Some 5,000 fighters signed up to a disarmament programme in Mali’s conflict-plagued central region including suspected ex-jihadists, before a January 31 deadline, an official said Wednesday.
Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga announced in December the creation of the “Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process” to boost defence and security in the region.
Malian forces, with the aid of France, fought off a jihadist insurgency that took control of swathes of the north in 2012, but large areas remain out of the government’s control.
“By the deadline of January 31… 5,000 fighters were registered as carrying weapons of war,” DDR commission president Zahabi Ould Sidy Mohamed told AFP.
Of these, 600 had already handed in their arms.
The group included “former jihadists and members of armed groups”, Mohamed said.
In the next two weeks, officials will determine which state body the men can be best reassigned to, with the armed and security forces among the options.
Mohamed said that with the help of NGOs, those among the men suspected of having committed human rights violations will be identified and “cannot in any way be integrated into the Malian army”.
The country remains prone to violence despite a 2015 peace accord designed to isolate radical Islamists and the continued presence of French and UN forces in the region.
Since then, attacks have extended to central and southern regions of the former French colony, spilling over into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.
East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade
Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.
Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.
The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.
According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.
Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.
Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.
Teodorin Obiang faces $30 million corruption fine
A French court has ruled against Teodorin Obiang Nguema, Vice president of Equatorial Guinea, in a year – long embezzlement process launched by a group of anti-corruption NGOs
Obiang was ordered to pay a $32.9 million fine. He also faces a suspended jail term of three years after a lower court found him guilty on a range of charges relating to graft and money
Additionally, the Paris appeals court confirmed the seizure of his property, including a six-level mansion in Paris which had been valued at €107 million in 2012.
According to Marc-Andre Feffer of Transparency International France, the ruling is an important moment.
Obiang has appealed to the International Court of Justice, arguing that his residence should be protected as a diplomatic building. A hearing on the issue has been scheduled in The Hague next week.
His legal team has one final option for appeal left — they could challenge the Monday verdict before the Cour de Cassation, France’s highest appeals court for criminal cases.
DRC’s artisanal monopoly to seek private partner
A new state company set up by the Democratic Republic of Congo to manage the country’s artisanally mined cobalt could seek a private partner if the state does not have the funds to purchase all production, according to the country’s minister of mines, Willy Kitobo Samsoni.
DRC currently produces about 60% of the world’s cobalt. Most of which is extracted by industrial operators like Glencore and China Molybdenum, with artisanal miners accounting for about a quarter of output.
The country recently granted the new company a monopoly to purchase and market all cobalt that is not mined industrially in an effort to exert greater influence over prices.
According to Samsoni, the easiest way out is to be financed by the Congolese state, but if the state cannot raise the funds to buy all the artisanally mined cobalt, it will then have to enter into partnership with a company.
He also adds that plans for talks with financiers are on ground.
Samsoni further adds that the new company, Entreprise Generale du Cobalt (EGC) will be managed independently by state mining company,Gecamines.