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Pacifist group calls for ‘dialogue’ between Mali government and jihadists3 minutes read

War between the state and jihadists in central Mali has led to growing inter-communal violence

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Pacifist group pushes for 'dialogue' between Mali government and jihadists
A Fulani man tries to insulate his tent from water after flooding at an Internally Displaced People's (IDP) camp in Faladie, where nearly 800 IDPs have found refuge after fleeing inter-communal violence in central Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Mali’s government should consider “dialogue” with jihadists waging an insurgency in the country, the International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank suggested on Tuesday.

The idea of talking to jihadists may seem ludicrous to some, it admitted but said all avenues should be explored to save civilians from further harm.

In a report, the ICG did not suggest halting military operations against Katiba Macina, the armed group of radical Islamist preacher, Amadou Koufa behind a four-year-old insurgency.

But it recommended “a shift of tack, with force used alongside efforts to bring Katiba Macina leaders to the table”, adding that prospects of defeating the movement on the battlefield were “remote”.

The report said previous contacts had “revealed a degree of pragmatism among Katiba Macina militants, suggesting that even if the odds are stacked against success, dialogue with the group is worth trying.”

An independent group that analyses conflicts and seeks solutions, the ICG acknowledged that the idea of talking with jihadists could outrage “some Bamako elites” and may be seen a step toward a deal and Sharia rule.

Foreign powers, in turn, “might see it as legitimising a terrorist outfit with blood on its hands,” the report added.

However, “war between the state and jihadists in central Mali has led to growing inter-communal violence,” the ICG said.

“To spare civilians additional harm, the government should explore the possibility of talks with the insurgents about local ceasefires and humanitarian aid.”

The government in Bamako “should empower religious leaders to explore initial talks” with jihadist leaders and also seek dialogue among central Malians, “including those sympathetic to the insurgency,” the report suggested.

Fulani vs Dogon –

To make such talks more palatable to Malian authorities and Western allies like France, which has intervened militarily to combat Islamists, jihadist forces should be compelled to renounce ties to transnational movements such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Delegates to a national conference in 2017 called for the opening of talks with Amadou Koufa and radical Tuareg leader, Iyad Ag Ghaly, but the resolution was rejected by the Malian and French governments.

Amadou Koufa in March 2017 joined the newly-formed Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which was born of a merger to become the leading jihadist alliance in the Sahel region with links to Al-Qaeda. Iyad Ag Ghaly is its leader.

Since the appearance of Koufa’s movement, recruited mainly among his own Fulani (Peul) community, communal violence has spread in central Mali, a mosaic of ethnic groups.

Fulani people, who are traditionally cattle-breeders, have confronted the Bambara and Dogon communities of settled farmers and hunters, who in turn have created “self-defence militias”.

In an explosion of violence on March 23, about 160 Fulani villagers were slaughtered at Ogossagou, near the border with Burkina Faso, by suspected Dogon hunters.

The UN mission in Mali (MINUSMA) announced on May 16 that it had recorded “at least 488 deaths” since January 2018 in attacks by “traditional hunters against civilians of the Peul population” in the central Mopti and Segou regions.

Over the same period, armed Fulanis “caused 63 deaths” among civilians in the Mopti region, MINUSMA said.

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Politics

South African ruling party condemn racial discrimination in America

“It’s deplorable that almost 70 years since racial segregation was abolished in America, people of color are still routinely slaughtered for the color of their skin,” the ANC said.

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Syrian artists Aziz Asmar and Anis Hamdoun finish a mural depicting George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who died while while being arrested and pinned to the ground by the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, in the town of Binnish in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on June 1, 2020. (Photo by OMAR HAJ KADOUR / AFP)

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has deplored rising racial discrimination in the United States, calling for “an amicable solution” to the current racial impasse.

“While we note the action taken by American authorities in charging one of the officers who was caught on camera kneeling on an unarmed (George) Floyd, it is equally concerning that incidents of police brutality against African American citizens are on the increase,” the party said in a statement available to Xinhua on Tuesday.

The cascade of recent cases involving police brutality against black Americans “has sharpened the focus on inescapable realities that American society places a perilously low value on black lives,” the ANC said.

The Black Lives Matter movement, formed in 2013, highlighted the scourge of racial killings in the U.S. by organizing marches and demonstrations in response to the killings of black men and women by the police, said the ANC.

“It’s deplorable that almost 70 years since racial segregation was abolished in America, people of color are still routinely slaughtered for the color of their skin,” the party said.

The ANC fought and defeated racial supremacy and will not be cowered to remain silent in the face of the lynching of black people wherever they manifest, the party said.

The ANC urged the South African government to engage with the American government through established diplomatic channels to diffuse racial tensions and build social cohesion among different races.

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Politics

Zimbabwe summons US envoy over ‘false’ George Floyd claims

“Zimbabwe is not and has never been an adversary of the United States of America,” Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said.

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Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa. AFP/Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto

Zimbabwe on Monday summoned the US ambassador, Brian Nichols over remarks by a senior American official accusing the southern African country of stirring anti-racism protests over the death of George Floyd.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo dismissed as “false and without factual foundation” the claims by US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien.

The United States has been rocked by days of protests after Floyd, an African-American, died while a white police officer knelt on his neck, ignoring complaints he could not breathe.

In a Sunday interview with ABC news, O’Brien referred to Zimbabwe and China as “foreign adversaries” using social media to stoke unrest and “sow discord”.

Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry spokesman James Manzou said US ambassador Brian Nichols had been summoned to explain O’Brien’s remarks, an AFP report said.

Moyo said the statements by Trump’s administration were damaging.

“Zimbabwe is not and has never been an adversary of the United States of America,” Moyo said. 

“I have informed the US ambassador that Mr. O’Brien’s allegations are false and without factual foundation whatsoever.”

Zimbabwe-US relations have been tense since Washington imposed sanctions against former president Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle in 2002 over rights abuses.

Those sanctions were extended in March of this year, with Washington citing current President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s failure to implement reforms as well as his violent crackdowns on opposition since he took power in 2017.

Government spokesman Nick Mangwana said Zimbabwe did not consider itself “America’s adversary”.

“We prefer having friends and allies to having unhelpful adversity with any other nation including the USA,” Mangwana tweeted late Sunday.

A senior Zimbabwean official quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper also denied O’Brien’s accusations.

“Anyone who has seen the genesis of recent events, from the tragic death of Mr Floyd to the subsequent protests, will realise that any accusations of Zimbabwean involvement at any stage is farcical,” the unnamed official said.

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Health

Tunisia to reopen borders, airspace on June 27

Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

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Tunisia's new Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh speaks during the government handover ceremony in Carthage on the eastern outskirts of the capital Tunis on February 28, 2020. (Photo by FETHI BELAID / AFP)

Tunisian Prime Minister, Elyes Fakhfakh has announced that the country will reopen its land, air and sea borders from June 27.

He also said Tunisian nationals abroad will be repatriated from June 4.

Fakhfakh made the announcement after a meeting with the national commission to combat coronavirus on Monday.

Tunisia has reported 1,084 confirmed coronavirus cases so far, a Xinxua news agency report said.

The North African country has received support from various countries including China.

On April 16, China donated a batch of medical aid to Tunisia’s Ministry of National Defense, including facemasks, test kits and medical protective googles.

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