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Musings From Abroad

UN experts want independent probe into possible war crimes by Mali, Russia’s Wagner



The likely case of crimes against humility by the government of Mali in its fight against terrorism has continued to generate concern among the international community.

The development comes to the front again on Tuesday as United Nations experts called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes by government forces and Russian private military contractor Wagner Group in Mali.

According to a statement from an independent expert, “Since 2021, the experts have received persistent and alarming accounts of horrific executions, mass graves, acts of torture, rape, and sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances perpetrated by Malian armed forces and their allies.”

In May, UN’s Malian mission, known as MINUSMA, alleged in a report that “Malian Armed Forces, supported on certain occasions by foreign military elements, increased military operations to combat terrorism… some of which sometimes ended in serious allegations of violations of human rights.”

The EU and the US have both also condemned Mali’s alleged use of Russian-based mercenaries the (Wagner Group) to fight terrorists and alleged attacks on civilians.

Recall that Russian President Vladimir Putin last year said the Russian state had nothing to do with Russian military contractors working in Mali, adding that the African country had the right to work with private Russian firms.

Mali has continued diplomatic romance with the global south as it has recently solidified relations with Russia and China as its relation with the rest faces tension. The country had broken defence ties with France and other pro-Western states.

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.

Musings From Abroad

US Vice President, Kamala Harris to visit 3 African countries as new scramble continues



The scramble for Africa between the global South and West has continued as the United States continues to push to have its place in Africa re-established.

The US Vice President, Kamala Harris has begun a weeklong visit to Africa to pitch against China and Russia both of which have invested heavily in the continent over several decades.

During the visit, Harris will be in Ghana from March 26-29, then in Tanzania from March 29-31. Her final stop is Zambia, on March 31 and April 1.

She will meet with the three countries’ presidents and plans to announce public- and private-sector investments.

The United States lately has been on a quest to revamp its relations with Africa as China and Russia’s influence continues to grow in the country. Russia has been India’s largest weapons supplier since the Soviet Union days.

One of Harris’s destinations is Zambia, which was the first African country to default on its sovereign debt during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is working with its creditors, including China, to reach an agreement.

According to senior U.S. officials said, the US is concerned about China’s engagement in technology and economic issues in Africa as well as its involvement in debt restructuring.

“We’re not asking our partners in Africa to choose,” said a senior official, describing the competition with China, although he added that the U.S. has “real concerns about some of China’s behavior in Africa” and its “opaque” business dealings.

The US is strengthening relations, in 2022 President Biden announced at US-Africa Business Forum, announced over $15 billion in two-way trade and investment commitments, deals, and partnerships that advance key priorities, including sustainable energy, health systems, agribusiness, digital connectivity, infrastructure, and finance.

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Musings From Abroad

Like Italy, US worried President Saied’s style creates ‘enormous concern’ over Tunisia



Following the sit-tight regime of President Kais Saied of Tunisia, the United States Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf has claimed that the president’s style of leadership has caused “enormous concern” over the country.

Leaf told newsmen on Thursday that after years of efforts to build democracy “what we’ve seen in the last year and a half is the government taking Tunisia in a very different direction.”

“There have been a number of moves over the past year by the president that frankly have weakened foundational principles of checks and balances,” she said.

She said many Tunisians were dissatisfied by the years following the 2011 revolution that brought democracy, but said “to correct those deficiencies you don’t strip institutions of their power”.

“I can think of no more important institution than an independent judiciary,” she added.

“These were comments that created a terrible climate of fear but more than that actually resulted in attacks on these very vulnerable people, attacks and a tidal wave of racist rhetoric,” Leaf said.

Earlier in the week, Italian Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani remarked on Sunday the IMF, the United States, and other international caution to stop bailout talks demanding Tunisia’s far-reaching reforms. He said Italy is worried that International Monetary Fund’s block on a $1.9 billion loan to Tunisia might lead to a new wave of migrants toward Europe.

Since the beginning of his sit-tight reign, President Saied has sacked the government, suspended parliament, and seized a string of powers in July 2021.

Since 2021 when he dismissed the government of Hichem Mechichi, he has also moved to rule by decree before writing a new constitution that he passed last year.

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