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Friday, 20th September 2019
6:01:00pm

West Africa

Articles related to West Africa

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Monday said her office would appeal the acquittal of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

The court acquitted Gbagbo on crimes against humanity charges on Jan. 15, saying prosecutors had failed to prove any case against him. He was then conditionally released from detention after more than 7 years in custody.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Monday she would ask appeals judges to reverse the acquittal and declare a mistrial, resetting Gbagbo’s legal process.

-Reuters

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya announced in a rare public address on Tuesday the organisation of a national dialogue to solve a separatist crisis in the country’s English-speaking regions.

Biya said the talks, lead by the prime minister and starting from the end of this month, would bring together a wide range of people to seek ways to end violence that has plagued the region in recent months. 

An insurgency erupted in late 2017 after the government cracked down on peaceful protests in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest English-speaking regions. Protesters were complaining of being marginalised by the French-speaking majority.

Since then, fighting has killed about 1,800 people and displaced over 500,000, according to United Nations estimates. 

“The dialogue will rally all the sons and daughters of our beloved and beautiful country, Cameroon, to reflect on values that are dear to us, namely: peace, security, national unity and progress,” said Biya in a speech on state television.

He did not specify if representatives for the separatist movements would be invited to participate to the talks.

In June, NGO Human Rights Watch said the prospects for talks between the government and separatist leaders were very thin.

-Reuters

The South African embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, was forced to close its doors on Wednesday after it came under attack, EWN and eNCA reported.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) reportedly said it was assessing the damage. It was reported that a vehicle was vandalised during demonstrations.

Some South African businesses operating in Nigeria, including MTN, have reportedly closed until further notice after being attacked.

The announcement, which signals worsening diplomatic relations between the two African countries, comes after Nigeria introduced plans to evacuate its nationals in South Africa following a wave of attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians.

Police fired rubber bullets in Turffontein, Johannesburg, on Monday as they struggled to stop looters that had overrun businesses.

It also came a day after Nigeria pulled out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in Cape Town, casting a cloud over initiatives to boost intra-African trade.
Nigeria also recalled its High Commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Kabiru Bala.

Violence across Gauteng resulted in seven confirmed deaths and more than 180 arrests as police and residents clashed, News24 reported. Several areas in the province were plagued by violent protests and looting since Sunday.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's government summoned South Africa's envoy to the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Tuesday and said it would dispatch a delegation to Pretoria to express "deep concern" over attacks on Nigerians, AFP reported.

Buhari "has noted with deep concern, reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019", his presidency said in a statement. 

The president ordered the foreign minister to summon the South African envoy for a brief on the situation, to express Nigeria's displeasure and to get guarantees for the safety of its citizens and their property.

A special envoy from Buhari was due to arrive in Pretoria on Thursday to convey his displeasure to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

A Nigerian government spokesperson said on Wednesday night that Buhari was "distraught at the acts of vandalism that have taken place here in Nigeria in retaliation to what is happening in South Africa. We have to take the moral higher ground."

Lauretta Onochie, an aide to Buhari, tweeted on Wednesday: "We cannot be seen to be doing what we condemn in South Africa by vandalising Businesses linked to South Africa in Nigeria. We are the victims. Lets not be the oppressors too. (sic)"

Dirco's Lunga Ngqengelele told EWN: "There were some people who attacked the embassy. We are still trying to verify the information in terms of the damage that might have occurred. Fortunately, no one has been injured."

-News24

At least 29 people were killed in Burkina Faso’s troubled north on Sunday after a food convoy and a transport truck were attacked, the government said.

A “terrorist” attack on the convoy killed 14 civilians, while the truck hit an explosive device in Sanmatenga province, killing 15 people and wounding six, it said in separate statements.

“This drama comes as important security efforts are underway in this region,” it said. “Military reinforcements have been deployed.” 

Once a pocket of relative calm in the Sahel, Burkina has suffered a homegrown insurgency for the past three years, which has been amplified by a spillover of jihadist violence and criminality from its chaotic neighbour Mali.

The latest violence follows an attack by gunmen in August that killed 24 soldiers, the deadliest yet in the West African nation’s fight against Islamist militants.

-Reuters

More than 50 people, including pregnant women and children, were abducted in a raid on a village in northwest Nigeria, seven residents told Reuters on Wednesday.

The attack on Wurma village in Katsina, northwest Nigeria, began around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. Police pegged the number of those abducted at 15, but multiple residents told Reuters that many more were taken.

Alhaji Musa, whose two daughters were among those taken, said more than 100 bandits were “shooting from all angles.”

“They operated for about three hours with nobody to challenge them,” he said. 

Seven residents, and one man who was abducted but released by the attackers, said at least 53 people were taken, including pregnant women, babies and children. Some residents had already received ransom requests from the abductors, the sources said.

The attackers also took sheep, goats and food, they added.

In a statement, Katsina police said 15 women were abducted, but that 10 of them were freed unharmed following a gun battle with police. 

“Search parties have been dispatched into the surrounding bushes with a view to rescue the others,” the police said.

Instability has roiled northwest Nigeria, including Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, all year. The government attributes the attacks to bandits, a term applied to outlaws who rob, kidnap and kill residents.

-Reuters

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