• U.S. military offers support, but not troops, to help France in Africa

    Over the past several years, French troops have battled Al Qaeda’s North Africa affiliate and other Islamist extremists in Mali, and have helped African troops thwart Boko Haram, a violent militancy that has spilled from Nigeria to attack Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The Islamic State is also a looming threat. In the latest sign of an emerging regional collaboration, five countries within the Sahel — Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad — announced recently that they would create three border areas for military patrols and operations. French troops are advising and assisting these units. The Trump administration, which is already fighting the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria and weighing whether to send several thousand more American troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban, has been only too eager to continue Obama-era policies of providing financial, logistical and intelligence support to France in this region. By doing so, it hopes to avoid having to put American combat forces on the ground in yet another global hot spot. American and French officials say their close military and counterterrorism partnership will continue unchanged after the election last week of Emmanuel Macron as France’s next president.

  • Gunfire in Ivory Coast barracks after rebels “apologize” for mutiny

    Sporadic gunfire rang out overnight in a military barracks in Ivory Coast’s second city of Bouake, where a mutiny erupted in January, according to a report. An AFP journalist said Friday that the shots were heard just hours after national television broadcast a ceremony in which a soldier presented as a spokesman for 8,400 former rebels, many of them based in Bouake, said they wished to apologize to President Alassane Ouattara for the mutiny. In January, former rebels integrated into army ranks staged a mutiny that paralyzed activity in several towns of the west African country while they pressed their demands for bonuses. In meeting the demands of the ex-rebels, who controlled the northern half of Africa’s biggest cocoa producer between 2002 and 2011, the authorities provoked a fresh mutiny by other troops and paramilitary gendarmes.

  • Nigeria negotiating with Boko Haram for release of more Chibok girls

    A Nigerian minister says the government is negotiating “seriously” for the release of the more than 110 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls still held by Boko Haram extremists. Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development Aisha Alhassan told reporters last Thursday that “we will not relent until all are back.” She says Nigeria’s government has no regrets about exchanging Boko Haram detainees for the 82 young women released over the weekend. The young women are in government care in the capital, Abuja. Alhassan says they are undergoing medical screening for a couple of weeks and that some have needed surgery.

  • Nigeria: Army appoints another general to lead fight against Boko Haram

    The Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole counterinsurgency force in north-east Nigeria, Lucky Irabor, is now the head of the Multi-National Joint Task Force as its Field Commander, a statement from the army headquarters, Abuja, disclosed. Irabor, a major general, is being replaced by I. Attahiru, also a major general, as the new Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, the name given by the army to its operation to defeat the Boko Haram in north-eastern Nigeria. This posting came up as the Nigeria Army embarks on a massive restructuring of its major commanding posts and units around the country. According to a statement released by the Director of Army Public Relations, Sani Usman, a brigadier general, the new posting was “in a bid to re-strategize the Nigerian Army.”

  • Nigeria facing a growing vigilante problem

    Residents throughout the region have turned to the CJTF to provide protection against Boko Haram. For many, its fighters are hometown heroes, a reflection of the community’s resistance to the jihadists, and a response to the military’s failings. They are the eyes and ears of the counter-insurgency campaign. It was the CJTF, as a spontaneous community movement, that rose up. Armed with little more than sticks, they chased the jihadists out of Maiduguri, the main city in the northeast. They have proven stubborn defenders of towns throughout the region, and the first people to be executed whenever Boko Haram takes over. Though the CJTF is not a part of the police nor the military, it’s encouraged by state authorities, which sometimes provide equipment, training, and weapons. But as the threat from Boko Haram wanes, there are mounting cases of the CJTF targeting the civilian population they claim to protect. They enjoy near-impunity, and the current lack of a comprehensive demobilization plan, points to a potential crisis ahead.

  • The plight of Togo’s so-called “Witch Children”

    Togo is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the belief in witchcraft is still widespread. Children who are slightly different from the others are among the worst affected. Whether it’s due to a physical or mental handicap, hyperactivity or being intellectually gifted, they are often accused of witchcraft and even held responsible for deaths in their family. These children are then subjected to all sorts of abuse: kidnappings, forced labor and torture.

  • ECOWAS works toward eradicating statelessness in the sub-region

    The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has adopted strategies to eradicate statelessness in the sub-region by 2024. During a 3-day ministerial conference last week in Gambia’s capital Banjul, experts from the bloc’s 15 member states resolved to finalize a plan of action developed in line with the Abidjan Declaration adopted in February 2015, as a commitment to set measures to end the phenomenon. Estimates indicate that over one million people in West Africa are stateless, while 60 million lack documentation proving their identity or nationality.

  • Allies fret as Canada drags feet on troops for UN Mali mission

    Canada, worried about possible casualties, is taking months longer than expected to decide whether to send troops to a United Nations mission in Mali, worrying allies and potentially undermining Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to peacekeeping. Trudeau replaced a Conservative government in November 2015 that had little time for the United Nations. Trudeau’s Liberals declared “Canada is back” in August 2016 and said they would commit up to 600 soldiers for possible UN deployment. Officials said one option was Mali, where the United Nations has a 10,000-strong force to help deal with Islamist militants. “This would be a combat mission. Casualties are inevitable,” said one person familiar with the matter.

  • Nigeria approves $186 million for anti-piracy operations

    The Nigerian government has approved a $186 million emergency budget to fund the acquisition of new military aircraft, patrol boats and armored personnel carriers that will be deployed on anti-piracy operations. Details of the planned expenditure were released by Transportation minister Rotimi Amaechi last week when he addressed a conference that was held in Abuja to discuss the implementation of government plans for maritime and port security. Amaechi said to secure Nigerian waterways and ports, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved a $186 million budget for the acquisition of surveillance and security assets that include three helicopters, three fixed wing aircraft and twelve patrol boats.

  • Nigeria: Fighting corruption often means one step forward, two back

    Large billboards at Lagos airport urge travelers to call a hotline to report officials asking for bribes. But there is a problem with this attempt to fight the corruption that plagues Africa’s biggest economy. The phone number does not work, an indication of how little progress President Muhammadu Buhari has made tackling a problem he promised to address when he was elected two years ago. The government has fired customs and immigration officers accused of corruption, introduced staff rotation at passport and customs desks at Lagos airport to disrupt cozy networks, and set up the phone number to report demands for bribes.

  • Farmajo calls for arms embargo end to defeat al-Shabab

    Somalia’s president has called on the international community to lift an arms embargo on his country as government soldiers are battling to regain territory from the armed group al-Shabab. Speaking Thursday at a Somalia conference held in London and attended by world leaders, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, said government forces would defeat the al-Qaeda-affiliated group in “a few years” – but that Somali troops had to be better equipped. “For far too long, our security forces and terrorist groups have been fighting using the same type of light weapons – mostly AK47s. The longstanding arms embargo on Somalia severely restricts our ability to procure heavy weapons,” Farmajo said.

  • Somalia, backers sign security pact to bolster army

    Somalia’s government and its foreign backers on Thursday signed a security pact which they presented as a road map towards building a functional national army capable of taking on the fight against al Shabaab militants. The al-Qaeda-affilioated Islamist militant group has lost much of the territory it once controlled in Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu, but its deadly attacks remain one of the main obstacles to stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa country. A London conference on Somalia also heard that the United Nations was increasing its appeal for the country by $900 million to a total of $1.5 billion to allow aid agencies to cope with a severe drought that is causing a humanitarian crisis.

  • EU ready to work with African countries

    The European Union says it’s ready to cooperate with African countries in stemming the illicit financial flows from the continent. This emerged during the debate at the fourth session of the Pan African Parliament currently underway in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. In 2015 African leaders decided to launch an investigation into illicit financial flows because of the impact it has on the funding of socio-economic development programs. Africa needs massive capital injection to address challenges such as poverty eradication and job creation. According to the International Monetary Fund, it’s estimated that Africa loses 50-Billion US Dollars annually in illicit financial flows.

  • Also noted

    Women in Politics - Nigeria Can Emulate Burkina Faso | Liberian Parliament Speaker Applauds ECOWAS Leaders For Anti-Terrorism Campaign | Morocco Supports Côte d’Ivoire UN Security Council Candidacy | Again Boko Haram Strikes, Hits University of Maiduguri | Ex-CEO of Microsoft Morocco Launches London Academy Casablanca | In a fight for land, a women’s movement shakes Morocco | In Senegal, Iran and Saudi Arabia vie for religious influence | What a new university in Africa is doing to decolonize social sciences | How Africa can bear the burden of America’s foreign aid cuts Ebola outbreak declared in Democratic Republic of the Congo after three die | AU: Terrorism a major challenge for African security | African countries asked to reconsider tax incentives for FDIs as they erode revenues | Africa will transform when tech innovators collaborate | ECOWAS electricity market almost ready

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