Headlines from the region 15-2-2010

Headlines from the region 15-2-2010

African Youth Games 2010 in Morocco

Morocco will host the inaugural African Youth Games in May this year.

The games, which will see participation from all the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) members, will be held in the cities of Rabat and Casablanca.

The Botswana National Olympic Committee CEO, Tuelo Serufho, told the Sunday Standard that the games had been organized by ANOCA, of which Botswana is a member, and would be held on the 9th to the 15th of May this year in Morocco.

Orascom may leave Algeria

Egyptian group Orascom Telecom would consider exiting Algeria if it felt unwelcome, Chairman Naguib Sawiris said in an interview published on Monday.

In November, the Algerian government said Orascom owed it $597 million in back taxes. Orascom denies this and is appealing the decision. “We are keen to stay in Algeria; it’s one of our main assets and until this incident we were very happy there. But we need to understand if our investment is welcome there or not. If not, we will consider other options,” Sawiris told MarketWatch.

Revenue from Orascom’s Algerian operations accounted for 37 percent of the firm’s top line in the third quarter.

World Bank loans Tunisia $280 million

The World Bank will lend Tunisia $280 milion in 2010 to help the North African country promote growth and increase job opportunities, the TAP state-run news agency reported on Sunday.

The bank will make the loan under its Country Partnership Strategy with Tunisia, TAP quoted officials at the Ministry for Development and International Cooperation as saying.

Tunisia’s unemployment rate is 14.7 percent, according to official figures, and its gross domestic product growth last year was 3 percent, down from 4.8 percent in 2008.

US trade delegation to Libya

A large and high profile US trade delegation due to arrive in Libya in February is signaling a further thawing of Libyan-American relations.

Representatives from 25 American companies will accompany Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale during the US government’s first trade mission to Libya since the renewal of bilateral relations three years ago.

“Libya’s government is making efforts to diversify the economy and encourage private-sector participation in new manufacturing and service activities,” Lamb-Hale said in a statement released by the US department of commerce. “As Libya moves forward with its transition, it holds potentially rich trade opportunities in almost every sector of the economy.”

US exports to Libya in 2008 totaled $720 million, according to the department’s figures.

Ex-Sudan leader says Bashir tarnishes Islam

Sudan’s last elected leader accused President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s party on Monday of blemishing Islam, and warned there was a risk of violence in Darfur and the south in the build up to elections.

Sadeq al-Mahdi, who was overthrown by Bashir in a bloodless coup in 1989, attacked the president’s dominant National Congress Party as he launched his campaign for elections due in April.

“They have spoiled the good name of Islam because they associated Islam with dictatorship, they associated Islam with violence,” Mahdi, who leads the opposition Umma party, told Reuters.

One dead in Palestinian camp clash in Lebanon

One person was killed on Monday in a gunbattle between members of the Fatah faction and Sunni Islamist militants at a Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon, security sources said.

Witnesses reported that rocket-propelled grenades were being used in the clash between Fatah and Usbat al-Ansar, a small al Qaeda-inspired group. A woman shop owner was killed in the crossfire in the refugee camp near the southern city of Sidon, security sources said.

Washington denies new ambassador to Syria

The White House issued a hedged denial that it had named an ambassador to Syria.

Leaks from Damascus have suggested that Robert Stephen Ford, currently the U.S. deputy ambassador to Iraq, was named to the post.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a Feb. 11 news briefing that he would check into the story. A one-line addendum to the briefing transcript sent later that day to reporters read simply: “Syria: We have not formally nominated an Ambassador.”