Palestinians said the World Court let them down by failing to order a halt to the Israeli military offensive in Gaza, but they also described the proceedings as a victory which had inspired hope of accountability.The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to prevent any acts of genocide against the Palestinians and do more to help suffering civilians. However, it stopped short of ordering a ceasefire as requested by South Africa, which brought the case.Friday's proceedings were broadcast live across the Arab world and in Israel, which rejects South Africa's claims that it has committed genocide.At a shelter for people displaced by Israeli bombardment in southern Gaza, people gathered around a radio to follow the news."We, the displaced, the bereaved families and those who lost their homes, had an ambition the court would call for an immediate ceasefire," said Mustafa Ibrahim, a human rights activist."Despite that, what happened was a victory," added Ibrahim, a resident of Gaza City who now lives in a shelter with his family of seven in Rafah in the south of the enclave.South Africa asked the ICJ to grant emergency measures to halt the fighting. More than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive, according to authorities in Gaza.Israel mounted the offensive in response to cross-border attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed and around 250 abducted, according to Israeli figures.The assault has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip and uprooted most of its 2.3 million residents.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the ICJ's decision not to order a ceasefire but rejected the claim of genocide as "outrageous" and said Israel would continue to defend itself. Israel says it makes the utmost efforts to avoid civilian casualties.Jonathan Dekel-Chen, whose son is being held hostage in Gaza, said he was encouraged by the ICJ's call for the release of the captives.While the ruling dashed Palestinian hopes of a binding order to halt the war, it also represented a legal setback for Israel, which had hoped to throw out a case brought under the genocide convention established after the Holocaust.Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority said Palestinians had hoped the ruling would include an immediate ceasefire.But the decision "confirms the end of Israel's time with impunity and puts it in the dock as a war criminal", he said.The court did not rule at this stage on the core of the case brought by South Africa - whether genocide has occurred in Gaza.In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinians watched on a big screen at government offices in Ramallah. One held a banner saying "Thank You South Africa".Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said the ruling was an important development that contributed to isolating Israel and exposing what it described as its crimes in Gaza.The court found that Palestinians were protected under the convention and there was a case to be heard about whether their rights were being denied in a war that it said was causing grievous humanitarian harm.Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti said the ICJ's acceptance of the case "means putting Israel on trial for its crimes for the first time".
South Africa's ICJ case has ruffled feathers in WestHas reinforced standing as champion of Global SouthRetaliation unlikely in midst of rivalry with ChinaSouth Africa's genocide case against Israel may have ruffled feathers in the capitals of vital Western trading partners, but it has boosted the country's standing as a champion of the downtrodden Global South.That gamble is likely to pay off, thanks to renewed rivalry for Africa's minerals and UN votes between the West, China and Russia, turbocharged by Russia's war on Ukraine.The International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Israel's petition to throw out the case on Friday, telling it to prevent its troops committing genocide against Palestinians, although it stopped short of ordering the ceasefire South Africa demanded.It did not decide the merits of the genocide allegations, which could take years."It was reasonably damning," said Susan Booysen, Director of Research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection."It was quite unambiguous ... in highlighting the abuses ... so I think it gives them (South Africa) quite a bit of esteem as an international spokesperson for human rights," she added.And while Israel's allies in Washington, Brussels and London might grumble, they can scarcely afford to alienate Africa's industrial and diplomatic heavyweight - especially with the United States' main superpower rival, China, wooing the continent with money, railways and tech transfers."If you're going to start punishing South Africa for going to the International Court of Justice, then you're going to have to start punishing a lot of other African countries (for supporting the Palestinians)," Steven Friedman, director of South Africa's Centre for the Study of Democracy, said."If you do that, then you might as well send (Chinese President) Xi Jinping a letter saying 'you've won'."Underscoring the point, on a visit to Angola on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of South Africa's ICJ case, "whether or not we have a disagreement, one particular matter doesn't take away from the important work that we're doing together in so many other areas."South Africa projects itself as critic of a world order it sees as mainly serving the interests of the United States and its rich-country allies, who promote international norms they enforce on foes but often not on friends nor even on themselves.During the Covid-19 pandemic, it was South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa who denounced the rich world for hogging all the vaccines, noted Chris Ogunmodede, analyst and editor of World Politics Review.South Africa was instrumental in marketing BRICS - the forum led by Brazil, Russia, India, China and itself - as an alternative to Western hegemony, with 40 nations queuing to join last year."(The ICJ case) is ... another indication of the important place South Africa seeks to occupy as (one of) the continent's leading voices on global affairs," Ogunmodede said.Taking a firm stand on the Gaza war - which has displaced some 1.9 million Palestinians, killed at least 26,000, according to Gaza officials, and inspired global outrage - enhanced this aim.South African officials often compare their erstwhile struggle against white minority rule to the Palestinian cause - a comparison Israel strongly disputes.That they takes no such unequivocal moral stance on Russia has raised eyebrows. Last year, the government unsuccessfully sought a waiver from its obligation to arrest President Vladamir Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine so he could attend a BRICS summit."(An) elementary principle of morality is that it can't be selective. South Africa did not do right by the Ukrainian people," author and columnist Ferial Haffajee wrote in the national Daily Maverick this month, but she praised South Africa for picking a first-rate legal team to fight the ICJ case.South Africans are proud of the strong rule of law that emerged from their anti-apartheid struggle, which often resolves rancorous domestic political disputes."Seeing their judges on the bench of the ICJ wearing South African scarves is like watching the Springboks (national rugby team) win the world cup," Chris Vandome, a senior southern Africa researcher at Chatham House, said."It's a point of pride."
Voters in the Comoros began Sunday casting their ballots in presidential election that is widely expected to hand President Azali Assoumani a fourth five-year term.Assoumani is competing in the elections with five opponents, while other opposition leaders called for a boycott.Voting opened across the Indian Ocean archipelago Sunday morning and closes at 6:00 pm, with 338,940 eligible registered voters out of a population of 800,000.Comoros changed its constitution in June 2018 to remove a requirement that the presidency rotate among its three main islands every five years, which allowed Assoumani to seek re-electionProvisional results are expected on Friday, according to the election commission. (QNA)
The Democratic Republic of Congo's election authority has annulled recent election results for three government ministers and four provincial governors, citing fraud and voter intimidation.The electoral commission Ceni stated late on Friday it had cancelled all ballots cast for 82 election candidates in the central African nation.Three sitting government ministers are on the list, as well as four provincial governors -- including the governor of the capital province Kinshasa.The announcement comes after an election last month that was marred by bureaucratic chaos, and which the Congolese political opposition has rejected.On December 20, impoverished but mineral-rich DRC held simultaneous votes to choose the president, lawmakers for national and provincial assemblies, and local councillors.Disarray and massive delays pushed the electoral commission Ceni to extend the vote by one day. Some observers noted that voting continued in some remote areas until December 27.On Friday, Ceni annulled the results of several prominent political figures due to fraud, acts of vandalism, voter intimidation and illegal possession of voting machines.Antoinette Kipulu Kabenga, minister for vocational training, featured on the annulled list, as did regional-integration minister Didier Mazenga Mukanzu and Nana Manuanina Kihimba, a minister in the president's office.Four provincial governors also featured on the list, including the head of Kinshasa province, Gentiny Ngobila.A Ceni spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.The electoral commission has only released results from the presidential election so far.Incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi won the presidential race by a landslide 73 percent of the votes, according to provisional results, which the Constitutional Court is expected to confirm this month.Leading Congolese opposition politicians have rejected the election as a sham, however, citing irregularities and delays, and called for a re-run.Church leaders in the country, who deployed their own election observers, noted numerous cases of irregularities and urged an investigation, but fell short of declaring the election fraudulent.
South Africa asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday for an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention in its crackdown against the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza.The ICJ, sometimes known as the World Court, is the UN venue for resolving disputes between states. South Africa's filing alleged Israel was violating its obligations under the treaty, drafted in the wake of the Holocaust, which makes it a crime to attempt to destroy a people in whole or in part.It asked the court to issue provisional, or short-term, measures ordering Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza, which it said were "necessary in this case to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people".No date has been set for a hearing.Israel launched an assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza on Oct 7, killing more than 21,000 people, Palestinian health officials say.The court application is the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel's war, to ratchet up pressure after its lawmakers last month voted in favour of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire was reached in the war.In a statement from South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the government said the application against Israel was filed Friday."Israel, since 7 October 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide and has failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide," DIRCO said in a statement.South Africa has backed the Palestinian cause for statehood in Israeli-occupied territories for decades, likening the plight of Palestinians to those of the Black majority in South Africa during the repressive apartheid-era, a comparison Israel vehemently denies.
Sixteen people were killed in an attack by gunmen in Nigeria's central state of Plateau.Military sources said that the attack occurred in the village of Mushu, indicating that security personnel were deployed to prevent clashes in the region, as mutual killings between herders and farmers generally lead to attacks on villages.Spokesman for the state governor Gyang Bere stressed that proactive measures will be taken by government to curb the ongoing attacks on innocent citizens.The region, which often witnesses ethnic tensions, is located on the dividing line between northern and southern Nigeria, while it was not immediately clear what sparked the latest attack and who was responsible.Attacks by gunmen are frequent in central and northern Nigeria, accompanied by kidnappings and killings of civilians. (QNA)
A total of 130 Al Shabab elements were eliminated in recent operations the Somali army conducted in various areas of the country, the army said in a statement on Sunday.The statement, carried by Somali National News Agency (SONNA), said the 130 gunmen, affiliated with Al Qaeda Movement, were killed in multiple areas in the states of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Jubaland.Somali forces, in cooperation with locals, managed to seize weapons and military equipment, and destroyed militant sites, the statement read.For over a decade now, the Somali forces have been waging battles against the Al Shabab Movement, which has claimed several attacks that killed hundreds of civilians and security personnel, and have recaptured several areas from the movement. (QNA)
Africa's largest pop culture festival opened this week with a spotlight on home-grown superheroes including a black knight battling South Africa's rolling power cuts and a warrior inspired by the legendary Zulu king Shaka. Clad in superhero capes and sci-fi costumes, thousands of people flocked to a vast expo centre south of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday for the first day of Comic Con Africa, which runs until Monday.The festival, in its fourth edition, has a dedicated 'Afro Geek' pavilion, showcasing comics reflecting African heritage and society. "The cartoons we used to watch, particularly Tarzan, had this colonial mentality around Africans... it would be a character in Africa but the Africans would be invisible," Trevor Ngwenya, an artist, told AFP. "It didn't sit well with me".Ngwenya's latest project is a superhero inspired by King Shaka, the 19th-century leader still revered for having united a large swathe of the country as the Zulu nation. Other 'Afro Geek' offerings include a paladin fighting the relentless power outages that have battered South Africa in recent years and a comic series inspired by African mythology. "Seeing superheroes that I look like brings more of a relatability to me. It makes me want to read the comics a little more," said Ethan Msithini, 26, an animator promoting the Kidwiz Inc series featuring the blackout busting hero. The festival has been praised for opening doors for cosplayers in a country and continent where the industry is not as established as in more developed parts of the world."I just really love that people of colour are taking back ownership of certain things like fantasy and sci-fi," said Abigail Backman-Daniels, a festivalgoer dressed as a Valkyrie from the Thor movie franchise.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted in his speech at the African Climate Summit in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, the enormous devastating effects of climate change on the continent despite not causing this crisis."This continent accounts for less than four per cent of global emissions. Yet it suffers some of the worst effects of rising global temperatures," Guterres said."Extreme heat, ferocious floods, and tens of thousands dead from devastating droughts, Guterres added, indicating that "the blow inflicted on development is all around with growing hunger and displacement."The UN Secretary-General affirmed that it was still possible to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but only with a quantum leap in climate action.He said that the largest emitters of greenhouse gases must lead the way and called on the G20 countries responsible for emitting 80% of these gasses to assume their responsibilities."They must also keep their promise to provide $100 billion a year to developing countries for climate support, and fully replenish the Green Climate Fund," the UN Secretary-General affirmed.He pointed out that "African leadership is also helping to generate innovative green economies anchored in renewable power.""Now is the time to bring together African countries with developed countries, financial institutions and technology companies to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance," he added.The Secretary-General referred to the summit that will be held at the end of this month in preparation for the 28th session of the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 scheduled for later in the year.He said the summit aims to summon the worlds attention and committed action to climate change, and the need to support developing countries as they transition to a renewable future.Guterres stressed the need for all nations "to stand as one in defence of our only home. Lets deliver the climate justice that Africans, the world, and the planet we share, demand and deserve."The first-ever African Climate Summit of its kind began on Monday in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which aims to make the continent an emerging power in the field of renewable energy and call for allocating international financial aid to it to benefit from the resources and skills available to it. (QNA)
The Sudanese army announced that it contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to arrange the hand over soldiers captured during clashes with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).In accordance with international humanitarian law and the laws of war, the Sudanese armed forces have contacted the International Committee of the Red Cross to hand over about 30 underage members of the rebel militia, the army said in a statement.The statement indicated that the operation will be carried out in Um Durman, once the military receives a response from the representatives of the ICRC in Sudan, whom the statement said it contacted on Aug. 28.At the same time, the army also plans to hand over 200 RSF fighters, the statement said, noting that it was awaiting the completion of the necessary formalities with the ICRC.Thousands of people, most of them civilians, have been killed, and bout 4 million people have been displaced inside and outside Sudan since mid-April due to the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), according to United Nations estimates. (QNA)
Bongo's family have ruled for 56 yearsJunta names General Brice Oligui Nguema as leaderFrom house arrest, Bongo appeals for supportFrance, with troops in Gabon, condemns coupMilitary officers in oil-producing Gabon said they had seized power on Wednesday, placing President Ali Bongo under house arrest and naming a new leader after the Central African state's election body announced Bongo had won a third term.Saying they represented the armed forces, the officers declared on television that the election results were cancelled, borders closed and state institutions dissolved, after a tense vote that was set to extend the Bongo family's more than half century in power.Within hours, generals met to discuss who would lead the transition and agreed by unanimous vote to appoint General Brice Oligui Nguema, former head of the presidential guard, according to another televised address.Meanwhile, from detention in his residence, Bongo appealed in a video statement to foreign allies, imploring them to speak out on his and his family's behalf. He said he did not know what was happening.Bongo's plight was a dramatic reversal from the early hours of Wednesday when the electoral commission declared him the winner of Saturday's disputed vote.Hundreds of people celebrated the military's intervention in the streets of the Gabonese capital Libreville, while the United Nations, African Union and France, Gabon's former colonial ruler which has troops stationed there, condemned the coup.The military takeover in Gabon is the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020, and the second - after Niger - in as many months. Military officers have also seized power in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Chad, erasing democratic gains since the 1990s and raising fear among foreign powers that have strategic interests in the region."I am marching today because I am joyful. After almost 60 years, the Bongos are out of power," said Jules Lebigui, a jobless 27-year-old who joined crowds in Libreville.Bongo took over in 2009 on the death of his father Omar, who had ruled since 1967. Opponents say the family has done little to share the state's oil and mining wealth with its 2.3 million people.Violent unrest broke out after Bongo's contested 2016 election victory, and there was a foiled coup attempt in 2019.The Gabon officers, calling themselves The Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, said the country faced "a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis", and that the Aug. 26 vote was not credible.They also said they had arrested the president's son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, and others for corruption and treason.There was no immediate comment from Gabon's government.Bongo, 64, was last seen in public casting his vote on Saturday. Before the vote, he had looked healthier than his more frail television appearances after his 2018 stroke.Unlike Niger and other Sahel countries, Gabon, which lies further south on the Atlantic coast, has not had to battle destabilising Islamist insurgencies. But the coup is a further sign of democratic backsliding in the volatile region.A "contagion of autocracy" is spreading across Africa, said Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, the current chair of West African bloc ECOWAS. He said he was working closely with other African leaders on how to respond in Gabon.UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the African Union condemned the events and called on the military to ensure the safety of Bongo and his family, while China and Russia said they hoped for a swift return to stability. The United States said the situation was deeply concerning."We condemn the military coup and recall our commitment to free and transparent elections," French government spokesman Olivier Veran said.The coup creates more uncertainty for France's presence in the region. France has about 350 troops in Gabon. Its forces have been kicked out of Mali and Burkina Faso after coups there in the last two years.French miner Eramet, which has large manganese operations in Gabon, said it had halted operations.Gabon produces about 200,000 barrels of oil a day, mainly from depleting fields. International companies include France's TotalEnergies and Anglo-French producer Perenco.Concerns about the weekend election's transparency were raised by a lack of international observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts and a decision to cut internet service and impose a night-time curfew after the vote. Bongo's team rejected allegations of fraud.On Wednesday, the internet appeared to be working for the first time since the vote. The junta confirmed web access had been restored as well as all international broadcasts, but it said it would keep the curfew in place until further notice.Shortly before the coup announcement, the election authority declared Bongo the election winner with 64.27% of the vote and said his main challenger, Albert Ondo Ossa, had secured 30.77%.Gabon's dollar-denominated bonds fell as much as 14 cents on Wednesday before recovering to trade down 9.5 cents on the dollar.
Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan departed Tuesday on a flight to Egypt for his first trip abroad since fighting began with paramilitaries in April, the country's ruling Sovereign Council said.General Burhan would hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi "on the latest developments in Sudan and bilateral ties between the two countries", the council said in a statement.Burhan, who heads the council, was accompanied by intelligence chief Ahmad Ibrahim Muffadal and interim foreign minister Ali al-Sadeq, it added.The war between Burhan and his former deputy turned rival Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has raged since April 15.It has spread from Khartoum and the western region of Darfur to Kordofan and Jazira state, killing thousands and forcing millions to flee their homes.For months, the RSF had besieged Burhan inside military headquarters in Khartoum, but last week the army chief made his first public foray outside the compound to review troops in parts of the war-scarred country.On Monday he was in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan where he made a fiery address to troops, vowing to fight the RSF who he branded mercenaries to "end the rebellion"."We are mobilising everywhere to defeat this rebellion, defeat this treason, by these mercenaries who come from all over the world," Burhan told cheering troops."There is no time for discussion now. We are concentrating all our efforts on the war, to put an end to the rebellion," he said.His comments came a day after Daglo released a statement detailing a 10-point "vision" to end the war and build "a new state".The plan calls for "civilian rule based on democratic norms" and "a single, professional, national military institution" -- the very sticking point which turned the former allies into rivals.Conservative estimates from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project show that nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict. But the real figure is thought to be much higher, and the United Nations says more than 4.6 million people have been displaced by the fighting both inside and outside Sudan.Several efforts to mediate an end to the conflict, mainly by Saudi Arabia and the United States, have failed.In July, Egypt, which shares borders with Sudan and has been flooded by refugees from its neighbour, hosted a crisis meeting attended by African leaders to seek a solution.
Several regions of Kenya went without power on Friday and Saturday in outages that also left Nairobi international airport in darkness for several hours.Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) reported "a system disturbance leading to a loss of bulk power supply to various parts of the country" starting Friday night.Apart from the capital, with a population of five million, the main cities affected in the East African nation included Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret.By midday on Saturday, KPLC said power had been restored to most of the regions, but several areas of the capital and Mombasa, the second-largest city, were reportedly still without electricity.At Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta airport, one of Africa's busiest hubs, the Kenya Airport Authority said a generator serving the main terminals had failed to restart after the outage.KPLC said the airport supply had returned at 3:00 am (0000 GMT).No information had been released on how the outage affected flight departure and arrivals.Transport Minister Kipchumba Murkomen took to X, formerly Twitter, to declare: "There is no excuse worth reporting and there is no reason why our airport is in darkness."
With beaming smiles, their hair dyed a red ochre and adorned with a ceremonial headdress of ostrich feathers, the young Maasai men are busy taking selfies.They have just completed the first day of Eunoto, a traditional ritual marking the transition from young warrior to adulthood."Today we are becoming men," 22-year-old medical student Hillary Odupoy says proudly, wearing sunglasses and a string of pearls across his bare chest.Aged between 18 and 26, the young men came in their hundreds to the village of Nailare in southwestern Kenya, all from the same generation of "morans" ("warriors" in the Maasai language), a status they have held for a decade.Many left their homes in the region to work or study in the cities of Kisii or Nairobi, or like Odupoy, further afield in the town of Machakos that lies more than seven hours away by road."It is one of the biggest ceremonies we have in our life. We can never meet in such multitude. It unites the Maasai community," explains Odupoy.All wear red, the sacred colour of the Maasai -- from their hair which is coated in a mixture of ochre and oil to their traditional plaid cloth shukas.This rite of passage brings together the families of the morans as well as local inhabitants and officials, in all several thousand people.For five days, the Eunoto ceremony features traditional guttural chants, single-file dances on one leg, and the adumu -- the famous Maasai jump.Cows are sacrificed and their blood drunk by the young men, whose hair is shaved from their heads by their mothers.They then abandon the warrior's sword for the fimbo, the walking stick of the "elders".- Abandoned rituals -For centuries, Maasai men have gone through three rites of passage which have been inscribed since 2018 on the UNESCO list of intangible heritage in need of urgent safeguarding.Enkipaata is the transition from boyhood to moran status, Eunoto, the passage to "young elder", and finally Olng'esherr marks the start of eldership status.But such traditions of the Maasai, originally semi-nomadic herders living in southwestern Kenya and northern Tanzania, have had to adapt to the changes and demands of modern life.The morans no longer spend two years in an isolated village, called "emanyatta", but meet there during school holidays to learn Maasai history and traditions, as well as the rules of life in society."Apart from having the Western education, traditional education also matters," says agriculture student Peter Ledama Ntuntai, 24."Our culture teaches us good behaviour."Olerina Karia is one of the elders teaching these life lessons to the young Maasai."We teach them to be responsible citizens and members of society," says 52-year-old Karia."But all the traditions that were not the best for the survival of our community, such as killing a lion or the circumcision of girls, we teach them to get rid of them, especially if they collide with the law."The killing of lions was to prove the bravery of the Maasai men, but has been illegal in Kenya for decades to protect the threatened animal.The decline of the lion population was also threatening tourism, a precious source of income in the southwestern region of Kenya which is notably home to the emblematic Maasai Mara wildlife park.- 'Dynamics of society have changed' –In theory, young Maasai men can only marry after Eunoto, and their bride must have been circumcised.But female circumcision, or female genital mutilation (FGM) has been banned in Kenya since 2011 and is officially no longer practised or recommended."You can be a Maasai without killing a lion and without going through FGM," says Hillary Odupoy.Nowadays, some morans do not wait for Eunoto to marry."The dynamics of society have changed. When they go to school, sometimes they meet their fiancées there, they marry," says Olerina Karia."We adapt, we adjust."For many, it is a matter of survival to preserve the traditions and culture of the most famous of Kenya's 45 tribes.The Maasai are the 10th largest tribal grouping in Kenya with a population of less than 1.2 million, according to the last census in 2019."It is our greatest fear that in the near future we may not be able to practise this culture," says Olerina Karia."Other communities and other people are commercialising it, while the real owners who know how to practise it are not in the limelight."
Gunmen killed at least 21 civilians in an attack on a village in central Mali's insurgency-hit Mopti region on Friday, two local sources said on Saturday.The unidentified assailants struck in the afternoon, targeting the village of Yarou near the town of Bandiagara, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity."It was real carnage, armed men burst into the village and fired on people. The toll is heavy between 20 and 30 killed and wounded," one of the sources said by phone.The second source said the reported death toll stood at 21 and included women, while 11 others were wounded.Reuters was not able to independently verify their accounts. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.The West African nation is battling a violent insurgency with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State that took root in its arid north following a Tuareg separatist rebellion in 2012.Militants have since spread to other countries in the Sahel region south of the Sahara, seizing territory, killing thousands and uprooting millions of people in the process.Frustration over the growing insecurity has spurred two military coups in Mali since August 2020. The junta has burnt bridges with traditional Western allies and turned to Russian mercenaries for help.Its unexpected demand in June for the departure of UN peacekeepers has raised fears the country could slide deeper into chaos.
Seventeen Niger soldiers were killed on Tuesday in an attack by suspected jihadists near the country's western border with Burkina Faso, the defence ministry said.An army detachment was "the victim of a terrorist ambush near the town of Koutougou", said a ministry statement published late Tuesday.It added that another 20 soldiers had been wounded, six seriously, with all the casualties evacuated to the capital Niamey.More than 100 assailants were "neutralised" during their retreat, the army said.A jihadist insurgency has plagued Africa's Sahel region for more than a decade, breaking out in northern Mali in 2012 before spreading to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso in 2015.The so-called "three borders" area between the three countries is regularly the scene of attacks by rebels affiliated with the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.The unrest across the region has killed thousands of troops, police officers and civilians and forced millions to flee their homes.Anger at the bloodshed has fuelled military takeovers in all three countries since 2020, with Niger the latest to fall to a coup on July 26 when President Mohamed Bazoum was ousted.Niger is also facing a jihadist insurgency in its southeast from militants crossing from northeastern Nigeria -- the cradle of a campaign initiated by Boko Haram in 2010.
Religious leaders and politicians in northern Nigeria have opened back-door channels in a frantic attempt to stave off military intervention in coup-stricken Niger.The crisis has sparked fears for ancient cultural, social and commercial links that bind southern Niger with seven border states in northern Nigeria -- Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Jigawa, Borno and Yobe.Many people in the north are shocked by the threat from West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS, which is chaired by Nigeria, to intervene militarily to restore Niger's elected president, Mohamed Bazoum."What we had in the last one thousand years has been lost in a matter of few weeks," Sule Lamido, Nigeria's former foreign minister and ex-governor of Jigawa state, said in an article published on Sunday.Bazoum, 63, was detained on July 26 by members of the presidential guard, in Niger's fifth coup since independence from France in 1960.The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gave Niger's military rulers a one-week ultimatum on July 30 to restore Bazoum or face the potential use of force, but the deadline expired without action.The drumbeat of possible intervention sounded again on Thursday, when ECOWAS approved deployment of a "standby force to restore constitutional order" in Niger.But visits by representatives from northern Nigeria have also helped swing the pendulum back towards diplomacy.Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the influential former emir of Kano and Nigeria's former central bank governor, travelled to Niger on the eve of the ECOWAS summit for talks with the regime.His visit was followed at the weekend by that of a delegation of religious clerics.- Pressure on Tinubu -As West Africa's biggest economic and military power, Nigeria wields extensive clout.President Bola Tinubu, who came to power in May after disputed elections, has taken a hard line on stemming a cascade of coups that have now swept through four ECOWAS countries in three years.But concern in northern Nigeria of a potentially catastrophic intervention is heaping pressure on him to exercise restraint.Hundreds of residents in the Rijiyar Lemo neighbourhood of Kano took to the streets last week after Friday prayers in protest against any military operation.Raising the flags of both Nigeria and Niger, the protesters chanted anti-French slogans and dragged a mock French flag along the dusty road, accusing Niger's former colonial power of prodding Nigeria to go to war with its neighbour.On August 5, all 58 Nigerian senators across party lines from the north denounced planned military intervention in Niger, warning of dire consequences for seven border states.On August 9, a group of northern academics, retired senior military officers and politicians wrote to Tinubu, cautioning him of the risks of intervention in an already deeply unstable region.Nigeria's many security challenges -- from jihadist insurgency and farmer-herder conflict to banditry and kidnapping -- would be inflamed by the flow of arms and spread of violent extremism and banditry, they warned.- Trade ties -Nigeria's closure of its land border with Niger is already costing northern states around 13 billion naira ($13.5 million) every week, according to Arewa Economic Forum (AEF), a northern economic think-tank.In 2022 the volume of formal trade between Nigeria and Niger stood at $234 million while informal trade, which is mostly in perishable commodities, was $683 million, according to Ibrahim Shehu Dandakata, head of the AEF."Nigeriens depend on Nigeria for most of the essential commodities they consume. Nigerian businesses also rely on transit points for importation from Niger Republic," Dandakata said at a conference in Nigeria's capital Abuja on Sunday.More than 2,000 containers laden with goods belonging to Nigerian traders are stuck at the border"Our customers from Niger, Benin, up to Central Africa, have stopped coming to buy our goods due to the closure of the border and this is affecting us," said Shamsu Bala, a textile trader at the Kantin Kwari textile market in Kano."We want this issue to be resolved amicably. War will only make the situation worse for everyone."
Sudan's war has left university lecturer Ali Seif without pay for months. To make ends meet, he has turned to making soap in his room at a makeshift displacement camp.Out of work as fighting rages between the forces of rival generals, many Sudanese have been forced to find creative ways to support themselves and their families.Until April 15, when the conflict erupted between the army headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Seif had worked at a Khartoum university.Now the engineering lecturer and his family live in Wad Madani, a city where most of the nearly three million people displaced from the capital fled for safety with the few belongings they could bring.Wad Madani has been spared the violence so far, but air strikes and fighting are taking place around 150 kilometres (95 miles) to the north.Like many others, Seif said his house was "robbed" by paramilitaries, and he told AFP he has not received a salary since March with banks closed.In order to survive, he has started selling soap."Misfortune makes you creative," said Seif."I noticed there was no soap left on the market even though everyone wanted some, so I decided to make soap bars," he recalled, surrounded by plastic pots he uses to mix soap paste before pouring it into ice cube trays to mould the bars.- 'No choice' -Like Seif, Michelle Elia Moussa used to stand in front of a classroom full of students.But since the war turned her life and country upside down, she has spent her days standing in front of a stall at Al-Hasaheisa market, halfway between Khartoum and Wad Madani."I've given up hope and shelved my ambitions of being a brilliant teacher," she said, glasses on her nose and apron around her waist, as she looks over her cakes."Without a job, I can't support myself," she said, in a poverty-stricken country where the spectres of famine, epidemics and widespread war crimes now loom large."It's the first time I've worked in a market," she told AFP."I'm not comfortable, I'm ashamed, but it's a war. I have no choice," she added, expertly spreading a light dough on cast-iron plates to make thin wafers with holes.Eshraqa Mousa, another woman who fled Khartoum, has opened a small stall to sell tea. Without it, she said, she could "only provide one meal a day" for her children.- Leaving 'everything behind' -Her family's hasty departure from the capital at the start of a war that has killed at least 3,900 people and displaced four million is still fresh in Mousa's memory."We left everything behind... so I came here and bought this little stall to sell tea," she said, draped in her long, multicoloured veil.In a conservative society where tea sellers, though numerous, are often stigmatised and harassed, the move was an act of bravery she had never imagined she would achieve.But with the war, such taboos were shattered, and survival and resourcefulness took over."We were forced to find alternatives," said Mohammed Ali.A former civil servant in the capital, he "teamed up with some colleagues to open a small mobile food stall", he said.Made of white sheet metal and powered by a generator, it's "in the style of those you find in Khartoum, which don't exist in Wad Madani."Every day, he now sells mashed beans, falafel and other snacks loved by his compatriots, and he makes enough to feed his family.That is, until the next storm: the streets of Wad Madani are buzzing with speculation that the war could soon come to this city.
The Somali National Army launched a military operation to enhance security and stability in areas of the Middle Shabelle Governorate, southeast of the country.The Somali News Agency (SONNA), quoted Commander of the Somali National Army Brigadier General Ibrahim Sheikh Muhyadin as saying that the aim of the planned military operation, which was carried out by the Khalid bin Al-Walid Brigades, the 17th Battalion of the "Gurgur" commando forces, and the 19th Battalion of the Presidential Guard, is to enhance security and stability in the areas of Ron Nergod. And Hewley missed.It added that this operation comes within the framework of the military operations aimed at eliminating the remnants of the "Khawarij militias.For more than 10 years, the Somali government forces have been fighting the armed movements, which have carried out many attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and security personnel. Their repeated attacks also target government facilities and hotels in the capital, Mogadishu. (QNA)