Sudan Thwarts Attempted Coup, Situation Under Control, Army Says

Sudanese authorities have foiled an attempted coup, the army said on Tuesday, warding off a challenge to a civilian-military council that has run the country since Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in 2019. 

A civilian member of the ruling council told Reuters the situation was under control after the attempted coup overnight had been contained. Interrogation of suspects was due to begin, the council member, spokesman Mohamed Al Faki Suleiman said. 

The ruling body known as the Sovereign Council has run Sudan under a fragile power-sharing deal between the military and civilians following Bashir’s overthrow. 

It plans to hold free elections in 2024. 

“The military has defeated the coup attempt and the situation is completely under control,” the media advisor to Sovereign Council head, General Abdelfattah al-Burhan, told state news agency SUNA. 

A government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the coup attempt had involved an effort to take control of state radio in Omdurman, across the River Nile from the capital Khartoum. 

Measures were being taken to contain a limited number of people involved, the source said. All those implicated had been arrested, SUNA reported. 

A witness said that military units loyal to the council had used tanks to close a bridge connecting Khartoum with Omdurman early on Tuesday morning. 

It was not the first challenge to the transitional authorities, who say they have foiled or detected previous coup attempts linked to factions loyal to Bashir, who was deposed by the army after months of protests against his rule. 

In 2020, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok survived an assassination attempt targeting his convoy as he headed to work in Khartoum. 

Sudan has gradually been welcomed into the international fold since the overthrow of Bashir, who ruled Sudan for almost 30 years and is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged atrocities committed in Darfur in the early 2000s. 

Bashir is presently in prison in Khartoum, where he faces several trials. 

The ICC’s chief prosecutor held talks with Sudanese officials last month on accelerating steps to hand over those wanted over Darfur. 

Sudan’s economy has been in deep crisis since before Bashir’s removal and the transitional government has undergone a reform program monitored by the International Monetary Fund. 

Underlining Western support for the transitional authorities, the Paris Club of official creditors agreed in July to cancel $14 billion of Sudan’s debt and to restructure the rest of the more than $23 billion it owed to the club’s members. 

But the economy is still struggling with rapid inflation and shortages of goods and services.  

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Assets Seized From Equatorial Guinea VP to Pay for Vaccine, Medicine 

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will use money from assets seized from Equatorial Guinea Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, which the DOJ alleges Obiang obtained through corruption. 

Of that amount, $19.25 million will go to the United Nations to buy COVID-19 vaccines, and $6.35 million will pay for medicine and medical supplies for Equatorial Guinea. 

In a news release, the DOJ said Obiang used his position as minister of Agriculture and Forestry in 2011 “to amass more than $300 million worth of assets through corruption and money laundering, in violation of both U.S. and Equatoguinean law.” 

According to a 2014 settlement agreement, Obiang was required to sell a $30 million mansion in Malibu, California, a Ferrari automobile, and “various items of Michael Jackson memorabilia,” DOJ said.

“As provided in the agreement, $10.3 million of these settlement funds were to be forfeited to the United States, and the remaining settlement funds would be distributed to a charity or other organization for the benefit of the people of Equatorial Guinea,” the DOJ news release said. 

Obiang has also been convicted in France for purchasing luxury properties with illegal funds. He was given a suspended three-year sentence and fined $35 million.

Equatorial Guinea is rich in oil, but most of its 1.4 million citizens live in poverty. 

Some information in this report comes from Agence France-Presse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rebel Attacks Kill 15 Soldiers in Troubled Cameroon

About 15 soldiers and several civilians have died in two attacks in English-speaking western areas of Cameroon in the grip of a breakaway campaign, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

Heavily armed “terrorists” ambushed a convoy of elite rapid intervention forces at Bamessing in the Northwest region on September 16, the ministry statement said. 

“Using IED (improvised explosive devices) and an anti-tank rocket launcher, the insurgents immobilized the vehicles (in the convoy) before opening heavy fire on the latter,” it added. 

Another IED hit a military convoy at Kumbo in the same region on September 12. 

The ministry estimated the total death toll at “about 15 soldiers and several civilians.”

Western Cameroon is in the grip of a four-year conflict triggered by militants demanding independence for two predominantly English-speaking regions in the francophone-majority state. 

More than 3,500 people have been killed and over 700,000 have fled their homes. 

Rights groups say abuses have been committed by both separatists and the armed forces. 

The Defense Ministry noted “the existence of links and exchanges of sophisticated weaponry” between “secessionist terrorists” and “other terrorist entities operating beyond the borders,” including fundamentalist groups. 

 

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Benin Startup Builds Low-Cost Computers

BloLab is converting plastic jerricans into computers using recycled components.. Anne Nzouankeu visited the startup in Cotonou, Benin in this story narrated by Moki Edwin Kindzeka.

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Benin Startup Builds Computers Out of Jerricans, Distributes Them at Low Cost

BloLab, a startup in Benin is turning plastic jerricans into computers using recycled components and distributing them to the public at a low cost.

Arthur Dadjo is a student in Cotonou, Benin, where innovation and recycling meet. For the past year, he has been using a computer he built himself. It is made from a plastic jerrycan, recycled materials and parts from an old or broken computer to build what would become the computer’s motherboard and hard drive. 

Locals call it “Jerry” after the name of the containers. With royalty-free software installed, it is as good as new. And most importantly, cheaper.  

“You can find a complete office computer between 300 and 350,000 in West African CFA franc, the local currency,” he said. “But with the components we bought with the help of the startup, we spent about 100 to 150,000 (CFA franc) to have this computer.”  

BloLab, a digital innovation lab working in the fields of education and digital technology, makes these “Jerry” computers. The startup regularly organizes workshops to teach people how to make their own computers for free.  

Medard Agbayazon, the founder of BloLab, says in addition to giving people access to cost effective products, the trainers want to help develop skills in innovation.

The second objective is to stimulate creativity in children. He says when they learn to do these “Jerrys,” they also learn how to solve problems they are confronted with in their environment, using the material or the means they have at their disposal.

Experts believe that the computer is increasingly an indispensable working tool and that initiatives such as BloLab’s should be encouraged.

Ali Shadai, is with Open Nsi, an organization focusing on digital transformation of companies.  

“A computer is a door to a world of opportunities,mand making it accessible to the greatest number of people is beneficial for these people and for society in general,” he said. “BloLab’s effort is positive.”

The training to learn how to build a “Jerry” is offered for free. But participants must find the components to build their own computers themselves.

BloLab has been in operation for 4 years and founders say that hundreds of people have already taken advantage of the training sessions and built their computer.

The startup is now working to make these self-built computers available to schools located in remote areas. With that, BloLab says, it would bridge the digital gap one “Jerry” at a time.

Moki Edwin Kindzeka contributed to this report.

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French Minister in Mali to Thwart Hiring of Russian Mercenaries

France’s Armed Forces minister arrived in Mali on Sunday to pressure the military junta to end talks to bring Russian mercenaries into the country and push it to keep a promise to return the country to constitutional order in February.

Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that Mali’s year-old military junta is close to recruiting the Russian Wagner Group, and France has launched a diplomatic drive to thwart it, saying such an arrangement is incompatible with a continued French presence.

West Africa’s main political bloc, ECOWAS, as well as other allies combating militants in the Sahel region, have also expressed concerns over the potential deal.

But Mali’s junta, which seized power in August 2020, has dug in, noting that France has begun scaling down its decade-old operation against insurgents linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State across the region.  

On Sunday, Mali’s foreign ministry called objections from neighbor Niger to the prospect of a deal with Wagner “unacceptable, unfriendly and condescending.”

The visit by Florence Parly to Mali is the highest-level trip by French officials since the talks with Wagner emerged.

An official from the French Armed Forces Ministry told reporters ahead of the visit that Parly would stress “the heavy consequences if this decision were to be taken by the Malian authorities.”

She would also underscore the importance of keeping to the calendar for the transition to democracy leading to elections in February 2022, the official said.

French officials describe the relationship with the junta as “complicated,” although it still relies on Paris for counterterrorism operations.

Paris said on Thursday it had killed the leader of Islamic State in Western Sahara in northern Mali.

Parly earlier on Sunday was in Niger to lay out plans to reshape its operations in the region.

The French army started redeploying troops from its bases in Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu in northern Mali at the start of the month, French army sources have said.

France wants to complete the redeployment by January. It is reducing its contingent to 2,500-3,000 from about 5,000, moving more assets to Niger, and encouraging other European special forces to work alongside local forces.

The European force in the Sahel so far totals about 600 troops from nine countries.

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Johannesburg Mayor Killed in Car Accident 

The mayor of Johannesburg was killed in a car accident as he returned from campaigning with South Africa’s president on Saturday, just over a month after being elected, his office said in a statement.

Jolidee Matongo, 46, was returning from a voter registration drive in Soweto township ahead of local elections when the accident happened.

“It is hard to comprehend this tragedy, given the vitality and passion with which Mayor Matongo interacted with me and residents of Soweto so shortly before his death,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a tweet.

“Nothing could prepare any of us for this sudden loss, which has deprived our nation’s economic center of its second Executive Mayor in two months.”

Matongo’s predecessor died from Covid-19 complications in July, and Matongo was elected on August 10.

Gauteng province premier David Makhura, who was also at the Soweto voter registration drive, said the news had left him “shocked and shattered.”

“[Matongo] executed his duties with a cool and calm demeanor and remained committed to selflessly serving the citizens of Johannesburg,” he added. 

Photos posted on social media by Ramaphosa and Matongo himself from earlier in the afternoon showed the two men walking around Soweto talking to residents, Matongo dressed in a bright yellow tracksuit with the African National Congress party’s logo on it.

Matongo was born in Soweto, according to the City of Johannesburg’s website, and became a member of the ANC Youth League after taking up student politics at the age of 13.

Matongo’s office said more details on the accident would be released “in due time.”

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Bandits Release 10 Students Kidnapped 2 Months Ago From Nigerian School

Bandits have released 10 more students kidnapped two months ago from a Baptist school in northwest Nigeria, the school administrator told Reuters on Saturday.

The Rev. John Hayab, administrator of the Bethel Baptist High school, said 21 students from the school remained in captivity. He said an undisclosed ransom was paid to release eight students while another two were set free due to ill health.

Last month bandits released 15 students from the school after a group of 28 was set free in July following the release of a first group of 28 two days after the raid.

Around 150 students were missing after armed men in July raided the school in Nigeria’s Kaduna state, the 10th mass school kidnapping since December, which authorities attributed to criminal gangs seeking ransom.

“They are looking for more money, that’s why they are releasing them in batches,” Hayab said.

He has previously said the abductors were seeking $2,433 per student.

Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups. Such kidnappings in Nigeria were first carried out by jihadist group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province, but the tactic has now been adopted by other criminal gangs.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said on Wednesday that 1 million Nigerian children could miss school this year as the new term begins amid a rise in mass school kidnappings and insecurity. 

 

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