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ELECTION FEVER: Jugnauth retains seat as Prime Minister of Mauritius3 minutes read

Jugnauth’s party won 38 of 62 seats – enough to secure the outright majority needed to form a government alone

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ELECTION FEVER: Jugnauth retains seat as Prime Minister of Mauritius

Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth’s coalition on Friday won elections in Mauritius by a comfortable margin, reinforcing the legitimacy of a leader who took over from his father in 2017 without going through a vote.

Jugnauth’s centre-right Morisian Alliance won 38 of 62 seats – enough to secure the outright majority needed to form a government alone, the election commission said.

“I have received a clear mandate,” for a five-year term, Jugnauth told supporters, adding that he would be prime minister for all Mauritians.

The 57-year-old leader was hand-picked for the top job when his father quit two years before his term expired, spurring the jeers of nepotism that dogged Jugnauth during his brief time in office in the prosperous Indian Ocean archipelago nation that prides itself as a stable democracy in a sometimes volatile neighbourhood.

His two opponents – both former premiers themselves, spearheading separate political alliances – hammered the point home on the campaign trail, urging voters to dump the Jugnauth clan.

But the prime minister urged Mauritians to judge him on his short time in office, talking up economic reforms and infrastructure programs as he pursued a popular mandate from the people.

The Electoral Commission said roughly three-quarters of the island’s almost one million eligible voters turned out to cast their ballots on Thursday, a bit above the last poll in 2014.

Navin Ramgoolam, a two-time prime minister at the head of the centre-left National Alliance, conceded defeat, saying it was “unexpected”.

One of Ramgoolam’s former allies Paul Berenger, and his Mauritian Militant Movement, followed suit, saying the results should be respected “without bitterness”.

Family under fire

The vote was overwhelmingly peaceful across Mauritius, a former British colony that has evolved from a poor, agriculture-based economy to a relatively wealthy financial services hub and tourist beacon.

The country of 1.3 million prides itself as a secure and thriving democracy free of the social and political upheaval roiling some of its African neighbours near and far.

Jugnauth had pointed to his stewardship of the economy, which grew at nearly four percent in 2018, social reforms and an infrastructure drive when opponents denounced “papa-piti” (from father to son) politics during the campaign.

Jugnauth has also introduced a minimum wage, about 215 euros ($240) a month, increased pensions for the elderly and reformed labour laws. The first stage of a new light rail network is also scheduled to open in December. 

But this is not without its problems.

Youth unemployment, at 22 percent, is also high and income inequality is seen as deepening in the diverse country of 1.3 million.

It has also earned a reputation as a tax haven, and has come under fire for helping global companies park their wealth offshore, particularly those operating in some of its African neighbours.

Pope Francis, who visited in September, urged the country against seeking profit at all costs.

Mauritius is predominantly Hindu but has sizeable Christian and Muslim minorities.

While voters choose 62 MPs, the Electoral Commission appoints eight others from those not elected but who attained the highest scores. This system rebalances the distribution of seats between parties and communities.

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U.S. conducts airstrike against al-Shabaab

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The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), in support of the Federal Government of Somalia, conducted an airstrike against al-Shabaab terrorists who engaged the Somali National Army, Danab Unit, near Bangeeni on Sunday, January 19. According to a statement from AFRICOM, the airstrike killed three militants.   

“This airstrike targeted al-Shabaab fighters who pose a direct, immediate, and significant threat to our partner forces,” said Maj. Gen. William Gayler, the director of operation, U.S. Africa Command. “Al-Shabaab consists of terrorists and criminals who seek to export hate and violence more broadly. We remain committed to supporting our Somali partners and the security progress; together we are building in the region.”   

The US military unit stationed in Africa aims to provide auxiliary support to the government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to increase security and seize ground from the al-Qaeda-aligned al-Shabaab.

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Boko Haram executes Nigerian Christian cleric, Lawan Andimi

“To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by #BokoHaram was executed yesterday,” Nigerian Journalist Ahmad Salkida with access to the dreaded group tweeted on Tuesday.

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A screen grab of local Adamawa cleric, Lawan Andimi in a video released by Boko Haram weeks ago./Ahmad Salkida

Boko Haram terrorists have executed a Christian cleric and local church leader, Lawan Andimi who was kidnapped on Jan. 3 and has been in captivity for weeks, news sources close to the terrorist group reported on Tuesday.

“To break some news items can traumatize. I’m battling with one of such. Reverend Andimi, abducted by #BokoHaram was executed yesterday. Rev. Andimi was a church leader, a father to his children and the community he served. My condolences go to his family,” Ahmad Salkida a Nigerian journalist with access to the dreaded group tweeted.

Pastor Andimi was abducted by a faction of the radical group during a raid in Adamawa state of Nigeria where he was the state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). He had earlier been declared missing on January 3 following a raid on Michika town in the state.

Boko Haram released a video a week after his capture showing Andimi in captivity where he made a plea for help. The terrorist group is known for terrorising the Lake Chad region sandwiched between Nigeria and Chad.

“I have never been discouraged because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hands of God,” Andimi assured in the video while asking his pastor colleagues to seek the help of Adamawa state governor Ahmadu Fintiri and other Nigerian authorities for him to be rescued.

UN-accredited NGO, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said before the video’s release, the pastor was last seen being taken away in a Toyota vehicle. 

After the video was made public, CSW Chief Executive Merwyn Thomas called for Andimi’s unconditional release in a statement.

“We echo his plea for Governor Ahmadu Umoru Fintri and any other officials with influence to intervene and secure the release of this courageous man,” Thomas said.

In the video, Andimi had explained that his captors — believed to be part of Boko Haram’s Shekau faction — treated him well by feeding him and providing shelter.

“These people have been doing good to me. They are feeding me with what I want to eat,” he said. “They are providing a nice place for me to sleep, a blanket and every need,” Andimi said.

“I believe they didn’t do anything wrong to me,” Andimi added. “I still believe God who make them to act in such a way is still alive and will make all arrangements. By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife and my children and all my colleagues. If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God,” the pastor had hoped while speaking in the video.

“Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything,” Andimi had urged his supporters in the video before the latest news of his execution by the dreaded group.

The increase in Boko Haram attacks over the course of December and January in multiple states in Nigeria should “cause alarm worldwide,” the Christian NGO said.

According to CSW, Boko Haram is accused of carrying out a Dec. 22 attack on two passenger buses on Munguno road in the Borno state.

Local media reports said that while Muslim passengers were allegedly released, Christian passengers were separated by gender. Three men, including a pastor from the local Deeper Life Bible Church, were said to have been killed with three females kidnapped. 

On Dec. 26, a Christian bride and her bridal party were beheaded by suspected Boko Haram terrorists days before her wedding while the group was traveling from the Borno town of Maiduguri to the bride’s country home in Adamawa state.

The bridal party beheadings came on the same day 11 Christian aid workers were murdered by Boko Haram after being abducted in Maiduguri and Damaturu.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s army chief, Lt. General Tukur Buratai on Monday described as “the kicks of a dying horse” recent attacks and executions by Boko Haram and ISWAP saying that the military was prepared to route out the terrorists and their collaborators.

“The recent moribund activity of Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province insurgents is synonymous with the kicks of a dying horse gasping for the last breath,” Buratai said.

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Nigerian Army chief warns against foreign interference in Boko Haram, ISWAP fight

The Nigerian army recently clamped down on aid agencies working in the northeast of the country, accusing them of being used as tools for financing terrorist activities.

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Nigerian Army chief, Lt. General Tukur Buratai./TheWillNigeria

Nigerian Army chief, Lt. General Tukur Buratai on Monday warned foreign countries, agencies and mercenaries against meddling into the country’s national security isaues, especially the fight against Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP).

“All local and foreign interests are advised to exhibit more commitment and restraint on issues of our national security and avoid taking sides. Furthermore, all actions and utterances must be tailored towards supporting the national cause with a view to restoring peace and tranquillity to our beloved country,” Buratai said in an army statement.

The army chief described as “the kicks of a dying horse” recent attacks by Boko Haram and ISWAP saying that the military was prepared to route out the terrorists and their collaborators.

“The recent moribund activity of Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province insurgents is synonymous with the kicks of a dying horse gasping for the last breath,” Buratai said.

Although the Army did not give the names of the agencies, it advised both local and foreign interests to tailor their actions and utterances towards supporting the national cause with a view to restoring peace and tranquillity in the country.

The army assured that the counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast and other parts of the country are still on course, local media reported.

The statement signed by the Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, “reassured Nigerians that the Counter Insurgency operations in the North East and indeed other ongoing operations against our common enemies across the country are still on course with current indicators revealing tremendous successes across the various theatres of operation.”

The army authorities commended troops at the war front for their renewed zeal in counter-insurgency operations and cross-border terrorism by Boko Haram, ISWAP and other elements.

“After a careful review of the Nigerian Army operations in the North East, it is pertinent to state that Headquarters Nigerian Army has gladly observed the renewed zeal and determination by troops to take the counter-insurgency operations to its logical conclusion with outcomes favourable to Nigeria and Nigerians as evident in the recent decimation of many Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province criminals, including some of their top commanders amidst several arrests of the insurgents’ logistic suppliers and collaborators, numerous capture of the criminals’ arms and ammunition as well as rescue of many captives from the bondage of the insurgents,” Buratai stated.

The army chief assured troops that their sacrifices and that of m fallen colleagues will never be in vain reiterating the unreserved commitment of the Nigerian Army to defend the country.

He warned “all enemies of Nigeria and Nigerians who take delight in the sufferings of our innocent citizens that the day of reckoning is at their door steps. All well-meaning Nigerians especially those in the North East and friends of Nigeria elsewhere are enjoined to fully support the counter insurgency operations as well as the fight against all forms of criminality across the nation”.

The Nigerian army recently clamped down on aid agencies working in the northeast of the country, accusing them of being used as tools for financing terrorist activities.

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