Friday 20 October 2017
(Reuters (Eng) 07/21/17)
Tunisia's prime minister vowed on Thursday to push ahead with a war against corruption to restore trust in the state, adding this would exclude no-one whatever their political affiliation. Youssef Chahed's speech to lawmakers is part of a campaign that has gained him some plaudits among Tunisians even as he tries to push through unpopular austerity measures. Corruption was one of main catalysts of the 2011 revolt against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and many Tunisians complain graft is as widespread six years after their North African country emerged into democracy and free elections. During the two last months, Tunisia's government has confiscated the property and frozen bank accounts
(AFP (eng) 07/21/17)
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will expand from 16 to 24 teams and be staged in June and July, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced on Thursday. The tournament has traditionally been held in January and February, with the timing of the tournament a source of frustration to European clubs forced to release players in the middle of the season. The CAF executive committee confirmed the changes to the format following a two-day symposium in Rabat, although the tournament will continue to be held every two years and exclusively on African soil. The decision to increase the number of teams mirrors a similar one taken by UEFA to expand the European Championship, with 24 nations taking part at...
(Xinhuanet 07/20/17)
The number of foreign tourists to Tunisia during the first half of 2017 increased by 29.3 percent compared with the same period of 2016, with more than 2.5 million visitors to the country, according to the Tunisian Federation of Hotels (TFH) on Wednesday. "This performance is primarily due to the restoration of growth in the various European issuing markets," said Mouna Ben Halima, the TFH general secretary. According to Ben Halima, European tourists visiting Tunisia could rise by 30 percent in 2017 to 2 million compared with 1.5 million in 2016. The Maghreb countries, mainly Algeria and Libya, remain the top source of tourists to Tunisia with a 44.7 percent increase or 1,413,502 tourists, according to the TFH. Among them,...
(AFP (eng) 07/20/17)
A Tunisian court has banned the US film "Wonder Woman" which stars an Israeli actress, more than a month after it had been scheduled to open at cinemas in the Arab state, a legal source said Wednesday. Lebanon has also banned Wonder Woman, on the grounds of a long-standing boycott of Israel. The film was to have been screened at two venues in Tunis in early June but the showings were "suspended" following a complaint from the nationalist Al-Chaab party. The court finally decided to impose the ban last Friday, prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti said, although the verdict was only disclosed to the media this week without a reason given for the judgement. Al-Chaab demanded the film be banned because...
(AFP (eng) 07/20/17)
A steak dubbed the "Grilled Freedom" is just one stand-out dish on the menu of the Tunisian capital's "Le Dictateur" restaurant, which is not exactly to the taste of officialdom. Six years after the North African country's revolution that sparked the Arab Spring, "Le Dictateur" vies for the foodie business in the upmarket Cite Ennasr suburb of Tunis. "We had to make ourselves known, to come up with a name and concept that attracted attention because good cuisine alone is often not enough," said owner Seif Ben Hammouda. "Dictatorship was a taboo subject for decades, and it's still very relevant here as efforts continue to bring about freedom and democracy," said the savvy entrepreneur in his 30s. Against a bricked...
(The Associated Press 07/20/17)
BEIJING (AP) — The foreign ministers of China and Tunisia called Wednesday for new efforts to reach a negotiated peace in Libya and prevent the unstable North African nation from dissolving into a humanitarian disaster on a level with Syria. China’s Wang Yi said Libya is attracting militants from across the globe now being driven from Iraq and Syria, requiring the international community to step in and prevent the country becoming “a new source of international terrorism.” “We should prevent Libya from becoming the next Syria,” Wang told reporters. Tunisia’s Khemaies Jhinaoui, whose country borders Libya, said a political rather than military solution is needed based on a 2015 United Nations-brokered peace deal. “Libya should realize its security, independence and...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/20/17)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Africa's major central banks are entering an easing cycle as they try to stimulate growth after months of drought, austerity drives and confidence issues across the continent, a Reuters poll found on Thursday. Much of southern and eastern Africa is still recovering after an El Niño-related drought wilted crops last year. Poor business confidence in South Africa and foreign exchange restrictions in Nigeria have also hampered growth. "We expect that African monetary policy is entering a widespread and protracted period of policy easing. This will provide a boost to growth," said John Ashbourne, Africa analyst at Capital Economics. Ghana, which agreed a three-year fiscal discipline deal with the International Monetary Fund in exchange for aid in 2015,...
(Bloomberg 07/19/17)
Vodacom Group Ltd. sees the expansion of mobile-banking services into new markets in sub-Saharan Africa as a top priority following a shareholder vote to rubber stamp its purchase of a 35 percent stake in Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s biggest company. “We will use Safaricom to enter other markets where neither Vodacom nor Safaricom are,” Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview at the wireless carrier’s annual general meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday. The two businesses have a combined 30 million mobile-banking customers, giving them “a very sizeable platform on the continent,” he said. Vodacom’s purchase of the Safaricom stake from U.K. parent company Vodafone Group Plc gives the South African company access to the fast-growing M-Pesa platform, which processed...
(Reuters (Eng) 07/18/17)
Three years after he risked his life crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Italy on a small boat crammed with migrants, 22-year-old Sow Muhammed can hardly believe his luck. The former street hawker from Guinea now works as a caterer in Venice, rents his own apartment, and sends money back home regularly to his mother and siblings in the West African nation. "I am happy I came to Europe, and my family is also happy," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation as he packed up leftovers at a training event for people who work with refugees, where he had served a menu which included traditional African dishes. "I talk to my family frequently, ask them their needs, and help...
(Xinhuanet 07/17/17)
Africa is making progress towards the establishment of a trade zone by Oct. 30 that will cover approximately half of the continent's member states. The Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Director of Trade and Customs, Francis Mangeni, said in a commentary published in the Star Newspaper on Monday that so far 19 of the 26 countries involved have signed the agreement. "Three outstanding annexes had meant the tripartite agreement was not complete and this was advanced by some countries as the reason they could not sign or ratify the agreement. However their adoption represented a milestone in the negotiation, as it removed the last obstacle to signing and ratifying the agreement," Mangeni said. The tripartite free...
(Xinhuanet 07/12/17)
Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui will visit China from July 17 to 21 at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday. Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing that China-Tunisia relations have enjoyed healthy and stable development since their establishment 53 years ago. China supports Tunisia's efforts of safeguarding the national stability and promoting its development, he said, adding that China stands ready to work with the country to deepen political mutual trust, enhance cooperation on various fields, and promote the continuous growth of bilateral ties. Geng said it will be Jhinaoui's first visit to China since taking office, which is significant for both countries.
(Xinhuanet 07/12/17)
Thirty-six people were injured in a accident when a bus skidded off the road Monday evening in the southwestern Tunisian province of Gafsa, authorities said Tuesday. The bus, traveling from the capital city of Tunis to Tozeur, a southern province, crashed at a site about 90 kilometers from Gafsa, the capital city of Gafsa province, said the regional Director of Civil Protection Adel Labidi. "Thirty-three passengers have already left the regional hospital in Gafsa while three others remain there for more care given the delicacy of their state of health," said Labidi. The number of road accidents in 2017 has dropped by 17.42% from 4,001 in 2016 to 3,304, according to the latest report of National Road Safety Observatory (ONSR)...
(Agence Ecofin 07/12/17)
The International Monetary Fund (Fund) forecast a 2.3% growth for the Tunisian economy this year after a relatively sluggish year in 2016. The new forecast will be mainly driven by the tourism and phosphate sectors. Yet, the Bretton Woods institution stresses on the fragility of the economy of this country which is currently experiencing a particularly complex socio-political situation. The Fund also highlights structural drawbacks and an overvalued exchange rate which do not favor investment, in a context where trust in the country is still weak, two years after the terrorist attacks that hurt the economy. External shocks and the blunders during implementation of new policies widened the budget deficit to more than 10% of the country’s gross domestic product...
(Cnbc Africa 07/12/17)
"Africa is an awakening giant," according to the former South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul. The leader who oversaw the transition of his country's power to Nelson Mandela said Tuesday that the future looks bright for a continent previously blighted by war, famine and a lack of infrastructure. "I believe Africa is an awakening giant and, yes, it is not performing according to what we expected soon enough, but it will perform," he said. De Klerk believes that African countries are primed to take advantage of the world's growing size. "If we look at food shortages for the rest of the world with a growing population, Africa is the solution," he...
(AFP (eng) 07/11/17)
A trial opened in Tunisia on Tuesday over the 2015 attack on the Bardo museum that killed 21 foreign tourists and a police officer, court officials said. Two gunmen opened fire at the National Bardo Museum in an operation claimed by the Islamic State group. Some 21 detained suspects, including two women, attended Tuesday morning's unannounced hearing, defence lawyer Samir Ben Amor said. Three others, who were not under arrest, were not present, he said. About 30 people are also on trial in absentia, defence lawyer Rafik Ghak said. The suspects were not named. Since its revolution in 2011, Tunisia has faced a series of jihadist attacks that have claimed the lives of more than 100 soldiers and police along...
(The Associated Press 07/11/17)
Two dozen people, including two women, went on trial on Tuesday for their alleged roles in the 2015 attack on Tunisia’s Bardo National Museum that killed 21 foreign tourists and a police officer. The March 18, 2015 attack on the famed museum outside Tunis was the opening salvo in a series of assaults in this North African country, including the slaying of 38 people, mostly British tourists, at a beach hotel. All were claimed by the Islamic State group. The two museum attackers, who authorities said trained in a camp in neighboring Libya, were killed by security forces, but a lengthy investigation uncovered a network of helpers who allegedly provided direct or indirect support for the operation. A dozen of...
(Voice of America 07/11/17)
In the past five years, terrorist attacks have killed nearly 20,000 people across Africa. Two groups, Boko Haram and al-Shabab, accounted for 71 percent of reported incidents and 91 percent of fatalities. But, while these and other militant groups remain active, fatal terrorist attacks across the continent are on pace to fall for a second straight year, and the total number of attacks is running far below 2012 highs. These findings are part of VOA’s original analysis of data from ACLED, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. ACLED tracks political violence, protests and terrorist events across Africa. Their reports include attacks since 1997 based on data collected from local news media, government statements, non-governmental organizations and published research...
(Washington Post 07/10/17)
TUNIS, Tunisia — The two Tunisian former Guantanamo Bay detainees call their homeland an open-air prison and yearn for escape, even back to the U.S. detention center in Cuba. At least two other Tunisians freed from Guantanamo made their way to Syria, and another has seemingly vanished. Hedi Hammami and Salah Sassi have been free for seven years, nearly as long as the two were imprisoned at the American military base on the Caribbean island. The men remain close, complaining that constant police harassment has left them few alternatives for companionship. “I was in a small prison and today I find myself in a larger one in Tunisia,” said Hammami, who lives on the outskirts of Tunis in a rented...
(Xinhuanet 07/10/17)
Tunisia and China signed on Friday three agreements to boost commercial cooperation between the two countries. The agreements were signed at the fifth edition of the forum "Tunisia-China: A Partnership for the Future" hosted by the Arab Institute for Business Leaders (IACE) in the capital Tunis. The agreements involve a mega-project to build a commercial complex worth 65 million U.S. dollars in Tunisia, which covers an area of 200,000 square meters. According to IACE President Ahmed Bouzguenda, the long-awaited agreements benefit from China's Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes. Tunisian senior officials and representatives from a dozen of Chinese multinational enterprises and banks...
(Foreign Policy 07/10/17)
On May 23, as U.S. President Donald Trump began his first Middle East tour, a less sensational but potentially more consequential development was unfolding in Tunisia. Following months of increasing social unrest, political deadlock, and murmurings of a second uprising in the birthplace of the Arab Spring, the government of Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announced a “total war against corruption.” Chahed’s statement, which followed the arrest of three prominent businessmen and one customs officer, signaled the start of a much broader campaign against cases of graft that had been increasingly viewed within Tunisia as the leading threat to the country’s democratization. Since May 23, the state has arrested and seized the assets of around a dozen additional individuals implicated...

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