Mali Wakes Up To Military Rule After President Forced Out

Armed members of the FAMA (Malian Armed Forces) are celebrated by the population as they parade at Independence Square in Bamako on August 18, 2020, after rebel troops seized Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse in a dramatic escalation of a months-long crisis. STRINGER / AFP

 

Mali awoke on Wednesday to a new chapter in its troubled history after rebel military leaders forced President Boubacar Keita from office, prompting its West African neighbours to threaten border closures and sanctions against the coup leaders.

Keita, embattled by months of protests over economic stagnation, corruption and a brutal Islamist insurgency, said he had resigned to avoid bloodshed.

There were few obvious traces of the previous day’s drama in the capital Bamako — there were no troops on the streets despite the coup leaders announcing a night-time curfew.

The burnt-out home of the former justice minister after an attack by protesters was one of the few visible signs of the overthrow.

Jubilant crowds had cheered the rebels on Tuesday as they arrived in Bamako, where they detained Keita along with Prime Minister Boubou Cisse.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of both men as diplomats in New York said the Security Council would hold emergency talks on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether Keita was still in custody on Wednesday at the Kati military base — a facility seized by the mutineers that was also the site of the 2012 coup that brought him to power.

The coup leaders appeared on television overnight to pledge a political transition and new elections within a “reasonable time”.

Malian Air Force deputy chief of staff Ismael Wague said he and his fellow officers had “decided to take responsibility in front of the people and of history”.

There were no reports of casualties during the military takeover but the coup leaders announced a curfew and border closures, in effect sealing off the country.

– Jihadist insurgency –

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to condemn the mutiny, his office saying that he still supported mediation efforts by other West African states.

Mali is the cornerstone of French-led efforts to roll back jihadists in the Sahel, and its neighbours are anxious to avoid the country sliding into chaos.

Colonel Wague said “all past agreements” would be respected, including Mali’s support for anti-jihadist missions in the region.

“MINUSMA (the UN force in Mali), (France’s) Barkhane force, the G5 Sahel, Takuba (a European special-forces initiative) remain our partners,” he said.

The coup leaders also remain “committed to the Algiers process,” a 2015 peace agreement between the Malian government and armed groups in the north of the country, he said.

Swathes of Mali’s territory are outside of the control of the central authorities.

Years of fighting have failed to brake an Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives since emerging in 2012.

The failure fuelled frustrations with Keita’s rule and tensions flared in April after the government held long-delayed parliamentary elections, the results of which are still disputed.

– Sanctions threat –

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) last month suggested the formation of a unity government while offering continued support for Keita, but the compromise was slapped down by the opposition.

ECOWAS condemned the coup in a statement, pledging to close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

Further afield, Morocco on Wednesday stressed the need for “stability” in Mali, calling for “responsible dialogue, respect for constitutional order and the preservation of democratic gains.”

The coup coincided with opposition plans to resume protests against Keita.

The June 5 Movement, named after the date of its first protest, focussed public anger against the leader and made increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

Its campaign veered into crisis last month when 11 people were killed during three days of unrest sparked by a demonstration.

AFP

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola


A legal icon and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Afe Babalola, believes the military rule has affected Nigeria’s judicial system.

The elder statesman stated this when he appeared as a guest on the latest episode of News Night, a Channels Television programme which aired on Monday.

He decried the rate of corruption in the sector, although he said he does not agree that all judges were corrupt.

READ ALSO: DSS Not Empowered By Law To Arrest, Says Babalola

Mr Babalola explained that judges were well respected and celebrated in the country decades ago as they were seen as small gods.

He added that this was because they were earning about the equivalent of what their counterparts in developed countries were being paid, but that was no longer the case now.

The university proprietor said 10 years after he started practicing, he got an invitation to join the bench but had to reject the offer, although he admitted that it was the dream of every good lawyer to get such an opportunity.

The then Chief Judge of the Western Region, according to Babalola, was removed two years later via a telephone order by the military regime at that time.

He also highlighted the roles of the Department of State Services (DSS) as a security agency, as provided by the Constitution.

How Military Rule Affected Judiciary In Nigeria – Afe Babalola

The veteran lawyer said, “The time when the military tried to deal with our judges the way they did in those days, that day they did the irreversible damage to law and judiciary.

“So, I am not surprised that the Buhari government did the same thing and people were at night arrested … the DSS who has no power of arrest; DSS’ duty in law is merely to gather information and give to the President and others.”

He insisted that the security outfit has no power to arrest anyone, adding that the nation has started to witness a reoccurrence of what happened back in the ’80s.

“If a judge knows that if he rules against government, they will look for him tomorrow, he will be very careful and yet the oath of office is that you give your judgement without fear or favour; where lies that now?” he questioned.

He added, “There are rules, there are ways of dealing with judges if they commit offence; that has not been followed.”

Sudan’s Military Announces Two-Year Rule, Shuts Borders

Sudanese Defence Minister Ahmed Awad Ibnouf delivering a speech in Khartoum, announcing that President Omar al-Bashir was removed from power on April 11, 2019 AFP

 

Sudan’s army ousted veteran president Omar al-Bashir Thursday, but protestors against his iron-fisted rule swiftly rejected a “coup” by the military and vowed to keep up their demonstrations.

In a sombre televised address, Defence Minister Awad Ibnouf announced “the toppling of the regime” and said Bashir had been detained in “a secure place”, bringing an end to his three-decade rule.

A transitional military council will replace the president for two years, he said, adding that the country’s borders and airspace would be shut until further notice.

READ ALSO: Sudan Borders, Airspace Shut Until Further Notice – Minister

But in a warning to protestors, he also imposed a night-time curfew from 10:00 pm (2000 GMT) to 4:00 am (0200 GMT).

Bashir, who swept to power in a 1989 coup, was one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes.

But organisers of the protests, which first erupted in December, rejected the army’s move and vowed to keep up their campaign until the whole regime was swept aside.

“The people do not want a transitional military council,” said Alaa Salah, who became an icon of the protest movement after a video of her leading demonstrators’ chants outside army headquarters went viral.

“Change will not happen with Bashir’s entire regime hoodwinking Sudanese civilians through a military coup,” she tweeted.

“We want a civilian council to head the transition.”

The protestors’ Alliance for Freedom and Change said the regime had “conducted a military coup by bringing back the same faces and the same institutions which our people rose against.”

It urged people “to continue their sit-in in front of army headquarters and across all regions and in the streets.”

 ‘We’re not leaving’ 

Since early Thursday morning, huge crowds of jubilant Sudanese had filled squares across the centre of Khartoum as the army promised an “important announcement”.

Chanting “the regime has fallen,” they poured into the open ground outside army headquarters, where defiant protesters had braved tear gas and gunfire to keep up an unprecedented sit-in, now in its sixth day.

But the festive mood later soured, as protestors chanted: “We don’t want Ibnouf!”

“We are not leaving, we are not leaving. Just fall and that’s all,” they shouted.

The opposition Sudanese Congress Party called on the military council to dissolve itself and form “a joint military and civilian council to run the government for a four-year transition term”.

It also urged the army to give executive powers to civilians.

Adel, a protestor outside army headquarters, said Thursday’s announcement meant “we have not achieved anything.”

“We will not stop our revolution. We are calling for the regime to step down, not only Bashir,” he said.

Army vehicles carrying troops were seen deploying across the centre of Khartoum from early Thursday.

Troops raided the offices of the Islamic Movement, the ideological wing of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party, witnesses told AFP.

Martial music was played on state television as soldiers ordered the TV to halt its normal programming ahead of Ibnouf’s announcement.

Outside army headquarters, dozens of joyful protesters early Thursday climbed on top of land cruisers and armoured vehicles that had been posted to protect them from intervention by other branches of the security forces.

Braving the searing 42 degree Celsius (108 degrees Fahrenheit) heat, they hugged and kissed soldiers in the crowd.

 Prisoner release 
The military council said it was declaring a ceasefire across the country, including in war-torn Darfur.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s feared intelligence service said it was freeing all the country’s political prisoners, state media reported.

“The National Intelligence and Security Service has announced it is releasing all political detainees across the country,” the official SUNA news agency said.

But in the eastern cities of Kasala and Port Sudan, the releases failed to materialise, prompting protesters to storm NISS buildings, witnesses said.

That came despite protest organisers urging demonstrators to refrain from attacking government figures or buildings.

Demonstrators have spent five nights defiantly camped outside the sprawling army headquarters complex in Khartoum, which also houses Bashir’s official residence and the defence ministry.

“We had enough of this regime — 30 years of repression, corruption, rights abuses, it’s enough,” said one protester at the sit-in.

The demonstrators have braved repeated volleys of tear gas from NISS members since they began camping outside the complex on Saturday, protest organisers say.

Officials say 49 people have died in protest-related violence since the demonstrations first erupted in December.

Neighbouring Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in similar circumstances, said Thursday it supported the Sudanese people and the army in their political transition.

Buhari Assures Of Media Freedom If Elected

buhariFormer Military Head of State and Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, has assured the Nigerian Media that the industry and its practitioners will not suffer any harassment under his government, should he emerge winner of the March 28 presidential election.

General Buhari, who gave the assurance in Abuja, at a special interactive session with the Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), however, refused to apologise to the media for the harassment suffered during his term as the military Head of State between 1983 and 1984.

He added that dictatorship goes with military rule, so he cannot change his past but can change the present and the future.

Buhari, who said he is subjecting himself to the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time, added that if elected, he would continue to promote the consolidation of democracy in Nigeria, by guaranteeing that the media’s freedom is not compromised in any way.

General Buhari further applauded the media for sustaining the nation’s democracy, saying that the constant reminder of those in position of authority of the alleged ills in the society has really helped in bringing some level of sanity.

Buhari Calls For Calm After Election Postponement

buhariThe Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, had called on Nigerians to maintain peace, following the rescheduled date of the elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“Any act of violence can only complicate the security challenges in the country and provide further justification to those who would want to exploit every situation to frustrate the democratic process,” Buhari said.

Buhari perceived the election postponement to be as a result of pressure from the opposition, saying; “it is important to note that although INEC acted within its constitutional powers, it is clear that it has been boxed into a situation where it had to bow to pressure”.

He also said that the presidential and state level elections on March 28 and April 11 must now be sacrosanct and that the party would not tolerate any further interference in the vote.

“What they (security forces) cannot do in 6 years, they cannot do in 6 weeks,” he emphasised.

Foreign nations are observing proceedings in Nigeria and have raised concerns over possibilities of violence, but the presidential candidates of different political parties have signed a peace accord to be committed to non-violence before, during and after the elections.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was deeply disappointed by the election postponement and criticised “political interference” in the election process. Britain also voiced concerns about the election postponement.

The electoral commission said the decision was taken after wide-reaching consultations, citing the advice of security operatives for a shift in the election date to put adequate security in place in the north-east before the elections.

Members Boko Haram terrorist group  have taken over territories in the north-east in an attempt to establish an Islamic state. Nigeria’s army has been restive, with Chad now sending in troops to assist while Cameroon has been pushing back incursions into its territory.

The poll poll would place incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, of the Peoples Democratic Party against former military ruler Buhari of the (APC) in what is likely to be the most hotly contested election since the end of military rule in 1999.

Earlier on Sunday, President Goodluck Jonathan said he was committed to May 29 as the terminal date of his first term in office and also called for calm.

Business Incorporated: Etomi Speaks On Progress Made In 15 Democratic Years

Business incorporatedNigeria’s economic development after 15 years of democracy has been described with mixed feelings. While some think the economy has done well, others think there are still a lot to be done.

However, the general consensus is that it’s better than going back to the days of the military.

A business lawyer and the former chairman, Section on Business Law of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr George Etomi who was our guest on Business Incorporated, said a lot has been achieved in terms of the reforms in the various sectors of the economy, particularly the telecom sector.

He also believes that Nigeria still has a long way to go particularly in the area of infrastructure development.

He maintained that Nigeria’s economy will be better if both the leaders and the led play their role selflessly.

AU suspends Guinea-Bissau for coup

The African Union (AU) suspended Guinea-Bissau on Tuesday over last week’s coup, adding to pressure on military chiefs who said they were ready to restore power to civilians after talks with regional mediators.
Guinea Bissau's soldiers leave a news conference at the military headquarters in the capital Bissau, March 19, 2012. Photo: REUTERS
A high-level delegation from the West African regional grouping ECOWAS, which has branded the coup as “unacceptable”, met Guinea-Bissau’s military overnight and ECOWAS Commission head Desire Kadre Ouedraogo told reporters there was an agreement “on the return to constitutional order”.

Foreign governments and international organisations have condemned Guinea-Bissau’s military after soldiers cut short a presidential election in the impoverished West African state, detaining election front-runner and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior as well as interim President Raimundo Pereira.

“The (AU’s) Peace and Security Council decides to suspend with immediate effect Guinea Bissau from all activities…until restoration of constitutional order,” AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra said after a meeting at the bloc’s headquarters in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Suspension is the African Union’s normal response to any interruption of constitutional rule in one of its members.

Guinea-Bissau’s Catholic bishops added their voice to the condemnation, while Amnesty International accused the army of clamping down on protests, the media and freedom of movement.
With uncertainty gripping the crumbling coastal capital Bissau, which has been tense since the coup, many residents have fled to find safter locations in the interior.

“Increasingly repressive measures are being employed by the military as they try to stifle mounting criticism within the country and internationally,” Marise Castro, Amnesty International’s Guinea Bissau expert, said in a statement.

The London-based rights group called for the release of Gomes Junior and Pereira, saying they were being held at Mansoa Barracks, 60 km (37 miles) northeast of Bissau.

“Reportedly, both men are being held incommunicado in a mosquito-infested small cell with no water or toilet facilities,” it said, adding that Gomes Junior suffered from diabetes.

The former Portuguese colony has seen several coups and army revolts since independence in 1974 and the latest is a setback for efforts by Western donors to reduce military meddling in politics and counter the influence of Latin American drug-trafficking cartels using the country as a transhipment point.

Lieutenant-Colonel Daha Bana na Walna, spokesman for the Guinea-Bissau army leadership, said ECOWAS would send a technical team to assist in restoring civilian rule.

“It was agreed that ECOWAS would help with the restoration of civilian government,” he told Reuters. Na Walna said the country was calm and there was no disorder.

ECOWAS had also insisted in the talks that Gomes Junior and Pereira be freed.

“As soon as the conditions of security exist for this,” they will be freed,” na Walna said. But he did not specify when or whether Gomes Junior would be allowed to stand again for fresh elections, which the military has said it wants to be held.

SHADOWY COUP LEADERSHIP

It was the second coup in West Africa in less than a month. A March 22 military takeover in Mali saw that Sahel country split in two with Tuareg and Islamist rebels holding the north.
Guinea-Bissau’s military has announced the formation of a “national transition council” tasked with leading the nation to fresh elections. But a refusal to participate by the main political party, PAIGC, has robbed this of any credibility.

Gomes Junior and Pereira are PAIGC members.

The former was the expected winner of a scheduled April 29 presidential election run-off, interrupted by the coup.

Gomes Junior was unpopular with military chiefs because he backed plans to reform the bloated army, which is accused by Western security agencies of involvement in drug-trafficking.

Confusion persists over exactly who masterminded the coup.

A shadowy self-styled “Military Command” said it acted to head off what it alleged was a secret pact between Gomes Junior and Angola to “annihilate Guinea-Bissau’s armed forces”.

Angola had been providing military trainers and advisers to the smaller state in a military cooperation mission. But it announced earlier this month that it was ending the mission.

Guinea-Bissau military spokesmen have declined to confirm rumours that armed forces Chief of Staff General Antonio Indjai also was removed in the coup, saying only that he was “safe”.

Many believe Indjai, the nation’s most influential military figure, was the architect. “The question has been whether Indjai is in detention or behind the coup but the consensus now is that it is the latter,” one Bissau-based diplomat said.

REUTERS