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Tunisian president, Saied, sacks judges, freezes Parliament, inaugurates temporal Judicial Council

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In Tunisia, President Kais Saied has continued his “revolution” of government institutions in the North African country as he inaugurated a “temporary” council of judges to replace an independent watchdog that he abolished in early February.

Members of the new Tunisian “Temporary Supreme Judicial Council” were sworn in on Monday in a ceremony that took place at the presidential palace in Tunis.

9 of the 21 members of the new judiciary watchdog were directly appointed by the head of state in replacement of magistrates of the High Judicial Council sacked last month. While the others serve by virtue of their existing positions — from which the president now has the power to sack them.

President Kais Saied took the oath of office on October 23, 2019 at the parliament in Tunis. – Saied, a conservative academic with no previous political experience but managed to win the overwhelming support of younger voters.

Saied had for a long time accused judges of the former council of corruption and of blocking inquiries.

“Today, together, we wage a relentless war against the corrupt, those who want to infiltrate the courts, against those who want the State to collapse and people to starve.”

The move comes nearly 4 weeks after the president issued a decree establishing the new body. It had prompted demonstrations in various parts of the country.

The ruling provoked thousands-strong protests in the capital Tunis and stinging criticism from international rights groups.

Rights groups critisized what they called a “political purge of the judiciary” when some Tunisians were pleased. On the international scene, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had urged the President to restore the High Judicial Council.

President Said dismissed the government and froze parliament last July. Civil society still waits for a full return to constitutionality.

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Senegalese opposition condemns President Sall’s ‘slow’ election date announcement

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The opposition presidential contenders in Senegal have claimed that the government is taking too long to announce a new date for the poll, following a court ruling that declared a 10-month postponement to be illegal.

This occurs just a few days after President Macky Sall pledged to comply with the Constitutional Council’s position that the election be held as soon as feasible following the parliament’s resolution to reschedule the election—which was initially set for February 25—was overruled by the court.

The situation in one of the more stable democracies in coup-hit West Africa led to violent public protests and threats of authoritarian overreach, and Sall came under intense pressure both domestically and internationally to accept the council’s decision.

However, no new date has been announced, which has angered opposition candidates who want the election to happen before Sall’s term expires on April 2.

In a joint statement released late on Tuesday, sixteen out of the nineteen presidential candidates bemoaned the “inexplicable slowness” with which the council’s decision was implemented.

It was their contention that Sall’s tardy return to electoral duty demonstrated his reluctance to initiate a process that would result in a transfer of power. A request for response from the presidency was not answered.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall said that there was room for discussion over the expiration of Sall’s mandate on April 2.

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South Africa wants Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian territories declared illegal

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South Africa is back at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Israel’s role in the ongoing Hamas war. On Tuesday, Johannesburg asked the World Court to issue a non-binding legal opinion that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal.

South Africa argued that the proclamation would help efforts to reach a settlement as its representative opened the second day of hearings at the court in the Hague.

Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands told the judges that “a clear legal characterization of the nature of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people can only assist in remedying the ongoing delay and achieving a just settlement.”

Palestinian delegates asked the U.N.’s top court on Monday to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal, adding that the advisory opinion of the court might help bring about a durable peace and a two-state solution.

Israel sent a written statement claiming that an advisory opinion would be detrimental to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, despite not being present at the hearings.

The most recent wave of violence in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7, has exacerbated the region’s long-standing grievances and harmed attempts to find a peaceful solution.

The ICJ’s fifteen-member panel was tasked with “occupation, settlement and annexation … including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

It is anticipated that the judges will take about half a year to respond to the request, which also asks them to evaluate the implications of the occupation’s legal standing.

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