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Jihadists kill 27 in Mali, as military junta leans on Russian mercenaries

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The Malian army has confirmed that one of its camps in central Mali was attacked by jihadists on Friday, killing 27 soldiers, 33 soldiers were injured while seven are missing.  

The Mondoro (military) base which was attacked is near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso and has previously been targeted by jihadists fighting the Malian state and foreign forces. The Malian troop was however able to neutralise 47 “terrorists”.

The Mali War started in January 2012 between the northern and southern parts of Mali in Africa with several insurgent groups, Jihadist and separatist fighters with  affiliations with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group  began fighting a campaign against the Malian government for independence or greater autonomy for northern Mali, which they called Azawad. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), an organization fighting to make this area of Mali an independent homeland for the Tuareg people, had taken control of the region by April 2012.

A peace deal between the government and Tuareg rebels was signed on 18 June 2013, however on 26 September 2013 the rebels pulled out of the peace agreement and claimed that the government had not respected its commitments to the truce. Fighting is still ongoing even though French forces are scheduled for withdrawal. A ceasefire agreement was signed on 19 February 2015 in Algiers, Algeria, but sporadic terrorist attacks still occur. 

French military source told newsmen that hundreds of jihadists attacked the camp of around 150 soldiers close to 0600 GMT, putting the death toll between 40 and 50. He also revealed that the jihadists seized 21 vehicles, including tanks, and injured more than 20 soldiers, the source added.

The source’s claim is a contradiction to Mali’s army official statement which noted the attack happened around 0530 GMT.

The source said Mali’s army did not request support from France’s Barkhane military operation because the camp was “where Barkhane was asked not to operate, probably because of the presence of Wagner mercenaries”, referring to the Russian paramilitary group.

Until recently, French-led military intervention ousted jihadists who were taking control of northern Mali and troops remained to provide support for anti-terrorist operations. But deteriorating relations with Mali’s new military leaders, who seized power in a 2020 coup, have prompted France to reconsider its role in the country.

It is reported that at the heart of the rift between France and authorities in Bamako is whether Mali should enter into negotiations with the jihadist groups that continue to rampage across the north and centre of the country. Bamako is in favour of opening discussions while Paris sees negotiations with jihadists as a red line that must not be crossed.

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Weeks after justices protest, Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad resigns

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Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned.

Sources confirmed that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Hint of potential crises in Nigeria’s judiciary played out last week when fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the parlous state of affairs in the court.

The petition is the first-of-its-kind in the 58-year history of the apex court, the justices chronicled the operational challenges that have almost crippled the efficient adjudication of cases at the court.

Arrangements are said to be ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 suspended Justice Tanko’s predecessor Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. It was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule.

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18 years after suspension, Zimbabwe lobbys for readmission into Commonwealth

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Southern African Zimbabwe has continued with lobbying for readmission 18 years after it was thrown out of the body over allegations of human rights abuses.

The country made its latest move to be readmitted at the ongoing Commonwealth summit in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Rwanda Charity Manyeruke, who is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali as an observer alongside other top government officials, told newsmen that the country’s participation at the summit was a “positive development.”

“Zimbabwe is excited to be participating in Commonwealth forums as this presents opportunities to network with the international community taking into account the government of Zimbabwe’s policy of engagement and reengagement,” Ms Manyeruke said.

“The Commonwealth meeting in Kigali has provided opportunities for our Zimbabwean diaspora across the globe, who are participating as panellists, facilitators and as delegates in the forums.

Zimbabwe was first suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year, after international observers condemned disputed presidential election as unfairly tilted toward Robert Mugabe in 2022.

One year after the suspension, Mr Mugabe revealed that he did not accept a Commonwealth decision to prolong Zimbabwe’s suspension from the group until the country mended its ways.

“Accordingly, Zimbabwe has withdrawn its membership from the Commonwealth with immediate effect,” said a government statement.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana said he had held meetings with influential people to discuss the country’s potential readmission.

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