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Musings From Abroad

Mali: Russia, China disagree with UN’s request for independent investigations over Moura massacre



Russia and China have disagreed with the United Nations Security Council’s request for independent investigations into the alleged Moura massacre in Mali.

The request was made in a statement drafted by France and submitted to the Security Council for approval Friday.

The investigation request stressed “deep concern” and calls for investigation “at the allegations of human rights violations and abuses in Mali, in particular those perpetrated against civilians in Moura, in the Mopti region, from 27 to 31 March 2022.

But Moscow and Beijing “did not see the need” for the investigation, and considered it “premature” since an investigation had been opened by the Malian authorities.

Last week, the army in Mali said its troops killed over 200 jihadists in military operations in the center of the Sahel state but UN Peacekeeping Mission in the country countered the claims, saying it has heard reports of civilian deaths, raising human rights concerns.

There have been reports of human rights abuses against civilians during the Malian armed forces’ anti-terrorism operation in Moura, the UN in its report underscored the need for the Malian authorities to cooperate with the Mission so it can access the site of the alleged violations.

UN said its mission has opened 17 investigations into the allegations of indiscriminate attacks against civilians, extrajudicial arrests, mistreatment, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.

In contrast, the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday congratulated Mali on an “important victory” against “terrorism” and described as “disinformation” allegations about the massacre of civilians by Malian forces, as well as those about the involvement of Russian mercenaries from the private company Wagner in the operation.

Last Sunday, the US State Department said it is following “extremely disturbing accounts” of large numbers of people killed in Moura and reported that the army in Mali had recruited Russian Mercenaries – Wagner Group in its latest assault on supposed terrorists.

Musings From Abroad

British PM, Sunak meets Rwanda’s Kagame to ‘correct’ controversial migrant deal 



British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak is sticking to his words to keep pressing for a migrant deal with Rwanda despite recent major legal setbacks for the arrangement. He met Rwandan President, Paul Kagame on Friday for a discussion on the subject.

Sunak is currently finalising his response to a block on the policy in the Supreme Court in London. His government has maintained that it is working on a new treaty with Rwanda, as well as a new domestic legislation, following a verdict that declared the policy unlawful last month.

When reporters questioned Sunak about his conversation with Kagame during the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, he replied that while he was “confident” in his government’s proposals, the two leaders wanted to ensure that the plan’s details were correct.

“We’re finalising the arrangements we have with them. It was good to check in with him on that and reiterate… our commitment to making the partnership work,” Sunak said at a press conference.

“Paul and I have forged a very strong relationship over this issue. He’s keen to work very constructively with us.”

Last year, Britain announced its plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda at 169,000 pounds ($215,035) per person. The cost of deporting each person to Rwanda would include an average payment to Rwanda of 105,000 pounds for holding each asylum seeker, 22,000 pounds for travel and accompanying, and 18,000 pounds for processing and legal charges.

Concerns over illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East have been on the front burner in Europe in recent years. As of June 2023, a record 45,000 people had crossed the English Channel in small boats. Like Britain, Italy is also facing growing pressure from migrants crossing the Mediterranean, with a surge in arrivals this year compared to 2022. Almost 150,000 people have landed in Italy so far in 2023, against around 10,200 in the same period last year.

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Musings From Abroad

Zambia’s Hichilema meets Macron, Xuexiang at COP28



Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema engaged in bilateral discussions with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Ding Xuexiang, the Executive Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, on the sidelines of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28).

Hichilema commended Macron for his country’s continued support and underscored the importance of nurturing the growing ties between the two nations.

“We appreciate the support that France has provided to Zambia over the years, and we look forward to strengthening our partnership for the benefit of our countries and peoples,” President Hichilema stated.

In a separate meeting with Chinese Vice Premier, Ding Xuexiang, Hichilema acknowledged and appreciated President Xi Jinping’s warm reception during his recent state visit to China.

The leaders stressed through the discussions how Zambia and China had it had an “all-weather friendship” since Zambia gained its independence in 1964. The conversations also revolved around developing this friendship even more and looking into new opportunities for collaboration.

“We are committed to building on the solid foundation of our bilateral relations with China for the benefit of both our nations. The talks with Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang were productive and reflect our mutual desire for continued growth and collaboration,” President Hichilema stated.

Hichilema’s meeting with Macron and Xuexiang is symbolic, as his country remains at the centre of a debt-restructuring effort, with France and China being co-chairs of its creditor committee. Meanwhile, it is not clear if discussions between the leaders included the debt situation.

In terms of debt restructuring, Zambia has had a busy year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) authorised a staff-level agreement with the country on the second review of its Extended Credit Facility last month, subject to IMF board approval, following the rejection of its bond deal with foreign holders by its official creditors. This opened up an additional $184 million.

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