DDMA Headline Animator

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Tunisia launches 'Yakfi' quit smoking campaign

December 29, 2017

The Ministry of Public Health in Tunisia has re-launched a program which it hopes will encourage its citizens to stop smoking.

First launched in 2016, the “Yakfi” campaign comes as part of the cooperation between the Ministry of Public Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

As part of “Yakfi”, the Arabic words for “enough”, a free phone number has been issued to help support those wishing to quit smoking.

Health Minister Imed Hammami told Shems FM that the campaign offers six weeks of support during the weaning period with ongoing monitoring of the goals and commitments.

The “Mobile Tobacco Cessation” which represents the end of smoking using smart phone apps will be applied through SMS interaction. “This action is the first axis of the project to promote health through modern technologies,” the ministry added.

According to Hammami, the proposal was presented to the government along with a pitch for an amendment to the anti-smoking law.

According to the ministry’s statement broadcasted by Mosaique FM, the new measures proposed will include a ban on the sale of cigarettes to those under 18, a ban on the sale of cigarettes near schools and hospitals and a total ban on smoking in cafes, restaurants and other public spaces.

Those who smoke in unauthorized places will be fined just over $20, double the previous fine of $10.

Annually more than 6,900 Tunisians die as a result of diseases linked to tobacco use, while more than 28,000 children and more than 205,9000 adults continue to use tobacco every day.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-tunisia-launches-yakfi-quit-smoking-campaign/.

Celebrating Berber new year marks shift in Algeria's identity politics

By Lamine Ghanmi - Tunis

Algeria will become the first North African coun­try to celebrate the Ber­ber new year as a na­tional public holiday. The move signals a major shift in identity politics, which had been dominated by strife and tensions between the government in Algiers and most of the Berber-speaking population in the restive north-eastern Kabylie region.

Berber activists hailed Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s de­cision making the Berber new year day, Yennayer, a public holiday as the crowning achievement of a his­toric struggle and a victory against what they described as Algeria’s “cultural tyranny of Arabism and Arab Ba’athism.” The holiday will be on January 12 this year.

“Who would believe that under the leadership of this president, who had declared with an arro­gant and threatening tone that Tamazight will never be recognized as an official language, that this laguage would be enshrined in the constitution as a national and offi­cial language and Yennayer would be declared a national holiday and paid day off for all Algerians?” asked Ali Ait Djoudi, a veteran activist from the Berber Cultural Move­ment, in a message on social media.

Algerian writer Amin Zaoui said: “At last, Algerians are reconciling slowly with their history, their an­cestors and their identity.”

“There is a long way to climb the path of Lalla Dihya Kahena, Juba, Apulee, Massinissa and others,” he added, naming historical figures known for defense of Berber iden­tity and territory.

Algerian writer Kamel Daoud said: “The decision to make Yen­nayer a national holiday was to be hailed because it would help, over the long run, heal deep wounds and harvest fruits in the future.”

Analysts said Bouteflika an­nounced the recognition of the Berber holiday before the 12th an­niversary of the implementation of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation to strengthen social and political stability ahead of the presidential election next year.

The charter, proposed by Boutef­lika to end the civil war by offering amnesty for most acts of violence committed in the conflict pitting Islamist jihadists and the military, was endorsed by a referendum in 2005 and implemented in February 2006.

The conflict broke out in Decem­ber 1991 after the army-backed gov­ernment scrapped elections radi­cal Islamists were poised to win. It claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 people, mostly civilians killed by Islamists.

“The decision over Yennayer came in these moments of doubts and multiple crises. It reinforces the cohesion of the nation by putting an end to unnecessary misunderstand­ings that are the result of a govern­ance that lacked farsightedness and anticipation,” said Algerian writer Brahim Tazaghart.

It followed the recognition of the Berber language as an official and national language alongside Arabic.

“It is a historic and bold decision by President Bouteflika. It ends the dictatorship and obscurantism of the Ba’athist culture, which hurts us each day by brandishing its rac­ist concept of the Arab nation and spawning hatred within society and undermining the nation’s unity,” said Algerian MP Khaled Tazaghart from the Future Front party, an op­position group.

Language and culture issues go to the heart of Algeria’s identity. It has been a determining factor in rela­tions with other countries.

The French colonial authorities banned Arabic in primary schools in Algeria, dismissing it as a backward language. After independence, in 1962, nationalist leaders adopted an Arabisation policy to undo the lin­guistic legacy of 132 years of French occupation. Towards that end, they recruited thousands of teachers from Egypt and Syria to fill positions left by fleeing French teachers.

However, most of the Egyptian and Syrian teachers were members of the Muslim Brotherhood fleeing crackdowns by Arab national­ist leaders in Cairo and Damascus. Their massive presence in the edu­cation system sparked a backlash in parts of Algeria, especially in Berber-speaking areas, against what was perceived as Arab domination with claims that the Arab teachers had turned Algerian schools into “factories churning out fanatical Psalmists.”

The spread of Arabic influenced the Berbers for centuries, including from the 15th century and through the 17th century when Arabisation of Berbers was accelerated by waves of Andalusian refugees expelled from Spain.

Berbers maintained their tradi­tions, dialects and rituals even after accepting Islam as a religion, mainly in Morocco and Algeria. Their total number in the two countries is esti­mated at 28 million.

Gradually, Algeria has met the de­mands of advocates of Berber cul­ture and language.

A Berber uprising involving a school boycott in Kabylie region in 1995 by parents protesting that their children could speak but not write in their native language led Algerian officials to introduce the Tamazight language into primary education.

In 2002, the government recognized the language as a national one following a deadly protest. The lan­guage was recognized as a national and official language, on equal foot­ing with Arabic, in 2016.

Berber activists have called on the Algerian government to allocate funding to the promotion and the use of their language. Thousands took to the streets in December to back such a demand.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86693.

Police clash with doctors protesting in Algiers

January 3, 2018

Algerian police prevented doctors from taking part in a protest outside the Mustafa Pasha Hospital in Algiers on Wednesday. The protesters’ demand include improved working conditions in the country’s hospitals and for the government to reconsider compulsory civil service.

The National Association of Independent Medical Practitioners organized the demonstration outside the hospital before the doctors tried to take their protest beyond the hospital grounds and into the streets. That is when they were blocked by the security forces.

A number of protesters were injured in the scuffles and arrested.

Over the past two years pharmacy, dental and medical students have taken part in a number of protests, sit-ins and hunger strikes demanding better services from the Ministry of Health and better prospects once they graduate. Many are forced to work in poor conditions with few employment rights and, despite promises from the Ministry to provide better services, the government has done little to improve the situation.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180103-police-clash-with-doctors-protesting-in-algiers/.

Algeria to introduce electronic elections in 2022

December 29, 2017

The Algerian Administration will be able to organize electronic elections as early as 2022, the interior ministry announced yesterday.

“We will be ready as an administration, to organize electronic elections, from the legislative elections of 2022,” Noureddine Bedoui said in an interview with Radio Algerie Internationale.

Bedoui further added that “2017 was the year of elections par excellence through the two important deadlines that were legislative and local”, he welcomed the “constitutional deadlines after disturbances in the past that have had negative results both nationally and internationally.”

However the election turnout since 2007 has been very poor with only a 30 per cent participation rate in some of the elections due to large distrust in the process and many instances of election fraud that have taken place.

In this light, the government is looking for ways to prevent the fraudulent process by adopting electronic elections. Regarding the criticism, according to Bedoui, measures adopted this year have allowed for a cleaner election and the removal of 1,300,000 names from the electorate owing to death or “multiple registrations”.

This year’s elections “were held in good conditions”, Bedoui said, adding that they allowed “the new constitutional values ??from the amended Constitution, namely democracy, freedom of expression, opinion and the press as well as the consolidation of the citizen’s place and all the legal conditions gathered through the revision of the electoral code.”

As well as the creation of the Municipal People’s Assemblies and Wilayas (APC / APW) in monitoring local elections, Bedoui added that more work is needed “in terms of support for new elected officials in terms of training and necessary instructions for local development and the creation of wealth on the basis of local potentialities”.

Bedoui praised the work done by the Independent High Electoral Monitoring Body (HIISE) this year and confirmed an evaluation of its work will take place to further improve the electoral system.

Algeria’s ruling National Liberation Front party won legislative elections held in May this year though with decreased support compared to previous years. The election was marred by claims of fraud and only 35 per cent of Algerians voted in the election as many had little faith in the ballot box aligning their affairs and believed the outcome of the vote had already been decided.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-algeria-to-introduce-electronic-elections-in-2022/.

Algeria sets Berber New Year as public holiday

December 28, 2017

The Berber New Year of Yennayer will be recognized as a national holiday in Algeria for the first time on 12 January, it was announced yesterday.

The Council of Ministers met yesterday with President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and issued a statement announcing the new national holiday.

“By offering his best wishes to the Algerian people on the eve of the year 2018, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has announced his decision to devote Yennayer as a day off and paid as of January 12, the government being responsible for making the appropriate arrangements for this effect.”

The head of state “urged the government to spare no effort to generalize the teaching and use of Tamazight, in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution” and also instructed the government to accelerate the preparation of the draft law establishing an Algerian Academy of the Amazigh Language, according to the Council’s statement.

The idea behind this latest move is to strengthen “national unity and stability” at a time when the country faces threats from “multiple internal and regional challenges”, the President said.

In the last few weeks, Algeria’s Berber region has witnessed a number of protests after a proposed draft law making the Berber language compulsory in schools across the country was blocked by parliamentarians.

Tamazight was recognized as an official language of Algeria when the Constitution was amended in 2016.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171228-algeria-sets-berber-new-year-as-public-holiday/.

Bahrain sentences six to death for 'assassination plot'


DUBAI - Bahrain's top military court sentenced six men to death on Monday after convicting them of charges including plotting to assassinate the Gulf state's armed forces chief, state media reported.

It was the first official mention of any plot against the life of Field Marshal Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, who is a member of the ruling family, but the Bahrain News Agency gave no further details of when or where it was alleged to have taken place.

Tiny but strategic Bahrain has been gripped by unrest for years as its Sunni royal family has resisted demands from its Shiite majority for a constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister.

A judicial source said that all six of those sentenced to death on Monday were Shiites.

BNA said that one of them was a serving soldier before his arrest and that all six were also stripped of their citizenship.

The court sentenced seven other defendants to seven-year jail terms and deprived them too of their citizenship. Five men were acquitted.

Only 10 of the defendants are in custody, BNA said. The other eight are on the run -- either inside Bahrain or in Iran or Iraq.

Since crushing Shiite-led street protests in 2011, Bahraini authorities have cracked down on all dissent, banning both religious and secular opposition parties and jailing hundreds.

Human rights watchdogs say that counter-terrorism legislation has been abused to prosecute many peaceful opposition figures.

The United States has criticized Bahrain for its human rights record but the kingdom holds a strategic position just across the Gulf from Iran and provides the home base for the US Fifth Fleet.

Source: Middle East Online.
Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=86556.

Former Peruvian strongman released from clinic after pardon

January 05, 2018

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori left the clinic Thursday where he has been receiving treatment since his controversial pardon from a 25-year jail sentence. The 79-year-old former strongman departed in a wheelchair alongside his youngest son less than two weeks after President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski announced his release.

Dressed in jeans and a blue polo shirt, Fujimori waved to a crowd of supporters gathered outside the clinic before entering a black SUV. "We are very happy to welcome our father in this new chapter of life!" daughter Keiko Fujimori posted on Twitter along with a photo featuring the family.

The pardon sent thousands of Peruvians into the streets in protest and drew international condemnation. United Nations human rights experts called Fujimori's pardon an appalling "slap in the face" to the victims of human rights abuses that undermined the work of Peru's judiciary.

The pardon came three days after Kuczynski narrowly escaped impeachment following a vote in which 10 members of Fujimori's party unexpectedly abstained. Polls show a majority of Peruvians believe a behind-the-scene deal was struck between Kuczynski and Fujimori's lawmaker son.

Kuczynski's allies have denied any such quid pro quo took place. Fujimori was convicted in 2009 for his role in the killings of 25 people, including an 8-year-old boy, during his decade-long rule. He was also later found guilty of having had knowledge of the existence of death squads financed with public money that killed civilians accused of being Shining Path members.

Some Peruvians credit him with stabilizing the economy and defeating the country's Maoist guerrillas while others condemn him for permitting widespread human rights violations. Fujimori apologized to Peruvians from his hospital bed following his release.

"I have disappointed some compatriots," he said. "I ask them for forgiveness with all my heart." Fujimori's pardon and Kuczynski's near impeachment have thrown the nation with one of Latin America's fastest-growing economies into a new period of uncertainty. Kuczynski was already deeply unpopular before an opposition-led investigation revealed his private consulting firm had accepted $782,000 in payments from the Brazilian construction company at the center of the region's largest corruption scandal. The payments were made when Kuczynski was a high-ranking minister over a decade ago.

The former Wall Street banker repeatedly denied having had any knowledge of the transactions. Several key members of Kuczynski's government have resigned since the vote. Fujimori had requested a pardon since 2013, but authorities said he did not suffer from any grave, incurable illness. That changed on Christmas Eve when Kuczynski announced he was freeing Fujimori for "humanitarian reasons" after doctors determined he suffered from incurable and degenerative problems. Not details have been provided on exactly what condition Fujimori is facing.

Peruvian law says that no person convicted of murder or kidnapping can receive a presidential pardon except in the case of a terminal illness.