Sahel Research Group 
Weekly News Brief

May 18- May 24, 2018
SRG Website

Additional Minerva Grant for new project on student activism in the Sahel
The Minerva Research Initiative awarded Leonardo Villalόn, the coordinator of the SRG, along with his team, additional funding to conduct research in six Sahelian countries – Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. Through this grant, Professor Villalόn’s collaborative team, with in-country partners, builds on an earlier extensive research project on political reform, socio-religious change and stability in the Sahel. The new project narrows down its topic to religiously based movements and considers these movements to be central features of Sahelian universities. It examines the contours of this phenomenon in a comparative perspective.

New webinar series on gender and nutrition in livestock systems 
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems has launched a new webinar series addressing gender and nutrition. The three-webinar series will begin on Wednesdays at 8:30 am, on May 30th, and continue on June 13th and June 27th. The objective is to understand how livestock researchers can incorporate these dimensions into their projects. Dr. Sarah McKune of the SRG and Dr. Kathleen Colverson are principal research scientists and leaders in the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab and will be putting on the series.

21 May
Human Rights Watch denounces the conduct of the Burkinabè army in counter terrorism operations
Jeune Afrique HRW
  • The army of Burkina Faso is alleged to have committed extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, or abuses of suspects, in its fight against terror between 2016 and 2018, as announced in a May 21st statement by Corinne Dufka, HRW's director.
  • A sixty-seven-page report documents the villagers' situation as being trapped between militants' threats of death and security forces' requests for information at the threat of collective punishment.
  • In response to the report, the Burkinabè government committed to investigate the allegations.

22 May
Deadly shootout on the outskirts of Ouagadougou leaves four dead
  • One policeman and three suspected terrorists were killed in an operation conducted by the special police force on May 22nd in Ouagadougou, while one Islamist militant was arrested, as reported by the police force.
  • Army forces were able to seize shotguns, pistols, and explosives during the assault.
  • Clément Sawadogo, Burkina Faso’s minister of security, said that the militants were related to the March 2nd attack directed against army headquarters and the French embassy that left eight dead and dozens injured.

17 May
Leader of the opposition meets with Déby for the first time in years
RFI APA news
  • Chad's President Idriss Déby met on May 16th with his main opponent, Saleh Kebzabo, for the first time in six years, the latter announced to the media as he was leaving the State House.
  • The two men, who had not met since 2012, announced that many issues were addressed like the future legislatives, or the problems of political parties and freedom.
  • The meeting was a surprise for many Chadians as the opposition leader, who never acknowledged President Déby's victory in the last election in 2016, took a very critical view in the beginning of May following the launch of the fourth Republic.

20 May
Three opposition leaders released from secret detention
Jeune Afrique TV5 
  • Three political opponents were released on May 19th in Moundou, a city south of the country, after having been secretly detained since the end of March, as announced by Joseph Dadjnadji the opposition party leader of CAP-SUR.
  • During their detention, the three men did not have access to a lawyer and their relatives did not know where they were, denounced the president of CAP-SUR who spoke of an “extrajudicial” procedure.
  • According to Mr. Dadjnadji, the three released opponents were abducted in the night of March 17th by agents of the National Security Agency (ANS) while they were at the Doba police station, in the south of the country.

21 May
A dozen civilians killed in what appears to be another military blunder
Le Monde RFI
  • At least twelve civilians were killed on May 19th in Boulékessi, a market town of the north of Mali, after one soldier was assaulted under circumstances that remain unclear, as reported by military sources.
  • The victims’ relatives vehemently contradicted the official version of the facts provided forty-eight hours later by the Malian ministry of defense, who announced that the dead were jihadists who had been neutralized by the army.
  • The incident happened in a tense context, in a region in which communication is poor, and some witnesses blamed the army for the blunder.

22 May
A food crisis looms as the rainy season starts
  • Four million people are currently threatened by food insecurity in Mali at the beginning of the hunger gap period in the expectation for the start of the rainy season, as reported from Koundougou, a Dogon village where most of the population are farmers.
  • According to the World Food Programme, Mali is experiencing food and nutrition insecurity linked to difficult agro-climatic conditions and a high level of poverty, exacerbated since 2012 by the political and security crisis.
  • The NGO put a dam back into use, which is expected to retain more water in the years to come.

18 May
Government appoints first female judge to lead a court
  • For the first time a woman will preside over a court in Mauritania, as Tekber Mint Oudeika was appointed president of the labor court in Nouakchott.
  • Mrs. Mint Oudeika was the second woman appointed judge in 2015 in Nouakchott, where she has held the position of commercial court counselor since then.
  • In this court, she will be the only judge, her advisers being representatives of employers and employees.

22 May
A new law restricts political parties’ freedom
RFI Le Monde arabe
  • Following its latest meeting, the Mauritanian council of ministers issued a decree to dissolve the under-represented political parties at the national and regional levels.
  • This bill toughens current legislation in Mauritania, where there are 140 political parties in a population of four million, as announced by Ladji Traoré, secretary general of APP, one of the main opposition parties.
  • Under this new decree, a political party that is unable to reach more than 1 percent of the votes after two rounds of municipal elections will be dissolved.

19 May
Inter-communal violence exacerbates on the border between Niger and Mali
  • Seventeen civilians were killed on May 18th in the Tillabéry region, in western Niger, in an attack on a Fulani camp, as reported by a government source.
  • The assailants, heavily armed, came from neighboring Mali on motorbikes and targeted the mosque of Aghay, where people were getting ready for the prayer, according to the same source.
  • A Nigerian security source told AFP that it may have been a reprisal operation, as it occurred two weeks after an attack that killed eighteen Malian Tuareg on April 18th.

23 May
Agadez suffers from consequences of government crackdown on illegal migration to Europe
  • Since the implementation of the law against illegal migration in the end of 2016, the inhabitants of Agadez, a city in northern Niger known as a place of transit on the route to Europe, must reconfigure economically.
  • Flows of migrants in Agadez have gone from 350 migrants a day to one hundred a week, as explained by Niger’s foreign affairs minister, Mohammed Bazoum, in an interview with RFI.
  • According to the law, smugglers and traffickers risk between five and ten years in prison for smuggling of migrants and consequently thousands lost their main economic activity in Agadez.

17 May
Senegal’s national soccer team’s coach names World Cup 2018 squad
Washington Post Foot Mercato
  • Senegalese soccer coach Aliou Cissé announced on May 17th the list of his twenty-three players who will represent Senegal in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
  • For this year’s World Cup, which starts on June 14, 2018, the Senegal will face off in the first round the teams of Poland, Colombia, and Japan.
  • The Senegalese national team, created in 1961 following independence, will take part this year in its second World Cup since the 2002 games.

23 May
Death of student results in debate taken over by political sphere
RFI Infoglitz RFI
  • In the wake of the May 15th death of the student Fallou Sène, during a student strike that led to violent clashes in Saint-Louis, Senegalese President Macky Sall has dismissed the rector of the University Gaston Berger as of May 19th.
  • Student unions called for demonstrations in all university towns in Senegal on May 24th to demand justice.
  • The student strikers are now asking for the resignation of the ministers of Economy and Higher Education, and their claims have been amplified by the political opposition.
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Sahel Research Group · Center for African Studies · University of Florida · Gainesville, FL 32611 · USA

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