Egypt court clears indigenous Nubians of protest charges

In this file photo, Egyptian security forces stand guard outside a court in Cairo, Egypt. (Reuters)
Updated 07 April 2019

Egypt court clears indigenous Nubians of protest charges

  • The case involving 32 defendants dates back to September 2017 when dozens of Nubians held peaceful demonstrations in Aswan

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Sunday cleared eight members of the indigenous Nubian minority of charges related to a protest staged nearly two years ago, a judicial official said.
The case involving 32 defendants dates back to September 2017 when dozens of Nubians held peaceful demonstrations in the southern city of Aswan demanding their right to return to ancestral lands.
Nubians are an ethnic group indigenous to northern Sudan and southern Egypt who trace their roots to an old civilization.
They were evicted in the 1960s after their shoreline was flooded with water from Lake Nasser following the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
The eight acquitted on Sunday were cleared of charges including inciting protests, blocking roads and disrupting public order, the judicial official told AFP.
Twenty-four other Nubians received conditional fines of 30,000-50,000 Egyptian pounds ($1,733-$2,890) which would only be enforced if the defendants commit future crimes.
Nubians have been calling for decades for their right to return to their historic villages along the Nile.
The ethnic minority’s incessant calls culminated in recognizing their right of return to their original lands in Egypt’s 2014 constitution for the first time.
Egypt has effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of former Islamist President Muhammad Mursi.
General-turned-president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, who led Mursi’s ouster, came to power in 2014.
He secured a second four-year term in March 2018 with over 97 percent of the vote.
Under his rule, Egyptian authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents jailing Mursi’s Islamist supporters as well as liberal, secular activists and popular bloggers.


Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

Updated 3 min 30 sec ago

Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

  • Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity”
  • He expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October"

BEIRUT: Lebanon is expected to begin implementing in October a set of economic and financial measures agreed by its top leadership that will boost economic growth, President Michel Aoun said on Sunday, vowing that he would to tend to this himself.
He was referring to decisions taken at a top-level meeting earlier this month with the aim of reviving an economy that has been growing slowly for years and is struggling with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
After the Aug. 9 meeting, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said agreed steps included finishing the 2020 budget on time, drawing up a plan to start $3.3 billion of projects approved by parliament, full implementation of a power sector reform plan, and laws to fight tax evasion and regulate public tenders.
“I will personally tend to the implementation path of the decisions of the financial and economic meeting” in cooperation with Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and other parties in government, Aoun said.
In written comments to Reuters, Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity,” including in the implementation of the 2019 budget and its reforms.
Aoun said he expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October after the conclusion of the current preparations ... which will lead to lifting of the growth rates, reflecting positively on the economic and financial situations.”
After years of backsliding on economic reform, the impetus to act has grown due to economic stagnation and a slowdown in the flow of dollars into Lebanon’s banks from abroad. Lebanon has depended on such flows from its diaspora to finance the current account and the state budget deficits.
Foreign governments and donor institutions last year pledged $11 billion in financing to Lebanon for major infrastructure at the so-called Cedre conference in Paris, on condition that it carries out reforms.
Measures to reduce the budget deficit and reform the power sector, which bleeds public funds while inflicting daily power cuts on Lebanese, are seen as two vital tests of the government’s ability to reform.
The International Monetary Fund said in July this year’s deficit is likely to be well above a targeted 7.6% of national output.
It said the power reform plan and a budget to reduce the deficit were “very welcome first steps” and “further substantial fiscal adjustment and structural reforms” were needed.
Aoun said work was underway to approve the 2020 budget in the constitutional timeframe.
It would include “new, resolute reforms” agreed at the Aug. 9 meeting to reduce the power sector deficit, improve tax collection and fight customs and tax evasion.
Aoun also said frameworks must be put in place for implementing a plan drawn up by management consulting firm McKinsey for revamping the economy and this should coincide with the start of projects outlined at the Cedre conference.