The campaign headquarters of Egyptian presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq has been attacked by protesters and set on fire. Shafiq is the former Egyptian prime minister who will face off against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in the final round of voting. Liberal minded Egyptians who lead the protests to take down Mubarak feel trapped between a religious conservative and a representative of the old regime. “Protesters set fire to the headquarters of former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq, angered after the electoral commission announced he would face an Islamist rival in a runoff for president. Media reports said the cabinet would hold a meeting in the wake of the attack, after a senior military official said the army had plans to deal with any violence ahead of the decisive election.Police, who put their forces on alert, said eight suspects were arrested near the office following the attack, which came hours after electoral officials said that the holdover from Mubarak’s regime would face the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi in the second round vote on June 16-17. The protesters ransacked Shafiq’s office, according to an AFP correspondent who visited the building in the middle class Dokki neighbourhood of Cairo on Tuesday. The assailants had broken or toppled every piece of furniture inside the two-storey villa late on Monday, and also set alight an annex of the headquarters. Several doors, windows and mirrors inside the office were broken, while the street outside the villa was littered with campaign leaflets which cleaners were busy collecting.” (Reuters http://bit.ly/JrmzTx)
Could the Houla Massacre Break Moscow’s Support for Assad?
As always, Russia holds most of the cards when it comes to international action on Syria. In what counts for a diplomatic milestone, Russia seems to be adopting a harder line on its erstwhile allies in Damascus. Moscow’s decision to sign on to a tough-worded statement on the Houla massacre may be a first step toward further action, including a potential Security Council resolution. “Analysts said Russia may be warning Assad that he needs to change course or lose Moscow’s support, which has been a key layer of protection for the Syrian government during the uprising that began in March 2011. Russia has grown increasingly critical of Damascus in recent months, but Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s latest comments were unusually strong. Although he said opposition forces have terrorists among them, he put the blame for 15 months of carnage primarily on Assad’s government. ‘The government bears the main responsibility for what is going on,’’ Lavrov said in Moscow following a meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague. ‘’Any government in any country bears responsibility for the security of its citizens.’” (Boston Globe http://b.globe.com/L8YPEY)
Sudan and South Sudan to Hold Direct Talks
For the first time since heavy fighting broke out between Sudan and South Sudan in April, the two sides are meeting face to face. They will gather for mediations in Ethiopia, under the auspices of the African Union. A list of thorny issues of contention between the two Sudans include: border demarcation; disputed territories; oil revenue sharing; backing of rebel groups; and the issue of the southerners who still live in the north. Here is an excellent brief on all these issues that will be discussed in Addis today. (AFP http://bit.ly/JrnqU0)