Amid an ongoing investigation into alleged high-level corruption during his time in office, authorities in Mauritania on Wednesday arrested former president Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz.
Aziz, who stepped down in 2019 after serving two five-year terms, was indicted in March and placed under house arrest in May following a parliamentary investigation into suspected graft during his administration.
Mohameden Ichidou, coordinator of the lawyers for his defence said the ex-president was taken into custody on Tuesday for failing to appear before a judge last week, as he was required to do regularly under the terms of his judicial supervision.
“The cause raised in the report relates to the absence of the former president in front of the judge on Friday and Sunday,’’ said Ichidou.
He said Abdel Aziz had stopped going to see the judge because each time he went he was followed by police and civilians along the road who hassled and threatened him.
The former president could not be reached for comment. He had previously denied the corruption allegations.
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A family member confirmed that police appeared at the former president’s home in Nouakchott on Tuesday with a summons from the courthouse.
Aziz followed them, and the family was later informed he had been arrested, he said.
Aziz, 64, came to power in Mauritania, a vast desert country of fewer than five million people, in a 2008 coup and was an important ally of Western powers fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel region.
He was replaced by a political ally, current president Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, but quickly found that his government’s actions, including deals on offshore oil projects, came under scrutiny by parliament.
Former Prime Minister Ismail Ould Cheikh Sidiya and his entire government resigned amid the parliamentary investigation in 2020. (Reuters/NAN)
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Israel-Hamas Truce To Begin At 7am On Friday With First Hostages To Be Freed, Says Qatar
Thirteen women and children being held hostage by fighters in Gaza will be the first to be released – as the temporary truce in Gaza between Israel and Hamas begins at 7am local time (5am UK time) on Friday, Qatar has said.
Dr Majed al Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s foreign ministry, said it had received a list of the civilians to be freed around 4pm local time (2pm UK time) tomorrow – and families would be given priority.
He said it was expected Israel would release Palestinian prisoners in return as part of the deal.
“We are hoping that we don’t see any further delays,” he said.
“I think we have reached a point now where everything is in place, we are ready to go on the ground.”
The deal, agreed following talks mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the US, will include the Red Cross visiting the hostages and bringing medicines to them.
It would also mean hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian, medical and fuel supplies would be allowed to enter Gaza, while Israel would halt all air missions over southern Gaza and maintain a daily six-hour daytime no-fly window in the north.
Dr al Ansari said humanitarian aid would start flowing into Gaza as soon as the truce begins, adding it was “a fraction” of what it needs.
The ceasefire had been set to take effect at 10am local time on Thursday (8am UK time) – after six weeks of fighting.
The structured agreement was reached and confirmed on Wednesday morning, but more than a day later an expected announcement of the official start time had yet to materialise.
Asked about the delay by reporters at a news conference in Doha, Dr al Ansari said discussions had been “very difficult and detailed”.
“We wanted to make sure that nothing would cause harm in the process of getting the hostages out, and the perimeters of the agreement are agreed upon in the operational sense, on both sides,” he said.
He added the temporary truce includes a comprehensive ceasefire in both north and southern Gaza – and it was hoped it will lead to a permanent truce.
Hamas has agreed to free 50 Israeli women and child hostages held by fighters in Gaza, in exchange for Israel releasing 150 Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.
Israel had said the truce could last beyond the initial four days as long as the fighters free at least 10 hostages per day.
A Palestinian source has told the Reuters news agency a second wave of releases could see as many as 100 hostages freed by the end of the month.
Both sides have said they will go back to fighting once the truce is over.
Wife Of Gabon’s Deposed Leader Ali Bongo Jailed
Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Valentin, the wife of Gabon’s deposed leader Ali Bongo has been jailed, the AFP news agency said in a post on social media platform X on Thursday, citing a lawyer.
Gabon army officers seized power on Aug. 30, annulling an election minutes after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had won, which they said was not credible. Bongo, in power since 2009, had succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years.
AUC Chairperson Seeks Truce In Israeli-Palestinian War
The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has expressed his utmost concern at the outbreak of the current Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, causing grave consequences for the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians in particular, and for peace in the region, in general.
In a statement in Addis Ababa, the chairperson recalled that denial of the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, particularly that of an independent and sovereign State, is the main cause of the permanent Israeli-Palestinian tension.
The chairperson urgently appealed to both parties to put an end to military hostilities and to return, without conditions, to the negotiating table to implement the principle of two States living side by side, to safeguard the interests of the Palestinian people and the Israeli people.
The chairperson further called on the international community, and the major world powers in particular, to assume their responsibilities to impose peace and guarantee the rights of the two peoples.
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