The absence of democratic practices in the parliamentary blocs in a democracy in crisis
In Parliament, the balances in the parliamentary blocs started to change after the declaration of the dissolution of the Future bloc at the beginning of the second Parliamentary session
The resignations from the National Bloc also continued, as the resigned MP Mariam Alloghmany announced that the number of the resignations from the bloc reached 7 and it is expected to rise. The resignations were due to the rejection of the illegal action which was taken by the deputy head of the bloc, Reda Sharaf Al-Din, to call for a meeting which contradicts to the bloc’s bylaw She also explained that the bylaw stipulates in chapter 11 that the meeting is called by the head of the bloc or the two thirds of full-fledged members. And in chapter 12, the call takes at least 48 hours before holding the meeting, which contradicts with the procedures of the meeting which is called by the deputy head, Reda Sharaf Al-Din, as it was less than 24 hours before holding the meeting in a hotel.
The MP Alloghmany said that the reason for her resignation was because some representatives of the Ennahda Movement were behind the call for a meeting that was headed by Sharaf Al-Din. She also added that, Nour Al-Din Al-Behainry and Al-Sayed Al-Fergany who are MPs from Ennahda, urged some representatives from the National Bloc to attend the meeting
On the other hand, Alloghmany denounced the Parliament’s decision which approved the appointment of Sharaf Al-Din as the head of the National Bloc despite the lack of a quorum. She explained that the Parliament’s office registered the withdrawal of the representatives of the Reform Bloc and the Democratic Bloc due to Decree 116 and the absence of the representative of the Free Constitutional Party bloc due to the quarantine, which makes a quorum Incomplete and the decision illegal. In the same context, Hatem Al-Maliky who is a member in the aforementioned bloc (the National Bloc), rejected the procedure of holdind the meeting as it is immoral
The bill on repression of assaults against security forces raised widespread debate among the Tunisian public opinion. The law returned once again to the Parliament, but once again it was ended with postponing consideration of it at the request of the Presidency of the Government in a letter to the Speaker of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People.
It is indicated that the request for postponing consideration included also a request which was related to the draft law regulating the state of emergency, which in turn contains a violation in rights and freedoms. The aforementioned law has been filed since 2018
Also, the proposal to revise the draft law No. 116 of 2011 which is dated to November 2, 2011 concerning the freedom of audio-visual communication by establishing an independent supreme commission for audiovisual communication raised another controversy.
The proposal was issued by the Dignity Coalition bloc under numerous justifications and it did not receive positive feedback in Media.
Before analyzing the contents of the proposed amendment, the problem of forming the independent bodies continues because of the political conflict that delayed everything. It also led to reduce the participatory role of the relevant sectors with several necessary reformations, including the amendment and reformation of the audiovisual sector.
It seems that the main principle that is being violated is what was stated in the Tunisian constitution concerning the participatory democratic republican system. The Constitution stipulates the consolidation of the same principle in the local level But the reality shows the continuous absence of the Civil Society which has become a protest power instead of a power to suggest and contribute to putting and suggesting legalization and public policies. And that is considered a serious challenge in the fledgling democracy in Tunisia.
Meanwhile, the President is silent concerning that problem while constitutionally, he is considered as the safe guardian of the constitution, as the Parliament’s legislation included situations that violate the values and principles of the constitution especially in human rights, and the individual and public freedoms.
The Presidency of the Republic: A constitutional silence and a diplomatic discourse
On the other hand, on the diplomatic level, on Monday 12/10/2020, President Kais Saeied met Stephanie Williams, the deputy head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) The meeting was concerning the arrangements of Tunisia’s hosting of the first direct meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in early November.
The President expressed his satisfaction by choosing Tunisia to host that important meeting which came as a result of passive coordination and consultation between Tunisia and the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), as in this meeting, the Libyan rivals shall meet to continue the political process. The President confirms that Tunisia is ready to provide all material and human capabilities to contribute to the success of this important meeting.
Law, power, right and the need…
What is previous is not in line with the reality and its crisis, despite their link. It is supposed that the state’s policies and law build a legal and legislative path which solve the issues of the citizen who gives legitimacy in return, However, the crisis of the administration and governance led to the misapplication of the law which has become inconsistent with the needs of citizens as the law didn’t respond to it.
The implementation of a demolition order in Subaytilah, in the governorate of Kasserine, resulted in the death of a citizen under the rubble. Which led to widespread protests in the region The city of Subaytilah lived on protests and Skirmishes among the security forces and a number of protesters. The security forces were thrown by stones and the security units used tear gas to disperse them.
Meanwhile, the Tunisian National Guard announced that it had thwarted 32 illegal immigration trips off the Tunisian coast and stopped 262 illegal immigrants. But it is also reported that more than 600 immigrants arrived on the Italian coast during the previous days.
In addition, 11 bodies of migrants were recovered after a boat sank last Sunday, which included 29 people, including two Tunisians. It is noteworthy that August witnessed the arrival of 2,235 immigrants to the northern shores of the Mediterranean. This news passed quickly in the midst of last week , as it seems that death in the “cemetery” of the Meditranean sea has become normal and familiar.
The health and epidemiological situation remains the same, as the numbers of the infections with coronavirus are on the rise. New pictures which were taken from the health institutions show a catastrophic situation for covid-19 departments That is not surprising due to the lack of capabilities while managing the crisis is limited and not successful enough.
This week, many dialogue sessions may take place inside and outside Libya in the capitals of the world, through the United Nations Mission and under regional or Libyan auspices in order to pave the way for the path of political dialogue to be held during November this year in Tunisia. It seems that Tunisia is the only country that is able to host the meeting after the refusal of the European countries to organize this meeting due to the second wave of Coronavirus which swept through the world during this month.
The representatives of the Libyan Assembly and State Council agreed in Cairo on Tuesday 13/10/2020, on the necessary to end the transitional stage and start the arrangements of the permanent stage, stressing the necessity of continuing holding meetings. In a statement by the participants in the meeting, they stated that “ legal discussions were taking place concerning whether the referendum could be held on the current draft constitution or not. And several opinions and proposals were put on the negotiating table.
The statement added that “ the two parties showed a great flexibility in the dialogue and they agreed to continue the discussions. The two parties also expressed their desire to hold a second round in Egypt to continue the constructive discussions concerning the constitutional arrangements and they stressed on the need for a community dialogue to reach constitutional consensuses that allows the country to move forward in The constitutional path.
Also on Tuesday, the symposium started which is entitled “ the political dialogue… The reality and challenges”, within the framework of the Virtual National Forum which precedes the direct dialogue that was announced by the UN Mission in Libya in the presence of the deputy head, Stephanie Williams. And in the Symposium, a number of academics, activists and media professionals may participate from different parts of Libya, according to one participants of the symposium.
Last Saturday, October 10, 2020, Williams announced the resumption of the comprehensive Libyan-Libyan talks which are based on Security Council Resolution No. 2510 of 2020, which adopted the results of the Berlin Conference on Libya.
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum is held according to a mixed format, through a series of sessions via video communication, as well as through direct meetings due to Coronavirus pandemic in order to protect the health of the participants, as according to the mission. Generally, the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum aims to achieve a unified vision concerning the framework and arrangements of governance which would lead to hold national elections in the shortest possible time schedule, in order to “ restore the Libyan sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of the Libyan institutions”.
Politicians and the demand for fair and real representation
Regarding choosing the participants, the Mission said that they would be from the main components of the Libyan people, and that the selection may be based on “the principles of comprehensiveness and geographical, ethnic, political, tribal and equitable social representation, with a firm commitment to the meaningful participation of Libyan women and youth”.
In the same context, the activities of the youth conference, which was held in the town of “Toyoh” for a period of three days, in the municipality of Ubari, south-west of Libya, was concluded on Sunday, October 11, 2020, regarding the political path to settle the Libyan crisis.
In its closing statement, the conference called for the necessity of the participation of the Libyan youth in the political dialogue with 25 young men, representing all regions of Libya, taking into account the cultural components, people with special needs and women. The participants of the conference refused the participation of the “ same figures who produced the Skhirat Agreement,” due to their failure to lead the stage, according to the statement. They demanded the necessity of clarifying the criteria by which the participants in the political track would be selected for the Libyan dialogue process.
They also stressed the necessity for the percentage of women’s representation in the dialogue to be 25%, refusing to use it as an image only, or as a completion of the public scene. The statement of the youth conference called for the formation of a mini-crisis government with limited powers as its first task is to unify the state’s government institutions, make the necessary arrangements to conduct the electoral process, and end the problems of electricity, fuel and cash.
Also, they called the expected government not to ratify any deals or contracts that entail financial obligations. In addition to submitting reports concerning the progress of its work and its expenses, and the percentage of completing its tasks for every third of its period in order to achieve transparency. The declaration of Toyoh called the UN Mission to complete the electoral path in case of the failure of the government to do so, after two-thirds of its period has passed, and this government is considered dissolved then.
The participants confirmed their refusal of the interference in the Judiciary or choosing whoever would have positions in it, as they considered that as “ a main term of reference for the Supreme Council of the Judiciary”. The youth of the conference added that they wouldn’t accept “ any procrastination or using political tricks as what happened in the Skhirat agreement”. They called the Government of National Accord (GNA) to include what would be agreed upon in the constitutional declaration , and the need for the constitutional path in the agreement to be settled in a disciplined manner, by proposing a referendum bill that was handed over to the High Electoral Commission.
In its statement concerning the resumption of the Libyan-Libyan talks, the UN mission confirmed that the selection of participants in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum will be based on the principles of inclusiveness and fair geographical, ethnic, political, tribal and social representation, as well as the participation of Libyan women and youth.
It is noted that there is a conflict between two powers in Libya to govern. And they are the Government of National Accord (GNA) in the West and its headquarter is in Tripoli, and it is recognized by the United Nations. While the other power is the field marshal, Khalifa Hafter in the East. According to Williams, The dialogue in Tunisia which begins on October 26 virtually via the internet and continues directly at the beginning of November, includes a number of members of the Tobruk Parliament in the East, the Supreme Council of State in the West, and participants who were chosen by the United Nations And when the deputy head of the UN Mission was asked about the participation of Hafter and Fayez Al Sarraj, the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, in the dialogue, she answered that the main condition for the participation is to leave the political positions for the sake of the public interest for all Libyans.
It is noted also that the Minister of the Interior in the Government of the National Accord, Fathy Bashagha, considered that Libya is ready now to declare a political agreement that brings together all Libyans. He also confirmed that the results and outputs of the outside meetings among the rivals show clear evidence. That is considered as an evidence for an actual intention for a solution in Libya
On the contrary, the field leaders in Borkan Al ghadab Operation, issued a statement which shows their situations concerning the political meetings and dialogues that the country is witnessing these days in order to reach a solution to the Libyan crisis through the political path. And the leaders declared in their statement that they agreed to form a political team to participate in the political dialogue process, stressing that this team would represent the direct situation from the field operations rooms. They stressed the need for the representation of Burkan Alghadab “the volcano’s power of anger” operation in the dialogue to be appropriate with the sacrifices they made.
They also agreed to form a special committee to review the file of injured persons and refer the results to the Attorney General. The statement called on the Government of National Accord and the Presidency to prepare a comprehensive program to integrate the supporting forces in the State’s institutions.
The field commanders called the field operations room to communicate with all commanders equally and to let them participate in the tasks of the room.
Weapons and its armed groups are a serious problem in Libya which the Military Committee seems to be working on. Which should be taken into consideration their presence and influence in reality in order to integrate it instead of being an obstacle against the political solution.
A political move and an important societal mobility
Concerning the national reconciliation, a delegation from “notables of Cyrenaica” in the Eastern regions, visited the “ the prisoners of war (POW) from the General Command Forces” in the Forces of the Government of National Accord in Misurata. That is considered a first step towards exchanging prisoners among the two parties. According to Al Wasat channel, the Head of the Notables of Misurata, Mohamed Al Rajoubi, said that there are discussions concerning forming committees to open roads and airports between the Eastern and Western regions soon.
He also explained that the ongoing consultations with the delegation of the Eastern regions aim to release the prisoners of war and the abducted persons from both sides in the coming days.
Egypt, the regime Egypt, the Army
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released a research paper entitled “ Understanding Egyptian Military Expenditure” It draw the attention to what it called as “ “gaps in the data announced by the Egyptian government regarding the Military expenditure”, based on the disproportion between the size and level of armament of the Egyptian armed forces which is considered the biggest army in the Middle East and North Africa, and the second after Iran in terms of the number of its soldiers on one hand, and the level of “moderate” Egyptian military spending according to official data, compared to the rest of the armies of the region on the other hand.
In its analysis of the Egyptian military expenditure, the research paper showed a number of observations and the most notably observation was that the official information provided by the Egyptian government show that the average Egyptian military expenditure reached:
This number makes Egypt one of the lowest countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, which includes 14 countries that show available data, in terms of military spending as a percentage of GDP in 2019. As the Egyptian military spending last year recorded:
While the military spending of states in MENA averaging
4.4 percent of GDP. This led the researcher who did that paper to consider that the expenditure of the Egyptian Military forces is not in line with the size of the Egyptian Military forces and the level of its armament, especially in the recent years.
According to the paper, the period in which Egypt reduced its average military expenditure, witnessed an extensive investment in its Military forces. As between 2015-2019, Egypt has become the third largest importer of weapons in the world, and the second largest importer in the Middle East and North Africa, after Saudi Arabia, which Its military spending exceeds 17 times the Egyptian military spending, and before Algeria, which its military spending is three times the size of the Egyptian military.
Based on many examples concerning the paradox between the weak Egyptian Military Expenditure according to the official data, the report concludes that “the relationship between the state’s arms purchases and its military budget is not always clear: The volume of arms purchases does not always affect the size of the military budget”. According to the researcher, she says in her report that due to the lack of transparency in the Egyptian Military budget regarding the purchases of weapons, it seems difficult to estimate the real resources for funding the arms deals.
However, in this context, she draws attention to the need to put into consideration the role of the Egyptian Army in economy, the unknown size of revenues and income of its economic entities. And whether these financial flows contribute to covering military spending or not which is considered as an “ ob
It is clear that the Army is restructuring the State and controlling its main pillars in terms of political, economic and social aspects under the discourse of the Army’s war against terrorism and the foreign enemy.
The human rights bulletin in Egypt: Honoring the civil struggle represented by Leila Soueif
The Middle East Studies Association (MESA) awarded the Academy’s 2020 freedom prize to the academic Leila Souif Souif said after the news of receiving the award: “I am happy, grateful and proud that the Middle East Studies Association granted me its award for academic freedoms for this year, and of course, happy and grateful to all the friends who are happy with me and who congratulated me”.
On the other hand, in a report submitted by a number of experts in the United Nations, shows that Egypt uses the trials of terrorism circuits to target human rights defenders, silence the opposition and imprison activists during Coronavirus pandemic.
Repression in Egypt: structured, systematic, and rhetorically justified under the pretext of terrorism
According to the issued report in Geneva, terrorism charges and exceptional trials are used to target legitimate human rights, as well as deeply affect civil society. According to the report also, those experts: “We are concerned that human rights defenders and representatives of civil society who have been accused of terrorism and detained during this pandemic [are subjected to] some form of actual punishment, in a way that threatens their right to life and not be subjected to torture as well, in an inhuman and degrading manner”.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information also called on the Attorney General to order the immediate release of the journalist Islam Al-Kalhi, the editor of the Darb website, as well as Kamal Al-Balshi, the brother of Khaled Al-Balshi, the editor-in-chief of the Darb website. It also called the Public Prosecution to be away from contributing to the police retaliation which is practiced by the authorities in Egypt against Journalist Khaled Al-Balshi, editor-in-chief of Darb, and a former member of the Press Syndicate Council, because of his professionalism and bias towards the values of professional journalism, instead of cheering and hypocrisy of the supporters of this authority.
It is noteworthy that Kamal Al-Balshi, Khaled Al-Balshi’s brother, was arrested on September 20 and brought before the Public Prosecution which decided to imprison him for 15 days pending investigations in case no.880 of 2020 which is known as the events of September 20, 2020. He was accused of protesting, spreading false news, joining a banned group and misusing social media. And he was arrested while returning from the gym alone. According to the investigation report which has no evidence, he was transferred to Tora prison.
On the same context, the Giza Criminal Court renewed the imprisonment of the activist Nermin Hussein in Case No. 535 of 2020 under the Supreme State Security, the imprisonment of the blogger Muhammad Ibrahim Muhammad Radwan, known as Muhammad Oxygene, in Case No. 1356 of 2019 under the Supreme State Security. It also renewed the imprisonment of dozens of detainees pending investigations in Case No. 1413 of 2019 under the Supreme state Security, and as well as dozens of detainees pending investigations in Case No. 1530 of 2019, under the Supreme State Security. It also renewed the imprisonment of the journalist Sayed Abd Al-Elah in Case No.1338 of 2019 under the Supreme State Security, and the journalist Badr Badr Mohamed in Case No1360 of 2019 under the Supreme State Security.
Meanwhile, The fifth circuit (#terrorism) of Cairo Criminal Court, decided to replace pretrial detention with a precautionary measure for the labor activist Ahmed Tamam and others, and to renew the imprisonment of the lawyer Ziyad Al-Elimi and the journalists Hisham Fouad and Hossam Mo’nis for 45 days pending investigations in case no. 930 of 2019 under the State Security which is known as “ the Hope Plan cell”
The strict sentences of the Egyptian Judiciary continued after the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced one accused person for a strict imprisonment for 15 years,10 years for other 2 accused ones and acquitted three others in the case known in the Media as the incidents of the second Maspero.
The right of the syndicate and workers is in the face of the Egyptian struggle despite the difficulties
The Center for Trade Union & Workers’ Services (CTUWS) issued a statement that workers at the Workers’ University in Cairo continued to sit-in to protest against the non-payment of wages and salaries of September, and due to the non-payment of the salaries of October for more than 4000 workers in the various branches of the university in the Republic, possibilities escalated
That happened due to the failure of the workers’ university in paying the salaries and wages since May, as the administration paid the salaries of May, June, July and August in semi-monthly installments before it stopped paying last September’s wages amid statements and threats from Jabali Al-Maraghi, President of the Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Workers’ University, against the university employees to pay only half of the basic wage. That spooked the workers in the University of workers and culture with the news of the inability to pay the October salary as well, which pushed workers to sit-in for days at the Workers’ University, demanding their salary arrears to face the burden of living.
On the other hand, the General Federation of Trade Unions and Workers of Egypt issued a statement confirming that the federation is fully responsible for the salaries of workers at the workers’ university and that it has not abandoned the university throughout the past years and would not abandon it because it is considered an integral part of the workers ’union.
The struggle of doctors and medical staff continues in Egypt, with a new increase in the number of deaths in their ranks, as the number of martyrs reached: