Libya, Algeria, Tunisia join forces to secure borders

Updated 12 January 2013
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Libya, Algeria, Tunisia join forces to secure borders

Ghadames, Libya: The prime ministers of Libya, Algeria and Tunisia decided on Saturday to reinforce border security and join forces tackling regional challenges including terrorism, arms trafficking and organized crime.
The decision was taken by Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali during a meeting in the southern Libyan oasis of Ghadames.
They pledged in an 11-point plan to “create common border checkpoints and intensify cooperation in the security sphere through joint patrols,” and vowed as well to tackle organized crime and terrorism.
The premiers also addressed the crisis in Mali, which shares a border with Algeria and where troops are poised to reclaim a key town from Islamists threatening to advance on the capital after France sent in its air force.
“It is necessary to find a political solution to this crisis by fostering dialogue between the different parties in Mali to preserve the sovereignty and unity of its territory,” they said in a joint statement.
The Libyan prime minister told journalists the “situation in Mali has made it necessary for us to meet in order to prevent and tackle its consequences.”
It requires close “coordination between our military and intelligence services to prevent anything that might affect our security, the movement of persons, arms and drugs trafficking, terrorism and human trafficking,” he said.
Libyan authorities in December decided to close the country’s borders with Algeria, Niger, Chad and Sudan, decreeing the oil-rich south a military zone, in a move seen by analysts as a response to the crisis in Mali.
Although Libya does not share borders with Mali it has been the worst affected by the spillover of weapons and fighters, both Tuareg and Islamist, that accompanied the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
With West African governments now pushing for intervention to evict the jihadists from northern Mali, Libya and its neighbors, particularly Algeria, fear the fighters and weapons will stream back north across the Sahara.


Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 27 min 26 sec ago
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Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.

BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.