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Gabonese President, Ali Bongo, appoints first female PM, Ossouka Raponda

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Gabon has had its first female Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda as President Ali Bongo on Monday appointed her for the role.

President Ali Bingo’s Secretary General, Jean-Yves Teale revealed in a video statement a new Parliament Member to replace Raponda.

Raponda, who was defence minister before his appointment had to navigate a delicate political scene as prime minister after a coup attempt in 2019 while Bongo was on prolonged medical leave following a stroke.

 She was named budget minister in 2012 before being elected mayor of the capital Libreville in 2014, becoming the first woman to hold that position since 1956.

Women have historically been disadvantaged in participating in politics. Africa and the rest of the world are far from achieving 50% women’s representation in politics – at all levels of governance. In 2021, Africa was at 24 percent of women’s representation in parliament.

Politics

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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