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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.

Politics

2023: Nigeria’s ruling party presidential candidates, Tinubu, Masari, can’t find certificates. What we know so far

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Kabiru Masari, the running mate to Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Nigerian presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the coming 2023 general elections, has declared that his school certificates and other vital documents including the certificate to landed properties, are missing.

Masari’s declaration of missing certificates, is coming barely a week after his principal, Tinubu, also declared that he could not explain the whereabouts of his primary and secondary schools certificates after soldiers invaded his house while he was in self-exile during the fight against military regime in Nigeria shortly after the June 12, 1993, presidential election, which was annulled by the General Ibrahim Babangida-led military regime.

While explaining how he lost his certificates, Tinubu had said the documents were among his personal effect destroyed when his property at the Balarabe Musa Crescent in Victoria Island, Lagos, was set ablaze by agents of former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, in 1997.

Tinubu’s Form EC9, which was published on Friday by the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, revealed that the former Lagos State governor did not fill the columns for his primary and secondary school education, which generated a lot of controversies, leading to some opposition political parties and civil society groups threatening court actions.

But while Nigerians were still grappling with the idea of a presidential candidate without the basic primary and secondary school certifications, Masari, who was named as a ‘placeholder’, effectively meaning he is a temporary vice presidential candidate while the party looks for a suitable replacement, also announced that he is in the same boat as Tinubu.

In a sworn affidavit he deposed to on July 17, 2021, and submitted to the INEC, Masari claimed that the Grade II certificate he allegedly obtained from the Katsina State Teachers’ College and his primary school certificate were missing.

He also said told the electoral umpire that the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for a plot of land in Katsina State were also missing.

“Sometimes in January 2021, while on transit within Wuse Area, FCT-Abuja, I discovered that my original Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) of Plot, No KT 17522, GRA Katsina, Katsina State; Certificate of Kaduna State Development Centre from 1994 – 1995 were missing,” the affidavit reads.

“Also missing were Grade II Certificate from Katsina Teachers’ College (KTC) from 1978 –1983 and First Leaving School Certificate issued by Masari Primary School in Katsina State from 1972 – 1978.

“Efforts made to trace the documents proved abortive hence this affidavit,” he added in the sworn affidavit.

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Politics

Guinean Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui meets political parties to mitigate tension

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In the bid to address tension that has bedeviled its political space, Guinean Prime Minister, Mohamed Béavogui has met with political parties.

The meeting comes after the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) suspended its call for a demonstration which would have been the first major protest rally under the now ruling junta.

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister stressed that “it is essential that each of us here understand once and for all that the only agenda that counts is that of the people.”

Guinea’s pressure group, The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (FNDC) had called for a nationwide demonstration against the West African country’s military junta earlier this month. The group also led protests against former President Alpha Conde, calling against the ban imposed by the junta on public protest.

Mohamed Béavogui, told the political parties, civil society organizations and trade unions that “only an inclusive approach, adapted to the Guinean reality, will enable us to lay the foundations for the good life together that we all aspire.

“We have already set up an inter-ministerial council, a group of colleagues. We are going to refine the group as we go along… You also have to get organised. The government is counting on the good faith of all the participants in this consultation.”

Mr. Béavogui concluded by asking participants to “send their contributions” by July 1. He did not set any new meeting dates.

Guinea is one of the West African countries that have recently experienced a military takeover of government. Mali and Burkina Faso are part of the negative trend. There has been pressure on the countries from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for transition into civil government.

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