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Mali ‘not totally inflexible’ on ECOWAS bloc, says Senegalese president

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During his first official visit to Mali on Thursday, President Bassirou Diomaye Faye of Senegal said he discussed the issue of remaining with regional bloc, ECOWAS, with his counterpart in Mali, who was “not inflexible” on the matter.

Reversing decades of regional integration, Mali and its neighbouring military-junta-run countries, Niger and Burkina Faso, declared in January that they would be leaving ECOWAS, the principal political and economic organization in West Africa.

The three countries have united to form the Alliance of Sahel States (AES), a defence and cooperation pact, to form a confederation. After winning the election in March, Senegalese President Faye declared he would attempt to convince Colonel Assimi Goita-led Malian junta to stay in ECOWAS.

“I spent a lot of time discussing it with the colonel,” Faye said on Malian state radio on Thursday.

“I understand the Malian position, which, although rigid, is not inflexible.”
In addition to bilateral cooperation, he stated that all sides needed to collaborate to discover constructive ways to fortify integration “by trying to correct the blunders that we have noted in multilateral cooperation.”

“But we cannot resign ourselves to watching a tool for integration that was formidable in its conception, in the results it has brought us and which has been held up as an example, disintegrate without doing anything,” Faye said.

In written letters dated January 29, the three Sahel states formally informed the ECOWAS Commission of their decisions to exit the union. As per the terms of the treaty, this meant that they would remain bound by their membership for a year following that day. On Thursday, Faye paid a visit to Captain Ibrahim Traore, the head of Burkina Faso’s junta, in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou.

“We also discussed the subject of ECOWAS; I understand today that the positions are somewhat fixed, but I perceive in each of these positions a window of opening that allows us to establish a thread of dialogue,” Faye said, according to the Burkinabe presidency’s communications department.

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Politics

Economic reform won’t stop despite hardship— Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu

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Despite mounting difficulties that have stoked popular unrest, Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu declared on Wednesday that economic reforms would go forward and pledged to quickly submit an executive bill to parliament establishing a new minimum wage.

After devaluing the currency and eliminating a long-standing gasoline subsidy, Tinubu, who took office a year ago, sent inflation skyrocketing to 33.69% in April—the highest level in over three decades—while also reducing earnings.

Tinubu acknowledged the difficulties brought about by the reforms—which also include higher lending rates and the partial elimination of electricity subsidies—during a televised broadcast on Democracy Day, but he insisted that these measures would strengthen the groundwork for future prosperity.

“Our economy has been in desperate need of reform for decades. It has been unbalanced because it was built on the flawed foundation of over-reliance on revenues from the exploitation of oil,” Tinubu said.

“As we continue to reform the economy, I shall always listen to the people and will never turn my back on you.”

Nigeria is experiencing its worst cost of living crisis in decades, and labour unions called off a walkout last week to put pressure on the government to set a new minimum wage of Naira a month.

In response to labour demands of 250,000 naira per month, the government has proposed to double the minimum salary to 62,000 nairas ($41.89) per month. Tinubu claimed his government had negotiated in good faith. In 2019, a new minimum wage was established.

“We shall soon send an executive bill to the National Assembly to enshrine what has been agreed upon as part of our law for the next five years or less,” Tinubu said.
He did not say whether the bill would contain the government minimum wage proposal or a new figure.

Before making any decisions, labour union officials have stated that they would like to hear back from Tinubu.

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Amnesty Int’l accuses Nigerian Army of unlawful detention of female terror escapees

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Rights organization, Amnesty International, has accused the Nigerian army of unlawfully holding young women and children who had escaped from Boko Haram’s captivity because the military thought they were affiliated with the Islamist militant group.

The human rights group claimed that the charges, which the military refuted in a statement, were based on 126 interviews conducted with female former hostages between 2019 and 2024.

According to research by Amnesty International, 31 people claimed that between 2015 and mid-2023, they were forcibly detained in military barracks for a few days to nearly four years, mostly due to their actual or suspected ties to Boko Haram.

The United Nations claims that Boko Haram’s armed insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has claimed the lives of over 35,000 people. The group has a nasty reputation and has been charged with rape, forced marriage, torture, and kidnapping. The most well-known incidence occurred in 2014 when 300 girls were abducted from Chibok.

More girls have been kidnapped since then, and many of them have lived with Boko Haram fighters for years. A few have managed to get away.

“The Nigerian government has failed to uphold their human rights obligations to protect and adequately support these girls and young women,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa, in the report.

According to Major General Edward Buba, the defence spokesperson, the military adheres to humanitarian law and protects human rights. According to a statement from the spokesperson, Nigeria’s military “operates within the ambit of international law of armed conflict.”

The Nigerian military has counterattacked the Islamist organization, drawing condemnation for its harsh tactics. The military conducted a covert mass abortion program as part of its fight against Boko Haram, according to a Reuters report from the previous year.

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