The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) voted on Thursday to deploy troops to Mali and Guinea-Bissau, both of which have suffered coups this spring. The junta in Mali says it will treat any foreign soldiers on Malian soil as enemies. Readers who understand French may be interested in RFI’s article entitled (my translation) “In Mali, Confusion and Uncertainty on the Role of the Military Junta.”
In Guinea-Bissau, meanwhile, soldiers have released former PM Carlos Gomes Junior and interim President Raimundo Pereira.
AFP analyzes the “unlikely role” of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore as “the Sahel region’s troubleshooter.”
In negotiating [Swiss hostage Beatrice] Stockly’s release from the Islamists [in northern Mali], Compaore proved he’s in tune with the shifting realities on the ground, observers said.
“We have in Compaore a serious intermediary with a serious network,” said one western diplomat.
Compaore is perhaps an unlikely fit for this partly benevolent role: he took power in a 1987 coup that saw his predecessor and once brother-in-arms Thomas Sankara assassinated, and his democratic credentials have been steadily questioned since.
But his skills at navigating among the sometimes shadowy armed groups operating in the Sahel were reinforced last month when fellow heads of state from the west African bloc ECOWAS named him mediator for the Mali crisis.
IRIN reports that displaced persons in western Cote d’Ivoire “feel forgotten.”
Most displaced families told IRIN they could not return to their homes because they were destroyed, or because their farms were taken over by other groups and are now being guarded by armed guards or “dozos”.
Téhé comes from a village 5km outside of Duékoué but he has not returned home because his fields were taken over during his absence. “It’s because we’re Guéré,” he says, referring to his ethnic group, whose members overwhelmingly supported the former president, Laurent Gbagbo.
Much of the long-term inter-community conflict in the west is rooted in issues of land tenure, as members of different ethnic groups claim ownership to the same land.
President Ouattara recognized that the west is still very unstable, with forests “infested with armed persons”, which is “not acceptable”. Nonetheless, during his visit to the towns of Toulépleu, Bloléquin and Duékoué he repeated calls for the displaced to return home, and called on Ivoirians to leave it to the justice system to punish those who have committed crimes. He stressed that he is the president of all Ivoirians, regardless of ethnicity, religion or region.
VOA: “Sudan Fighting Damages Both Sides’ Oil Industry.”
I leave you with a video on hunger in Chad from the World Food Programme: