Egypt Warns Against Further Protest, Tunisia Seeks Arrest of Former President
Egypt’s interior ministry has warned against further political demonstrations, saying they will be met with arrest and prosecution. Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Cairo on Tuesday, echoing similar protests in Tunisia. Some in the crowds chanted slogans against President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in office for three decades.
Police used tear gas and water canons against the protesters, and four people have died across the nation — three in Suez in the eastern part of the country and one police officer in Cairo.
Smaller crowds were seen Wednesday morning but were met with heavy police presence. The original demonstrations had been organized via Facebook. Many referred to it as a “day of revolt.” News had also spread via Twitter, which was soon blocked by the government.
Unauthorized political demonstrations are illegal in Egypt.
Tunisia Issues Arrest Warrant for Former President
Tunisia has issued an international arrest warrant for former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country to Saudi Arabia amid mass protests calling for his overthrow. The country’s justice minister, Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, said Ben Ali was wanted on charges of theft for the illegal profit he and his family amassed while he was in power.
The toppling of the president has not quelled protests, as many want all the vestiges of the Ben Ali government out, including current prime minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, who has said the country will hold elections within six months.
Russian Parliament Approves New START
Russia’s parliament gave final approval to a new strategic arms limitation treaty with the United States, an agreement that binds both countries to lower levels of nuclear warheads and mutual inspections.
President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the treaty in April of last year in Prague, but President Obama faced hurdles in the Senate. Passing the treaty was one of the major priorities of the lame-duck session at the end of last year.
The first START treaty was signed in 1991 and expired in 2009.
New Parliament Begins in Afghanistan
Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened a new session of parliament Wednesday, despite objections over the electoral process that seated some of its members. During his opening remarks Karzai blamed interference from Western diplomats for the outcome of the September elections. A compromise between Karzai and lawmakers decided the Wednesday start date; the president had originally hoped to delay its start by a month to investigate. As part of the compromise, a query can proceed even after they are seated.
But in the same speech, Karzai emphasized the country’s progress and called for unity. He thanked coalition and U.S. troops for their assistance.
At one point during his remarks, Karzai was interrupted by lawmakers passing around a copy of the Koran to take their oaths of office.
Medvedev Fires Security Officials in Wake of Bombing
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed airport security officials two days after a deadly suicide bombing at Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport killed 35 people, accusing them of “taking an absolutely passive position” and neglecting to keep the airport safe. “If people don’t understand how to work, we’ll find other people,” he was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti news agency.
Russia is observing a day of national mourning, and Medvedev delayed travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he is expected to speak.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed retribution against the perpetrators of the attack. No group has claimed responsibility.