“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Benin voters boycott polls with only one choice

CNA – AFP, 29 Apr 2019

A polling official empties the ballot box at the end of the vote at a polling station during
the elections for a new parliament in Cotonou on Apr 28, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Yanick Folly)

PORTO-NOVO: People in Benin on Sunday (Apr 28) boycotted in large numbers parliamentary polls with no opposition candidate to choose from, as rights groups warned of a crackdown on basic freedoms.

As national radio stations pleaded for voters to "fulfil their duty as citizens" and elect 83 new members of parliament - choosing from two parties both allied to President Patrice Talon - the internet was cut.

The small West African state was long held up as a model for democracy, but the country's main opposition parties were effectively barred from fielding candidates by tough new eligibility rules.

Instead, they asked their supporters to protest by boycotting the polls.

Many of the five million registered voters seemed to stay away, with voting booths in the economic capital Cotonou quiet, streets empty and shops closed all day.

Internet Shutdowns

In 10 polling stations visited by AFP in the largely opposition area of Seme-Podji, no more than 35 voters had cast their ballots out of the more than 400 people registered. The situation seemed similar in other parts of Benin visited by AFP reporters.

"We have never seen such a thing," one election commission official said. "The people have not come out."

In the run up to polling, protests were broken up by force. Internet access was initially tightly restricted with blocks on the main social media and messaging apps.

Amnesty International called the internet shutdown a "blunt violation of the right to freedom of expression."

Then later in the day, internet access was shut down entirely.

"It is effectively silencing human rights defenders, journalists and bloggers who are monitoring contested parliamentary elections without opposition candidates," Amnesty said in a statement.

'Going to far'

Even supporters of the president did not vote.

"I'm not a fierce opponent, I actually support President Talon," said Wilfrid Pokini, a trader in the capital Porto Novo. "But I do not support this election - an unopposed election, what is that? It is going too far."

People say they are "stunned" and "shocked" by the situation, but blanket bans on demonstrations ahead of voting has kept people off the streets.

"The wave of arbitrary arrests of political activists and journalists, and the crackdown on peaceful protests, have reached an alarming level," Amnesty International researcher Francois Patuel said.

Before 1991, Benin struggled under decades of authoritarian rule. The transition to democracy brought a flowering of political competition - five years ago, voters could chose from 20 parties for the 83 seats in parliament.

But this year, lawmakers from the ruling party pushed through a new electoral code.

Tensions

Talon, elected in 2016, portrays himself as a reformer and modernist. He has defended the electoral code, saying it would bring together the scores of political parties - more than 250 parties in a country of some 12 million people - into simpler blocs.

But critics say the rules were too tough and bureaucratic. Only the two parties allied to Talon - the Republicans and Progressive Union - met the new conditions, effectively barring the opposition from taking part.

Several international and domestic observers scrapped their missions to monitor the polls. Some warn of the risk of unrest.

"Banning peaceful protests and detaining those who speak up against the exclusion of opposition parties from the legislative election will only fuel political turmoil," Amnesty's Patuel added.

The president is, however, apparently not worried. There seems little doubt that the new parliament will back the presidency in its entirety.

"The resentment will pass," presidential spokesman Wilfried Houngbedji said. "On Monday, life will resume its normal course."

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Symbol of Sudan protest movement pushes for further change

Yahoo – AFP, Menna ZAKI, April 27, 2019

Sudanese student Alaa Salah shot to prominence after an image of her leading
demonstrators in chants in Khartoum went viral (AFP Photo)

Khartoum (AFP) - Sudanese student Alaa Salah emerged as a singing symbol of the protest movement that toppled leader Omar al-Bashir, and now insists she will keep demonstrating until civilian rule is secured.

The 22-year-old engineering and architecture undergraduate shot to prominence when a picture of her in a white robe leading chanting crowds from atop a car in Khartoum went viral on social media.

Shortly after on April 11 the army ousted long-time leader Bashir, but since then a 10-member military council has resisted calls to handover power.

Every evening Salah heads down to join the crowds still camped out around the army headquarters in the capital -- leading thousands of demonstrators in singing out their calls for change.

"We are staying at the protest site until all our demands are met," Salah said in an interview with AFP.

"We want a democratic civilian government and that all corrupt figures of the previous regime be prosecuted."

Like many gathered outside the military complex she insists "we don't want just words, we want actions".

"Bashir was just the face of the regime, we want the entire regime to be uprooted."

Protesters in Sudan have seen long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir ousted from power 
and are now pushing the new ruling military council to hand over power to a civilian 
administration (AFP Photo)

'No political aspirations'

Portraits of Salah -- dubbed "Kandaka" or Nubian queen online -- have appeared on murals across Khartoum in the wake of Bashir's fall.

The iconic image captured her wearing the traditional flowing white headscarf and skirt, her golden full-moon earrings reflecting in the fading sunset.

The outfit is a nod to the lead role played by women in the protests that ended three decades of iron-fisted rule by the veteran leader.

"I wore this attire as part of an initiative to support the revolution," she says.

Symbolic too is the chant that she recites to raise the spirits of the demonstrators.

The words are those of a well-known Sudanese poem that says "a bullet does not kill, what kills is the people's silence" -- a sentiment she says aptly captures Sudan's new spirit of defiance.

The protest movement in the country initially erupted in December in response to tripling of bread prices by the authorities.

It swiftly mushroomed into nationwide demonstrations against Bashir led by an umbrella group of unions and opposition political groups called the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

Protest leaders from the alliance successfully mobilised supporters -- young, old, women, men, professionals and students -- by posting their calls for demonstrations online.

"I'm one of those who took to the streets based on the schedules announced by the Alliance for Freedom and Change," Salah said.

She also participated in protests on her campus as the demonstrations on the street drew a brutal crackdown from the authorities.

Officials say at least 65 people have been killed in protest-related violence since December.

Despite her new-found fame as the face of the uprising, Salah insists that she intends to limit her involvement in politics to these protests.

"I have no political affiliation. I am a normal citizen who took to the streets for the sake of our country," she said.

"I don't have any aspirations in politics ...but I like to do social work."


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

African summit urges Sudan 'democratic transition' within 3 months: Egypt

Yahoo – AFP, April 23, 2019

Sudanese protesters have continued to demand a civilian government since the
military ousted president Omar al-Bashir ealier this month (AFP Photo/OZAN KOSE)

Cairo (AFP) - African leaders at an emergency summit in Cairo urged Sudan's military rulers on Tuesday to implement a democratic transition within three months, the Egyptian presidency said.

Egypt and representatives from several other African nations agreed on "the need for more time" for Sudanese authorities and political actors "to implement peaceful, organised and democratic transition measures", it said in a statement.

They also urged the African Union to extend by three months a deadline, currently the end of April, for Sudan's military council to hand power to a civilian authority or face suspension from the regional bloc.

That would partially ease international pressure on the council to hand over to civilian rule.

The army toppled longtime president Omar al-Bashir on April 11, but protestors have continued to hold mass rallies demanding a swift transition to a non-military government -- calls the council has so far resisted.

Heads of state and senior officials from states including Ethiopia, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa took part in the summit.

"We agreed today into the urgent restoration of a constitutional system through a democratic, political transition owned and led by the Sudanese themselves," said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who currently chairs the AU.

"This is to institute a comprehensively democratic political system and entrench the rule of law" as well as safeguarding human rights, he added.

The summit statement also expressed "the complete support of the African Union and neighbouring countries for Sudan as it faces it political, security and economic challenges".

The participating countries also said they would help Sudan tackle cross-border crime including arms and human trafficking in order to maintain "regional stability".

Monday, April 22, 2019

Ugandan police detain popstar MP Bobi Wine: sources

Yahoo – AFP, April 22, 2019

Ugandan musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine, real name Robert Kyagulanyi, had
been scheduled to perform before being detained (AFP Photo/Isaac KASAMANI)

Kampala (AFP) - Ugandan police detained pop star-turned-MP Bobi Wine on Monday after shutting down one of his concerts and firing tear gas at his fans, the singer's wife and supporters said.

"He has been arrested in Busabala, where he was to address the media on the cancellation of his concert by the police," Wine's wife Barbie Itungo Kyagulanyi told AFP, referring to a suburb in southern Kampala.

Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed that officers "engaged him earlier and drove him away from Busabala" but would not say if he was formally arrested.

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was scheduled to perform Monday but the much-anticipated show was cancelled by police.

His attempt to reach the venue on the shores of Lake Victoria, flanked by dozens of supporters, was blocked by police who fired tear gas and water cannon at his convoy.

Before being detained, Wine posted on Twitter that police were trying to tow the singer's car away.

"People teargassed, beaten, Many arrested. We shall overcome... Stand firm," he wrote.

Later, a post on his Twitter account signed "admin" said the singer had been "violently arrested".

Police said the concert was cancelled because inadequate safety measures were put in place.

Wine is among the most prominent critics of Uganda's longtime President Yoweri Museveni, and authorities have repeatedly blocked him from performing publically.

Young Ugandans have recently been energised by the singer-MP, who has become a thorn in the side of the government through his songs about social justice.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Top court paves way for Ugandan President's sixth term bid

Yahoo – AFP, April 18, 2019

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni Museveni once said leaders who "overstayed" 
were the root of Africa's problems. (AFP Photo/EDUARDO SOTERAS)

Kampala (AFP) - Uganda's top court paved the way Thursday for the country's 74-year-old leader Yoweri Museveni to seek a sixth term in office, upholding a ruling to scrap presidential age limits.

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Museveni's opponents, who had appealed against a constitutional court ruling that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders.

"This appeal therefore fails," Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court's majority 4-3 verdict.

The decision allows Museveni -- who has ruled Uganda since seizing power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 -- to seek re-election in polls due in 2021.

Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana declared the verdict "a big win for Uganda".

"We are elated. This is a sign of how democracy has taken root in our country," he told AFP.

But a lawyer for the petitioners, Erias Lukwago, said "it is democracy that suffers".

"It is a disappointment, but in Africa it is a miracle to win (against) a sitting government," he told AFP.

Observers had expected a ruling in Museveni's favour, but the narrow margin came as a surprise.

"The ruling was so close. Museveni will take a lesson from it," said Kassim Male Mabirizi, an activist from the Uganda Law Society and one of the main petitioners.

A bill removing presidential age limits was signed into law in December 2017 after a chaotic passage through parliament that saw MPs engaging in fisticuffs.

Rule for life

That decision sparked protests and an outcry from the opposition, which accused the president of seeking to rule for life.

The constitutional court upheld the amendment in a ruling in July last year, but it was challenged by the opposition in Uganda's highest court.

Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi 
Wine, has said he is "seriously considering" running for president in 2021 (AFP 
Photo/Isaac KASAMANI)

A seven-judge Supreme Court bench began hearing the appeal in January, with opposition lawyers arguing the bill was unconstitutional.

Some of the judges agreed.

"The power to amend is not the same as the power to rewrite the constitution," said Justice Lillian Tibatemwa, one of the three judges who ruled for the opposition.

Museveni once said leaders who "overstayed" were the root of Africa's problems.

But in 2005, he scrapped a two-term presidential limit which has allowed him to keep running for office.

While contesting a fifth term in 2016, he said it was not the right time for him to leave as he still had work to do.

In February, the ruling party endorsed Museveni as its candidate for 2021.

Growing discontent

He is the only president most Ugandans have known in a country where the median age is less than 16.

But young Ugandans have recently been energised by pop star-turned-MP Bobi Wine, who spearheaded protests against the age-limit amendment and has rapidly become a thorn in the government's side.

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, told CNN in an interview in February that he was "seriously considering" running for president in 2021.

Kyagulanyi was charged with treason last August, along with more than 30 opposition politicians, over the alleged stoning of Museveni's convoy after a campaign rally.

During the campaign, Kyagulanyi's driver was shot dead when soldiers from the elite presidential guard raided the hotel in which he was staying.

The singer has accused the security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody and later received medical treatment in the US for the injuries he said he received. The authorities have denied the allegations.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

World Bank making women's entrepreneurship a priority

Yahoo – AFP, Delphine TOUITOU, April 17, 2019

World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva says abolishing the myriad of obstacles for
African women to become entrepreneurs must be a priority on a continent where
poverty continues to grow (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)

Washington (AFP) - Abolishing the myriad of obstacles for African women to become entrepreneurs must be a priority on a continent where poverty continues to grow, World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva said Tuesday.

"What we know is that women in Africa are more likely to be entrepreneurs but they face more obstacles than men to create and run their businesses," she said in an interview with AFP.

Speaking on the eve of the first Women's Entrepreneurship Financing (We-Fi) summit in West Africa, the chief executive of the Washington-based lender said once women overcome the roadblocks, they tend to be more successful.

The conference "aims to galvanize public policy reforms and also for private sector action to promote women entrepreneurs in West Africa."

The obstacles are numerous: women are 9 percent less likely to own a cell phones than men in Africa, and 48 percent less likely to have access to the internet.

There are legal barriers in the region that prevent women from having access to certain jobs, cultural barriers, difficulties being taken seriously when they have not been to school, and especially difficulties in obtaining a bank loan. Without access to funds, it is almost impossible to start a business, Georgieva said.

US President Donald Trump's daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, also supports the initiative and will be attending the conference.

'Offer a helping hand'

The summit in Cote d'Ivoire, will bring together development bank executives, private sector leaders and women entrepreneurs to discuss how to support entrepreneurship of African women.

"We concentrate on this offering helping hand. It is all about removing barriers to women," Georgieva said. "With a little bit of help how they are likely to succeed."

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have long argued that data show integrating women into economies creates jobs, improves living standards, boosts growth and contributes to a country's peace and prosperity.

But combating poverty remains a challenge in Africa.

By 2015, the share extreme poverty had fallen to 10 percent worldwide from 36 percent 25 years earlier, while in Africa the rate fell to 41 percent from 54 percent, according to the World Bank.

But in absolute terms, the number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has almost doubled, to 413 million, due to rapid population growth, Georgieva said.

More than half of the world's poor live in this region, and that could reach 87 percent by 2030. Africa has 26 of the 27 poorest countries in the world.

"It is very urgent to concentrate where the matters the most. One of the most is the part of women in Africa," she said.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Algeria magistrates to boycott election

Yahoo – AFP, April 13, 2019

Magistrates who play a key role overseeing the country's elections, say they will
boycott a July 4 presidential election (AFP Photo/RYAD KRAMDI)

Algiers (AFP) - Algeria's magistrates, who play a key role overseeing the country's elections, said Saturday they would boycott a July 4 presidential election in support of the protest movement.

Protestors have held vast rallies calling for allies of ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down after the veteran leader quit early this month.

They have rejected the July poll, arguing that elections cannot be free and fair if they are held under the same judicial framework and institutions as those of the Bouteflika regime.

Interim leader Abdelkader Bensalah has pledged a "transparent" vote but protestors have called for him to leave office too.

More than 100 magistrates staged a protest outside the justice ministry on Saturday in response to a call by the Magistrates' Club -- a nascent group set up as an alternative to the regime's National Magistrates' Syndicate (SNM).

"The Magistrates' Club has decided to boycott the task of supervising the presidential election," said Saad Eddine Merzoug, a judge from El Oued in the country's southeast.

Merzoug said the new club had members at every court in the country, without specifying numbers.

Magistrates play a major role organising votes in Algeria. Notably, they oversee the electoral roll, a frequent source of disputes between the regime and the opposition.

A revision of the register is set to take place later this month, ahead of the July election.

Sudan's new military ruler vows to 'uproot' Bashir regime

Yahoo – AFP, Jay Deshmukh and Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, April 13, 2019

Sudanese TV shows General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the new chief of Sudan's
ruling military council, as he addresses the nation (AFP Photo)

Khartoum (AFP) - Sudan's second new military leader in as many days vowed Saturday to 'uproot' deposed president Omar al-Bashir's regime and release protesters, in a bid to placate demonstrators demanding civilian rule.

"I announce the restructuring of state institutions according to the law and pledge to fight corruption and uproot the regime and its symbols," General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said, a day after he was sworn in to head Sudan's new ruling military council.

He also ordered the release of all prisoners jailed by special emergency courts and the immediate lifting of a night-time curfew imposed by the council earlier this week.

Career soldier Burhan took the helm of Sudan's transitional military council on Friday when his predecessor General Awad Ibn Ouf -- a close aide of ousted veteran president Bashir -- quit after little more than 24 hours in power.

Burhan also pledged Saturday that individuals involved in the killing of protesters would face justice.

His initial announcements indicated he wanted to show the tens of thousands of protesters on the streets that he is not part of the regime's old guard and was genuinely committed to reform.

The head of Sudan's feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salih 
Ghosh, oversaw a sweeping crackdown against protesters taking part in four months
of mass demonstations that led to the army's ouster of veteran president Omar 
al-Bashir (AFP Photo/ASHRAF SHAZLY)

The new leader also on Saturday accepted the resignation of the head of the feared National Intelligence and Security Service, Salah Abdallah Mohammed Salih -- widely known as Salih Ghosh -- the military council announced.

Salih Ghosh had overseen a sweeping crackdown led by NISS agents against protesters taking part in four months of mass demonstrations that led to the toppling of Bashir in a palace coup by the army on Thursday.

Demand for civilian rule

Dozens of protesters were killed and thousands of activists, opposition leaders and journalists arrested.

The police said Friday that 16 people had been killed in live fire in Khartoum alone over the previous two days as NISS agents led a desperate last stand for Bashir before the army intervened.

A photograph published by state news agency SUNA had shown Burhan talking with protesters outside army headquarters on Friday, before his elevation to the top job.

Khartoum erupted with joy when Ibn Ouf tendered his resignation on Friday night barely 24 hours after taking the oath of office.

Sudan's second new military ruler in as many days, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah 
al-Burhan, is seen talking with protesters before he assumed power outside army 
headquarters in a photograph released by state news agency SUNA (AFP Photo)

Car horns sounded as jubilant crowds streamed out of their homes chanting: "It fell again, it fell again".

But the organisers of the mass protests called on demonstrators to keep up their week-old vigil outside army headquarters.

Ibn Ouf had served as Bashir's defence minister right up to the president's downfall, after three decades of iron-fisted rule.

A former military intelligence chief, Ibn Ouf remains under US sanctions for his role in the regime's brutal response to an ethnic minority rebellion which erupted in the western region of Darfur in 2003.

Bashir himself came to power in a 1989 Islamist military coup, which toppled an elected government led by Sadiq al-Mahdi.

Burhan is a career soldier who comes with less baggage from Bashir's deeply unpopular rule than Ibn Ouf.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), whose grass-roots membership of doctors, teachers and engineers have spearheaded the nationwide protests, hailed Ibn Ouf's departure as "a victory of the people's will".

But it demanded that Burhan swiftly "transfer the powers of the military council to a transitional civilian government".

"If this does not happen we will continue with our sit-in in front of the army headquarters and other towns," the SPA said in a statement.

A Sudanese trader peddles national flags during the ongoing sit-in at the army
headquarters on Saturday (AFP Photo/AHMED MUSTAFA)

'Violating the constitution'

Bashir remained in custody and his National Congress Party on Saturday called on the military council to release arrested personnel.

"We consider (the) taking of power by the military council as violating the constitution's legitimacy," the NCP said in a statement.

"The NCP rejects the detention of its leaders, among them its acting president" Ahmed Harun, it added, calling for their immediate release.

Outside the Middle East, the formation of a military government to replace Bashir has met with widespread criticism.

The African Union said Bashir's overthrow by the military was "not the appropriate response to the challenges facing Sudan and the aspirations of its people".

The European Union urged the army to carry out a "swift" handover to civilian rule.

Former colonial ruler Britain said that the two-year transition announced by the military "is not the answer."

Sudanese protesters keep up their sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum
 demanding an immediate handover to civilian rule (AFP Photo/MOHAMMED HEMMEAIDA)

"We need to see a swift move to an inclusive, representative, civilian leadership," said Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Members of the military council have sought to reassure foreign diplomats about its intentions.

"This is not a military coup, but taking the side of the people," the council's political chief Lieutenant General Omar Zain al-Abdin told Arab and African diplomats at a meeting broadcast on state television on Friday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has long standing arrest warrants against Bashir for suspected genocide and war crimes during the regime's brutal campaign of repression in Darfur.

But the military council has said it would never extradite him or any other Sudanese citizen.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Algerians cheer end of Bouteflika era but want broader change

Yahoo – AFP, April 3, 2019

Abdelaziz Bouteflika has long been accused of clinging to power (AFP Photo)

Algiers (AFP) - Flag-waving Algerians celebrated the resignation of ailing leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades in power, but vowed to keep protesting to demand sweeping change to the country's whole political system.

The 82-year-old president ceded power in the face of massive street demonstrations that have shaken the North African nation, with state media announcing late Tuesday he had submitted his resignation with immediate effect.

Car horns sounded on the streets before jubilant crowds converged in the centre of the capital Algiers to cheer the departure of the veteran leader, who has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.

At the same time, many people said they were determined to continue demonstrating, rejecting any transition that leaves power in the hands of the "system".

"I want my daughter to remember this historic day. Bouteflika's gone, but it's far from over," said 35-year-old Amal, who wore a T-shirt with the slogan "I am against the system" and vowed to march again on Friday.

For 44-year-old engineer Hamid Boumaza, Bouteflika's resignation was "too little, too late".

Abdelaziz Bouteflika has long been accused of clinging to power (AFP Photo)

"Bouteflika's departure is no longer enough. We want them all to go. We want full freedom and we will march for as long as necessary."

Others paid tribute to the longtime leader, but regretted that he had clung to power for so long.

"Bouteflika worked. I voted for him at first, but he didn't know how to leave with his head held high," said Bilan Brahim, 40.

'Appeasement of hearts'

Algeria has largely avoided the turmoil unleashed by the Arab Spring uprisings that brought down rulers in neighbouring Tunisia and Libya.

But discontent, particularly among the young, turned to anger after Bouteflika announced in February that he would seek a fifth term in office in an election that had been scheduled for this month.

He dropped his bid in the face of the mass protests but also postponed the vote, angering Algerians who saw the move as a ploy to stay in power.

Jubilant crowds converged in the centre of Algiers (AFP Photo/RYAD KRAMDI)

On Monday, his office said he would resign before his mandate expires at the end of the month.

And as pressure mounted, state television announced late Tuesday that Bouteflika "officially advised the Constitutional Council of the end of his term of office as President of the Republic".

"This decision which I take in my soul and conscience is destined to contribute to the appeasement of the hearts and minds of my compatriots, to allow them to take Algeria towards a better future to which they legitimately aspire," his resignation letter said.

Footage showed Bouteflika, dressed in a beige North African tunic and sitting in his wheelchair, handing the resignation letter to the head of the Constitutional Council, Tayeb Belaiz.

The United States said the future of Algeria was now up to its people.

"Questions about how to navigate this transition in Algeria, that is for the Algerian people to decide," State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters.

Protests for the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika filled the heart of Algiers. This 
Friday, after the ailing president finally quit, demonstrators are gathering again in 
a key test of whether the momentum for reform can be maintained (AFP Photo/
RYAD KRAMDI)

Russian, a longtime ally of Algeria, called for a transition without foreign "interference".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Bouteflika's decision to step down marked the turning of "an important page in the history of Algeria".

"We are confident in the ability of all Algerians to continue this democratic transition in the same spirit of calm and responsibility" that has prevailed in recent weeks, Le Drian added.

Algeria's constitution says that once the president officially resigns, the speaker of the upper house of parliament, 77-year-old Abdelkader Bensalah, acts as interim leader for up to 90 days during which a presidential election must be organised.

The resignation came shortly after the military demanded impeachment proceedings be launched against Bouteflika.

Armed forces chief Ahmed Gaid Salah said the army's "sole ambition" was to "protect the people from a handful of (other) people who have unduly taken over the wealth of the Algerian people".

Main dates in the career of Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who announced 
Monday he will resign before his mandate expires on April 28. (AFP Photo/
Simon MALFATTO)

A long-time Bouteflika ally, the general last week called on the president to resign or be declared unfit to rule, becoming one of the first of his longtime supporters to abandon him.

Bouteflika had named a new government on Sunday, made up mainly of technocrats under recently appointed premier Noureddine Bedoui.

The administration -- supposed to steer the country towards transition -- included General Gaid Salah remaining in his position as deputy defence minister.

Among the other key Bouteflika backers is his younger brother and special adviser Said, who was frequently cited in the past as a likely successor to the president.

Discreet and rarely seen in public, Said Bouteflika has exerted increasing influence behind the scenes as his brother's health worsened, but the president's resignation could take away much of his power.

Viral 'Nubian queen' rally leader says women key to Sudan protests

Yahoo – AFP, April 11, 2019

Dubbed "Kandaka", or Nubian queen, Alaa Salah has quickly become an icon
of Sudan's protest movement (AFP Photo)

Khartoum (AFP) - A Sudanese woman propelled to internet fame earlier this week after leading powerful protest chants in the capital told AFP Wednesday that women are key to the uprising against President Omar al-Bashir's iron-fisted rule.

"Sudanese women have always participated in revolutions in this country," Alaa Salah said after footage went viral of her standing on a car, singing and conducting crowds outside the army headquarters in Khartoum.

"If you see Sudan's history, all our queens have led the state. It's part of our heritage."

In the clips and photos, the elegant Salah stands atop a car wearing a long white headscarf and skirt as she sings and works the crowd, her golden full-moon earrings reflecting light from the fading sunset and a sea of camera phones surrounding her.

"I'm very proud to take part in this revolution and I hope our revolution will achieve its goal," added the engineering and architecture student at Sudan International University.

Dubbed online as "Kandaka" or Nubian queen, she has become a symbol of the protests which she says have traditionally had a female backbone in Sudan.

Her new-found fame pushed her to set up her own Twitter account in which she thanked everyone "from the bottom of my heart. The struggle for a democratic and prosperous Sudan continues".

Women have been at the forefront of the protests in Sudan (AFP Photo)

'Sudan is for all'

In another tweet Wednesday she says she "wanted to get on the car and speak to the people... speak against racism and tribalism in all its forms, which affects everyone across all walks of life.

"I wanted to speak on behalf of the youth. I wanted to come out and say that Sudan is for all."

Supporters celebrated the young protest leader across social media networks, calling her a "hero" and an "icon".

"This image from Sudan will be in the history books," wrote one user.

But late on Wednesday she tweeted that she had been receiving "death threats" after her footage went viral.

"I will not bow down. My voice can not be suppressed," Salah wrote.

Demonstrators have been camped outside the military complex for days asking the army to back them in demands that Bashir step down.

Salah says she has taken part in the protests since they first erupted on December19
 in response to a government decision to triple the price of bread (AFP Photo)

Women have made up a large part of the demonstrators that since Saturday have thronged outside the sprawling army complex.

Braving regular volleys of tear gas, the crowds have been the biggest yet to rally against Bashir's rule since unrest broke out in late December.

"In such movements, women are widely participating not only for their rights but for the rights of the entire community... there's no difference between women's rights and community rights," Salah told AFP.

"Women of Sudan always encourage their youths to fight. This is part of the history of Kandaka," she added.

Salah said she has taken part in the protests since they first erupted on December 19 in response to a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The unrest quickly morphed into a nationwide campaign against Bashir's rule with rallies held across cities, towns and villages.

The longtime leader has remained defiant and imposed a slew of tough measures including a state of emergency across the country.

Officials say 49 people have died in protest-related violence so far.