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Coup: ECOWAS Suspends Mali, Threatens Sanctions

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The West Africa bloc ECOWAS on Tuesday condemned a military putsch in Mali and pledged a range of retaliatory actions, including financial sanctions.

Rebel soldiers arrested Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon following weeks of political tension in the country.

The dramatic move followed the seizure of an army base near the capital Bamako that morning.

In a statement, the Economic Community for West African States said that its members would close land and air borders to Mali and pledged to demand 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.

“ECOWAS has noted with great concern the seizure of power by Malian military putschists,” said the statement, which was originally published in French.

Mali has been in the grip of a deep political impasse since June, with President Keita facing increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

The opposition June 5 Movement, named for the date of its first protest, has been channelling deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and a brutal jihadist conflict.

The opposition alliance’s anti-Keita campaign veered into crisis last month when at least 11 people were killed over three days of unrest that followed a protest.

In an effort to avoid chaos in notoriously unstable Mali, ECOWAS then stepped in to mediate.

The bloc suggested the formation of a unity government and other measures late last month, but stuck by Keita.

But the June 5 Movement has repeatedly spurned compromise proposals, and has continued to demand Keita’s departure.

The political opposition declared a new phase of anti-government rallies on Monday.

Keita, 75, is currently being held by rebel soldiers outside of the capital.

AFP

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Finally, Buhari Fires Service Chiefs, Names Replacements

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After years of complaints by Nigerians about the worsening security situation amidst the overstay of Nigeria’s military chiefs in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday relieved the officials of their positions.

Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in a statement, Tuesday, that Mr Buhari “accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.”

The four men – Gabriel Olonisakin, a general and Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai; a lieutenant general and chief of army staff; Abubakar Sadique, an air marshal and chief of air staff, and Ibok Ibas, a vice admiral and chief of naval staff – were supposed to have retired over two years ago based on their years of service.

But President Buhari kept them in office even as the security situation across the country worsened with bandits wreaking havoc in the North-west and North-central states, the Boko Haram carrying out attacks in the North-east and kidnapping becoming the norm in several states across Nigeria.

As the security situation got worse and more Nigerians called for the replacement of the service chiefs, Mr Buhari stuck to his guns, insisting they were doing their best and did not deserve to be replaced.

Even when he finally relieved them of their positions on Tuesday, the president praised the officials for their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country.”

President Buhari’s claim of “overwhelming achievements’ by the outgone military chiefs not only contradicts the perception of many Nigerians but also contradicts the position of the National Assembly dominated by members of the president’s party, APC.

At least on three different occasions, the National Assembly called for the sack of the service chiefs based on the worsening security situation. On each occasion, the president ignored the lawmakers and retained the Olonisakin-led service chiefs who were appointed on July 13, 2015, after President Buhari assumed office.

In his statement, Mr Adesina announced that the president appointed Leo Irabor, a major general, as the Chief of Defence Staff.

Mr Irabor formerly led Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram as the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole.

Ibrahim Attahiru, also a major general, was named the new Chief of Army Staff. Like Mr Irabor, Mr Attahiru had also led the war against Boko Haram.

The president also appointed A.Z. Gambo, a rear admiral, as Chief of Naval Staff and Isiaka Amao, an air vice marshal, as Chief of Air Staff.

“The President congratulates the new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities,” Mr Adesina said.

Premium Times

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Just In: Chelsea Fire Manager Frank Lampard

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Chelsea announced on Monday they had sacked manager Frank Lampard after a poor run in the Premier League.

“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” said owner Roman Abramovich.

Chelsea are struggling in ninth place in the Premier League table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.

They have lost five of their past eight Premier League matches after a good start to the season.

Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel in line to take over, reports said.

(AFP)

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Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa Set to Join West Brom

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Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa is set to join Premier League club West Bromwich Albion on a short term deal.

The 28-year-old has been unattached since quitting Al Nassr in October 2020.

According to Daily Mail, the Baggies have requested a visa for the winger and have also scheduled him for a medical on Wednesday.

Capped 95 times by Nigeria, Musa’s career has stalled since he left CSKA Moscow in 2016. Having scored 55 goals in 167 appearances for the Russians, he joined Leicester City in the summer of that year.

Things did not work out at the King Power Stadium, as the African made just seven league starts in 21 outings.

He joined after the Foxes had claimed the Premier League title and hoped to be part of something special with the club.

But he was loaned back to CSKA for the second half of the 2017/18 campaign.

He was then sold to Al Nassr in January 2019 and played 62 times in all competitions before being released.

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