North Africa Media Roundup

Tunisia’s young democracy stumbles under terror threat

The seven men spent a week in a Tunisian prison on terrorism charges, suffering what they claim was torture under custody, before a judge released them for lack of evidence. But as they stepped out of the courthouse in early August, plainclothes policemen swooped in and spirited them away.

After their lawyers protested, Justice Minister Salah Benaissa told local radio that arresting suspects without a warrant was now permissible because of the new war on terror: “There is an agreement between the ministry and the security forces,” he said, “that allows them to act against terrorism without previous authorization.”

Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring, was its only country to emerge with a democracy marked by increased freedoms and regular elections. But a pair of devastating terrorist attacks that killed nearly 60 foreign tourists has triggered a state of emergency, and police have been arresting hundreds in sweeps. It is prompting many activists to fear a return to the days of repression under late dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Mauritania accused of ‘parody of justice’ as jailing of anti-slavery activists upheld

A Mauritanian court has upheld a two-year prison sentence against three anti-slavery activists who were arrested during a protest against bondage in the west African nation.

Biram Ould Abeid, runner-up in the 2014 presidential elections and head of theInitiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), was jailed in January alongside two other activists.

In an open letter published after the ruling, he vowed to continue his fight against slavery and appealed for the US and EU to put pressure on Mauritania to act against the practice, including stopping financial aid.

Libya – political, economic and tribal complexity

When looking at the current situation in Libya, one has to admit it is hardly understandable: Two governments, hundreds of tribes and autonomous armed groups, and the growing presence of competing jihadists groups amongst which the local Islamic State. This article attempts to give an overview of today’s situation in Libya, and to highlight a few important factors, such as the control of the economic resources.

Two governments fighting for legitimacy

There are currently two governments claiming legitimacy over the whole country. Both are issued from the General National Congress.

One is known as the “Tobruk Government”, internationally recognized, and composed of the Council of Deputies elected in June 2014, whose chairman is currently Aguila Saleh Issa. However, these elections where triggered byKhalifa Haftar, now commander of the Libyan armed forces (LNA) who wished to overthrow the former Islamist majority. This led to a coup by those same Islamists (operation Libyan Dawn), in August 2014 in Tripoli, forcing most members of the elected council to relocate to a safer area in Tobruk near the Egyptian border.

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