Hundreds of “yellow vest” protesters on Friday demonstrated in Tripoli against an offensive by military strongman Khalifa Haftar on the Libyan capital and accused France of backing him.
Wearing the trademark yellow vests of French anti-government demonstrators, they were among thousands of Libyans who flooded a central Tripoli square to rally in support of the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
“We are surprised by France’s conduct in the face of the Tripoli attack,” read a sign held up by the demonstrators.
Portraits of French President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia were also carried by demonstrators or placed on the ground for people to trample them.
Haftar is seen by his allies — Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — as a bulwark against Islamists who have gained a foothold in Libya after the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
“Other countries must stop interfering in Libyan affairs,” Haifa Ferjani, a 23-year-old protester said.
“France says it is a friend but secretly backs those attacking our city and our homes,” added the young woman.
The French embassy in Libya on Friday tweeted — in Arabic — that Paris was “opposed to the attack” on Tripoli and urged all parties to abide by a ceasefire and engage in peace negotiations.
Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), based in the country’s east, launched an offensive on April 4 to take Tripoli, the western seat of the UN-recognised GNA.
Friday’s rally came days after a smaller protest brought out dozens of “yellow jacket” demonstrators who on Tuesday also demanded the GNA sever ties with countries that “back aggression” on Tripoli.
It also comes a day after UN envoy Ghassan Salame warned of “a widening conflagration” in other parts of the North African country.
On Thursday GNA interior minister Fathi Bach Agha lashed out at France, accusing it directly for the first time of supporting “the criminal Haftar” and saying it was cutting security ties with Paris.
France immediately denied the claim.
“Tripoli’s claim of support and diplomatic cover for Haftar are completely unfounded,” a French foreign ministry official said.
“France supports the legitimate government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and the mediation of the UN towards an inclusive political solution in Libya,” the French presidency said in a statement.
More than 200 people have been killed since the violence erupted, and more than 900 wounded, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
More than 25,000 have been displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.
African leaders pay last respects to Mugabe at state funeral
African leaders and senior officials from Cuba, Russia and China all praised Mugabe as a pan-African hero
Zimbabwe gave former president Robert Mugabe a state funeral on Saturday with African leaders paying tribute to a man lauded as a liberation hero but whose 37-year rule was defined by repression and economic turmoil.
Mugabe, who died in Singapore last week aged 95, left Zimbabwe deeply torn over his legacy as the country still struggles with high inflation and shortages of goods after decades of crisis.
He died on an overseas medical trip almost two years after former army loyalists forced him out in 2017, following a power struggle over what was widely perceived as a bid to position his wife Grace as his successor.
Mugabe’s casket, draped in the green, black, gold and red Zimbabwe flag, was marched slowly into Harare’s national stadium as a military band played and crowds chanted and drummed, though less than half of the 60,000 seats appeared taken.
African leaders and senior officials from Cuba, Russia, and China all praised Mugabe as a pan-African hero for his past as a colonial-era guerrilla leader.
“We honour and remember our African icon. He had many allies and followers… Our motherland is in tears,” Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa said.
Doves were released over the stadium before soldiers fired a 21-gun salute from artillery cannon.
Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe ally who turned against him, praised Grace in a signal of reconciliation and called for sanctions on Zimbabwe to be lifted in the post-Mugabe era.
“We say give our country a rebirth and a new start. Remove the sanctions now, we don’t deserve them.”
South African leader Ramaphosa’s speech was briefly interrupted by jeers and whistles from the crowds until he apologised for recent xenophobic attacks on African migrants, including Zimbabweans, in Johannesburg.
As a former anti-colonial rebel, Mugabe is credited with helping to end white-minority rule in Zimbabwe.
But his nearly four-decade rule was marked by repression, the brutal silencing of dissent and violent seizure of white-owned farms, making him an international pariah.
Though still lauded as an African icon, at home many Zimbabweans will remember Mugabe more for the increasingly tyrannical rule and economic mismanagement that forced millions to flee the country.
Many are struggling to survive despite Mnangagwa’s vows of more investment and jobs in the post-Mugabe era.
“The fruits of his tenure are the shortages. That is what we remember him for,” said Steven, a consultant shopping near the stadium.
“He has made sure there is no opposition and he succeeded. There is no reason to go to his funeral.”
Friends and enemies
A young Mugabe was once jailed in the former British colony Rhodesia for his nationalist ideas. But he swept to power in the 1980 elections after a guerrilla war and sanctions forced the Rhodesian government to the negotiating table.
In office, he initially won international praise for promoting racial reconciliation and for extending improved education and health services to the black majority.
“You can’t talk about Zimbabwe without Bob. Zimbabwe is Bob. It took a man like Bob, his bravery, to get independence,” said Norman Gombera, 57, a school principal in Harare. “Bob did his best under the circumstances. There is no country without a problem.”
Always divisive in life, Mugabe’s funeral arrangements were also caught up in a dispute between Mnangagwa and the family over where and when the former leader should be buried.
His final burial at a national monument will only happen after a new mausoleum is built in about 30 days. That decision was taken after his family ended a dispute with Mnangagwa over the date and place of the ceremony.
His family are still bitter over the role Mnangagwa played in his ouster and had pushed for Mugabe to be buried in his homestead of Zvimba, northwest of Harare.
A former guerrilla who fought alongside Mugabe against colonial forces, Mnangagwa was fired as first vice president by Mugabe in 2017. Mugabe had branded him a “traitor”.
Soon after, protesters took to the streets and military officers pressured Mugabe to step down in what was widely seen as a struggle between Mnangagwa’s faction and loyalists to Mugabe’s wife Grace inside the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mnangagwa himself is now under pressure to deliver in the post-Mugabe period.
Death toll from capsized Cameroon ferry rises to 17
So far, 111 survivors have been rescued, according to state radio and a local leader
The death toll from a Cameroon ferry that capsized this week has risen to 17 after more bodies were found, state radio said Wednesday, though the total number of victims was still unknown.
Fourteen more bodies were recovered from the Bakassi Peninsula on Tuesday, two days after the ferry sunk off southwestern Cameroon, Cameroon Radio Television reported.
A source with local authorities confirmed the details to reporters.
State media had initially reported that three victims — of Cameroonian, Nigerian and French nationality — were found and more than 100 people were rescued when the ship went down overnight Sunday to Monday.
The Austrheim, a trading vessel converted into a passenger ship was supposed to carry 75 people, but it was “overloaded,” according to a statement from the defence ministry.
So far, 111 survivors have been rescued, according to state radio and a local leader. Searches continued on Wednesday for survivors or bodies.
The ship left Sunday from Calabar, Nigeria, and was due to dock at Tiko in southwest Cameroon but hit a sandbar before capsizing, according to the ministry.
Gambia’s first President, Dawda Jawara dies aged 95
Jawara led the Gambia to Independence on 18th February 1965 until July 1994 when he was ousted in a coup led by ex President Yahya Jammeh
Dawda Jawara, the first President of The Gambia following independence from Britain, died Tuesday at the age of 95, officials said.
Current President Adama Barrow, in online comments, described Jawara’s death as “a great loss to the country in particular and humanity in general”.
Fisheries Minister, James Gomez told reporters that “the former head of State Sir Dawda Jawara died this afternoon. Flags would fly at half-mast” and the body will lie in state for mourners to pay their respects.
Jawara, a Glasgow-trained veterinary doctor, led the Gambia to Independence on 18th February 1965 until July 1994 when his reign was brought to an end by a bloodless military coup led by Yahya Jammeh, who went on to rule the country for 22 years.
The Gambian presidency, in a statement on Twitter announced that a state funeral would be held on Thursday.
“In honour of his enduring legacy, President Barrow has ordered that the former President be accorded a befitting state funeral and that flags at all public institutions to fly at half-mast.”
“Sir Dawda has lived a life that epitomises peace, tolerance, respect, and patriotism. His time as president has put the country on the path of development at both human and institutional standards. His legacy as the father of the nation shall forever live on.”
Jawara was born in 1924 into a Muslim family in central Barajally, where his father was a tradesman.
He worked as a vet and it was not until 1960 that he decided to enter politics, joining the Protectorate People’s Party in 1960 while the country was still under British rule.
His party, which later changed its name to the People Progressive Party (PPP) won the elections in 1962 and he became the country’s Prime Minister.
That was the post that Jawara held when The Gambia gained its independence in 1965, ending British colonial rule which had begun in 1888.
It was not until 1970 that he assumed his post as the country’s first President.
Jawara resisted post-independence pressure to become part of neighbouring Senegal, which surrounds the whole country with the exception of its Atlantic coastline.
Following his 1994 ouster, Jawara sought refuge in Britain where he lived with his family until 2002 when he returned home after President Jammeh granted him amnesty and returned his assets to him.
While in power, his regime was considered one of the most democratic on the African continent.
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