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What does the coup mean for Mali’s spiralling security crisis? | News



What began with reports of gunshots at an army barracks just outside Bamako in the morning of August 18 ended hours later with a group of mutinous soldiers arresting and forcing the resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Mali’s embattled president. 

The coup leaders swiftly declared their intervention was meant to prevent the country from plunging into chaos, which they blamed on the government’s failure to tackle a series of overlapping crises.

In the weeks leading up to the coup, tens of thousands of opposition supporters had taken to the streets to protest against a disputed parliamentary election, persistent economic woes and a spiralling security crisis that erupted in 2012, when a previous coup allowed northern Tuareg separatists, allied with an al-Qaeda offshoot, to take advantage of the political instability and briefly seize large swaths of land in the north.

That loss of territory precipitated the currently devolving situation, with armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda capitalising on intercommunal tensions as they jockey for control of Mali’s semi-arid centre.

But along with the hope of the social and political reforms demanded during the mass anti-Keita protests, the reality of the continuing conflicts in the country’s vast north and central regions remains. And while the coup has cast into uncertainty Mali’s political future, it has also raised fears the effects of the upheaval could further spill beyond the country’s borders and threaten the wider region.

The military officers now in charge, calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), have promised to include the opposition and civil society in a transition back to civilian rule, which they have pledged will happen within a “reasonable” timeframe.

But two weeks since the coup, little has been made clear about who will lead the transition and how long it will last.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc has been negotiating the details of the transfer of power, but the two parties remain at odds – ECOWAS has called for it to happen within a year, and has stemmed money flows to the country to pressure the military’s hand.

France, which has for years been militarily the most active international power in its former colony, has also called for a truncated timeline, with Defence Minister Florence Parly saying the transition should take place within “a matter of months”.

“If this does not happen, the risk is that all this benefits terrorists first and foremost,” she told Europe-1 radio on Sunday. “Terrorists feed on the weakness of states.”

2012 coup

Despite the increased presence of international forces – including the French-led Operation Barkhane and the United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) – violence has continued to increase in Mali in recent years.

Attacks have grown fivefold since 2016, while the vast majority of the almost 2,000 documented fatalities related to the conflict in the country this year took place in the central Mopti region, according to the International Crisis Group. Meanwhile, about 1.7 million people have been displaced by the violence, according to the UN.

The first seven months of this year have proven deadlier than any year since Mali was thrown into turmoil in 2012.

Despite early comparisons, however, armed groups in Mali are not likely to benefit as “significantly” as they did from the political instability eight years ago, said Flore Berger, a Sahel research analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“It’s not gonna be like 2012 where they can actually take vast parts of the country,” she said. “First of all, they’re already there. They don’t control the entire areas where they attack, but they’re still there, they have quite a big presence,” added Berger.

Mali coup leaders, ECOWAS fail to reach agreement on transition

“They also have changed their tactics. They’re not aiming at controlling major town centres. Now they aim at attacking and going south towards coastal West Africa,” she said. 

Still, armed groups may increase attacks in the coming weeks in response to the upheaval, said Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

“My expectation is that they would look to continue to do attacks in the early period to demonstrate that this military government is weak,” he added. “And to persuade, or to undermine any local Malians’ views that maybe there’s a new dispensation on the horizon.”

Another difference from 2012 is that that coup was more of “a mutiny of the low-ranking officers and soldiers” motivated by “troops complaining about their military conditions” in operations against armed groups in the north, said Virginie Baudais, a senior Sahel researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

“There was not a really high-ranking officer implicated in the coup in 2012. And now it’s a high ranking officer and the coup appears to be well organised,” she said, referring to Assimi Goita, a colonel in the Malian special forces who is leading the CNSP.

“It was much more complicated to negotiate with the junta in 2012 than this one,” she said.

More than two weeks after the 2012 coup, the then-military rulers folded to international pressure amid crippling ECOWAS sanctions, international travel bans, aid withholdings, and the declaration of an autonomous state by northern separatists who had seized key northern cities. 

The military ceded power to a transitional authority led by the speaker of parliament, ushered in a 2013 election that was won by Keita, who got re-elected five years later.

‘Thinly stretched’

This time, the international community has walked a careful line in condemning the unconstitutional transfer of power, which several regional leaders fear may set an example for their countries, while refraining from doing anything that could jeopardise the coordination that they see as essential to slowing the spreading of violence in the region.

CNSP leaders have also said they will continue to cooperate with the international forces currently based in the country in an array of missions aimed at routing out armed groups, while continuing a languishing 2015 peace agreement reached with rebel groups in the country’s north.

To date, France and other European powers, as well as MINUSMA, have said they will continue their operations during the transitional period, while the United States and the European Union have temporarily paused training activities in the wake of the coup. 

“I would frame all of this as being really fluid,” said CSIS’s Devermont, “in terms of the way these international partners are legally able to work with the military government and operate in Mali, and what the military government’s ultimate partnership and position towards these actors will be.”

Many regional and international leaders, while perhaps not publicly, had viewed the 75-year-old Keita as a flawed intermediary, analysts said. 

Devermont said Mali’s military during Keita’s rule has been historically inept at “consolidating control” and “backfilling” security gains made by international forces operating in the country. 

However, a transition in power could tax the already overstretched Malian forces across the country. 

“If it becomes a military-led government, we would have to expect they would start pulling more military off the battlefield and into Bamako. So there could be some direct disruption to the limited capacity that the military already has,” Devermont said. 

Jose Luengo Cabrera, a Sahel researcher at the International Crisis Group, said it remains “unclear whether the junta will respond more effectively to the broiling rural insurgency in central Mali, where military outposts and gendarmeries continue to be primary targets of jihadi attacks – at a time when security forces are evidently thinly stretched”.

He added that there have been increasing reports leading up to the coup highlighting “levels of demoralisation, barriers to promotion within military hierarchy, and, worst, growing disenchantment towards insufficient resources” within the military ranks.

It also remains unclear to what degree the Malian military will be motivated to enact needed reforms, including reckoning with abuses committed by security forces that have increased the enmity between the government and some communities, “especially now that the military is poised to become a principal political actor and likely to be resistant to certain changes requiring it to concede powers and be willing to be more accountable to the civilian justice system”, Jose said.

The UN’s human rights agency, as of June, had documented 230 “extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions” attributed to Mali’s security forces in 2020, including some that allegedly occurred under the control of the G5 Sahel Joint Force – a French-backed multinational military force in the Sahel composed of troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. 

The agency has also documented “instances of enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest and the destruction of several properties”.

Security forces have also been accused of using excessive force during the protests that preceded the coup, with sources describing to Human Rights Watch at least 14 deaths of protesters and bystanders “allegedly as a result of gunfire by the security forces in Bamako on July 10 and 11”.

CNSP leaders arrive at the transitional talks with ECOWAS [File: John Kalapo/Getty Images]

With more questions than answers, many analysts agree that any transition will need to holistically contend the country’s myriad issues, with the primary focus on the underlying problems that plague citizens across its far-flung reaches.

“The root causes of the security situation are not security in itself, but they are mostly the economic situation,” said Gregory Chauzal, a senior researcher and director of the SIPRI’s Sahel West Africa programme.

“If you want to improve the situation in the long run, to have sustainable peace … you need to address what makes this conflict happen in first place,” he said, citing Mali’s “political and economic factors”.

Added SIPRI’s Baudais: “With MINUSMA, Barkhane, the G5 Sahel, Takuba, and every military intervention, the situation is still deteriorating since 2012. So we can see that the military solution is not the most effective.” 

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



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




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.

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




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”.

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