S. African officials go to Yemen to discuss kidnapped couple

Updated 30 May 2013
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S. African officials go to Yemen to discuss kidnapped couple

JOHANNESBURG: South African diplomats were heading to Yemen yesterday to try to secure the release of a couple kidnapped this week in the central city of Taiz, Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
“Yes the couple is from South Africa and our officials are traveling to Yemen to see how we can help secure their release,” ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela told AFP.
The couple, initially thought to be tourists, were involved in the development of a hotel in the city of Taiz, said Monyela.
Gunmen kidnapped the pair on Monday over a land dispute between a local chief and the authorities, according to Yemeni security officials.
One security source said they were seized while they were outside a hotel in the eastern part of the city.
The kidnappers came from the area of Janadiyah, some 35 kilometers (about 20 miles) east of Taiz, said another official.
They belonged to a local chief who has had a long-running dispute with the authorities over a plot of land, he said, adding the couple could be used for bargaining.
Although kidnappings of foreigners in Yemen are frequent, Taiz — one of the country’s biggest cities — has not been the scene of hostage-taking.
Hundreds of people have been abducted in Yemen in the past 15 years, nearly all of whom have been freed unharmed.
Most kidnappings of foreigners are carried out by members of Yemen’s powerful tribes who use them as bargaining chips in disputes with the central government.


Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 24 April 2018
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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.