Algerian court detains former minister over corruption allegations

Algerian soldiers guard the Bir Mourad Rais courthouse in Algiers, Monday, Nov.4, 2019 during a hand-over ceremony of a new prosecutor.( AP)
Updated 04 November 2019

Algerian court detains former minister over corruption allegations

  • Toumi became the 12th ex-minister to be detained since Bouteflika resigned in April

ALGIERS: Algeria’s supreme court on Monday placed in custody a former culture minister over corruption allegations under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state television reported.
Khalid Toumi became the 12th ex-minister to be detained since Bouteflika resigned in April under pressure from protesters demanding the removal of the ruling elite and the prosecution of people suspected of involvement in corruption.
Toumi, who served as culture minister for 12 years, is accused of squandering public funds and awarding illegal privileges, state TV said.
Her lawyer was not available for comment.
Two former prime ministers have also been in detention over alleged corruption since the protests erupted on Feb. 22.
Protesters now demand the cancelation of a Dec.12 presidential election, believing it will not be fair as some of Bouteflika’s allies including interim president Abdelkader Bensalah and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedui are still in power.
The army is now the main player in Algeria’s politics and its chief of staff Lt. Gen. Ahmed Gaed Salah has repeatedly vowed fairness and transparency for the vote.
The election authority on Saturday said five candidates, including two former prime ministers, would run in the election.


Yemen’s UNESCO-listed Old Sanaa houses collapse in heavy rains

Updated 10 August 2020

Yemen’s UNESCO-listed Old Sanaa houses collapse in heavy rains

  • Distinctive brown and white mud brick houses of Sanaa’s historic neighborhoods have long been under threat from conflict and neglect
SANAA: Houses in Yemen’s UNESCO-listed Old City of Sanaa are collapsing under heavy rains, as months of floods and storms assail a country already reeling from war, food shortages and disease.
The distinctive brown and white mud brick houses of Sanaa’s historic neighborhoods, which date from before the 11th century, have long been under threat from conflict and neglect.
Muhammad Ali Al-Talhi’s house partially collapsed on Friday as heavy rain battered Sanaa, leaving the six women and six children of his family homeless.
“Everything we had is buried,” he said surrounded by ancient debris and mud, appealing for help to find shelter.
Aqeel Saleh Nassar, deputy head of the Historic Cities Preservation Authority, said citizens today do not maintain these old buildings as in the past, leading to cracks and weakness.
Around 5,000 of the towering buildings in the old city have leaky roofs and 107 have partially collapsed roofs, he said. The authority has been working with UNESCO and other funds to preserve some.
This year’s exceptionally heavy rains, which began mid-April and last into early September, have added to what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
Five years of war have killed more than 100,000 people, and left 80 percent of the population reliant on aid and millions on the brink of famine.
On top of the new coronavirus, which is believed to be spreading largely undetected, heavy rains spread diseases like cholera, dengue fever and malaria.
The Iran-aligned Houthi authorities who have controlled Sanaa since ousting the internationally recognized Saudi-backed Yemeni government in late 2014, appealed this week to UNESCO to save the city’s heritage.
They said around 111 houses had partly or completely collapsed in recent weeks.
Sanaa resident Adel San’ani on Saturday told Reuters he saw five houses severely damaged this weekend.
“The families have no shelter. A local bank launched a campaign to distribute plastic sheeting to act as roofs,” he said.