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French Troops To Withdraw From Unwinable War In Mali




France said it intends to withdraw troops from Mali Eight years after France sent troops to Mali to prevent jihadists from overrunning the country.

Five French soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs in Mali over the past 10 days, bringing to 50 the number of troops killed across the Sahel since France launched a campaign to clear northern Mali of jihadists in January 2013.

The latest victims included Sergeant Yvonne Huynh, the first female soldier killed since the French intervention began.

Her death Saturday, claimed by a group linked to al-Qaeda, coincided with a massacre across the border in western Niger, where unidentified gunmen killed around 100 villagers in one of the region’s worst atrocities.

These deaths — and disputed claims Tuesday from villagers in central Mali that up to 20 wedding guests were killed in an air strike — have clouded recent successes chalked up by France’s 5,100-member Barkhane counterterrorism force and its African partners.

In the past year, the French have killed the leader of the notorious al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb group, Abdelmalek Droukdel, as well as one of the military leaders of the al-Qaeda affiliated Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM).

Anxious to avoid becoming mired in a long Afghan-style conflict, Paris is preparing to announce a withdrawal of the 600 additional troops it deployed to the Sahel last year.

But whether the drawdown signals the beginning of the end of France’s Sahel mission is not yet clear.

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Field Marshal Idriss Déby Laid To Rest



Slain President of Chad has been laid to rest in his hometown Amdjarass.

On Friday, many Chadians dressed mostly in black, symbols of mourning, gathered at state House for the final farewell to Marshal Idriss Déby Itno.

Several heads of state and government but also presidents of major institutions were among the main presenters of condolences. Tribute after tribute, most remember the late Marshal as a daring man of conviction who put the interests of his country first.

Presidents Faure Gnassingbè, Alpha Condé, Félix Tshisekedi or Faustin-Archange Touadéra were thus present at Place de la Nation to pay tribute to the marshal.

On the other hand, Paul Biya and Ali Bongo Ondimba were represented, respectively by their Minister for Defense, Joseph Beti Assomo, and by the Prime Minister, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda. The heads of state of the G5 Sahel were already there the day before.

One of his children, Colonel Abdelkerim Idriss Déby Itno, his deputy chief of staff, remembers an extraordinary father, endearing, caring and demanding.

“Chad loses in you a president marked by the spirit of patriotism and the Chadians have lost a father and a brother who loves them whom they love. President Idriss Déby is physically dead but the soldier and Marshal Idriss Déby went away honourably under conditions reserved for great warriors,” he added.

Inconsolable, First Lady Hinda Déby Itno remembers an exemplary husband, a caring father and a wise advisor. “An entire landmark has disappeared leaving us in perdition in a moving desert. Our guide is no longer, but the Shepherd’s Star is shining in the sky to direct us to the right port “, she added.

French President Emmanuel Macron remembers a friend and staunch ally of France.

“Dear Idriss, here we are gathered before your remains after three decades at the head of your country and so many battles fought with bravery. The battles you have fought have always been aimed at the defense of the territorial integrity of the motherland, the preservation of stability and peace, the struggle for freedom, security and justice. You lived as a soldier and you died as a soldier, weapons in hand “, adds Emmanuel Macron, who promises:” France will never let anyone question and will never let anyone threaten stability either today or tomorrow and the integrity of Chad ”.

The French president, held private talks with the son of the deceased, Mahamat Idriss Déby, now chairman of the Military Transitional Committee (CMT) which rules the country.

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Striking Post Workers Paralyse Algeria



For the Fourth day today, Algiers the capital of Algeria has been on tension as Postal workers continue with a massive strike.

The management of Algeria Post announced that it was taking charge of the grievances of its employees. The Postal employees have deserted the counters.

No trade union or other collective of workers has claimed responsibility for this strike.

Employees are allegedly making certain demands such as the payment of bonuses, the 13th month bonus and compensation for weekend days worked, such as Saturdays and the few Fridays.

At the office of the Place du 1er-Mai, customers are received but the service does not follow; which created anarchy within.

Not admitting the unexpected, customers shouted their anger at employees who didn’t even flinch. “Are you on strike?” we ask a counter attendant who is not providing service.

“My shift is over,” she informs. And his replacement? She then evokes “a liquidity problem” before letting go: “We are on strike.”

In a statement made public yesterday, Algérie Poste announced the payment of the incentive bonus during this month of Ramadhan.

Affirming that it had dialogued and consulted with the social partner, Algérie Poste added that all measures for the satisfaction of the other demands have been taken, but will only be applicable once the union of the company is created.

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War Resumes In Western Sahara After 30 Years Of Ceasefire



It is never over until it is over. Guns and bombs are blazing again in Africa’s most contested land of Western Sahara desert bringing an end to a ceasefire that has been in place for the past 29 years.

Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony mostly under Morocco’s control.

The ceasefire collapsed after Morocco said Friday that it had sent troops into no man’s land to reopen a road to neighbouring Mauritania.

An Algerian-backed independence movement — which holds a fifth of the territory — has campaigned for a vote on self-determination through decades of war and deadlock.

The north African territory sits on the western edge of the Sahara desert, stretching along about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) of Atlantic coastline.

At 266,000 square kilometres (103,000 square miles) it is relatively large — but its inhospitable terrain supports only around half a million people.

With Morocco to the north, Algeria to the east and Mauritania to the south and southeast, it boasts large reserves of phosphate and rich offshore fisheries.

As Spain withdrew in 1975, Morocco moved in, claiming the territory was part of the kingdom.

It was opposed by the Polisario Front, which took up arms to fight for independence.

The dispute was referred to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which ruled in favour of self-determination.

In November 1975, 350,000 Moroccans took part in the so-called Green March to the border to press the kingdom’s claim.

In February 1976, the Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), with the support of allies including Algeria and Cuba.

– Huge sand walls –

The Polisario initially gained the upper hand, before being pushed back into the interior.

During the 1980s, Morocco built a series of concentric walls in the desert, most made of sand, to keep Polisario fighters out of territory where it had established control.

The outermost defensive line runs for 2,700 kilometres, ringing the 80 percent of the Western Sahara now under Moroccan control.

It is fortified with barbed wire and trenches and forms one of the world’s largest minefields.

The SADR is a member of the African Union, but controls just 20 percent of the territory, mostly empty desert.

– Troubled region –

The United Nations has repeatedly failed to find a lasting settlement since it brokered a ceasefire on the line of control in 1991.

The UN deployed its MINURSO mission to monitor the ceasefire, and to organise a referendum on the territory’s future status.

The vote was set for 1992 but was aborted when Morocco objected to the proposed electoral register, saying it was biased.

It now refuses to accept any vote in which independence is an option, and says only autonomy is on the table.

The conflict has long poisoned Morocco’s relations with neighbouring Algeria.

Their common border has been closed since 1994, and between 100,000 and 200,000 Sahrawi refugees live in camps around the Algerian desert town of Tindouf.

– Talks fail –

After years of deadlock, former German president and UN special envoy Horst Koehler gets the two sides together in Geneva, along with Algeria and Mauritania.

But two rounds of talks falter in March 2019. Koehler then retires for health reasons and has not been replaced.

In the meantime, some 20 African countries open diplomatic offices in the Moroccan-held cities of Laayoune and Dakhla.

– Rights abuses –

A 2018 UN report on Western Sahara cited accounts of “serious human rights violations” committed by Moroccan police against those pushing for self-determination.

It additionally highlighted concerns over rights abuses in the Tindouf camps run by the Polisario.


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