New Tunisia president sworn in after upstart poll win

Tunisia’s new President Kais Saied was a conservative academic with no previous political experience who won the overwhelming support of younger voters in an October 13 runoff. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2019

New Tunisia president sworn in after upstart poll win

  • Saied was sworn in before members of the constituent assembly and other top state bodies
  • After sweeping 72.71 percent of the vote in this month's runoff, Saied has won a clear mandate to fight corruption and promote social justice

TUNIS: Tunisia's new President Kais Saied took the oath of office on Wednesday after his surprise election victory over champions of the political establishment.
Saied, a conservative academic with no previous political experience who won the overwhelming support of younger voters in an October 13 runoff, was sworn in before members of the constituent assembly and other top state bodies.
The poll followed the death in July of Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia's first president freely elected by universal suffrage.
After sweeping 72.71 percent of the vote in this month's runoff, Saied has won a clear mandate to fight corruption and promote social justice, even though his role focuses on security and diplomacy.
A constitutional law professor whose rigid and austere demeanour earned him the nickname "Robocop", Saied has no real experience in foreign policy.
Tunis, which currently chairs the Arab League, could renew diplomatic ties with Syria, severed since 2012, and play a role in the return of the war-torn country to the bloc.
Saied has made strong statements against Israel, considering any ties with the Jewish state to be "high treason" - an Arab nationalist position that earned him praise among supporters.
While the security situation has significantly improved since a series of high-profile attacks on tourists in 2015, Tunisia has maintained a state of emergency for four years, with assaults against security forces persisting.
On June 27, a suicide attack killed two people in the heart of the capital Tunis, reviving the spectre of violence.
During the campaign debate, Saied said a key to fighting terrorism was education, arguing that improving primary education would "immunise" youth against extremism.
Another significant task he will face is reforming the police force, which was a cog in the dictatorship toppled by the Arab Spring revolt of 2011 and which continues to be accused of human rights abuses.


Leaked audio of Assad forces shooting elderly women in Idlib proves civilian killings: Report

Updated 2 min 6 sec ago

Leaked audio of Assad forces shooting elderly women in Idlib proves civilian killings: Report

  • Syrian regime also attacked Turkish military posts in violation of cease-fire deal

LONDON: Syrian regime forces deliberately killed elderly women in the northwestern region of Idlib, leaked recordings obtained by the UK’s Daily Telegraph have shown.

The audio recordings from Feb. 11 also suggest that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked Turkish military posts in violation of a cease-fire deal.

The recordings captured a conversation between soldiers from the infamous elite Tiger Forces, the 25th Division, tracking a vehicle driving into the village of Mizanaz, to the west of Aleppo.

In the audio, intercepted by spotters at an observatory in the local area who picked up the soldiers’ frequency, one soldier can be heard saying: “There are women driving, their car is stuck in the mud and they’re headed to a battlefield.”

 

 

A second soldier said: “She looks elderly. It’s clear she’s coming to pack her belongings, then she’s leaving.”

Despite a clear identification of the women, one of the soldiers is heard saying: “I’m watching them. They’re about to enter a house. Yallah, I’m firing now.”

At that point, rapid machine gun fire can be heard on the tape. “Fire, fire, I’m observing for you,” the second soldier replies.

Local media reports from the time and date of the audio recording support the assertion that the women were killed in the attack.

Regime forces have used attacks on civilians as part of their strategy to clear rebel-held areas of the country, while attacking civilian institutions such as schools and hospitals. 

In September 2019, pro-Assad militants reportedly executed an elderly woman who refused to leave her home when it was confiscated after they recaptured the town of Khan Sheikhoun. 

According to figures from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, regime forces and their Russian allies are responsible for 90 percent of civilian deaths in the nine-year conflict, with three-quarters of those people victims of artillery or aerial shelling. The deliberate killing of non-combatants is a war crime under international law.

The Telegraph’s report also revealed recordings showing regime forces actively attacking Turkish posts in Idlib province that were set up as part of a de-escalation deal negotiated with Russia in 2018.

The attacks prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday to urge his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to “restrain” Assad’s advance in Idlib.