New head of Algerian constitutional council named

Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah named appointed a new head of Algeria’s Constitutional Council. (AP)
Updated 17 April 2019
0

New head of Algerian constitutional council named

  • Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah appointed Kamel Feniche as new council president
  • Also Tuesday, the military chief called on Algerians to show “patience” during the political transition ahead.

ALGIERS, Algeria: Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah appointed a new head of Algeria’s Constitutional Council late Tuesday after the former chief quit under pressure from protesters.
A statement from the presidency said Kamel Feniche would be the new council president, replacing Tayeb Belaiz, who the state news agency APS earlier reported had submitted his resignation to Bensalah. Feniche, a magistrate, has been a member of the council since 2016.
Belaiz is one of three figures in the interim government whose removal has been demanded by pro-democracy protesters. They are seen as part of the discredited regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned April 2 after six weeks of nationwide demonstrations calling for an end to his two-decade rule.
Belaiz’s departure could help calm protesters by clearing the way for someone considered more independent.
Also Tuesday, the military chief called on Algerians to show “patience” during the political transition ahead.
A presidential election has been set for July 4 to choose the successor to Bouteflika, who stepped down under pressure from the military’s chief of staff, Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah.


Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

Updated 56 min 4 sec ago
0

Iran: US sanctions on Khamenei mean end of diplomacy

  • Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of drone attack
  • Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year

Iran said on Tuesday that a US decision to impose sanctions on the country’s supreme leader and other top officials permanently closed the path to diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.
“Imposing useless sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and the commander of Iran’s diplomacy (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif) is the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said in a tweet.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security.”

US President Donald Trump earlier signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.

Trump initially told reporters the sanctions, which will target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his office, were in response to Tehran's downing of a US drone last week. Tehran has said the drone was flying in its airspace, which Washington has denied.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

The US will also blacklist Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets as part of expanded sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday.

Mnuchin told reporters Zarif would be added to an economic sanctions list "later this week," adding that eight top military commanders from Iran's Revolutionary Guards have now also been blacklisted.

The US has also blamed Iran for attacks earlier this month on two oil tankers at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman. Iran, in turn, has denied that it is to blame.

Washington has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions. Trump’s administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Trump has said he would be open to talks with Iranian leaders, but Tehran has rejected such an offer unless Washington drops the sanctions.

The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region.

The US also accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets. In a joint statement on Monday, the US, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and UK expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian "destabilizing activity" to peace and security in Yemen and the region.