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Mali’s coup is cheered at home but upsets neighbours

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Crowds rejoiced after a group of colonels seized power in Mali, a vast country stretching into the Sahara, where troops – including French soldiers and UN peacekeepers – are fighting jihadist groups, but not everyone is happy, writes West Africa analyst Paul Melly.

Negotiations are rumoured to be under way for the exile of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, deposed as president of Mali in a military putsch on Tuesday and currently detained with his son, his Prime Minister Boubou Cissé and a number of other senior government officials.

But now Ecowas, the West African regional bloc to which Mali belongs, has laid down a firm line, with member heads of state issuing a call for Mr Keïta’s reinstatement as president.

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Media captionFive factors that made the coup against the former Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta more likely

The weary-sounding 75-year-old had announced his enforced resignation in a televised statement around midnight on Tuesday, apparently from a room at the Kati army base, 15km (nine miles) from Bamako, where he and Mr Cissé had been taken by soldiers that afternoon.

This came after more than two months of confrontation with an alliance of opposition politicians and civil society, the M5-RFP, in whose name massive crowds staged a series of street demonstrations shrewdly piloted by the charismatic imam Mahmoud Dicko.

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AFP

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Imam Mahmoud Dicko says he is not interested in political leadership

Protesters had only one central demand – Mr Keïta’s resignation, although Mr Dicko held back from explicitly calling for this himself.

In negotiations mediated by Ecowas, Mr Keïta had made concession after concession, but never ceding either his own position or the decisive reforms that would have clearly ended his command of the state machine.

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That was no longer enough and finally a group of senior – but not top-ranking – officers, moved to end his occupation of the presidency.

But Ecowas is not prepared to go along with this unconstitutional change of power and its envoy, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, is soon expected back in Bamako to talk to the putchists.

Difficult negotiations lie ahead and no-one can be sure how they will pan out.

Lost opportunity

When gunshots were heard over the Kati barracks on Tuesday it was not immediately obvious that this was anything other than a mutiny by ordinary soldiers’ angered by high-level corruption while they risk their lives in the war against jihadists in the north.

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AFP

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Mr Keïta failed to use his early popularity to deal with troubles in northern Mali where scores of soldiers have been killed

But as military vehicles swept from Kati down into Bamako to arrest Mr Keïta and a string of senior figures, it became clear that something much more substantial was under way.

For exasperation with Mr Keïta stretched back much further than the face-off with protesters over recent months.

Faith in the slogans about restoring national pride that had carried him to election victory over the technocratic Soumaïla Cissé back in 2013 had long since faded.

International partners were dismayed by Mr Keïta’s failure to use his early popularity to swing politicians and the public behind the difficult compromises required to effectively implement peace with Tuareg separatists in the north, a dilatory approach that left a vacuum in which terrorism could flourish.

More about Mali’s battle against jihadists

But for Malians, particularly in the south and the centre, where most live, Mr Keïta’s administration was most tarnished by a string of corruption scandals, sometimes undermining basic services such as the supply of fertiliser to poor farmers, amidst stories about the ostentatious high life of the ruling elite.

The president only secured easy re-election in 2018 because traditional opponents and a raft of new centrist groups failed to establish a common front.

The issue that finally triggered the massive upsurge of popular anger that spilled on to the streets of Bamako this year was a rather narrowly political one – the decision of the Constitutional Court to overturn the results for 31 parliamentary seats in the elections held over two rounds in March and April.

This cancelled voters’ humiliation of the government in Bamako constituencies – and it came at a moment when feelings were already raw after northern militants had kidnapped opposition leader Soumaïla Cissé while he was out on the campaign trail in the north, near Timbuktu. He is still a hostage now.

Yacht holiday

Then after Covid-19 had forced Bamako residents to endure lockdown measures, and while Malian soldiers continued to sacrifice their lives in the northern war, images emerged appearing to show the president’s son, Karim – chair of parliament’s defence committee – on a holiday yacht abroad.

The pictures could not be verified and may have been old.

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Getty Images

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France’s President Emmanuel Macron, pictured here with Mr Keïta last year, wants a return to civilian rule

Karim Keïta himself insisted no public expense had been incurred – yet the images could only further fuel perceptions of a presidential circle somehow unengaged and distanced from Mali’s multiple crises.

Throughout all this Mr Keïta’s prime minister struggled assiduously to broker a political path forward and tackle the country’s real problems. But Boubou Cissé lacked the independent personal clout to save the beleaguered administration.

Ecowas mediation was making progress, but slowly – and then, this week, the soldiers stepped in.

So where does Mali go from here?

Col Ismaël Wagué (centre)

EPA

Mali’s coup leaders:

The National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP)

  • Col Assimi Goita:Head of the CNSP and leads Mali’s special forces

  • Col Malick Diaw:CNSP vice-president; deputy head of camp where mutiny began

  • Col Ismaël Wagué:Junta’s spokesman; from the air force (pictured)

  • Col Sadio Camara:Ex-head of the military academy where the mutiny started

  • Col Modibo Koné:Has played a key role in fighting jihadists

Source: BBC Monitoring and Reuters

For the very short term the UN’s large Mali peacekeeping mission, French anti-terrorist forces and national military units deployed in the north and the centre should be able to maintain a stable security position.

But the position is fragile and jihadist groups will take heart if there is a prolonged delay in agreeing arrangements for a transition, new elections and an internationally accepted interim government.

One person who has already signalled that he will not take a frontline role at this stage is Mr Dicko.

The influential imam has declared his intention to step back from politics for now, although he will remain an influential figure, if and when he chooses to exert that influence.

In the meantime, much hangs on the talks now expected between the putschists, the M5-RFP and Ecowas.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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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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