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Saturday, 26th September 2020
10:47:04am

West Africa

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THE United Nations' Security Council has frozen of assets and imposed a travel ban on persons and entities responsible for the constitutional crisis in Mali.

This follows the coup that occurred in Kati on August 18 when President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and Prime Minister Boubou Cissé were arrested.

Keïta has since announced his resignation.

Their arrest followed irregularities in the March and April parliamentary elections.

The Security Council, which calls for a return to order, has unanimously adopted sanctions which are to be effective until August 31, 2021. 

Sanctions may further be extended.

People or entities inscribed on the Security Council list will not benefit from any financial, operational or logistical support from the United Nations (UN) entities deployed in Mali. 

The Security Council established the UN Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in 2013.

It has a total of more than 15 400 personnel.

Mali has been in crisis since a rebellion by extremists in 2012.

Military officer, Amadou Sanogo, seized power in a coup that dislodged Amadou Toumani Touré.

Conflict has also escalated since 2015 between agricultural communities like the Dogon and the Bambara, and the pastoral Fulani people.

The government of Mali is suspected of supporting some of these groups.

-CPJ

Coup leaders in Mali have released President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and he has returned home, his representative said on Thursday, a potential sign of good faith a day ahead of a regional summit on the country’s political future.

A group of military officers has controlled Mali since Aug. 18, when they detained Keita at gunpoint and forced him to resign in a takeover foreign powers fear could further destabilise the West African nation and undermine a fight against Islamist militants in the wider Sahel region.

Keita’s release, nine days after he was ousted and detained, had been one of the demands of West Africa’s regional bloc, which sent a delegation to Mali at the weekend to discuss a timeline for transition to civilian rule with the coup’s leaders.

On Thursday morning, Keita was freed from where he was being held outside the city, a spokesman for the junta, Djibrilla Maiga, said.

The president’s former chief of staff, Mahamadou Camara, confirmed Keita had returned to his residence in Bamako’s Sebenikoro district.

“He has gone home. I do not know if he will travel,” Camara told Reuters, when asked if the deposed leader planned to leave the country.

The U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali said its head had visited Keita at his home on Thursday.

The junta leaders say they had mutinied because the country was sinking into chaos and insecurity, which they blamed largely on the government. They have promised to oversee a move to elections within a “reasonable” time.

Earlier on Thursday, France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told RTL radio the coup would not stop French military operations against affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State in Mali’s central and northern regions, but urged a swift transition of power.

Four Malian solders were killed and 12 wounded on Thursday in the violence-plagued central region of Mopti, after militants ambushed a military anti-poaching patrol, the army said. It added later that around 20 armed assailants were “neutralised” in the region.

TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT

The junta, which calls itself the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has told the delegation of West African mediators they want to stay in power for three years, while the regional bloc is seeking a transitional government of no more than one year, Nigeria said on Wednesday.

Mali’s opposition coalition, the M5-RFP, which held a series mass protests before the coup calling for Keita to reign, on Thursday proposed a transitional government, led by a civilian, which would not exceed two years but would be longer than a year.

At least three diplomatic sources said senior leaders of the junta were on a regional tour to lobby some heads of state ahead of the summit on Friday. The sources said the junta leaders visited Burkina Faso and Niger, whose president Mahamadou Issoufou chairs the regional bloc.

The junta also asked the bloc to ease sanctions on Mali.

The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken a hard line on the coup, shutting borders and halting financial flows.

Sanctions are already disrupting economic transactions between landlocked Mali and its neighbours, a group of international non-governmental organisations said, calling on ECOWAS to guarantee humanitarian aid flows would not be affected.

Mali has struggled to regain stability since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 was hijacked by Islamist militants. Since 2018, the country has seen a sharp increase in violence and insecurity that has driven more than half a million people from their homes.

-Reuters 

Mali’s opposition on Sunday rejected concessions by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita aimed at resolving an escalating political crisis that has sparked deadly protests, saying it would be satisfied only if he resigns.

Keita announced in a speech late on Saturday he was dissolving the Constitutional Court and would move to implement recommendations made last month by regional bloc ECOWAS, which included re-running some of March’s contested legislative elections.

A spokesman for M5-RFP, a coalition of political, religious and civil society leaders that launched protests over a month ago calling for Keita to resign, rejected his proposal.

“We are not going to accept this nonsense,” the spokesman, Nouhoum Togo, told Reuters. “We demand his resignation plain and simple.” 

Keita, who won a second term in 2018, has faced mounting public discontent over a perceived failure to address the country’s security and economic problems. The wave of protests was sparked by a dispute over the elections. The court that Keita proposed dissolving reversed several provisional results, handing additional seats in parliament to the president’s party.

Four people died in the capital Bamako on Friday during a demonstration where protesters occupied the parliament and national broadcaster, the government said. It was the third major protest organised by the M5-RFP since June 5.

Togo said the police shot and killed eight opposition supporters on Saturday.

It was not immediately possible to corroborate that. Police officials could not be reached for comment. Asked about the claim, a security ministry spokesperson said he did not have any information about that yet. 

In his speech, Keita said he remained open to dialogue with his opponents but condemned acts of vandalism.

“The state will take responsibility and fundamental liberties will be protected as long as I have the great privilege to serve you,” he said.

The turmoil is a worry for Mali’s neighbours and outside powers like France who are waging a joint military campaign against Islamist insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa’s Sahel region.

-Reuters 

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term in office violates the constitution and will destabilise a country still recovering from civil war, his opponents said on Friday.

In a speech on Thursday evening, Ouattara went back on an earlier pledge and said he would run in the Oct. 31 election, drawing accusations that he is following in the footsteps of other African leaders who have manipulated constitutions to hang onto power.

Ivory Coast law limits presidential terms to two, but Ouattara says that a new constitution adopted in 2016 acted as a reset button, allowing him to run again.

Even before Ouattara’s announcement, the vote was seen as a stern test of Ivory Coast’s stability. Ouattara’s first win in 2010 sparked a brief civil war that killed about 3,000 people when his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept his loss.

Politicians from that era, including Gbagbo, are still vying for power and influence, which has revived old political tensions. 

“President Ouattara is sowing the seeds of the destabilisation of Ivory Coast,” Maurice Kakou Guikaoué, the executive secretary of the opposing Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI), told Radio France Internationale (RFI).

A leading civil society coalition called for nationwide protests, but opposition politicians did not, instead suggesting they would use peaceful, democratic means to block Ouattara’s path.

Jean-Louis Billion, another senior official from the PDCI, whose presidential candidate is former President Henri Konan Bedie, told RFI it would be up to the Constitutional Council to determine whether Ouattara could run.

Barring some small, isolated protests, the streets of Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan were calm on Friday morning.

Ouattara said he was forced to run and that his decision was not a power grab. His handpicked candidate to represent the ruling party in October, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died unexpectedly last month, leading party members to urge Ouattara to run again. 

Ouattara’s tenure has seen relative stability return to Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, while the economy has grown at one of the fastest clips in Africa.

A banking executive said investors view Ouattara, a former senior official with the International Monetary Fund, as someone who could ensure stability.

“With Ouattara, it’s not a leap in the dark. He inspires confidence and that reassures investors,” said the executive, who asked not to be named.

-Reuters 

Former Ghana President John Mahama said on Monday that he had chosen Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman as his running mate for this year’s election, making her the first woman on a major Ghanaian party’s presidential ticket.

The Dec. 7 poll will pit Mahama, who governed from 2012 to early 2017, against his successor, President Nana Akufo-Addo, who defeated him in the late 2016 election. 

Opoku-Agyeman, 69, is a former education minister and university professor. She became the first female vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in 2008, according to the announcement on Mahama’s Facebook page.

He called her “God-fearing, a distinguished scholar, a conscientious public servant and a role model”. 

Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia were formally nominated last month by their New Patriotic Party (NPP) to contest the election.

The presidency has changed hands repeatedly between the NPP and Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) since 1992 in a series of peaceful elections that have cemented Ghana’s reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.

-Reuters

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