Sunday 18 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/19/18)
US Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed regret on Thursday to African ambassadors who were outraged by President Donald Trump's alleged description of African countries as "shithole" nations, the head of the African Group said. Haley asked to meet the African ambassadors at the United Nations after they released a joint statement on Friday demanding an apology from Trump for his "outrageous, racist and xenophobic remarks." Ambassador Anatolio Ndong Mba of Equatorial Guinea, who chairs the Africa Group, said the US ambassador did not offer an apology during the closed-door meeting, but she did express regret. Haley told the meeting that "she was not there at the White House, she is not sure what was said, but she regretted all this situation...
(AFP (eng) 01/18/18)
Britain is set to send helicopters to bolster a key French counter-terrorism operation in Mali in a package of measures to be agreed at a summit near London on Thursday. The commitment will come as Prime Minister Theresa May meets French President Emmanuel Macron at an army base near the British capital, with immigration and global aid also on their agenda. In a separate move, Italy's parliament on Wednesday also approved a ramped up military presence in Niger by agreeing to send an initial 120 troops with 350 more to follow as Rome looks to stem migration and people-trafficking of African migrants. European powers are desperate to stem the flow of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean and are spooked by...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
There's nothing covert about Roxy -- a huge market in Abidjan selling counterfeit medicine, the scourge of Africa and the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually on the world's poorest continent. Located in the bustling Adjame quarter of Ivory Coast's main city and commercial hub, the haven for fake medicine has been targeted time and again by authorities and stockpiles burnt. But it resurfaces every time. "The police hassle us but they themselves buy these medicines," said Mariam, one of the many mainly illiterate vendors who hawk everything from painkillers and antibiotics to anti-malaria and anti-retroviral treatments. "When we are harassed we always come to an arrangement with them to resume our activities," she said. Fatima, another hawker, said: "Many...
(AFP (eng) 01/16/18)
Five Sahel countries - Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso -- on Monday launched their second anti-Jihadist operation in the troubled region, after talks in Paris with their partner France. After the discussions between the defence ministers of the so-called G5 Sahel and their French counterpart no details were released about the new operation due to "security reasons". "We are moving forward... the joint force is gaining momentum... the first operation has taken place, the second one is starting today," Malian Defence Minister Tiena Coulibaly told a press conference, alongside his G5 counterparts and French Defence...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Defence ministers from five countries in the Sahel were meeting Monday with French counterpart Florence Parly in the latest push for a pooled force fighting jihadism in the fragile region. The brief meeting, in which senior military officers were to take part, aims at setting down a concrete timetable for deploying the so-called "G5 Sahel" force, which carried out its maiden mission in November with French support. The unprecedented initative brings together Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, which aim to create a fully fledged force of 5,000 troops by mid-2018.
(AFP (eng) 01/13/18)
A jihadist group linked to Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on US and French troops in west Africa, in a statement published Friday by Mauritania's ANI news agency. The group, led by Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui, said it was behind "an attack against an American commando unit in Niger in October." On October 4, four US and four Niger troops were killed in an ambush at Tongo Tongo, a village close to the Mali border. That attack had been blamed on the jihadists but it is only now that the group claimed responsibility.
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
The African Union said Friday that President Donald Trump's reported description of African nations as "shithole countries" broke with "accepted behaviour" and was "extremely upsetting." Ebba Kalondo, spokeswoman for AU Chairperson Moussa Faki, told AFP that Trump's statement "truly flies in the face of accepted behaviour and practice." "This is not only hurtful, I think, to people of African origin in the United States, but certainly to African citizens," she said. "It's an extremely upsetting statement," she added. The comment was reportedly made during a Thursday meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform...
(AFP (eng) 01/12/18)
President Donald Trump reportedly lashed out in a Thursday meeting with lawmakers about immigration reform, demanding to know why the US should accept citizens from what he called "shithole" countries. The comments, first reported by The Washington Post, sparked anger among Democrats and Republicans and revived questions about Trump's tendency to make racially charged remarks. Trump sat down with senators and congressmen at the White House to discuss a proposed bipartisan deal that would limit immigrants from bringing family members into the country, and restrict the green card visa lottery in exchange for shielding hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" Trump said, according to people briefed...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
Flags flew at half-mast in Mali on Thursday as the government announced 48 of its citizens drowned in the Mediterranean on a single day over the weekend, all trying to reach Europe. The west African nation accounted for the fifth largest contingent of arrivals to Italy by sea last year, according to the International Organization for Migration, fleeing poverty, unemployment and instability. "Forty-eight of our compatriots lost their lives in the Mediterranean on Sunday, January 7," said a foreign ministry statement issued late Wednesday. Sixty-nine people escaped with their lives, including four children, and were identified on Monday in Libya by an embassy delegation, the statement added. They will be sent back to Mali "as quickly as possible", it said...
(AFP (eng) 01/11/18)
A regional bank official and the head of an African tech initiative both announced candidacies for the Malian presidency on Wednesday, as the 2018 race for the troubled Sahel nation heats up. Modibo Kone, a rural development expert at the West African Development Bank, and Hamadoun Toure, who runs the "Smart Africa" initiative to drive development on the continent via technology, said the country had suffered poor leadership. They are hoping to unseat President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who has not yet said if he will seek a second five-year term, though he is widely expected to do so. The state is still absent from vast swathes of its northern territory where in 2012 jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda mounted an insurgency...
(AFP (eng) 01/09/18)
Five Sahel countries that have pledged to pool military efforts to fight terrorism have set up a fiduciary fund to oversee donations for their campaign. The decision was made by the defence and foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Malian Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly said late Monday. Their countries form the so-called G5 Sahel, a French-supported group that last year launched a joint military force to combat jihadism plaguing the region. Pledges last month brought total funding over the 250 million euros ($298 million) needed to get the force up and running following a maiden mission in the volatile border zone between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger in November. A summit of donor nations is...
(AFP (eng) 01/03/18)
Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay. "This plan will get under way today," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave. Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 (2,900 euros) to do so. After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest. Holot, an open facility in Israel's desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
Mali will adopt a law on "national consensus" that may amnesty rebels who took part in a revolt in 2012, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a New Year's speech. Keita, in a nationwide message late Sunday, said the law would draw on a so-called charter for peace, unity and national reconciliation, which he received in June as the outcome of a two-year-old peace pact between the government and Tuareg rebels aimed at shoring up Mali's shaky security. The "draft law on national consensus... (will) include exemption from prosecution for all those who are implicated in armed rebellion but who do not have blood on their hands," he said. It will also include "measures of conciliation", he said. These will...
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Three soldiers were killed in central Mali on Thursday by a mine blast as they hunted for suspected jihadist fighters, the army announced in a statement. "In their pursuit of the terrorists, the FAMa (Malian armed forces) were victims of a mine explosion," the army said. "The incident took place... in the Bulkessy (Mopti) sector on the border with Burkina Faso." "The casualty toll is three dead and three wounded," added the statement, without giving any further details. On December 21, the army in the large northwest African nation, mostly desert, announced the killing of five armed Islamic extremists and the death of a soldier when troops fought off an attack near Niono in the centre. In March and April...
(AFP (eng) 12/24/17)
Mali's ousted former president Amadou Toumani Toure returned to the country on Sunday for the first time since a coup deposed him in 2012. Toure flew into the capital, Bamako, the scene of his downfall on March 22, 2012, when mutinous soldiers overthrew the government and detained him. The coup led by army captain Amadou Sanogo toppled what had been heralded as one of the region's most stable democracies, before the country's northern territory was overrun by Islamist rebels allied with Al-Qaeda. Toure, who arrived with his family on board the presidential plane...
(AFP (eng) 12/22/17)
Mali's ousted former president Amadou Toumani Toure will return to the country on Sunday for the first time since the coup that deposed him, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said. Mutinous soldiers overthrew the government and detained Toure on March 22, 2012, precipitating the fall of the country's northern territory to Islamist rebels allied with Al-Qaeda. The coup led by army captain Amadou Sanogo toppled what had been heralded as one of the region's most stable democracies, and Toure has been living in exile in neighbouring Senegal ever since. "The moment has arrived for us to tell our younger brother Amadou Toumani Toure to return to Mali. He left power legally," Keita said at a public event in Bamako on Friday...
(AFP (eng) 12/21/17)
Mali's army said Thursday it killed five jihadists but lost one soldier repelling an attack in the centre of the vast, landlocked nation. The assault happened at a military outpost near the remote town of Niono at around 0130 GMT, a military statement said. The troops "reacted forcefully, pushing back the assailants," it said. The country, bordering Niger and Burkina Faso, has struggled to defeat Islamist militants who have regularly attacked the military and UN peacekeepers. Jihadist groups allied with Tuareg separatists captured the entire north of the country in 2012 but were pushed back by a French-led military intervention a year later. In 2015, Tuareg rebels signed a peace deal but its implementation has been patchy and much of...
(AFP (eng) 12/20/17)
Qatar's emir was to tour six West African nations starting Wednesday in search of new markets, six months after Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries cut ties with the wealthy emirate. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Lulwa al-Khater told a press conference that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani's mission would begin in Mali, and include stops in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea and Senegal. The visit is part of Doha's drive to open up new markets and diversify its economy amid an ongoing blockade by its neighbours, Khater said. She said the six countries on the emir's itinerary had "strong economic potential and opportunities despite some security challenges in some of them". The emir is to sign cooperation agreements in health,...
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
A UN peacekeeper from Guinea badly wounded in an attack in northeastern Mali last week has died, the UN mission in the conflict-riven west African country said on Monday. Peacekeepers faced four separate, near simultaneous attacks on Friday night in the city of Kidal, which is currently under the control of former rebels. "The UN peacekeeper from the Guinean contingent who was seriously wounded during one of the attacks on Friday in Kidal died at the Pasteur clinic in Bamako," the Malian capital, a tweet by the mission, known by the acronym MINUSMA, said. The mission chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif had condemned a "deliberate attempt to put people in danger" in a statement on Saturday, when a second peacekeeper was...
(AFP (eng) 12/18/17)
France on Monday accepted a first group of 19 refugees who were identified in Africa under an overhauled asylum policy that will also see it expel thousands of economic migrants. While it has drawn little public outcry in France, the policy faces stiff opposition from the left and from charities that shelter migrants, 22 of which called in an open letter for France's rights ombudsman Jacques Toubon to intervene. Djamel, a refugee from the Central African Republic, arrived at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport with his wife and four children after spending four years at a camp in Chad, telling AFP: "Now we've no other family. Now you are our family." The new refugees -- also hailing from Sudan --...

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