Written by Marko Milicevicic exclusively for SouthFront
Algeria – President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika has welcomed on Sunday the President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and Secretary General of Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz.1 Algeria has pledged its support to Western Sahara’s aspirations for independence since the beginning of the Western Sahara war in 1975. To the present day, this issue represents a brake in development of Algeria-Morocco bilateral relations. On Monday, Special envoy of the United Nations Secretary General to Western Sahara Christopher Ross has held meetings with President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ramtane Lamamra.2 3 Ross is a former United States Ambassador to Algeria and Syria. On January 2009, he became the UN envoy to Western Sahara. In order to achieve a peaceful solution, namely the final status of this “Non-Self-Governing Territory”, role of the UN and its envoy could prove to be crucial in the coming years. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal held talks with President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and Iraqi President, Fuad Masum, on the sidelines of the 3rd summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Tehran.4 5 Sellal stated that big player in the oil market should reach an agreement concerning the level of production which would enable a sustainable recovery of prices of this vital energy source.
Egypt (government) and Russia (state-owned nuclear firm Rosatomalong) have signed Dabaa nuclear plant deal on Thursday, first of its kind between the two countries.6 Dabaa is a city on the Mediterranean coast, West of Alexandria. Many experts say that this bilateral agreement is possibly premature because Egypt is still unconsolidated and vulnerable to all kinds of terrorist attacks. Nevertheless, it can certainly be seen as a basis for a long-term alliance, which Russia desperately needs in North Africa. Second stage of parliamentary elections took place in Egypt (in 13 of 27 governorates) on Sunday.7 Parliamentary elections represent the third and final part of the political roadmap, after the adoption of the new constitution on 18 January 2014 by a public referendum and the presidential elections, which brought to power Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on 8 June 2014. Party-based lists are competing for 120 seats in the parliament. In the first stage, coalition “For the Love of Egypt” secured all 60 seats. This happened because a list that gets over 50% of the vote wins all seats in the constituency. 448 seats are intended for individual candidates (candidate who gets more than 50% wins a seat).8
On November 17, Martin Kobler succeeded Bernardino Leon, thus becoming the United Nations new special envoy for Libya.9 His appointment could bring new energy and new possibilities to the peace process in Libya, a country thorn by civil and tribal war. His primary assignment will be to try to establish a Unity Government, which would consist of two rival governments, based in Tobruk and Tripoli. Second important goal is a formation of an anti-Daesh military coalition, which would eradicate Islamic State from Libya. Kobler met on Saturday Libya’s two rival governments, when he stated: “I will take up the process where my predecessor left it.”10 Qatar brokered a peace deal on November 23 between Tebu and Tuareg tribes, which aim to put an end to fighting in the town of Ubari in southwestern Libya.11 If proven effective, the Doha agreement will represent the biggest success among various peace efforts in Libya.
On Wednesday, Morocco celebrated the 59th Anniversary of Independence from France and Spain, when late King Mohammed V returned to Morocco on November 18, 1956 from his exile to Madagascar.12 Interestingly enough, only period in Moroccan history when this country wasn’t a sovereign state was exactly from 1912 to 1956. Morocco and Russia negotiations on a free trade agreement have reached the final stage.13 This North African country is Russia’s top trade partner in Africa and the Arab world. Morocco’s advantageous geographic location and its close trade ties with EU could possibly enable this free trade agreement to transcend its bilateral framework. Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon will try to relaunch negotiations between Morocco and Polisario Front.14 By doing so, Secretary General of the UN will try to put an end to this dispute, which has the potential to destabilize further not only Morocco and Southern Provinces/Western Sahara, but also the whole region.
South Sudan parliament has amended the current Transitional Constitution. The amendments gave the President of the Republic Salva Kiir power to create more states, appoint governors but delay the order establishing 28 states.15 The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, warned Kiir not to change the number of administrative units (currently 10).16 Reason behind the warning is the possibility of the collapse of the peace agreement signed in August. Direct consequence of government’s decision is the cancellation of the summit of East African heads of state and government, which was scheduled to take place on 23 November in the South Sudanese capital, Juba.17 If something doesn’t change soon, all previous peace efforts will prove to be futile. Even now, the youngest recognized country in the world is on the brink of existence.
Sudan government and rebel group People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) did not manage to reach an agreement, African Union mediators said on November 24. Nevertheless, the mediation process will continue. AU intends to hold the national dialogue preparatory meeting on December 7.18 Also, around 352,000 South Sudanese refugees entered Sudan so far,19 which further complicates the humanitarian crisis.
Tunisia – Peter William Bodde is going to be the next US ambassador to Libya, but will work out of Tunisia’s capital, Tunis.20 US embassy in Tripoli has been closed since the attacks on its consular office in Benghazi in 2012. The group of 31 deputies of Nidaa Tounes decided, on Sunday, to resign from the parliamentary group as a reaction to the cancellation of the party executive bureau meeting scheduled for Sunday.21 Thirty one deputies make up the clan of the party’s Secretary-General Mohsen Marzouk, which wants to overthrow the ruling Hafedh Caid Essebsi’s clan. Political games in Tunisia pose a threat to its political system, still fragile from the “Arab Spring” earthquake. Ennahda and other Islamic political parties are waiting for an opportunity to seize power. Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 25, represents a last attempt to avoid the split of the party.22
- “Sahrawi President welcomes Algeria’s “unfailing, unqualified” support to Sahrawi cause”, Algeria Press Service, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/9509-sahrawi-president-welcomes-algeria’s-“unfailing,-unqualified”-support-to-sahrawi-cause
- “Lamamra receives Christopher Ross”, Algeria Press Service, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/9512-lamamra-receives-christopher-ross
- “Western Sahara: Ross grateful to Algeria for support to UN process”, Algeria Press Service, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/9525-western-sahara-ross-grateful-to-algeria-for-support-to-un-process
- “Sellal holds talks with President of Venezuela in Tehran”, Algeria Press Service, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/9524-sellal-holds-talks-with-president-of-venezuela-in-tehran
- “Sellal meets Iraqi President in Tehran”, Algeria Press Service, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.aps.dz/en/algeria/9522-sellal-meets-iraqi-president-in-tehran
- “Egypt, Russia sign Dabaa nuclear plant deal”, Ahram Online, accessed November 24, 2015, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/169157/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt,-Russia-sign-Dabaa-nuclear-plant-deal.aspx
- “Voting underway in Egypt for second stage of parliamentary elections”, Ahram Online, accessed November 24, 2015, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/164/170359/Egypt/Egypt-Elections-/Voting-underway-in-Egypt-for-second-stage-of-parli.aspx
- “Preliminary results: For the Love of Egypt wins all 60 party-based seats, run-offs for individuals”, Ahram Online, accessed November 24, 2015, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/164/171579/Egypt/Egypt-Elections-/Preliminary-results-For-the-Love-of-Egypt-wins-all.aspx
- “New UN envoy to restart Libya unity govt talks”, Deutsche Welle, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.dw.com/en/new-un-envoy-to-restart-libya-unity-govt-talks/a-18856378
- “New UN envoy meets rival Libyan gov’ts, urge talks”, Xinhua Net Africa, accessed November 24, 2015, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-11/23/c_134842650.htm
- “Qatar brokers deal between Libya tribes”, The Peninsula Qatar, accessed November 24, 2015, http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/news/qatar/359836/qatar-brokers-deal-between-libya-tribes
- “Morocco Celebrates the 59th Anniversary of Independence from France and Spain”, The Moroccan Times, accessed November 24, 2015, http://moroccantimes.com/2015/11/17223/morocco-celebrates-59th-anniversary-independence-france-spain
- “Free Trade Zone between Morocco and Russia under Negotiation: Minister”, Maroc Press, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.marocpress.com/en/moroccoworldnews/article-44671.html
- “Ban Ki-moon expected soon in region to relaunch negotiation between Morocco, Polisario Front”, Algeria Press Service, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.aps.dz/en/world/9526-ban-ki-moon-expected-soon-in-region-to-relaunch-negotiation-between-morocco,-polisario-front
- “South Sudan parliament amends constitution but delays more states”, Sudan Tribune, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article57094
- “South Sudan armed opposition says 28 states order derails peace agreement”, Sudan Tribune, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article57095
- “IGAD regional leaders postpone South Sudan peace implementation summit”, Sudan Tribune, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article57136
- “Sudan peace talks break without deal, AU says”, News 24, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.news24.com/Africa/News/sudan-peace-talks-break-without-deal-au-says-20151124-3
- “352,000 S. Sudanese refugees in Sudan: statistics”, Xinhua Net Africa, accessed November 24, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-11/25/c_134851044.htm
- “U.S. Senate confirms new ambassador to Libya”, Digital Journal, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/politics/usa-senate-confirms-new-ambassador-to-libya/article/449982
- “Nidaa Tounes: Group of 31 deputies decide resignation”, Tunisian Press Agency, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.tap.info.tn/en/index.php/politics2/31298-nidaa-tounes-group-of-31-deputies-decide-resignation-bochra-belhaj-hmida
- “Wednesday’s meeting with Nidaa Tounes Executive Board will be last-change meeting”, Tunisian Press Agency, accessed November 24, 2015, http://www.tap.info.tn/en/index.php/politics2/31312-wednesday-s-meeting-with-nidaa-tounes-executive-board-will-be-last-change-meeting-walid-jalled