Headlines from the region 29-1-2010

Headlines from the region 29-1-2010


Polish PM Tusk sees Morocco as stabilizing influence

Morocco is a “sign of hope” in a troubled region whose role as stabilizer is valued by the European Union, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Thursday. “Morocco’s role in global and regional politics is one of a moderator and stabilizer,” local media quoted Tusk as saying after a meeting with his Moroccan counterpart, Abbas El Fassi.

“Morocco’s politics are a sign of hope in uneasy times, in a part of the globe where conflicts are so easy to come by,” he added. “The entire European Union values Morocco’s positive role.”

Algeria sentences drug traffickers

The Oran criminal court in western Algeria has sentenced eight people to jail terms ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment for drug trafficking, the APS news agency reported Thursday.

Six of the convicted men were sentenced Wednesday to 20 years, a seventh to life and the eighth, who was on the run, was also sentenced to life, after the seizure in 2008 of two tonnes of cannabis resin at Bechar in the southwest.

Border guards from Hassi Khebi near Bechar intercepted a convoy of drug traffickers in March 2008, but the suspects then managed to escape towards Morocco, abandoning their vehicles and their contents.

Tunisia extends football coach’s contract

The Tunisian Football Federation (FTF) has confirmed Faouzi Benzarti as permanent coach of the national team.

The announcement comes despite severe criticisms of the Carthage Eagles performance in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

The FTF told BBC Sport that Benzarti “will soon sign a commitment contract that goes on until the end of the current season”.

Libyan minister to quit over “injustices”

Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdeljalil said on Thursday he wants to resign because of “hindrances” and his inability to secure freedom for hundreds of prisoners who have been found innocent.

“I can no longer continue in office because of difficulties and hindrances I am unable to surmount,” he told the annual conference of the General People’s Congress, or parliament, broadcast on state television.

Abdeljalil cited, among other things, “the inability of the justice ministry to implement rulings that found 300 Libyan prisoners innocent who are still languishing in jail.”

African Union: Sudan a powder keg

A vote for independence in oil-rich Southern Sudan’s referendum next year could be catastrophic, the African Union’s top diplomat has warned.

In an interview with French broadcaster RFI, Jean Ping likened Sudan’s situation to “sitting on a powder keg”.

He suggested the nation could once again face north-south conflict and said other areas like Darfur would try to follow the south to independence.

Israeli threats against Hezbollah target Lebanon

Israeli threats against the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah are threats against Lebanon itself, the country’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a visit to Cairo on Thursday.

“We take Israeli threats seriously,” Hariri said after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“Any threat against Lebanese territory, whether in the south, Bekaa, Dahie (Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold) or any any place in Lebanon is a threat against all of Lebanon and the Lebanese government,” Hariri said.

Syria jails two for fomenting terror

Damascus has jailed two Syrians convicted of seeking to foment unrest in Iraq for nine and seven years, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.

“The state security court on January 26 sentenced two Syrians, Abbas Yusif and Maher Yusif, to nine and seven years in prison, for attempting to cause trouble in Iraq,” SOHR said in a statement.

According to the newspaper Al-Iraqi, the condemned men were arrested “while trying to supply bombs to an armed group” in the war-torn country. The Iraqi paper did not give the group’s name, while the decision by the court in Damascus went unreported in the official Syrian media.