“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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo 'on plane to ICC'

BBC News, 29 November 2011

Rebuilding Ivory Coast 

Laurent Gbagbo has been detained since his arrest in
 April after he refused to stand down as president
Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo is on his way to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague after being issued with an arrest warrant, reports say.

"Mr Gbagbo is on the plane, heading to the ICC," his lawyer Lucie Bourthoumieux told Reuters news agency.

The ICC has been investigating alleged war crimes committed in unrest after last year's disputed elections.

Mr Gbagbo had been under house arrest since April when he was ousted.

Forces loyal to him and those of his rival, President Alassane Ouattara, stand accused of killings, rapes and other alleged abuses in the conflict.

Mr Gbagbo, who was in power for 10 years, was being held in the northern town of Korhogo.

He left the town shortly after 18:00, Abidjan prosecutor Simplice Kouadio Koffi told AFP news agency.

The transfer comes just two weeks before legislative elections are due in the Ivory Coast.

'Victor's justice'

ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo visited the country in mid-October to investigate the post-election violence. 

A convoy of vehicles said to be taking
Laurent Gbagbo to Korhogo airport
He said his investigation would be impartial, and that he would focus on up to six people who he said were most to blame for the violence.

Human rights groups welcomed the arrest warrant, but also cautioned against "victor's justice".

"While the Gbagbo camp fuelled the violence, forces on both sides have been repeatedly implicated in grave crimes," said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch.

"Victims of abuse meted out by forces loyal to President Ouattara [also] deserve to see justice done," she said.

In a statement to Reuters, an adviser to Mr Gbagbo, Toussaint Alain, branded the former president's transfer "victor's justice".

Although the Ivory Coast is not one of the member countries covered by the ICC, it has accepted its jurisdiction.

Mr Gbagbo is also being investigated by Ivorian justice officials for "economic crimes". He has been charged with looting, armed robbery and embezzlement.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Syria 'committed crimes against humanity': UN report

Deutsche Welle, 28 November 2011 

Few images of the violence against
protesters exist
A UN-appointed commission has found that Syria's military and security forces committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown on protesters. Damascus rejects all accusations of arbitrary violence against protesters.

A United Nations commission of inquiry on Syria said in Geneva on Monday that Syrian forces operating under the command of President Bashar al-Assad had committed crimes against humanity in their crackdown against anti-regime protests, including murder, torture and rape.

"The commission is gravely concerned that crimes against humanity have been committed in different locations in the Syrian Arab Republic during the period under review," the commission said in its report, concluding that Assad's government bore responsibility for the crimes.

"The sheer scale and consistent pattern of attacks by military and security forces on civilians and civilian neighborhoods and the widespread destruction of property could only be possible with the approval or complicity of the [Syrian state]," it said.

The panel, which interviewed 223 victims and witnesses - including defectors - called on Syria to halt the "gross human rights violations" and release prisoners rounded up in mass arrests. It also called for access to the country to be given to media, aid workers and rights monitors. The three members of the panel, from Brazil, Turkey, and the United States, were refused access to the country to compile their report.

'Declaration of economic war'

In their report, the human rights experts listed widespread, arbitrary detention of protesters, torture and rape of prisoners as a routine practice, shoot-to-kill orders, as well as the targeting of children.

They called on the UN Human Rights Council to "take urgent steps" to involve the Security Council in a bid to put an end to these violations. Nothing concrete was mentioned as to what shape such steps could take.

Meanwhile, in response to recent sanctions imposed on Syria by the Arab League, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem dismissed all allegations that Syrian forces were in breach of international law. 

Assad has repeatedly rejected calls
to step down
During a press conference on Monday, al-Moallem showed a film containing scenes of graphic violence against pro-government supporters allegedly committed by armed protesters.

He went on to complain that the Arab League sanctions were tantamount to the "declaration of economic war against Syria" and accused the organization of closing "all windows" of negotiations and of turning a blind eye on the "terrorist gangs" who are murdering government supporters.

But he claimed that Syria had removed 95 percent of its assets from the Arab countries imposing the boycott.

Assad's administration has vehemently denied reports that its forces are killing demonstrators in anti-regime protests around the country, which began in mid-March after the successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

According to UN figures, at least 3,500 people in Syria have died in the unrest.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AFP, dpa)

Nestle 'to act over child labour in cocoa industry'

BBC News, 28 November 2011 

Related Stories 

More than 1.8 million children in West Africa are
believed to be working in the cocoa industry
Global food giant Nestle says it has taken a major step to end child labour on cocoa farms supplying its factories.

The firm, one of the world's largest chocolate producers, says it is going to work with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) on tackling the problem.

The FLA is set to examine Nestle's cocoa supply chains in Ivory Coast in January, the firm said in a statement.

Critics ask why it has taken Nestle so long to act if it knew children were involved in its cocoa production.

Nestle and the world's other biggest chocolate producers signed a cocoa protocol - an international commitment to end child labour in the cocoa industry - 10 years ago.

Earlier this year, a report commissioned by the US government found that the chocolate industry's funding since 2001 had "not been sufficient" and it needed to do more.

Nestle, in its statement, said the "cocoa supply chain is long and complex" - making it "difficult for food companies to establish exactly where their cocoa comes from and under what conditions it was harvested".

The firm said the FLA would send a team of independent examiners to Ivory Coast - where Nestle buys most of its cocoa - to map the supply chain.

The results of its assessment will be published in the spring of 2012 and will guide future operations there, the firm said.

"Child labour has no place in our supply chain," said Jose Lopez, Nestle's Executive Vice President for Operations.

"We cannot solve the problem on our own, but by working with a partner like the FLA we can make sure our efforts to address it are targeted where they are needed most".

'Moral obligation'

The US government-backed report by Tulane University, published in March, found that more than 1.8 million children in West Africa were involved in growing cocoa.

Earlier this month, the BBC's Humphrey Hawksley travelled to Ivory Coast and found children using machetes to hack open cocoa pods to extract the beans.

One boy told him that he had been sent by his father to the farm to work, and had not seen his family for three years.

Gilbert Kone Kafana, Ivory Coast's minister for labour and social affairs, said there was a "moral obligation" on chocolate companies to help rebuild the country ravaged by years of civil war.

"We need to build roads, schools, hospitals and social centres; anything that would allow Ivory Coast to progress," he told the BBC.

"This development is necessary for farmers to have a good life, and it is in the interest of the industry to work with us."

Related Articles:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Zimbabwe plans to open diamond trading offices in Belgium, UAE

English.news.cn   2011-11-27

HARARE, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe has stepped up efforts to optimize earnings from mining operations in Marange amid revelations the country is planning to open strategic offices in the United Arab Emirates and Belgium to facilitate the smooth sale of diamonds overseas.

According to Sunday Mail, the Zimababwe government representatives are already in talks with emissaries of the two countries to finalize modalities of the proposed move.

Mines and Mining Development Minister Dr Obert Mpofu has confirmed the Belgians and Emiratis approached Harare with the offer earlier this month, saying that the envisaged arrangement was specifically aimed at increasing Zimbabwe's diamond trade.

The UAE and Belgium are among the biggest international diamond buyers.

"We are discussing with Dubai and Antwerp for us to open offices in these countries for the convenience of trading in our diamonds," he said.

"We would also like to ensure value is added to the gems. It is an encouraging development that will make it easy to polish our diamonds."

The development comes as Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) monitors for Zimbabwe Mr Abbey Chikane and Mr Mark Van Bockstael gave Anjin Mine in Marange the green light to export its two-million-carat stockpile.

This brings to three the number of diamond mining companies operating in the district. Mbada Diamonds and Marange Resources are the other two.

In a letter to stakeholders last week, KP chair Mr Mathieu Yamba said: "I would like to commend you (the monitors) on the high quality of the work done.I take note of the final conclusion, which declared Anjin Investments fully compliant on Nov. 17, 2011. Abiding by the Kinshasa Decision, exports from Anjin Investments may, therefore, take place with immediate effect."

A plenary session held in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Nov. 1 gave Zimbabwe the green light to export Marange diamonds without further hindrance.

Some Western countries had for long fought to block the exports.

Zimbabwe stands to earn more than 2 billion U.S. dollars from the three mines annually. The country has potential to satisfy more than 25 percent of global diamond demand.

Editor: Yang Lina

Saturday, November 26, 2011

US congratulates Morocco on parliamentary polls

Google/AFP, Nov 27, 2011

Abdelilah Benkirane, general secretary of the Justice and Development Party
 (PJD) (AFP, Abdelhak Senna)

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday congratulated Morocco on its parliamentary election but cautioned that the task of building a democracy would require more "hard work."

Morocco's moderate Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party (PJD), won a parliamentary election for the first time, according to preliminary results. The interior ministry was expected to release final results on Sunday.

"I congratulate the Moroccan people on the successful completion of Friday's parliamentary elections where millions of Moroccans went to the polls to elect their new political leaders," Clinton said in a statement.

"Now, working with King Mohammed VI, the new parliament and civil society can implement the amended constitution as a step toward fulfilling the aspirations and rights of all Moroccans," she said.

According to a new constitution overwhelmingly approved in a July referendum, Mohammed VI must now pick the prime minister from the party that won the most seats in parliament, instead of naming whomever he pleases.

If the early results are confirmed, the PJD would be the latest religious party to achieve huge gains on the back of the Arab Spring popular uprisings that have swept across North Africa and the Middle East.

The king, the latest scion of a monarchy that has ruled the country for 350 years, proposed changes to the constitution that curb some of his near absolute powers as autocratic regimes were toppled in nearby Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and pro-democracy protests brewed at home.

With 288 out of the 395 seats up for grabs awarded, the PJD captured 80 seats in the election, Interior Minister Taib Cherkaoui told a news conference.

That is nearly double the 45 seats won by Prime Minister Abbas el Fassi's Independence Party, which finished second and has headed a five-party coalition government since 2007.

But Clinton warned: "The hard work of building democracy does not end when the votes are tallied and the winners announced."

"As we have seen in so many changes underway across the region, political leaders will be judged not only by what they say, but what they do," she said.

Clinton said Washington was ready to work with the new parliament "to strengthen the rule of law, raise human rights standards, promote transparent and accountable governance and work toward sustained, democratic reform."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sudan, Libya agree on political, economic integration

English.news.cn   2011-11-26

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) welcomes Chairman of Libya's
National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul-Jalil upon his arrival at
 Khartoum Airport in Khartoum, Sudan, Nov. 25, 2011. Al-Bashir said Friday that
 the former Libyan regime was the biggest enemy for Sudan and that it severely
harmed the Sudanese people. (Xinhua/Mohammed Babiker)

KHARTOUM, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Sudan and Libya on Friday agreed to establish political and economic integration and to facilitate movement of their citizens on the joint border.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Chairman of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul-Jalil on Friday held joint talks here, which focused on bilateral ties and issues of mutual concern.

"The relations between Sudan and Libya are deeply-rooted and historical. We have agreed to bolster the aspirations of the two peoples within these relations," al-Bashir told reporters following the talks.

"It has been agreed on the establishment of a real integration between Sudan and Libya to begin with linking the two countries with paved roads and communications," al-Bashir said, adding that "There will also be integration in the economic field to utilize the two countries capabilities for the interests of the two sisterly peoples."

He explained that he got acquainted with the developments in Libya and the NTC program for the coming period, reiterating Sudan 's readiness to fully support establishment of the state institutions in Libya.

Jalil, for his part, said that "the Sudanese-Libyan relations are witnessing better horizons and there will be roads to link the two countries on the joint Sudanese-Libyan borders."

The Libyan official, who arrived in Khartoum Friday for a two- day visit, hailed the great role of Sudan in supporting the Libyan revolution in the humanitarian, political and military fields, saying that "we appreciate stances of president al-Bashir in reforming our relations with some neighboring countries."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hope builds for refugees as world turns on Assad

Reuters, by Suleiman Al-Khalidi, YAYLADAG, Turkey | Thu Nov 24, 2011

(Reuters) - After months of despair that the international community would ever act to help them, Syrian refugees in Turkey say they are now optimistic that the world is ready to take action at last.

"Before, people were frustrated that their camp stay would last too long, and felt it was no life in a camp, when the international community seemed paralyzed and hesitant," said Ibrahim Ali, a contractor from a Syrian village, now living in a tented camp in Yayladag on the Turkish side of the border.

"But now it's different. People are staying here and morale is high. Assad's days are numbered."

In the eight months since President Bashar al-Assad's security forces began their crackdown on protests, the West and regional neighbors seemed resolutely opposed to getting entangled in one of the core countries of the Middle East.

But two weeks ago the Arab League suspended Syria for refusing to halt the violence, and the news has reinvigorated refugees in camps here on the border.

This week, France called for a humanitarian corridor to be set up in Syria, guarded by international monitors, with Assad's permission or organized by international observers.

The prime minister of Turkey - a regional heavyweight with the military strength to mount a cross-border operation -compared Assad to Hitler and Mussolini and called for him to quit. Its land forces commander visited the border region.

On Thursday, Arab League ministers meeting in Cairo said they would impose harsh economic sanctions if Assad did not allow in monitors.

Yamen Fadel, a 30-year-old cook from Dama village, was watching the news from the League meeting in Cairo on a large flat screen TV in a tent with other refugees.

"From morning till now people have been glued to the news. We have a lot of hope the decisions of the Arab League will encourage Turkey to set up a safe zone to allow our men to go and fight the regime from there," he said.

"People want to go and fight with the revolutionaries and leave the women behind in the camp."


About 8,200 Syrian refugees are registered in five camps in Turkey's Hatay province, a panhandle of territory jutting south along the Mediterranean coast toward Syria.

A Turkish foreign ministry official in the area reckoned that the number of refugees registered peaked at nearly 20,000 a few months ago, but fell as families left the camps.

Some have found lodging with families in villages in the area, which share kinship ties with villages in Syria's Idlib province across the hilly, forested frontier.

In better times Hatay, site of the ancient city of Antioch, formed a trade route to the Levant. The Turkish and Syrian governments agreed visa-free travel in 2009, a time of friendship between Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.

Refugees in the two camps at Yayladag, the first set up months ago by the Turkish Red Crescent, say they have been well looked after by their Turkish hosts but are still homesick for Syria. The border is within walking distance.

"I spend my time either painting or killing time playing cards and there is no work to do," said Abdelkarim Haj Yousuf, 57, an artist.

His grizzled face filled with sadness and he broke into sobs over the actions of Assad's government.

"This is not a regime it's a gang, or it wouldn't be doing this to us. Is there a regime that humiliates and kills its people this way?" he cried.

Kneeling on the floor of his tent, he worked on a pastel portrait of a blue-eyed young woman with long brown hair. Other portraits lay scattered around. None of the faces bore smiles.

A relative, Mariam Haj Yousef, 57, said refugees wanted to go home but would not return as long as Assad remained in power.

"We want Allah and the help of all the countries to return to Syria," she said outside her tent. "If Bashar stays, we will not go back. We will never go back."

(Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Peter Graff; editing by Tim Pearce)

Related Article:

Cameroon jails men over gay sex

BBC News, 24 November 2011

Related Stories 

Homosexuality is banned in many African countries
Three men in Cameroon have been sentenced to five years in prison for homosexual acts, which are illegal in the central African nation.

Two of the accused were in court in the capital, Yaounde, but a third man was sentenced in absentia as he had jumped bail.

Police said the men were arrested for having oral sex in a car.

"It's a shocking and unacceptable decision," Cameroonian lawyer and gay rights defender Alice Nkom told AFP.

"It is not worthy of a country that speaks of human rights," she said.

The BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah in Yaounde says homophobia is widespread in Cameroon, as in most African countries.

He says as well as the five-year jail term - the maximum sentence for homosexual acts in Cameroon - the men were each fined 200,000 CFA francs (about $400, £260).

Their lawyer Michel Togue said it was a bad ruling and he accused the judge of peppering the hearing with homophobic innuendos, AFP news agency reports.

The two men who were in court were denied bail in August. The third defendant was granted bail after their arrest in July and never appeared in court for the trial.

Ms Nkom, who runs Cameroon's Association for the Defence of Homosexuals, told the BBC in August that there was no evidence against the men and they had been arrested because they looked feminine and their hair was "dressed like women".

"This is a crime of fashion, not homosexuality," she had said.

Amnesty International has said Cameroon's homosexuality law is draconian and discriminatory and should be scrapped.

Related Article:

Gay rights lawyer Alice Nkom is campaigning to decriminalise homosexuality
 in Cameroon, which is one of 46 Commonwealth states to still outlaw same-sex
relations. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tunisians impatient for revolution to bear fruit

Reuters, by Christian Lowe, TAZARKA, Tunisia, Wed Nov 23, 2011

A protester shouts ''We want justice!'' during a demonstration outside the
parliamentary building in Tunis November 22, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi)

(Reuters) - Ridha Ben Salha is fed up waiting for Tunisia's revolution to translate into a better life for his town.

He and a group of his friends and neighbors spent weeks camped outside Tazarka's biggest employer, a gas and oil processing plant, to pressure its owners into giving more jobs to local people and putting more money into the community.

They had hoped after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was thrown out in January there would be some relief from poverty and inequality.

But that hasn't happened, and people in Tazarka, 90 km (55 miles) south-east of the capital, are getting angry.

"All we are asking for is our rights," said Ben Salha outside the site, which he and dozens of others brought to a standstill late last month by blocking trucks from leaving with their cargoes of cooking gas.

Tazarka stands as a warning to Tunisia's post-revolution authorities of what could happen to the country if they don't match the new freedoms won in the revolution with improvement in ordinary people's living standards -- and fast.

"Why should a population support a democracy if they do not get anything, if the work does not come?" said a Western diplomat in the capital Tunis.


Tunisia's revolt began when a provincial vegetable seller set fire to himself in protest at official repression and swelled into demonstrations that forced Ben Ali to flee. Its success inspired uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria that have changed the political landscape of the Middle East.

Last month, the north African country was praised again as a beacon for the region when it held its first ever democratic election and handed power to a moderate Islamist government.

But behind Tunisia's progress toward democracy lies an uncomfortable truth: in the 10 months since the revolution, the standard of living for the average Tunisian has got worse.

The new government, which knows the revolution was about joblessness and poverty as much as ending repression, understands the need to improve living standards. But it is handicapped by the sharp economic slow-down that has followed Ben Ali's departure.

Foreign tourists -- Tunisia's biggest source of revenue -- have canceled bookings and some foreign investors have put their projects on hold.

The conflict in neighboring Libya, Tunisia's principal trade partner in the region, has further hurt growth.

From 3 percent in the last year of Ben Ali's rule, growth in gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to drop to about 0.2 percent this year, though officials expect it to bounce back to 4.5 percent in 2012.

Unemployment, at 13 percent at the end of 2010, will rise to 14.5 percent this year, according to central bank projections. The jobless rate among young people is much higher.

Central Bank governor Mustapha Kamel Nabli has warned of the consequences of economic failure.

"The democratic process to which the Tunisian people ... aspire will succeed only if economic and social conditions are favorable," he wrote in his annual report.


Tazarka's tale is one of dashed hopes and grinding poverty.

The town is a short drive down the coast from Hammamet, a chic resort where German and French tourists stay in all-inclusive beach resorts surrounded by bougainvillea.

Before the revolution, the former president's nephew used to have a villa there, with a swimming pool and quartz rocks decorating the garden.

On the road to Tazarka, the landscape quickly turns to scrub. The villages by the roadside are ramshackle collections of rough-built shacks with heaps of rubbish strewn between them.

Just outside the town, an elderly farmer and his wife are bent double in a field, planting carrots. There are few cars. Young men buzz around on mopeds. Farmers use horse-drawn carts to haul their produce.

It was here, three years ago, that the plant was built in a plot by the sea.

Owned by Italian oil company ENI and the Tunisian state energy firm, it processes oil and gas pumped onshore from the Baraka and Maamoura fields in the Mediterranean.

People in Tazarka hoped it would bring them jobs and money.

But they were quickly disappointed. People who took part in the blockade at the plant told Reuters only 20 local people were hired to work there, in unskilled roles such as security guards.

There was talk of the plant's owners making contributions to infrastructure improvements in the town, such as new road construction. That, the protesters said, never happened.

The townspeople did not press the issue. The time was not right. Ben Ali's police state cracked down on any dissent, and in any case, people had come to expect neglect from the authorities.

The revolution changed all that.

The local mayor was replaced, and with renewed hope that the new authorities would support them, Tazarka residents tried again to get what they felt was their due.

They drew up a list of demands to present to the plant: a grant of 3 billion Tunisian dinars ($2 million) each year to the mayor's office, employment for 100 local people, $120,000 for local youth associations and $2,000 for each of the town's 300 poorest families.

The new mayor tried to help. Meetings were held; the regional governor's office and even the police and military talked to the protesters.

But when no money was forthcoming, local people decided to take radical action. They set up roadblocks outside all the entrances to the plant to stop it operating. Picket lines were manned around the clock. Protesters slept under tarpaulins and cook tinned sardines on campfires.

The blockade ended earlier this month after the government had talks with ENI representatives and the state energy company. The industry ministry said in a statement solutions to the underlying dispute are still being explored.

The townspeople have no choice but to wait -- at least for now.

"There is only one thing in this town: this," said Abdellatif Lassad, 23, who left Tazarka to find work in Paris and was back home for a vacation.

"There are lots of people in Tazarka who do not have work. There is just the post office, the police station and that's it," he said.

An executive with ENI in Tunisia said he was not authorized to talk about the dispute. The company's headquarters in Italy did not respond to a request for comment.


Tazarka's story could apply to any one of the hundreds of Tunisian towns just like it.

The caretaker government has obtained a big aid package from the European Union and Group of Eight to help stave off a looming economic crisis. The Islamist-led coalition which will soon take power has also encouraged investors by promising liberal, business-friendly policies.

But it is unlikely the government will be able to improve things fast enough to head off protests, especially in the poorer provinces away from tourist hot-spots on the coast.

Trade unions, among the biggest movers behind the revolution, are likely to resume strikes and sit-ins, which they put on hold for the election. Jobless youths could also riot, as they have done several times already this year.

"Protests by a mixture of disenfranchised youths and ...(union) activists have already caused the fall of two cabinets since the removal of Ben Ali," said Jean-Baptiste Gallopin of consultancy Control Risks.

"The new government should take note."

(Additional reporting by Tarek Amara and Abdelaziz Boumzar; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Related Article:

Yemeni President Saleh signs deal on ceding power

BBC News, 23 November 2011

Yemen uprising 

President Saleh has ruled Yemen since 1978,
but will now cede power within 30 days
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has signed a deal under which he will step down.

Mr Saleh signed the agreement, brokered by Yemen's Gulf Arab neighbours, in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Under the deal, he is to transfer his powers to his deputy ahead of an early election and in return will get immunity from prosecution.

But some protesters in Yemen said they would reject any deal giving the president and his officials immunity.

The protesters said the Gulf initiative ignored the "blood of martyrs", BBC Arabic correspondent Abdullah Ghorab in Yemen reports.

The government crackdown has left hundreds dead and thousands wounded in Yemen.

The 69-year-old leader - who has ruled since 1978 - has been facing protests since the beginning of the year.

He came close to signing the deal several times in the past, only to pull out at the last minute.

Meanwhile, clashes broke out between pro-Saleh troops and gunmen loyal to dissident chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar in Sanaa.

No casualties were immediately reported in the fighting in the al-Hasaba district of the Yemeni capital.

Saleh's pledge 

The Yemeni government has been facing popular
protests since the beginning of the year
Mr Saleh signed the agreement in the presence of Saudi King Abdullah and other senior Saudi officials after flying to Riyadh on Wednesday morning.

Under the plan, the president will hand over power to deputy Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

Mr Hadi is then expected to form a national unity government and also call for early presidential elections within 90 days.

The deal envisages that Mr Saleh will remain an honorary president for three months after singing the agreement.

In Riyadh, Mr Saleh pledged to co-operate with the new government which would include the opposition.

He also called on all Yemenis to be partners in rebuilding the conflict-torn country.

The breakthrough comes after intensive talks in Yemen by the UN envoy to the country, Jamal Benomar.

In June, Mr Saleh survived an attack on his compound in Sanaa and then flew to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. He returned to Yemen in September.

On Wednesday, he said he would go to New York to continue treatment.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: "If he (Saleh) comes to New York, I'll be happy to meet him."

Mr Ban added that he was "encouraged by the positive development of the situation in Yemen".

What began as peaceful protests against President Saleh has increasingly degenerated into armed conflict involving different tribes and militias.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Egyptian protesters refuse generals' offer for transition

Head of ruling military council says presidential elections will be held before 30 June in televised address

guardian.co.uk, Peter Beaumont and agencies, Tuesday 22 November 2011

Protesters place a puppet depicting Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on an
Egyptian national flag in Tahrir Square. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El

Egypt's ruling military struggled to quell growing protests over its slow progress in transferring power to a civilian government, as tens of thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square rejected its offer of concessions.

The country's military rulers on Tuesday afternoon suggested a deadline of July next year for a transfer of power – after a crisis meeting lasting five hours.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, later told the nation in a televised address that presidential elections would be held before 30 June, but did not specifically mention a date for the transfer of power.

In his brief address, he sought to cast the military as the nation's foremost patriots and angrily denounced what he called attempts to taint its reputation.

But in scenes reminiscent of the street violence that pushed former president Hosni Mubarak from power, protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square vowed not to leave until Tantawi and his council of generals immediately gave up power to a civilian transitional authority.

The protesters chanted: "We are not leaving, [Tantawi] leaves," and, "The people want to bring down the field marshal."

The forthright refusal of the generals' offer stirred memories of the response to Mubarak's attempts, played out over three national speeches, to hang on to power earlier this year.

It sets the stage for a growing conflict between the generals and activists angry at the military's reluctance to withdraw from Egyptian politics.

As pungent clouds of teargas set off stampedes, activists in and around Tahrir Square chanted: "Stay, stay, stay."

The latest street fighting in Cairo, which has begun spreading to other major cities including Alexandria, comes just a week before scheduled parliamentary elections.

The latest moves came as the US, which gives Egypt's military $1.3bn (£830m) a year in aid called for an end to the "deplorable" violence and said Egypt must go forward towards its elections.

"We are deeply concerned about the violence. The violence is deplorable. We call on all sides to exercise restraint," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Earlier on Tuesday the army council headed by Tantawi, who served as Mubarak's defence minister for two decades, held talks with politicians on the crisis, in which at least 36 people have been killed and more than 1,250 wounded since Saturday, according to medical officials.

Aboul-Ela Madi and Mohammed Selim el-Awa, two politicians who attended the five-hour meeting with the military rulers, said the generals had accepted the offered resignation of prime minister Essam Sharaf's government and said they planned to form a "national salvation" cabinet to replace it.

Previously, the military rulers had floated late next year or early 2013 as the time for transferring power.

"Our demands are clear. We want the military council to step down and hand over authority to a national salvation government with full authority," said Khaled El-Sayed, a member of the Youth Revolution Coalition and a candidate in the parliamentary election. He said the commander of the military police and the interior minister, who is in charge of the police, must be tried for the "horrific crimes" of the past few days.

"This is the maximum we can reach. The [Tahrir] square is something and the politics is something else," Madi told Associated Press in a telephone interview. He and Awa were among 12 political party representatives and presidential hopefuls who attended the meeting with the military council. Not all parties were represented.

Madi and Awa also said the military agreed to release all protesters detained since Saturday and to put on trial police and army officers responsible for protesters' deaths.

They said the military agreed to hold presidential elections before the end of June 2012, a vote the ruling council has deemed the final stage necessary for transferring power.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which anticipates a strong showing in the election, was among the five parties at the crisis talks with the military council. Three presidential candidates were also there, but a fourth, Mohamed ElBaradei, stayed away.

"Elections must be held on time and we will push for a specific timetable for the transitional period," Saad el-Katatni, secretary general of the Brotherhood's newly-formed Freedom and Justice party, told Reuters.

Presidential candidate Amr Moussa echoed the call for the election to go ahead, but said a presidential vote should take place no more than six months after the lengthy process of polling for both houses of parliament is completed in March.

Under the army's plans, parliament would name a constituent assembly to draw up a constitution within six months that would then go to a referendum. Only after that would a new president be elected to take back the powers of the military council.

In the port city of Alexandria, about 5,000 people marched to join 2,000 already demonstrating against army rule outside a military command headquarters, witnesses said.

The unrest has knocked Egypt's markets. The benchmark share index has fallen 11% since Thursday, hitting its lowest level since March 2009. The Egyptian pound fell to its weakest against the dollar since January 2005.

In a stinging verdict on nine months of army control, rights group Amnesty International accused the military council of brutality sometimes exceeding that of Mubarak.

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