#AceWorldNews – FRANCE (Paris) – July 19 – French President Francois Hollande on Friday promoted a new military operation being rolled out in West Africa to take on a multi-faceted menace from Islamist groups that he warned threatened France’s interests and citizens reported Reuters.
France led a military intervention in its former colony Mali last year, halting the advance of al Qaeda-linked fighters who had seized control of the northern two-thirds of the country in 2012.
The military operation succeeded in scattering the Islamist groups in Mali, and Paris is in the process of reorganising its deployment in the region, with its 1,700 soldiers in Mali being folded into a broader counter-terrorism force.
Under the new plan, some 3,000 French troops will now operate out of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad – countries straddling the vast arid Sahel band – with the aim of stamping out an Islamist threat across the region.
“There are threats, notably from Libya. Military hardware has accumulated there, and without a doubt, terrorists are seeking refuge there,” Hollande said in Niger during a three-day trip that will also take him to Ivory Coast and Chad.
“We have, therefore, decided to put in place structures and measures that will allow us to confront this threat of terrorism in the Sahel,” he said.
#AceNewsServices – NIGERIA – May 17 – Countries neighbouring Nigeria are ready to wage war against the Nigeria-based, al-Qaeda-linked group, Boko Haram, Chad’s president says.
Idriss Deby made the statement after a summit in Paris on Saturday that also included Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and representatives from West African countries Cameroon, Benin, Niger plus the United States, the European Union, Britain and France.
“There is determination to tackle this situation head on…to launch a war, a total war on Boko Haram,” Deby said after the meeting, which was aimed at finding a common strategy to fight the armed group.
The leaders who attended the meeting agreed on tightened border controls, shared intelligence and to take a collaborative approach when fighting the armed group.
Jonathan said Boko Haram had evolved from a small group to being part of the broader al-Qaeda organisation.
“Boko Haram is no longer the local terror group with some regional sentiment that started in Nigeria in 2002 to 2009,” Jonathan said.
“From 2009 to date, it has changed and is operating clearly as an al-Qaeda organisation. It can better be described as an al-Qaeda in West and Central Africa.”
Francois Hollande, the French president, said Boko Haram had clearly established ties with other “terror” groups in Africa, making it a problem throughout the continent and beyond.
“The message we want to send is that we know the threat. It is serious, it is serious for the region, for Africa and so for Europe. We have deployed our military and intelligence system to find these young girls,” Hollande said.
#AceWorldNews – PARIS – May 08 – France will deploy 3,000 soldiers to combat Islamist violence in the largely lawless Sahel region of Africa, AFP reported.
“Our role is to pursue counter-terrorism in north Mali, the north of Niger and in Chad,” Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview Thursday.
“We are reorganizing our contingent so that 3,000 French soldiers are in that zone.” France is “in the process of ending its frontal war phase” in Mali, Le Drian told BFMTV, adding that 1,000 French soldiers will remain based near the town of Gao in the insurgency-hit north-east of the country.
#AceWorldNews – NIGERIA – March 28 – Nigeria has arrested two Britons and 10 of its own citizens on charges of trying to bribe a military officer to facilitate oil theft, Reuters reported, citing the military.
The suspects were immediately arrested for attempting to bribe the brigade commander for economic sabotage, said Major-General E.J. Atewe, commander of the military and police Joint Task Force for the oil-producing Niger Delta region.
Oil theft by armed gangs is rampant in Nigeria, Africa’s top crude-producing country.
#AceWorldNews says that Niger has turned over a son of the late dictator Moamer Kadhafi to Libyan authorities, Tripoli said Thursday, as a government-allied militia released pictures of him in captivity.
The government said Saadi Kadhafi, who fled across the Sahara desert to Niger during the 2011 uprising that saw rebels capture and kill his father, ending his four-decade dictatorship, was in Libyan custody.
The Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, a militia made up of former rebels, released five pictures on Facebook of a disconsolate-looking Saadi in a blue jumpsuit getting his head and beard shaved.
He knelt on the floor as his hair was removed by a man wielding an electic razor.
Libya’s government said he would be held in accordance with “international standards regarding the treatment of prisoners”.
Saadi Kadhafi was best known as the head of Libya’s football federation and a player who paid his way into Italy’s top division.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim announced today they are teaming up for a trip to the Sahel next week to address pressing issues in the vast African region such as pervasive poverty, food insecurity and conflict.
“The Sahel is one of the most impoverished and fragile places on the planet,” said Mr. Ban in a “http://www.un.org/sg/offthecuff/index.asp?nid=3155” joint press conference in New York. “We are going together to listen and act. We are convinced the cycle of crises in the Sahel can be broken. The region can move from fragility to sustainability.”
Earlier this year, Mr. Ban and Mr. Kim travelled together to Africa’s long troubled Great Lakes region in support of a new peace framework agreed by leaders there. It was the first joint visit by a UN Secretary-General and a President of the World Bank. The new trip seeks to build on joint efforts, foster international support, and spotlight the challenges currently facing the Sahel.
“Our message on this critical visit and around the world is that peace and development must go hand-in-hand,” Mr. Ban said. “At this time last year, Mali was in crisis. Since then, our collective efforts have helped not only improve the political and security situation in Mali but also address some of the broader challenges in the Sahel. The time is ripe to build on these gains.”
The Sahel has suffered three major droughts in less than a decade. More than 11 million people are at risk of hunger and 5 million children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition. In addition, political instability and unconstitutional changes in Governments have had significant economic and social consequences in the region and terrorist acts, as well as organized crime, have threatened the region’s stability.
“These challenges cannot be overcome by any Government or organization alone,” Mr. Ban said. “The issues are connected and we need an approach that connects our efforts.”
“Many of these countries have chronically low economic growth which lags behind the urgent need for job creation,” Mr. Kim told reporters via teleconference from Washington D.C. “We need to work together so that people of the Sahel can have peace and development.”
He stressed that the World Bank’s new approach to the Sahel will entail working side by side with the region’s Governments, the UN and other development partners and will promote greater stability, resilience and sustainable development in the five core countries of the region: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
“Our aim is to address the root causes of poverty, conflict and helplessness. As a part of this new approach, the World Bank will mobilize substantial public and private sources in support. We’ll help strengthen social safety nets for people, lower the cost of energy and increase support for irrigation and pastoralism, as well transform the state of agriculture in the region,” Mr. Kim said.
The Sahel stretches from Mauritania to Eritrea, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan, a belt dividing the Sahara desert and the savannahs to the south. The joint visit will start from Mali and continue to Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.
Mr. Ban and Mr. Kim will be joined by Mr. Ban’s Special Envoy to the region, Romano Prodi, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, President of the African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka, and Commissioner for Development of the European Union Andris Piebalgs.