15 Killed in Bus Accident Near Alexandria
15 people were killed after a petrol truck and mini bus collided near the port city of Alexandria yesterday. The petrol truck reportedly lost control after losing a tire, and exploded into flames when it was struck by the mini bus. The accident is the worst to occur in Egypt since 27 people died on November 18 when a train struck a mini bus outside of Cairo. Some have criticized the poor infrastructure and lack of state investment in transportation for the high number of traffic deaths this year.
Female Protesters Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison Released
14 women who were sentenced to 11 years in jail for their participation in protests against the military-backed interim government were released yesterday. The defendants were being held on charges of using weapons, inciting violence and participating in “thuggery.” Also yesterday, a Cairo court acquitted 155 people who were arrested during October clashes between pro Muslim Brotherhood protesters and Egyptian security forces.
Masses Gather in South Africa to Honor Mandela
World dignitaries and thousands of South Africans gathered in Soweto today to honor the life of former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away last week. US President Barack Obama addressed tens of thousands who gathered in the rain to honor the man he called a “a giant of history.” During a laudatory speech, he used Mandela’s clan name, saying “It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailer as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.” Over 91 heads of state and celebrities including Oprah and U2 singer Bono attended the event.
US and Qatar Affirm Military Ties
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wrapped up official meetings with Qatar this week, and reaffirmed US military ties with the tiny gulf state, which is also home to influential news network Al Jazeera. While in the region, Hagel also visited Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where he confirmed the United States’ commitment to maintaining a military presence in the region.
Rights Group Says New Egyptian Constitution Falls Short
Human rights group Amnesty International released a review of Egypt’s new draft constitution today, both praising the increased freedoms enshrined in the document and criticizing Egypt for not going far enough. “If the authorities are serious in their commitment to human rights, they need to stop arresting opposition activists, hold security forces accountable for killing, injuring and torturing protesters, and take real steps to combat sexual harassment of and assaults on women and girls,” the group said in a statement. Amnesty International also criticized the document for the considerable amount of freedom allotted to the military, and the lack of significant civilian oversight.