Palestinians take over as chair of UN developing countries

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (R) is applauded by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres during meeting of the United Nations Group of 77 and China January 15, 2019 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP)
Updated 15 January 2019
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Palestinians take over as chair of UN developing countries

  • Abbas accepted the chairmanship of the Group of 77, a coalition of 134 mainly developing nations and China, on behalf of Palestine
  • Before the ceremony, Abbas reiterated to reporters in Arabic that the Palestinians will seek full UN membership but gave no timetable

UNITED NATIONS: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas took over as head of the key group of developing countries at the United Nations Tuesday with a promise to confront “assaults” on multilateralism and a pledge to seek a peaceful two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas accepted the chairmanship of the Group of 77, a coalition of 134 mainly developing nations and China, on behalf of Palestine, which is a non-member observer state of the United Nations. He was handed the gavel by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the outgoing chairman, with a handshake and kisses on both cheeks.
Before the ceremony, Abbas reiterated to reporters in Arabic that the Palestinians will seek full UN membership but gave no timetable.
The 193-member General Assembly had to approve a resolution enabling the Palestinians to chair the G77 because Palestine is a non-member state. It did so in October over objections from Israel and its closest ally, the United States.
During the annual gathering of world leaders at the General Assembly in September, ministers of the G77 formalized their decision to give Palestinians the chair, in a boost to Abbas’ push for statehood and full UN membership.
In his acceptance speech, Abbas said the G77 will strive to ensure the rights and development of all people living under foreign and colonial occupation.
“Palestine cannot be an exception,” he said. “We also suffer under the yoke of foreign occupation.”
Abbas said “Israel’s continued colonization and occupation of the state of Palestine undermines our development ... and obstructs cohesive future development for all peoples of the region.”
When the G77 was established in 1964, Abbas said its founding principles were connected with the principles and goals of the United Nations “and constitute the strongest pillar for upholding the multilateral system and its institutions as well as the rule of international law and mutual cooperation.”
He warned “of the assaults under way against this system” and said the Palestinians will strive during their chairmanship of the G77 “to confront such challenges through the preservation of the multilateral international order.”


Libya protesters demand release of Qaddafi-era spy chief

Former Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi (L), dressed in prison blues, sits along with other defendants behind the bars of the accused cell during a hearing as part of his trial in a courthouse in Tripoli on December 28, 2014. (AFP)
Updated 47 min 15 sec ago
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Libya protesters demand release of Qaddafi-era spy chief

  • Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Qaddafi’s fall
  • Al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia

TRIPOLI: Relatives and supporters of Libya’s Qaddafi-era intelligence chief, jailed for his alleged role in a bloody crackdown during the country’s 2011 uprising, protested in Tripoli on Saturday to demand his release.
Abdullah Al-Senussi, a brother-in-law of longtime dictator Muamar Qaddafi, was sentenced to death in 2015 over the part he allegedly played in the regime’s response to a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed Qaddafi.
Eight others close to Qaddafi, including the Libyan leader’s son, Seif Al-Islam, also received death sentences following a trial condemned by the UN as “seriously” flawed.
Several dozen relatives and members of Senussi’s tribe, the Magerha, gathered in a central Tripoli square to demand he be freed over health concerns.
“The law and medical reports support our legitimate demand,” said one protester, Mohamad Amer.
Officials have not released specific details on his alleged health problems.
In a statement, the Magerha said his liberation would “contribute to and consolidate national reconciliation” in a country torn apart by intercommunal conflicts since Qaddafi’s fall.
The unusual protest comes just over a month after the release on health grounds of Abuzeid Dorda, Qaddafi’s head of foreign intelligence who was sentenced at the same time as Senussi.
The protesters held up photos of Senussi behind bars and placards reading “Freedom to prisoners. Yes to national reconciliation.”
Senussi was extradited in September 2012 by Mauritania, where he had fled after Qaddafi’s fall.
Like the dictator’s son, he had also been the subject of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for suspected war crimes during the 2011 uprising.
But in an unusual move, in 2013 the court gave Libyan authorities the green light to put him on trial.
He has since been detained in the capital, along with some 40 other senior Qaddafi-era officials including the dictator’s last prime minister Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi.
Al-Islam was captured and imprisoned by an armed group in the northwestern city of Zintan and sentenced by a Tripoli court in absentia.
The group announced his release in 2017 but it was never confirmed and his fate remains unknown.