Tunisia’s president says constitution must be amended

Tunisia’s president says constitution must be amended
Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced plans to form a new government and said the constitution should be amended. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 12 September 2021

Tunisia’s president says constitution must be amended

Tunisia’s president says constitution must be amended
  • Saied said he would form a new government “as soon as possible” after selecting “the people with the most integrity”
  • He also told the television stations that “the Tunisian people rejected the constitution”

TUNIS: Tunisian President Kais Saied has announced plans to form a new government and said the constitution should be amended, weeks after he sacked his premier and suspended parliament.
Speaking to two television channels after a late Saturday evening stroll in central Tunis, Saied said he would form a new government “as soon as possible” after selecting “the people with the most integrity.” But he declined to give a specific timeline.
Saied also told the television stations that “the Tunisian people rejected the constitution.” He added that such charters are “not eternal” and stated that “we can introduce amendments to the text.”
His comments, which confirmed earlier media speculations on his plans, were dismissed by the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, the largest bloc in parliament.
The party in a statement expressed “its categorical rejection of the attempts of some parties that are hostile to the democratic process... to push for choices that violate the rules of the constitution.”
Ennahda added that it would oppose “an intended suspension of the application of the constitution and a change to the political system, possibly through a referendum.”
The influential UGTT trade union confederation, which has so far backed Saied, also rejected any “suspension of the constitution” and called for early legislative elections so that a new parliament could look into potential constitutional changes.
Saied, a legal theorist and former law professor, was elected in 2019 and has billed himself as the ultimate interpreter of the constitution.
He invoked that power on July 25 to fire the prime minister, freeze parliament and strip MPs of their immunity, and assume all executive powers.
His power grab came amid chronic legislative infighting that had crippled governance. It was followed by a sweeping anti-corruption drive that has included detentions, travel bans and house arrests of politicians, businessmen and judicial officials.
Saied has yet to appoint a new government or reveal a roadmap toward normalization, despite repeated demands by political parties.
His moves have been criticized by judges and opponents, in particular Ennahdha.
But some Tunisians, exasperated by their political class and its perceived corruption, impunity and failure to improve living standards more than a decade since the country’s protests launched the Arab Spring, see them as a necessary evil.
The chants of “Dignity!” and “Work!” that filled the air during the revolution have again started to sound at demonstrations.
In images posted around midnight on the Tunisian presidency’s Facebook page, Saied was seen walking down the capital’s Bourguiba Avenue as a crowd sang the national anthem, before he stopped to speak with the TV channels.
Earlier that day on the same central thoroughfare, a man had set himself on fire and later died of his burns — a desperate act that followed another self-immolation a week before protesting living conditions
According to Tunisian media reports, the man who died Saturday was struggling with economic issues and had come to Tunis from Djerba to seek solutions to his plight.
The deaths recall that of the street vendor who burned himself alive on December 17, 2010 and launched both Tunisia’s popular revolution and the wider Arab Spring that toppled several autocratic leaders in the region.
Tunisia, hailed as a rare democratic success story in the Middle East and North Africa, was struggling with dire economic woes and the Covid-19 pandemic before being plunged into the latest political crisis.
Saied’s comments came a day after he received in Tunis the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell who expressed the bloc’s concerns over the power grab.
“I communicated to the president Europe’s apprehensions about the preservation of democratic gains in Tunisia,” Borrell said after talks with Saied.
“The free exercise of legislative power and the resumption of parliamentary activity are part of these gains and must be respected,” he added.
Earlier this month, diplomats from the G7 nations — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — called on Saied to return Tunisia to “a constitutional order.”


UAE switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting Jan.1, 2022

UAE switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting Jan.1, 2022
Updated 12 sec ago

UAE switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting Jan.1, 2022

UAE switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting Jan.1, 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Friday will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options on Fridays. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 34 sec ago

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.


Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 December 2021

Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: Fires caused by an Israeli “aggression” at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday had been extinguished, leaving material damage, but the status of any casualties was unclear, Syria’s state media reported.

Five explosions rocked the port city after an Israeli “aggression” hit the port’s container yard, sending fire trucks racing to the site, Syrian state TV said.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad.

The Mediterranean port of Latakia is the country’s main port, through which food and other crucial supplies flow into war-torn Syria, and is close to Russia’s main air base of Hmeimim.


Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard

Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard
Updated 07 December 2021

Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard

Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli guard

RAMALLAH: A Palestinian teenager who drove his car into an Israeli security checkpoint in the occupied West Bank was shot dead on Monday by a security guard at the scene, officials said.

The car-ramming occurred after 1 a.m. at the Te’enim checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem, an Israeli Defense Ministry statement said, adding that the assailant had been “neutralized.”

It was not immediately clear if the alleged attacker was killed, but the official Palestinian news agency Wafa later reported that 15-year-old Mohammed Nidal Yunes died from injuries after being fired on at a checkpoint.

An Israeli security official confirmed to AFP that the driver of the vehicle was killed.

The Defense Ministry said that a security guard was “seriously injured” in the attack.

Israel’s Sheba Hospital said the guard’s injuries were not life threatening.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and the Palestinian territory is now home to roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers living in communities widely considered illegal under international law.

Attacks on checkpoints are common, often carried out by individual Palestinians armed with knives, as well as attempted car-rammings and occasional shootings.

Monday’s incident came after a Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli civilian and attempted to attack police on Saturday near the Damascus Gate entry to the Old City in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

The assailant was shot dead by officers who appeared to fire on the suspect after he was on the ground, stirring debate about excessive force.

Israeli authorities have insisted the officers acted appropriately.

BACKGROUND

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and the Palestinian territory is now home to roughly 475,000 Jewish settlers living in communities widely considered illegal under international law.

On Sunday, Israeli authorities freed a prominent Palestinian prisoner, two weeks after striking a release deal that ended his marathon 131-day hunger strike.

Kayed Fasfous, 32, had remained in an Israeli hospital since ending his strike on Nov. 23.

He was the symbolic figurehead of six hunger strikers protesting Israel’s controversial policy of “administrative detention,” which allows suspects to be held indefinitely without charge.

Israel claims the policy is necessary to keep dangerous suspects locked away without disclosing sensitive information that could expose valuable sources.

Palestinians and rights groups say the practice denies the right of due process, allowing Israel to hold prisoners for months or even years without seeing the evidence against them.  The law is rarely applied to Israelis.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, a group representing former and current prisoners, confirmed Fasfous had returned home to the occupied West Bank through a military checkpoint near the southern city of Hebron on Sunday afternoon.

Online footage showed the former prisoner in a wheelchair celebrating his return to his southern hometown of Dura before being taken to a hospital in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The plight of the six hunger strikers ignited solidarity demonstrations across the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza in November mounting pressure on Israel to release the detainees.

At least four of the five other hunger strikers have since ended their protests after reaching similar deals with Israeli authorities. They are expected to be released in the coming months.

Hunger strikes are common among Palestinian prisoners and have helped secure numerous concessions from Israeli authorities.

The nature of these strikes vary from individuals protesting detention without charge to groups calling for improved cell conditions.

Around 500 of the 4,600 Palestinians detained by Israel are held in administrative detention according to Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner rights group.


Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga retake northern village from Daesh

Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga  retake northern village from Daesh
Updated 07 December 2021

Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga retake northern village from Daesh

Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga  retake northern village from Daesh
  • More reinforcement forces dispatched to the area to prevent further attacks

BAGHDAD: Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have recaptured a village in northern Iraq on Monday after Daesh terrorists took it over the previous day, security and police sources said.

Elite Iraq Interior Ministry forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters managed early on Monday to control Luhaiban village, though the terrorists have left some houses booby-trapped with explosive devices, the sources said.

In a separate attack on Sunday, Daesh killed four Peshmerga soldiers and a civilian, and wounded six other people when they attacked Qara Salem village in northern Iraq, security sources said.

The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs said in a statement that the attack caused casualties, but did not confirm the toll.

Peshmerga are the military forces of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

One Peshmerga colonel said Daesh was using hit-and-run tactics in night attacks on their positions.

FASTFACT

Daesh killed four Peshmerga soldiers and a civilian, and wounded six other people when they attacked Qara Salem village in northern Iraq, security sources said.

“They avoid holding the ground for longer time ... More reinforcement forces were dispatched to the area to prevent further attacks,” the colonel said.

Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters reinforced their troops in the area on Monday where the attacks had been carried out by militant group with Iraqi military helicopters flying over to chase militants, two Iraqi security sources said.

The two villages are in remote territory claimed by the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the government of the autonomous northern Kurdish region in Irbil where there are regular attacks by Daesh.

But it is a rare incident of Daesh controlling a residential area near a main road, a highway that links Irbil to the city of Kirkuk.

Iraq declared victory over the hard-line group in December 2017.

Although the group has largely been defeated, it continues to carry out sporadic attacks and operate limited cells in the country, particularly in the north.