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Sahel Research Group
Weekly News Brief

May 25- May 31, 2018
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SAHEL RESEARCH GROUP NEWS

Webinar series on gender and nutrition in livestock systems has a successful launch
This past Wednesay (May 30thThe Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems launched the first webinar of a three-part series on Gender and Nutrition in Livestock Systems. The webinar series is led by Dr. Sarah McKune of the SRG and Dr. Kathleen Colverson, both of who are principal research scientists and leaders in the Livestock Systems Innovation Lab. The webinar series will continue on June 13th at 8:30 am, with the final webinar being held on June 27th at the same time. To register for the June 13th webinar click here.

BURKINA FASO
26 May
Burkina Faso breaks relations with Taiwan
VOA Reuters
  • Two days after breaking ties with Taiwan, Burkina Faso resumed diplomatic relations with China on May 26th during a ceremony in Beijing between Burkinabè foreign minister, Alpha Barry, and Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi.
  • It is the second time that Burkina Faso has broken ties with Taiwan, the first being in 1973, though the country re-established relations with Tapei in 1994.
  • China, Africa’s largest trade partner with massive investments in mining, constructionand banking, resumed relations with five of the six African countries that had previously diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

29 May
Burkina Faso and Togo connect their customs systems digitally
Togo first Le Faso Net
  • Burkinabè and Togolese customs systems were officially connected in a May 28th ceremony in Ougagadougou led by the Burkinabè trade minister, Harouna Kaboré.
  • This new cooperation is expected to reduce procedural delays in the transit of goods along the Lomé-Ouagadougou corridor from two to three days, to two hours and gain a smoother traffic flow between Togo and Burkina Faso.
  • The total cost of the project amounted to $1.9 million and was supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

CHAD
28 May
Public sector strikes disrupt government services again
RFI Bloomberg
  • Police were called in on May 28, 2018 in N’Djamena to control a new strike of union workers.
  • Chad’s unions called for an unlimited strike after the government failed to follow through on a wage deal with union workers.
  • The public sector continues to suffer as union workers refuse to work for slashed wages.

30 May
Judges strike in response to the assault on a lawyer by security forces
RFI VOA
  • The Bar Association started a three-day strike on May 28th, calling for top officials to resign after last week’s assault on a lawyer who was accompanied by three of his clients.
  • On May 22nd, the three men were beaten outside the courthouse in Doba, while their lawyer transported them from the prison following their release by a judge.
  • Lawyers reconvened on May 30th to motion for the dismissal and trial of Doba’s governor and head of the Legion gendarmerie for criminal involvement in the incident.

MALI
29 May
Malian immigrant becomes a hero after rescuing a baby in France
Le Figaro RFI
  • Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta acknowledged on May 28th the courageous action of Mamoudou Gassama, a Malian migrant, who saved a child from a perilous situation in Paris, as announced on the president’s Twitter account.
  • Mr. Gassama was received by French President Macron on May 29th and was offered a residence permit and regularization of his migrant status in recognition of his heroic act.
  • Officials and ONG supporting migrants warned however of the risk of political exploitation of this event, reminding that three thousand unauthorized Malian migrants are awaiting deportation in France.

31 May
UN Secretary General visits Mali
Jeune Afrique TV5
  • UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, pleaded on May 30th for increased support to the G5 Sahel force, in his visit to Sévaré, in the center of Mali, as reported in a press conference.
  • The secretary general declared that center of Mali is the key to the Malian crisis and that it is absolutely essential to avoid its collapse and restore security and normality.
  • With only two months left until the presidential election, Mr. Guterres also insisted on the importance of holding free elections and repeated the intention of the UN to support the process.

MAURITANIA
28 May
Religious leaders divided over support for president’s third term
RFI Saphir News
  • A controversy was sparked as Mauritanian religious leaders issues their positions on a third presidential term for Mauritanian president, Mohamed ould Abdel Aziz.
  • Traditional Muslim scholars are opposed to younger imams and favor a position of stability for the country, as well as supporting the status quo.
  • These discussions took place despite President Aziz repeatedly having said during the last months that he was not going to run for political office in 2019.

30 May
Government summons Iranian ambassador over religious proselytism
Infomédiaire Cridem
  • The Mauritanian foreign affairs ministry summoned Iran’s ambassador to Mauritania, Mohamed El Amrani, on May 25th, over religious proselytism that was initiated by the diplomatic representation.
  • The Imam of the El Moujemaa mosque was dismissed and replaced by another Imam of Sunni obedience, while the mosque was placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
  • Mauritanian authorities criticized the Iranians officials for their intention to introduce Shia doctrine to Mauritania.

NIGER

26 May
International human rights organizations demand the release of civil society activists
Jeune Afrique FIDH

  • Ten international NGOs, including Amnesty International, called on Nigerien authorities, on May 25th, to release twenty-six civil society activists, as reported in a joint press statement.
  • The activists were arrested on March 25, 2018, during an illegal demonstration in connection with the protests on the 2018 Finance Act.
  • It would be dangerous for Niger’s democracy to reduce the space of civil society in West Africa, said Mélanie Sonhaye Kombate of the West African Human Rights Defenders Network.

30 May
Two migrants die in the desert, eighty others rescued
TV5 Maghreb emergent

  • Two African migrants died of thirst and eighty others were saved in the middle of the Nigerian desert 237 miles from Agadez, as reported by the International Organization for Migration.
  • The migrants were on their way to Europe via Libya when their car broke down and they were abandoned by the smugglers.
  • A consequence of the implementation of stricter laws against migrant traffic in 2015, smugglers now take dangerous routes, with few water sources, out of fear of being caught by military patrols, said the OIM spokesperson.

SENEGAL
29 May
Macky Sall to increase student scholarships
TV5 Journal du Cameroun
  • On May 28th, Senegalese President Macky Sall announced an increase in study scholarships, as well as a reduction in meal prices in public universities, calling on the student leaders to ease the tensions in a peaceful way.
  • The scholarships were increased by $3.50 for partial scholarships and $7 per month for full scholarships, as announced by the presidency.
  • The resumption of classes remains uncertain, however, as students’ movements appeared divided on their call for the resignation of several ministers.

30 May
Macky Sall accused of insulting the memory of the Senegalese Tirailleurs
Le Monde Jeune Afrique
  • Senegal’s President, Macky Sall, was criticized by part of the local press after the comment he made, on May 26th, about the historic episode of Senegalese battalions who were engaged in World War I alongside the French army.
  • Macky Sall’s declaration was interpreted to suggest positive outcomes of colonialism and was qualified as “revisionist.”
  • The event happened during a presentation of President Sall’s latest book, in a context in which he is expected to soon announce his candidacy in the February 2019 presidential election.
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Sahel Research Group · Center for African Studies · University of Florida · Gainesville, FL 32611 · USA

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