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Mali insists it won’t regard ECOWAS treaty’s withdrawal notice period

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In defiance of the bloc’s contract, Mali declared on Wednesday that it would not wait a year to exit the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Reversing decades of regional integration, Mali and its neighbouring junta-run countries, Niger and Burkina Faso, announced last month that they were leaving ECOWAS, the largest political and economic union in West Africa, immediately.

In formal notices dated January 29, all three of them informed the ECOWAS Commission of their decisions to exit the bloc. As per the terms of the treaty, this meant that they would remain bound by their membership for a duration of one year from that day.

According to Mali’s foreign ministry, when ECOWAS imposed sanctions on the military administration, it closed its borders to Mali, in violation of its own charter. and argued that “consequently, the Government of the Republic of Mali is no longer bound by the deadline constraints mentioned in Article 91 of the Revised Treaty,” the statement said.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation reiterates the irreversible nature of the decision of the government of Mali to withdraw without delay from ECOWAS due to the violation by the organization of its own texts, as well as the other legitimate reasons,” it said.

ECOWAS, Niger, and Burkina Faso did not immediately respond when asked if they would follow suit. ECOWAS has called a conference to review the situation on Thursday, February 8.

The 15-nation bloc, which had been attempting to negotiate the restoration of democracy with their military leaders, has suffered a blow with the departure of these three countries.

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Kenya’s Ruto sacks cabinet amidst protests in major win for protesters

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In response to pressure from widespread protests that have produced the greatest crisis of his two-year government, Kenyan President William Ruto dismissed his entire cabinet on Thursday, with the exception of the foreign minister.

After beginning peacefully, the youth-led demonstrations against the proposed tax increases descended into violence, resulting in at least 39 deaths during altercations with the police last month. A few protestors briefly invaded the parliament before Ruto decided against the new levies.

“I will immediately engage in extensive consultations across different sectors and political formations and other Kenyans, both in public and private, with the aim of setting up a broad-based government,” Ruto said in a televised address to the nation, adding that he would announce additional measures later.

In addition, he fired the attorney general but claimed that this had no bearing on the deputy president’s position.

Kenyans had been requesting significant cabinet changes, seasoned anti-corruption activist John Githongo told Reuters.

“Let us see what happens now if the new ministers deal with big issues around corruption and just the arrogance and excess of his administration and the fact that a lot of Kenyans died during the demonstrations,” he said.

“Hopefully this should temporarily calm things.”

Ruto finds himself torn between a beleaguered populace reeling from the rising expense of living and lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pressuring him to reduce deficits. He suggested borrowing more money and cutting spending in approximately equal proportions last week to close the nearly $2.7 billion budget deficit left by the removal of the tax rises.

Although the government has no outstanding debt, many claim that Kenya is likely to miss its IMF targets as a result of the tax rollback. For the fiscal year that began on July 1, the estimated budget deficit is currently 4.6% of GDP.

Dismissing so many cabinet members, according to Ojango Omondi, a community organizer from the Social Justice Centers Working Group in Nairobi, was a “move towards justice,” but activists would want to see who Ruto chooses to replace them.

“It’s one thing to dismiss, the second is to ensure that the people that will be chosen in the cabinet are accountable to the constitution and the rule of law,” Omondi said.

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South Sudan’s president dismisses 6th finance minister since 2020

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Four months into the position, South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, has fired the finance minister, the sixth person to hold the position since 2020, according to state-run television.

The report stated late on Wednesday that Kiir did not explain the dismissal of Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid-March of this year. Economist Marial Deng has been selected to take over as finance minister in Kiir’s place.

Due to intercommunal violence, South Sudan’s economy has been under strain recently. Since the civil war that lasted from 2013 to 2018, revenue from crude oil exports has decreased, and more recently, export disruptions have occurred because of the conflict in neighbouring Sudan.

The governor of the central bank, James Alic Garang, declared in May that the foreign exchange reserves of South Sudan had reached all-time lows.

This year, the International Monetary Fund predicts that consumer price inflation will soar to 54.8%.

After South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, Kiir was elected as the country’s first president.

In December, the nation is scheduled to elect a president, members of the legislature, and regional delegates.

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