Africa This Week 19822: France-Mali crisis, Nigeria-Kenya Business Collaboration, Emirates Airlines Suspension, And Others

Following Mali’s accusations of France for violations of its sovereignty, support for terrorist groups and spying, Mali has asked the UN Security Council for an emergency meeting in a bid to stop France’s “acts of aggression”. A letter serving this purpose dated August 15 was presented to journalists by the Malian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and addressed by the head of diplomacy, Abdoulaye Diop, to the Chinese presidency of the Security Council. Though the junta in power in Mali since the August 2020 putsch has turned away from France and its allies to Russia, according to the UN Charter, Mali “reserves the right to use self-defense” if French actions persist. While French authorities are yet to respond to these accusations, Malian authorities added that they have in custody several pieces of evidence that these flagrant violations of Malian airspace were used by France to collect intelligence for terrorist groups operating in the Sahel and to drop arms and ammunition on them.

As part of collaborative efforts to enhance business opportunities between Nigeria and the Republic of Rwanda, the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA) has reached an agreement to hold a larger business meeting between Rivers State stakeholders in the business community and their counterparts in Rwanda to brainstorm on trade relationships and opportunities in both countries. Stanislas Kamanzi, who made the proposal during his bilateral visit to the corporate office of PHCCIMA on Monday, said that his visit was to negotiate profitable partnership business opportunities between stakeholders of both countries. The Rwandan envoy said that his country is ranked second in African countries on the ease of doing business, saying that within six hours after registration of business, one qualifies to commence operation.  He added that the government of Rwanda has made it easier for any investor to have a huge free operation devoid of a visa into their country rather than with an international passport.

As a way of celebrating World Humanitarian Day, Nigeria’s president, Muhammad Buhari, on Thursday embarked on a maiden visit to the terrorist-hit Maiduguri in Borno state. His visit was meant to commemorate and pay tribute to aid workers killed in the line of duty. During his visitation, Buhari urges the humanitarian sector to pay particular attention to “emerging issues,” including “the increasing number of orphans and widows.”

Following complaints of trapped funds in Nigeria, the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier, Emirates Airlines, has announced it will stop flight operations in and out of Nigeria. According to reports, the airline said it has $85 million “awaiting repatriation from Nigeria,” a figure it said was rising by more than $10 million every month. The airline claimed that it has tried every avenue to address the challenges and has made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution, but there has been no progress. Emirates is not alone in this issue. Other international airlines operating in Nigeria also have revenues trapped in the country, which the International Air Transport Association said in June amounted to $450 million.

Two days into Chad’s national dialogue between the civilian and armed opposition and the ruling junta, a prominent Chadian rebel leader, Timan Erdimi, has returned to N’Djamena after spending years in exile for trying to overthrow former President Idriss Déby Itno. Then, Erdimi, the leader of the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR), whose columns that were melting on the capital in 2019 were stopped due to the bombing of planes by the French army, landed at the airport of N’Djamena, where fifty relatives were waiting for him. According to reports, Mr. Erdimi is due to take part on Saturday in a major inclusive national dialogue, which should lead to “free and democratic” elections and the transfer of power to civilians. Like his late uncle, Idriss Deby, who ruled Chad for 30 years before he was killed on his way to the front line, Erdimi is also a member of the Zaghawa ethnic group.

Ethiopia’s government has on Thursday described the statement by the World Health Organization’s director-general regarding the crisis in the country’s Tigray region as “unethical”. According to reports, the director general had earlier said that the country’s current crisis is “the worst disaster on Earth” and that his assertion that the lack of attention from global leaders may be due to Tigrayans’ skin color. But in response, the spokeswoman for Ethiopia’s prime minister on Thursday told journalists that the comments by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus were “unbecoming of such a high-profile position.” The WHO chief, who is also an Ethiopian, said in an emotional statement on Wednesday at a press briefing asserted that the 6 million people in Tigray have been “under siege” for the last 21 months because of the conflict that erupted there in late 2020 between Ethiopian and Tigray forces.

Nigeria’s power plant workers have suspended a nationwide strike that has left Africa’s most populous country partly in darkness for 24 hours. A union official said the strike was suspended after an emergency meeting with the government, which promised to consider the strikers’ demands within two weeks. According to the official, the union threatened to resume a strike if nothing is done within two weeks. The power workers had earlier launched a nationwide strike on Wednesday to force the government to honor the terms of a 2019 agreement that provided for the payment of salaries to retired workers of a former state-owned power company.

Sudanese protesters have taken to the streets in Khartoum, demanding a return to civilian rule after last year’s military coup. Sudan has been rocked by near-weekly protests and a violent crackdown that has so far left at least 116 people dead since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a military coup last October. The takeover has disrupted the transition to civilian rule launched after the ouster in 2019 of three-decade strongman Omar al-Bashir.

Raila Odinga made his first public appearance since the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission [IEBC] announced the presidential election results.While describing the results as “null and void,” he argued that the chairman of the electoral commission had no legal authority to announce the results that the majority of commissioners had rejected. In a separate meeting, four out of the seven IEBC commissioners said the final results were not analyzed and processed by everyone in the commission, which is why they disagreed with the final results announced by the body’s chairperson, Wafula Chebukati.

Following last month’s referendum conducted by the Tunisian electoral commission, the commission has approved a new Tunisian constitution that will give the president far greater powers. During the poll, there was a 96% yes vote in the referendum, with 31% of the electorate taking part. Meanwhile, opponents of President Kais Saied say the new constitution will unravel Tunisia’s democratic gains from the 2011 revolution by giving him nearly unchecked powers. They have criticized the process by which he wrote the constitution as illegal and autocratic and have raised concerns over the legitimacy of the referendum, which was conducted by an imposed board of the electoral commission. But Saied defended the process by which he passed the constitution, saying that the political system had to change to save Tunisia from years of stagnation and political paralysis.

Writer, journalist, and legal researcher, Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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