Sahel Research Group 
Weekly News Brief

April 27 - May 3, 2018
SRG Website

New chapter on regional integration.
Oliver Walther of the SRG contributed to the newly published Routledge Handbook of African Development. His contribution discusses the factors that explain the gap between regional integration as an institutional project and regional integration as an everyday reality in Africa.

28 April
Roughly one hundred arrests made along northern and eastern borders of Burkina Faso
Jeune Afrique RFI
  • From April 19th to 27th the Burkinabè armed forces arrested one hundred suspects and seized explosive devices while patrolling the northern border, as announced in an army statement.
  • Burkina Faso's border regions with Mali and Niger have been scenes of regular attacks by jihadi groups for three years.
  • Official figures say eighty-nine ambushes have left 134 people dead.

2 May
Armed men attack a police outpost in western Burkina Faso
  • A police station was attacked on April 30th at a border crossing with Mali, in the western part of Burkina Faso, as stated by national police.
  • No casualties among the police were reported, but the gunmen fled, leaving significant material damage.
  • With targeted killings on the rise, and more than two hundred schools closed, as well as a court in Djibo, analysts warn that the state has lost control of northern Burkina Faso.

30 April
Controversy over Chadian mercenaries fighting in Yemen
RFI Alwihdainfo
  • Several African media outlets reported recently that Chadian mercenaries were engaged by the hundreds to fight in Yemen alongside the coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia.
  • Chérif Djako, a Chadian activist based in Paris, said that these young men are unknowingly enlisted to fight.
  • The Chadian government has strongly denied any alleged involvement of Chadian soldiers in Yemen, claiming that they would be illegal, as stated by Ahmat Makaila, spokesperson of foreign affairs ministry.

1 May
Parliament approves proposal for a new constitution
RFI Le Monde
  • The Chadian Parliament adopted on April 30th the proposal for a new constitution, opening the way to the Fourth Republic, as announced in a press release.
  • The majority of the thirty-three deputies of the opposition, out of 170 in the Assembly, boycotted the vote to protest against the adoption of the draft constitutional revision by parliamentary mechanisms.
  • The vote took place in a tense context, as the parliamentary district in N'Djamena was totally cordoned off by a pronounced police presence.

30 April
Over fifty opposition parties create a new coalition in preparation for upcoming elections
  • Three months before the first round of the presidential election in Mali, thousands of people of the opposition were gathered on April 29th in Bamako to sign a manifesto asking for change in the government.
  • The opposition’s main targets are the the army’s lack of resources, corruption, poverty, and safety concerns.
  • One of the organizers of the event was Soumaïla Cissé, a former candidate in the last election, who is expected to announce on May 12th his candidacy in the upcoming election.

2 May
Massacre of civilians continues in Menaka, near Niger-Mali border
Reuters VOA
  • In the second attack of its kind in two days, suspected jihadists killed seventeen Tuareg civilians in an attack on April 27th in Menaka, on Mali’s northeastern border with Niger, as announced by tribal leader Sidigui Ag Hamadi.
  • In two days, forty-three people from the Imghad pastoralist group were killed, said local lawmaker Bajan Ag Hamatou.
  • Violence has escalated in recent months as jihadists have exploited ethnic tensions between Fulani herders and Tuaregs.

30 April
French oil company Total resumes work in Mauritania amidst controversy
Le 360 Jeune Afrique
  • The French oil company Total obtained rights to exploit and produce oil in the country in a $70 million contract, as announced in an April 4th interview by Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s CEO.
  • Total had left Mauritania in 2014 after the drop in the price of oil.
  • A Mauritanian newspaper, Le Calame, introduced a controversy asserting that Total did not pay $70 million, but only $19 million to the Mauritanian government.

3 May
Mauritania acknowledged for improvement in respect for human rights
Alakhbar Atlas Info
  • The UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) acknowledged the efforts of Mauritania’s government on the question of racial discrimination through the adoption in 2015 of the law against slavery, as stated by Marc Bossuyt, the committee’s rapporteur, on May 2nd.
  • Mauritania’s report was presented in Geneva on May 1st and May 2nd by Cheikh Tourad Ould Abdel Malick, commissioner for human rights and humanitarian action, during the 95th session of the CERD.
  • The Haratines, the largest ethnic group in Mauritania, are the most economically and politically marginalized group and are frequently victims of discrimination in Mauritania.

30 April
Government opens negotiation with student union to end strike
Actuniger Actuniger
  • After the main student union (USN) declared on April 29th the continuation of its undetermined strike, Niger’s government agreed to open negotiation in order to solve the crisis.
  • Negotiations started with a meeting between Niger’s prime minister, Birgi Raffini, and the steering comity of the USN, on April 30th.
  • The meeting ended when the USN’s prerequisite, namely the release of two hundred and forty-one arrested students and case-management of the wounded, were not met.

30 April
Army engaged in military operation against Boko Haram
La Croix Actuniger
  • Kalla Moutari, Niger’s defense minister, in an April 29th interview on TV, discussed the ongoing military operation of the multinational military force against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin.
  • Once completed, the operation, scheduled to be conducted between April and June, will enable the return of thousands of displaced persons who fled the numerous islands of the region since the start of the conflict in 2009.
  • The UN fears that fifteen thousand more people, who still live on the islands, will in turn have to flee the region because of the ongoing operation.

26 April
Senegalese bass player Habib Faye has died
BBC Infoglitz Jeune Afrique
  • Habib Faye, the famous Senegalese guitarist and bass player and Grammy-nominated producer, died on April 25th in Paris at the age of fifty-four of lung disease.
  • In Senegal, Faye was mostly known as the musical director of Youssou Ndour’s musical band Le Super Etoile de Dakar.
  • The musician was also recognized on the international scene and played with artists such as Sting, Tracy Chapman, Manu Dibango, Angélique Kidjo, and Manu Katché.

1 May
Senegalese professors and government reach agreement to end strike
  • The Senegalese government and SAES, the main teachers’ union of Senegal, reached an agreement on April 27th that will end a four-month strike.
  • One of the main claims solved by the agreement provides for an increase of monthly housing allowances granted to the teachers that will increase from $109.6 to $182.6 by 2020, as announced by Senegalese Prime Minister Mouhammad Boun Abdallah Dionne on April 27th.
  • In order to make up for the delay in the school programs, the end-of-year exams will be rescheduled.
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Sahel Research Group · Center for African Studies · University of Florida · Gainesville, FL 32611 · USA

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