Category Archives: Sahel

MALI: Goïta calls for urgent meeting

29.07.2021 The National Transitional Council (CNT) will meet on Friday, July 30, 2021 in an extraordinary session in Bamako, Mali capital. Although this special session does not appear in the work calendar of the parliamentary body of the Transition, the President of the Transition took the initiative in the face of the urgency of the moment.

Such a request also responds to the promise of its Prime Minister, Choguel K. Maïga, to present his Government Action Plan in six weeks.

“We have proven that when there is the political will, the determination and especially when you know where you are going, and why you are here, nothing is impossible,” said the latter.

Indeed, it was the holder of the Executive, Colonel Assimi Goïta, who called, through a note, the session with a very specific agenda. This is called the “Government Action Plan Review” (PAG).

On Thursday, July 22, this Government Action Plan covering the period of the nine months remaining before the end of the Transition was presented by the Prime Minister during an extraordinary Council of Ministers. According to the press release issued by the said Council of Ministers, it is designed around 4 axes following the missions assigned to the Transition by its president. Thus, in axis 1, it is a question of “strengthening security throughout the national territory”, then the adoption of “political and institutional reforms”, of the Organisation of general elections, in axis 3 , and finally, the “Promotion of good governance and the adoption of a social stability pact”.

Mali: france ends Barkhane operation

Brussels 10.06.2021 At a press conference, Emmanuel Macron announced this Thursday, June 10, afternoon, June 10, the end of the anti-jihadist military operation Barkhane in the Sahel, at least in its current form.(Image: illustration)

Reports citing military and diplomatic sources had indicated that an “adjustment” in the French presence would depend on the involvement of other European countries in the Takuba Task Force fighting armed groups in the Sahel alongside the Malian and Nigerien armies. Those forces have ramped up in recent months.

At the February summit, the leaders of the G5 countries had warned Macron against the dangers of a rapid pullout. Since then, the veteran leader of Chad and close French ally, Idriss Deby Itno, has been killed, while Mali has suffered a second coup that has badly strained relations with Paris.

Speaking of a “profound transformation”, the President of the Republic evoked “the end of Operation Barkhane as an external operation to allow an operation of support, support and cooperation to the armies of the countries of the region. who wish ”. The modalities of this new international cooperation will be worked out at a coalition gathering by the end of June.

“The lasting presence in the framework of France’s foreign operations cannot substitute for the return of the state and state services to political stability and the choice of sovereign states,” the president finally clarified.

“At the end of consultations (..) we will initiate a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”, he said during a press conference, announcing the “end of Operation Barkhane as a ‘foreign operation’ and the implementation of ‘an international alliance bringing together the states of the region’.

The “time has come” to initiate “a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”, declared the head of state during a press conference at the Elysee Palace.

Believing that France’s role had never been to replace African states, Emmanuel Macron indicated that discussions would take place in the coming weeks to set the “new framework” for intervention in the Sahel.

The “transformation” of Operation Barkhane will include the closure of French army bases and the priority given to the fight against the jihadists by the special forces.

The fight against terrorism will be carried out “with special forces structured around (operation) Takuba with obviously a strong French component – with several hundred more soldiers – and African, European and international forces”, which “will have vocation to make interventions strictly in the fight against terrorism, ”the French president said during a press conference.

These announcements are part of the political will already outlined by Emmanuel Macron to reduce the French military presence in the area in the medium term. Paris is deploying some 5,100 soldiers against jihadists affiliated with the Daesh group and Al-Qaeda, a major support for the weakened armies of the Sahel states who are struggling to fight them alone.

In mid-February, during a summit in N’Djamena with G5 Sahel partners (Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania), the French president announced that Paris did not intend to reduce “in the immediate” Barkhane workforce. However, he had outlined an exit strategy, in favor of European reinforcements ready to join them, while France has been fighting massively the jihadists in the Sahel since early 2013.

Malian commitments
The situation has become more complicated in recent weeks, on the one hand with the brutal death of President Idriss Déby in Chad, and especially the second coup d’etat in eight months in Mali, the central country of Operation Barkhane.

In this regard, Emmanuel Macron also deplored that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “recognized” Colonel Assimi Goïta as president of the transition in Mali, after a second putsch, including seeing a “bad case law” for Africa and a “mistake”.

EU reacts on Burkina-Faso terrorist attack

Brussels 05.06.2021 “Burkina Faso has just been the victim of one of the most grave terrorist attacks in recent years. The EU stands more than ever alongside the country and the G5 Sahel SE to face terrorism and extremism together” the EU Council president Charles Michel wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Armed men have killed around 100 people in an attack on a village in the north of Burkina Faso, President Roch Kabore said.

During the overnight raid on Solhan, homes and the market were also burned, Reuters news agency reports quoting a government statement.

No group has said it was behind the violence, but Islamist attacks are increasingly common in the Sahel country, especially in regions bordering Niger and Mali.

President Kabore has declared three days of national mourning saying, in a tweet, that “we must stand united against the forces of evil”.

The security forces are currently looking for the perpetrators, he added.

EU €210M budget for Sahel

Brussels 11.05.2021 The EU is reaffirming its solidarity with vulnerable people in countries in the Sahel and Central Africa through a humanitarian budget of €210 million in 2021. The funding will be allocated to humanitarian projects in the following eight countries: Burkina Faso (€24.3 million), Cameroon (€17.5 million), the Central African Republic (€21.5 million), Chad (€35.5 million) Mali (€31.9 million), Mauritania (€10 million), Niger (€32.3 million) and Nigeria (€37 million).

“Worsening instability and armed conflicts, together with the COVID-19 pandemic and natural hazards, are having a devastating impact in the Sahel and countries in Central Africa. The EU remains committed to help reduce suffering among people in need in the region. While humanitarian aid is there to bring emergency relief, longer-lasting improvements can only be brought about through the political will of national governments and good governance” Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said.

The EU’s humanitarian funding in the Sahel and Central Africa countries is targeted to:

provide life-saving assistance to the people affected by conflict and to the communities hosting people who had to flee;
provide protection to vulnerable people and support the respect of International Humanitarian Law and the humanitarian principles;
support measures to address food crises and severe acute malnutrition among children under 5;
enhance the immediate response in terms of basic services to most vulnerable population, especially as concerns health care for all or education for children caught up in humanitarian crises; and
strengthen fragile communities’ preparedness for crises, such as mass displacements of people, or recurrent food or climate-related crises.
This assistance is part of the wider EU support provided to the region, including through the ´Team Europe´ contributions to the Coronavirus Global Response, support to the vaccine distribution effort through the COVAX Facility, and other actions providing longer-term support to strengthen fragile health systems.

As part of the EU’s Coronavirus Global Response and its target to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, Team Europe provided €2.2 billion to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is supporting the delivery of 1.3 billion doses of vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021 and has recently decided that up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for use in humanitarian contexts.

In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.

The EU is a leading, long-standing humanitarian donor in the Sahel and Central Africa, one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions. In 2020, the EU supported humanitarian interventions in the region with more than €213 million. More than 19 million people in need benefitted from EU-funded humanitarian operations initiated in 2020 in West and Central Africa, including around 6.3 million people who were provided with food security and livelihood support, more than 3 million people assisted on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, around 2.8 million people offered access to health services, and almost 1.8 million people receiving protection support.

In order to support longer-term achievements, the EU is working to build effective synergies between humanitarian, development and peace initiatives. The life of many in the Sahel and Central Africa countries continues to be disrupted by conflict, poverty, climatic changes, recurrent food crises, or a combination of all. It is estimated that there are more than 35 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the eight priority countries covered by the EU’s 2021 Humanitarian Implementation Plan for West and Central Africa. The major humanitarian needs relate to shelter, emergency food aid, access to health care and clean water, treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable.

Against this backdrop, the coronavirus pandemic is posing additional challenges, both as concerns the pressure on already fragile health systems but also the effects of the containment measures on vulnerable people’s access to food and livelihoods.

At the same time, humanitarian actors are facing the combined challenges of delivering humanitarian assistance in an increasingly insecure context, where access is further restricted due to the pandemic.

Burkina Faso: journalists assassination

Brussels 29.04.2021 “By assassinating journalists at Burkina Faso, terrorists have once again shown their cowardice and true criminal face: that of defenders of an obscurantism that destroys all freedom of expression and speech. Our full solidarity with bereaved families”, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog, reacting upon news about the bodies of the missing journalists found.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed Tuesday, April 29, that two Spanish journalists have been killed in an attack in Burkina Faso.

“The worst news is confirmed. All our condolences for the relatives and friends of David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, who were murdered in Burkina Faso,” he tweeted, praising “those who, like them, carry out courageous and essential journalism from conflict zones.”

Spain’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, April 28, that two bodies found in Burkina Faso appear to be those of a pair of Spanish journalists abducted while filming a documentary there, although authorities are still awaiting final confirmation.

“The situation is confusing,” Arancha Gonzalez Laya told a news conference, explaining that she was in constant contact with Burkinabe authorities, who provided the information about the dead bodies, via Spain’s Embassy in Mali.

According to the experts, there was no doubt that the attackers from jihadists groups, prolific in Sahel region, in spite of efforts of the governments of the G5 countries and international forces to ensure security of the population.

The incident took place on Monday at around 9am, on the road joining Fada N’Gourma and Pama. The reporters were in the area, located near Arli National Park, to film a documentary on the government’s fight against poachers. The convoy was made up of two pick-up trucks and around 20 motorbikes, on which journalists, environmental agents and a military escort were travelling. The convoy left Natiaboani in the morning made a pause at distance at 60 km, when the Spanish journalists got out of one of the trucks and started operating a drone to take aerial photos. It was the moment when the attack began, according to El Pais newspaper.

Local sources cited by Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that two other members of the group, an Irish national and a man from Burkina Faso, have also disappeared and that at least three people were wounded in the attack.

Borrell: Sahel pivotal moment

Brussels 25.04.2021 “The security situation remains very worrying in the Sahel. One figure is enough to illustrate this point: in central Mali, there are two serious security incidents every day involving deaths and / or injuries. How to improve this situation that no European state would tolerate? How to sustainably consolidate military gains? Via a “civil and political burst” as decided at the G5 and Sahel Coalition Summit held in N’Djamena last February” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote in his blog.

“In the fight against instability in the Sahel, it is not enough to reconquer territories by force. The challenge is above all to regain the confidence of the populations. They want to see school teachers, doctors, judges . As much, if not more, than the military. ”
“In the fight against instability in the Sahel, it is not enough to reconquer territories by force. The challenge is above all to regain the confidence of the populations: they expect an exemplary State and access to basic services that respect human rights. They hope for the return of the state, everywhere and for all. They want to see school teachers, doctors, judges. As much, if not more, than the military. It was a central subject of the mission which took me in recent days to Mauritania, then to Chad and Mali.
“The Sahel is one of the regions of the world where the Union and its member states are most committed to peace, stability and development.”
“As already expressed on this blog several times (see here and there), the Sahel is one of the regions of the world where the Union and its member states are most committed to peace, stability and development. Between 2014 and 2020, the EU and its member states allocated 8.5 billion euros in development aid, humanitarian aid, security and defense. The Union has also deployed three Common Security and Defense Policy missions in the region. However, I had not yet had the opportunity to go there, my previous visits having been canceled due to the health situation.

“My trip this week comes at a pivotal moment. After the strengthening of the military action decided at the Pau Summit in early 2020, the G5 Sahel Summit (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad) and the Sahel Coalition which was held in Ndjamena in Chad there is a few weeks, this time focused on the return of the rule of law and public services in fragile areas. It is also the central axis of the new strategy for the Sahel that the Council of the EU has just adopted. It is about this reorientation that I wanted to discuss with my interlocutors on site.

“The enormous challenges facing the region fuel the activity of terrorist groups and contribute to the development of drug and human trafficking. Threatening to destabilize neighboring regions and ultimately Europe.”

CHAD: FACT ready for ceasefire

Brussels 25.04.2021 The rebels, known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), intruded over the northern border from Libya on April 11 calling for an end to Deby’s 30-year rule. They came as close as 200-300 km (125-185 miles) from the capital N’Djamena before being pushed back by the army.
“FACT is ready to observe a ceasefire for a political settlement that respects the independence and sovereignty of Chad and does not endorse a coup d’etat,” FACT spokesman Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol said.

Deby was killed on Monday, April 19, while visiting troops at the frontline, just after he won an election one more time. His death shocked the Central African country, which has long been a Western ally against Islamist militants. However the circumstances of his death remain unclear.

The air force has since bombarded rebel positions, the military and rebels said. The military said on Saturday it had “annihilated” the rebels.

After Deby’s death, a military council headed by his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power and said it would oversee an 18-month transition to elections. Opposition politicians called this a coup, and the rebels said they would not accept a “monarchy”.

Borrell arrives to Deby funeral

Brussels 23.04.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has arrived to N’Djamena, the Republic of Chad, to attend the funeral of late President Idriss Deby. In a statement issued by the European External Action Service, Borrell expressed his views on the situation in this Sahel country, namely “…the need to guarantee the stability of Chad, and at the same time to return to constitutional normality as soon as possible. These two goals: stability, to ensure that the transition is going to take place in an orderly fashion and that this transition lasts as little as possible and that this leads again to constitutional normality”.
The diplomat has also underlined that the role of the neighbour Niger’s is fundamental.  In general, all the Sahelian countries are committed, “all together and the European Union, also to help this transition, by guaranteeing stability and the return to normality, I repeat, constitutional” he added.

The EU, France and the G5 Sahel countries, which together are fighting the jihadists in this region, expressed their “common support for the civil-military transition process” to the son of the late Chadian president Idriss Déby Itno killed by rebels.

According to official sources, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno died on Tuesday April 20 at around 1 a.m., following fighting between the Chadian army and the rebellion of the Front for Alternation and Concord in Chad (FACT), not far from Mao in the Kanem region, in the center of the country. In power for 30 years, Déby had just been re-elected for a sixth consecutive term. His death was announced at 11 am on national television by army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa.

Some observers doubt this version of events and offer other, unconfirmed hypotheses about the circumstances of his death, including that of a negotiation meeting with FACT members that allegedly turned into a shooting.

It is no surprise that President Déby himself went to the battlefield. Coming to power in 1990, following a coup d’état against President Hissène Habré, whose army he had commanded, Déby has always made his military status his main political force. His armed forces had succeeded in repelling rebel assaults in 2006 and 2008, and most recently in 2019, thanks to the support of the French military, and he was not hesitant to go into combat himself.

In April 2020, he took the lead in a counter-offensive against a faction of Boko Haram, which had just killed nearly 100 Chadian soldiers on the shores of Lake Chad. Its commitment on the ground enabled it to mobilize and galvanize its troops and, at the same time, to stand as a guarantor of the integrity of the national territory. His death is therefore causing concern among many Chadians and plunging the country into uncertainty.

Borrell meets Niger President

Brussels 22.04.2021 During his visit to Chad the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has met the President of Niger Mohamed Bazoum in N’Djamena, the capital of the Republic of Chad. After the talks he EU diplomat has issued the following statement: “We shared with the President, the analysis of the situation. I found in him very wise words, of understanding the situation, emphasising the need to guarantee the stability of Chad, and at the same time to return to constitutional normality as soon as possible. These two goals: stability, to ensure that the transition is going to take place in an orderly fashion and that this transition lasts as little [long] as possible and that this leads again to constitutional normality.
Niger’s role is fundamental. It is a big neighbour of Chad. In general, all the Sahelian countries are committed, all together and the European Union, also to help this transition, by guaranteeing stability and the return to normality, I repeat, constitutional.”

The President of the Republic, Head of State, His Excellency Mohamed Bazoum has been receiving the Vice President of the European Commission, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Political Affairs, Mr Joseph Borell.

Rencontré à N’Djamena le Président du Niger Mohamedbazoum
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Quelques semaines après un processus électoral historique, l’UE réaffirme la volonté de poursuivre notre partenariat, et de soutenir le premier transfert démocratique de l’histoire du pays.

SAHEL: Deby death events arcane

Brussels 20.04.2021 President Idriss Deby has died of wounds suffered on the front line in the country’s north, while visiting soldiers battling insurgents, the Chad armed forces said.
The exact circumstances of Deby’s death remain arcane. As a Commander-in-chief Deby had been leading his army during the weekend as it battled rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day on April 11.

Recognised as a brilliant military strategist who has been able to survive numerous coup d’état attempts and rebellions, Deby never hesitated to lead soldiers on the battlefront. Last year, he took the title of Field Marshal of Chad.

On Monday, April 19, the army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels intruding from neighbouring Libya, claiming it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.

The rebel raid in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem was carried out by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), based in Libya. The group has a neutrality pact with Marshal Khalifa Haftar controlling Libya’s oil-rich East.

FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Dazaga (sometimes referred to as Gourane, an Arabian exonym Goran people), said in a statement Sunday, April 18, that it had “liberated” the Kanem region. The events in the remote desert combat zones are hard to verify.

A military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, four-star General Mahamat Idriss Deby, would take a lead for the next 18 month transition period. A curfew has been imposed in the capital N’Djamena and the country’s borders have been shut in the wake of the President’s sudden death.

Deby, 68, “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television on Tuesday, April 20, a day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.

Deby was a herder’s son from the Zaghawa Sahelian Muslim ethnic group who took the classic path to power through the army ranks, and relished the military culture.

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