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Chad’s ex-opposition figure, Saleh Kebzabo, named PM by military leader Idriss Deby

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Chad’s military leader, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby has named a former opposition figure, Saleh Kebzabo as the new Prime Minister to head an interim administration of national union, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

Kebzabo who is 75, was a former journalist who ran for the presidency four times against Mahamat’s father, Idriss Deby Itno.

He will replace the outgoing premier, Albert Pahimi Padacke, who formally resigned along with his government on Tuesday after serving for 18 months under the 38-year-old Mahamat.

The 55-year-old political veteran
had also served prime minister under Deby Itno who was killed during an operation against rebels in April 2021, ending his over three decades in power.

Kebzabo who was a fierce opponent in the last years of the late Deby’s rule, had been swift to recognise his son as leader after his death after the young General named two leaders from Kebzabo’s UNDR party to take part in the first transition government named by the junta.

Speaking to journalists after his appointment, Kebzabo promised to “accompany the young Itno in a great endeavour… the next two years of political transition.

On assumption of power after the death of his father, the younger Deby had declared his junta would restore civilian rule after 18 months in power, but as the deadline drew near, he announced a new 24-month timeframe for holding elections, with the Supreme Military Committee naming Deby the “transitional president” for the interim and declared he could be a candidate in the poll, an action which angered the African Union and other international bodies.

At his swearing in on Monday, the AU boycotted the ceremony while France and the European Union only sent few representatives.

On the African scene, apart from President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria who was in attendance, no other African countries sent their heads of state while neighbouring countries like Niger, the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, were represented by their ministers.

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Tunisian union, UGTT chief, Noureddine Taboubi accuses President Saied of intimidation

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As part of the fallouts of the recently conducted parliamentary elections in Tunisia, its trade union, UGTT accused President Kais Saied of targeting it as a distraction from record-low election turnout.

The powerful union also accused president Saied of overseeing a “total failure” of economic policies.

The UGTT chief, Noureddine Taboubi at a meeting held at Gammarth to discuss the arrest of the union’s senior official Anis Kaabi earlier in the week said “the president is trying to divert attention from the record low election turnout in the first and second round of legislative elections and the utter failure of his economic and social decisions.”

Mr. Taboubi added: “Why is the UGTT a target?  Because [the authorities] want to pass the painful reforms they are always discussing.

“In order to pass these painful reforms, they need to distract the public with trivia by saying that the reason for this situation is the UGTT.”

The election, which was a second round of the Tunisian parliamentary polls held last Sunday with reports that nearly 90% of the electorate did not vote, making it the highest level of abstention since the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Ben Ali and marked the advent of democracy in the country.

Voter turnout for the first round of the parliamentary elections in December was only 11%, prompting widespread ridicule among Saied’s opponents and new demands by the powerful labour union that he changes tack.

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Burkina Faso’s PM, Kyélem de Tambèla, moots ‘federation’ idea with neighbouring Mali

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There are indications that neighbouring West African countries, Mali and Burkina Faso might be forming a “federation” to boost their economic clout.

The indication was given by Burkina Faso’s prime minister, Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela who is currently on a visit to neighbouring Mali this week.

According to an official account of the visit published by his office on Thursday, Prime Minister Tambela said, “we could create a flexible federation that would be mutually reinforcing and respect the aspirations of both sides.”

“Mali is a major producer of cotton, cattle, and gold. Burkina Faso also produces cotton, cattle, and gold,” Kyelem de Tambela said during the trip on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“So long as we each take separate paths, we don’t have much clout. But if you put Mali’s and Burkina Faso’s production of cotton, gold, and cattle together, it becomes a powerhouse.”

There has been the idea to forge a federation in francophone West Africa, consisting of Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Benin shortly before they gained independence from France in 1960.

“Our forebears tried to create groupings, like the Mali Federation, which sadly did not last. But they showed us the way,” he said.

“One of my reasons for going to Mali is that for a long time, we’ve been looking elsewhere for solutions when they’re often right under our noses,” he continued.

The West African neighbours are battling a brutal jihadist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, driven more than two million from their homes, and prompted military takeovers of the elected government.

Each has witnessed two military coups since 2020 and is under pressure from the international community to return to democratic civilian rule. The two have also tilted towards embracing relations with global south-in Russia and China as they have both engaged Russian mercenaries- the Wagner group in containing terrorism as well as seeing relations with France.

A federation consists of a group of countries or regions that have joined together to form a large organization or government. Under the federal arrangement, no region is politically stronger enough to dominate the other but each can influence the other through the instrument of negotiation and compromise.

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