Malian President No Longer Interested In Power, Jonathan Tells Buhari

A photo taken on August 26, 2020, shows former President Goodluck Jonathan walking with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

 

The ousted Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, says he is no longer interested in returning to his former office.

This was according to Nigeria’s former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who visited the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday.

Dr Jonathan, who is ECOWAS Special Envoy to Mali, was at the Villa to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the crisis in the West African country.

The meeting comes ahead of an extraordinary virtual summit by ECOWAS Heads of State and Leaders scheduled to take place on Friday.

Briefing the President on his recent visit to Mali, Dr Jonathan disclosed that his team was allowed to meet with the ousted President who confirmed that he resigned from office voluntarily.

The former president also brought President Buhari up to speed on dialogue with the military coup leaders seeking to stay in power for three years, before holding elections in the country.

A photo taken on August 26, 2020, shows former President Goodluck Jonathan with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

 

“They call themselves National Committee for the Salvation of the People,” Dr Jonathan was quoted as saying in a statement by President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

He added, “We asked them to allow ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to return to his personal residence where he would be given tight security, but they said he could travel abroad and not return to answer questions they may have for him.

“We also told them that what would be acceptable to ECOWAS was an interim government headed by a civilian or retired military officer, to last for six or nine months and a maximum of 12 calendar months.

“The Interim Government would then organise elections to restore full constitutional order.”

According to the former president, the military leaders in Mali want ECOWAS to lift sanctions put in place as it is already affecting the country.

In response, he said, “But we told them that the authority to do such was only in the hands of ECOWAS Heads of State.”

President Buhari, in his remarks, stressed that the priority in Mali now should be securing the country which he said was largely occupied by terrorists.

“About two-thirds of Mali is occupied by terrorists, and it makes common sense to secure the country, rather than pursuing individual interests,” he stated.

A combination of photos of Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the country’s Prime Minister, Boubou Cisse.

 

The President was, however, hopeful that the sub-region would take a common position on the issue when the leaders meet on Friday.

He also believes the ECOWAS leaders will arrive at an amicable and generally acceptable position to all interested parties.

Recently, a series of protests erupted in the streets of Bamako, Mali’s capital despite rainfall and pleas from mediators to stay home, demanding the resignation of ousted President Keita.

The Malian leader was later overthrown by mutinying troops on August 18, amid the lingering unrest in the country.

He was arrested and taken into custody along with the country’s Prime Minister, Boubou Cisse, as well as other senior government officials.

The coup has sent shockwaves around the West African sub-region, sparking fears that one of its most volatile states could collapse.

A day after he was forced out of office, President Keita bowed to pressure and announced that he had stepped down to avoid “bloodshed”.

France Delays Sahel Counter-Insurgency Plan After Mali Violence

Handout photo of French troops boarding a transport plane in Ndjamena, ChadFrance has delayed plans to redeploy 3,000 soldiers to fight militants across Africa’s Sahel region, saying it first needs to help deal with a fresh outbreak of violence in northern Mali.

Paris had hoped to move the troops from its former colony Mali and other bases to target Islamist groups operating between southern Libya, northern Chad and northern Niger. It fears the fighters could use the region as a base for wider attacks.

But it paused the plans after deadly clashes broke out between Mali government troops and Tuareg MNLA separatists in the north over the weekend.

France originally sent troops into Mali after Al Qaeda-linked Islamists took advantage of a Tuareg-led rebellion and seized control of the country’s north in 2012. A French-led military operation, known as Serval, drove them back last year.

After that intervention drove the Islamists from major cities and towns, Mali’s government and separatist groups signed a deal in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou to hold talks about greater autonomy for the north, but little progress has been made since last year with tensions gradually rising.

A French military source said no new date had been set for the broader West African deployment, originally scheduled to be completed by the end of May.

At least eight Malian soldiers and eight civilians including six government officials were killed when rebels attacked the regional governor’s office in the northern town of Kidal on Saturday.

Nine Killed In Clashes Between Separatists And Islamists In Mali


Mali-SeparalistNine people were killed in clashes in northern Mali this week between suspected Islamists and Tuareg separatist forces, separatist and military sources said on Friday.

The clashes north of the city of Timbuktu involved separatists and suspected members of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), a group linked to al Qaeda, said a separatist spokesman and two military sources who declined to be identified.

“The fighting is over,” a spokesman in the northern town of Kidal for the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), Akay Ag Mohamed said. “The MNLA fighters have returned to Kidal. We took seven prisoners and killed nine of the enemy.”

The former French colony of Mali was thrown into turmoil when Islamist fighters took advantage of a 2012 rebellion led by Tuaregs and seized control of the country’s north.

French troops drove back the Islamists last year, elections were held and a U.N. peace-keeping mission of thousands of French and U.N. troops has been established. But isolated attacks by Islamists have persisted.

A spokesman for the U.N. military mission in Mali, MINUSMA, said he had been informed of clashes but declined to give further details.

Nigeria Sends More Troops To Mali

The Defence Headquarters has increased the number of Nigerian troops to the African-led International support mission to Mali.
In a press release signed by the Director Defence Information, Muhammed Yerima, a total of 724 troops, made up of 300 Nigerian Air Force personnel and 424 Army personnel have been deployed .

Also deployed are heavy weapons, ammunitions, vehicles and equipment.

The Nigerian air force assets in the operation include two alpha jets and one MI35 which will provide interdiction and close air support to ground troops from their based in Niamey, Niger republic.

He assured Nigerians that the defence headquarters will continue to provide information on the operation as event unfolds.

President’s Son Leads Chadians Against Islamists In Mali

Around 1,000 troops from Chad led by the president’s son, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, advanced towards the mountains of northeast Mali on Thursday to join French search-and-destroy operations hunting Islamist jihadists.

A column of 100 Chadian armored vehicles, jeeps and supply trucks rolled out of Kidal, the Saharan town 1,200 km (750 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako. From Kidal, French and Chadian forces backed by French warplanes are striking against Islamist rebel hideouts in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range straddling the border with Algeria.

President Idriss Deby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, commanded the Chadian column. He told Reuters its mission was to “fight terrorism, and eradicate it from the region”, a reference to the Al Qaeda-allied fighters in the mountains who are being bombarded almost daily by French aircraft.

More than 2,500 troops from Chad and Niger are assisting 4,000 French soldiers in the second phase of Paris’ four-week-old intervention against Al Qaeda and its allies in Mali. This is supported by Africa, the United States and Europe as a strike against radical jihadists threatening international attacks.

France’s Operation Serval has retaken the main urban areas of Mali’s north, including Timbuktu and Gao, and is now pursuing the retreating jihadists into the remote northeast. Malian troops are moving up behind to secure the recaptured locations.

Malian Defense Minister General Yamoussa Camara told Reuters the Malian army intended to follow the French and Chadians right up to Tessalit close to the Algerian border.

“That is going to take some time. The enemy’s offensive has been broken, they’ve lost a lot of equipment, but there are pockets of resistance scattered across the country,” he said.

This echoed statements by French leaders who say the Islamists have suffered “hundreds” of casualties but warn the Mali campaign is not yet over. France has said it wants to start pulling troops out of its former colony in March and would like to see a U.N. peacekeeping force deployed there by April.

Pro-autonomy Tuareg MNLA fighters, whose revolt last year defeated Mali’s army and seized the north before being hijacked by Islamist radicals, have said they are controlling Kidal and other northeast towns abandoned by the fleeing Islamist rebels.

Tuareg desert nomads, offering local knowledge as guides, have said they will help the French and Chadians hunt down the al Qaeda-allied insurgents in the desert and mountains.

But this has created a potentially sensitive situation as Mali’s government and army insist on restoring Bamako’s sovereignty over every corner of Mali, including the vast and empty desert zone which the Tuaregs claim as their homeland.

“It is out of the question that we would abandon any place to the MNLA,” Defence Minister Camara said.