Algeria MPs padlock parliament in protest against speaker

Algerian deputies from the National Liberation Front (FLN) and National Democratic Rally (RND) block the entrance of the National People's Congress in Algiers. AFP
Updated 16 October 2018
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Algeria MPs padlock parliament in protest against speaker

  • Protesters block the entrance with a chain and padlock

ALGIERS: Around 200 deputies kept Algeria’s parliament locked up for several hours Tuesday in a protest to press demands for the house speaker to step down.
“We’re here to demand the speaker resigns,” Abdelhamid Si Affif, the head of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, told AFP after the protesters blocked the entrance with a chain and padlock.
Said Bouhadja, president of Algeria’s lower house, has since late September resisted calls to resign over charges of “mismanagement, exaggerated and illicit expenses and dubious recruitment.”
“This doesn’t scare me. I will go to the People’s National Assembly (parliament) because I am the president of this institution,” Bouhadja told the TSA news website.
He did not, however, make an appearance at Tuesday’s protest, which lasted until around midday before the deputies dispersed.
Algeria’s constitution and laws do not lay down a procedure for the dismissal of a parliament speaker if he refuses to step aside.
But those pushing for the speaker’s exit said a meeting of senior lawmakers was being planned for Wednesday to oust Bouhadja and pave the way for a successor to be chosen.
Opposition groups condemned Tuesday’s action led by the majority parties in the 462-member parliament, including President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN) of which the speaker is a member.
Ahmed Sadok, parliamentary head of the Movement for the Society of Peace, an Islamist group, said the action “did no honor for the deputies, for parliament or the image of the country.”
“If the deputies of the majority no longer want to work with Mr.Bouhadja... their action must be legal. For the moment, there is nothing to prevent him carrying out his duties,” he said.


Boat with migrants rescued off Libya looks for port to dock

Updated 20 January 2019
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Boat with migrants rescued off Libya looks for port to dock

  • Sea-Watch 3 asked where it can bring the 47 migrants it had taken aboard

ROME: A private rescue boat with dozens of migrants aboard sought permission for a second day to enter a safe port Sunday, but said so far its queries to several nations haven’t succeeded. Another vessel crowded with migrants and taking on water, meanwhile, put out an urgent, separate appeal for help in the southern Mediterranean.
Sea-Watch 3, run by a German NGO, said Sunday it has contacted Italy, Malta, Libya as well as the Netherlands, since the boat is Dutch-flagged, asking where it can bring the 47 migrants it had taken aboard. Sea-Watch tweeted that Libyan officials had hung up when it asked for a port assignment.
An Italian state TV reporter aboard Sea-Watch 3 said the rescue took place Saturday about 50 kilometers (30 miles) off the coast west of Tripoli in Libya’s search-and-rescue area. Libya-based human traffickers launch flimsy or rickety boats, crowded with migrants hoping to reach Europe and its opportunities for better lives.
Separately, Sea-Watch tweeted Sunday afternoon that it had been urgently contacted by a boat with 100 migrants aboard that said it was taking on water, 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from the current location at sea of Sea-Watch 3.
The distressed vessel reported navigational problems and had among the migrants a child “unconscious or deceased,” Sea-Watch said. Subsequent communication said the boat was “taking in water” and asked Sea-Watch to call for help, “regardless of what this would mean concerning a possible return to Libya,” Sea-Watch said.
The aid group later said Malta on the phone confirmed “that they will come back to us” regarding the distress call, but it wasn’t immediately clear what kind of assistance the Maltese might give.
Migrants dread the prospect of being returned to Libya, where they have reported torture including beatings and rapes in overcrowded detention centers.
The governments of Malta and Italy have been refusing to allow private rescue boats rescuing migrants to dock. Both contend that in recent years they have taken in many migrants rescued at sea and that fellow European Union nations must agree to take their share of these asylum-seekers.
Earlier this month, Malta transferred to land 49 migrants who had been aboard Sea-Watch 3 as long as 19 days but refused the boat port entry. They were allowed to set foot on the southern Mediterranean island only after an EU-brokered deal found several countries willing to take them as well as other migrants, who had been rescued at sea earlier in separate operations by Malta.