Mali Crisis: Summit With Buhari, Others End In Deadlock

The presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation.

 

West African leaders ended a day-long summit in Mali on Thursday without a deal to soothe the country’s escalating political crisis.

Five of the region’s leaders met Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation, as a long-running jihadist insurgency threatens to throw the country into chaos.

But the intervention failed to seal a deal and Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou — at the talks along with the leaders of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria — said Western African bloc ECOWAS would hold a summit on Monday.

 

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

 

“Nothing has moved for the movement,” said one of the protest leaders, Imam Mahmoud Dicko, after holding talks with the presidents.

Earlier as the foreign leaders arrived on Thursday morning, a small group of demonstrators gathered outside the airport.

“We’re here to demand IBK’s resignation and ensure our comrades who have been killed are not forgotten,” said Yaya Sylla, a young protester, using the acronym by which Mali’s leader is known.

President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo (C) arrives at the Sheraton hotel where West African leaders will gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali, in Bamako on July 23, 2020.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

 

The June 5 Movement, named after the date when the protests began, has tapped into deep anger over Keita’s perceived failure to tackle the dire economy, corruption and the eight-year jihadist revolt.

Malians are also incensed at the disputed outcome of long-delayed parliamentary elections in March and April that handed victory to Keita’s party.

The summit came on the heels of a five-day mediation mission from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which ended on Sunday without reconciling the two sides.

 

President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou arrives in Bamako on July 23, 2020, where West African leaders will gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

 

The West African leaders discussed proposed solutions that had been crafted in behind-the-scenes talks between the president and opposition this week.

The Institute for Security Studies think-tank warned on Thursday that there was an “unfavourable prejudice” towards the presidents, however, with some perceiving the leaders as protecting their own narrow interests.

“The search for solutions will have to take into account the need to improve the daily lives of Malians,” the think-tank said.

 

Macky Sall, President of Senegal, is seen after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali.  (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Deepening crisis

Keita, who came to power in 2013, has come under increasing pressure to end Mali’s long-running jihadist conflict.

The poor nation of some 20 million people has been struggling to contain an insurgency that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since 2012, despite the presence of foreign troops.

In the latest violence, a French soldier was killed and two others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in northern Mali on Thursday, according to France’s presidency and the French army.

 

France’s soldier Tojohasina Razafintsalama, from Tarbes, southern France was killed, “during fighting against armed terrorist groups”, announced the Elysee Palace. (Photo by Handout / FRENCH ARMY / AFP) 

 

But much of the current tension was sparked in April, when the constitutional court tossed out 31 results from the parliamentary elections, benefiting Keita’s party and sparking protests.

Tensions then ratcheted up into a crisis on July 10 when an anti-Keita rally organised by the June 5 Movement turned violent.

Three days of clashes between protesters and security forces left 11 dead and 158 injured in the worst political unrest Mali had seen in years.

Seeking a way out, ECOWAS mediators suggested forming a new unity government including opposition members and appointing new constitutional court judges who could potentially re-examine disputed election results.

But the June 5 Movement had already rejected any outcome that did not involve Keita’s departure.

 

Mahamadou Issoufou (C), President of Niger, speaks during a press conference after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. – In an exceptional one-day summit, the presidents of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger have scheduled meetings with Malian President and leaders of a protest movement clamouring for his resignation. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

Possible compromise?

Despite the apparent failure of the ECOWAS mediators, the president’s camp and opposition figures had quietly been talking all week and the June 5 Movement notably suspended protests ahead of the forthcoming Eid festival.

Brema Ely Dicko, a sociologist at the University of Bamako, had suggested the opposition might be prepared to accept Prime Minister Boubou Cisse’s resignation instead of Keita’s.

“The M5-RFP is obliged to keep up the pressure to at least get something,” he said, using the opposition coalition’s formal acronym.

A European diplomat in Bamako who declined to be named said that the opposition may have overplayed its hand in demanding Keita’s departure.

“Nobody wants to open the door to a period of political instability in Mali, which remains the epicentre of the Sahel security crisis,” he added.

 

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (L) and the Imam Mahmoud Dicko (C), influential leader of the opposition coalition, greet each other after a meeting in Bamako on July 23, 2020 as West African leaders gather in a fresh push to end an escalating political crisis in the fragile state of Mali. (Photo by MICHELE CATTANI / AFP)

 

 

AFP

Ghana President Self-Isolates Despite Negative COVID-19 Test

 

Ghana’s president has gone into self-isolation for two weeks as a precautionary measure despite testing negative for coronavirus, the government said, after one of his contacts was confirmed to have the illness.

President Nana Akufo-Addo began his quarantine on Saturday and will be working from the presidential villa in Accra, capital of the West African country, the information minister said in a statement.

“The president has elected to do so after at least one person within his close circle tested positive for COVID-19,” the minister said.

“(The president) has, as (of) today, tested negative, but has elected to take this measure out of the abundance of caution.”

Ghana has reported more than 19,300 cases of the new respiratory disease and 117 deaths, and has lifted its strict lockdown although social-distancing measures remain in place.

The announcement came a day after the presidency said a junior minister had resigned for failing to self-isolate after testing positive.

There was no official indication the events were linked.

Since the pandemic erupted, a number of senior political figures worldwide have caught the disease, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was hospitalised and has now recovered.

Senegal’s President Macky Sall also went into a preventative quarantine last month, despite testing negative, after coming into contact with a coronavirus case.

AFP

Ghana Minister Resigns Over Virus Isolation Breach

File: President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo speaks during the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship forum 2018 in Lagos on October 25, 2018.

 

A Ghanaian junior minister resigned on Friday for failing to self-isolate after testing positive for coronavirus, the presidency said.

Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah’s resignation has been accepted by President Nana Akufo-Addo with “immediate effect”, his office said in a statement.

“This follows the admission by the deputy minister of his breach of the COVID-19 protocols, when, as a person certified to be positive of the virus, he visited a registration centre in his constituency before the period of self-isolation was complete,” it said.

The presidency said that the minister ought to have led by example rather than violate self-isolation protocols.

The embattled minister told AFP that as an asymptomatic patient he was not a major threat to other people.

“I have COVID-19, but I’m asymptomatic. There is nothing shameful in catching COVID. I never got in the midst of people at the registration centre. I spoke to a few people at the centre and left,” Ahenkorah added.

The authorities in Ghana have introduced a raft of measures, including self-isolation, lockdown, mask-wearing and social distancing to curb the spread of the virus.

The disease has so far infected more than 18,000 people and claimed 117 lives in the west African nation.

 

Ghana Cancel League Over COVID-19

ghana-premier-league
File: Photo: [email protected] Premier League

 

Ghana have cancelled the 2019/2020 league season due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials in the African football powerhouse confirmed Wednesday.

“The executive council of the Ghana Football Association has a taken a decision to cancel the 2019/2020 season following a marathon meeting,” the governing body said on its website.

Clubs had played 14 or 15 matches in the 34-round championship, with Aduana Stars leading by one point, when the league was halted in mid March.

The national association opted to nominate Asante Kotoko and Ashanti Gold for the 2020/2021 African club competitions as they were the representatives this season.

Twice winners Kotoko will compete in the CAF Champions League and Ashanti Gold in the CAF Confederation Cup, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.

The 2020/2021 CAF competitions are scheduled to kick off on August 7, but seem likely to be delayed because of the COVID-19 disease.

AFP

NPP Picks Akufo-Ado As Presidential Candidate 

 

Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) has picked incumbent Nana Akufo-Addo as its presidential candidate in this year’s election, setting up a third consecutive head-to-head battle against former president John Dramani Mahama.

The ruling party in a statement released on Saturday says Akufo-Addo will contest the December 7 poll with Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia as his running mate.

61-year-old Mahama who has been chosen by the National Democratic Congress, NDC as its candidate, defeated Akufo-Addo in the 2012 presidential race.

Ghana Taking Demolition Of Mission Building With All Seriousness – Gbajabiamila

 

The Government of Ghana is taking the demolition of the Nigerian Mission building in Accra with all seriousness.

This was disclosed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, in a statement issued on Friday.

He also noted that the country has also promised to cede the property as well as all documents relating to it to the Nigerian embassy.

Gbajabiamila explained that the Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Aaron Oquaye, gave the assurance that the parliament will work with their Executive to ensure the matter is resolved diplomatically.

READ ALSO: Ghana President Calls Buhari, Apologises Over Demolition Of Nigerian Mission

“Yesterday (Thursday) I had a good and constructive discussion with His Excellency Rt. Hon. Aaron Mike Oquaye, Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament. He reassured me of the respect and regard the people of Ghana have for Nigeria.

“He stated the Ghanaian government is taking the demolishment with all seriousness and has taken the following actions: 1) Perpetrators have been arrested and investigation is ongoing; 2) the Property will be ceded and all documents handed over to Nigeria under the Compulsory Acquisition Act of Ghana; 3) the destroyed High Commission quarters will be rebuilt by the government of Ghana,” he said.

Gbajabiamila’s comments come three days after the country’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, called President Muhammadu Buhari to extend his sincere apology over the demolition.

The Ghana leader assured President Buhari that he has directed a full investigation into the matter, assuring that justice will be served.

Meanwhile, some suspects linked to the demolition have been arrested and will be arraigned in court.

Ghana Residents Report Earthquake

A file picture of the Ghanaian Flag
A file picture of the Ghanaian Flag

 

Several people living in Ghana late Wednesday reported that their walls shook in what appears to have been a light earthquake.

According to MyJoyOnline, a Ghanaian news website, parts of the Greater Accra, Central Region, and their surrounding areas experienced the tremors which took place at about 10:40 pm and occurred three times in the space of 10 minutes.

A Nigerian tech investor living in Ghana, Victor Asemota, said his “wall and glass table” vibrated. And the co-founder of Iroko TV, Jason Njoku, said he “felt it too.”

 

According to VolcanoDiscovery, a website dedicated to volcano photos and information, the Ghana earthquake had a magnitude of 4.0.

Light earthquakes are measured between 4 and 4.9 on the Richter scale and generally cause no damage.

Although the country is well removed from the major earthquake zones of the world, Ghana is prone to earthquake disaster, according to one academic paper published in 2003.

In 2018, the BBC reported an earth tremor in Accra.

 

Two Arrested Over Demolition Of Nigeria Building In Ghana

The staff quarters of the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana said to have been demolished by a businessman.

 

Two persons have been charged following their arrest over the demolition of the Nigerian high commission building in Accra, the capital of Ghana.

According to a press release from the Criminal Investigation Department in that country, the suspects are being charged with conspiracy to commit crime, namely: unlawful entry and causing unlawful damage contrary to the Criminal and other Offences Act 1960.

The statement noted that the suspects were arrested on Monday, June 22 and will be arraigned before a court of law.

Earlier, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana formally apologised to President Muhammadu Buhari in a telephone call over the incident, promising full investigation into the matter.

The Ghana leader assured President Buhari that he has directed a full investigation into the matter, assuring that justice will be served.

READ ALSO: Ghana President Calls Buhari, Apologises Over Demolition Of Nigerian Mission

It will be recalled that a businessman who claimed ownership of the land housing the Nigerian mission reportedly moved with security personnel to demolish some portion of the staff quarters.

Although the demolition took place on Friday, the man was said to have shown up the previous week with some pieces of evidence to support his claim and began to knock down the fence surrounding the building.

A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Channels Television that the action of the man was not opposed, adding that the Nigerian High Commission petitioned the Ghanaian Government about it, but there was no response.

Following the incident, many Nigerians including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila have condemned the action.

Ghana President Calls Buhari, Apologises Over Demolition Of Nigerian Mission

(FILE PHOTO) President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana speaks with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

 

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana has called President Muhammadu Buhari Over the demolition of the Nigerian High Commission in Accra.

In a telephone conversation on Tuesday, Akufo-Addo expressed his sincere apology over the unfortunate incident that has sparked reactions from the Nigerian government.

This was confirmed in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu.

The Ghana leader assured President Buhari that he has directed a full investigation into the matter, assuring that justice will be served.

Meanwhile, some suspects linked to the demolition have been arrested and will be arraigned in court.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Embassy Staff Quarters In Ghana Demolished

It will be recalled that a businessman who claimed ownership of the land housing the Nigerian mission reportedly moved with security personnel to demolish some portion of the staff quarters.

Although the demolition took place on Friday, the man was said to have shown up the previous week with some pieces of evidence to support his claim and began to knock down the fence surrounding the building.

A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Channels Television that the action of the man was not opposed, adding that the Nigerian High Commission petitioned the Ghanaian Government about it, but there was no response.

Following the incident, many Nigerians including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila have condemned the action.

Attack On Embassy In Ghana Was Carried Out By Non-State Actor, Says Onyeama

A file photo of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama.

 

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, says the Ghanaian Government has apologised to Nigeria over the attack on its High Commission in Ghana.

While addressing reporters on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the minister promised to ensure those behind the attack were brought to book.

According to him, the attack was reportedly carried out by non-state actors, a group of people who are claiming ownership of the same land where the Nigeria High Commission cited.

“What we can say is that it was a non-state actor that was involved; it was not the government and it was not government-sanctioned,” Onyeama said.

He added, “We have engaged with the highest level of authority in Ghana, it appears that they have some people claiming that they have legitimate entitle over that piece of land.”

A businessman had on Friday last week demolished the staff quarters of the Nigeria High Commission in Ghana, claiming the structure was built on his land.

The authorities in Nigeria and Ghana have condemned the incident.

FG Summons Ghanaian Envoy Over Demolition Of Embassy Quarters

the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, with the Charge d’ Affaires of the High Commission of Ghana to Nigeria, Iva Denoo. PHOTO: [email protected]

 

 

The Nigerian Government has summoned the Charge d’ Affaires of the High Commission of Ghana to Nigeria, Iva Denoo.

Denoo was summoned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, over the demolition of the staff quarters of the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana.

Mr Onyeama disclosed this on Monday via a post on his verified Twitter handle.

During the meeting, the minister said he demanded an urgent explanation of the incident and reinforcement of security around Nigeria’s diplomatic premises and staff in Ghana.

 

The meeting held three days after a businessman demolished the building, claiming the structure was built on his land.

According to sources, the man showed up last week with some pieces of evidence to support his claim and began to knock down the fence surrounding the building.

He was said to have returned to the scene on Friday last week with a bulldozer and began to pull down the building.

The authorities in Nigeria and Ghana have condemned the incident.

See photos of the meeting between the minister and the Ghanaian envoy below:

Nigerian Govt Condemns Attacks On Embassy In Ghana

FG Mourns Ex-Nigerian Ambassador To Congo, Saleh Pisagih
File photo: Minister of Foriegn Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama

 

The Federal Government of Nigeria has strongly condemned what it terms ‘attacks’ on a residential building within its diplomatic premises in Ghana.

Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, disclosed the Federal Government’s displeasure in a series of tweets posted on his timeline on Sunday.

Onyeama’s tweets come on the heels of several reports that buildings at the diplomatic premises were brought down by a bulldozer late Friday, June 19, following claims by a businessman who said he owned the piece of land where the Nigerian High Commission’s staff quarters was erected.

It took a timely intervention by the Ghanaian police to stop more buildings from being destroyed.

READ ALSO: Nigerian Embassy Staff Quarters In Ghana Demolished

In reaction, Mr Oyeama condemned the attack and urged the Ghanaian government to take precise actions against the perpetrators of the attacks.

Onyeama tweeted, “We strongly condemn two outrageous criminal attacks in Accra, #Ghana, on a residential building in our diplomatic premises by unknown persons in which a bulldozer was used to demolish the building.

“We are engaging the Ghanaian Government and demand urgent action to find the perpetrators and provide adequate protection for Nigerians and their property in Ghana. #StayHomeSaveLives #COVID19 @NigeriaGov @DigiCommsNG @GhanaMFA”