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Niger’s junta refuses entry to negotiators, allies appeal to UN

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Niger’s junta

Last Updated on August 9, 2023 by Fellow Press

Tensions remain high in the aftermath of a coup in Niger Republic as the military junta refused entry to a negotiating mission planned for Tuesday by the United Nations, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).

The military governments of Mali and Burkina Faso have called on the UN Security Council to prevent military action against the putschists in their neighbouring country Niger.

ECOWAS threatened this as a possible reaction to the coup d’état at the end of July in which the military seized power in Niger, suspended the constitution, and imprisoned the president.

In Tuesday’s letter, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop and Burkinese Foreign Minister Olivia Rouamba addressed the UN’s most powerful body as well as the African Union.

“The transitional governments of Burkina Faso and the Republic of Mali appeal to the primary responsibility of the (UN) Security Council as guarantor of international peace and security to prevent, by all means at its disposal, armed action against a sovereign state, the consequences of which would be unforeseeable in their magnitude,” the letter reads.

The aim is “to avoid, in addition to the deterioration of the security situation with the multiplication and spread of terrorist groups, a humanitarian tragedy, which would add to the difficulties of a population legitimately waiting for support.”

Both Mali and Burkina Faso are currently suspended from ECOWAS following coups and have clearly sided with the military rulers in Niger.

They declared that they would not support the ECOWAS sanctions and that any military action would be seen as a “declaration of war” against their own states.

Mali’s Diop caused a stir at the UN Security Council in New York in June when he called for the immediate withdrawal of the UN peacekeeping mission that has been stationed in Mali for a decade.

Coming from Libya and northern Mali, Islamist terrorist groups have been spreading in the three bordering countries since 2012.

The U.S. government said it continues to hope for a diplomatic solution after the coup in Niger but at the same time it is realistic, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in Washington on Tuesday.

U.S. diplomat Victoria Nuland spoke with members of the junta in the capital Niamey on Monday, but was not allowed to meet either the detained President Mohamed Bazoum or the military ruler General Abdourahamane Tchiani.

Tchiani received a delegation from Mali and Burkina Faso on Monday, who assured him of their support.

The junta announced a prime minister and other posts late on Monday night.

Ahead of the special ECOWAS summit on the coup in Niger, Nigeria has underscored its hope for a negotiated solution.

President Bola Tinubu believes “diplomacy is the best way forward” to resolve the crisis, his spokesman Ajuri Ngelale said on Tuesday.

“This represents “the consensus position of the ECOWAS heads of states,” he said.

Tinubu is currently ECOWAS chair. At the summit, “far-reaching decisions will be taken concerning the next steps the regional bloc will take,” the spokesman said.

He added that “no options have been taken off the table.”

The federation of currently 11 states plans to meet in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Thursday.

The military chiefs of the ECOWAS countries had presented a plan for a possible intervention last week.

Besides Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, and Ivory Coast have declared their readiness for military intervention.

The French broadcaster RFI reported on Tuesday that the plans included a force of 25,000 soldiers.

The military governments of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, which were suspended by ECOWAS after coups, support the putschists in Niger.

Malian Minister of Territorial Administration Abdoulaye Maïga reaffirmed after his meeting with General Tchiani in Niger on Monday “the active, effective and full participation of Mali and Burkina Faso in legitimate defence operations in the event of an ECOWAS attack on Niger.”

On July 26, officers of the presidential guard in Niger ousted the democratically elected Bazoum.

The commander of the elite unit, Tchiani, subsequently appointed himself the new ruler, then the putschists suspended the constitution and dissolved all constitutional institutions.

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Emmanuel Macron announces dissolution of National Assembly

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Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Fellow Press

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the dissolution of the National Assembly, following defeat of his party in 2024 European Parliament (EP) elections, according to local media report.

“I have decided to give you back the choice of your parliamentary future through the vote. I am therefore dissolving the National Assembly,” Macron said in a short speech.

“This is a serious, weighty decision. But it is above all an act of trust,” he added.

He added that the elections to the National Assembly are to take place in two rounds on June 30 and July 7.
Macron’s Renaissance party gained 15.2 per cent of the votes in 2024 European Parliament elections, far behind far-right National Rally who received 31.8 per cent.

“The unprecedented gap between the presidential majority and the leading opposition party reflects a stinging disavowal and rejection of the policies led by Emmanuel Macron,” RN President Jordan Bardella said after the EP elections results were unveiled, quoted by local media.

“We’re ready for it. I call on French people to join us in forming around the RN a majority in the service of the only cause that guides our steps: France.” parliamentary party leader of RN, Marine Le Pen, said Sunday evening on social media platform X.

The EP elections were held from June 6 to June 9, with voters of the 27 EU member states selecting 720 lawmakers to the 10th EP.

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UN adds Israel to blacklist

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Last Updated on June 10, 2024 by Fellow Press

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has added Israel’s military to a global list of offenders that have committed violations against children, his spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Israel had been told it is being placed on the list in the secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict, to be sent to the UN Security Council next Friday, Stephane Dujarric told a press briefing.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also added to the list, according to a diplomatic source, along with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Dujarric added that the Israeli UN mission was called by Guterres’ chief of staff on Friday, a courtesy afforded to countries that are newly listed. “It is done to give those countries a heads-up and avoid leaks,” he said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan recorded a video of himself making a phone call from his office, apparently to a UN official, and leaked part of it on social media.

In the video, Erdan expressed outrage at the UN decision, calling the IDF “the most moral army in the world.”

“The only one who is blacklisted today is the secretary-general, whose decisions since the war started, and even before, are rewarding terrorists and incentivizing them to use children for terror acts… Shame on him!”

Dujarric said it was “shocking and unacceptable” that Erdan had apparently published the private call, saying it was “something he had never seen in my 24 years serving this organization.”

Israel’s inclusion on the list comes after eight months of war in Gaza, in which more than 15,500 children have been killed, according to the Ministry of Health in the enclave.

The war was sparked by a Hamas-led assault on Israel on October 7, which killed 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage. Many are still in captivity and Hamas’ top leadership is still at large despite the Israeli onslaught.

The UN’s so-called blacklist has previously included countries such as Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the decision to add Israel to the list “will not bring back tens of thousands of our children who were killed by Israel over decades and will not restore normal life for the children who were permanently disabled by its actions.”

“But it is an important step in the right direction towards ending the double standards and the culture of impunity Israel has enjoyed for far too long and that left our children vulnerable to its consequences.”

The annual report will go to the Security Council on June 14. The official report will be published on June 18. It will be discussed at a debate in the council on June 26.

Asked about ramifications, the UN spokesman said it will be up to the members to decide any action.

The war has seen Israel-UN relations reach historic lows with Israeli diplomats using their platforms at the UN to denounce the world body.

Israel’s quarrel with the UN has gone beyond the secretary-general. Israeli officials have also criticized the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the World Health Organization, UN Women, and the UN’s Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories Francesca Albanese.

Meanwhile, dozens of UN staffers have been killed in Gaza since the conflict began, the largest loss in the world body’s history.

Israel has long accused UNRWA of anti-Israeli incitement, which UNRWA has repeatedly denied, and in 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to dismantle the UN body, saying it should be merged with the main UN refugee agency.

Since the October 7 attack, Israeli journalists and news outlets have refocused their attention on UNRWA and have amplified stories questioning its role in the war.

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