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Mali Coup: As ECOWAS sanctions commences, Mali faces isolation as neighbours cancel flights



Airlines from neighbouring countries and former colonial ruler France cancelled flights to Mali on Monday, helping isolate a military junta under regional sanctions for trying to extend its hold on power.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), on Sunday, agreed on a raft of restrictions against Mali, including the suspension of financial transactions, over the interim authorities’ failure to hold democratic elections next month as agreed after a 2020 military coup.

Neighbours also said they would close road and air borders.

Ivory Coast’s national carrier, Air Cote d’Ivoire, halted flights to the Malian capital Bamako on Monday.

Flights from Senegal were also disrupted, according to a Reuter’s reporter trying to enter Mali.

Air France had also cancelled flights, an airline spokesperson said, because of security risks, without providing further detail.

The head of Mali’s airports, Lassina Togola, said in a statement that Air France flights on Monday were cancelled but not suspended long-term.

Assimi Goita, Mali’s current leader and one of several colonels who overthrew President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita in August 2020, called for calm in a statement on Monday, adding that Mali had the means to withstand the latest sanctions.

Mr Goita, who staged a second coup in May 2021 when he pushed aside the interim president to take the job for himself, said that his government remains open to further negotiations with the regional bloc.

Another military spokesperson had previously condemned the sanctions as illegal and illegitimate.

This is the toughest stance ECOWAS has taken on Mali since it implemented similar measures in the immediate aftermath of President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita’s ouster in August 2020.

Those sanctions, which caused a sharp drop in imports to the landlocked country, were lifted inside two months after the authorities promised an 18-month transition to civilian rule.

Guinea’s transitional authorities said on Monday that they were not associated with ECOWAS’s decision to sanction Mali and that their shared border will remain open.

The bloc suspended Guinea’s membership in September after its military coup.

The bloc hopes renewed economic pressure, including cutting Mali off from regional financial markets and trade of non-essential goods, will push Bamako to rethink the latest proposal to delay presidential and legislative elections to December 2025 – nearly four years after they were supposed to be held.

The Malian government has promised it will try to ensure a normal supply of goods to the public, but sanctions are likely to further hobble the economy in one of the world’s poorest countries where an Islamist insurgency rages, fuelled in part by widespread poverty.

Barrick Gold, which owns Mali’s biggest gold mine complex, Loulo-Gounkoto, said on Monday its mines in the country had “thus far not been affected” by the ECOWAS sanctions.

Gold miners Hummingbird Resources and Cora, which also have operations in Mali, said they were monitoring the situation in the wake of the sanctions decision.

Washington on Monday said it backed the sanctions move and shared concerns over the likely destabilising impact of Russia-backed Wagner group forces.

“The United States commends the strong actions taken by the ECOWAS in defence of democracy and stability in Mali,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

Mali’s political upheaval has deepened tensions with France, which has thousands of soldiers deployed across West Africa’s Sahel region to battle the insurgents.

For now, some residents in Bamako shrugged off the sanctions, saying they supported the government’s strategy.

“We cannot be independent without suffering; we have to accept suffering,” said electronics store owner Aboubacar Yalcouye.



Tunisian court jails opposition leader, bans him from presidential elections



A Tunisian court sentenced opposition party leader Lotfi Mraihi, a potential presidential election candidate, to eight months in prison on a charge of vote buying, his lawyer said on Friday.

The court also banned Mraihi, leader of the Republican Union Party and one of the most prominent critics of President Kais Saied, from running in presidential elections for life, his lawyer Omar Ismail said.

Mraihi will appeal the sentence, Ismail added.

Opposition parties, many of whose leaders are in prison, have accused Saied’s government of exerting pressure on the judiciary to crack down on his rivals in the 2024 elections and pave the way for him to win a second term.

Elected president in 2019, Saied has not officially announced his candidacy for the vote expected to be held on Oct. 6.

Still, it is widely anticipated that he will seek a second term.

He said last year he would not hand power to what he called non-patriots.

The opposition says fair and credible elections cannot be held unless imprisoned politicians are released and the media can do its job without pressure from the government.

In 2021, Saied dissolved parliament and began ruling by decree in a move the opposition have described as a coup.

Saied said his steps were legal and necessary to end years of rampant corruption among the political elite.


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Nigerian, South African Defence Chiefs Unite Against Continental Security Challenges



Nigerian, South African Defence Chiefs Unite Against Continental Security Challenges

Nigerian, South African Defence Chiefs Unite Against Continental Security Challenges

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, has called for stronger ties between the Armed Forces of Nigeria and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to tackle the complex security issues facing Africa.

Gen. Musa made this appeal during an official visit to his South African counterpart, Gen. Rudzani Maphwanya, in Pretoria, South Africa. The call for enhanced cooperation was highlighted in a statement released by Brig.-Gen. Tukur Gusau, Acting Director of Defence Information, on Tuesday in Abuja.

“The meeting is a panacea to addressing the multifaceted challenges bedevilling the continent,” Gen. Musa emphasized. He underscored the importance of mutual cooperation and strengthening bilateral ties to combat regional security threats.

During their closed-door meeting, both leaders discussed various strategies to address these challenges, focusing on the exchange of expertise and forging stronger ties for the betterment of the continent.

Gen. Musa was honoured with Cannon Gun Salutes, a mark of high regard, during his visit. Brig.-Gen. Gusau noted the significance of the meeting between the two largest economies and military powers in Africa.

The meeting also saw the presence of SANDF Chiefs of Intelligence, Policy and Plans, International Affairs, and Joint Operations, among other departmental chiefs, highlighting the comprehensive nature of the discussions aimed at enhancing regional security cooperation.

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Ramaphosa takes oath of office for 2nd term as South African president



Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), took oath as the nation’s president for the next five years on Wednesday at Pretoria, the administrative capital.

Ramaphosa, 71, was re-elected as South African president by the National Assembly on June 14 with 283 votes against the other nominee, Julius Malema from the Economic Freedom Fighters, who received 44 votes.

Under the South African Constitution, once elected as president by the National Assembly, the president-elect must assume office within five days.

In the general elections on May 29, the ANC secured 159 out of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.

This is the first time the ANC is falling below the 50 per cent needed to maintain its 30-year-old outright majority in the lower house of parliament.


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