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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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Congo DR electoral body, CENI, announces date of presidential election

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The electoral authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Commission Electorale Nationale Independente (CENI) have announced dates for the next presidential election.

CENI on Saturday said the election will take place on December 20th next year.

The commission outlined several challenges, including the logistics of transporting ballot materials thousands of miles, health concerns about Ebola and COVID-19, and unrest that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The incumbent president, Felix Tshisekedi, who already expressed his intention to run again. He might be running against Martin Fayulu, who continues to claim that he won the 2018 election and was denied victory.

Terrorist activities, largely by a rebel group, M23 have drawn reactions from stakeholders in the East Africa region and global observers. The M23 is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the DRC, mainly operating in the province of North Kivu.

According to the electoral authorities, insecurity remains the main challenge for the next elections.

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Congo DR rebel group, M23 wants direct talks with government. Will Kinshasa concede?

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The M23 rebel group, which has been at loggerheads with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has asked for a direct talk with the government.

The positions are days after the deadline for the declaration of a permanent truce between the worrying battles.

Leaders of Rwanda, Burundi, and Angola met this week in Luanda to find a solution to the conflict in eastern Congo, which has forced thousands to flee their homes.

But the M23 was not part of the discussions and found out about the statement on social media, its spokesperson said.

The spokesperson of the group, Lawrence Kanyuka, “thanked the regional leaders for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current conflict.”

“Give us direct negotiations with the government to resolve the root causes of conflict that are producing all these wars here,” he said. M23 leader Bertrand Bisimwa also issued a statement to the same effect.

Meanwhile, Congo DR’s foreign minister Christophe Lutundula said: “It won’t happen. I can reassure you on behalf of the government and the President of the Republic.”

The M23 is a rebel military group based in eastern areas of the DRC, mainly operating in the province of North Kivu.

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