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Sahel Research Group 
Weekly News Brief

April 13 - April 19, 2018
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SAHEL RESEARCH GROUP NEWS

UF receives Luce Foundation Grant
Beginning in 2018, Sahel Research Group member Benjamin Soares will direct a three-year multi-disciplinary project, “Islam and Africa in Global Context,” funded through a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation’s Initiative on Religion in International Affairs to the University of Florida. The project will be carried out by the Center for Global Islamic Studies in conjunction with the Center for African Studies. The main objectives are to deepen knowledge of Islam in Africa, challenge scholars of Islam working on other geographic areas to engage more fully with scholarship on Africa, and strengthen the study and understanding of Islam in the US, as well as in institutions of higher education outside of the US, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The main project themes include: Muslims and new media; contemporary ways of being Muslim; Muslim-Christian encounters; and Islam and politics. In addition to helping to consolidate UF’s standing as a leading hub for the study of Islam in Africa, the project will also support non-US-based scholars, institutions, and higher education, particularly in Africa, through the training and mentoring of a group of scholars (some of whom might be future policymakers). It will also facilitate long-term international exchanges and networks. Members of the Sahel Research Group will be actively involved in the project.

 

BURKINA FASO
17 April
Violence in Mali drives thousands to flee to Burkina Faso
Reuters VOA UNHCR
  • Three thousand refugees have fled from Mali to neighboring Burkina Faso since February 2018, when clashes between Dogon and Fulani communities broke out and killed dozens of people, as announced by William Spindler, UNHCR spokesperson, in an April 17th press briefing.
  • The new arrivals put pressure on vulnerable host communities in the north of Burkina Faso, struggling to address drought-related hunger crisis, in a context of growing extremist and inter-communal violence, added the UNHCR representative.
  • The influx added to some 24,000 Malian refugees who found refuge in Burkina Faso since the start of the Malian conflict in 2012.

18 April
Islamic State in the Greater Sahara takes responsibility for abduction of teacher and assassination of mayor
Le Monde Jeune Afrique The Citizen
  • A Burkinabè elementary school teacher was abducted by members of extremist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS), on April 12th, in the northern town of Bouro, as announced by security sources and local officials.
  • The EIGS spokesman also claimed responsibility for the murder of Hamid Koundaba, the mayor of Koutougou in the Soum province, on April 15th, reported the AFP.
  • The EIGS is led by Adnane Abou Walid Sahraoui, formerly of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), who has been recently targeted by the French Barkhane force.

CHAD
11 April
White House lifts the travel ban on Chadians seeking to visit the US
Washington Post RFI Reuters
  • The Trump administration lifted a US-imposed travel ban on citizens from Chad on April 16th, as announced by the White House.
  • President Trump signed a proclamation announcing Chad had “improved its identity-management and information sharing practices” enough to be taken off the list, announced Sarah Sanders, the White House spokesperson.
  • Chad is recognized to be a key partner of US counterterrorism in the fight against threats to the Sahel region posed by al-Qaida affiliates like Boko Haram and the West African wing of the Islamic State.

16 April
Opposition boycotts legislative process to establish the new constitution.
VOA RFI Jeune Afrique
  • Chadian opposition decided to boycott all works involving the new Constitution until April 30th, when it is scheduled to be voted on, as announced by Ahmat Saleh Rakhis, opposition representative and sixth deputy president of Chad’s National Assembly.
  • The opposition lamented that the new law was not adopted by referendum, but rather by the vote of deputies.
  • Opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo and opposition politicians are currently in the process of forming a new coalition for the upcoming legislative elections in November.

18 April
Three Chadian soldiers killed in clash with Boko Haram
Koaci VOA
  • Three Chadian soldiers were killed in April 15th clashes between the Multinational Joint Task Force and Islamist members of Boko Haram in Arge, Nigeria, at the border with Chad, as reported by Chadian national television.
  • The three soldiers received a posthumous decoration of the Chadian army chief of staff on April 17th, according to the same source, who said they were buried at the N'Djamena military cemetery.
  • The Multinational Joint Task Force, based in N'Djamena, regroups military units from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria and is mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency.

MALI
15 April
One dead and dozens injured in Timbuktu’s French and UN bases terrorist attack
Reuters La Nouvelle Tribune BBC
  • A peacekeeper was killed and a dozen others wounded in the April 14th attack on the international “Super Camp” neighboring Timbuktu’s airport, as announced by the Malian security ministry.
  • The attack was operated when assailants in UN disguise exploded two suicide car bombs and gunmen wearing blue helmets fired dozens of rockets at the French and UN bases.
  • The attack in Timbuktu comes as the international community announced, the week before, its willingness to accelerate the settlement of the Malian case by creating a rapid reaction force within MINUSMA.

18 April
Fulani and Dogon intend to bring back peace in central Mali
RFI BBC
  • Casmir Somboro, the president of the youth association Ginna Dogon, and Ibrahim Dicko, the president of Tabital Pulaaku, launched an information campaign addressing possibilities for restoring peace to central Mali, as announced in a meeting with the media on April 17th.
  • The representatives of Fulani and Dogon youth associations want to help deescalate tensions between communities by asking all young Dogon and Fulani to lay down their arms and avoid sharing messages of hate and violence on social media.
  • Following the recent intercommunal violence that drove thousands to take refuge in Burkina Faso, the youth associations invited other NGOs and organizations active in central Mali, Mopti, and Segou to join this initiative.

MAURITANIA
18 April
Attempted dialogue between government and opposition fails
Cridem Cridem
  • An attempted dialogue between Mauritanian ruling party and political opposition to prepare for legislative elections failed to reach a joint agreement, as announced on April 17th by Mohamed Ould Moloud, leader of the opposition.
  • The opposition had requested the release of the political prisoner Mohamed Ould Ghadda, who opposed the suppression of the Senate in 2017 and is accused of corruption.
  • As a result, the opposition might not take part in the electoral and national independent commission (CENI), which could compromise the process of political transition.

19 April
Newly created electoral commission contested by opposition
Apanews Apanews
  • Ahmed Ould Daddah, one of the leaders of the Mauritanian political opposition, said on April 13th that he held the Mauritanian government accountable for irregularities and discrimination in the management of the electoral commission (CENI).
  • The opposition parties regard the composition of the CENI as fraudulent, stating that the ruling party made use of all possible State resources in order to control electoral lists, as large portions of the opposition were excluded from its composition.
  • The opposition leader stated that the electoral process has lost credibility as a result of the takeover by the ruling party.

NIGER
12 April
Cracks within the ruling coalition: a major party leaves the majority
RFI Jeune Afrique
  • Niger’s foreign minister, Ibrahim Yacouba, was forced to resign on April 11th after he challenged Niger’s electoral code reform in an April 3rd press conference.
  • Yacouba, a former presidential candidate and member of the ruling coalition, announced that his party, MPN-Kiishin Kassa, would also withdraw from the presidential majority.
  • In dismissing Ibrahim Yacouba, President Issoufou separated from a politician who embodies the new generation on the political scene.

19 April
Government closes the University of Niamey after violent protest
Le Monde BBC TV5
  • Niamey University campus closure was decided on April 18th after violent clashes between students and law enforcement left thirty-five injured persons, as announced by the ministry of higher education.
  • The student movement requested rehabilitation for five students who were expelled from the university in March following incidents between them and a professor that provoked one-month strike among the teachers.
  • This new confrontation might entail the end of the truce established between students and government to leave room for negotiations to repeal the decision authorizing the police to ensure university’s security.

SENEGAL
17 April
Malian mayor is sentenced to six months in prison
RFI Bold Africa
  • Barthélémy Dias, the mayor of Mermoz-Sacré-Coeur in Dakar, was sentenced to six months in prison and was also fined $200 on April 17th for contempt of court and incitement to disturb public order, as announced by Judge Yaham Keita.
  • Dias, a close political ally of Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall, denounced the disparities in the Senegalese justice system following Sall’s sentence of five years in prison on March 30th for embezzlement of public money.
  • Dias had allegedly verbally attacked the judges in the media, before calling on the people to take to the streets to challenge the verdict.

18 April
Controversy over the draft law of sponsorships
BBC InfoGlitz
  • Controversy arose within the Senegalese opposition as authorities announced their intent to establish a system of citizen sponsorship for elections, in order to reduce the number of candidates and avoid “fanciful candidacy.”
  • According to the Senegalese opposition, the ruling power is trying to hinder the candidacies of potential political opponents to favor the outgoing President Macky Sall in the first round of elections.
  • Sponsorship for an election is defined by lawyers as a method of selection to validate a candidacy by the signature of a defined number of citizens or elected officials.
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Sahel Research Group · Center for African Studies · University of Florida · Gainesville, FL 32611 · USA

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