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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Morsi Rebuffs SCAF

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has rejected the demands of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Morsi’s office released a statement at 2am, which claimed the president had not been consulted before Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi of the SCAF set a 48-hour deadline for a power-sharing deal and, rather than submit to the SCAF’s demand to immediately cease his polarizing behavior, Morsi will pursue his own plan for national reconciliation. While Morsi has been ensconced in meetings with al-Sisi and prime minister, Hisham Kandil, for two days, clashes between Morsi supporters and opposition members led to hundreds of assaults and scores of deaths around the roiling country. Assuming politicians fail to end a year of deadlock by tomorrow at 5 pm (1500 GMT), the SCAF plans to install an interim governing council, consisting of civilians from a plurality of political groups and technocrats, until an amended constitution can be drafted within months. This evening, Morsi broadcast a message on state television, wherein he accused Hosni Mubarak loyalists of riding the current wave of protests to topple his regime. Morsi vowed to protect his “constitutional legitimacy” with his life. Senior Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohamed el-Beltagy released a statement suggesting that Morsi would not be alone and that members of the Muslim Brotherhood might protect Morsi’s presidency no matter the cost, “even at the price of joining a new martyrs’ brigade.”

Colombian Rebel Groups Parley

The commanders of Colombia’s two major rebel groups, the marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the liberation theology inspired National Liberation Army (ELN), held a rare summit to discuss mutual interests. According to a joint statement issued by Timochenko and Gabino of the FARC and ELN respectively, the rebels “held a summit in a fraternal environment of unity and camaraderie with the idea of strengthening advances toward a united guerrilla and revolutionary movement.” While Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has engaged in discourse with the FARC, aimed at re-integrating the guerrillas into the democratic process after nearly 50 years of civil war, Santos has insisted his government would negotiate a separate peace deal with those in the ELN, but only if the group would pledge to cease hostilities. Today’s statement argued otherwise saying, “Any solution to the internal conflict in our country through dialogue must inevitably advance through conversations with all Colombian insurgents.”

European MP Stripped of Immunity

Marine Le Pen, the French leader of far-right anti-immigrant party Front National and member of the European Parliament, has been stripped of her governmental immunity from prosecution. European MPs voted today to ratify the action so that Le Pen can defend herself against a charge of inciting racial hatred brought by French prosecutors in 2011. The speech in question occurred in 2010, Le Pen said that “more and more burkas” were being seen in France. “After that came prayers in the streets… I’m sorry, but some people are very fond of talking about the Second World War and about the occupation, so let’s talk about occupation, because that is what is happening here… There are no tanks, no soldiers, but it is still an occupation, and it weighs on people.” Le Pen was present for today’s vote, and suggested she would defend her statements in court. “I’m going to defend myself … and I’m absolutely convinced that the court will rule in my favor and protect my right to say to the French the truth about the situation, notably prayers in the streets but not only that.” La Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, founded Front National, which is now the third largest party in France, and was himself defrocked of his prosecutorial immunity and convicted after saying that Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of World War II.

UAE Jails Coup Plotters

A court in the United Arab Emirates has convicted a large majority of the 94 Emirati allegedly involved in a plot to over throw the government. Many of the convicted were prominent members of Emirati society and members of the al-Islah group, which the UAE says has links to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. According to Abu Dhabi television, Sheikh Sultan bin Kayed Al-Qassimi, a member of the ruling family of the emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, and prominent human rights lawyer Mohammed al-Roken, were among the 56 given jail terms of 3-10 years. Eight others were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail, and another 26 were acquitted. Though international observers were barred from the trials, which began earlier this year, a UAE official announced, “The UAE considers the trial to have taken place in a fair and legal manner.” But Nicholas McGeehan, Gulf researcher at Human Rights Watch, has cited “flagrant flaws” in trial procedure. “These verdicts cement the UAE’s reputation as a serious abuser of basic human rights,” said McGeehan, “Today’s judgements mark yet another low point for the UAE’s worsening human rights record.”

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