• Italy’s Interior Minister calls for migrant centers south of Libya

    Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, during a visit to Tripoli on Monday, called for processing centers to be set up south of Libya’s borders. The centers would serve as a way to block attempts by migrants to cross the Mediterranean, according to the minister. “On Thursday in Brussels, we will jointly support with Libyan authorities the setting up of reception and identification centers south of Libya, on the external border of Libya, to help Libya as well as Italy block migration,” Salvini said, referring to an EU summit this week. The Italian minister, speaking alongside Ahmed Maiteeq, deputy premier of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), did not specify which African countries should host the centers. Maiteeq said Libya “categorically refuses” to set up such camps on its own territory, AFP reports.

  • European Parliament’s committee vote for rule of law action against Hungary

    The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee voted Monday for launching action against Hungary over allegations that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government is breaching the EU’s fundamental values. The committee voted Monday for a report that recommends triggering an “Article 7 procedure” amid concerns about judicial independence, media freedoms and the harsh treatment of migrants in Hungary, AP said. The full assembly must still endorse the move for it to happen. The procedure could result in Hungary losing EU voting rights. However, this is unlikely because Poland, which is also facing Article 7 action launched by the EU’s executive Commission, would probably veto it.

  • Taliban rejects pleas by Afghan elders, activists for ceasefire extension

    The Taliban on Monday rejected pleas by Afghan elders and activists for an extension of this month’s ceasefire. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the peace “slogans.” He also urged civil society activists and others not to join movements he said “played into the hands of US and international forces” the Taliban wants to force from the country, Reuters said. “Their objective is that we lay down our weapons and accept the regime imposed by the invaders,” the spokesman said in a statement. A truce over the three day Eid al-Fitr festival this month has given fresh impetus to the calls for peace, although many also dismiss the ceasefire as a Taliban trick.

  • Libya’s coastguard rescues nearly 1,000 migrants on boats in Mediterranean

    Libya’s coastguard has rescued nearly 1,000 migrants who were on boats in distress in the Mediterranean on their way to Europe, the Navy said Monday. Three separate operations took place on Sunday with the coastguard bringing ashore in Libya a total of 948 migrants, Navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem said. The migrants were on inflatable dinghies which were facing difficulties in the Mediterranean off the coast of Garabulli east of the capital Tripoli. A first group of 97 migrants were rescued, while a second operation brought 361 migrants ashore and late in the evening a final group of 490 migrants were rescued, said Kacem. A total of 2,000 migrants trying to make the perilous journey to Europe were either intercepted or assisted by the Libyan Navy since Wednesday, AFP reported.

  • France’s European Intervention Initiative against crises to include Britain

    France has launched a military force with other countries including Britain outside the framework of the EU on Monday. The move is part of Paris’ plans to keep London close to European defenses after Brexit, Reuters said. The European Intervention Initiative aims to bring together a coalition of willing militaries ready to react to crises near Europe’s borders without NATO or the United States. France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly held a ceremony in Luxembourg at which Germany, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal signed a letter of intent. The launch followed months of negotiations with Germany, which France also wants at the center of the force. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the decision, saying it would help modernize European militaries and make them quicker to mobilize.

  • Thailand’s general election to be held between February 24 and May 5 – deputy PM

    Thailand will hold general election next year between February 24 and May 5, Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam said on Monday. The announcement signals the possibility of another delay of a vote that had tentatively been set for next February, Reuters said. Wissanu also said the ruling junta would lift a ban, in place since a 2014 coup, on some political activity by parties between September and December this year. However, a ban on campaigning will remain during that period, Wissanu said. The military has been running Thailand since the May 2014 coup when it ousted the civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.