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Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Protests Continue in Port Said

One of this week's protests in Port Said in Egypt

See also Syria Live Coverage: Multiple Bombings in Damascus
Wednesday's Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Clashes Continue as Regime Claims Arrest of "Iran-Iraq-Lebanon Terror Cell"

1910 GMT:Egypt. President Morsi will call a Parliamentary election, to be held in three or four stages, starting in April.

"The president will issue a decree soon, it could be tonight, calling for elections to start in April," a source in his office told Reuters.

1900 GMT:Morocco. Reporters Without Borders has condemned the 10-month prison sentence handed down last week to citizen journalist Mohamed Attaoui on the charge of “working as a local official despite being suspended”.

Attaoui was arrested on 21 January in town of Tounfite north-central Morocco while photographing homes that are unfit for habitation for a report he intended to publish.

The president and general secretary of the Tounfite Group, a grass-roots association to which Attaoui belongs, were also arrested and have been sentenced to a year and eight months in prison, respectively.

Following his arrest, Attaoui was placed in solitary confinement and was not allowed a visit from his wife until 18 February.

1850 GMT:Palestine. More than 60 people have been injured in clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli army in the West Bank, the Palestinian Red Crescent has said.

Youths, gathered outside Ofer prison near Ramallah, threw stones and petrol bombs towards Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets.

The demonstrators were calling for the release of four Palestinian prisoners who are long-term hunger strike, including Samer Issawi, given an eight-month sentence today (see 1610 GMT).

1655 GMT:Tunisia. Prime minister Hamadi Jebali, who resigned on Tuesday, has refused to head the next Government.

Jebali's Ennahda Party, the leading faction in the ruling coalition will name a replacement.

Jebali, who is Secretary-General of Ennahda, stepped down after his plan for an apolitical technocrat cabinet to prepare for elections collapsed, largely because of opposition from Ennadha and its leader, Rached Ghannouchi.

Ennadha said, "A new candidate will be presented to the President of the Republic this week."

Jebali proposed the new Cabinet after the assassination of opposition politician Chokri Belaid on 6 February.

1610 GMT:Palestine. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court sentenced Palestinian detainee Samer Issawi to eight months in prison on Thursday.

Issawi has been on intermittent hunger strike for 214 days over Israel's system of "administrative detention", which allows indefinite confinement without charge.

Issawi was released in 2011 as part of a deal between Israel and Hamas to free kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, but was rearrested last year.

Since Issawi has been remanded in custody for more than six months, he may be eligible for release on 6 March. However, the military prosecution argues that he should be held because there is evidence that he breached the terms of his parole by returning to "terror activities".

Under the terms of his release in the Schalit deal, if Issawi breached his parole terms, the court could commit him to prison to serve his original 26-year sentence.

1422 GMT:Egypt. The Government said it will invite an International Monetary Fund mission to Cairo within a week, resumes negotiations over a $4.8 billion loan amid an acute foreign currency shortage.

Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby said foreign investment in Egypt had all but dried up and announced grim economic data.

Araby said growth had been just 2.2% year-on-year in the three months to the end of December, while the Egyptian pound.

Foreign reserves are now down to $13.6 billion, covering less than three months of imports.

1420 GMT:Yemen. At least four people have been killed and 40 wounded when security forces opened fire to disperse a protest by secessionist activists in the port city of Aden, medical sources and witnesses said.

The forces fired at a demonstration against President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi on the anniversary of his election.

1340 GMT:Bahrain. Police pursue and attack marchers, including women and children, on Wednesday:

1327 GMT:Mali. Malian troops opened fire with mounted machine guns on the mayor's office in Gao to dislodge suspected Islamist gunmen holed up inside, witnesses said.

Gao is the biggest town in northern Mali.

A Reuters journalist near the mayor's office said six Malian military pickups, deployed in the main square, had opened fire with the heavy machineguns.

A Gao resident said he heard an explosion and then saw a Malian military vehicle on fire in a nearby street.

A car bomb has exploded in the northern Malian town of Kidal, a local journalist and a French Ministry of Defense source in Paris have said.

The journalist said one person was killed and another wounded.

Both Gao and Kidal were reclaimed from insurgents earlier this month in an offensive by French and Malian Government forces.

Meanwhile, a French general has said the European Union should complement the mission to train Mali's army by providing equipment from uniforms to vehicles and communications technology.

General Francois Lecointre, appointed to head the EU training mission to Mali that was formally launched this week, said in Bamako equipping the "very impoverished" and disorganized Malian army was as important as training it.

0927 GMT:Egypt. Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Wednesday in Port Said on the fourth day of a city-wide general strike.

The demonstrators, joined by workers from the Suez Canal Containers Terminal, rejected President Morsi’s attempts to assuage their discontent through promises of economic development. They temporarily closed a road to one of the major ports at the Mediterranean entrance to the Suez Canal.

The President had offered to reopen a “free trade zone” in Port Said and provide $60 million of Canal revenue to support development in the area. The Suez Canal is vital to Egypt’s economy, struggling since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime in 2011,

The latest protests in Port Said began on 26 January, spurred by commemoration of the deaths of 74 football fans in the city's stadium the previous year. Almost 40 people were killed in subsequent clashes.

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