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AU Seeks Resources for Mali’s Anti-terrorism Efforts

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The African Union (AU) on Tuesday urged the International Community to help obtain resources necessary for a proper anti-terrorism effort in Mali and to support the transition process there.

Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, said: “With regards to the situation in Mali, the AU continues to accompany the transition, and last November we launched the Contact Group to support the transition in Mali.

“So far things are on track, but challenges remain like in all transition processes.”

A transitional government was formed after a military uprising overthrew former President Ibrahim Keita in August 2020.

Former Defence Minister Ba N’Daou was appointed interim president in September.

The transitional government is expected to rule for 18 months until new elections are held.

As for the counterterrorism effort, the important documents were adopted at the AU Peace and Security Council, paving the way for the “force generation phase,” Chergui said.

“This will require resources and we are working to mobilise our various partners and it will also require the G5 Sahel countries to promote the force that is needed to neutralize terrorist groups in the Liptako Gourma area.

So, we have made progress, but more needs to be done by the AU but also the regional organisations and the international community at large to deploy a force that is much needed to complement ongoing efforts,” the commissioner said.

The AU is working with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to “address the multilayered peace and security challenges facing West Africa and Sahel region, Chergui said.

ECOWAS facilitated an Africa-led military mission to Mali, and this has been operational since the year 2013.

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Central Africa Politics

C.A.R Forces Recover Bossangoa Town from Rebels

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Firmin Ngrebada, the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), says federal government forces and their allies have retaken Bossangoa town from rebels.

The PM in a Facebook post on Wednesday said that “order will be restored in Bossangoa and the entire Ouham Prefecture” and every other places taken by the rebels just before the presidential election on December 27, 2020.

Bossangoa, in northwest C.A.R is the stronghold of the former president, François Bozizé, who is accused of leading an uprising that has seized more than half the country.

Bozize, who was overthrown in an uprising in 2013 by mainly Muslim rebels, denies the accusation.

Recently, the Central African Republic Army (FACA) and their Russian and Rwandan allies have repelled the rebels and taken over many major cities.

On Tuesday, following a report of the defense ministry, the CAR government eased the curfew introduced in January because of the threat posed by the rebels.

The curfew now starts from 8 pm until 5 am, according to the new government order.

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West Africa Politics

Protests as Bazoum is Declared Winner of Niger’s Presidential Election

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Protesters have hit the streets of Niamey, capital of Niger Republic, after Mohamed Bazoum of the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS-Tarayya) was declared winner of the presidential election.

Niger held its general elections on 27 December 2020 to elect the President and National Assembly. However, no presidential candidate received a majority of the vote, prompting a run-off poll that was held on 21 February 2021. 

Issaka Souna, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), declared Bazoum, 61, winner of the election with just under 55% of the vote, while Mahamane Ousmane, a former president who was toppled by a coup in 1996, won a little more than 44% of the poll.

Though the provisional results must still be confirmed by the constitutional court, analysts believe the confirmation is a mere formality, as the country seeks its first-ever transition from one democratically elected leader to another.

Following the release of the results, Ousmane’s supporters protested by burning tyres at his campaign headquarters and in other parts of Niamey. They alleged voter fraud, claiming votes were stolen, although no proof has been made public.

Also, Ousmane’s campaign, without providing proof, allged there were widespread fraud, including the theft and stuffing of ballot boxes, and threats against voters. The campaign demanded the “immediate suspension of the publication of these results”, saying that it did not express the “will of the Nigerien people for change.”

Voting had been marred by separate attacks that killed eight people in two regions, where Islamist militants operate. In the first incident, a landmine struck a vehicle in the western Tillabery region, near the border with Mali, killing seven election workers heading to the polls.

On his part, Bazoum, a former interior minister, has thanked Nigeriens for voting him as president and vowed to confront all challenges facing the country headlong.

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Business News

Review: Selling Assets to Fund the National Budget is Irresponsible – Tunji Andrews

These assets are crucial to Nigeria but it’s not compulsory that they are owned by FG. Therefore, we could concession them to private hands, not sell them!

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The Nigerian government is proposing to sell or concession about 36 properties to raise funds to finance the 2021 budget. These properties cut across the energy, industry, communication and infrastructure sectors and are expected to be sold between January 2021 and November 2022.

Tunji Andrews, founder, Awabah Nigeria, thinks these assets are crucial to Nigeria but it’s not compulsory that they are owned by the Federal Government. Therefore, we could concession them to private hands.

But I don’t think we should sell assets to fund budgets. If we sell assets to fund the 2021 budget, what will we sell to fund the 2022 budget? The general problem is the government is DETERMINED not to cut down expenses.

“It’s very clear that if you have shrinking revenue, you should trim down expenses. But the government wants to spend within a reduced revenue. The fact is that we are not making enough money but borrowing or selling off assets is typical of an irresponsible father who has acquired a lot of properties over the years and now that he’s old, he wants to sell them off so he can continue to party and live largely”, Tunji added.

Our legacy and history as a people are as important as funding a budget, it’s worrisome that the government doesn’t see it that way.

Tunji concluded on the issue of government selling crucial national propoerties to fund the 2021 budget.

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