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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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Burkina Faso expels 3 French diplomats over ‘subversive activities’

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According to a letter quoted by Reuters on Thursday, three French diplomats have been sent back to France by Burkina Faso’s military government for allegedly being involved in actions that are against the government.

The letter sent April 16 to the French embassy said that the three diplomats, two of whom were named as political advisers, were told they were not welcome in the country and had 48 hours to leave.

A request for comment was sent to the French foreign ministry, but they did not reply right away.

The West African country which is one of five countries in the subregion now run by a military has had a diplomatic rift with France, which used to colonize it. Since then, Ouagadougou has kicked out French troops, forced France to recall its minister, and shut down some French media.

In the last three years, there have been five coups in the area, with most serving relations with France. Recently, the World Bank warned that the most recent coup in Niger could make things more difficult for food markets in Nigeria and other West African countries.

According to someone who was there and knew what was going on but asked not to be named, the officials were kicked out because they met with people from civil society.

Rights groups around the world have said that Burkina Faso’s junta is violating people’s right to free speech and intimidating critics while it tries to handle a security crisis caused by rebels with ties to Iran and Al-Qaeda.

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Nigeria: Senate President wants police rid of bad officers 

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Nigeria’s Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, has asked the police to get rid of bad officers. He also promised that the National Assembly would work with and back the police to make Nigeria safer.

Akpabio said this at the first Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations Ceremony, which took place in Abuja on Monday night. The Senate President commended the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, and the rest of the Nigeria Police leadership for putting together the event. He also told them to use it to celebrate the force’s accomplishments and reaffirm their promise to work together to make Nigeria safer.

He stated,  “I commend the Police for this maiden effort in organising this awards ceremony. It is a testament to IGP Egbetokun’s commitment to giving honour to whom it is due.

“By recognising the gallant, selfless and patriotic contributions of individual officers, we not only motivate them for higher performance but also reinforce the new policing agenda of the Force.

“This agenda focuses on internal ethical regeneration, restoration of professional standards and the enhancement of the anti-corruption drive.

“However, let us not ignore the challenges faced by the police in Nigeria. The ever-evolving landscape of crime and the increasing sophistication of criminal gangs pose significant obstacles. “

“Moreso, as we honour the good officers, let us weed out the bad ones because a chain is as strong as its weakest link. We must address these issues and work together to find solutions, he emphasised.

In front of Vice President Kashim Shettima and other important people, Akpabio said, “As the leader of the National Assembly, I pledge our full cooperation and support for better cops in Nigeria.”

“We recognise the importance of a well-equipped and motivated police force in ensuring the security and well-being of our citizens.

“We will continue to work tirelessly to provide the necessary legislative framework and resources to enable the police to carry out their duties effectively.”

Statista data shows that most Nigerians did not trust the cops at all in 2020. In cities, where six out of ten people who answered the survey said they didn’t believe the police, this lack of trust was higher. Also, 19% of the people interviewed in Nigeria’s cities and 26.8% of those interviewed in the country’s rural areas said they merely trusted the police.

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