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Mali, UN, disagree over killing of jihadist fighters

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Malian authorities and the United Nations have disagreed over the killing of Jihadist fighters in the country.

While the army says its troops killed over 200 jihadists in military operations in the centre of the Sahel state, the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in the country has countered the claims, saying it has heard reports of civilian deaths, raising human rights concerns.

The Malian Army on Saturday, said the military operations which took place in the Moura region in central Mali from March 23 to 31, saw 203 jihadists killed while 51 were arrested and large quantities of weapons seized.

But the UN, relying on numerous social media reports in Mali during the week, alleged that dozens of the people killed in the operations included civilians

“The Mali military issued a statement after rumours on social media that 300 civilians were killed in the village of Moura which they said was a ‘terrorist fiefdom’. They said they neutralised over 300 ‘terrorists’,” a local journalist reported, which corroborated the UN’s stance.

“The Malian state believes the area is controlled by groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS). So there has been a push to regain control of the area.

“But the challenge is that no one really knows what’s happening; there’s little access to the area where these operations are taking place. A number of foreign journalists have been thrown out of the country for reporting what’s going on in Mali,” he added.

Mali has been battling for years to push out different rebel groups and to contain an armed uprising that emerged in 2012, to some degrees of success but the threat has continued to stay with the impoverished nation.

A large part of the country are controlled by different rebel groups and militias, with thousands of soldiers and civilians killed in years of conflict.

Politics

This is Uganda, not Kenya, Museveni warns planned protesters against ‘playing with fire’

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Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has warned demonstrators that they will be “playing with fire” if they march to parliament on Tuesday to protest corruption.

In a televised address, Mr Museveni warned the Ugandan organisers that their planned protest would not be tolerated.

“We are busy producing wealth… and you here want to disturb us. You are playing with fire because we cannot allow you to disturb us,” he said.

Kenya’s anti-tax bill has sparked a wave of anti-government protests across Africa, with reports of planned nationwide protests also growing in Nigeria.

Mr Museveni is accused by his critics of ruling Uganda with an iron hand since taking power in 1986, but his supporters praise him for maintaining stability in the East African state.

The president also accused some of the protest organisers of “always working with foreigners” to cause chaos in Uganda. He did not elaborate.

Police had earlier announced that they had refused to permit the march to take place. Meanwhile, One of the main protest leaders told journalists that they would go ahead with it.

“We don’t need police permission to carry out a peaceful demonstration. It is our constitutional right,” Louez Aloikin Opolose was quoted as saying.The United Kingdom and the United States sanctioned Uganda’s parliamentary speaker, Anita Annet Among, for corruption earlier this year. Although she has denied any wrongdoing.

The sanctions prevent her from visiting the UK and the US. The UK also threatened to freeze her assets.

The United Kingdom has also sanctioned two government ministers fired by Mr Museveni for corruption.

The theft of thousands of metal roofing sheets for needy communities in north-eastern Karamoja has led to charges against Mary Goretti Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu. They deny the charges.

Political behaviours are observed to often have contagious effects in African politics, and the protest wave might spread further. For instance, in the post-independence era of the 1960s – 1990s military interregnums swept through the continent, and have recently returned notably amongst French-speaking African countries.

Museveni declared himself president of Uganda on January 26, 1986, after leading the National Resistance Movement (NRM) armed group in guerrilla war against Milton Obote’s regime. He has remained the leader of the East African country since then in an almost four-decade-long reign that put him in the league of longest-serving leaders in the continent with his peers being Paul Biya (Cameroon), Obiang Teodoro (Equatorial Guinea), Denis Sassou Nguese (Congo DR), Isaias Afwerki (Eriteria) Ismaïl Omar Guelleh (Djibouti) amongst others.

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Look beyond Lungu, Hichilema, former minister Siamunene urges Zambians

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Former Defense Minister, Richwell Siamunene, suggests Zambians should see beyond President Hakainde Hichilema and Edgar Lungu if recent reconciliation efforts failed.

Siamunene made the position known while guesting on Saturday’s Prime Television Governance and Leadership Talk. “They needed to reconcile like yesterday. But if they fail to reconcile, Zambians should forget about them and choose other leaders among the 20 million citizens. Life shouldn’t be about the two,” he said.

Siamunene said the appeal for Presidents Lungu and Hichilema to reconcile was long overdue and that Zambians should turn elsewhere if they don’t while also urging the public to refrain from ‘joking when voting’ to enhance governance

“I think Zambian voters joke a lot when voting. We need to be as serious as Zambians; that is why the country is in this situation,” Siamunene said.

He stressed that ethnically motivated leadership was harmful.

Siamunene believed that leaders should be chosen based on their ability to advance development, not their wealth or education.

“Once you become a leader of the country, you cease to be family property and become part of the Zambian family. No friends or family considerations should influence decisions,” he said.

He underlined the necessity for exceptional leadership to fight corruption, saying that waiting for the President to authorize probes makes it academic.

Hichilema at his sixth attempt at winning the presidency in 2021 defeated the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu, by a landslide – more than a million votes. Hichilema capitalized on the failings of Mr. Lungu’s six-year tenure which was criticized for human rights abuses, corruption, a faltering economy, and high unemployment. The two politicians have remained political enemies despite recent talks of reconciliation.

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