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Mali (and Beyond) Live Coverage: France to Withdraw in March After Successful Military Operations?

US Feature: Justice Department --- Yes, We Can Kill American Citizens Overseas with Drones
Syria Live Coverage: The Fight in Daraa Province
Tuesday's Israel, Palestine (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Israelis Arrest More than 20 Hamas Members in West Bank

2106 GMT: Bahrain. Opposition groups have "stressed the need to agree on the mechanism and the rules of the national dialogue" before the start of talks on Sunday.

"Agreeing on the mechanism before the dialogue starts would strengthen public trust in the dialogue," the groups, including leading society Al Wefaq, continued. This would "spare" Bahrain from the failure of the talks in the first round, a situation that would have unwanted "political and public implications."

The groups will write to the Justice Minister on Thursday to emphasise their position, renewing their request to meet him to agree over the mechanism of the dialogue.

The minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ali al-Khalifa, announced on Monday that the dialogue would resume this weekend, after an earlier round failed to the bring the opposition on board.

1906 GMT: Tunisia. Reuters now confirms that a national unity administration will be formed and the current government will be dissolved, as intense protests rock the country after the assassination of a prominent opposition leader, Shokri Belaid:

"The prime minister will deliver a speech to the nation tonight and will announce the formation of a new government of non-partisan figures and technocrats," one source told Reuters.

1903 GMT: Tunisia. We have not independently confirmed this news, but if so it seems that once again the protests in Tunisia have had a significant political impact:

1659 GMT: Mali. French and Malian troops are fighting Islamist insurgents in the Sahara outside northern Mali's biggest town, French Minister of Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today.

Le Drian said patrols were searching the scrubland near Timbuktu and Gao, both reclaimed by the French-Malian force during the offensive of the past month.

"There were clashes yesterday at Gao because from the moment where our forces, supported by the Malian forces, started undertaking missions and patrols around the towns we had taken, we encountered Jihadist groups that fought," Le Drian said.

"It's a real war," the Minister continued. "Every night now, even last night, the French forces are targeting and hitting the training centers and truck depots of the jihadist groups."

1209 GMT: Tunisia. Following the assassination of the Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid, a large protest has formed outside the Interior Ministry in Tunis.

Mr Belaid was the leader of the secular Democratic Patriot party, a left-wing group opposed to the ruling Ennahda party.

He was shot earlier this morning as he left his home accompanied by his wife in the suburbs of Tunis, sustaining multiple bullet wounds to the chest, neck and head. It is unknown who carried out the assassination.

Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has denouced the attack as "an act of terrorism". President Moncef Marzouki has called off his trip to Cairo for the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation to return to Tunis.

France's Francois Hollande "condemned in the strongest terms the assassination".

Belaid's death comes amidst a political crisis following the collapse of talks for a Cabinet reshuffle to allow more parties into the Ennahda-led coalition.

1000 GMT: Tunisia. The leader of the opposition left-wing Democractic Patriots party, Chokri Belaid, has been shot dead in an attack as he left his home in Tunis.

Belaid was rushed to a hospital nearby. Confirming his brother's death, Abdelmajid Belaid said ."My brother was assassinated. I am desperate and depressed".

Belaid was an outspoken critic of the Tunisisn leadership and the powerful Ennahda party. A Government spokesman has called his death an "odious crime".

After Belaid's death was announced by national media, more than 1000 Tunisians gathered in front of the Interior Ministry to protest against the assassination.

0930 GMT: Egypt. Amid doubts over Egypt receiving a prooposed $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, foreign currency reserves have fallen by 10%.

The Central Bank said that foreign reserves suffered a $1.4 billion decline from $15.01 billion in December to $13.61 billion in January. A year earlier, reserves stood at $36 billion.

The IMF loan was held up in December after President Morsi introduced, but withdrew within 24 hours, tax increases ssen as a requirement for the funding.

The Central Bank said last month that reserves only covered three months of imports.

0910 GMT: Mali. France's Minister of Defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian claimed "several hundred" insrugents have been killed in the French military intevention sinee 11 January. He said one French helicopter pilot had been salin, while Malian forces had suffered 11 fatalities and around 60 wounded last month.

Le Drian added that Kidal --- a town held by Islamist insurgents for 10 months --- has fallen to French and Chadian troops. The insurgents are now retreating to more remote strongholds based the craggy landscape of the northeast near Algeria.

The French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, has stated that France will start to withdraw in March "if everything goes as planned".

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  • Response
    Response: breaking news
    Nice read, I just passed this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!
  • Response
    Really good post!

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