North Africa

North Africa

by / Comments Off / 6 View / 6th December 2012

Western Sahara 

THE conflict over the final status of the territory of Western Sahara has gone on for far too long and must be resolved, the United Nations envoy dealing with the issue stressed last month, adding that any acceptance of the status quo a ‘serious miscalculation. Christopher Ross, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, said that the situation remained ‘very worrisome’ and should remain on the radar of the international community.

‘This conflict must be resolved and I believe that it can be resolved if there is a will to engage in real dialogue and compromise.’

The UN has been involved in mediation efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the movement known as Frente Polisario, after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended. A UN peacekeeping force, known as the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) has also been in place since 1991.

 

Libya

THE US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice has admitted releasing incorrect information after September’s attack on the American consulate in Libya. But she said there had been no attempt to mislead the public, but Republicans were unconvinced.

The September 11 assault on the US consulate triggered a major political row over who knew what and when. The attack left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Days afterwards, Rice said in a series of TV interviews that it seemed to have developed out of protests over an anti-Islamic film. Later intelligence reports suggested it was possibly tied to al-Qaeda affiliates.

Tunisia

THE World Bank has approved a $500 million loan to Tunisia to help the country recover from the Arab Spring uprising that toppled the former regime, with another $700 million loan coming from other donors. The loan, the World Bank’s second since the revolution, aims to support Tunisia’s economic recovery by providing funds to improve the business and financial sectors and reform social services, which are vital for reducing inequality.

Part of the reform program will involve eliminating 10 per cent of tax and customs regulations in some government ministries, increasing competition in the telecommunication sector, and expanding the new Access to Information Law.

The Tunisian government has said it will need about 7 billion dinars $4.3 billion) of loans and aid next year as it proceeds with a costly plan to compensate former political prisoners freed by the 2011 revolution.

In August, Tunisia announced that it expected the World Bank and the African Development Bank to each lend it $500 million to support its budget.