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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Appointed Member Of South Africa’s Presidential Economic Council |The Republican News

By Oluseyi Awojulugbe

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, two-time minister, has been appointed as a member South Africa’s presidential economic advisory council.

Clarification sought by TheCable from close parties to the economist revealed that she is a member of the council, not the head as reported by some platforms.

The council is chaired by Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president.

Pictures shared on Twitter by the official handle of South Africa’s presidency and Okonjo-Iweala showed the latter in a meeting with local authorities.

The pictures were captioned “With President Ramaphosa, members of cabinet, and members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council in Pretoria discussing sources of growth for the South African economy and win-win economic interactions with the continent.”

Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, appointed the council on September 27, 2019.

In a statement published on its website, the presidency said the council will “ensure greater coherence and consistency in the implementation of economic policy and ensure that government and society in general is better equipped to respond to changing economic circumstances”.

The council, which is made up of local and international economic thought leaders, is expected to “advise the president and government more broadly, facilitating the development and implementation of economic policies that spur inclusive growth.

“The council is a non-statutory and independent body chaired by the president and brings together prominent economists and technical experts drawn from academia, the private sector, labour, community, think tanks and other constituencies. The members, who will volunteer their time and be compensated for subsistence and travel, are appointed to serve a three-year term.”

The council held its second meeting on Friday in Tshwane.

South Africa’s economy is currently in a recession; its second in two years.

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ECOWAS Countries To Rename Common Currency, Calm France Worries Over CFA Withdrawal|The Republican News

New ECOWAS currency, Eco

Eight West African countries Saturday agreed to change the name of their common currency to Eco and severed the CFA franc’s links to former colonial ruler France.

The CFA franc was initially pegged to the French franc and has been linked to the euro for about two decades. Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo currently use the currency. All the countries are former French colonies with the exception of Guinea-Bissau.

The announcement was made Saturday during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer and France’s former largest colony in West Africa. Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, speaking in the country’s economic capital Abidjan, announced “three major changes”. These included “a change of name” of the currency, he said, adding that the others would be “stopping holding 50 percent of the reserves in the French Treasury” and the “withdrawal of French governance” in any aspect related to the currency.

President Macron hailed it as a “historic reform”, adding: “The eco will see the light of day in 2020.” The deal took six months in the making, a French source said. The CFA francs value was moored to the euro after its introduction two decades ago, at a fixed rate of 655.96 CFA francs to one euro.

The Bank of France holds half of the currency’s total reserves, but France does not make money on its deposits stewardship, annually paying a ceiling interest rate of 0.75 percent to member states. The arrangement guarantees unlimited convertibility of CFA francs into euros and facilitates inter-zone transfers. CFA notes and coins are printed and minted at a Bank of France facility in the southern town of Chamalieres.

The CFA franc, created in 1945, was seen by many as a sign of French interference in its former African colonies even after the countries became independent. The Economic Community of West African States regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, earlier Saturday urged members to push on with efforts to establish a common currency, optimistically slated to launch next year.

The bloc insists it is aiming to have the Eco in place in 2020, but almost none of the 15 countries in the group currently meet criteria to join. ECOWAS “urges member states to continue efforts to meet the convergence criteria”, commission chief Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said after a summit of regional leaders in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

The key demands for entry are to have a deficit of less than 3 percent of gross domestic product, inflation of 10 percent or under and debts worth less than 70 percent of GDP. Economists say they understand the thinking behind the currency plan but believe it is unrealistic and could even be dangerous for the region’s economies which are dominated by one single country, Nigeria, which accounts for two-thirds of the region’s economic output. Nigeria’s Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed told AFP “there’s still more work that we need to do individually to meet the convergence criteria”.

ECOWAS was set up in 1975 and comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo — representing a total population of around 385 million. Eight of them currently use the CFA franc, moored to the single European currency and gathered in an organisation called the West African Monetary Union, or WAMU. But the seven other ECOWAS countries have their own currencies, none of them freely convertible. CPS

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African Union Asks United Kingdom To Leave Chagos Islands After Deadline Expired On Friday |The Republican News

Chagos Islands

By Pauline Bax

**UN deadline for U.K. to end its adminstration expired Friday

**U.K. clings to last African territory for ‘security reasons’

The African Union urged the U.K. to comply with a United Nations resolution calling for it to withdraw from the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which is considered part of Mauritius.

The U.K. is under increased international pressure to give up its last territory in Africa since the International Court of Justice ruled that the 1965 excision of the islands from Mauritius had been unlawful. The UN General Assembly affirmed the ruling in May and set a six-month deadline that expired Friday.

Almost all African nations support the resolution. AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat “requests the international community to continue its support to the Republic of Mauritius for a complete decolonisation of the Chagos Archipelago,” according to a statement on the website of the organization.

The U.K. argues it can’t give up the Chagos Archipelago for security reasons. It’s leased the biggest island to the U.S., which runs a military base there that supports operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  (Bloomberg)

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Ambazonia, Cameroon Separatists Celebrate ‘Independence’ As Biya Calls For Dialogue |The Republican News

By Moki Edwin Kindzeka

KUMBA, CAMEROON – English-speaking Cameroonians came out in huge numbers on Oct. 1 to celebrate what they call their independence day, declared by separatist leaders in 2017.

“We are celebrating our independence,” said Godlove Azeng, 31, “and at the same time asking the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya, to remove his military from our territory and asking him to free our leader [Julius] Ayuk Tabe who is jailed in his country.”

Separatist leader Ayuk Tabe was arrested in Nigeria with 47 of his supporters and extradited to Cameroon in January 2018. In August, he was given a life sentence by a military tribunal in Yaounde that found him guilty of crimes including secession and hostilities against the state.

The Oct. 1 celebrations marked the second anniversary since separatists in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest regions proclaimed an independent state they call Ambazonia.

During the gatherings, nine people were reported killed in gun battles with the military in Kumbo, the Northwest villages of Kikaikom and Mbveh, and the Southwest towns of Kumba and Mamfe.

Deben Tchoffo, governor of the English-speaking Northwest region, says government troops are deployed to protect citizens and Cameroon’s territorial integrity.

“Most of those areas have been secured by our security forces,” Tchoffo said. “Cameroon is ruled by laws and regulations and we are going to take our responsibility to secure the villages and while waiting, I am asking the population of the Northwest region to remobilize themselves [against those who want separation].”

The U.N. reports that the separatist war has forced more than 530,000 people to flee their homes since the conflict erupted in late 2017. It says at least 2,000 civilians and 300 defense and security forces have lost their lives in the war.

National dialogue 

A government-run dialogue ordered by Biya and aimed at resolving the separatist crisis is under way in Yaounde.

Cardinal Christian Wiyghan Tumi, left, talks with Cameroonian veteran opposition leader John Fru Ndi at the Congress Palace during the opening session of the National Dialogue called by President Biya, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sept. 30, 2019.
FILE – People gather at the Congress Palace during the opening session of the National Dialogue called by President Paul Biya, in Yaounde, Cameroon, Sept. 30, 2019.

Separatist backers who live outside Cameroon refused to attend, demanding the government first release Ayuk Tabe and accept negotiations led by the Swiss government.

On social media, they say no talks can start until Biya withdraws troops from English-speaking regions of Cameroon as a sign he has accepted their independence.

Political analyst and U.S.-based Cameroonian Humphrey Nsonka, who is taking part in the national dialogue, says it is unfortunate Cameroon is not doing enough to quell the anger of English-speakers in the country, where French is the majority language.

He says the best option for Cameroon is a federal state, a concept the government rejects in favor of decentralization.

“The huge numbers of people that came out in almost all the villages and towns is an indication of how much English-speaking Cameroonians are disgruntled with the domineering attitude of the French majority,” Nsonka said. “I think Cameroon should consider [a] federal state with the Anglophones on one part and French speakers on the other.”

Source: VOA

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South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa Sends Envoy To Nigeria, 7 Other African Countries |The Republican News

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, has dispatched three envoys to seven African countries, including Nigeria, to deliver messages of pan-African unity.

This is after he was booed in Zimbabwe on Saturday at Robert Mugabe’s funeral while addressing mourners.

He, however, apologised to the crowd saying the attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa was against the principles of the unity of the African people.

Apart from Nigeria, the envoys are also scheduled to visit Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

Khusela Diko, a presidential spokesperson, said on Sunday that the special envoys will deliver a message from Ramaphosa regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts of South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property.

Diko said the envoys will reassure fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity.

He added that they will also brief governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and hold the perpetrators to account.

The recent xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals had sparked criticism against the South African government across the continent.

Nigeria had boycotted the recent World Economic Summit that held in Cape Town, following the attacks on Nigerians.

The president had also ordered the immediate evacuation of Nigerians willing to leave the country after receiving the report of a special envoy sent to evaluate the attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.

Of the 640 Nigerians that have
indicated interest to return home, 187 have been airlifted by Air Peace and arrived the country on Wednesday.

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Xenophobia: Fresh Wave Of Attack Looms As Armed South African Youths Hit Streets, Ask Foreigners To Leave

Armed South African youths protesters

A fresh round of violence is currently building up in the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa, as armed protesters are out again, demanding that foreigners should return to where they came from.

According to Sowetan Live, a South African newspaper, the protesters, who carried weapons such as knobkerries, are waiting to be addressed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a notable politician and Zulu tribe leader.

This is coming one week after attacks on foreigners sparked reactions across the continent.

Nigeria, Rwanda and Malawi had pulled out of the World Economic Forum which held in South Africa while Zambia cancelled an international friendly match with South Africa over the violence against foreigners.

In reprisal attacks in Nigeria, South African-owned businesses were targetted. An MTN office was burnt down in Ibadan, Oyo state, while another office of the telecoms giant was vandalised in Abuja.

MTN had to shut its offices nationwide. Shoprite outlets were also targetted in Lagos, forcing the company to halt its operations across the country.

The South Africa High Commission in Nigeria also suspended operations.

During an assessment tour of some of the affected places, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos state, said 5,000 people were currently out of jobs as a result of the reprisal.

The police announced that 125 persons were arrested in connection with the violence while South African authorities said over 400 persons were arrested.

But amid the rift between Nigeria and South Africa, Naledi Pandor, South African minister of foreign affairs, said many Nigerians in her country are involved in drug trafficking. A comment which irked Geoffrey Onyeama, her Nigerian counterpart, who accused her of fuelling xenophobia.

In its report on Sunday, Sowetan Live said the leadership of hostel dwellers in Johannesburg has asked the government to engage the citizens about finding solutions to the clashes with foreign nationals.

Siphiwe Mhlongo, chairman of hostel headmen (izinduna) in Gauteng, was quoted as saying: “We are not happy with how government has tried to resolve the problems that the country is facing. The government must come speak to the people and explain what it is going to do with the foreign nationals who are here illegally.”

He said the residents were angry at jobs being take by foreign nationals, unhappy about drugs and RDP houses being owned by foreigners.

“Everyone who is in South Africa has that feeling that foreign nationals must go back home. But we don’t say foreign nationals must be beaten up; we are the leaders,” he said.

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Tunisia Bans Islamic Niqab In Government Offices, Cities For Security Reasons |The Republican News

Tunisia’s premier on Friday banned the niqab Muslim face covering for women in government offices, citing security concerns after attacks in the North African country.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed signed a government circular “banning access to public administrations and institutions to anyone with their face covered… for security reasons,” his office said.

The ban on the niqab, which covers the entire face apart from the eyes, comes at a time of heightened security following a June 27 double suicide bombing in Tunis that left two dead and seven wounded.

The interior minister instructed police in February 2014 to step up supervision of the wearing of the niqab as part of anti-terrorism measures, to prevent its use as a disguise or to escape justice.

Reactions to the ban were mixed in the Tunisian capital.

“They have the right to prohibit (the niqab) given the events we are currently witnessing,” said Ilhem, a young Tunisian woman.

“But in the end, it remains an individual freedom,” she added.

Lina questioned “why the woman must make sacrifices every time there are security measures to be taken”.

The Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights urged that the measure be only temporary.

“We are for the freedom to dress (as one pleases), but today with the current situation and the terrorist threats in Tunisia and across the region we find justifications for this decision,” the league’s president Jamel Msallem told AFP.

He said that the ban should be repealed as soon as “a normal security situation returns in Tunisia”.

The niqab and other outward shows of Islamic devotion were not tolerated under the regime of longtime autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali but have made a comeback since he was toppled in Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.

After bloody attacks in 2015 that targeted security forces and tourists, there were calls in Tunisia to re-impose the ban.

(AFP)

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Islamic Jihadists Have Recruited Heavily From Fulani Herdsmen Across West Africa —UN Report |RN

West Africa map


•The crisis may engulf coastal West Africa —Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister warns

•10 million people in Lake Chad area need urgent help —UN

There are fears that the current security problems wracking the country, Nigeria could become worsened soon with reports that jihadists across the West African region are recruiting heavily from aggrieved Fulani pastoralists.

While the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), fears a hike in the population of the displaced in West Africa, other reports warned that militant groups in the Sahel are on their way down to West African coastal countries.

Sahel countries are Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Southern Algeria, Niger, North of Nigeria, Central Chad, Central and Southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the extreme north of Ethiopia.

The coastal countries of the West African region under these threats are Nigeria, Cape Verde, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sao Tome and Principe and Mauritania.

The New Humanitarian news agency (formerly IRIN) a few days ago released a detailed report on the security crisis which may threaten the coastal West Africa with invasion by the militias.

According to the news agency, jihadist groups have recruited heavily from Fulani pastoralists, which it described as “an ethnic group that suffers from social exclusion as well as government and development programmes that favour agriculturalists.” The report added that this has raised tensions with members of other ethnic groups who say they are targeted by the jihadists.

“In the absence of the state, some have turned to self-defence militias, who have indiscriminately attacked Fulani communities,” it said.

“Failure to contain the insurgencies,” it said, “could also result in further regional destabilisation, with militant groups now moving southwards from Burkina Faso towards Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Benin, where two French tourists were recently kidnapped,” the report said.

“It’s no longer just the Sahel, it’s coastal West Africa and the risk of spreading regionally,” Burkina Faso Foreign Minister, Alpha Barry, told a security conference in Munich in February.

10 million people in Lake Chad area need urgent help —UN

The OCHA has also disclosed that nearly 10 million people, or half the population of the conflict-hit Lake Chad Basin region need humanitarian assistance as the decade-long conflict drags on.

In a report released during the week, OCHA said some 2.5 million people are now displaced. “Hunger and malnutrition remain high. Abduction, killings and rights violations are also widespread. Humanitarian response has been accelerated over the past three years, with many more affected people receiving assistance.”

It added that “this year, the humanitarian community is seeking US$1.3 billion to provide food, water, shelter, healthcare and safeguard the rights and dignity of the conflict-affected.

“The region is facing a severe protection crisis. The armed violence that has affected large parts of the Lake Chad Basin is stretching to its tenth year. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have lived in displacement sites and refugee camps for years, grappling with extreme hardship and deprivation. Many civilians have suffered abuse and rights violations and are deeply traumatised by the violence.

“It is critical to strengthen the protection of civilians, especially women and girls, and work towards preventing sexual and gender-based violence as well as enhance support to survivors. Women and girls face high risks of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse primarily by armed groups, but also by men in uniform.

“Thousands of civilians have also been killed or abducted and many families separated.

“The recurrent attacks and insecurity as well as security measures have restricted free movement. “Farming, trade, transhumance and other activities have been significantly affected, depriving millions of people of their means of survival and limiting access to basic services. Displaced people are also unable to move freely in and out of camps.

“In January 2019, the Governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria reaffirmed their commitment to the Abuja Action Statement on civilian protection in the Lake Chad Basin region. The agreement comprises a range of actions to enhance protection and respond to the most urgent needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and other affected populations.”

Humanitarian needs still high

The OCHA added that: “Humanitarian needs remain high. The persistent violence and its impact on the lives of millions of people across the Lake Chad Basin mean that many families and communities still require help to survive.

“Humanitarian assistance has been significantly stepped up over the past three years, with millions more people receiving aid. Relief assistance needs to be sustained and international support increased to provide adequately to those in need. The prevalent insecurity and inadequate funding are some of the main hurdles to effective relief assistance.

“To sustain relief operations, the protection of aid workers and humanitarian assets is paramount. While providing life-saving assistance, aid workers have unfortunately come under attack. In 2018, six aid workers were killed in Nigeria and one is still held captive.

“The prevailing insecurity has forced the suspension of operations and withdrawal of humanitarian workers in some locations, leaving affected communities without access to basic services and assistance.

“As insecurity and recurrent armed attacks prevent the return of millions of displaced people to their homes, efforts towards lasting solutions are necessary to increase access to basic services and livelihoods. The protracted crisis calls for an early shift towards self-sufficiency. The displaced need not wait for the conflict to be fully resolved to start rebuilding their lives.

“In addition, steps towards increased collaboration between humanitarian and development strategies need to be sustained and strengthened.

“Greater economic and infrastructure investment are required to complement humanitarian action and decrease dependence on relief aid,” it said.

The report by The Humanitarian (formerly IRIN) reads in part

What is causing ethnic conflict?

Jihadist groups have recruited heavily from Fulani pastoralists, “an ethnic group that suffers from social exclusion as well as government and development programmes that favour agriculturalists.” This has raised tensions with members of other ethnic groups who say they are targeted by the jihadists.

In the absence of the state, some have turned to self-defence militias, who have indiscriminately attacked Fulani communities,

In January, attacks against Fulani villagers in northern Burkina Faso left more than 200 dead, according to local civil society groups. In March, some 160 Fulani men, women, and children were killed in a single attack by an ethnic Dogon militia in central Mali. The violence is now being widely described as “ethnic cleansing”.

Why is violence rising?

The violence has its roots in the activities of a number of local but globally oriented jihadist groups that have spent the past few years laying the groundwork for armed insurgencies and are now wreaking havoc across the Sahel – a semi-arid belt of land on the southern edge of the Sahara.

In 2012, the militants were largely contained to northern Mali, where they had joined forces with separatist Tuareg rebels to take over a number of strategic towns, including the fabled city of Timbuktu.

A French intervention in January 2013 dislodged them, but they regrouped and insurgencies have since spread into central Mali, northern, eastern and southwestern Burkina Faso and the Tahoua and Tillaberi regions of southwestern Niger.

“It is unprecedented,” the top UN official in Burkina Faso, Metsi Makhetha, told TNH recently. “The country has never had to deal with such massive displacement.”

The militancy’s rapid progress has been aided by the region’s vast desert areas and porous borders, a flow of firearms from nearby Libya, and weak – and often predatory – states that struggle to provide even basic social services: Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger all rank among the 10 least developed countries in the world, according to the UN’s Human Development Index.

“People think the jihadists can offer them a better life than the state,” Mahamadou Savadogo, a Burkinabe researcher, told TNH.

In recent times their tactics have shifted from targeted assassinations of government officials, soldiers, and local leaders that oppose their vision of Islam, to indiscriminate attacks against civilians and entire villages.

The response from security forces has, by and large, made matters worse. Last year Malian troops were implicated in mass killings in the central Mopti region, while in northern Burkina Faso TNH has documented recent atrocities by military personnel, who are now killing three times as many civilians than jihadists. Affected communities describe being trapped between the state and jihadists. Both sides accuse them of collaborating with the other.

France’s counter-insurgency force in the Sahel – Operation Barkhane – has been accused of stoking communal tensions by backing two Mali-based militias, the MSA and GATIA, which have targeted Fulani herders during anti-jihadist operations in both Niger and Mali.

A string of recent attacks on churches by militants in Burkina Faso could also now test relations between the country’s majority Muslim and minority Christian religious groups.

What are the humanitarian needs?

Internal displacement has increased five-fold in the past year according to the UN, with 330,000 people uprooted and a further 100,000 people fleeing across borders.

In Mali, the number of people forced to flee tripled in 2018 and continues to rise, with 133,000 newly displaced since the beginning of the year, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

In Burkina Faso, 170,000 people have been uprooted, with more than 100,000 fleeing so far this year. In Niger’s Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, violence has forced more than 70,000 people from their homes.

Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition were already chronically high following a severe drought in the Sahel last year. The current violence is now “compounding” these issues, “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, said Gasarabwe, the UN official. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance across the region but aid groups say the needs are far exceeding available resources.

The crisis in numbers

Civilian fatalities rose 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali compared to the previous year
440,000 people displaced by conflict, a five-fold increase over the previous year, a five-fold increase over the previous year
1.8 million people face food insecurity
5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance
157 men, women, and children killed in March in one attack in Mali

How much worse could it get?

Conflicts are likely to escalate further through the year as militants expand their reach, ethnic militias proliferate, and communal divisions harden.

So far this month, 20 people have died after militants attacked four churches and a religious procession in northern Burkina Faso; at least 18 civilians have been killed by ethnic militias in central Mali; and jihadists killed 28 soldiers in western Niger – one of the deadliest attacks recorded in that area to date.

Projections on future population displacement are hard to come by, but Daouda Djouma, an official at the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, has said more than 380,000 people could be uprooted in Burkina Faso alone by December.

How is the international community responding?

Efforts to stem the violence aren’t working. The UN has around 13,000 peacekeepers deployed in Mali, but attacks by jihadists mean the mission is now “more a target than an anchor of stability”, according to a recent assessment from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

The French have 4,000 troops in the region as part of Operation Barkhane; the US is building a $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger; and five Sahelian states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – have united under the G5 Sahel joint force.

But analysts and aid groups say focusing on military solutions risks overlooking the social and political grievances enabling militants to take root within local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.

Which jihadist groups are involved?

The largest coalition of jihadist groups is known as Jama’at Nusrat ul-Islam wal-Muslimeen, or JNIM. It brings together al-Qaeda’s Sahara franchise, AQIM, with a number of other militant groups. The coalition was formed in March 2017 and operates in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

A franchise of so-called Islamic State, known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara or ISGS, has been active since 2015 and is also gaining ground despite recent pressure from French forces.

In his first video message in five years, the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, paid special tribute to ISGS fighters in Burkina Faso and Mali: “We congratulate them for their joining the convoy of the caliphate,” he said.

An assortment of homegrown militant groups – including Ansaroul Islam in northern Burkina Faso and Katiba Macina in central Mali – completes the picture. Their success is largely predicated on understanding the local grievances of different communities, in particular the Fulani.

A surge in violence across West Africa’s Sahel has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left thousands dead since January, as Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State extend their reach across the region at a time when they are losing ground in their Middle Eastern strongholds.

For the past 10 months, The New Humanitarian has been one of the few news organisations reporting consistently from the front lines on the civilian impact of the rapid rise in violence by the militants, who are based primarily in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger – three countries with shared borders and problems.

Five takeaways on the growing violence and its civilian toll
Jihadist groups are manipulating inter-communal conflicts. They are exploiting the region’s ethnic fault lines to stir violence that can be far deadlier than anything the militants are doing directly themselves. In central Mali, the level of violence may now qualify as ethnic cleansing.
Governments have helped local militias thrive. Central governments have allowed and in some cases encouraged the proliferation of communal militia groups – decisions that are now coming home to roost as intercommunal conflicts rise.
Civilians look to jihadists for support the state doesn’t provide. Jihadist groups often understand the social grievances of local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.
Civilians are becoming casualties of security forces. These forces add to the insecurity by killing civilians during counter-terrorism operations. In Burkina Faso, military forces are killing three times more civilians than jihadists.
Displacement, food insecurity, and other humanitarian crises are escalating, but resources to respond are lacking. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance, and the new violence is “compounding” already existing needs and “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, a UN official said.

According to data from ACLED – a group that monitors and maps conflicts – civilian fatalities between November 2018 and March this year rose by an “alarming” 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali, when compared to the same period the year before.

In early May, senior UN officials from all three countries warned that insecurity had “reached unprecedented levels”.

The situation has surprised many analysts and UN and government officials and is pushing an area already prone to droughts and floods to its limit, with 440,000 people forced from their homes by conflict in the past year alone.

Hundreds of thousands of people are now without access to education and healthcare as staff flee their posts; 1.8 million people are facing critical food insecurity.

“Many people affected by the violence were already facing serious difficulties,” said Mbaranga Gasarabwe, the UN resident coordinator in Mali. “For them it is a double disaster.”

The militants’ increased presence has sparked a violent backlash by the region’s overstretched security forces and fuelled a growing number of explosive inter-communal conflicts among ethnic groups accused of either supporting or opposing the jihadists. (Nigerian Tribune)

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Prof. Nwagbara Sacked, Arrested For Condemning Ghana Treatment Of Nigerians [Video]

Prof. Austin Nwagbara

By Wale Odunsi

The University of Education Winneba, UEW, on Wednesday, sacked visiting Nigerian Professor to Ghana, Professor Austin Nwagbara.

Nwagbara was earlier arrested and interrogated by Ghana Police Service. It is not clear whether he is still in detention.

Nwagbara, in a trending video, is seen lambasting Ghana for how authorities treat Nigerians and urged his colleagues to employ the Nigerian media to take up the fight.

Ghana, however, has described the video as inciting and a threat to peace.

A statement signed by UEW read: “The University of Education Winneba wishes to inform the general public that it has taken a very serious view of the video circulating on social media, involving Prof. Augustine Uzoma Nwagbara.

“Augustine Uzoma Nwagbara, a Professor of English Language, has been on sabbatical at the Department of Applied Linguistics since October, 2018.

“In the said video, Prof. Nwagbara makes several unsavoury, unethical and damning comments about our country, its history as well as its educational system. The University totally dissociates itself from the grossly irresponsible comments and condemns it in no uncertain terms.

“The University is highly disturbed by the huge embarrassment his unguarded statement has brought to the institution, the Ministry of Education, and, indeed, Ghana as a whole.

“The University, upon receipt of the video, immediately invoked its internal disciplinary process to fully examine his conduct relative to the content of the video.

“The University wishes to indicate that it has in the past hosted several scholars on sabbatical leave from various countries, including Nigeria, and same have conducted themselves with high degree of decorum and professionalism during their stay. Prof. Augustine Uzoma Nwagbara’s behaviour is totally deviant and an aberration that runs contrary to those of his predecessors or the others currently at post.

“The University after subjecting Prof. Augustine Uzoma Nwagbara to internal disciplinary process finds him culpable of gross misconduct and has, accordingly, dismissed him.

“The University apologises to Ghanaians for Prof. Nwagbara’s disparaging remarks about this country’s educational system and further indicates that the comments were full of factual inaccuracies.”

In the controversial video seen by DAILY POST, the don obviously, unaware he was being filmed, said: “They (Ghana) are using our manpower. We have an advantage that we supply to them. What are we getting back? Insults! The Nigerian community here is a bad image for Nigeria. We can take it back through the press, we can reverse.


“We have powerful media stations; Channels (TV) broadcast all over the world. AIT has a problem now, NTA does (broadcasts), many others; and there is active social media in Nigeria. Let them come look at what we have said here today. Let them come here and run documentaries of the experiences on Nigerians and blast it all over the world. In three days Ghana will respond. I have been a media person.

“You cannot be here and suffering. Let the leaders get our media guys to come here and cover what has been happening. Go to the student community, go to the business community go to everywhere, come to the embassy. Go and confront the officials with the information and within one week, I can tell you part of what is happening. I’m sorry to say it but this is within us.

“The present government in Ghana came on the grounds of Nigerian bashing. I have listened to things some of their top leaders have said all over the world, in big major places. We did not take it back sir. If we take back, they will sit up. So media strategy. One; use their own media…I have been a pressman there is no absolute truth in the media. The truth is, even history is truth as presented. Let us use our own media and get back to them.”

Professor Augustine Nwagbara

On Tuesday, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Ghana, Akiboye Olufemi, accused Ghanaian media of ganging up to paint in bad light Nigerians residing in their country.

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Snakes Force Liberia President George Weah From Office |The Republican News

Snakes have been found in Liberian President George Weah’s office, forcing him to work from his private residence, the BBC has learned.

Press secretary Smith Toby told the BBC that on Wednesday two black snakes were found in the foreign affairs ministry building, site of the official office.

All staff has been told to stay away until 22 April.

“It’s just to make sure that crawling and creeping things get fumigated from the building,” Mr Toby said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts the office of the president, so it did an internal memo asking the staff to stay home while they do the fumigation,” he said.

when they appeared near the building’s reception.

“The snakes were never killed,” Mr. Toby said. “There was a little hole somewhere [through which] they made their way back.”

Police and presidential security were seen guarding Mr. Weah’s residence in the capital Monrovia. A fleet of vehicles including escorts jeeps were parked outside.

Mr. Toby said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started to fumigate on Friday.

“That building’s been there for years now, and [because of] the drainage system, the possibility of having things like snakes crawling in that building was high,” he said.

The president is definitely returning to his official office on Monday after the fumigation whether or not the snakes are found and killed, Mr. Toby said.    (BBC)

 

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