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Congo sets date for next legislative elections. Will Congolese Labour Party dominance finally end?

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The government of Congo has revealed that the Central African country will be having its next legislative elections on July 10.

The announcement was made on Friday by a government spokesman, Thierry Moungalla, on state television Télé-Congo in a report on the Council of Ministers.

“The Council of Ministers has decided to convene the electorate for the first round of legislative elections and for local elections on July 4 for the vote of members of the public force, and on July 10 for the general vote,” said Moungalla,

Moungalla revealed that the dates were chosen “in view of the complexity and heaviness of the preparatory operations (…) to allow for their optimal execution”,

The date of the second legislative elections, which aim to renew the National Assembly, has not been set.

Congo’s veteran president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, was re-elected with 88.57 percent of the vote, in 2021. Sassou Nguesso, 77, has been in power for an accumulated 36 years, first taking the helm of the central African state in 1979.

Nguesso’s Congolese Labour Party (PCT) will be 79 years old in 2022 and almost 38 years old at the head of the country, is the leading party of the majority and has already invested its candidates. It has 92 deputies out of 151 in the outgoing Assembly.

The only opposition party with a parliamentary group in the lower house of parliament, the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS), intends to take part in the elections.

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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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Tunisia: Jailed opposition leader Ghannouchi begins hunger strike

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Embattled Tunisian opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, who has been a political prisoner since April, has begun a hunger strike in support of other opposition activists who are fasting in protest and calling for their immediate release.

Ghannouchi had threatened to go on a hunger strike in September, and a group of opposition lawyers representing him confirmed the strike had finally begun on Monday.

The 82-year  the leader of the main opposition group Ennahda and a ferocious opponent of President Kais Saied, was imprisoned last year on allegations of inciting violence against law enforcement and scheming to undermine national security.

In a different case earlier this month, a judge found him guilty of taking outside funding and sentenced him to three years in prison.

The lawyers said in a statement that “While he is fighting the ’empty stomach’ battle, Ghannouchi calls on Tunisians to adhere to a democratic Tunisia that includes everyone on the basis of freedom … and the independence of the judiciary.”

An indefinite hunger strike was launched this week by six opposition leaders who were detained during a crackdown last year in protest of their detention without charge or trial and in demand of their prompt release. The jailed leaders, Jawher Ben Mbarak, Rida Belhaj, Abdelhamid Jalasi, Ghazi Chaouachi, Issam Chabbi, and Khayam Turki, were taken into custody on charges of allegedly arranging an attack on state security.

President Saied has been adamant about suppressing dissenting opinions in the nation ever since taking office. In 2023, over 20 political figures were detained, including Ghannouchi, on suspicion of trying to compromise national security.

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