Libya FM: Security, stability necessary to usher in new govt
- The Libyan government hosted a high-level conference aimed at resolving the country’s thorniest issues ahead of elections scheduled for late December
- Libya still faces a number of obstacles before its people can go to the polls, including unresolved issues over the country's elections laws
TRIPOLI, Libya: Libya’s chief diplomat says the transitional government is working to hold long-awaited elections later this year, but security and political and economic stability are necessary for a peaceful transition to a new government.
Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush’s comments came in an interview with AP late Friday in the capital of Tripoli. She spoke a day after the Libyan government hosted a high-level conference aimed at resolving the country’s thorniest issues ahead of elections scheduled for late December.
“To reach a peaceful transition, attention must be paid to the security and military affairs and to push the wheel of the economy in Libya,” she said.
Libya still faces a number of obstacles before its people can go to the polls, including unresolved issues over the country’s elections laws, occasional infighting among armed groups serving the government, and the deep rift that remains between the country’s east and west, separated for nearly 10 years by civil war.
Hopefuls for the presidential election, slated for Dec. 24, are set to declare their candidacies in the coming days and there are signs that some figures who rose to prominence during the war could take part. Mangoush said she hopes Libyans would accept the results of the vote which, if held, would be the country’s first election since 2014.
Parliament elections have been rescheduled by lawmakers for early next year.
Mangoush said the conference Thursday attended by Western, regional and United Nations representatives was a push to implement the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces from the oil-rich country before holding the presidential and parliamentary votes.
“The conference has a great and very deep symbolism for all Libyans,” she said, adding it was “the biggest indication that Libya is recovering.”
Libya has been engulfed in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. He was captured and killed by an armed group two months later. The oil-rich country was for years split between rival governments, one based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other in the eastern part of the country. Each side was backed by different foreign powers and militias.
After months of UN-backed negotiations, an interim government was appointed in February to lead the country to elections. As the countdown to the vote begins, differences are re-emerging between Libyan rivals — putting the entire reconciliation process at risk.
In September, Libya’s powerful, east-based commander Khalifa Haftar announced he was suspending his role as leader of a self-styled Libyan army for the next three months — the clearest indication yet that he may be contemplating a run for president in December elections. Should he run, he would be one of the frontrunners but his candidacy would likely stir controversy in western Libya and Tripoli, the stronghold of his opponents, many of them Islamists.
Thousands of mercenaries, foreign fighters and other foreign forces are still in Libya a year after a cease-fire deal included an agreement that they would depart within three months, which hasn’t happened.
A 10-member joint military commission with five representatives from each side of the conflict in Libya reached an initial agreement earlier this month on the withdrawal of foreign fighters and mercenaries. The UN has also started to deploy monitors to observe the cease-fire.
The UN special envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, warned last month that failure to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24 could renew division and conflict and thwart efforts to unite the oil-rich country.
Mangoush said Libya is marching toward a “peaceful path and safe path,” but she warned that achieving a peaceful transition requires “security, political and economic stability.”
She said the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah backs holding a “fair and comprehensive” vote at the end of the year, although “there is diligent and very serious work to be done toward the elections.”
“We are all waiting for it to take place on time, God willing, and that Libyans accept its results,” she said.
PM Khan says Pakistan can beat India in T20 World Cup opener in Dubai
- The prime minister tells his aides the national cricket squad will ‘definitely’ defeat the rival team on Sunday
- Khan also met the Pakistani cricket team last month and advised its players to strengthen themselves psychologically
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Saturday his country’s cricket team had requisite potential to defeat India in its Twenty20 World Cup opening match in Dubai on Sunday, reported a local news network.
Khan, a legendary cricketer of his time who won the 1992 World Cup for his country, met the national cricket team last month to advise the players to strengthen themselves psychologically and display greater team spirit.
According to Geo News, he discussed Pakistan’s upcoming contest with India with his aides while expressing confidence that his country’s cricket squad would be able to secure victory.
“This team has the talent to defeat India,” the prime minister was quoted as saying. “Insha’Allah [God willing], Pakistan will definitely beat India tomorrow.”
Much like Khan, Pakistan’s information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain also maintained that Pakistan would defeat India in the much-anticipated T20 World Cup opener.
“Spirits are high game on hai Pak is all set to win Inshallah,” Hussain said in a Twitter post.
Pakistan have lost all seven World Cup (50 over) clashes against India as well as five games in the Twenty20 World Cup and start as “underdogs.”
However, the Men in Green come into the Super 12s contest with 10 wins in a row in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Exuding confidence on Saturday, Pakistan skipper Babar Azam stressed that the past was irrelevant to his players.
“To be honest, what has passed is beyond us,” he told a virtual media conference. “We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result.”
Azam noted that records were “meant to be broken.”
Also on Saturday, India skipper Virat Kohli said they would take on a “very strong” Pakistan team in their first Twenty20 World Cup game while downplaying his team’s unbeaten record against their opponents.
“We never discussed these things, about our record and past performance,” Kohli told reporters in Dubai. “These things create distractions. What matters is how we prepare and execute on that particular day, regardless of the opposition.”
Two years after protests, Lebanon activists set sights on vote
- Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets from October 17, 2019 in an unprecedented countrywide and cross-sectarian uprising
- Activist Firas Hamdan is one of many to say that the elections, set for next year, will be a new opportunity for people to raise their voices against the authorities
BEIRUT: Two years after a now-defunct protest movement shook Lebanon, opposition activists are hoping parliamentary polls will challenge the ruling elite’s stranglehold on the country.
Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets from October 17, 2019 in an unprecedented countrywide and cross-sectarian uprising.
Their demands were for basic services and the wholesale removal of a political class they accused of mismanagement and corruption since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
But as the country sank further into economic turmoil, made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, what demonstrators called their “revolution” petered out.
Many then saw a probe into the cataclysmic 2020 Beirut port blast as the best chance to bring down Lebanon’s hereditary political barons, but even intense international pressure in the explosion’s aftermath failed to make them change their ways.
Last week, feuding parties turned Beirut into a war zone, with heavy exchanges of fire killing seven people in a flare-up sparked by a rally against the main investigating judge.
Lawyer and activist Firas Hamdan is one of many to say that the elections, set for next year, will be a new opportunity for people to raise their voices against the authorities.
“We tried everything — protests in a single location and across regions, demonstrations outside the central bank and near the homes of officials, following lawmakers and officials into restaurants and coffee shops, and blocking roads — but all to no avail,” he said.
Instead now “the parliamentary elections will be a pivotal moment in confronting the system — even if not the final battle,” he added.
Hamdan said the polls would allow people to choose between those who want to actually “build a state,” and a tired ruling class “that only knows the language of arms, destruction and blood.”
It will be a “face-off between thieves and murderers, and citizens who deserve a chance at state building,” said the lawyer, who was hit in the heart by a lead pellet at a demonstration last year demanding justice over the port blast.
The protest movement has given birth to a clutch of new political parties, as well as attracting support from more traditional ones such as the Christian Kataeb party.
Each has its own vision of how to achieve change, but all largely agree on the importance of the upcoming elections.
Zeina El-Helou, a member of new political party “Lana” (For Us), said it was time to “move on from the nostalgia of throngs of people in the streets chanting” for change.
Activists needed instead to work on “managing frustrations and expectations” for the future, she said.
The political battle would be tough, as it opposed two sides of “unequal means,” she said, referring to her side’s limited financing or access to the traditional media for campaigning, and to gerrymandering giving establishment parties the advantage.
The various opposition groups have yet to decide how they will take part in the upcoming polls, and some observers have criticized them for failing to coordinate their efforts effectively.
Voters, meanwhile, are busy battling to get by on deeply diminished incomes, amid endless power cuts, price hikes and shortages of everything from medicine to petrol.
Maher Abu Chakra, from the new grouping “Li Haqqi” (For My Right), said the polls would likely not change a thing but it was “important to take part.”
“It’s a first step on the path to lasting change.”
But he too acknowledged the challenges.
“When people’s priority becomes making sure they can provide basic needs, they’re less ready for confrontation” in politics, he said.
Tens of thousands have been laid off or have taken pay cuts since the start of the crisis, and many people have been deprived of their own life savings, which have become trapped in the banks.
In some cases, traditional parties have managed to wheedle their way back into voters’ homes by giving them food, fuel or medication, or even paying their electricity or water bills.
Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut (AUB), said the old political system was “still alive and well.”
The people, however, were suffering from “social fatigue” and had “understood change wouldn’t be so easy,” he said.
Rima Majed, assistant professor of sociology at AUB, said people were leaving the country because they had lost hope in any political change.
Fed up with constant blackouts and shortages, thousands of fresh graduates and better-off families have packed their bags and quit Lebanon in recent months in search of a better life abroad.
“It’s deluded to believe that elections can change the system,” she said.
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan announces committee to negotiate with government as protesters march on Islamabad
- 'If government is serious, we can hold talks,' the group says in statement announcing three-member team
- Federal government summons reinforcements from other provinces to Islamabad to deal with protesters
ISLAMABAD: The banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party said on Saturday it had formed a three-member committee to hold negotiations with the government even as its followers continued their march on Islamabad.
The development comes only a day after deadly clashes broke out between the group and police in Lahore, claiming the lives of two uniformed personnel and injuring several others.
The TLP is protesting the incarceration of its top leader, Saad Rizvi, as well as seeking the expulsion of the French ambassador over the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) published in France last year.
Rizvi was arrested in Lahore in April for threatening the government with anti-France rallies, and his detention was followed by violent demonstrations by TLP workers that resulted in the death of six policemen.
“If the government is serious about negotiations, we can hold talks,” the group said in a statement while announcing a three-member negotiation committee comprising Mufti Muhammad Wazir Ali, Allama Ghulam Abbas Faizi and Mufti Muhammad Umair.
The Punjab government announced a two-member committee to hold negotiations with the TLP leaders a day earlier to stop them from leading the protest rally to Islamabad.
“The Punjab government has formed a committee with senior cabinet members to hold negotiations with TLP,” Hasaan Khawar, the provincial government spokesperson, told Arab News on Friday. “We hope that dialogue will resolve this issue.”
The government committee comprised provincial law minister Raja Basharat and public prosecution minister Chaudhry Zaheeruddin.
The negotiations, however, remained inconclusive and the group started its march toward Islamabad.
As the local media reported that the government had constituted another three-member team to hold a dialogue with the banned religious group, the TLP said in its statement: “If the government wants to hold dialogue, it will have to create a peaceful environment for it.”
The new government team consists of interior minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad, religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri and Punjab law minister Muhammad Raja Basharat.
“The government believes in resolving issues through dialogue,” a local news network, Geo, quoted Qadri as saying, adding that protecting the lives and property of people was the top priority of the ruling administration.
The government moved to appoint negotiators after thousands of TLP activists tried to cross blockades placed on the roads in Lahore, forcing the police to fire teargas shells, use rubber bullets and resort to aerial firing.
Meanwhile, the government on Saturday summoned reinforcements from other parts of the country to Islamabad after the clashes in Lahore.
A notification from Pakistan’s interior ministry to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir asked for 10,000 policemen to be deployed in the capital from each region.
India’s Kohli says Pakistan ‘very strong’ ahead of T20 blockbuster in Dubai
- India have beaten Pakistan in all 12 T20, 50-over World Cup matches
- Babar Azam’s Pakistan are now looking to break their World Cup jinx
DUBAI: India skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday said they will take on a “very strong” Pakistan team in their Twenty20 World Cup opener and downplayed their unbeaten record against their opponents.
India have beaten Pakistan in all of their 12 matches at the T20 and 50-over World Cups.
“We never discussed these things, about our record and past performance,” Kohli told reporters on the eve of the much-anticipated clash in Dubai on Sunday.
“These things create distractions. What matters is how we prepare and execute on that particular day, regardless of the opposition.”
Kohli said regardless of their past dominance Pakistan is and always has been packed with talented players.
“Pakistan, according to me is a very strong team and always has been a strong side,” he said.
“You have to play your best cricket against them, because they have lots of talent and players who can change the game.”
Babar Azam’s Pakistan will look to break their World Cup jinx against India, who have won all five clashes in T20’s showpiece event.
Babar, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman hold the team’s batting key while quicks Shaheen Shah Afridi and Hasan Ali lead a potent bowling attack.
Kohli backed his team’s match winners including Hardik Pandya to come good in the tournament despite the all-rounder struggling with his bowling.
“He is getting better in terms of getting prepared to bowl two overs for us,” said Kohli.
“What he brings at that number six spot is something that you cannot create overnight and hence I was always in favor of backing him in Australia as a batter purely.
“He can take the game away from the opposition when he is in full flow.”
Pandya emerged as India’s top all-rounder after his white-ball debut in 2016 but a spate of back injuries affected his career and he underwent back surgery two years ago.
The pace bowler did not bowl in the second leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates for his side Mumbai Indians.
But Kohli says the attacking batsman is an asset to the team in the shortest format.
“We understand the value he brings to the team as a number six batter,“said Kohli.
“In world cricket if you look around there are specialists who do that job and it is very important to have that guy specially in T20 cricket.
“He is motivated and keen to start giving us a couple of overs and when that happens obviously the balance becomes even better.
“But we are pretty confident how we are heading into the start of this tournament.”
The tournament is Kohli’s last as captain of the national T20 side, but he refused to speak more on the issue.
“Our focus is to play well in this World Cup and do what we need to do as a team,” he said.
“I have explained myself very honestly (on Twitter). If people feel there is more to it, then I feel sorry for them.”