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UN deploys more troops to Mali tri-border area with Burkina Faso, Niger as terrorist attacks continue



The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has deployed two units to the African country’s tri-border area with Burkina Faso and Niger to respond to a spate of civilian killings, it said on Thursday.

This comes after a recent surge in terrorist attacks in the troubled West African country. One of such was the attack on two Egyptian peacekeepers of the United Nations Mission in Mali MINUSMA and two Malian soldiers were killed last month in two separate events in Mali.

The special United Nations peacekeeping force was established in Mali on 25 April 2013 by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2100 to stabilize the country after the Tuareg rebellion of 2012. It was officially deployed on 1 July and has become the UN’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission, with 209 peacekeepers killed out of a force of about 15,200.

“The security situation in the Tri-border area… particularly in the localities of Tessit, Talataye, Ansongo and the Menaka region, has deteriorated considerably in recent weeks,” said the U.N. peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA.

MINUSMA deployed one unit to the area over a week ago and was in the process of deploying another on Thursday, it said, adding that the attacks have resulted in “dozens of deaths”.

At least 500 civilians have been killed in the last three weeks in the regions of Gao and Menaka, said a military source, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak.

The Mali War started in January 2012 between the northern and southern parts of Mali in Africa with several insurgent groups, Jihadist and separatist fighters with affiliations with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group began fighting a campaign against the Malian government for independence or greater autonomy for northern Mali, which they called Azawad. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), an organization fighting to make this area of Mali an independent homeland for the Tuareg people, had taken control of the region by April 2012.

Until recently, French-led military intervention ousted jihadists who were taking control of northern Mali, and troops remained to provide support for anti-terrorist operations. But deteriorating relations with Mali’s new military leaders, who seized power in a 2020 coup, have prompted France to reconsider its role in the country.


Zambian govt snubs transparency calls, says no law compels President Hichilema to declare assets annually



The Chief spokesman for the Zambian government, Cornelius Mweetwa, has countered calls for President Hakainde Hichilema to declare his assets every year, saying there is no law in the country that compels the president to do so.

The calls had come from the US Ambassador to Zambia, Michael Gonzales, who urged Hichilema and Vice President Mutale Nalumango to consider declaring their assets annually until their term in office expired so ass to set an example for all other public servants to emulate.

However, Mweetwa, at a press conference in Lusaka on Tuesday, said Zambia had no law compelling a sitting Head of State to declare his or her assets annually.

Mweetwa said the only law which required a declaration of assets was the Electoral Commission of Zambia during the filing of nominations, though there was no requirement for publication of same.

While addressing the gathering, the government spokesman alleged that the previous government of the Patriotic Front (PF) had removed the clause from the Constitution following a debate on the accumulation of wealth by former President Edgar Lungu university within a year of his presidency.

“You will all recall that the previous government eliminated Article 30 which provided previously that such declaration should be made public,” Mweetwa stated.

Mweetwa also alleged that the PF left the country with a “Constitution full of either lacunas or provisions that are plugging and negating good governance.”

“Talks to amend the Constitution were orchestrated by our colleagues in the opposition and they wanted to u-turn over the same,” he said, but however, expressing shock over the alleged u-turn by the opposition.

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Nigeria set to begin passport automation 



Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has announced that the automation of the country’s passport application is in its final stages.

In an interview, the minister stated that the automated application was 99% complete and would go live in a week, adding that Nigerians would only need to visit immigration centres to complete their fingerprint biometrics for passports after that point.

Ojo went on to say that Nigerians can upload their passport photos and other supporting documents using the new system from the comfort of their homes.

The minister said: “We gave a date — December 2023. We are 99 per cent done. In fact, we have done the testing and we should be going live in the next week or thereabouts.

“This will ensure that what Nigerians need to do at an immigration centre is just fingerprint biometrics.

“Everything regarding pre-biometrics will be done in the comfort of your homes, including uploading passport photographs and supporting documents.

“They went live about two weeks ago but I saw some errors when they came to do the presentation and I said no. We were talking about balancing national security and convenience.”

Nigeria’s passport system has been characterised by racketeering, logistics failure, and poor due diligence which have frustrated many, home and abroad, in their quest to own their entitlement as Nigerian citizens.

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