World French military facing growing protests in Sahel
Sudan military to reinstate PM Hamdok in new deal: Mediators
Agreement reportedly will see Hamdok return to lead a transitional government, all political prisoners freed.Fadlallah Burma Nasir, head of the Umma Party, confirmed the deal to reporters on Sunday. A group of Sudanese mediators also released a statement on the agreement.
France's military involvement in the Sahel is encountering growing opposition in the region, with protests that were once isolated to urban centres spreading to rural areas, fanned by social media and anger at insecurity.
Protestors in Burkina Faso and Niger in November hampered a large French military supply convoy travelling from Ivory Coast to Mali.
The trucks, escorted by local forces, took more than a week to get through Burkina Faso, and several people were injured during demonstrations in the northern town of Kaya.
Sudan’s civilian prime minister is back. Here’s why thousands are still protesting.
Despite Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s release, there are still many unknowns for Sudan’s democratic transition.Hamdok, who has been under house arrest since late last month, made a televised address to the nation at the signing of an agreement between Hamdok’s civilian government and the military junta, headed by Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to restore the transitional government put in place after the ouster of former dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
In western Niger, two people were killed in unclear circumstances on Saturday when the convoy attempted to escape protesters.
France's military has opened an investigation.
Experts say the affair appears to show that anti-French sentiment has spread in the Sahel, although the reasons for it are complex.
- French mission -
France, the former colonial power in the Sahel, has about 5,100 troops deployed across the region, helping to support countries where governments are weak and the armed forces poorly equipped.
The French military first intervened in 2013 to beat back a jihadist insurgency in northern Mali.
But the rebels regrouped and two years later spilled over into Burkina Faso and Niger, two of the poorest countries in the world.
Rumbles in Rakhine amid strains between Myanmar military, rebels
Recent skirmishes between Arakan Army and the military have raised concern about whether an informal ceasefire can hold.But recent skirmishes have raised concern that an informal ceasefire agreed in the long-troubled area in November last year is starting to break down, even as armed rebellion surges in other parts of the country.
Village massacres, roadside bombs and ambushes have claimed thousands of lives and more than a million people have fled their homes.
The insurgency no signs of slowing. On Sunday, four Burkinabe soldiers were killed in the north of the country, bringing the toll from two weeks of raids by suspected jihadists to at least 80.
A French diplomat, who declined to be named, said that many local people did not understand how jihadists could make such gains when French troops are present.
The situation has contributed to conspiracy theories alleging French support for jihadists, according to Bamako-based researcher Boubacar Haidara.
Malian Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga recently accused France of training a "terrorist group" in the north of the country, in an interview with Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
French army convoy blocked by Burkinabe protesters reaches Niger
Stopping of convoy came amid rising anger over failure of local and international forces to contain escalating violence.Hundreds of demonstrators in the city of Kaya surrounded on November 19 the logistics trucks and armoured vehicles as they traversed Burkina Faso on their way to Mali through Niger.
The fact that such rhetoric "comes from an authority as high as the prime minister gives it credibility," Haidara said.
Rumours proliferating on social media -- which were also recounted by several protesters in Kaya -- claimed the supply convoy was in fact carrying weapons for the jihadists.
- 'Pool of hostility' -
Yvan Guichaoua, a Sahel specialist at the University of Kent in England, told AFP that France is swimming in a "pool of hostility".
The scale of the sentiment is difficult to measure, he noted, adding that it is nonetheless "imposing itself on the Sahel political space," with governments forced to respond.
Not all are critical of France: Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum on Friday thanked the country for its military involvement.
A French government official, who requested anonymity, nonetheless told AFP that the situation is "worrying".
"People are turning against those on the front line," the official said.
Complicating the picture is French President Emmanuel Macron's decision to reduce France's deployment in the Sahel.
Burkina Faso police fire tear gas at anti-government protest
About 100 protesters attempt to march in Ouagadougo to protest against the government’s failure to quell violence.Opponents of President Roch Kabore, namely an alliance of three groups called the November 27 Coalition, called for renewed protests on Saturday in response to a recent surge of attacks in the West African country, including one by al-Qaeda-linked fighters that killed 49 military police officers and four civilians.
He made the decision in June, after a military takeover in Mali in August 2020 that ousted the elected president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
But the announcement pushed Mali's ruling military to consider hiring paramilitaries from Russian private-security firm Wagner to bridge the gap, which further raised tensions with France.
Macron has promised that French troops will not operate in a country where Wagner paramilitaries are also active.
- Russian influence -
However there are fears that a full French withdrawal would precipitate a collapse in Mali, with implications for the wider Sahel conflict -- a unwelcome prospect just over four months from a French presidential election.
Anti-French sentiment has long been rife on social media in Mali. There are also periodic protests against France's military in the country, where demonstrators fly Russian flags.
France has recently tried to respond to what it terms a Russian disinformation campaign back by erecting billboards in the capital Bamako bearing the slogan "we are together," and issuing statements in the country's dominant language Bambara.
A competition for loyalties is underway. "The Russians are reshuffling the deck," said a high-ranking French army officer, who declined to be named.
Suspected jihadists kill at least 30 in central Mali .
Suspected jihadists in Mali killed at least 30 civilians in an attack on a passenger vehicle in the volatile central town of Mopti, officials said Saturday. Mali's transitional government said in a statement broadcast on state TV that 31 people were killed and 17 injured and vowed to do everything necessary to "arrest and punish" the perpetrators. "The passengers were sprayed with bullets and the vehicle was torched," during an attack byMali's transitional government said in a statement broadcast on state TV that 31 people were killed and 17 injured and vowed to do everything necessary to "arrest and punish" the perpetrators.