As the international community struggles to respond to the military escalation in Libya, neighboring Tunisia has also been forced to respond to the challenges caused by the ongoing hostilities. In Egypt, the Parliament has approved changes to the constitution that will, if approved by public referendum, grant the President further power.
Elsewhere, the Algerian regime continues to struggle to rebound from recent difficulties, the Moroccan position on Western Sahara has received a boost from abroad, and Mauritania has announced an official date for its Presidential elections in June 2019.
The political fallout to Algeria’s old regime continues. A key figure, Tayeb Belaiz, the President of Algeria’s constitutional council, resigned (Le Monde). Meanwhile, Abdelmalek Sellal and Abdelghani Zaalane, both former Ministers and campaign directors for Bouteflika’s Presidential campaign, have been put under investigation for mismanagement of campaign funds (Observ Algérie).
Civil unrest has also continued, with reports of unidentified security forces intruding upon Algiers Law School during a strike to demand the names of those protestors (Huffpost Algérie).
The Egyptian Parliament has approved changes to the Egyptian constitution that have extended the mandate of President Al-Sissi until 2024, and his Presidency until 2030, and have also bolstered the strength of the Egyptian military (Jeune Afrique). The proposed constitutional changes will now be put to a public referendum for final approval, at a date as soon as 20-22 April 2019 (Asharq Al-Awsat). The constitutional amendments have met a mixed international response, with Amnesty International among others expressing worry over the precedent of the change (Amnesty International).
In other news, in small respite for neighboring Sudan, Egypt has announced that under an agreement with the Sudanese Health Ministry, Egyptian medical convoys will treat foreign patients diagnosed with Hepatitis C over the coming weeks (Al Monitor).
The ongoing fighting in and around Libya’s capital, Tripoli, has resulted in more than 100 casualties and 500 injuries according to its mayor (The Libya Observer). Al-Sarraj, chairman of the Presidential Council, and head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, has chaired a meeting of the emergency committee formed to manage the crisis (The Libya Observer). He has also issued a warning to Europe, insofar as he anticipates that the fighting will cause a surge in the number of migrants fleeing Libya to Europe (The Guardian). In response to these recent developments, Italy, Libya’s former colonial power, has demanded an immediate cease-fire in Libya (Euronews). The International Rescue Committee has also intervened to call for action from Europe and the US to prevent further escalation (Africanews).
However, the eastern Libyan Parliament, the House of Representatives, has said that forces will continue to push in the Tripoli offensive (FRANCE24). But there has been some dissent here, with reports that some members of the House have criticized their colleagues for appearing to incite war (The Libya Observer).
The first round of Mauritanian Presidential elections has been confirmed for Saturday 22 June 2019 (CRIDEM). As part of its preparations, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) launched training sessions for regional and local commissions within Mauritania (L’Authentique).
Due to ongoing argument about the neutrality of CENI, the government has entered negotiation with opposition parties regarding the rules of procedure of CENI, and the representativeness of opposition candidates within it (L’Authentique). However, the government also told the opposition that to grant them 5 seats in CENI, would require postponing national elections until June of next year (Sahara Media).
In other news, one of the prominent Presidential candidates, Boubacar, has received further support via the backing of a prominent opinion group, including former politicians and intellectuals (CRIDEM).
In a boost to Morocco, the Vice-President of the Czech Senate publicly stated that Morocco’s position on Western Sahara represents a “durable” solution (2M). Again, on this issue, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Nasser Bourita, reaffirmed that Morocco wants a realistic solution to the Sahara that is in line with preceding UN Security Council resolutions (H24 Info).
In other news, Morocco has been elected President of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (2M). And the first university dedicated to “Gender Equality in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”, whereby the topic of human rights in Morocco can be discussed was opened in Rabat (2M).
The events in neighbouring Libya have dominated Tunisian news this week, as Tunisia has been in a state of alert due to the nearby conflict (BBC). Many people injured in the fighting near Tripoli have been transferred to hospitals in Tunisia for treatment (Tunisie Numérique). Additionally, more than 10 French “diplomats” were intercepted at the Tunisian-Libya border bearing arms (Huffpost).
Elsewhere, the IMF has promised Tunisia 247 million dollars to help the Tunisian budget deficit (Kapitalis). And Tunisia has maintained its number one position in the Arab world for press freedom according to Reports Without Borders (Réalités).