French forces prepare to close bases in Mali
By Abiodun Ogundairo
17 October 2021 | 4:12 pm
We head to northern Mali, where French forces are preparing to close a base used by the Barkhane force as France decides to reduce its presence in the country. Also, Botswana's court of appeal starts hearing a government attempt to overturn a landmark ruling that decriminalised homosexuality in 2019. And Cape Verde gears up for elections, with the revival of the tourism industry a key campaign issue.
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The targeted base housed Russian troops, believed to be of the Wagner mercenary group. Over 60 were also injured in the attack.
A much-awaited report released by the United Nations (UN) on Friday claimed that at least 500 people were executed by foreign fighters and the Malian army during an anti-militant operation carried out in March 2022.
German lawmakers have given the green light for the country's troops to remain in Mali until May 31, 2024, at the latest. The opposition called for a troop withdrawal by the end of this year.
An attack in northern Mali on a UN patrol has lead to the death of one peacekeeper. The region is a hotbed for Islamist militants.
Malians are due to take part in a referendum on Sunday that paves the way for elections and democratic rule in 2024. Repeated postponements and two military coups have stood in the way of the poll since 2017.
After the military seized power in Mali three years ago, people are now being called upon to vote on a new constitution. According to the authors of the draft, it will re-establish democracy in Mali and help prevent the insecurity and corruption that once led to the military coup.
Mali's foreign minister has accused the UN mission of failing to respond to security challenges. The peacekeeping mission was established in 2013 to stabilize the country amid a jihadi insurgency.
The amendments are expected to facilitate a transition to civilian leadership in the junta-ruled West African country. Observers voiced concerns over last week's referendum, saying the vote was marred by irregularities.
Russia says the Wagner group's activities in Mali and Central African Republic will continue, unaffected, despite an aborted mutiny by its leader at the weekend. Provisional results from Sierra Leone's presidential election show the incumbent Julius Maada Bio in the lead.ahead of his main rival Samura Kamara. And Kenya's President William Ruto signs a contentious bill into law... that will raise taxes on a wide range of items, from petrol, to housing, and basic goods
Mali's relations with the West have deteriorated sharply since a 2020 military coup in the country. The junta has rallied behind Russia and brought in the paramilitary Wagner Group to meet its security needs.
A one-day summit by West African leaders from Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and the Niger Republic ended in a stalemate after the leaders met with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Muslim Cleric Mahmoud Dicko.
Neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, which are also both run by military juntas, strongly rebuked regional bloc ECOWAS for weighing the option of using force to reinstate deposed President Mohamed Bazoum.
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