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Mali/France rift worsens as military junta announces plans to suspend French media, RFI, France 24

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The rift between Mali’s ruling military junta of Colonel Assimi Goïta and French authorities has hit new track as the Malian authority has announced plans to suspend broadcasts by French state-funded international news outlets RFI and France 24 amid accusation of reporting “false allegations”.

The suspension was announced in a statement on Thursday.

“categorically rejects these false accusations against the courageous FAMA (Malian Armed Forces),” spokesperson Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga said on Thursday.

The military is “initiating proceedings… to suspend broadcasts by RFI and France 24… until further notice,” he said.

Maiga said Malian news websites, newspapers, and its national radio and TV stations were all “banned from rebroadcasting and/ or publishing programmes and news articles put out by RFI and France 24”.

He compared the French broadcasters to Rwanda’s Radio Mille Collines – a notorious outlet that incited listeners to exterminate minority Tutsis during the 1994 genocide.

“Certain allegations, particularly those advanced by RFI, have no other objective than to sow hatred,” he said, adding that this demonstrated the “criminal intent” of some journalists.

France’s foreign ministry called the decision to suspend the broadcasters a grave attack on media freedom and said the allegations of army abuses must not be ignored.

The European Union lashed out at the ban calling it “unacceptable” and said the accusations on which it was based were “unfounded.”

“By attacking the freedom of the press, the freedom to inform and to be informed, the junta is continuing and confirming that it is pushing ahead regardless,” foreign policy spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said in Brussels.

Until recently, the relationship between Mali and France seems smooth with French-led military intervention ousting jihadists who were taking control of northern Mali but the relations have deteriorated with Mali’s new military leaders, who seized power in a 2020 coup.

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Court summons Tunisian opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, over money laundering

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Tunisian opposition party, Ennahda has revealed that its leader, Rached Ghannouchi has been summoned by a judge over money laundering allegations.

The party revealed news of his summon on Wednesday and accused the authorities of targeting him for political reasons.

The summon is said to answer questions about the allegations, which Ennahda say are untrue and a result of “distortion and fabrication”.

Recall that a court in Tunisia in May, slammed a travel ban on Ghannouchi, alongside 33 other party faithful under the suspicion of involvement in an alleged parallel security service put into place after the 2011 Tunisian revolution.

Ghannouchi has been one of the loudest critics of president Kais Saied since the president seized broad powers last year, moved to rule by decree and ousted the elected parliament in which the Ennahda leader is speaker.

President Saied sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers in July 2021. In December of the same year, he announced in a speech on national television a three-month “popular consultation” with the Tunisian people after which “draft constitutional and other reforms will be put forward to a referendum on July 25”.

Ghannouchi’s summon is not the first time the Judiciary since Saied came to power will take decision that is perceive by many to be targeted at the president’s rival.

In June, a Tunisian military court sentenced a prominent political opponent and rival of President Kais Saied, Seifeddine Makhlouf, to one year in prison and also banned him from practising law for five years.

President Saied’s seat-tight disposition has continued with controversial reforms despite criticisms and wild protests.

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Exiled former Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaore, to return home

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Burkinabe authorities has revealed that former president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore will return from exile for the first time since being ousted in a 2014 uprising.

The junta led by Colonel Damiba made the revelation on Wednesday. Compaore will return home despite his conviction earlier this year for complicity in his predecessor’s murder.

Blaise Compaore was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military tribunal in April for the murder of his predecessor and ‘best friend’, Thomas Sankara, in a 1987 coup.

The statement from the presidency said the meeting of former heads of state “does not hinder judicial prosecutions engaged against some of them”, but did not elaborate.

An association of lawyers representing the families of Sankara and others killed during the 1987 coup demanded that Compaore be arrested once in Burkina Faso.

Local media have speculated in recent days that Compaore could be granted a pardon over the Sankara murder as part of the junta’s reconciliation process.

The coup that brought the current junta into power in Burkina Faso was launched on 23 January 2022 when gunfire erupted in front of the presidential residence in the Burkinabé capital Ouagadougou and several military barracks around the city.

The military Junta of Lieutenant-Colonel Damiba ceased power afterward and Christian Kabore has been on house arrest since then. Although fighting insurgency was one of the reasons for the last coup, Burkina Faso however remains in the eye of the storm with continuous terrorist attacks.

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