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For weeks, Malians protested for change. Then a coup happened | News

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It was around midnight, hours after his seizure at gunpoint by soldiers in Mali’s capital, when Ibrahim Boubacar Keita finally appeared on national television.

“I would like at this precise moment, while thanking the Malian people for their support throughout these long years and the warmth of their affection, to tell you of my decision to relinquish my duties,” the 75-year-old president said behind a mask worn amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Capping a dramatic day of confusion and turmoil, Keita said he had been left with no choice but to declare the dissolution of the government and parliament. 

“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said. “[I must] submit to it because I don’t want any bloodshed.”

Keita announcing his resignation on national television [ORTM/AFP]

In the early hours of Wednesday, it was time for the mutinying soldiers who had forced Keita out of office and detained several senior government officials to make an appearance on state television.

Dressed in military fatigues, the coup-makers – who called themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People – promised to oversee a transition to election within a “reasonable” period and restore stability in a country struggling to contain a series of urgent crises, including a worsening conflict with armed groups that has spilled into the wider Sahel region.

“We are not holding on to power, but we are holding on to the stability of the country,” Colonel-Major Ismael Wague said in his address to Malians. “This will allow us to organise, within an agreed reasonable timeframe, general elections to equip Mali with strong institutions, which are able to better manage our daily lives and restore confidence between the government and the governed.”

International condemnation of the military coup was swift. Even before Keita’s statement, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – a regional bloc that in recent weeks tried without success to mediate an escalating political impasse between the president and an opposition coalition staging mass rallies demanding his resignation – said it “utterly condemns” his “overthrowing”.

In a statement, it announced a series of sanctions, including stopping trade and imposing land and air border closures. ECOWAS also said it was suspending Mali’s membership, a move followed by the African Union (AU) on Wednesday.

Amid demands for the release of the detained politicians, including by former colonial ruler France, the United Nations general-secretary, Antonio Guterres, also called “for the immediate restoration of constitutional order and rule of law in Mali”.

Manu Lekunze, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said both ECOWAS and the UN were selective in their condemnations and should have listened to the Malians who have been taking to the streets for weeks.

“Malians are not happy. The army is coming out to do what the protesters were demanding. The protesters were demanding for Keita to resign for a very long time. His removal is an opportunity for the country to take a new path,” Lekunze told Al Jazeera. 

“France, ECOWAS, UN and the AU have come out and said, ‘we don’t want unconstitutional change’ but you see unconstitutional activities going on across Africa. In Ivory Coast, you have a president seeking a third term and the UN is saying nothing about it. In Guinea-Conakry, not far from Mali, the president is seeking a third term. So, the constitutional argument is not really an argument,” he added.

Supporters of the Imam Mahmoud Dicko and other opposition political parties attend a mass protest demanding the resignation of Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Bamako, Mali August 11, 2020.

Opposition supporters attend a mass protest in Bamako demanding the resignation of Keita [Rey Byhre/Reuters]

Tens of thousands of protesters, unhappy with rampant corruption, alleged election irregularities and worsening insecurity that has rendered large parts of Mali ungovernable, have rallied in Bamako since June calling for Keita’s departure.

Although anger over the country’s woes has been simmering for a while, the spark for the political crisis was a decision by the Constitutional Court in April to overturn the results of parliamentary polls for 31 seats, in a move that handed 10 more seats to Keita’s party.

The protests turned violent in July when a crackdown by security forces during three days of unrest killed at least 14 protesters and bystanders, according to rights groups.

Marie-Roger Biloa, an analyst at Africa International Media Group, said Keita’s removal by the army did not come as a surprise.

“The situation has been deteriorating for years in Mali and the country has been in an open crisis for weeks now,” Biloa told Al Jazeera.

“The situation was ripe for the military to take advantage of. The army is not happy because they are ill-equipped to fight the jihadists and they have lost many soldiers. There is also communal violence,” she said. “The situation was getting out of hand.”

Alleged coup attempt in Mali

Tuesday’s coup came amid opposition protests calling for Keita’s arrest that have rocked the crisis-torn country since June [Anadolu]

Keita came to power after winning a 2013 election held the following year after another military coup forced the then-government of Amadou Toumani Toure out of office.

“He was a unifying figure in a fractured country when he came to power. Keita was able to quell the discontent in the military,” William Lawrence, professor of political science at the American University in Washington, DC, told Al Jazeera.

The president was re-elected in 2018, but frustration grew amid a failure to lift living standards for most Malians and contain the conflict engulfing the country’s northern and central regions.

“There is severe political crisis that grew out of the botched March 2020 election; there is severe economic crisis complicated by COVID-19; and there is also severe security crisis which has led to the arrest of the one of the major opposition leaders held by terrorists in the north of the country,” Lawrence said, referring to the abduction of veteran politician Soumaila Cisse while campaigning in the volatile centre of the country days before the March 29 parliamentary election.

The overthrow of Keita “opens a phase of uncertainties”, according to Boubacar Sangare, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) think-tank.

“The apparent support of the coup by a section of the population says a lot about how they perceive state institutions and the constitution. It also showcases the depth of disarray and decay in which those institutions find themselves,” Sangare told Al Jazeera.

Sahel countries such as Niger and Burkina Faso that have long suffered cross-border attacks are also watching closely the events unfolding in Bamako. Countries in West Africa fear the violence could further spread into the generally more stable coastal states if the unrest in Mali creates further instability.

“Neighbouring countries are particularly concerned about the consequences of instability in Mali in the context of upcoming elections … and a deepening and expanding instability,” Sangare added.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa 





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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