01 Apr 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on Middle East and North Africa Democracy


The summit of decline: In defence of an Arab league
Aljazeera , 01 Apr 2019

What is the point of Arab summitry? What is the point of the Arab League as a whole? Is it an anachronism? A misnomer?
These are some of the questions Arabs and non-Arabs ponder after each and every annual summit ends with empty cliches and little or no actionable consensus on any of the urgent challenges facing the Arab world.
Tunisia, like other host states, hoped the Tunis Summit would leave its mark on history for something, anything. It hoped to see at least some meaningful progress made on the most intractable conflict in the region. There had been already a few precedents.


Algeria's president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to step down by 28 April
The Guardian, 01 Apr 2019

After two decades in office, Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has announced that he will step down before his current term ends on 28 April, after a succession of loyalists deserted the ailing leader.
Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have taken to the streets in weekly protests which began in late February when Bouteflika launched his bid for a fifth term in office.
Bouteflika, who is 82 and in poor health, has recently lost support from his own allies. Last week the coalition ally of Algeria’s ruling party called for him to resign, piling pressure on the president after the military chief also demanded he be declared unfit for office.


Leaked reports reveal severe abuse of Saudi political prisoners
The Guardian, 31 Mar 2019

Political prisoners in Saudi Arabia are said to be suffering from malnutrition, cuts, bruises and burns, according to leaked medical reports that are understood to have been prepared for the country’s ruler, King Salman.
The reports seem to provide the first documented evidence from within the heart of the royal court that political prisoners are facing severe physical abuse, despite the government’s denials that men and women in custody are being tortured.


Tunisia says U.N. official arrested in anti-terrorism probe: agency
Reuters, 30 Mar 2019

Tunisian authorities have detained a U.N. official involved in monitoring an international arms embargo on Libya as part of an investigation by an anti-terrorism unit, state news agency TAP said on Saturday.
It was the first time Tunisia had confirmed the arrest of the official, Tunisian national Moncef Kartas, who a U.N. spokesman said on Friday had been detained earlier in the week at Tunis airport despite having diplomatic immunity.


Tunisia: Protester Alleges Beating, Sexual Assault
Human Rights Watch , 28 Mar 2019

Tunisian authorities should investigate allegations that police beat and sexually assaulted a protester while breaking up a sit in in Tunis on March 12, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today.
Wajdi Mahouachi, 31, told Human Rights Watch that he was participating in a sit-in the governmental square called for by activists on Facebook, to protest sanitary conditions in Tunisian public hospitals, when the police assaulted him. On March 19, Mahouachi filed a complaint against the police officers for rape and assault at the First Instance Court of Tunis.