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Prominent Algeria opposition leader arrested as government clamps down on protesters

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One of Algeria’s leading opposition figures, Karim Tabbou, has been arrested and detained by the government in what human rights group say is a new wave of clamp on opposition figures.

Tabbou who was arrested on Friday, according to Algeria’s Human Rights League (LADDH) in a post on its Facebook page,
is one of the “country’s most-recognizable faces during unprecedented mass rallies, led by the Hirak pro-democracy movement, that began in February 2019.”

“The movement has consistently demanded a sweeping overhaul of the ruling system in place since the country’s independence from France in 1962,” it added.

“Mr. Tabbou has been detained since Friday evening. We still don’t know the reasons for this new arrest,” the rights group said.

On Tuesday, Tabbou had published on his Facebook page an “homage” to another activist, Hakim Debbazi, who reportedly died in detention after his arrest in February.

“Physically dead, the martyrs of the just causes are more than alive,” Tabbou had posted.

He went on to blame the Algerian authorities for the death of Debbazi whom he described as a “modest and humble” activist who “committed body and soul to the Hirak.”

Tabbou who leads a small, unregistered opposition party, the Democratic Social Union (UDS), has had several brushes with the authorities in the past.

In March 2020, he was sentenced to one year in jail for “undermining national security,” but the conviction was seen as a backlash from his constant criticism of the army’s involvement in politics.

He was also detained and released on other occasions, including just before last June’s parliamentary election which the Hirak boycotted.

The Hirak protests had forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down while demonstrations have continued in a push for deep reforms.

More than 300 people are currently detained in Algeria over links to the Hirak or rights activism, another rights group, the National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) said in a statement.

Politics

Algeria, Sierra Leone get non-permanent seat at UN Security Council

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Algeria and Sierra Leone, have been elected as non-permanent members of the the United Nations’ Security Council for 2024-2025.

The two countries are part of the ten countries elected for two years in the Council outside the five power bloc countries— the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom.

The countries replace Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates and will join Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland who were elected last year.

For Sierra Leone, it’s a return to the council after 53 years. Its Foreign Minister, David Francis said it was “a great day for this small, progressive and confident country…which has successfully transitioned from war to peace.”

Guyana and South Korea were also elected unchallenged while Slovenia handily beat Belarus for the only contested seat.

An official of rights agency, Human Rights Watch, Louis Charbonneau remarked that “the vote in the General Assembly shows why a competition for UN elections is essential” after Slovenia edged Belarus for the seat going to Eastern Europe and obtained 153 votes, against 38 in Belarus.

“UN member states have undoubtedly decided that Belarus’ grave human rights violations at home and attempts to cover up Russian atrocities in Ukraine disqualify it from serving on the Security Council, a crucial body for ensuring human rights. humans,” he added.

Algeria got 184 votes, South Korea 180 votes, Sierra Leone 188 votes and Guyana 191 in a single candidate votes for four seat reserved for Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean.

There has been a long debate about the place of Africa in international relations. At the inception of the United Nations, only four independent African countries represented the continent when 50 representatives of different countries met in San Francisco, California, in 1945 to complete the Charter of the United Nations.

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South Africa: Opposition, DA want findings on alleged arms supply to Russia public

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South African opposition party, the Democratic Alliance has vowed to challenge the decision by the presidency to keep from the public, findings from recent arm supply allegations.

The follows allegations by United States Ambassador, Reuben Brigety that South Africa provided ammunition to Russia by ship. Brigety said the US was sure that contrary to its public claim of being non-aligned in the Russia/Ukraine crisis, South Africa supplied arms to Vladimir Putin’s army in December.

Following the allegation, President Ramaphosa launched an investigation to be conducted by an independent body which will be led by retired Deputy Justice Phineas Mojapelo, advocate Leah Gcabashe, and former justice minister Enver Surty. Meanwhile, his spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya said the government would withhold the panel’s findings.

Magwenya said the terms of reference for the inquiry would not be gazetted or published.

“The investigation covers issues of national security and classified information, which is protected from disclosure,” he said.

“This inquiry has been instituted in a similar manner to the inquiry that investigated the July 2021 riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and the value of its report remains unchallenged.

“The panel will be supported in gathering the information that is necessary to fulfil its mandate by letters from the president instructing all relevant government entities as identified by the panel to cooperate fully with the panel or face disciplinary sanction,” he said.

“The work of the panel will not be public, nor will its report be made public. The president will speak to any actions that may result with respect to national security. This is provided for within our secrecy laws as per the nature of this matter,” he added.

In a statement, the DA said it would not ” leave this secrecy unchallenged. We have already submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain a copy of the panel’s terms of reference. And we are obtaining legal advice to challenge Ramaphosa’s plan to hide the report once it is complete.”

The party leader, John Steenhuisen argued that keeping the report private “undermines the ability of prosecutors and the public to hold guilty parties accountable for any such violations of the law”.

“Hiding this report from public view will rob the people of South Africa – and of the world – of the opportunity to see the full facts of this matter.

“Refusing to disclose the complete picture of how the ANC-led government allegedly smuggled weapons to arm Russia’s war in Ukraine and various parts of Africa will also undermine the very purpose of the investigation.”

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