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Sahel Research Group 
Weekly News Brief

March 30 - April 5, 2018
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SAHEL RESEARCH GROUP NEWS

Faith and Politics: Student Activism and Religious Movements in Sahelian Universities
The Sahel Research Group is pleased to present a symposium on faith and politics in the Sahel, on Thursday April 26th, 2018. The symposium will bring scholars from the region to explore the striking proliferation of religion-based forms of student organization and activism on university campuses across the region. Our guest speakers are Magloire Somé (Burkina Faso), Walar Modou Abakar (Chad), Mamadou Lamine Dembélé (Mali), Elémine Ould Mohamed Baba Moustapha (Mauritania), Abdoulaye Sounaye (Niger), and Mamadou Bodian (Senegal).

BURKINA FASO
1 April
Trial of the failed September 2015 coup set to resume
RFI Jeune Afrique Koaci
  • The trial of the failed September 2015 coup was suspended and scheduled to resume on April 6th with the interrogations of the accused and witnesses, as declared on March 31st by Seydou Ouédraogo, president of the court.
  • Eighty-four persons were charged in the trial, including Generals Diendéré and Djibrill Bassolé, alleged leaders of the failed coup that killed fourteen people and wounded another 270, on September 16th, 2015.
  • Furthermore, the court rejected as unfounded bail applications claimed by four defendants on social and health grounds.

4 April
Malian prime minister visits Ouagadougou to reinforce counter terrorism cooperation
RFI Fasozine
  • Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga made an official visit to Ouagadougou on April 3rd, where he met with Paul Kaba Thieba, prime minister of Burkina Faso.
  • The two neighboring countries, in the wake of recurrent attacks, have decided to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
  • One of the options discussed was the creation of an economic zone between Sikasso in Mali, Bobo Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, and Korhogo in Côte d’Ivoire that would improve living conditions for their populations and weaken the influence of terrorist groups.

CHAD
1 April
Economic forum held to strengthen ties between Chad and Russia
RFI Alwihdainfo
  • A Chad-Russia economic forum was held from March 26th to 28th in N’Djamena in order to discuss investment possibilities between the two countries.
  • The forum was organized as a follow-up of the Paris roundtable held in September 2017 to support Chad’s national development plan when Russian investors announced $9.2 billion of financing intentions.
  • Chad with its vast territory crossing three climatic zones, has a geostrategic position of choice, potentialities and opportunities for numerous and varied investments, as stated by Zara Mahamat Hissein, director to investor services department.

4 April
The opposition and civil society oppose reforms to the Republic of Chad
Le Monde VOA Jeune Afrique News 24
  • Chad’s main opposition group said it rejected the conclusions of the reforms to the presidency, as stated in an April 1st press release by Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo, coordinator of the New Opposition Front for Change (FONAC).
  • Saleh Kebzabo, a former presidential candidate who lost to Déby in 2016, declared in a March 29th interview that the reforms would simply prop up the incumbent, who has ruled since 1990.
  • As a result of the national conference of March 27th, Chad’s president will be able to be reelected until 2033 and be granted greater powers per constitutional changes.

MALI
3 April
Former president of Malian transition to run for next presidential elections
BBC Maliactu
  • Diancounda Traoré, the former president of the Malian transition government from April 12th, 2012 to September 4th, 2013, won his party’s primary elections and should be invested presidential candidate of the Alliance for Malian Democracy (ADEMA) before the end of April.
  • At seventy-six years old, Dioncouda Traoré will stand for the July 29th election on the account of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s ruling party, Rally for Mali (RPM).
  • Dioncounda Traoré is a well-known personality of the Malian political scene, who was also president of the National Assembly and was several times a minister.

4 April
Government transfers a jihadist to the International Criminal Court
Jeune Afrique TV5
  • Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed, a Malian jihadist and former member of Ansar Dine, appeared on April 4th before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
  • The Malian jihadist, a Tuareg, is being tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Timbuktu between 2012 and 2013.
  • This is the first time an individual has been prosecuted before the ICC for crimes against physical persons during the war in Mali.

MAURITANIA
30 March
Three receive jail sentences on practice of slavery charges
Le Figaro Cridem
  • Two distinct trials were held for crimes against humanity in Nouadhibou on April 4th, and three people were sentenced for ten to twenty years of jail for subjecting people to slavery, as reported by a judicial source to the AFP.
  • In December 2015, Mauritania set up three specialized courts for slavery cases in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou (northwest) and Nema (southeast), however without much improvement of the situation, according to NGOs.
  • Boubacar Ould Messaoud, president of the Association SOS slavery, welcomed a judgement that will be considered an example in Mauritania where 43,000 persons were still reduced to slavery in 2016, according to Amnesty International figures.

1 April
A case of human trafficking in Saudi Arabia produces an outcry
RFI Cridem
  • The Free Central of Workers of Mauritania (CLTM), the Association of Women Heads of Family (AFCF), and SOS Slaves denounced in a joint public statement of April 4th human trafficking taking place from Mauritania to Saudi Arabia.
  • The NGOs broadcasted their complaint after the case of Lalla Mint Mohamed Vall, who was recruited by Nema Ould Monak, a man arrested in early March following a complaint submitted by thirty-five plaintiffs.
  • Despite several similar scandals, Mauritania signed a convention in 2017 with Saudi Arabia for the recruitment of 15,000 Mauritanian domestic workers.

NIGER
3 April
Political parties raise concern over a new electoral code
Actuniger Nigerdiaspora
  • Representatives of the MPN Kishin Kassa, one of the major parties of the ruling coalition, organized a press conference on April 3rd in Niamey to communicate the party’s concerns over new changes introduced in the electoral code by the ruling coalition.
  • The MPN Kishin Kassa has converged on these matters with the opposition parties, and declared the electoral commission hardly representative, and said that the commission in charge of drafting the electoral list was biased.
  • It is the first time that a political party from the ruling coalition has publicly denounced the new electoral code in Niger.

4 April
Journalist deported to Mali after spending a year in prison
Jeune Afrique RFI
  • The journalist Baba Alpha, born in Niamey but a Malian citizen, was deported to Mali after spending one year in a Nigerien jail for usurpation of Nigerien nationality, as stated by the deportation documents.
  • Baba Alpha, thirty-four years old, was very critical of the regime in Niger, according to one of his lawyers, Boubacar Mossi.
  • He was sentenced to two years in jail including one year suspended with a ten-year suspension of his civil and political rights.

SENEGAL
30 April                     
Mayor of Dakar sentenced to five years of jail
Liberation BBC
  • Khalifa Sall, mayor of Dakar was sentenced to five years in prison on March 30th and fined €7,620 for embezzling $3.4 million in public money.
  • This conviction will hinder Khalifa Sall from next year’s elections, where he had been expected to be one of the main contenders of President Macky Sall.
  • The politician was arrested on March 30th, 2017 and successfully stood for parliament while being in detention at the time.

4 April
Senegal celebrates Independence Day
Franceinfo Office Holidays
  • Senegal celebrated on April 4th the fifty-eighth anniversary of the country’s independence with a parade by the armed forces in Dakar in the presence of the President Macky Sall and his government.
  • The oldest of the French colonies in sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal gained its independence on April 4, 1960, and Léopold Sédar Senghor became Senegal’s first president.
  • The date marks the signing of the agreement that rules the transmission of state power to the federation of Mali, composed of Senegal and Sudan.
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Sahel Research Group · Center for African Studies · University of Florida · Gainesville, FL 32611 · USA

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