Gaid Salah's plans. He has publicly accused them of “plotting” and of frustrating efforts to end the crisis.

As such, intelligence services that used to answer to the president are now under the general staff’s thumb. Gaid Salah has put trusted men in charge, so-called “administrative generals” with no experience serving this black box of the Algerian system.

Gen. Rezzig Boura, the former chief of the General Directorate for Internal Security, is but the latest to step down, replaced by Gen. Wassini Bouazza. His resignation was preceded by that of the external security chief, Ali Bendaoud, and the departure of powerful Maj. Gen. Athmane Tartag, whom Bouteflika had put in charge of coordinating the security services.

But is Mediene really as powerful as Gaid Salah suggests? Many Algerians remain skeptical, even if his reappearance on the political scene for last-minute negotiations on the eve of Bouteflika’s departure has renewed questions about the power of the intelligence services’ supposed influence networks.

Gaid Salah also appears to be torn about imposing new elections in the face of massive public opposition. While his official discourse is not in favor of popular demands. the army seems undecided between trying to save a dying regime and opening up to the public’s democratic aspirations.

The protest movement is asking the fundamental question: Will the army, which has de facto assumed the power to install and remove from office the country’s leaders ever since independence, now hand that power over to the people?

When Gaid Salah invokes Article 102 of the Algerian Constitution, which charts the path for a political transition, the street answers with references to Article 7, which invokes the sovereignty of the people. This is the chasm the army must now try to bridge in its face to face with Algerians. It will require a true cultural revolution on the part of army leaders to accompany the democratic revolution of the Algerian people.


Ghada Hamrouche is an Algerian journalist. She has worked for several media outlets, including Le siècle, Le Matin and La Tribune, and has been working for HuffPost Algeria since 2014. On Twitter: @GhadaHamrouche

Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/04/algeria-protests-bouteflika-army-arbiter-central-player.html#ixzz5mdFpP6wc
Venezuelan Government Confronting Small Group of Coup-seeking ‘Military Traitors’: Minister
Tue Apr 30, 2019 06:36PM

Handout picture released by the Venezuelan presidency showing Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro delivering a speech to troops at the Naval Base of Turiamo, Aragua State, in Venezuela, on February 3, 2019. (via AFP)

Venezuela’s Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez says the government is confronting a small group of “military traitors” who are seeking to promote a coup against President Nicolas Maduro.

“We are currently facing and deactivating a small group of treacherous military personnel who took positions in the Altamira distributor road (in Caracas) to promote a coup d'etat,” said Rodriguez in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

Venezuela has been in political turmoil since US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido declared himself “interim president” late in January.

The administration of US President Donald Trump, which immediately recognized Guaido’s self-proclamation, has since been mounting economic pressure on Caracas and has repeatedly threatened to use military force to topple Maduro’s government.

Washington has also confiscated Venezuela’s US-based oil assets in an attempt to channel revenue from them to Guaido.

Rodriguez’s tweet came a few hours after 35-year-old Guaido, standing near the La Carlota air force base in capital Caracas surrounded by a group of some 70 armed men in uniform, called for military units to support him in the “final phase” of a plan to end Maduro's “usurpation” of power.

Guaido claimed that government troops “answered our call” in coming under his command to oust the incumbent president.

Rodriguez, however, vowed that the government would put down US-backed Guaido’s attempted coup, calling on the Venezuelans to be on full alert.

“We call on the people to remain on maximum alert to -- with our glorious National Bolivarian Armed Forces -- defeat the attempted coup and preserve peace,” he said.

Separately, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, in a series of tweets, stressed that that the National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela remained “firmly in defense” of the “legitimate” government of President Maduro.

Padrino emphasized that all military units across the South American country had reported “normality” in their barracks and military bases.

‘Total loyalty’ to Maduro

President Maduro also tweeted on Tuesday, saying that he had spoken with the army leaders and they had shown him “their total loyalty.”

“Nerves of steel! I call for maximum popular mobilization to assure the victory of peace. We will win!” he added.

‘Directly planned in Washington’

In a phone interview with Reuters, Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that what had happened earlier in the day was not a coup within the Venezuelan military but something planned by the US authorities against Caracas.

“It is not a coup attempt from the military. This is directly planned in Washington, in the Pentagon and Department of State, and by (US National Security Adviser John) Bolton,” he said.

Arreaza also insisted that the American authorities “are leading this coup and giving orders to this man, Guaido”, reiterating that President Maduro was still in full control of the country with the support of the military.

He also said that what happened on Tuesday was another “chapter” attempted coup led by Washington and the US-backed opposition, vowing that the government would respond to curb the violence and restore order.

US supports coup bid

Later on Tuesday, Bolton appeared to be supporting Guaido’s so-called coup bid, calling on the Venezuela’s armed forces to “protect” the people, to “stand” by opposition leader, and to work against the Maduro’s administration. “The United States stands with the people of Venezuela,” he added.

Furthermore, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, for his part, echoed what Bolton had said, stressing that Washington supports the move against Maduro.

“Today interim President Juan Guaido announced start of Operación Libertad. The US government fully supports the Venezuelan people in their quest for freedom and democracy,” he said in a Twitter post.

Political Commentator Jamal Wakim says the US has always backed militias and criminals around the World to topple legitimate governments like that of Venezuela.
Shooting at Guaido rally

Reuters, citing its witnesses, reported that gunshots were heard in La Carlota air force base, where Guaido had gathered a group of armed men in uniforms.

The report said that soldiers loyal to Guaido were exchanging fire with troopers acting in support of Maduro, adding that the shots appeared to be live rounds.

Reports said that one government soldier sustained injuries in the clashes.

Maduro has repeatedly accused Washington of openly pushing for a coup in the oil-rich Latin American country by confiscating its state oil assets based in the US and channeling them to Guaido.

Caracas has accused Washington of waging an economic war, which has led to hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine in Venezuela.

‘Savage opposition’

Defense Minister Padrino also appeared on national television and said the coup attempt had been “partly defeated” but warned of possible bloodshed.

“The weapons of the republic are here to defend the nation's sovereignty and independence,” he vowed, condemning “this new aggression” by the US-backed opposition and calling it “a savage opposition.”

“It’s an opposition that doesn't have a sense of patriotism, it's an anti-democratic opposition,” Padrino added.

International reaction

Following the clashes between supporters of Guaido and Venezuelan government security forces, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “violence” could not be a solution to political disagreements in Venezuela.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic was closely following the developments in the South American country, stressing that “chaos and violence can, by no means, be a solution to political differences” in the country.

“The best solution can be created by the forces committed to the development and prosperity of Venezuela, under the direction of Venezuela's legitimate government, through establishing dialogue and necessary mechanisms between all parties in order to solve the problems of the people,” he added.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry also called on “the radical opposition” in Venezuela to stand down and “refrain from violence.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ministry said it was “important to avoid unrest and bloodshed”, stressing that and the country’s problems “should be resolved through a responsible process of negotiation without preconditions.”

Russia, a close ally of Venezuela, also called on the Guaido-led opposition to avoid “destructive interference from abroad.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, denounced a “coup attempt” in Venezuela.

“As a country which fought against coups and experienced the negative consequences caused by coups, we condemn the coup attempt in Venezuela,” he said in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

“The entire world must respect the people's democratic preferences in Venezuela,” Erdogan added, stressing that the only way for the country to be governed “is through democratic elections.”

Back in mid-July 2016, a faction in Turkey’s military launched a coup to topple Erdogan, but in a matter of a day it was successfully put down by the government forces.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for “maximum restraint” in Venezuela to avoid violence, a UN spokesman quoted him as saying.

“The secretary general urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint and he appeals to all stakeholders to avoid any violence and take immediate steps to restore calm,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a press conference, adding that the UN chief was ready to mediate if both sides requested his help.
Coup Fizzles? Guaido’s Mentor Takes Refuge in Chilean Embassy as 25 Military Seek Asylum in Brazil’s
30 Apr, 2019 22:01

Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez has sought refuge in Chile’s embassy in Caracas, while at least 25 pro-Juan Guaido troops asked Brazil for refuge. The news all but points to the failure of the US-backed coup attempt.

Lopez had been under house arrest since 2017, but was seen at the side of Guaido – who had declared himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January – on Tuesday morning, as supporters of the US-backed opposition sought to take control of Caracas by force. At least 50 people were injured and 11 arrested during the unrest on Tuesday.

By the afternoon, however, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero tweeted that Lopez, his wife Lilian Tintori, and their daughter were “guests” of the Chilean diplomatic mission in Caracas, adding that “Chile reaffirms commitment to Venezuelan democrats.”

Meanwhile, at least 25 armed Guaido supporters have sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Caracas, Brazilian media reported. There were no officers among them, according to reports.

The flight of Lopez and his family suggests that Guaido’s effort to win over the Venezuelan military and police – with verbal support from Washington – may have failed, as the majority of the security forces apparently remained loyal to President Nicolas Maduro.

Lopez founded Voluntad Popular, the party Guaido represents in the National Assembly. The legislative body was last elected in 2015, and Maduro’s government considers it defunct following the 2017 Constituent Assembly election.

During the 2014 protests in Venezuela, Lopez was arrested and charged with arson, conspiracy, murder and terrorism. Some of the charges were dropped, but he was found guilty of inciting violence in September 2015 and sentenced to almost 14 years in prison. He was placed under house arrest in July 2017, until he reappeared in public on Tuesday morning.
Venezuelan Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez Is in Chile Embassy
Published 30 April 2019

Leopoldo Lopez broke his house arrest Tuesday morning as part of the attempted coup by his ally Juan Guaido.

Leopoldo Lopez requested protection this Tuesday afternoon as a guest at the Chilean diplomatic mission in Caracas, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero confirmed through his Twitter account.

"Lilian Tintori and her daughter entered as guests to the residence of our diplomatic mission in Caracas. A few minutes ago his spouse, Leopoldo López, who stayed with his family in that place, joined him. Chile reaffirms commitment to Venezuelan Democrats,"  Ampuero said in a tweet.

In 2017, Lopez was moved to house arrest, yet during Tuesday’s attempted coup the opposition leader was illegally freed and was seen at Altimira highway meeting with opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido and the 30-40 soldiers that defected.

Regarding this latest update, U.N. Ambassador Samuel Moncada said that “those gentlemen have been defeated, but that defeat will have consequences in many parts of that fictitious government."

Meanwhile, teleSUR correspondent in Brazil received confirmation from the Brazilian foreign ministry that 25 soldiers that have asked protection in the Brazilian embassy in Caracas.
US Publicly Admits Support for Coup Attempt in Venezuela
30 April 2019

One of the first to ratify support for the coup was U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, tweeting 30 messages expressing his desire to see President Maduro deposed.

International law seems to matter little to the United States (U.S.) government as they once again have publicly expressed support for a coup attempt against the constitutional and democratically elected government of Venezuela.

One of the first to ratify his support for the destabilizing attempt was U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who as news of an attempted coup reached the world early Tuesday morning, has tweeted 30 messages vehemently expressing his desire to see President Nicolas Maduro deposed.

Venezuelan state officials responded, denouncing the comments of foreigner government leaders. 

Vice President of Venezuela Delcy Rodriguez tweeted Tuesday: “In a shameless and immoral way, the U.S. government recognizes its authorship in this criminal attempt of a coup in Venezuela! They show the world their desire to destroy our Homeland!”

Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez reported that a group of about 50 soldiers located in the Altamira highway, in eastern Caracas, to promote a coup supporting the far-right’s agenda.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stressed that his government “fully supports” what both the far-right and the U.S. have dubbed as “Operation Liberty.” Vice President Mike Pence and Senator Rick Scott (R) have also shown how invested the U.S. is to the destablization of the South American nation.

“What is the point of having international law, what is the point to having the United Nations,” international analyst Marcus Papadopoulos told teleSUR after questioning the role of the U.S. powering an illegal coup attempt. 

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced these U.S. initiatives, especially that issued by Pompeo, saying that he “makes a spectacle of diplomacy, by promoting and financing a violent coup in Venezuela. Washington's obsession with controlling Venezuela's oil wealth leads them to clumsiness”.

The government voices from the U.S. keep piling on. Dick Durbin, the Democratic whip in the Senate has also supported the attempt as well as National Security Affairs (NSA) Director, John Bolton. While the White House said that Donald Trump was being kept informed about events in Venezuela as they unfolded, no statement has been provided yet. As the situation unfolds, the “usual suspects” show their clear standing. 
Blackwater Founder Lobbying for Mercenaries in Venezuela to Oust Maduro: Report
30 April 2019

Founder of the private security firm Blackwater wants to send hired mercenaries to Venezuela and topple the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security firm Blackwater and a prominent supporter of United States President Donald Trump, has been pushing for a plan to deploy a private army to help topple Venezuela’s legitimately elected President Nicolas Maduro according to a report by Reuters.

Over the last few months Prince has met several influential Trump supporters and wealthy Venezuelans living abroad to seek investment for the said operations.

In private meetings in the United States and Europe, Prince sketched out a plan to field up to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire on behalf of Venezuelan opposition lawmaker, Juan Guaido, the illegally self-proclaimed “interim president.”

According to an unnamed source, Prince had conducted meetings as recently as mid-April.

Guaido’s spokesperson Edward Rodriguez said that the Venezuelan opposition has not discussed such operations with Prince.

The two sources with direct knowledge of Prince’s pitch said it calls for starting with intelligence operations and later deploying 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers-for-hire from Colombia and other Latin American nations to conduct combat and stabilization operations.

He is reportedly seeking US$40 million from private investors to hire soldiers which would be made up of “Peruvians, Ecuadoreans, Colombians, Spanish speakers.”

Some U.S. and Venezuelan security experts told of the plan by Reuters, called it politically far-fetched and potentially dangerous because it could set off a civil war.

A Venezuelan close to the opposition said that private contractors might be useful for providing security for a new administration if Maduro’s government is ousted by the opposition.

The report came just a day before the opposition led by Guaido initiated a plan called "Operation Liberty" in an effort to carry out a coup against the government of Nicolas Maduro with the help of the U.S. Donald Trump administration.

A spokesman for Prince, Marc Cohen, said this month that Prince “has no plans to operate or implement an operation in Venezuela” and declined to answer further questions.

“He does have a solution for Venezuela, just as he has a solution for many other places,” said Lital Leshem, director of investor relations at Prince’s private equity firm, Frontier Resource Group.

Prince was a pioneer in private military contracting during the Iraq war when the U.S. government hired Blackwater primarily to provide security for State Department operations there.

In 2007, Blackwater employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians at Nisour Square in Baghdad, sparking international outrage. One of the Blackwater employees involved was convicted of murder in December and three others have been convicted of manslaughter.

Prince renamed the Blackwater security company and sold it in 2010, but he recently opened a company called Blackwater USA, which sells ammunition, silencers, and knives. Over the past two years, he has led an unsuccessful campaign to convince the Trump administration to replace U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan with security contractors.

Since 2014, Prince has run the Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group, which has close ties to the state-owned Chinese investment company CITIC and helps Chinese firms operating in Africa with security, aviation, and logistics services.

Prince donated US$100,000 to a political action committee that supported Trump’s election. His sister, Betsy DeVos, is the administration’s education secretary.
Venezuelan Gov't Denies Takeover of La Carlota Air Base as part of Coup Attempt
Likewise, the national government has called on the Venezuelan people to move to the Miraflores presidential palace to reject the coup attempt.

President of the National Constituent Assembly of Venezuela Diosdado Cabello denied capture of La Carlota Air Base after a small group of soldiers revolted to promote a coup d'état with the far right against the government of Nicolas Maduro.

"No military installation has been violated in the country, they are on the street in the Altamira Distributor and we are directing operations from La Carlota Air Base," he explained.

Likewise, the national government has called on the Venezuelan people to move to the Miraflores presidential palace to reject the coup attempt.

Early this Tuesday Vice President of Communication, Jorge Rodríguez, reported that a group of soldiers were located in the Altamira distributor, in eastern Caracas, to promote a coup along with the far right.
Sudan’s Islamists Say Will Not Recognize Government Formed Without Them
Ali al-Haj (SUNA Photo)

April 28, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) announced on Sunday its refusal to recognize the expected formation of a transitional presidency council and said it called to appoint a Christian for the post of the prime minister.

Under the pressure of the Sudanese protesters, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) removed three Islamist generals and recognized the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change (DFC) as its main partners to lead the transitional institutions.

In a press conference held on Sunday, PCP Secretary-General Ali al-Haj said they are not bound by any bilateral agreement reached between the TMC and the DFC forces, criticizing the Council’s compliance with the pressure of these forces.

"We are not bound by any agreement that we are not part of it, and this is a rule," he said adding "Also, we will not accept any agreement excluding the other political forces. This is a principled position".

Al-Haj was reacting to the announcement made Saturday after a meeting between the military council and the DFC forces about an agreement to form a joint transitional authority after the exclusion of three Islamists generals.

Ali al-Haj stressed that the revolution that toppled al-Bashir’s regime belongs to the people of Sudan and that no political force has the right to impose proposals on the military council nor to exclude a party.

Al-Haj who was part of al-Bashir toppled government said all the political forces had participated in the regime governments during the past 30 years.

Further, he said the military council must pull itself together and should not bow to the pressures

"We also can press and hold sit-ins," he said in allusion to the sit-in of the DFC forces that has been held outside the army headquarters since the 6 April 2019.

The freedom and changes forces that endured the bloody repression for four months say they do not want to reproduce the old regime and all its components.

Also, they point that the PCP leadership preferred to support al-Bashir’s regime rejecting calls from inside the party and the opposition to abandon the "corrupt and totalitarian regime".

Sudan’s Military Body, Change Forces Fail to Strike Deal Over Sovereignty Council
Freedom and Change forces and military council meet at the Sudanese presidency in Khartoum on 27 April 2019 (ST photo)

April 29, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The Transitional Military Council and the Freedom and Change forces held a meeting on Monday without an agreement on the transitional sovereignty council as they will continue their discussions Tuesday.

On Saturday, the two parties agreed to form a joint transitional council but differed on its composition and the percentage of each side.

The Transitional Military Council Spokesperson, Shams al-Din al-Kabbashi told reporters, following the meeting, that the consultations between the two sides are still in the process of determining the powers and competencies of the sovereign council before to determine the representation ratios.

"The forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change presented a proposal which presents all structures on the three sovereign, executive and legislative levels including competences and powers," he said.

He pointed out that the executive power will be civilian with a military at the position of the head of state.

"The issue is not in the proportions of participation and number, but in the determination of powers," he said.

Kabbashi stressed that negotiations between the council and the opposition forces "are about to reach a comprehensive and satisfactory solution for all parties."

The discussions between the two parties have become easier after the resignation of the Islamist generals who took the political committee, pointing they would form a holistic transitional government from all the political forces even those who were part of al-Bashir regime.

The Islamist militaries who were suspect of seeking to preserve the interests of the former regime particularly the Islamic orientation of the regime also said that the sovereignty council should be entirely military.

The Sudanese Professionals Association issued a statement saying they agreed to focus on the needed transitional structures and their respective powers. But no agreement was ratios of the two parties at the sovereignty council.

In addition, they reiterated their determination to maintain sit-in outside the army headquarters.

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council is expected to discuss the situation in Sudan and to extend its two-week ultimatum to three months.

Freedom and Change officials said they want the Council to set-up a roadmap for the power transfer during this period.

Sudan’s Military Council Pledges to Not Cancel Islamic Law Before Election
Islamist fundamentalist leaders meet Hemetti (unseen) at the Sudanese presidency on 29 April 2019 (RSF photo)

April 28, 2019 (KHARTOUM) Sudan’s military council successfully stopped on Sunday to stop a protest that extremist religious movements planned to organize in Khartoum on Monday under the banner of "Supporting the Sharia."

But the radical groups said the deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) pledged to satisfy all their demands including maintaining Islamic law and therefore decided to cancel the march which could have provoked clashes with the sit-inners who camp outside the army headquarters.

On Sunday, TMC deputy head Mohamed Hamdan Daglo aka "Hemetti" met a delegation of Islamist leaders including Abdel al-Hay Youssef, Mohamed Abdel Karim and Mohamed Ali al-Gizouli who informed him about the purpose of the march, as the police authorities had already rejected to authorize it.

In a statement released by the Rapid Support Forces press office, Hemetti reassured the delegation about the issue of the Islamic law saying that nobody came to speak with them about the repeal of Islamic law and they didn’t discuss it with the Freedom and Change forces.

"We assure you that the Islamic law is a red line that we do not compromise with," Hemetti said according to the RSF statement.

Nearly three weeks after the fall of al-Bashir regime, the Sudanese Islamists forces have shown frustration and the successive elimination of their elements from the transitional military council.

In a statement released after the meeting, the Support of Sharia and the Rule of Law group said they decided to cancel their march because the military council has reassured them that all their demands will be satisfied.

The Islamist group said they demanded, among others, that presidency be composed of independent personalities agreed upon by all political forces. Also, to commit to not prejudice the Islamic law or amend it until the election of a legislative body.

Sudan’s al-Mahdi Says al-Bashir Should Be Handed Over to ICC
April 27, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - The head of the National Umma Party Sadiq al-Mahdi voiced his support to the International Criminal Court and said favourable to hand over the Sudanese indicted for war crimes, genocide and crime against humanity.

In the past, al-Mahdi called on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to defer the ICC prosecution for one year to give a chance for peace in Sudan.

Speaking to the media in his first press conference after the removal of President Omer al-Bashir, the former prime minister recalled that he supported the war crimes court and demanded from the outset to join it, especially Sudan has signed the treaty establishing the Court on 17 July 1998.

"But when one of the wanted persons of the Court was head of state, we advocated the reconciliation of criminal justice and stability in Sudan. We discussed procedures with the trial lawyer in the court and with senior officials of the UN Security Council," he said.

"But now we do not mind responding to its demands and we should immediately join if (the court)," he said before to add that there should be a coordination with the military council on this respect.

"This is what the families of the victims demand, and requires the normalization with the international community," he emphasized.

The position of the military council is not clear on the issue. Several militaries said the issue should be decided by the government. But Hemetti the deputy head of the transitional military council spoke about an "elected government".

The ICC issued two arrest warrants for al-Bashir on 10 counts of war crimes and genocide and crimes against humanity.

Sudan has signed but not ratified the treaty forming the ICC, which is the first permanent global war crimes court. But the situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the Court by the UN Security Council in its resolution 1593 of 31 March 2005.

The ICC issued two arrest warrants against al-Bashir for five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes, and three counts of genocide allegedly committed against the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups in Darfur, Sudan, from 2003 to 2008.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Darfur and more than 2 million forced to flee their homes during a revolt launched by mostly non-Arab rebels in early 2003, who say they are marginalised by the central government.

Sudanese Youth Attack Islamist Party Meeting in Khartoum
PCP Consultative Council members arrested by the army after an attack by angry youth on their meeting on 27 April 2019 (ST Photo)

April 27, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Angry youth Saturday attacked a meeting of the Consultative Council of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) held in a private hall in Alsahafa neighbourhood, east of the Sudanese capital.

A source in the Islamist party which was part of the government of President al-Bashir told the Sudan Tribune that the instigators riding vehicles with the slogans of Freedom and Change forces and the National Umma Party (NUP) toured the neighbourhood calling on the area residents to attack the Cordoba Hall where the meeting was held.

Alsahafa area was known for its strong mobilisation during the four-month protests against the former regime of President al-Bashir.

Later Saturday night, PCP Political Secretary Idriss Sulaiman Al-Amin said that the number of people injured by the attack has reached 64, describing the attackers as "a small group of young people."

The PCP officials say three vehicles were smashed before an army force intervened to separate the angry youth from the PCP leading members.

It was not clear if the meeting was declared or not. But the army arrested 143 participants of the PCP meeting. All of them were released in the evening.

Amir Hussein Media Secretary of the PCP section in Al-Jazira state who is dissident member hostile to the current party leadership issued an audio statement to denounce the organization of the meeting under the current political conditions.

He also said the attack was a natural result of the party support to al-Bashir and the rejection of the PCP leadership to dissociate itself from the former regime.


The attack was unanimously condemned by the Transitional Military Council and the Freedom and change Forces reiterating their rejection of the use of violence.

"The Council condemns what happened today in the Cordoba Hall and affirms that this hostile behaviour is unacceptable and irresponsible," said the TMC adding it would take the needed measures to prevent its repetition.

For their part, the opposition Freedom and Change groups issued a joined statement condemning the attack, adding they believe in the right to assembly and expression for all.

In addition, several opposition groups including the Sudanese Congress Party, SPLM-N Agar, and Justice and Equality Movement issued separate statements to denounce the attack pointing out that Such actions can cause sedition and create chaos that may allow its enemies to circumvent the revolution.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Lavrov: Terrorists Cannot Be Allowed to Stay in Idleb
29 April، 2019

Moscow, SANA – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the terrorist organizations continue carrying out provocations in the de-escalation zone in Idleb, adding that those terrorists cannot be allowed to stay there.

Lavrov’s statement came during a joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Bangladesh AK Abdul Momen in Moscow on Monday.

Lavrov said that the terrorist organizations, especially Jabhat al-Nusra, are controlling most of Idleb province, and they continue to breach the de-escalation zone agreement there by attacking civilians and carrying out provocations against the Syrian Arab Army, which cannot be tolerated, and they cannot be allowed to stay in Idleb.

He said there is a disagreement over the fate of these foreign terrorists captured by the United States in Syria, as the Americans are threatening to release them all, which would be a terrible crime, while the Western countries from which these terrorists came are refusing to take them back.

Shaza/Hazem Sabbagh
Syria Army Kills Scores of Jabhat al-Nusra Terrorists in Countryside of Idleb and Hama
29 April، 2019

Idleb, Hama, SANA- Army units retaliated to breaches of the de-escalation zone agreement by terrorist groups through carrying out intensive operations in Idleb northwestern countryside and Hama northern countryside.

SANA reporter said that an army unit on conducted concentrated strikes against dens and gatherings of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the surroundings of al-Bashiryia town to the east of Jisr al-Shughour in Idleb northwestern countryside.

The reporter added that dens of the Takfiri terrorists were destroyed in the strikes and a number of them were killed and others were injured, some of them are of foreign nationality.

In Hama, the reporter said that army  units eliminated terrorists while trying to sneak from the outskirts of al-Latamina and Hasraya towards safe areas in the northern countryside.

Vehicles of al-Nusra terrorists on the road between al-Karakat and Qal’at al-Madiq villages in the northwestern countryside of Hama were also destroyed.

On Sunday, army units inflicted heavy losses upon Jabhat al-Nusra and the terrorist groups affiliated to it in the personnel and equipment and destroyed their vehicles, dens and fortified positions on outskirts of al-Habit village in Idleb southern countryside.

R. al-Jazaeri/Gh.A.Hassoun
Syrian Army Responds to Breaches of al-Nusra Terrorists in Countryside of Hama and Idleb
28 April، 2019

Hama, Idleb, SANA – The Syrian Arab Army on Sunday responded to the repeated breaches of the de-escalation zone agreement by terrorists in the countryside of Hama and Idleb, inflicting heavy losses upon them in personnel and equipment.

SANA reporter said that army units destroyed  vehicles for” Jabhat al-Nusra” terrorists in al-Habbit village in Idleb countryside, inflicting losses upon them in personnel and equipment

The reporter added that dens of “Jabhat al-Nusra” terrorists in al-Sahriya village in vicinity of Shahshabo mountain in northern Hama were also targeted and destroyed by the army units.


Meanwhile, A unit of army foiled an infiltration attempt by terrorist group of Jabhat al-Nusra on the Family House axis on the western outskirts of Aleppo, killing three of the terrorists.

On Saturday,  army units destroyed with artillery and rocket  strikes  rocket and mortar’s launching pads of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists on the outskirts of Hasraya, Kafar Zita towns in northern Hama, and fortified positions and areas of the spread of Takfiri terrorists in Idleb southern countryside,  destroying  their dens and vehicles  on the outskirts of Abdin village in Khan Shaikhoun township.

One Civilian Killed, Three Others Injured in a Terrorist Attack on Hama Countryside
28 April، 2019

Hama, SANA-One civilian was killed on Sunday and three others were injured in a terrorist attack with shells on al-Khandaq village in al-Ghab plain to the west of Hama

Meanwhile, terrorist groups  targeted with rocket shells the safe areas in Hama northern countryside in a new breach of the de-escalation zone agreement.

SANA reporter said that the terrorist groups fortified on outskirts of al-Madiq Castle fired four rocket shells on the residential neighborhoods of al-Suqaylabiyah city, about 48 km  northwestern countryside of Hama.

The attack caused material damage to the citizens’ houses  and properties but no civilian casualties.

On Saturday, a civilian was wounded and material damage was caused to public and private properties as a result of terrorist groups attack with rocket shells on the vicinity of Masyaf  city in northern Hama.

English bulletin
Patriarch Yazigi: The Golan Will Remain Syrian
29 April، 2019

Damascus, SANA- Easter Monday mass was held at the Mariamite Cathedral in Damascus, headed by Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All East, John X Yazigi.

In a speech, Patriarch Yazigi prayed for the unity of the entirety of Syria’s territory, including the occupied Syrian Golan, stressing that Golan will always remain Syrian.

The Patriarch called on the international community to lift the unjust economic embargo which constitutes a silent war imposed on the Syrian people.

Shaza/Hazem Sabbagh
Palestinians Reject Tax Revenues Amid Israeli Deduction
Mon Apr 29, 2019 02:51PM

The photo shows Palestinians, including Christian and Muslim clerics, march with national flags and pictures of prisoners held in Israeli jails during a rally marking the Palestinian Prisoners' Day in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 17, 2019. (By AFP)

The Palestinians have restated their refusal to accept tax revenues in the wake of the Israeli regime's controversial deduction of certain amounts from the tax it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"Our position is as it was: We will not receive any money from Israel if it is incomplete."

"This is something we will not accept at any cost."

Those were the remarks made by PA President Mahmud Abbas during the weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

In early July 2018, Israel’s parliament (Knesset) passed a bill to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in funds from the Palestinians over welfare payments given to prisoners and their families.

Tel Aviv in February invoked a law to deduce tax revenues relative to the amounts the Ramallah-based PA pays to the Palestinians languishing in Israeli jails or the families of those killed by the Israeli military.

The Israeli regime controversially plans to deduct certain amounts from the tax it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) before handing it over to the PA.

At the time, several senior Palestinian officials condemned the decision, which they described as “piracy and an illegal economic aggression.”

The stipends benefit roughly 35,000 families of the Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel. The PA says the payments are a form of welfare stipend to the families who have lost their main breadwinner. The Israeli regime calls that “terrorist salaries.”

Abbas has time and again defended such payments as an important function of his administration.

In a speech in June 2017, he argued that “payments to support the families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.”

Last week, the Arab League pledged to provide the PA with $100 million monthly, potentially averting a financial crisis caused by the row.

Abbas on Monday called on the body to honor that pledge, averting a crippling financial crisis.

"We do not have high hopes, but perhaps the amount could be considered a debt that we return as soon as Israel returns" the money, he said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE have been exerting “immense pressure” on Palestinians to accept “the deal of the century,” a senior Fatah official says.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has taken a harsh stance against the Palestinians. In August 2018, the administration announced it was slashing millions of dollars in support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Millions of dollars have also been cut in aid to the Palestinians for projects in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, including to hospitals in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.