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Military Mutiny: Mali President Resigns

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Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced his resignation on live television in the early hours of Wednesday morning following a military coup.

“I’ve decided to leave my post,” he said, clad in traditional clothing and a medical mask to protect against the coronavirus.

The president and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse were arrested by the military after a mutiny on Tuesday, following months of street protests in the volatile West African state, which is also battling an Islamic insurgency.

“The president and his prime minister have been arrested.

“They are being taken to Kati military camp,” army officer Sidi Gakou told dpa earlier Tuesday.

The United Nations, European Union, African Union Commission, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have condemned the military’s actions.

The UN has called for the “immediate release” of the president, while the EU said it “condemns the coup attempt under way in Mali and rejects any anti-constitutional change.”

“This can in no way be a response to the deep socio-political crisis that has hit Mali for several months,” the EU said in a statement.

Later, ECOWAS said that it decided to close its member states’ borders with Mali, suspend the country from its decision-making bodies “with immediate effect,” and temporarily interrupt financial flows between its other 14 members and Bamako.

Mali has been struggling to maintain stability since tens of thousands of opposition supporters accused Mr Keita of gross intimidation and vote-buying during a parliamentary election in April, which gave his administration a firm majority.

Soldiers started to mutiny early Tuesday in the garrison town of Kati, 15 kilometres north-west of Bamako. Gunfire was heard in the capital.

A photographer told dpa there had been several thousand protesters on the streets, with people firing into the air in celebration.

Before its leaders were detained, the government had released a statement calling for calm, admitting that soldiers might have legitimate frustrations and saying they were prepared to engage in a dialogue.

The U.S., Australian, and Swedish embassies in Mali warned of possible unrest in the volatile West African country, urging their citizens to stay at home.

France, a former colonial power in Mali, condemned the mutiny.

“France has learned with concern of the mutiny that has started today in Kati, Mali.

“It condemns this serious event in the strongest terms,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The coup came after several weeks of political tensions and repeated anti-government protests during which talks between the government and the opposition, which is led by popular cleric Mahmoud Dicko, a former ally of Keita, failed.

A coup in Mali in 2012 was carried out by soldiers from the same barracks.

Political instability in Mali is seen as a dangerous development for the entire Sahel region, which already faces ongoing threats from numerous terrorist and separatist groups.

(dpa/NAN)

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Zamfara Gov Accuses Traditional Rulers of Sabotaging Peace Efforts

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The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, has accused some unnamed traditional rulers of sabotaging his government’s peace efforts in the state.

The governor, at a meeting with the heads of security agencies in the state on Thursday, said the traditional rulers were not playing their expected roles in the fight against banditry.

He said this has led to the recent deterioration of insecurity in the state.

The meeting was also attended by religious clerics, traditional rulers and journalists at the Government House in Gusau.

Mr Matawalle said some traditional rulers were aiding the illegal activities of outlawed vigilante groups in their domains, which he said was provoking reprisal attacks by bandits.

The governor also condemned a statement by the chairman of the state’s traditional rulers’ council, the Emir of Anka, Attahiru Ahmad, in which he challenged the state government to allow citizens to bear arms for self defence, since the government had failed in protecting the citizens.

The governor said “it is discouraging to have a respected personality like the state chairman Council of Chiefs to grant an interview with journalists to challenge the efforts of the government and security operatives.”

Mr Matawalle said security is a collective responsibility and not that of the government alone.

He said if the residents and traditional leaders are not interested in his administration’s dialogue with the bandits, he would withdraw from it.

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Ondo Monarchs Urge South West Governors to Cage Killer Herdsmen

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The Ondo State Council of Obas, on Thursday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to caution his aides who comment on security of the country.

The traditional rulers, who reacted over the comments made by some aides of the President on the order of Akeredolu ejecting the herdsmen from all the forest reserves in the state, said the move was not to chase out the Fulani in the state but to save it from the activities of the bandits.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of meeting of the monarchs in Akure, which was read by a former Chairman of the council and the Olukare of Ikareland, Oba Akadiri Momoh.

The monarchs said, “We are calling on President Buhari to show to the world that he is a father of all irrespective of ethnic affiliation as well as cautioned his aides to exercise restraints on issues that border on insecurity in the country.”

The obas urged “the governors in the South-West region, the South-West caucus in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly to use constitutional means to rein the rampaging criminals masquerading as herdsmen across the region.”

The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Charles Titiloye, declared that the state had no plan to send anti-open grazing bill to the state House of Assembly at the moment.

He said what was on ground in the state currently was the order of the governor to be complied with within seven days.

Titiloye said, “I may not be able to reply whether the state is planning to send the anti-grazing bill or not because the governor has given an order and after the seven days ultimatum and there is no compliance, then we shall know what to do next.”

Reacting to the claim by the Northern Elders Forum that the herdsmen had freedom of movement, the commissioner explained that the governor’s order had not restrained anybody’s movement, but to flush out criminal elements among herdsmen in the state.

He said, “We are not restraining any movement. Forests have been turned to hideouts of criminals and in order to identify the real herdsmen and the criminal ones; that is why the order of the governor came.

“We know that after seven days, the criminal ones would not leave the forest reserves; and until then we shall know what step to take next.”

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Japan Denies Cancellation of Tokyo Olympics

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Japan doubled down on its commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and flatly denied reports on Friday of a cancellation, in a move that is unlikely to temper public fears of holding the event during a global pandemic.

Though much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Tokyo organisers have consistently vowed to press ahead with the Games scheduled to open on July 23 after having been postponed in March last year.

A government spokesman said there was “no truth” to a report in The Times that Japan was now focused on rescheduling the event to 2032.

“We will clearly deny the report,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said in a press conference on Friday.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee also denied the report, saying its partners including the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee were “fully focused” on hosting the games as scheduled.

In early international reactions, the Australian and U.S. Olympic Committees said they were preparing for the Games as planned.

“Unfortunately, I need to address unfounded rumours that the Tokyo Olympic Games will be cancelled, rumours that only create more anxiety for athletes,” Matt Carroll, the chief executive of the Australian committee, told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

“The Tokyo Games are on. The flame will be lit on July 23, 2021.”

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is run by the IOC’s pointman for the Tokyo Games John Coates.

Olympic committees from the U.S. and Canada wrote on Twitter they had not received any information suggesting the Games would not happen as planned.

Japan has been hit less severely by the pandemic than many other advanced economies, but a recent surge in cases has forced it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.

About 80 per cent of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held this summer, recent opinion polls show, over fears the influx of athletes will spread the virus further.

In an interview ahead of Friday’s report, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said he was cautiously hopeful that successful rollouts of COVID-19 vaccines could help lead to the safe staging of the world’s largest sporting event.

The Olympic Games represents a major milestone for Japan and its premier, Yoshihide Suga, who has said the event would bring “hope and courage” to the world. Suga reiterated on Friday that it would go ahead as planned.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach reaffirmed his commitment to holding the Games this year in an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday.

“We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo.

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