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14 May 2012 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy
Opposition: No stop to gunfire, shelling as violence spills into Lebanon
By the CNN Wire Staff, 14 May 2012
Gunfire and mortar shells pierced the pre-dawn sky in cities around Syria early Monday, the latest in the months-long violence that has even begun spilling into neighboring countries.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition network, posted dire reports early Monday out of a number of locales -- from "a powerful explosion" rattling the Damascus suburb of Jisreen to the military's aiming mortars and heavy artillery at the Homs village of Al-Burnhanieh.
Medical supplies were running short after more than 60 people were reported injured following a barrage of roughly 255 mortar shells that rained down on Rastan, which is between the Middle Eastern country's third and fourth largest cities, respectively, of Homs and Hama.
Violence also has been prevalent on the edges of Syria, from "heavy gunfire" near the Turkish border in Idlib governate to shelling and the deployment of snipers on residential rooftops in Daraa province, some 430 kilometers (270 miles) south near Jordan.
The bloodshed even trickled into Lebanon, and specifically in and around the Lebanese city of Tripoli.
Israel and Palestinians 'committed to peace'
By AlJazeera, 13 May 2012
Israel and the Palestinian Authority have issued a rare joint statement saying both are committed to peace, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched an envoy to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Netanyahu's office issued the joint statement on Saturday after envoy Yitzhak Molcho met Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority's administrative capital.
"Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal," the statement said.
The envoy carried a letter from Netanyahu replying to one he received last month from Abbas, in which the Palestinian leader stated his grievances over the collapse of peace talks in 2010 and laid out his parameters for a resumption of negotiations.
Thousands of Libyans Struggle With Recovery of Property Confiscated by Qaddafi
By ROBERT F. WORTH, 13 May 2012
Ibrahim Tunali has never forgotten the day in 1981 when government soldiers took over his luggage shop and gave it to a loyalist of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, one of countless expropriations in that era. So after Colonel Qaddafi was killed in October, Mr. Tunali marched to his old shop with a posse of armed relatives, he said, and told the man renting it, “If you’re not gone in two days, we’ll slaughter you right here.” Tens of thousands of other Libyans are now tempted to do the same, said Mr. Tunali, a stout 60-year-old with a cheerful, pugnacious manner, as he stood in front of his reclaimed shop. The original owners of expropriated property have not forgotten what they lost, he added, and are growing more impatient every day.
One of Colonel Qaddafi’s most toxic legacies is the vast land-redistribution policy he started in the late 1970s, which now threatens to ignite a patchwork of bitter property disputes in a well-armed population.
Gunmen kill senior Afghan peace negotiator
By France24.com, 13 May 2012
Gunmen shot dead a top Afghan peace negotiator in the capital Kabul on Sunday, police said, dealing a massive blow to the country’s attempts to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents.Maulvi Arsala Rahmani was one of the most senior members on Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, set up by President Hamid Karzai two years ago to open talks with insurgents.
“He (Rahmani) was stuck in heavy traffic when another car beside him opened fire,” said General Mohammad Zahir, head of the investigations unit for Kabul police. Rahmani, a former Taliban minister, was on his way to a meeting with lawmakers and other officials in a government-run media centre in the heavily barricaded diplomatic centre of Kabul.
‘Pursuit of Terrorists Is Irreversible,’ Yemen’s President Says
By SCOTT SHANE, NY Times, 13 May 2012
President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, met with Yemen’s president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, on Sunday, a day after a stepped-up campaign of American airstrikes reportedly killed 11 militants allied with Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate.
The meeting in Sana, the Yemeni capital, reflected the close cooperation of the two countries in attacking the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose latest plot to bomb a United States-bound airliner was foiled last month when the would-be suicide bomber turned out to be an agent working with Saudi and Western intelligence services. Mr. Hadi has supported the campaign against the terrorist group even more strongly than his predecessor, Ali Abdullah Saleh, American officials say.
Tunisia: Freedom of the Press Endangered
By AllAfrica.com, 13 May 2012
ANHRI calls for a swift response to the demands of freeing declaration of newspapers and publications from state bureaucracy, and a swift consideration of the demands of Nabil Jridet, editor-in-chief of al-Oula newspaper, regarding the declaration of his newspaper.
Jridet's hunger strike sine May 9th is a warning signal of the ongoing setbacks of press freedoms in post-revolution Tunisia, especially that public declaration is susceptible to political and partisan whims.
ANHRI calls on the government to listen to journalists and their syndicate and to implement the recommendations of the National Commission for Media Reform to avoid decline of the gains of press freedoms. Rather, it is time to move forward to entrench rule of law, citizenship, and freedoms.
Algeria's ruling party wins parliamentary election
By the CNN Wire Staff, 12 May 2012
Algeria's ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) has won nearly half the 462 seats up for grabs in parliamentary elections, state media reported.According to preliminary results announced Friday by the interior ministry, the party took 220 seats in Thursday's vote, the state-run Algerian Press Service reported. The National Democratic Rally placed second with 68 seats in the National People's Assembly, while the Alliance of Green Algeria came third with 48 seats, the news agency said.
The head of an Arab League observers' mission, Hanafi Wadjih, was quoted by the state news agency as saying there had been a "free and transparent election where the Algerian people have expressed their choice without coercion."
But the Movement of Society for Peace, a moderate Islamist party and member of the opposition Green Algeria Islamist bloc, alleged fraud.
Egypt: Country Allows Expats to Vote Using Automated Passport
By AllAfrica.com, 11 May 2012
Egypt's Foreign Ministry received new instructions from the presidential elections committee allowing expatriates to cast their votes using their automated passports without the need to provide the national ID number or a copy of it which was previously a condition for voting, official spokesperson of the ministry Amr Roshdi stated.
The committee said that the voter must be registered in order for him to vote with his passport, Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported. Egyptians abroad began the voting process to choose a new president for Egypt from among 13 candidates.