Friday 23 February 2018
(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) 01/18/18)
Privately-owned newspapers went back on sale in Mauritania on Wednesday for the first time in more than a month, after a paper shortage forced them off the shelves and prompted complaints from the national press union. A government-funded printing press covers two-thirds of private publications' costs in the French and Arabic-speaking West African nation, while such media are barred from publishing advertisements from public bodies to raise their own money. On Wednesday, "The Nouakchott Daily" and the weekly Arabic-language "Al-Akhbar" were available in kiosks in the capital, an AFP journalist said. A source at the finance ministry said the government had intervened to help fund new print runs and pay the salaries in arrears of national printing press workers. "It's...
(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) 01/15/18)
Hosts and title favourites Morocco ran riot in the second half to defeat neighbours Mauritania 4-0 Saturday in the opening match of the 2018 African Nations Championship. Ayoub el Kaabi broke brave resistance from the Mauritanians on 66 minutes and Ismail el Haddad added a second goal six minutes later at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca. El Kaabi bagged a brace 10 minutes from time before being substituted as Morocco made an impressive start in Group A, where Guinea tackle Sudan Sunday at the same venue. Morocco started with three of 2017 CAF Champions League-winning Wydad Casablanca team, but only brought on star attackers Achraf Bencharki and Walid el Karti in the closing stages. Bencharki completed the rout with a...
(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)
Sitting by a tent in the vast, sun-bleached Mauritanian desert, 71-year-old Elisabeth Godin smiles, unconcerned about her safety despite warnings from her friends and family. For most of the last decade, the spectacular dunes, barren canyons and oases of the Adrar region have been a no-go zone for European nationals. The danger of terrorist attacks and kidnappings is still real, reflected by Mauritania's decision to join four other countries in fighting jihadism in the Sahel. But after France eased its assessment of the security risk for the Adrar, a tiny number of French visitors are now returning, stirring hopes for the blighted local economy. "I missed the Sahara. The colours of the dunes, the wind on the sand, the starry...
(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) 01/09/18)
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)
Standing around market stalls in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, currency traders have twin causes for celebration -- the New Year and a surge in business. A revamp of the national currency is prompting many Mauritanians to haul out stashes of old banknotes, which they are rushing to convert into dollars and euros. The rise in demand follows a decision by the Mauritanian government to knock a zero off the currency, the ouguiya. On January 1, new polymer bills were introduced with 10 ouguiyas becoming one ouguiya, in a declared strategy to fight inflation. Old banknotes are being withdrawn over the next six months. The process has started with the highest denomination of 5,000 ouguiyas, which will be phased out by...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
Small lines formed at banks in Mauritania on New Year's Day as customers withdrew new banknotes and swapped cheque books after the government revamped the currency, the ouguiya, in a bid to fight inflation. Ten ouguiyas became one ouguiya as of January 1, requiring new banknotes and a six-month phasing out of the old ones, starting with the largest denomination of 5,000 ouguiya ($14.10, 11.76 euros). President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz announced the change on November 28, the West African state's national holiday. The revamp, he said, would the ouguiya "to resume its place in financial transactions...
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
Mauritania's fast-growing Islamist party Tewassoul has elected a new leader expected to consolidate the direction of a party whose message of pious adherence to Sharia law has attracted more than 100,000 members. Tewassoul is Mauritania's largest opposition party with 16 members in the national assembly, earning support across the conservative West African republic, where Islamist parties were banned for many years. Mohamed Mahmoud Ould Seyidi, a theologist in his 60s, was selected late Sunday by 80 percent of delegates at a party conference to replace the charismatic Jemil Ould Mansour, who has driven the party's popularity since its creation in 2009. Tewassoul describe themselves as "moderate Islamists"...
(AFP (eng) 12/22/17)
Mauritania's press union complained on Friday that a paper shortage had deprived readers of any privately-run media for more than 10 days, while state-sponsored publications continued to print normally. A government-funded printing press covers two-thirds of private publications' costs in the French and Arabic-speaking West African nation, while such media are barred from publishing advertisements from public bodies to raise their own money. "Since December 11, the national printing press has suspended printing of independent Mauritanian newspapers due to a shortage of paper," the RPM union said in a statement, adding 23 publications including seven daily newspapers were affected. "Meanwhile state-run newspapers Chaab and Horizon are published as usual," it added. A source with Mauritania's state printing press told AFP...
(AFP (eng) 12/22/17)
Five Mauritanian demonstrators were handed suspended prison sentences Thursday for their role in a protest last week in the capital, Nouakchott, a judicial source said. A separate source earlier said seven people -- five adults and two children -- appeared in court, but the prosecution dropped the case against the minors, AFP was told. The group of five were given three -month suspended jail terms over the march organised by the "G8", a coalition of parties, organisations and unions opposed to political changes in the country. The measures included a new national flag and anthem, approved in a controversial referendum in August.
(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 --...
(Agence Ecofin 12/15/17)
On Monday, December 6, the IMF’s executive board approved a 3-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility for Mauritania. The arrangement is for 115.92 million Special Drawing Rights (SDRs); this equals to $163.9 million. It will support the economic and financial reforms program in the country. The board’s decision enables an immediate disbursement of 16.56 million SDRs (about $23.4 million) for Mauritania. The remaining amount will be paid in various instalments over the program’s period, subject to semi-annual reviews. According to a statement of the Bretton Woods Institution, The ECF-supported program is expected to help Mauritania economy foster inclusive and diversified growth to improve the population’s living standards, maintain macroeconomic stability, strengthen debt sustainability, and reduce poverty. Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa,...
(AFP (eng) 12/14/17)
Oil-rich Gulf countries pledged 130 million euros Wednesday towards fighting jihadists in West Africa's Sahel region, as French President Emmanuel Macron hosted leaders in a bid to boost a fledgling five-nation military force. The G5 Sahel force brings together troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- some of the poorest countries in the world -- and money had been a major obstacle to getting it off the ground. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir promised 100 million euros ($118 million) at the talks while the United Arab Emirates offered 30 million euros, as both seek to show commitment to fighting extremism. That brings total pledges over the 250 million euros initially needed, a relief for Macron who had...

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