The story of the 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in Mali on July 10 continues to play out; Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé is attempting to mediate between Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. The soldiers were arriving as part of rotations in the United Nations peacekeeping mission MINUSMA. Jeune Afrique (French) looks at the tensions between MINUSMA and the Malian government.
The executive bureau of the ex-rebel bloc the Coordination of Azawad Movements (French acronym CMA) held one of its ordinary meetings in Kidal on July 16-17, and is not so happy (French) with the transitional authorities, especially over their handling of the Algiers Accord (a 2015 peace agreement), the ongoing violence in Menaka, the seeming lack of progress in investigating the assassination of top CMA figure Sidi Brahim Ould Sidatt, and more. The presidency of the CMA rotated from Bilal ag Acherif to Alghabass ag Intalla. Full communiqué here (French).
A presumed jihadist attack on July 15 on an army checkpoint at Zantiguila, some 60 kilometers from Bamako, is adding to fears about jihadists’ southward encroachments.
RFI reports on the July 14-15 visit of French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu to Niamey, Niger in the context of France’s partial withdrawal from Mali. Reuters looks at France’s efforts to generate a new strategy for the Sahel. An excerpt:
French officials said the onus going forward would be on regional countries to lead on security, while also focusing more on development, good governance and education. The ministers would announce 50 million euro aid to enhance the electricity network in Niger as well as budgetary support.
A key area of concern is how and whether French and European troops will used to support countries in the coastal Gulf of Guinea nations such Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast, where there has been a rise in attacks. Al Qaeda’s regional arm has said it would turn its attention to the region.
France24 reports on “dirty gold” in Mali:
The New York Times‘ Ruth Maclean has a major article on the digitization and public availability of thousands of manuscripts from Timbuktu.