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The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

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Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Egypt: 26 face death penalty over Suez Canal plot

An Egyptian court has sentenced 26 people to death for conspiring to attack ships transiting the Suez Canal.

The defendants were accused and found guilty of “founding and leading a terror group that aimed to attack peoples freedom, damage national unity and attack the Suez Canal waterway” says an official statement by the Cairo Criminal Court.

This includes plans to attack ships passing the canal, security buildings, foreign tourists and local police.

A verdict was given after a single session. Only one defendant, less than 18 years old, managed to escape the death sentence.

The case has been passed on to the Grand Mufti, a top Muslim cleric who must approve all executions, with a final decision to be made on March 19th.

Defendants were charged in absentia. If and when they are finally caught, they will be allowed a re-trial. According to the Washington Post it is common for defendants to receive the death penalty when tried in absentia.

Terrorist activity along the canal has been on the increase in recent years, since the ousting of Egyptian president Hosri Mubarak in 2011. Tensions were only fuelled further by the forced expulsion of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi in July 2013 via military intervention.

Many of the attacks have been supposedly committed by Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, an al-Qaida linked organisation.

Another group, Furqan Bridgades made several claims in regards to attacks along the canal last year.

It is unknown whether the convicted men in question are associated with either group.

However, according to Times of India, the trial covers a series of offences that happened before the Arab Spring uprising, at some time between 2004 and 2009.

Source: Port Technology, Feb. 27, 2014

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