Tunisia President Sacks Defence Minister Amid Political Turmoil

Photo taken from President Kais Saied’s televion announces on television the dissolution of parliament and Prime Minister Mechichi’s government on July 25, 2021 at Carthage Palace after a day of nationwide protest. FETHI BELAID / AFP

 

Tunisian President Kais Saied sacked the defence minister Monday, a day after ousting the prime minister and suspending parliament, plunging the young democracy into constitutional crisis in the midst of a pandemic.

Street clashes erupted Monday outside the army-barricaded parliament, after Saied dismissed Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and ordered parliament closed for 30 days, a move the biggest political party Ennahdha decried as a “coup”.

Saied declared on Sunday that he had “taken the necessary decisions to save Tunisia, the state and the Tunisian people,” following street protests in multiple cities against the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic.

READ ALSO: World Bank To Finance Extra COVID-19 Jabs For Poorer Nations

The president, who under the constitution controls the armed forces, warned his opponents against taking up arms, threatening that if anyone “fires a single bullet, our forces will respond with a rain of bullets”.

On Monday afternoon, a statement from the presidency announced the dismissals of Defence Minister Ibrahim Bartaji and acting justice minister Hasna Ben Slimane, who is also the government spokeswoman.

– ‘Very dangerous’ –

Soldiers from early Monday blockaded the assembly in Tunis while Saied backers hurled stones, bottles and insults at supporters of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha, whose leader was barred entry to the complex.

Troops also surrounded the office of Mechichi, who was yet to officially react to the events rocking the North African country.

Later in the afternoon, the protests died down.

Saied’s dramatic move — a decade on from Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, often held up as the Arab Spring’s sole success story — comes even though the constitution enshrines a parliamentary democracy.

It “is a coup d’etat against the revolution and against the constitution,” said Ennahdha, the lead party in Tunisia’s fractious ruling coalition charged, warning its members “will defend the revolution”.

The crisis follows months of deadlock between the president, the premier and Ennahdha chief Rached Ghannouchi, which has crippled the Covid response as deaths have surged to one of the world’s highest per capita rates.

Tunisia has recently been overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases which have raised the death toll to more than 18,000 in a nation of 12 million.

Police also shuttered the local bureau of Qatari-based Al Jazeera television, the network’s Tunis director Lotfi Hajji said, warning that “what is happening is very dangerous, it is proof that freedom of the press is threatened”.

– ‘Imminent danger’ –

The powerful Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) which played a key role in the 2011 uprising, said the president acted “in accordance” with the constitution to “prevent imminent danger and to restore the normal functioning” of the state.

Saied’s power-grab sparked jubilant rallies late Sunday by thousands of his supporters who flooded the streets of Tunis, waving the national flag and sounding their car horns as fireworks lit up the sky.

But the shock move was criticised abroad.

Germany urged a rapid “return to constitutional order” while the foreign ministry in Turkey, where the government supports Ennahdha, called for “democratic legitimacy” to be restored.

Since Saied was elected in 2019, he has been locked in a showdown with Mechichi and Ghannouchi, who is also house speaker.

The rivalry has blocked ministerial appointments and diverted resources from tackling Tunisia’s many economic and social problems.

In the chaotic scenes outside parliament Monday, Ghannouchi admonished an army officer who was blocking access and who had declared the troops were “the protectors of the nation”.

Ghannouchi retorted that “the Tunisian people will never accept an authoritarian government, whatever your efforts”.

Saied said he would assume executive power “with the help” of a government whose new chief he would appoint himself.

The president also lifted parliamentary immunity for lawmakers.

– ‘Birth of a dictator’ –

In the 10 years since Tunisia’s popular revolution toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has had nine governments.

Some of them have lasted only a few months, hindering the reforms needed to revamp the country’s struggling economy and poor public services.

Sunday’s political drama began with mass protests against the government for its failures in tackling the pandemic.

“The people want the dissolution of parliament,” the crowd chanted outside parliament in Tunis. Protests were also reported in several other cities.

A senior Ennahdha official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, alleged that the protests and subsequent celebrations, had all been choreographed by the president.

After Saied’s announcement, one jubilant supporter, Nahla, brandished a Tunisian flag and hailed the president’s “courageous decisions”.

“This is the president we love!,” she said.

But one man, aged in his forties, watched on without enthusiasm and said: “These fools are celebrating the birth of a new dictator.”

AFP

Bandits: PDP Demands Immediate Sack Of Defence Minister For Asking Nigerians To Defend Themselves

PDP calls for sack of Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi

 

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) demands the immediate sack of the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, for abdicating his statutory duties in asking unarmed Nigerians to defend themselves against armed aggression by bandits and terrorists.

The party describes the statement by the minister as reckless, irresponsible, and a confirmation that the Buhari administration has surrendered to outlaws and has no determination to fight them.

“It is unthinkable that a government would describe unarmed victims of armed aggression of terrorists and bandits as “cowards” while those who were elected and given the necessary resources to defend them recede in the comfort and safety of their offices in Abuja.

“Such disposition to security; a statutory responsibility of government, goes to validate apprehensions that our nation is indeed descending to a failed state under the Buhari Presidency, where the government can no longer perform its duties while unarmed citizens are left to confront bandits and warlords.

“Given the silence by the Buhari Presidency, our party holds that the defeatist comment by the minister represents the disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari and his security architecture, and explains why the administration has remained complacent in the fight against terrorism and banditry in our country”.

The party noted that such a statement by the Buhari administration, at the time it ought to be scaling up its security strategies to guarantee the safety of all Nigerians, have been emboldening bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers to escalate their acts atrocities against our compatriots.

“Moreover, with such disposition, the Buhari administration is creating a lucrative job for bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers who are settled with huge ransom instead of being faced with firepower.

“Our party however urges Nigerians not to despair at this moment but brace up as it has become obvious that we are now in a despondent situation where the government has shown that it can no longer defend the citizens”.

All Missing Katsina Students Will Return Home In Few Hours, Says Defence Minister

The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, has given an assurance that all the schoolboys missing in Katsina State will return home in the next few hours.

He gave the assurance on Sunday when he led a delegation of the Federal Government, including the service chiefs to Katsina to symphathise with the parents and teachers of the victims, as well as the state government over the abduction.

This comes two days after bandits stormed the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, a Local Government Area in Katsina with hundreds of students missing in the process.

 

Simple To Accomplish?

“Today, we are here also to symphathise with you over the recent abduction of secondary school students, which is more or less a ruthless exercise conducted to tamper with the education of the students,” the minister told Governor Aminu Masari who received the delegation at the Government House.

He added, “With the brief we received from the sister security agencies in the state, this task will be very simple to accomplish.

“Within the next few hours, we will ensure that these people are back without any collateral damage to the people of Katsina State; we have strategised.”

The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, visits Katsina on December 13, 2020, after over 300 students were declared missing following an attack on their school by bandits in the state.

 

General Magashi admitted that the confusion arising in the affected local government has testified to the fact that the military, the police, and other security agencies must move faster to ensure that the students were rescued.

He stressed that bandits must not be allowed to rest for a moment, saying it was about time bandits were proscribed as terrorists to effectively curb their activities in the North West and other parts of the country.

 

333 Students Missing

The minister stated, “All hands are on deck to ensure we accomplish our tasks within the Armed Forces and the police.

“I was here around August on the same kind of mission to sympathise with the government regarding the farmers and herders clashes.”

In his response, Governor Masari informed the delegation that 333 students were still unaccounted for as the school attacked by the bandits had a population of 839 students.

He, however, noted that the government has yet to get an accurate figure as some missing students were coming out from the forest and parents were being contacted through their phone numbers to find out whether their children were home.

“Based on the available record we have, we are still searching for 333 students through either the forest or their parents to ascertain the actual number (of students) that have been kidnapped.

“We, as government, we are yet to be contacted by any group or person responsible for the kidnap of the students,” the governor said.

Defence Minister Seeks Innovative Means To Tackle Insurgency, Others

The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd), briefing reporters at the National Assembly in Abuja on November 3, 2020.

 

The Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, wants the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) and others to be more innovative in the fight against insurgency, banditry, and other forms of crimes in the country.

He made the suggestion on Friday at the sixth Graduation Ceremony of participants of the Air Force War College (AFWC) Course 6/2020 held at NAF Base Makurdi, the Benue State capital.

Magashi, who was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, placed a demand for excellence and professionalism on the shoulders of military officers in the discharge of their constitutional mandate.

According to him, the changing nature of warfare poses new challenges to security forces as sub-conventional threats are on the rise, creating a significantly more complex strategic environment, both at the global and regional levels.

“The nature of these challenges makes it necessary to be innovative and explore contemporary ways and means to tackle them.

“Invariably, doctrinal development, force structure, planning and equipment provisioning for asymmetric warfare have become much more challenging problems than what is obtainable in a conventional war,” the minister stated.

Noting that the Air Force War College is the apex military training institution in the Force, he said it has done credibly well since its establishment in September 2016.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, speaks at the sixth Graduation Ceremony of participants of the Air Force War College (AFWC) Course 6/2020 held at NAF Base Makurdi, the Benue State capital on November 6, 2020.

 

Magashi asserted that airpower, being a critical component of the nation’s military instrument of national power, has remained a formidable tool in the preservation of Nigeria’s territorial integrity.

“Aside from the efforts of the NAF towards enhancing internal security in the country, the Service has also attracted tremendous goodwill and credibility to the nation through the provision of airlift and humanitarian support for the African Union, United Nations, and friendly African countries,” he said.

The minister congratulated the graduands for completing their training, saying they have shown courage and determination to be able to achieve the feat.

He was delighted that the NAF had seized the opportunity to create an avenue for operational and strategic level thinking at the AFWC.

“As the air arm of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the NAF has been playing significant and crucial roles in the ongoing counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, where air force officers, airmen, and airwomen have performed gallantly.

“I am particularly proud of the innovative steps that the NAF has taken within the last few years, as it strives to revitalise and boost its capacity to fulfill its mandate to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity,” Magashi said.

He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the needed support and encouragement to the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in furtherance of the nation’s constitutional roles.

The minister also commended the Commandant, faculty, and administrative staff of the AFWC for their dedication and tireless efforts towards the training of the graduands.

Suspected IS Radical Stabs Indonesian Security Minister

 

A suspected IS radical stabbed Indonesia’s chief security minister Wiranto as he was stepping out of a vehicle Thursday, leaving two deep wounds in his stomach and injuring three others in the attack, officials said.

Television images showed security officers wrestling a man and a woman to the ground outside a university in Pandeglang on Java island after the attack on the 72-year-old, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

“Someone approached and attacked him,” National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo, adding that the couple had been arrested.

Berkah Hospital spokesman Firmansyah said the former military general suffered “two deep wounds” in his stomach and may need surgery, but was conscious and in stable condition.

READ ALSO: How The World Is Reacting To Turkey’s Assault In Syria

Wiranto was later rushed by helicopter to the capital Jakarta.

The other three victims — a local police chief and two aides — had non-life threatening injuries, the hospital said.

The suspects were identified as 31-year-old Syahril Alamsyah and Fitri Andriana, 21. Police said Alamsyah had been “exposed to ISIL radicalism”, without elaborating.

It was not immediately clear if either were members of one of the dozens of radical groups that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.

The attack comes just over a week before President Joko Widodo kicks off a second term after his April re-election.

In May, police said Wiranto and three other top officials were targeted in a failed assassination plot linked to deadly riots in Jakarta after Widodo’s victory.

A group of six people — arrested before they could carry out the killings — planned to murder the officials and an election pollster in a bid to plunge the country into chaos, police said at the time.

Wiranto, the former chief of the armed forces and a failed presidential candidate, is a major figure in Indonesian politics.

He has long been accused of human-rights violations and for crimes against humanity linked to violence following East Timor’s 1999 independence referendum.

Iran Unveils Three New Precision-Guided Missiles

A handout picture released by Iran’s Defence Ministry on August 6, 2019, shows the missiles “Balaban” (L, top), “Ghaem” (bottom row), and “Yasin” (R, top) during an unveiling ceremony in the capital Tehran. PHOTO: IRANIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / AFP

 

Iran unveiled three precision-guided missiles on Tuesday, with the defence minister saying they show the country is ready to defend itself in the face of US “viciousness and conspiracies”.

The new line-up of air-to-air missiles dubbed the “Yasin”, “Balaban” and a new series of the “Ghaem” were developed jointly by the ministry and Sa Iran, also known as Iran Electronics Industries.

Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami hailed their launch as “another significant achievement of power and dignity for the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

“It shows that despite the viciousness and conspiracies of the Great Satan America and its mercenaries, the defence ministry will not hesitate for a moment to defend the Islamic republic and to expand security,” he said, quoted by Fars news agency.

The Yasin was a smart, guided-missile with folding wings that can be fired from a range of 50 kilometres (30 miles) of its target from manned or unmanned aircraft, Fars reported.

The Balaban was guided by GPS and sensors, equipped with folding wings and could be mounted under aircraft, while the Ghaem was a heat-seeking missile that could hit within 50 centimetres of a target.

They were unveiled amid tensions between Iran and the US and its allies in the Strait of Hormuz — a vital corridor linking oil producing countries in the Middle East to markets in Asia, Europe and North America.

The tensions arose after the US withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers last year and began stepping up a campaign of “maximum pressure” on the Islamic republic.

Since May this year, ships have been targeted in mysterious attacks, drones have been downed and oil tankers seized in the strategic waters.

AFP

Insurgency: Defence Minister Asks COAS To Remain In North East

Security: Army Will Continue To Work For Common Good, Buratai Assures Nigerians
File photo: Tukur Buratai

 

The Minister of Defence, Mr Mansur Dan-Ali, has ordered the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Burutai to remain in the north over the security challenges in the region.

According to a statement issued on Monday by Colonel Tukur Gusau, the Public Relations Officer to the Minister of Defence, the directive came shortly after a meeting to review the security situation in the country.

He said, “The Honourable Minister of Defence, Mansur Muhammad Dan-Ali met with the CDS and Service Chiefs today Monday 3 December 2018 at the Ship House, Headquarters of Ministry of Defence and consequently directed the Chief of Army Staff to remain in the North East until security situation improves.

“Similarly, the General Officer Commanding the 8 Division, Nigerian Army was also directed to relocate his Tactical Headquarters from Sokoto to Gusau, Zamfara state to oversee the conduct of Operation Sharan Daji.”

The Chief of Defence staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin and the army chief were directed to effect changes in the operational commands of Operations Delta Safe in the Niger, Lafiya Dole in the northeast, Sharan Daji in Zamfara and Katsina states and Awatse in the south-west.

The order comes after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the procurement of critical equipment for the armed forces.

He also approved the enhancement of the welfare of troops serving in operational areas within the country.

What We Discussed With Buhari At Security Council Meeting – Defence Minister

What We Discussed With Buhari At Security Council Meeting – Defence Minister

 

The National Security Council meeting began on Thursday with the general overview of the security situation in the country, as it relates to the conduct of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), revealed this in a statement shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari presided over the meeting at the Presidential Villa.

He said it recommended the deployment of security agencies to the states, to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct the elections peacefully.

Mr Dan-Ali was hopeful that the deployment of security personnel would further douse the tension created by the outcome of the political parties’ primaries and “some desperate persons” to sabotage the electoral process.

According to him, the meeting also addressed an attempt to put pressure on the electoral body by some notable personalities through demonstrations.

 

He, however, said the situation was brought under control by combined efforts of security agencies to avoid the process being hijacked by hoodlums or armed bandits.

The minister pointed out that another area of security concern discussed at the meeting was post-election violence, to prevent “desperate politicians” from whipping up ethno-religious sentiments to create a security situation in the country.

He said the Council discussed the proliferation and stockpiling of weapons by some disgruntled elements with a desire to take laws into their hands at the slightest opportunity.

The Council also called for the concerted effort of all security agencies to ensure that the 2019 general elections were hitch free.

Similarly, it stressed the need for continuous sensitisation of the public by the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

The Council further called for regular meetings of relevant stakeholders including INEC, as well as international and local election observers and the media ahead of the polls.

Although the Chief of Defence Staff was absent, the Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Inspector General of Police attended the meeting.

Also in attendance are the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr Abba Kyari; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Boss Mustapha; and the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd).

 

Portugal’s Defence Minister Resigns Over Arms Theft Scandal

Jose Alberto                                                                                           Credit: Portuguese Govt’s website

 

Portugal’s Defence Minister Jose Alberto Azeredo Lopes resigned Friday over a scandal which has seen senior figures in the military and police forces arrested over the theft of rockets, grenades, and cartridges from a military arms depot.

Lopes said he was stepping down to prevent the Portuguese armed forces from being “weakened by political attacks,” in his resignation letter cited by the Lusa news agency.

“I categorically deny having been informed of any cover-up operation to protect the perpetrators of the theft,” he added.

Senior military and paramilitary police officials were arrested last month on suspicion of offences including arms trafficking, criminal association, abuse of power, and the falsification of documents, according to the prosecutor’s office.

The arrests come more than a year after thieves broke into a military arms depot in Tancos, central Portugal, where security cameras had been out of order for two years.

Among those picked up, according to local media reports, was Luis Vieira, head of the military police.

They got away with 44 anti-tank rockets, 150 hand grenades, 18 tear gas grenades, and 1,450 nine-millimeter cartridges.

It was only an anonymous tip-off months after the July 2017 robbery that allowed police to recover most of the haul, which was hidden on the waste ground a few dozen kilometers from Tancos.

AFP

National Assembly Asks Defence Minister To Withdraw Call For Suspension Of Anti-Grazing Law

 

The National Assembly has asked the Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali to promptly withdraw his call on states which have an anti-grazing law enacted to suspend the law.

Both chambers of the National Assembly discussed the minister’s comments separately on Wednesday but arrived at the same conclusion.

The Minister had spoken about the anti-open grazing law while briefing journalists after a meeting of the security chiefs and President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

READ ALSO: Defence Minister Calls For Suspension Of Anti-Grazing Law

Apart from asking him to withdraw his call, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Government to submit a supplementary budget to the National Assembly to develop colonies immediately in the 11 states that have agreed to donate land for cattle colonies.

More to follow…

Salah Wins Admiration Of Israel’s Defence Minister

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (R) vies with Roma’s Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman during the UEFA Champions League first leg semi-final football match between Liverpool and Roma at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, north-west England on April 24, 2018.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah’s devastating performance for Liverpool in the Champions League has brought him an unexpected fan — the Israeli defence minister.

“I will be calling the chief of staff immediately to tell him to hire Mohamed Salah to the Israeli army,” Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote on Twitter after Salah inspired Liverpool to a 5-2 victory over Roma in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.

The Egyptian scored two goals and grabbed two assists Tuesday, but did not celebrate after scoring as a mark of respect for his former club.

He has 43 goals in all competitions this season and was voted the best player in the Premier League by his fellow players.

Despite the tongue-in-cheek demand from Lieberman, there appears no chance that Salah will turn out for an Israeli team.

Although Egypt is one of only two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel, public opinion remains largely hostile to the country and supportive of the Palestinians.

In 2013 Salah, then at FC Basel, was accused of changing his boots to avoid shaking hands with the players of the Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv before a preliminary round of Champions League.

Before the start of the second leg, his choice of a “fist bump” rather than handshake hand also attracted attention.

He was roundly booed and whistled by Maccabi fans during the game but still scored.

Salah then explained that there was a lot of pressure on him before this match, but that he was not interested in politics at all.

“The club told me if I don’t go I will be suspended and there will be lots of problems. So I went and thank god I scored,” he said in a 2014 interview.

AFP

Senate Summons Dan Ali, Emefiele, Adeosun Over Purchase Of Helicopters

Assets Declaration: Supreme Court Fixes Date To Rule On Saraki’s Case
File photo: Bukola Saraki

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Defence Mansur Dan Ali, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun to appear before the Committee on Appropriation.

Adeosun and her colleagues were on Tuesday summoned before the Upper Chamber to explain why 462 million dollars was released for the purchase of helicopters by the Federal Government without its approval.

They are to appear to before the committee which has been given a one-week deadline to present their findings to the Senate.

The summon is coming after a lawmaker Senator Samuel Anyanwu, at plenary drew the attention of the Senate to the alleged expenditure of 462 million dollars by the Federal Government for the purchase of helicopters.