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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Libyan PM Kidnapped, Briefly

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was kidnapped briefly from his residence at the Corinthia Hotel today by the Libyan Revolutionary Operations Chamber, a government-allied militia group that accused Zeidan of financial irregularities. While government sources were at pains to avoid implicating any one militia, the Libyan Revolutionary Operations Chamber announced on Facebook it had seized the prime minister “on the prosecutor’s orders,” adding that Zeidan “was arrested under the Libyan penal code… on the instructions of the public prosecutor”. The justice ministry denies any such instructions.

Hashim Bishar, head of the national police force, the Supreme Security Committee, announced Zeidan’s rescue a short while later, “Our revolutionaries went to the place where he was being detained and demanded he be handed over. He was handed over, now he is safe.” At a cabinet meeting shortly after his release the Prime Minister said, “I salute the revolutionaries who had an important role. The real revolutionaries, those who rose above greedy demands, I salute them for what they did in this affair.”

No one was injured in either the kidnapping or counter-kidnapping, nor have any arrests been made in the incident, which Zeidan described as “within the context of Libyan political wrangles“. While briefly occupied by militia members of various stripes, the Corinthia Hotel, which is also the site of several embassies, remained opened and placid throughout the ordeal.

Cuban Newspaper Shakeup

Cuba has appointed new editors for Granma and Juventud Rebelde, the country’s two main newspapers. The appointments, described by the Communist Party as a
“renewal”
, will see Pelayo Terry, the former leader of the country’s youth newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, take the helm at Granma. Granma is the party’s official newspaper and often host to the popular feature Reflections of Fidel Castro. Terry, a former war correspondent in Ethiopia, maintains a blog, Facebook and a twitter account and has pushed ardently for Cuban engagement through social media.

Marina Menéndez, a correspondent who has served in Nicaragua and Venezuela, will replace Terry at Juventud Rebelde. Earlier this year the Cuban congress called for a new revolution in Cuban journalism, with less self-censorship and secrecy. These appointments, along with permission to travel for Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez suggest that call may have been more than mere rhetoric.

Musharraf Free to Travel

Pervez Musharraf, who had been under house arrest since April, has been granted bail in the case against him for the death of Akbar Khan Bugti. The former leader of Pakistan is facing prosecution in three separate cases related to a number of crimes alleged to have been committed during his nine years in power. Musharraf had already been granted bail in two of the three cases, and the decision by the Pakistani court earlier today, may allow him to flee the country and thereby to avoid prosecution entirely.

Aside from the three criminal proceedings, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif suggested Musharraf should face treason charges over his role in suspending the Constitution in 2007, but few believe the investigation will lead to charges. The prosecution of any Pakistani Generals is a novelty, as the military brass has enjoyed unofficial immunity from prosecution since the creation of Pakistan in the 1940s. As to where Musharraf plans to go, Ahmad Raza Khan Qasuri of the APML suggested he might visit his mother in Dubai, “He’s a free person — he can go out whenever he likes.”

Aliyev ‘Wins’ Again

The Azerbaijani presidential election was held yesterday and despite the uniting of a fractious opposition behind a single candidate, Ruling president Ilham Aliyev has been elected to a third term. This should come as little surprise, as the smart phone application created by the election committee to monitor the results as they were posted detailed Aliyev’s success on Tuesday, the day before the polls even opened. Emin Milli, a prominent Azberbaijani activist declared, “I’m speechless. Even the facade of a real election in Azerbaijan has been proven a farce.”

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