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Mali’s Prime Minister, government resign over rising violence in the country

A statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said he had accepted Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga’s resignation

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Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga. Photo credit: AFP

Mali’s prime minister resigned along with his entire government on Thursday following criticism over their handling of an upsurge of violence in the centre of the country and a massacre last month that left 160 people dead.

A statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said he had accepted Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga’s resignation and that of his government two weeks after mass protests erupted over the rising tide of violence.

Lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties had submitted a motion of no confidence against the government on Wednesday, blaming Maiga and his administration for failing to clamp down on the unrest.

“A prime minister will be named very soon and a new government will be put in place after consultations with all political forces” from both the ruling and opposition sides, the statement from Keita’s office said.

The president had on Tuesday said in a televised address that he had “heard the anger”, without explicitly naming the prime minister.

The government had come under mounting pressure over its handling of violence in the restive Mopti region and especially a massacre on March 23 in which 160 people were killed in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso.

Members of the Dogon ethnic group – a hunting and farming community with a long history of tensions with the nomadic Fulani people over access to land – were blamed for the mass killing.

An AFP reporter at the time said many homes in the village had been burned down and the ground was littered with corpses.

The Fulani have also been accused of supporting a jihadist preacher, Amadou Koufa, who rose to prominence in central Mali four years ago.

So-called self-defence groups emerged in the Dogon community with the declared role of providing protection against the insurgents. 

But the militia, called the Dan Nan Ambassagou, also used its powers to attack the Fulani, and was ordered to be dissolved after the village massacre.

Islamist threat

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Bamako on April 5 to protest against the upsurge of violence, accusing the government of not doing enough to stop it.

The protest was called by Muslim religious leaders, organisations representing the Fulani community, opposition parties and civil society groups.

Mali has been struggling to restore stability since Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the country’s vast desert north in early 2012.

While the jihadists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation that began in January 2013, huge areas are still in the grip of lawlessness, despite a 2015 peace agreement with some armed groups that sought to definitively stamp out the Islamist threat.

Since then, militants have shifted from the north towards the more densely populated centre of the country, where they have sharpened ancient rivalries and ethnic conflicts that date back years.

Jihadist attacks have also spread to Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

March’s attack was the deadliest in Mali since the 2013 French-led military intervention.

In the aftermath of the massacre, Keita visited the village and vowed to beef up security and enforce justice. 

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Central Africa News

DR Congo authorities ban rallies in Kinshasa as tensions rise

Tensions rose in the capital after youths announced they would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister

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UDPS opposition party leader Felix Tshisekedi gestures to supporters as Authorities bans rallies

DR Congo authorities have banned political rallies this week in the capital Kinshasa because of tensions between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of former leader Joseph Kabila, police said Sunday.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

Tensions rose in the capital after the youth wing of Tshisekedi’s Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) announced it would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister for the senate presidency.

In response, the pro-Kabila Red Berets movement said it would hold a counter-march to support the candidacy of Alexis Thambwe, who is considered by many a hardliner from the Kabila regime.

Read also: Zuma to testify at South Africa’s graft probe

Kinshasa police chief General Sylvano Kasongo told state television that given the tensions in the capital, Kinshasa’s governor had banned all political rallies for this week. “He instructed the police to take all appropriate measures. Anyone who attempts to march or disturb the public order this week will find the police in their way,” he said.

UDPS youth wing spokesman Fils Mukoko told reporters they wanted to protest against seeing “the same faces in charge of the country’s institutions or in the government.”

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies, and his supporters also dominated elections for the governorships across the country.

Read also: GNA announces a new political plan, promises elections in Libya

None of the candidates the FCC presented for seven key Senate posts is from Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance in the legislature despite an agreement to work together between the two political blocs.

Six months after Tshisekedi’s inauguration and more than a month after the appointment of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was proposed by Kabila, CACH and FCC negotiators are still struggling to agree on the composition of the government.

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North Africa Politics

Libya’s GNA suspect new military escalation by Haftar-led forces

Videos circulated on social media in recent days show columns of LNA military vehicles trucking towards Tripoli.

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Photo credit: AFP

Libya’s UN-recognised government said Saturday it feared forces led by strongman Khalifa Haftar were prepping a new “military escalation” in their months-long push to take Tripoli.

Deadly fighting has rocked the capital’s outskirts since Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive on April 4 to take the city from the Government of National Accord.

The GNA said on its Facebook page it was “concerned over reports, confirmed by the UN and the media, on preparations for a new military escalation”.

The United Nations mission in Libya said in a tweet Saturday that it was “doing its outmost with all local and foreign actors to avoid military escalation and to ensure protection of civilians”.

Videos circulated on social media in recent days, some by a pro-Haftar television channel, show columns of LNA military vehicles trucking towards the south of the capital. The footage could not be independently verified.

Haftar’s campaign to wrestle Tripoli from pro-GNA forces has left nearly 1,093 people dead, including 106 civilians, and over 5,750 wounded, according to the UN’s World Health Organization.

The fighting has also forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes. 

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Politics

Campaign against corruption begins in Zambia

We can’t have few people that are getting rich and the majority are poor. – Laura Miti

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Campaign against corruption in government begins in Zambia

Hundreds of people wearing yellow T-shirts rallied on Saturday in Zambia’s capital Lusaka – to kick start a campaign against corruption in President Edgar Lungu’s government.

The protesters – led by prominent anti-graft activists Laura Miti and musician Pilato (also known as Chama Fumba) – picketed outside the parliament, singing anti-government songs and waving yellow cards.

“This is just the beginning of our yellow card campaigns,” Miti, who is the leader of a non-profit organisation Alliance for Community Action, told the jubilant crowd.

“We will not accept the country to be destroyed while we watch. 

“We can’t have few people that are getting rich and the majority are poor. This country is rich but the problem is how it is governed,”  she said.

She claimed that some ministers owned more than 40 houses each while most Zambians live in squalor. 

Demonstrators carried placards denouncing poor standards of education and plans to reintroduce deputy ministerial posts through a constitutional amendment.

“We are saying to (president) Lungu we are tired,” said Miti.

Both Miti and Pilato were arrested last year for picketing outside parliament over the procurement of 42 fire engines at a cost of $1 million each, seen as emblematic of the corruption fostered by Lungu.

During the protest on Saturday, Pilato warned: “if we refuse to defend Zambia today, there won’t be Zambia tomorrow”.

Lungu became president in 2015 after the death of President Michael Sata and was re-elected in 2016, but his administration has been dogged by accusations of graft.

In January 2018, foreign affairs minister Harry Kalaba resigned in protest, citing “swelling” corruption in government ranks “perpetrated by those who are expected to be the solution.”

The former minister for social services, Emerine Kabanshi, is due in court next month for corruption charges over allegations that led Britain to suspend aid to Zambia last year.

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