Sahel Research Group 
Weekly News Brief

April 20 - April 26, 2018
SRG Website

Faith and Politics: Student activism and religious movements in Sahelian universities.
The symposium brought together six professors from the Sahel to explore religious movements and student activism in the Sahel. Our guests were Mamadou Bodian from Senegal, Abdoulaye Sounaye from Niger, Elémine ould Mohamed Baba Moustapha from Mauritania, Mamadou Dembélé from Mali, Magloire Somé from Burkina Faso, and Walar Abakar from Chad. This symposium, supported by the Minerva Initiative, explored the factors influencing the changes experienced by universities, as well as the reasons for the increase in religiosity on campuses throughout the Sahel.

New Report on prevention of atrocities in Mali.

Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim of the Sahel Research Group published a
report on the prevention of atrocities in Mali with Mollie Zapata of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. This report provides an analysis of the factors behind high-risk intercommunal conflicts in Mali. The authors assess risk for escalation of conflicts in relation with the weakness of the Malians state.

23 April
The opposition meets with the president over project for a new constitution
Le Pays VOA
  • The opposition’s representatives were received on April 19th by Burkina Faso’s President Roch Christian Marc Kaboré to discuss whether the adoption of the new constitution should be decided by referendum or by parliamentary process.
  • This meeting was the beginning of a process of consultations with the Burkinabè president regarding preparations for the elections scheduled for 2020.
  • The opposition also claimed the importance of the participation of all Burkinabè citizens living abroad in the next presidential election, as stated by its leader Zéphirin Diabré.

25 April
Insecurity in northern Burkina Faso continues to disrupt local governance
VOA Koaci
  • Djibo's regional court of justice was closed on April 23rd for security concerns, after several judicial officers were targeted by terrorist attacks last week.
  • This decision was made after a judicial officers' general assembly concluded there was an immediate risk of renewed attacks.
  • All magistrates left the northern region and went to Ouagadougou, and will return to their posts once proper security is restored, as stated by Victoria Ouédraogo, the judicial council's secretary.

21 April
Calls for a referendum from the Catholic Church and opposition shot down by government
Jeune Afrique Africa La Croix
  • Chad’s Catholic Church expressed its concern over the ongoing revision of the constitution and called on April 19th for the adoption by referendum of the new constitution, agreeing on that matter with the opposition.
  • Mariam Mhamat Nour, general secretary of Chad’s government, criticized the church’s position in an April 23rd statement and said that the Chadian president is the sole authority that can decide to hold a referendum.
  • The upcoming transition to a full presidential regime, pillar of Chad’s Fourth Republic, will strengthen the powers of the president and must be voted on by the National Assembly by the end of April.

23 April
Mahamat Hattir Issa named new president of the Higher Council of Islamic Affairs
Tchad Infos Apanews
  • Cheikh Mahamat Hattir Issa was named the new president of the Higher Council of Islamic affairs (CSAI) in Chad, as announced in an April 21st statement.
  • Cheikh Issa succeeds former President Cheikh Hissein Hassan Abakar, who died on January 14, 2018, in Paris.
  • The sixty-four-year-old new president holds a PHD in Islamic science from Kano University in Nigeria and teaches in two Arabic and Islamic Studies Universities in N’Djamena.

24 April
Parliament approves new government policy plan
RFI Mali web
  • The Malian parliament met on April 20th and approved by a large majority the new governmental policy plan of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga, as announced in a press statement.
  • Prime Minister Maïga announced that one of his main objectives was to secure the revival of the Algiers peace agreement around a new roadmap with the armed groups of the north of the country.
  • The opposition criticized the policy plan of a government that is supposed to end in three months, maintaining that the government will never be committed to the plan in any substantial way, as stated by Kalifa Doumbia, spokesperson for the main opposition party, URD.

25 April
President IBK to face another serious challenger in the next presidential elections
Jeune Afrique Maliactu
  • Aliou Boubacar Diallo, a wealthy Malian businessman and CEO of the oil group Petroma Mali, announced in March his intention to run in the July 29th presidential election, thus becoming a serious challenge to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta.
  • Diallo, who began his political career in 2012, considered himself an ally of the ruling party during last election in 2013 and supported Keïta’s candidacy.
  • In 2016, deputies of Diallo’s party ADP-Maliba left the majority, and since then relations between both sides have become problematic.

24 April
Three people sentenced to prison for calling a person “a slave”
Le Monde Le Point
  • Three Mauritanians received a jail sentence of one year, on April 23rd, for moral prejudice after calling another person a slave, as stated by a judicial source.
  • Created in 2013, the special court of repression of slavery crimes pronounced the maximum penalty, which goes from six months to one year of prison, devised for this type of denigration.
  • Up to 43,000 people in Mauritania were still enslaved in 2016, about 1 percent of the total population, according to an Amnesty International report released on March 22nd.

25 April
Ruling party rejects the invitations of foreign observers to monitor upcoming elections
La Tribune Cridem
  • As Mauritania prepares for the upcoming legislative elections of the next two years, the Union for the Republic (URD) rejected on April 22nd the suggestion of welcoming international observers.
  • On this point, the ruling party absolutely disagreed with the opposition, and declared the presence of foreign observers would be unnecessary on the grounds that the Mauritanian election system is reliable, as stated by Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham, president of the URD.
  • For the first time in ten years of boycott, Mauritanian opposition parties confirmed their intention to take part in this year’s elections.

25 April
Crisis at the University of Niamey expands to middle and high schools
TV5 Nigerdiaspora
  • The strike that has paralyzed the university of Niamey since April 18th expanded to many middle schools and high schools in the capital city as well as several other cities in the country, according to authorities and students.
  • The government has decided to stand strong in the crisis that is shaking the national education system, as stated by Yahouza Sadissou, minister of Higher Education in an April 23rd press conference.
  • The FOI teachers' union, in an April 24th press conference, denounced the authorities who refused dialogue and used violence and repression against civil society. 

25 April
Eight civilians killed in attack by an armed group
Niger Diaspora Niger Inter
  • Eight men were killed in an April 16th attack by armed men in three neighboring villages in Tillabéry region, as reported by the regional newspaper Le Sahel.
  • Mohamed Bazou, Niger’s minister of interior and security, travelled to Fillingué, in the Tillabéry region, on April 24th, where he met with traditional leaders and families to convey President Issoufou's condolences.
  • The minister of State issued an appeal for calm and unity among villagers by reaffirming the commitment of Niger’s government to ensure security for all citizens.

19 April
French consortium wins solar photovoltaic projects in Senegal
Financial Afrik Solar
  • The French industrial company Engie and investment partner Meridiam won two contracts for the construction of solar parks in a tender launched in October 2017, as announced in an April 19th statement.
  • The two plants, expected to accumulate a capacity of sixty megawatts, are part of the Scaling Solar initiative located in Kahone, in the Kaolack region, and in Touba-Kaël, in the Diourbel region.
  • Engie and Meridiam will have a stake of 40 percent each, while the Senegalese sovereign fund FONSIS, will have a stake of 20 percent in the new corporation.

21 April
Senegal approves sale of Tigo to group led by French billionaire
Bloomberg Slice 42
  • Senegal’s President Macky Sall approved the sale of Tigo, a unit of Millicom International Cellular SA’s mobile-phone business to a group of investors led by French billionaire Xavier Niel.
  • With the sale of Tigo, Xavier Niel has become the main challenger of Orange telecom in Senegal.
  • Senegal’s government intervened in the deal after Millicom canceled a $129 million agreement in July 2017 to sell its Tigo unit to Senegalese Wari Group, a defaulting debtor and local player.
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Sahel Research Group · Center for African Studies · University of Florida · Gainesville, FL 32611 · USA

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