In Libya, the pace of events accelerated especially in reshuffling the formation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the West due to the violent action taken by the government against protests, which led to mass amendments and several resolutions during this week.
Popular demonstrations occurred in several Western cities in Libya for demanding improving economic and social conditions which resulted in violence. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) accused the security forces of the internationally recognized (GNA) of “excessive use of force” which resulted in several injuries among protesters. In addition, The United Nations Mission called for the urgent need to return to the political process to maintain the situation in Libya and to respond to the popular demands while confirming the citizens’ right to peacefully express their views
The popular movement in Libya: A reality that awaits a mere Libyan policies
As a result of the demonstrations, the cease-fire agreement was declined which is an agreement that was announced by both the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aquiela Saleh and the former head of the Government of National Accord, Fayez Al-Sarraj. Moreover, the popular movement put the continuity of (GNA) at risk due to the disagreements and its work that is constantly rejected and criticized.
The spokesman of the so-called ” the Mettle of Libyan Youth”, Ahmed Abou Arqoub said that the movement shall continue, especially after the negative situation of the Presidential Council in ignoring legitimate demands that were raised by protesters for providing decent livelihood. Besides, the situation aggravated by using security in repressing protesters and imposing a curfew to suppress the demonstrations and the Libyan street”.
The movement has expanded towards the cities of Zawiya, Sabratha and Misurata which have a severe crisis due to the frequent power cuts of water supply, delayed salaries and widespread corruption.
As a result of the demonstrations and what followed including the alignment and disagreements within the Liban Government of National Accord, Fathy Aly Basha Agha, the Minister of Interior was suspended, and will face an administrative inquiry after gunmen (affiliated with the GNA) fired on protesters last week.
Gunfire was heard in the center of Tripoli after the decree to suspend Basha Agha, according to the Reuters news agency. Earlier, Basha Agha stated that the attack on the demonstrators was “by an armed group, using their weapons, firing randomly, and using machine guns and artillery,” denouncing “the kidnapping of some demonstrators, forcibly hiding them and causing panic among citizens.”
After these transformations of attitudes, the demonstrations returned to Tripoli in particular, while Basha agha’s return to it was surrounded by a military convoy of 300 vehicles, some equipped with heavy weapons and others with anti-aircraft weapons. The military convoy accompanied Minister Bashagha’s return from Mitiga International Airport to Tripoli and large crowds went to welcome him. This raises serious questions concerning the Libyan balances and the feasibility of removing the Minister of Interior during his visit to Turkey.
The Political divisions in Western Libya : A policy affected by the military equipment and fighters
It is noted that the forces of Misrata city are the most powerful armed formations in the West of Libya in terms of equipment and fights, but they are internally divided into several groups with different leaderships. Some of them point that Basha Agha is the man of the next stage and as he is from Misrata. Among the armed groups that clearly support him, “Hetteen militia” which is one of the largest armed groups in Misrata. Basha was one of its leaders and he also formed the ‘Al-Morsi’ brigade, which participated in Operation Libya Dawn in 2014. The ousted Minister has also a support from ‘Al-Somod’ militia that expressed their support, threatening to split and expose corruption files in case of Basha Aga’s dismissal. Among the other brigades, we could find the brigade of Tajin, Shrikhan and the militia of ‘ the third power’.
Balances remain critical within Tripoli, especially that Fayez Al-Sarraj relies on the support of Mohamed Ali Al-Haddad who was appointed as the General Staff of GNA’s forces and who is the commander of Halbos brigade. While the latter is the largest and most armed group in Misurata and, thus Fayez Al-Sarraj guaranteed a powerful support. Al-Sarraj also appointed Salah El-Din Abdallah Al-Namrosh from Al-Zawiya city as a military Minister.
The Ministry of Interior declared arresting one of the suspected in gun fire against protesters in “Martyrs’” Square3 in Tripoli and investigating him after identifying his identity and in favor of which body he works.
The decree of suspending Basha Agha was followed by other decrees issued by the President of the Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj concerning the living conditions of the citizens such as Government assistance by financial grants to citizens. In addition, several officials were referred to the Office of the Attorney General to investigate cases of job corruption and waste of public money. Moreover, news spread regarding Al-Sarraj’s intention to declare a ministerial reshuffle in the service ministries related to the living conditions of the citizens such as the appointment of new officials in the Public Company for Electricity, in addition to new ministers to the ministries of Health, Finance and local government.
The political response seems limited till now, while the Libyan civil society drafted its vision for the solution. Libyan politicians, human rights defenders, academics and activists sent a message to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Gutteres, denouncing all foreign interventions in Libya and they refused the presence of any foreign forces in Libya whether officially or not, regular or mercenary or under any cover. They stated in their message that “the crisis in Libya is no longer a mere conflict over power or wealth among Libyan, but Libya now is an arena of conflict among foreign parties”. Also, they confirmed that some countries found the recent conditions since 2011 as an opportunity to settle its international and regional sovereignty and to achieve their interests.
They considered all the existing bodies in Libya, “lacking the legitimacy to confer any legal or political legitimacy on the presence of foreign forces or mercenaries in Libya”. Besides, they express their hope that the UN organization would deal with these bodies on this basis. They also asked the relevant institutions in the United Nations to do what is necessary to ensure the urgent withdrawal of foreign forces in all their forms from Libya, considering their presence unlawful, which contradicts the rules of international law and the United Nations Charter, and clearly violates all UN Security Council resolutions related to the Libyan crisis.
They called for the necessity of taking decisions and measures to stop foreign intervention in the Libyan crisis, and to limit “the countries” which tamper with the fate of the Libyan people and control their will, while stressing that this is the only way that enables Libyans to restore their national sovereignty and provides them with opportunities to agree on local solutions to their crisis. It “opens the doors for stability and peace, and strengthens their hopes for a better future.”
On the human rights level, the Libyan Organization for Independent Media condemned the enforced disappearance of the journalist, TV director, and the executive director of Al-Jawhara Radio Network, Sami Al-Sharif, who was kidnapped in the 23rd of August while he was in the Martyrs Square in Tripoli covering the demonstrations against corruption in the Government of National Accord. In today’s statement, the organization blamed the Presidency Council and its government, including the Ministry of Interior for their responsibility concerning “kidnapping Sherif”, demanding the Ministry of Interior to reveal his kidnappers and bring them to justice.
The Organization denounced the silence of the Presidential Council concerning “violations committed by the legitimate armed groups of the government while receiving their salaries from the people’s treasury in attacking journalists and activists.” The organization stated that eyewitnesses who were with Sherif declared that armed members of the Special Operations Force of the “Al-Nawasi Battalion” arrested Al-Sharif and took him to the “Bou Laila” tower building in Tripoli where the Battalion controlled.
The organization confirmed that the kidnapping of Sherif is a heinous crime against the right of the press and freedom of expression, appealing to the Ministry of Interior of the Government of National Accord (GNA) to urgently intervene to release the kidnapped colleague and to account the body that kidnapped him unlawfully.
The Egyptian Parliament: works in favor of the regime and against the will of Egyptians
Egypt House of Parliament’s fifth session was concluded on the 23rd of August 2020. Its outputs were a flood of several detailed legal texts according to the regime’s will and policies:
It seems that influence and power are the basic principles of life generally due to the existence of a regime that violates the law. The news of “raping in Fairmount hotel” occupied public opinion in Egypt this week after the Public Prosecution issued a statement announcing that the accused “Amir Zayed” had been imprisoned for four days pending investigations after the police arrested him yesterday while he was trying to flee outside the country like the rest of the accused. The public Prosecution has taken measures to arrest all the accused through ‘INTERPOL’ , and investigations are going to be continued.
The case of “raping inside Fairmount hotel” The influence of money in politics to violate the law and rape victims
The Lebanese security declared arresting three among the accused of the internationally wanted concerning that case due to a bulletin which was issued by the INTERPOL. Probably, an Egyptian security force shall travel to Lebanon to receive the accused or Lebanon shall deport them as being arrested to be investigated in Egypt. It is noted that Egyptian Media did not mention the names of the accused, but mentioned the names of the witnesses or victims. Despite spreading personal pictures and data differs for both sides, that reveals the rampant pathological practices.
In addition, the Egyptian Security Forces arrested three girls after applying their personal identity to the Attorney General to witness in the case by offering important information. The National Security Forces detained the first witness from her home at dawn last saturday, then detained the second witness from her car and the third from a public place in Cairo and they forcibly disappeared in an unknown place till now, while the Police followed the fourth witness, as well as any person in relation with them.
A human rights source said that “arresting and following the witnesses in this case aim to change its process through new investigations of the security forces to the Public Prosecution to prove that the incident took place by the approval of the assauled girls, thus this case will not be considered an incident of rape. The source cleared that the State Security Agency put pressure on the detained girls to change their testimonies, and to make them confess that the secual intercourse was consensual among the accused and the victim in order to acquit the accused young men as they have power.
On Monday, the Public Prosecution announced the imprisonment of three defendants for four days pending investigations in “an incident in which they were accused during the ongoing investigations in the case of raping a girl in Fairmount Hotel”, and the release of three others with a financial gurantee and of another one with a gurantee of his residence.
The Egyptian actress, Noha Al-Amrossi, the mother of Nazly Mahmoud who is one of the three whom the Prosecution decided to imprison, stated that the charges against her daughter include practicing debauchery and spreading false news at least. Al-Amrossi explained that her daughter was arrested due to her marriage from Amr El-Komy who is one of the accused in the Fairmount rape case. She also she that he filmed her in secual intercourses and spread these recordings without her permission.
Three other resources related to the campaigns which called for prosecuting the rapists said that at least four of the aforementioned witnesses in the Prosecution’s statement testified against the “rapists” in the Fairmount case, including three women and a man who went to the prosecution voluntarily to offer his testimony.
The regime in Egypt: A place for corruption and covering it up
Due to the power of influence, lobbies of money, economic dominance and social class, public opinion is directed towards changing the Fairmount case from rape to debauchery and group sex. This matter is considered a common practice which reflects the corruption of the political regimes that continue dealing with the power of influence and corrupted money.
On the other side, the Attorney General, Counselor Hamada Al-Sawy ordered the referral of the accused “Ahmed Bassam Zaki” to the criminal court in charges of raping three girls under 18, in addition to threatening them together with another girl to spread their personal information and smeared their honor. Besides, his threat was accompanied by requesting the continuity of his sexual intercourse with them and also insisting on disturbing them by misusing tele-communication devices.
The Human Rights Bulletin: The victims are foreign citizens
In continuation to the shocking facts, a Sudanese refugee in Egypt committed suicide, after two days of spreading her testimony stating that she had suffered from frequent rape. As on last Friday, the Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas published two testimonies one written and the other recorded, stating that a Sudanese refugee in Egypt had since four years accused three persons of raping her and her sister more than once. According to the two testimonies, the Sudanese refugee was raped in 2019 by a refugee lawyer in Cairo, inside his office.
Although the identity of the rapists was not identified in the testimony, a refugee lawyer named Yasser Farraj published a statement yesterday confirming that he is the intended lawyer, indicating that what was published were “lies” and that his relationship with the witness “did not violate norms.” The refugee had said that the aforementioned Sudanese refugee lawyer had previously raped her in 2016, while he had previously sexually assaulted her sister in the same year.
With the continuation of the ‘revolving doors’ policy’ against the defendants by the State Security Prosecution, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information expressed today its rejection and strong condemnation of listing their lawyer Amr Imam in a new fabricated case and investigating him under charges based on a report with a fabricated and frequent investigations by the State Security against freedom of expression prisoners. These charges alleged that Amr Imam met with a number of prisoners from a terrorist group during practicing exercise in prison and that he received money to send it to other members outside prison with the aim of committing terrorist crimes.
The Arabic Network stated that lawyer Amr Imam was arrested since mid of October 2019, then he was investigated and put in custody pending investigations in case no. 488 of 2019 listed by the investigation of the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) after playing a prominent role in defending the arrested citizens in ” the events of the 20th of September 2019, last year”. This case was fabricated as a revenge following his important role in defending the victims in the major case and because of his job as a human rights lawyer in the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
It is noted that Amr Imam was not the only one involved in case no. 855, as in the following days of his investigations, the State Security Prosecution summoned both human rights lawyers Mahienour El-Masry, Mohamed Al-Baqer, and the two journalists Soulfa Magdy and Israa Abdel Fattah to investigate them in the same case and ordered them to be imprisoned for 15 days, providing that this period was calculated after the end of their imprisonment in the cases they are currently imprisoned for.
Under the continuation of the policy of ‘revolving doors’ which violates the law, pressure and media campaigns have become the only way to support political detainees and activists in Egypt. The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) had sent a letter to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi requesting releasing the human rights lawyer and the former parliamentarian, Ziad El Elaimy and considering his health conditions.
The letter showed that The Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) “expresses its concerns regarding the continuity of imprisoning lawyer Ziad El-Elaimy and his health condition as there is information about depriving Ziad from an adequate health care amid concerns due to the spread of the Coronavirus.” While Ziad faces his fabricated and invalidated cases, figures of the former regime return to the courts to be found innocent from their charges, which they committed under the previous regime of repression.
Lieutenant General Ahmed Shafik, the former Prime Minister in Egypt was on trial again for corruption after accepting the appeal of the Public Prosecution on his innocence and two former leaders in the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The case was dubbed in the media as “Corruption of the Civil Aviation Ministry”. The charges include wasting public money and facilitating its seizure. This case was referred to the judiciary in 2012, and was one of 3 cases in which Shafik was found innocent (in absentia) when he traveled outside the country and did not attend the court sessions.
Meanwhile, violating the law continues concerning all what is related to Civil Society in Egypt, as 13 institutions and organizations sent a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Mostafa Madbouly and Minister of Social Solidarity Nevin al-Kabbaj, demanding the issuance of the executive regulations for the new law for NGOs.
The message stated “however the law does not become fully enforceable in the practical sense until the issuance of its regulation within six months from the date of its implementation. The regulation was supposed to be issued before February 2, 2020, but more than six months have passed and civil society is still awaiting for the list.
On another level, in a strange coincidence, and after 7 years of his escape, according to the statement of the Ministry of Interior, Egyptian Security Forces arrested Mahmoud Ezzat who is a leader in Muslim Brotherhood and the acting chairman of the Supreme Guide of Muslim Brotherhood. The Ministry stated that, Ezzat was arrested hiding in one of the apartments in the Fifth Settlement, East of the Egyptian capital, Cairo after Information has been received by the National Security Sector.
The number of victims of COVID-19 among doctors reached 160 of Martyrs according to the Egyptian Medical Syndicate page.
Concerning the Parliament, the Assembly of the Representatives of the People made a general session to vote to grant confidence to the government of the designated Head of Government, Hichem Al-Mechichi. The session started in the morning at 9 AM and ended by voting to grant confidence after midnight. A total of 134 deputies voted in favor of the proposed government and 67 against without any abstained voter. Thus, the total number of voters is 201 deputies out of 217.
By voting to Mechichi’s government, a set of changes in the parties’ decisions and political interests were revealed as it is not enough to just follow their spokesmen. After a series of consultations according to the current Head of Government, though parties have not considered that consultations, the majority in the Parliament ended with granting confidence. Meanwhile, the extent of the dispute and the narrow political benefits were clear among parties in power and the rest of the institutions and figures who balanced the political situation.
The political arena in Tunisia: Critical discourses with tension and a narrow interests to preserve the political position
Discussions and statements during the general session of voting to grant confidence to the proposed government of the designated Head of Government, Hichem Mechichi, occupied the Tunisian public opinion. This resulted from the previous political conflict and entanglement and also what appeared to be evidence of the political wings’ conflict from inside and outside.
The opinions of the deputies varied between supporters and opponents, between an unwanted government and lack of confidence and the critical consequences in case of dissolving the Parliament and holding premature legislative elections. This led to the volatility of the Representatives’ positions before and after the general session to vote. Ambiguity prevailed during the last hours of the voting session to grant confidence to the government, which was held on the 1st of September 2020.
Once Hichem Mechichi announced the proposed names of the new government, many expressed their points of view. As the Syndicate member, Ziad Ben Omar stated that Olfa Ben Odeh, who is proposed for the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, is incompetent and not independent to hold the office. This is due to previous statements of the Minister expressing her opposition to union pluralism and the evidence against her is her support of the decision to reduce the salaries of professors due to their strike when she was the head of Carthage university. He also stressed suspecting the proposed Minister’s involvement in a conflict of interest process due to her relation with officials in a bank’s board of directors.
In addition, due to the statements of Mr. Walid Zaidy who is proposed to be the Minister of Cultural Affairs, to which he previously declared his refusal to hold responsibility, Mr. Mechichi announced excluding Mr. Zaidy from the proposed government and his intention to replace him. However, the President of the Republic intervened to reappoint Mr. Zaidy.
The session of granting confidence to the government: The cold war
The Dignity Coalition expressed its rejection of the government as it is a government of theoretical competencies only and the proposed persons lack experience especially in political life. The coalition voted for confidence. As for Farmers’ Voice Party, the co-founder of the party expressed that it is the first time for a government to be formed without any foreign nationalities which respects the requirements of Chapter 12 of the Constitution and that it is a government without political disputes and political ideologies. In their opinion, it is a government of independent competencies, thus they gave confidence to the government.
As for Al-Safi Said, he expressed that this government is imposed on everyone. He described it as a “government of the elderly (disability)” and stressed the need to revise the Constitution. As for the Free Constitutional Party, the representative Abir Moussa deplores changing the government every 3 months. She stated that the designated government is supposed to be a government of independent competencies, but that did not happen due to the incorrect choices and the week position of the designated Head of Government from the beginning for at least two reasons. The first includes the duplicated names in the proposed list and the second is the announcement of Hichem Mechichi concerning changing the Ministry of Culture due to his recent statement while being reappointed by the President. She had also asked many questions to the designated Head of Government such as the government’s strategy in improving the energy production in light of the decline in production as well as having a clear plan for the supplementary budget for the year 2020. She emphasized that the broad outlines presented by the government in its program lack planning.
The session lasted for more than 12 hours. The vote was as follows: The majority of Ennahda Movement and the Heart of Tunisia party gave confidence to the government, as well as some other blocs like the Reform bloc, Long Live Tunisia and the National bloc. As for the blocs of the Free Constitutional party and the Democratic party, they completely voted against the government as well as the majority of Dignity coalition voted against the government.
The Presidency of the Republic : A different and strong discourse from within the system of governance without details, but it reflects the severity of the crisis in Tunisia
The swearing ceremony is marked by the presence of the President of the Republic whose speech as well as his face expressions clearly emphasized resentment and anger. As Kais Saied made a speech attacking the lie of some politicians especially in the session of granting confidence to the government. He declared war against anyone who tries to interpret the constitution without knowledge as he does not recognize anything. He also expressed that he would uncover all instances of zionism and colonialism. He expressed that he had respected the regime (system), bodies and institutions, although some of them deserve nothing but contempt. Regardless of the evaluation of the president’s performance and his discourse, it was widely accepted by an important part of the Tunisian public opinion. This reflects the political crisis due to the parties’ policies, while the societal depth and its economic details have different orientations and situations.
The Crisis of politics and governance: Is it possible to rule without real rulers?
Meanwhile, following the removal of Dean, Chawki Al-Tabib, the Anti-Corruption Commission appealed the dismissal decree to the Administrative Court. This is due to the violation of this decree of the Constitution, law, the principle of Separation of powers and the balance among them, thus, it is considered illegal. Many other constitutional bodies supported this position, such as the High Commission for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the National Authority for the Protection of Personal Data, the Access to Information Commission, the Independent High Commission for Elections and the Supreme Commission for Audio and Visual Communication (HAICA ).
What seems strange is that while awaiting the decision of the appeal against the dismissal decision, Mr. Imad Boukhreiss took oath in front of President Kais Saied as the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission on Wednesday the 2nd of September 2020.
In parallel with that, the resignation of Mr. Mohamed Abbou, Minister of State to the Head of Government who is in charge of the Civil Service, governance and combating corruption in the caretaker government from the General Secretariat of the Democratic Current and from the membership of the party was shocking to everyone. Abbou also confirmed his withdrawal from political life which hurt him, as he declared.
The Health Crisis: Among the opened epicenters of the pandemic and the closed hospitals
We are witnessing an increase in cases of Coronavirus since the decision of opening the borders. As a result, many hospitals such as Bab Saadoun Hospital were closed, after 7 persons of medical staff were contaminated by the virus. The number of Governorates which are classified in the red list in Tunisia reached 19 governorates after the rating of infection for each governorate exceeded 10 cases per 100,000 of inhabitants, according to the National Observatory of New and Emerging Diseases.
As a result, a curfew was announced in El Kef governorate, but its duration is revised on Wednesday the 2nd of September as follows: From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. after the protests of the owners of cafes and shops.
Despite all that, the date to start planning for school and university relaunching has not been postponed, while adhering to the health protocol for school and university under the responsibility (Supervision) of 6 Ministries. However, the date can be postponed only in case the member of the scientific committee decided to confront the virus. Habib Ghadira suggested on the 27th of August 2020 that there is a possibility of postponing school return in affected areas such as Al-Hammah town in the Gabes Governorate.
The Human rights Bulletin in Tunisia: Violations against culture, citizenship and rights under confused politics
During the past week, a decision was issued to prevent artists Hassan Shakoush and Omar Kamal from holding their concert scheduled for next Saturday on the 5th of September 2020. The decision followed the request of Hany Shaker, the head of Musicians’ Syndicate in Egypt, to the Tunisian Syndicate of Musical Professions headed by Maher Hammami due to the campaign to prevent artistic “vulgarity” although they previously obtained licenses on the 27th of August 2020.
It is not the first time for Hany Shaker to make such requests. Responding to this request represents a form of authoritarianism and domination within a cultural body which would be better to bypass preventing policies towards supporting the building of cultural policies that construct cultural taste rather than dominating it.
Meanwhile, regarding the issue of immigration and the rights of minorities, the governor of Medenine forced organizations which work in the field of supporting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, not to accept any newcomer in dormitories or places designated for accommodation without his direct permission. That resulted in keeping some cases of immigrants who arrive across land and sea borders for days without any urgent services required by their situations. This reflects an authoritarian approach according to the decisions issued by the authorities, which in general contradict the rules of international law and the regulations of the Tunisian Constitution in this regard.