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Musings From Abroad

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

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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

World Bank supports Kenyan central bank’s interest rate hike

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The World Bank has noted that the decision of the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to raise interest rates, and the partial payment of its Eurobond have contributed to the recent stability of the Kenyan Shilling.

 

Bank of Kenya’s (CBK) Monetary Policy Committee raised the policy rate by 50 basis points to 13.00% at its first meeting of 2024 on February 6, 2024. The policy rate then rose to its highest level in more than ten years. It was a big surprise to most market experts that the rate went up after being raised by 200 basis points in December.

 

The Central Bank Rate (CBR) was raised twice in a row by CBK in December and February, bringing it up from 10.5% to 13%. The main goal was to support the shilling by getting foreign investors to put their money into local investments like government bonds.

 

 

The international lender says that the Central Bank of Kenya’s move to raise the benchmark lending rate has helped protect the local currency. They also say that the demand for shilling has grown because Eurobond notes that mature in June are being partially repaid.

 

So far this year, the shilling has gained the most value compared to other currencies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Zambian Kwacha has also gained some value, but not as much.

 

“The Kenyan shilling is the best-performing currency in the sub-continent, and it recorded an appreciation of 16% so far this year. After strengthening by 14% in mid-February, the Zambian Kwacha has lost some ground and recorded a year-to-date appreciation of 2.4% as of mid-March. In both cases, the monetary authority hiked interest rates to defend their currencies,” the World Bank notes in a new regional outlook report.

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Musings From Abroad

WHO says Nigeria is the first country to use new meningitis vaccine

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Nigeria is the first country in the world to give out the “revolutionary” new vaccine— Men5CV.

Nigeria is one of the places in Africa where the sickness is doing the most damage. The WHO says that the number of yearly cases rose by 50% in 26 African countries that are considered to have a high risk of meningitis.

Nigeria reported 1686 possible cases of meningitis between October 1, 2022, and April 16, 2023. Of these, 124 people died, giving the country a case fatality rate (CFR) of 7%.

Meningitis is a very bad illness of the meninges, which are the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is a terrible disease that poses a big threat to public health.

“Nigeria’s rollout brings us one step closer to our goal to eliminate meningitis by 2030,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The WHO says that from October of last year to the middle of March of this year, there were 1,742 probable cases and 153 deaths in seven states in Nigeria.

The WHO said that the new vaccine will protect against all five major types of the disease that are common in Nigeria. This is different from the first vaccine, which only protected against one strain.

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