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Mali/France relations hit new low, Bamako says Paris violating its airspace, finally bans French media

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The bilateral relationship between Mali and France has continued to suffer as French troops have started leaving Mali.

In the latest escalation of tensions between them, Mali’s military rulers have accused the French army of repeatedly violating controlled airspace over the country’s centre and north to “spy” on its forces.

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.

The junta in Mali on Tuesday said in a statement that over 50 breaches of the West African country’s airspace had been recorded since the start of the year, mainly by French-operated aircraft.

The government claimed in the statement that there was the “illegal” flying of a drone on April 20 over the northern military base of Gossi, a day after France handed the site back to Mali as part of its ongoing troop withdrawal.

Last week, the French military released footage that appears it claimed showed Russian mercenaries burying bodies near the Gossi base. The drone images are the direct cause of the recent accusations by Malian military.

Following the release of the footage, Bamako said French aircraft flew back and forth over a convoy of Malian troops heading to Gossi on April 21 but France has denied the accusation.

France said its army said the men in the drone video were Russian mercenaries accused of helping Mali’s military junta fight militants and summarily executing civilians in the process. A move that has been widely condemned by the United StatesUnited Nation, and the European Union.

“French forces are guilty of subversion in publishing fake mounted images in order to accuse the (Malian army) of killing civilians,” the government said in Tuesday’s statement.

Also on Wednesday, Mali’s High Communications Authority took its suspension of French affiliated media further as it announced the definitive suspension of French state-funded international news outlets RFI and France 24, a decision the France Medias Monde organization said it would contest.

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Like Mali, Burkina Faso junta suspends France’s RFI radio over broadcast of militant speech

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West African country, Burkina Faso has gone the way of its neighbour Mali, as its ruling junta has suspended the broadcast of France’s RFI radio.

The suspension comes after what the junta said were false reports and giving voice to Islamist militants, a statement from the government said on Saturday.

According to a statement by the radio station, “RFI strongly deplores this decision and protests against the totally unfounded accusations calling into question its professionalism,” State-owned Radio France Internationale, usually referred to as RFI.

The statement added that the decision to suspend its broadcasting was made without prior notice and without the implementation of the procedures put in place by Burkina Faso’s communications regulator.

The ruling junta which came into power in a recent coup in September accused the RFI also repeated a press report – which it denied – that Burkina Faso’s President Captain Ibrahim Traore, who seized power in a coup in September, had said there had been an attempted coup trying to unseat him.

Burkina Faso’s neighbour Mali under military reign suspended broadcasts by French state-funded international news outlets RFI and France 24 amid accusations of reporting “false allegations”.

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Politics

Tunisian labour union, UGTT threatens political disruption as elections draws near

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As the North African country, Tunisia braces up for elections, labour union, UGTT has threatened not to disrupt proceedings under the current political arrangement.

UGTT attacked president Saied political and economic agenda on Saturday, including the elections scheduled for this month. The union said that it will no longer accept what it called a threat to democracy in its clearest challenge to him yet.

UGTT’s leader Noureddine Taboubi said in a speech to thousands of supporters, the union will ” no longer accept the current path because of its ambiguity and individual rule, and the unpleasant surprises it hides for the fate of the country and democracy.”

“We will not hesitate to defend rights and freedoms whatever the cost,” he added, in his strongest criticism yet of the president.

“We will not abide by secret agreements the government has with the International Monetary Fund and the workers will stand up to it,” Taboubi said.

Taboubi said the December election would “have no colour and taste” as a result of Saied’s constitution and that the vote lacked national unanimity.

President Kais Saied hinted that the country will not accept foreign observers for the planned elections for later this year.

There have been protests for and against president Saied’s approach to governance of the Tunisian public.

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