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Thousands of Tunisians rally against president on revolution anniversary

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Thousands of Tunisians rally against president on revolution anniversary

Protesters pushed through police barricades as they demonstrated against Tunisian President Kais Saied’s seizure of near total power in central Tunis on Saturday, the anniversary of a key date in the 2011 revolution that brought democracy.

The opposition remains divided in its quest to push Saied from office and Saturday’s protests are split among several different groups that police said should demonstrate in separate, specified areas.

However, protesters said they planned to defy the police instructions and march towards the central Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the traditional site of rallies, and they pushed through barricades, a Reuters reporter there said.

“We were on Bourguiba in January 2011 when Saied was not present… today he is closing Bourguiba to us. We will reach it whatever the price,” said Chaima Issa, an activist who took part in the 2011 revolution.

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Hundreds of protesters were present in just one of the locations where Reuters was present. A large police presence was visible outside the Interior Ministry building on Habib Bouguiba Avenue, along with water cannon.

Saied shut down the elected parliament in 2021 and began to reshape the political system, but low turnout for December’s election of a new, mostly powerless, legislature revealed little public appetite for his changes.

The main political forces, including most parties and the labour union, now oppose Saied’s project, with many of them calling it an anti-democratic coup.

However, they have failed to repair deep ideological and personal fissures that divided them for years rather than forming a united front.

Many parties still reject a role for the biggest party, the Islamist Ennahda. The powerful UGTT labour union seeks a national dialogue but will not invite any party that accuses Saied of a coup.

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The protests come 12 years to the day after the ousting of former autocrat, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, and Jan. 14 is seen by most Tunisian parties and civil society groups as the anniversary of the revolution.

However, Saied unilaterally changed the official anniversary date and has said he regards Jan. 14 as a moment when the revolution went astray.

While there has been no major crackdown on opponents of Saied, and police have allowed most protests against him, their handling of demonstrations on Jan. 14 last year was more forceful, prompting condemnation from rights activists.

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

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White-led DA party joins ANC in South African unity government

 The African National Congress and its largest rival, the white-led, pro-business Democratic Alliance, agreed on Friday to work together in South Africa’s new government of national unity, a step change after 30 years of ANC majority rule.

Once unthinkable, the deal between two sharply antagonistic parties is the most momentous political shift in South Africa since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the 1994 elections that marked the end of apartheid.

“Today, South Africa is a better country than it was yesterday. For the first time since 1994, we’ve embarked on a peaceful and democratic transfer of power to a new government that will be different from the previous one,” DA leader John Steenhuisen said in a televised address.

“From today, the DA will co-govern the Republic of South Africa in a spirit of unity and collaboration,” he said, adding that multi-party government was the “new normal”.

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The ANC lost its majority for the first time in an election on May 29 and has spent two weeks locked in intensive behind-the-scenes talks with other parties, which came down to the wire on Friday morning as the new parliament was convening.

The DA’s entry into national government is a big moment for a country still processing the legacy of the racist colonial and apartheid regimes. The party has struggled to shake off its image as a defender of rich white people and convince a broad spectrum of South Africans that it reflects their aspirations.

Two smaller parties, the socially conservative Inkatha Freedom Party and the right-wing Patriotic Alliance, will also take part in the unity government, they said. 

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Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

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Hamas' armed wing says Israeli airstrike killed two hostages in Rafah

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said on Friday that two Israeli hostages held in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Rafah a few days ago.

The group, in a video posted on its Telegram channel, did not release the names of those said to have been killed or provide any evidence.

The Israeli government “does not want your hostages to return, except in coffins,” the al-Qassam Brigades statement said.

Israel rescued four hostages held by Hamas in a hostage-freeing operation in central Gaza’s al-Nuseirat on June 8. The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said more than 250 Palestinians were killed in the raid.

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The war in Gaza erupted when Hamas militants stormed southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. 

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

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US attack sub, Canada navy patrol ship arrive in Cuba on heels of Russian warships

A Canadian navy patrol ship sailed into Havana early on Friday, just hours after the United States announced a fast-attack submarine had docked at its Guantanamo naval base on Cuba, both vessels on the heels of Russian warships that arrived on the island earlier this week.

The confluence of Russian, Canadian and U.S. vessels in Cuba – a Communist-ruled island nation just 160 km (100 miles) from Florida – served up a reminder of old Cold War tensions and of current fraught ties between Russia and Western nations over the Ukraine war.

However, both the U.S. and Cuba have said the Russian warships pose no threat to the region. Russia has also characterized the arrival of its warships in allied Cuba as routine.

The Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the nuclear-powered submarine Kazan, half submerged with its crew on deck, sailed into Havana harbor on Wednesday after conducting “high-precision missile weapons” training in the Atlantic Ocean.

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Canada`s Margaret Brooke patrol vessel began maneuvers early on Friday to enter Havana harbor, part of what the Canadian Joint Operations Command called “a port visit…in recognition of the long-standing bilateral relationship between Canada and Cuba.”

A Canadian diplomat characterized the Margaret Brooke`s arrival as “routine and part of long-standing cooperation between our two countries”, adding it was “unrelated to the presence of the Russian ships.”

Russia and Cuba were close allies under the former Soviet Union and tensions with Washington over Communism in its “backyard” peaked with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Moscow, which has maintained ties with Havana, has questioned the apparent nervousness of the West over the warships this week. 

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