Saturday, 30th September 2023

West Africa

Articles related to West Africa

On Wednesday, Mali's ruling junta referred to the loss of a lieutenant-colonel killed, according to relatives, aboard the plane that crashed in Gao (north) on Saturday, claiming a high but unknown number of victims.

This is the first mention of an apparent link with this event from the Malian authorities, who have been completely silent since the events.

In the tribute paid to Lieutenant-Colonel Moussa Traoré, the Malian army refrained from specifying the circumstances of his disappearance, saying only that he died on Saturday at the age of 62 "in the course of commanded air service". 

The officer was indeed on board the transport plane that crashed on Saturday, according to family members and a military official speaking on condition of anonymity given the blackout on the subject.

A video describing the disaster has been circulating widely on social networks since Wednesday. It shows an aircraft resembling a Soviet-designed Ilyushin 76 in the process of landing, failing to stop at the end of the runway and crashing into a cloud of flames and smoke.

The origin of the video could not be formally identified. Various officials said on Sunday that the aircraft belonged to the Malian army and was carrying members of Wagner, and that the human toll was high.

The junta that seized power by force in 2020 is widely believed to have enlisted the services of this Russian paramilitary company in the fight against terrorism.

The junta that took power by force in 2020 is widely believed to have enlisted the services of this criticized Russian paramilitary company, at the same time as breaking with its French military ally. It has since also pushed out the UN mission, which is due to leave the country by the end of 2023.

The junta denies cooperation with Wagner and speaks of the presence of Russian army instructors helping it to combat the jihadists. The actions of these allies are shrouded in the utmost discretion. They are regularly accused of abuses.

To date, the Malian authorities have provided no details of the events in Gao. Lieutenant-Colonel Traoré's funeral took place on Tuesday in the presence of the Minister of Defense, Colonel Sadio Camara, reputedly close to Russia, and the Chiefs of Staff, according to the army.

Lieutenant-Colonel Traoré had taken part in several internal and external missions, and received various distinctions, it said. He had also trained as a senior mechanical technician in Russia, it said. Several Malian officers have received training in Russia.

-Africa News

Nigeria's major unions on Tuesday (Sep. 26) called for a national strike next week in protest at the government's response to tackling the rising cost of living.

The National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) said they had to call an indefinite strike on October 3 because the government failed to address their concerns in talks over how to ease the financial burden for Nigerians.

"The government has totally abdicated this responsibility and has shown gross unwillingness to act abandoning Nigerian people and workers to excruciating poverty and affliction," they said in a joint statement. 

Africa's largest economy has seen living and transport costs heavily impacted after the government ended a petrol subsidy and a free fall of the naira currency, leading to a sharp devaluation of the local money.

Inflation is at 25 percent while fuel costs have tripled since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu ended the subsidy when he came to power in May calling the move part of necessary reforms to improve a struggling economy.

The National Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) called on all workers to stop activities from October 3 and said they would organise street protests.

Tinubu administration

Tinubu's administration acknowledges the difficulties and says it distributed funds to state governments to help offset the impact of the economic reforms. Other measures include providing transport options and small business loans.

The NLC brings together unions for many industries from nurses to road workers and printers while the TUC represents senior bank workers and high school teachers among others.

Nigerian unions have threatened or gone on strike in the past only to come back into negotiations. It was not clear how much traction next week's industrial action would gain.

The NLC and TUC called a strike in August over the same issues, with many businesses, government offices, markets, banks closed for a day in the capital Abuja. Strike impact in the economic capital Lagos was more mixed.

Tinubu said ending the fuel subsidy was essential as it cost the government billions each year to keep the price of petrol artificially low.

Nigeria, a member of the OPEC oil exporters' organisation, is a major crude producer but lacks refining capacity and is forced to import most of its fuel requirements.

-Africa News

French President Emmanuel Macron announced Sunday that France will end its military presence in Niger and pull its ambassador out of the country after its democratically elected president was deposed in a coup.

The announcement is a significant, if predicted, blow to France’s policy in Africa, after French troops pulled out of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso in recent years after coups there.

France had stationed thousands of troops in the region at the request of African leaders to fight jihadist groups. 

France has maintained some 1,500 troops in Niger since the July coup, and had repeatedly refused an order by the new junta for its ambassador to leave, saying that France didn't recognize the coup leaders as legitimate.

Tensions between France and Niger, a former French colony, have mounted in recent weeks, and Macron said recently that diplomats were surviving on military rations as they holed up in the embassy.

In an interview with France-2 television, Macron said that he spoke Sunday to ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, and told him that “France has decided to bring back its ambassador, and in the coming hours our ambassador and several diplomats will return to France."

He added, "And we will put an end to our military cooperation with the Niger authorities.”

He said the troops would be gradually pulled out, likely by the end of the year.

He noted that France’s military presence in Niger was in response to a request from Niger’s government at the time.

Military cooperation between France and Niger had been suspended since the coup. The junta leaders claimed that Bazoum's government wasn’t doing enough to protect the country from the insurgency.

The junta in August gave French Ambassador Sylvain Itte 48 hours to leave. After the deadline expired without France recalling him, the coup leaders then revoked his diplomatic immunity.

The junta is now under sanctions by Western and regional African powers.

In New York on Friday, the military government that seized power in Niger accused U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres of “obstructing” the West African nation’s full participation at the U.N.’s annual meeting of world leaders in order to appease France and its allies.

-Africa News

Washington will "consider all future steps" regarding its military presence in Niger, following France's announcement that it will withdraw its troops from the country by the end of the year, the US Secretary of Defense said on Monday.

"While giving diplomacy a chance, we will also continue to explore all future steps that will prioritize both our diplomatic and security objectives," Lloyd Austin told a press conference in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where he is visiting.

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Sunday the return to Paris of the French ambassador in Niamey and the withdrawal from Niger of the 1,500 French troops based in the country. 

"We are ending our military cooperation with the de facto authorities in Niger, because they no longer want to fight terrorism," said the French president.

The United States has some 1,100 troops stationed in Niger, engaged against jihadist groups active in the region.

"We have not made any significant changes to the positioning of our forces and (...) we really want a diplomatic solution, a peaceful outcome", assured the US Secretary of Defense, who refused to comment on Paris' decision.

The Pentagon had announced on September 7 that it was repositioning its troops "as a precaution", transferring some soldiers from a base in the capital Niamey to an air base further north.

On September 14, the United States announced that it was resuming surveillance flights over Niger, which it had interrupted after the military coup in late July. The rest of its military operations in the country remained frozen, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.

The withdrawal of French troops from Niger, which had been one of Paris's last allies in the Sahel before the July 26 coup and the overthrow of elected president Mohamed Bazoum, follows those of Mali and Burkina Faso, where France has already been pushed out by hostile juntas.

-Africa News

Mali's ruling junta has cancelled the festivities planned to mark the anniversary of independence and is considering mobilising reservists in the face of rising tensions in the north of the country.

In a speech to the nation on Thursday, the head of the junta, Assimi Goïta, assured the nation that the defence and security forces would "once again be deployed throughout the country".

He added: "After ten years of the presence of foreign forces on our soil, we understood that the logic was rather to maintain insecurity and keep us dependent. This is the fundamental reason why the Malian people have decided to take their security into their own hands."

The Malian military are counting on Russia's help to re-establish their sovereignty, even though vast stretches of land remain outside their control.

Assimi Goita took advantage of his speech to express his gratitude to Russia: "I would like, on this occasion, to salute Mali's sincere partners, in particular the Russian Federation, whose efforts and support have been extremely useful to us in preserving our sovereignty in a national, regional and international context marked by multi-faceted tensions against a backdrop of divergent views".

Tuareg-dominated groups resumed operations against the Malian army in the north in September after months of tension with the government. They had signed a peace agreement with the central government in 2015 that was supposed to put an end to the hostilities sparked by the independence and Salafist insurrections of 2012.

-Africa News

About us

African News Centre is an online media company, which strives to bring you the very latest African news.

Contact us

If you have any contributions contact us on email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
African News Centre | Postal Address | P.O Box 90455 | Klein Windhoek | Namibia | 9000