Wednesday 20 September 2017
(AFP (eng) 05/19/17)
A Tunisian tribunal charged with healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship in the North African country accused the state on Thursday of not cooperating with its work. The Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) was set up after the 2011 revolution that toppled the regime of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to investigate human rights violations, hold perpetrators to account and rehabilitate their victims. But IVD member Khaled Krichi said Thursday that the interior ministry had "rejected all requests for arbitration and conciliation sent to it by victims of human rights violations", including for torture and imprisonment. "The main difficulty in the commission's work is the state's non-cooperation in matters relating to conciliation," he said at a press...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
Tunisian protesters threatening to blockade gas production in the south of the country on Thursday rejected a government offer of jobs and investment and moved their protest closer to a pipeline and pumping station. The protests in southern Tatatouine are testing Prime Minister Youssef Chahed's government and have already forced two foreign energy companies to halt production or remove staff as a precaution because of threats of disruption. Six years after Tunisia's revolution ended Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali's autocratic rule, the North African state is still struggling to deliver economic opportunities to unemployed youth in marginalised regions like Tatatouine. Around 1,000 protesters have been camped out for weeks in the Sahara near a gas pipeline in a region where Italy's...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
When rich countries wrote off billions of dollars of African debt in 2005, they hoped governments would think twice about borrowing again in costly foreign currencies. Over a decade later, most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive. Aside from South Africa and Nigeria, governments have not yet done enough to develop capital markets that would have allowed them to raise more money in their own currencies, investors say. United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa's external debt stock rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated...
(Agence Ecofin 05/18/17)
In the 2017-2018 season, Tunisia aims to import 2.1 million tons of wheat and barley (soft and hard), against 2.4 million tons the previous season. This was disclosed by Taoufik Saidi, director general of Tunisia’s Office des Cereales (OTC), in an interview with Bloomberg. The grains will be bought via international call for tenders. According to Saidi, the 12.5% slump in the grains imports is to be attributed to a better output. Indeed, combined wheat and barley outputs is expected to stand at 1.8 million tons this season, as compared to 1.4 million last year. Moreover, the official added that the price of hard wheat which is the nation’s main crop should rise in the global market, due to a...
(Bloomberg 05/18/17)
Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to list its African assets separately as the acquisitive retailer seeks a new prize for shareholders following this year’s failed merger talks with Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The company said Wednesday it will seek to list businesses including clothing retailer Pepkor and furniture chain JD Group Ltd. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, about 18 months after moving its primary listing to Frankfurt from the South African commercial hub. The new business could be worth as much as 60 billion rand ($4.5 billion), said Evan Walker, a money manager at 36one Asset Management in Johannesburg, although the valuation could also be as low as 40 billion rand depending on how much debt Steinhoff puts into the vehicle...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
Gay and lesbian Africans who fled abuse in their home countries face a "culture of disbelief" which makes their experience of seeking asylum in Britain traumatic, a Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights (LGBT) campaigner said. Aderonke Apata, 50, who fled persecution in Nigeria, said the practice of assessing Africans' sexual orientation claims based on Western standards was problematic. "They expect an LGBT person to have used sex toys, to go to gay clubs," Apata, an asylum seeker who founded African LGBT charity, African Rainbow Family, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Apata has been trying to claim asylum in Britain for 13 years, but her case was refused several times after a judge ruled that she was pretending to be...
(Xinhuanet 05/16/17)
More than 55 percent of Tunisian imports come from the European Union (EU) during the first four months of the current year, Tunisian Minister of Commerce Zied Laadhari said on Monday. At a press briefing here in the government headquarters, Laadhari said, besides the imports from the EU, 8.4 percent of Tunisian imports come from China, 6.2 percent from Arab countries, 4.6 percent from Turkey, 4.2 percent from North America and 3 percent from Russia. According to Laadhari, imports from the EU reached 22.16 billion dinars (about 9.086 billion U.S. dollars), including semi-industrial products and industrial equipment. The Tunisian minister said that 75 percent of Tunisian exports are to euro zone countries, 10 percent to Arab countries, 3 percent to...
(Xinhuanet 05/16/17)
Tunisia's National Statistical Institute (NSI) said on Monday that the country's economic growth in the first quarter of 2017 reached 2.1 percent year-on-year. According to NSI, the Tunisian GDP grew 0.9 percent from the last quarter of 2016. The NSI attributed such growth to the positive performance of tourism sector, which posts a growth of 35 percent. However, the manufacturing sector declined 1.1 percent, while non-manufacturing industries saw a mild growth of 0.2 percent, it said.
(Bloomberg 05/16/17)
When the impoverished West African nation of Niger imposed a ban on donkey exports last year, a small community of traders just over the border in Nigeria was devastated. “Before the ban, you could see thousands of donkeys here,” said Mohammed Sani, a 45-year-old trader in the Nigerian town of Jibiya, as he wiped the sweat off his brow. “Now look at them: there’s no more than 50, crippling the business.” Donkeys are being slaughtered at an alarming pace to feed a global trade in donkey hides that’s fueled by soaring demand in China, where the skins are used to manufacture a gelatin believed to have anti-ageing and libido-enhancing properties. The gelatin, known in China as e’jiao, is so popular...
(AFP (eng) 05/13/17)
A Tunis court has sentenced Ridha Grira, the last defence minister under ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to six years in jail for corruption, the judiciary said Friday. Spokesman Sofiene Sliti told AFP that the verdict against the 61-year-old "fugitive" was issued late Thursday by a court which also ordered him to pay a fine of 402,000 dinars ($164,000/150,000 euros). Grira was jailed in September 2011 over corruption cases linked to the Ben Ali regime which was overthrown in a popular uprising that year. But in March 2014 a court ordered his release, as he was suffering from cancer. The Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights group had called for his release because of his poor...
(AFP (eng) 05/13/17)
​An annual Jewish pilgrimage to Africa's oldest synagogue on Tunisia's Djerba island began on Friday under tight security but in a festive mood. An AFP journalist saw dozens of pilgrims from the North African country and from France heading to the revered Ghriba synagogue to pray, light candles and write wishes on eggs. Some celebrated the centuries-old Lag BaOmer festival by sipping glasses of boukha, a liqueur made from figs. "My parents brought me to Djerba when I was a little boy and each year since I have returned," said Sylvain, who travelled from Paris. "This year I came with my oldest brother and some friends. We are happy to be here," said the 55-year-old interior decorator. Organisers expect the...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/13/17)
Tackling climate change in Africa could help resolve multiple problems ravaging the continent, from drought to refugees and violence, the head of the African Union said on Friday. The mix of global warming with economic woes and political conflicts keeps peace from taking hold, said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Union's new chairman, at Chatham House, an international think tank. "There is a link between climate change and prosperity, as well as peace, on the continent," Mahamat said in French with an interpreter. "Africa is among the least polluting continents, and yet it is the continent that suffers most," he said. Mahamat, the former foreign minister of Chad, was chosen to chair the 55-member, Addis Ababa-based organization in January. In Africa's...
(AFP (eng) 05/11/17)
A Tunisian court has sentenced a man to two months in prison for wearing a T-shirt deemed insulting to police, a judicial official said Wednesday. She said it had handed the same sentence to the printer of the T-shirt, which according to local media read "If a woman is corrupted, she becomes a whore, and if a man is corrupted, he becomes a policeman." Police in the eastern city of Sousse on Friday stopped a young man in a cafe and later detained the owner of the print shop, local media reported. Assistant prosecutor Zahia Sayadi said the man who wore the T-shirt was charged with publicly insulting an official and the printer with participating in the insult. "Wearing the...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/11/17)
Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi on Wednesday ordered the army to protect phosphate, gas and oil production facilities after protests aimed at disrupting output broke out in the south of the country. It is the first time troops in Tunisia will be deployed to protect industrial installations vital to Tunisia's economy. Protests, sit-ins and strikes in recent years have cost the state billions of dollars. For several weeks, about 1,000 protesters in Tatouine province, where Italy's ENI and Austria's OMV have gas operations, have been demanding jobs and a share in revenue from the area's natural resources. Protests have also broken out in another southern province, Kebili, and on Wednesday police fired tear gas to break up rioting in a...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/11/17)
Tunisian police fired tear gas to break up rioting by hundreds of protesters who took to the streets after a fruit seller set himself on fire when police stopped him working, local residents said. In an incident similar to the self-immolation in 2011 that sparked the uprising that toppled autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the street vendor in a small town west of the capital poured gasoline over himself and set it ablaze. A crowd of young men in Tebourba, about 35 km (22 miles) from Tunis, then threw rocks at police. "Hundreds of angry youths have clashed with police who have been firing tear gas," said Anis Mabrouki, a local resident. The vendor was being treated for his injuries...
(AFP (eng) 05/10/17)
Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi on Wednesday criticised the surprise resignation of the country's electoral chief just months before it is due to hold its first post-revolution municipal elections. Chafik Sarsar resigned on Tuesday, implying he was no longer able to work "independently and impartially" towards holding "free and transparent elections". The president said Sarsar told him he was resigning in a phone call. "I said 'Yes, I saw it on television... You could at least have asked me beforehand'," Essebsi said in a speech in Tunis, with Sarsar in the audience. "Whatever your reasons, they are not above Tunisia's greatest problems... We want to put Tunisia's highest interest before all others," he said. Tunisia, which set off the Arab...
(AFP (eng) 05/10/17)
President Beji Caid Essebsi said Wednesday that the army will protect the output from Tunisia's main resources from being disrupted by protests over social and labour issues. "We know this is a serious decision but it must be taken," Essebsi said in a speech in Tunis. The Tunisian government has faced growing social discontent over the economy, especially in inland regions, with protesters often staging sit-ins that block access to production sites. "Any person who wants to demonstrate can demonstrate, within the framework of the law... But if you want to demonstrate and the first thing you do is to stop Tunisia's production... if you obstruct our few resources, where does that get us?" Essebsi asked. "When they (demonstrators) get...
(The Associated Press 05/10/17)
Serbia’s foreign ministry says the country’s ambassador to Libya, Oliver Potezica, has died after a car crash in Tunisia. It said that Potezica, 64, was rushed to a hospital after the crash some days ago near the coastal town of Sousse, but died on Wednesday. No other details were given. In November 2015, gunmen in Libya crashed into a convoy of vehicles taking Potezica to neighboring Tunisia and then kidnapped two Serbian embassy employees. He escaped unharmed along with his wife and two sons. The two Serb hostages died in a U.S. airstrike on an Islamic State camp in February 2016 in western Libya that killed dozens. Serb officials had questioned why the Americans did not appear to know that...
(Fox News 05/10/17)
After five years of no major attacks on merchant vessels, piracy around the Horn of Africa seemed to be on hiatus. Acts of piracy in those treacherous waters have fallen sharply since 2012, according to statistics released by the United States Navy. The Navy credits aggressive patrolling by international forces and increased vigilance by the commercial shipping industry for the decrease. However, in the past month, Somali pirates have intercepted five ships, raising concerns that piracy has returned to the Indian Ocean, beginning with the kidnapping of a Sri Lankan crew from the Aris 13 oil tanker on March 13th (they were later released without a ransom). Nobody thinks the problem will end until a stable government is restored in...
(AFP (eng) 05/09/17)
Tunisia's election chief Chafik Sarsar resigned Tuesday for being unable to work "independently and impartially" just months before the country is due to hold its first post-revolution municipal elections. "According to the oath we took" in which "we committed to work towards free and transparent elections and to carry out our duty independently and impartially... we have decided to resign," Sarsar said, announcing he, his deputy and another member of the electoral commission were quitting. "We were compelled to resign" over disagreements on "the founding values and principles of democracy", he said at a news conference. Sarsar did not elaborate and AFP was unable to reach him afterwards. Sarsar's deputy Mourad Ben Mouelli and another member of the electoral body,...

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