Egypt, Iraq move ‘hazardous materials’ amid safety drive

Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar said a high-level committee will examine all shipments in storehouses and containers in the cargo areas of airports in the country, including Cairo.
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Updated 12 August 2020

Egypt, Iraq move ‘hazardous materials’ amid safety drive

  • A high-level committee in Egypt will examine all shipments in storehouses and containers in the cargo areas of airports in the country

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have said that all hazardous substances stored at airports will be moved to safe storage to avoid the risk of a similar explosion to the devastating Beirut blast.
The move comes as countries around the world reevaluate safety protocols for storage of hazardous materials in the wake of the disaster in Lebanon.
Egypt’s Minister of Civil Aviation Mohamed Manar said a high-level committee will examine all shipments in storehouses and containers in the cargo areas of airports in the country, including Cairo.
The investigation will help to ensure the safety of employees and visitors at Egypt’s airports, he said.
The committee’s precautionary measures will include immediately moving hazardous materials to safe storage areas away from airports and residential areas.
Manar said that the committee will carry out a comprehensive evaluation of all measures applied in storage areas in order to provide the highest standards of safety and security in accordance with the instructions of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The minister said that the decision aims to counter risks and protect all civil aviation employees.
Iraq Border Management and Migration Control Authority also announced that “extremely hazardous substances” were moved from Baghdad International Airport.
The authority said that the products were safely transferred from the airport’s air cargo department to warehouses operated by the Military Engineering Directorate.
The directorate, affiliated with the Ministry of Defense, carried out the move. However, the authority did not reveal the nature of the substances or provide further details.
Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit highlighted the danger posed by a floating oil tanker near the Houthi-controlled Yemeni coasts. The ship is carrying 1 million barrels of oil.
Aboul Gheit said that the devastating impact of the Lebanon explosion “reminds us of the hazards posed by this oil tanker.”
The tanker has not undergone maintenance since the civil war began in 2015, he said. Aboul Gheit called on the UN Security Council to intervene so a UN team could carry out essential maintenance.
An Arab League Secretariat official said that “the main reason behind the lack of maintenance is the procrastination practiced by the Houthis to prevent to the UN team from accessing the ship. The UN Security Council held a special session to discuss the ship issue in mid-July.”
He warned that water had leaked into the tanker’s engine, increasing the risk of the vessel sinking or exploding.
Although a temporary repair was carried out, the UN confirmed that this could lead to a disaster, with devastating effects on marine life in the Red Sea.


Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

Algerians walk across from the People's National Assembly (parliament) building during a voting session on constitutional reforms in the capital Algiers, on September 10, 2020. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2020

Algerian parliament vote ‘before year’s end’

  • The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022

ALGIERS: The Algerian president says early legislative elections aimed at opening parliament to civil society will be held before the end of the year to give a new face to a parliament long dominated by a single party.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune did not set a date but indicated on Sunday evening that the parliamentary voting would follow a national referendum on a constitutional revision to be held Nov. 1, a highly symbolic date marking the start of this North African nation’s seven-year war with France for independence that began Nov. 1, 1954.
The next National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, which “will be made up of lawmakers from universities, civil society, will serve as the base of the ‘New Algeria,’” Tebboune said in an interview with two Algerian newspapers.
“If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.”
Tebboune was referring to the corruption that highlighted the 20 years of power of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, forced to resign in April 2019 amid growing peaceful street protests and a push from the then-Army chief Ahmed Gaid Salah, who died in December.

If the people want change, it is time to work to not remain in the ambiguity that prevailed earlier.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, President of Algeria

Tebboune was elected promising change, including a new parliament, though the vote was largely boycotted by the protest movement, the Hirak.
The term of the widely discredited current lower house, elected in 2017, was originally set to end in May 2022.
A new electoral law foreseen in the constitutional revision “will put in place safeguards to keep dirty money out of politics,” the president said, adding that with the constitutional revision Algeria would “truly be at the service of the citizen and not at the service of a group exercising domination.”
Numerous business leaders and two prime ministers have been jailed on corruption charges since the downfall of Bouteflika. During a trial last week, lawmaker Baha Eddine Tliba admitted to paying the former chief of the powerful FLN party Djamel Ould Abbas, to be placed on his list of candidates to ensure him a parliamentary seat.