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2 Apr. 2012 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy
Security Council calls on all Yemenis to remain committed to political transition
By UN News Centre, 29 Apr 2012
The Security Council voiced concern at the recent deterioration in cooperation among political actors in Yemen and called on them to remain committed to the country’s transition.
The popular uprising that began last year in Yemen, similar to the protests that erupted in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, led to presidential elections last month that were won by Abbed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi.
The Council, in a presidential statement, welcomed the “Yemen-led peaceful transition process to a just and democratic political system,” and noted the recent progress, including the 21 February polls that took place in a largely peaceful manner.
It also expressed concern at the recent deterioration in cooperation among political actors and the risks this poses to the transition. The Council called on all political actors in Yemen “to remain committed to the political transition, constitutional order, to play a constructive role in the process and to reject violence.”
Lawyers appeal sentence for Bahrain hunger striker
By Associated Press, 02 Apr 2012
Lawyers for a Bahraini human rights activist who is on hunger strike are appealing his conviction on anti-state charges.
Activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja is serving a life sentence for his role in last year's uprising. He was arrested in April during a government crackdown on protests staged by the country's Shiite majority that has been demanding greater rights from Sunni rulers.
He was convicted of participating in efforts to overthrow the ruling dynasty by a special security court in June. Al-Khawaja has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days. Amnesty International is urging Bahrain to free him, because of fears he could die. Lawyer Mohammed al-Jaishi said prior to a Monday court session that he would appeal the sentence.
Tunisia: Wounded and Families of Martyrs Stage Sit in At Transitional Justice Office
By Mischa Benoit-Lavelle, AllAfrica.com, 02 Apr 2012
Wounded and families of the martyrs of Tunisia's uprisings met with representatives of Tunisia's transitional justice ministry following a sit in in front of the ministry's offices today.
The protest, organized by the Association of Martyrs of the Revolution, the Tunisian Pirate Party, and the Tunisian Party, was held in part as a response to a report on national television a few days ago about the current situation of Tunisia's wounded, who some feel have been neglected by the government.
Protesters called for the cost of their medical care to be covered by the government. They also called for the speedier resolution of trials of those involved in killings during the revolution.
After about two hours of protest, with demonstrators shaking the gates of the compound which houses the Ministry of Human Rights and Transitional Justice, officials from the institution agreed to meet with representatives of the martyrs and the wounded.
Aid pledged to Syrian opposition groups
By AlJazeera, 01 Apr 2012
An international coalition including the United States, the United Kingdom and several Arab states, has pledged to send millions of dollars in aid and equipment to Syria's opposition groups, signalling a deeper international involvement in the conflict there.
In a communique issued after a meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" group in Istanbul on Sunday, world leaders called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to immediately comply with an earlier promise to abide by a United Nations-Arab League peace plan.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states, meanwhile, have pledged to set up a multi-million dollar fund to pay members of the armed opposition, known as the "Free Syrian Army", a move aimed at encouraging defections from the ranks of the Syrian armed forces.
The plan to arm the rebels has not met with universal approval from Arab states. Iraq has said Arab nations should not arm or financially assist the armed opposition in Syria, asserting that doing so would only make the conflict worse.
Delegates at the Istanbul conference also formally recognised the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as a legitimate representative of Syrians, and "noted" that it was the main opposition interlocutor for the international community.
Brotherhood to run for Egypt's presidency
By AlJazeera, 01 Apr 2012
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, in control of almost half the seats in parliament, has said it will field its own presidential candidate, reversing an earlier decision not to do so and escalating its confrontation with the nation's ruling generals and the group's secular and progressive critics.
A win by its candidate, the group's chief strategist and deputy leader Khairat al-Shater, would give the formerly outlawed movement a strong grip on both the country's legislative and executive branches.
The announcement at a Cairo news conference on Saturday ended weeks of speculation and confusion within the group, which believes Islamic principles should regulate all aspects of public and family life.
The decision split the group's governing Shura council, the group's legislative body, into two camps: one in favour of fielding a candidate from within and one against it, fearing the repercussions, according to a Brotherhood official. He spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the matter.
UAE shuts down two foreign NGOs
From Mohammed Jamjoom and Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, 01 Apr 2012
Two non-governmental organizations that worked primarily on promoting democracy abroad were shuttered by the government of the United Arab Emirates this week. The Dubai office of U.S.-based National Democratic Institute was shut down Wednesday, followed by the closure of the Abu Dhabi office of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, an organization based in Germany, the next day.
Both pro-democracy groups saw their offices raided and shut down last year in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities accused the organizations of international interference that was stoking continued protests against the current military-led government.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in the region, said Saturday she regretted the UAE decision.
Meanwhile, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders on Friday condemned the government of the UAE for cracking down on bloggers and other online activists.
"March has seen a wave of arrests, attacks and acts of intimidation. We urge the government to abandon these methods," the group said. "The authorities must stop arresting 'netizens' and bloggers for what they post online and must guarantee their safety."
Human rights groups of late have also stepped up their criticism of the UAE.
Libya: Rebels March Into New Libya With a Hangover
BY Rebecca Murray, AllAfrica.com, 31 Mar 2012
A few hundred police cadets in ad hoc camouflage uniforms march up and down the grounds at a training centre in the coastal town Zawiyah. "You are the people protecting the revolution and symbol of our pride," proclaims the scrawled writing on the wall behind them.
For these former rebel fighters - called "thuwar" in last year's conflict against the Gaddafi regime - this is the final stage of a 45-day police basic training course run by the Ministry of Interior.
Integration of rebels into the Libyan national army and police, or their return to civilian life, is critically important to the country's ability to navigate the fragile post-conflict period of elections, reconstruction and institution building.
But despite promises by militias like the Zintan and Misrata brigades to hand Tripoli's security over to government authorities, deadlines have passed repeatedly.