UN invites US and allies for Syria talks next month

Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the Information Service of the United Nations Office at Geneva. (Photo courtesy: United Nations)
Updated 28 August 2018
0

UN invites US and allies for Syria talks next month

  • “This is going to be an opportunity to discuss the way ahead on the political process,” UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said
  • De Mistura is tasked with forming a committee of Syrian citizens to draw up the new constitution

GENEVA: U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has invited the United States and six other countries for talks in Geneva next month, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Tuesday, as the United Nations continues its push for a new Syrian constitution.
He plans to meet senior representatives from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, France and Egypt on Sept. 14, two days after he receives officials from Russia, Turkey and Iran for previously announced talks.
"This is going to be an opportunity to discuss the way ahead on the political process," U.N. spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said.
A U.S. State Department official said the United States would be represented by James Jeffrey, the newly minted special representative for Syria, and Joel Rayburn, the administration's special envoy for Syria.
De Mistura is tasked with forming a committee of Syrian citizens to draw up the new constitution, after receiving nominations from the Syrian government and the opposition.
The planned meetings follow a similar set of talks with both groups of countries in June, although Egypt was not involved in that round.
The discussions about setting up a constitutional committee have made slow progress and represent a big downgrade in the United Nations' ambitions for Syrian peace talks.
For two years the warring sides repeatedly came to Geneva, in a futile search for agreement on political reforms, a new constitution and new elections.
But this year, with little U.S. political involvement and major gains on the battlefield by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, the U.N. political process has largely evaporated.
The U.S. State Department official said the United States would remain engaged with the United Nations and other parties, including Russia, to encourage all possible efforts to advance the political process, and it supported de Mistura's efforts to broker a political settlement.


Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

Updated 22 September 2018
0

Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

  • Saturday’s ruling by the Court of Cessation dashed any hope that Gamal Mubarak could run for public office.
  • Mubarak’s two sons are currently on trial for insider trading.

CAIRO: Egypt's highest appeals court on Saturday rejected a motion by former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to overturn their conviction on corruption charges.
The ruling by the Court of Cessation, Egypt's final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, dashed any hope that Gamal, Mubarak's younger son and one-time heir apparent, could run for public office. A senior newspaper editor and confidant of Egypt's current president had recently suggested that banker-turned-politician Gamal may have been contemplating the move.
The Mubarak trio was sentenced to three years each for embezzling funds meant for maintenance of presidential palaces but which they spent on upgrading or building private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while their father was freed last year. They repaid the funds, a total of 125 million pounds (about $7 million).
Mubarak's sons are currently on trial for insider trading. They are free on bail after a judge on Thursday overturned a surprise Sept. 15 ruling to detain them. The case's next hearing is on Oct. 20.
The rejection of their appeal Saturday and Gamal Mubarak's subsequent ineligibility to run for office came in the wake of recent comments by the chief editor of state-run Al-Akhbar publications, Yasser Rizq, who suggested that frequent public appearances by the younger Mubarak could be a prelude to a future presidential run.
Rizq first warned Gamal Mubarak against harboring presidential ambitions in an article published in May. He repeated the warning in a television interview aired earlier this week.
"His real crime is insulting the dignity of the Egyptian people," Rizq said, alluding to Gamal's one-time intention to succeed his father. It violated the constitution and amounted to the toppling of republican rule, he explained. He said it was not improbable that he would strike a political deal with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to secure the group's return to politics in exchange for its support in a presidential bid in 2022, when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi's second term ends.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was among the main drivers of a 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak's 29-year rule, as well as the military's support for it. The years that followed saw Mubarak regime heavyweights tried on corruption or abuse of power charges. Most have since walked free, while second-string regime loyalists found their way back to public life under El-Sissi.