Thursday, 14th November 2019

West Africa

Articles related to West Africa

Guinea President Alpha Conde announced on Monday that he was replacing his security minister following deadly protests against suspected efforts by Conde to extend his mandate.

Conde, 81, is due to step down next year when his second and final five-year term expires, but he has refused to rule out running again and asked his government in September to look into drafting a new constitution.

Conde’s opponents fear a new constitution could be used as a reset button on his presidency, allowing Conde to run again like other African leaders who have amended or changed constitutions in recent years to stay in power. 

Protests in Conakry, the capital, and the bauxite-mining north against such a move have resulted in at least 13 deaths over the past month.

The presidential statement read on national television on Monday evening did not provide a reason for the sacking of Security Minister Alpha Ibrahima Keira, but a senior government official told Reuters it was related to Keira’s “difficulty managing the socio-political crisis.”

Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara will replace Keira as security minister. Conde also announced that he was replacing his health and justice ministers.


Relatives of people killed and survivors from an attack this week on a bus convoy of mine workers in Burkina Faso were increasingly angry on Saturday at what they said was a lack of support from authorities and the mining company.

Hundreds of relatives, friends and colleagues of the victims waited for hours to recover their bodies from a morgue in the capital Ouagadougou, as a procession of vehicles made its way to cemeteries across the city.

“I am unhappy because I lost my colleague and I am unhappy with the way the government is dealing with this,” said Mahamdi Mande, 32, as he waited for the body of his colleague, Moussa Ouattara.

Canadian gold mining company Semafo said five of its buses, which were traveling with a military escort, came under fire on Wednesday on the road leading to its Boungou mine in the East region.

Authorities said 38 people were killed in the attack, one of the deadliest in years in the West African country.

A survivor, who worked for Australian mining services provider Perenti, said neither Semafo nor Perenti had contacted him since the attack, in which he pretended to be dead to avoid being shot at.

“They need to treat me like a human being. They could have tried to talk to everyone. I can’t understand it - they should have done better. What they have done for us is not enough,” said the worker, who asked not to be identified for security reasons. Oumarou Tankouano, whose brother was killed, also said he had not been contacted by Semafo.

“Maybe after the burials, they are going to contact us. I think if any support is to come, it should be from Semafo,” the 34-year-old said. 

Semafo and Perenti could not immediately be reached on a Saturday for comment.

The government could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Survivors interviewed by Reuters have suggested the death toll could be much higher than the 38 officially reported. The convoy was likely carrying around 250 people, a security source who works in the sector and a worker at the mine have said previously, leaving dozens unaccounted for.

Neither Semafo nor the authorities have confirmed how many people were in the convoy. The assailants’ identity was unclear, but two witnesses said some attackers shouted an Islamic phrase. 

All the bodies retrieved by the government had been formally identified by Saturday, public prosecutor Harouna Yoda said in a statement. Distraught and angry relatives had complained earlier that authorities had not let them view the bodies for days following the attack.

Semafo has said the Boungou mine site, about 355 km (220 miles) from Ouagadougou, is secured, but it has suspended operations there.

Burkina Faso is struggling to combat surging Islamist violence in remote eastern and northern scrubland areas. A homegrown, three-year-old insurgency has spread over parts of the country, amplified by Islamist militant violence and criminality spilling over from its northern neighbour Mali.


Nigeria’s Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by the main opposition candidate to overturn the result of February’s presidential election in which Muhammadu Buhari was returned to office.

Atiku Abubakar lodged his initial complaint with the country’s election tribunal, which ruled against him last month.

Buhari took 56% of the vote against 41% for Atiku, according to electoral commission data. A Buhari victory had been widely anticipated.


At least 53 soldiers and one civilian have been killed in an attack on an army post in northern Mali, the government said, in one of the deadliest strikes against the West African country’s military in recent memory. 

Islamic state claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency on Saturday, without providing evidence.

The militant group has posted dozens of claims of responsibility for attacks in several countries since U.S. special forces killed its previous leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last weekend.

The authorities first reported the attack in Indelimane, Menaka region, on Friday, but gave a lower provisional death toll. 

“Heavily armed unidentified men attacked around noon. The attack started with shellfire ... Then they retreated toward Niger,” government spokesman Yaya Sangare told Reuters on Saturday.

He added the death toll remained provisional as corpses were undergoing identification, and that the army was undertaking a combing operation on the ground with support from international forces, including French troops from the Barkhane operation and U.N. peacekeepers.

“The dispatched reinforcements found 54 bodies including one civilian, 10 survivors, and found considerable material damage,” Sangare said on Twitter earlier on Saturday.

France said one of its soldiers there had died after his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device, according to a statement by the French presidency.

The attack follows jihadist raids in late September that underscored the increasing reach and sophistication of armed groups operating in the region.

From their stronghold in Mali, groups with al Qaeda and Islamic State links have been able to fan out across the Sahel, destabilising parts of Niger and Burkina Faso.

Thirty-eight Malian soldiers were killed on Sept. 30 in coordinated attacks on two army bases in central Mali, which has slipped from government control despite the presence of the French army and other international forces.


Rescue teams in Cameroon were scouring the rubble of destroyed houses for survivors on Tuesday after a landslide caused by heavy rainfall killed at least 22 people, state television reported.

The police were searching for dozens more people reported as missing in the town of Bafoussam in the western highlands, some 200 km (120 miles) north of Cameroon’s main port city of Douala.

“It is clear that we will have to ask the people who are resident in this area to leave the area, because the area is actually very dangerous,” Awa Fonka Augustine, governor of the West region, told Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV).

Heavy rains have continued beyond the end of Central Africa’s rainy season, causing severe flooding that has displaced nearly 30,000 people in Cameroon’s neighbour, the Central African Republic.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said last week that exceptionally heavy rain in South Sudan had also destroyed health centres and roads and made access to food and water more difficult for nearly 1 million people.


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