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From the re-election of Alassane Ouattara to the coup d’état in Mali, through the fighting in the rebel region of Tigray, Ethiopia, Africa has had an eventful 2020. France 24 offers you a look back at the highlights of the continent’s news.

  • The contested re-election of Faure Gnassingbé in Togo
Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé casts his ballot on February 22, 2020 in Kara, during the presidential election.
Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé casts his ballot on February 22, 2020 in Kara, during the presidential election. © PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP

The political year in Africa began in Togo on February 22 with a vote. Unsurprisingly, the outgoing president Faure Gnassingbé, who was running for a fourth term, was widely re-elected in the first round of the presidential election with 72.36% of the votes cast, against 4.35% for his opponent, Jean-Pierre Fabre, and 18.37% for the leader of the opposition, Agbéyomé Kodjo. The latter denounced fraud and also claimed victory.

The vote took place without violence, but civil society noted ballot box stuffing and reversals of results. Opposition delegates have also been denied access to some polling stations, according to the opposition, and the Internet has been cut off intermittently in the capital or completely in some sensitive areas. Faure Gnassingbé, who came to power in 2005 after the death of his father, General Gnassigbé Eyadéma, who himself led Togo for 38 years, has always been reelected in polls that are highly contested by the opposition.

  • The arrest of Félicien Kabuga, alleged financier of the genocide in Rwanda
Actively wanted by international justice for twenty-five years, Félicien Kabuga, a Rwandan businessman considered to be the alleged financier of the 1994 genocide, was arrested on Saturday May 16 in the Paris region.
Actively wanted by international justice for twenty-five years, Félicien Kabuga, a Rwandan businessman considered to be the alleged financier of the 1994 genocide, was arrested on Saturday May 16 in the Paris region. Simon Wohlfahrt AFP / File

Rwandan businessman Félicien Kabuga, considered the alleged financier of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and actively sought by international justice for twenty-five years, was arrested on May 16, in the Hauts-de-Seine, in the Paris region. This 87-year-old Rwandan, according to him, is accused of having financed the Hutu militias responsible for the 1994 genocide. He was to be handed over to Arusha, in Tanzania, to be tried there by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MTPI ), which has a division in Arusha, but it was finally transferred at the end of October to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

Former president of the infamous Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which broadcast calls for the murders of Tutsis, Félicien Kabuga challenges all of the seven charges against him. He is also suspected of having contributed, in 1993, to the massive purchase of machetes which will be distributed to militiamen in April 1994, an accusation which supports the thesis of a planning of the genocide, never decided by international justice, to the great dam from Kigali.

  • Évariste Ndayishimiye winner of the presidential election in Burundi
Évariste Ndayishimiye, May 20, 2020, in Giheta, Burundi, after voting.
Évariste Ndayishimiye, May 20, 2020, in Giheta, Burundi, after voting. © AFP

General Évariste Ndayishimiye, the candidate of the ruling party in Burundi, was proclaimed, on May 25, winner of the presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (Céni), with 68.72% of the vote. The main opposition candidate, Agathon Rwasa, president of the National Council for Freedom (CNL), called the results “fanciful” and accused the power of “cheating” and “pure manipulation”. Maintained despite the coronavirus pandemic, these elections were generally held calm, but the CNL denounced the pressure exerted on its assessors, some of whom were arrested, as well as massive fraud.

52-year-old Évariste Ndayishimiye succeeded President Pierre Nkurunziza. In power since 2005, he had decided not to stand for a fourth term, and had dubbed him as his “heir”. His candidacy for a controversial third term in 2015 plunged his country into a major political crisis, which left more than 1,200 dead and forced 400,000 Burundians into exile. Pierre Nkurunziza died a few days after the presidential elections, June 8, victim of a heart attack.

  • Death of Al-Qaeda leader in the Islamic Maghreb and its military leader in the Sahel
Abdelmalek Droukdal, head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed on June 3, 2020 by the French army during an operation in northern Mali.
Abdelmalek Droukdal, head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed on June 3, 2020 by the French army during an operation in northern Mali. © AFP / Al-Andalus

He was one of the main leaders of the Sahelo-Saharan Islamist nebula for the past twenty years. The leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), Abdelmalek Droukdel, was killed by the French army during an operation on June 3, in northern Mali. He commanded all Qaidist groups in North Africa and the Sahelian strip, including JNIM, one of the main terrorist groups active in the Sahel. Former Algerian GIA (Armed Islamic Group), Droukdel, in 2004 took the head of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), renamed Aqmi three years later. He participated in the 2012 jihadist offensive launched from northern Mali towards the capital Bamako, an offensive that the French army ended with Operation Serval in early 2013. Abdelmalek Droukdel was replaced by the‘Algerian Abu Oubaïda Youssef al-Annabi at the head of the organization.

A few months later, still as part of Operation Barkhane, France announced, on October 13, having killed the military leader of the Sahelian branch of Al-Qaeda, the Malian Bah ag Moussa, in northeastern Mali. The former Malian army officer, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, was a lieutenant of Iyad Ag Ghali, the Tuareg leader of the Rally for the Victory of Islam and Muslims (RVIM), linked to Al -Qaida. He had deserted in 2012 to join the rebellion and found with Iyad ag Ghali the jihadist group Ansar Dine, which became RVIM (or GSIM or JNIM, according to the acronym used) through a merger with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb ( Aqmi) and other Islamist groups.

  • The disappearance of Ivorian Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly and the controversial re-election of Alassane Ouattara
The remains of Ivorian Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly are transported to Felix Houphouet Boigny airport for transfer to his native village of Korhogo on July 15, 2020.
The remains of Ivorian Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly are transported to Felix Houphouet Boigny airport for transfer to his native village of Korhogo on July 15, 2020. REUTERS – LUC GNAGO

Less than four months before the presidential election, Côte d’Ivoire experienced a thunderclap. The country lost, on July 8, its Prime Minister and nominated candidate of the ruling party, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died of a heart attack. While outgoing President Alassane Ouattara was not due to stand again, his disappearance has reshuffled the cards for the elections. The outgoing head of state finally decided to run for a third term invoking a “case of force majeure” and a “civic duty”, after the death of its Prime Minister.

Despite strong disputes, Alassane Ouattara obtained on October 31 a third presidential mandate in the first round with 94.27% of the vote, at the end of a vote boycotted by the opposition and marked by violence which left 85 dead between the months of August and November . The Ivorian opposition immediately announced the creation of a “National Transitional Council”. The violence ended after a meeting on November 11 between President Ouattara and the leader of the opposition, former president Henri Konan Bédié, but the opposition continues to contest the result of the ballot. During his inauguration speech, Alassane Ouattara invited him to the “dialogue”, promising a resumption of negotiations on the electoral commission in view of the legislative elections of the first quarter of 2021.

  • The fall of IBK in Mali and the release of hostages, including the French Sophie Pétronin
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announces his resignation on national television on August 19, 2020.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta announces his resignation on national television on August 19, 2020. AFP – –

Contested in the street for several months, the Malian President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK), was overthrown by a military coup, on the night of Tuesday 18 to Wednesday 19 August. IBK announced his resignation and the dissolution of the government and Parliament, after his arrest by soldiers, following a mutiny at the Kati military base, exacerbating the crisis in which the country was plunged, facing a jihadist insurgency and a wave of protests . Under threat of international sanctions, the officers finally handed over power between September and October to an interim government, which was supposed to rule the country for 18 months before elections were held. A month after the coup, the former Minister of Defense Bah Ndaw was appointed interim president of Mali.

The year 2020 in Mali was also marked by the release of hostages. French humanitarian aid Sophie Pétronin, kidnapped in the country in December 2016, was released on October 8 after more than 1,380 days of detention, alongside the leader of the opposition in Mali, Soumaïla Cissé. He was kidnapped on March 25, while he was campaigning for the legislative elections in his electoral stronghold of Niafounké. Soumaïla Cisse died of the coronavirus on December 25 in France, where he had been transferred for treatment.

As part of negotiations for their release, more than a hundred convicted or suspected jihadists have been released.

  • A presidential election under pressure in Guinea
Guinean President Alpha Condé before voting in the presidential elections in Conakry on October 18, 2020.
Guinean President Alpha Condé before voting in the presidential elections in Conakry on October 18, 2020. © John Wessels, AFP

After a vindictive and feverish campaign, the first round of the Guinean presidential election was held on October 18 in a climate of extreme tension fueled by protests against the candidacy of‘Alpha Condé, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015. For months, the opposition, led in particular by Cellou Dalein Diallo, Mobilized against the prospect of a third term of the head of state aged 82. The protest, launched in October 2019, was harshly repressed. Dozens of civilians have been killed. Alpha Condé was finally re-elected with 59.49% of the vote. The Constitutional Court subsequently rejected the appeals of Cellou Dalein Diallo, and three others of the twelve presidential candidates of October 18.

During his inauguration speech, Alpha Condé called on his fellow citizens to “forget the past” and to look to a “future of unity and hope”. “I urge each of you to forget the past which divides, for the benefit of a future of unity and hope”, he declared, affirming his “conviction that Guinea will be made with all Guineans “, in the presence of an audience of African heads of state.

  • The long absence of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune positive for Covid-19
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune gave a speech ensuring that he was still recovering for a few weeks on December 13, 2020.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune gave a speech ensuring that he was still recovering for a few weeks on December 13, 2020. © Screenshot, AFP

On October 24, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune voluntarily went into solitary confinement after being in contact with officials infected with the coronavirus. He was then admitted on October 28 in “one of the largest specialized establishments” in Germany. after contracting the virus. For several weeks, his state of health has fueled rumors and questions about the direction of the country. His absence plunged Algeria back into the humiliating pangs of the end of the reign of its predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Struck by a stroke in 2013, the latter had continued, helpless and aphasic, to assume the presidential office, before being ousted from power in April 2019 by the Hirak anti-regime protest movement.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune finally appeared, on December 13, on public television for the first time in nearly two months, and six weeks after his hospitalization in Germany. “I am recovering. It will take another two or three weeks for me to regain my physical strength,” said the visibly emaciated 75-year-old president in a “speech to the people” delivered the day after the first anniversary of his death. electoral victory. Officially, he still holds the reins of the State, but he has not been able to exercise any of his prerogatives for nearly two months: he has not promulgated the new Constitution – a flagship project of his electoral program – nor signed the 2021 finance law.

  • The conflict in Tigray in Ethiopia
Ethiopian refugees fleeing Tigray in the care of UNHCR in Sudan, November 23, 2020.
Ethiopian refugees fleeing Tigray in the care of UNHCR in Sudan, November 23, 2020. © Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah, Reuters

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military operation on November 4 against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who heads this dissident region in the north of the country. He accused them of seeking to destabilize the federal government and of attacking two Ethiopian military bases in the region, which the Tigrayan authorities deny. After several weeks of fighting, the Ethiopian government affirmed, on November 28, have regained control of this region, including its capital Mekele. The fall of this city was a major objective of the “last phase” of the military intervention, which also included the arrest of the Tigrayan leaders, now “driven out” by the army.

The international community has been concerned since the start of the conflict about possible “war crimes” in Ethiopia and has tried unsuccessfully to put pressure on Abiy Ahmed, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, so that he accepts mediation. The United Nations has also called for rapid access to this area, which has more than 5 million inhabitants, 600,000 of whom were dependent on humanitarian aid before the clashes. A first convoy arrived on December 12 with medicines and medical equipment to treat more than 400 wounded, as well as items for the treatment of common and chronic diseases. Nearly 50,000 residents of Tigray have fled to neighboring Sudan and an unknown number have been internally displaced within Ethiopia.

  • Kidnapping of Kankara high school students in Nigeria
High school students from Kankara released after their kidnapping on December 18, 2020.
High school students from Kankara released after their kidnapping on December 18, 2020. AFP – KOLA SULAIMON

The kidnapping of hundreds of high school students in northwestern Nigeria has sparked astonishment around the world. More than a hundred armed men on motorcycles attacked a rural school in the town of Kankara on December 11, in Katsina State. In a propaganda message, the leader of the jihadist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. Nigerian security forces have finally managed to release over 340 teenagers a week later. During the operation, they surrounded the area where the young men were being held, with instructions not to fire a single shot.

This kidnapping, which revives the specter of the abduction of more than 200 young girls in Chibok in 2014 is a terrible snub to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, from Katsina State. The head of state who came to power in 2015 made the fight against Boko Haram his priority. The terrorist organization and its dissident branch, the Islamic State in West Africa (Iswap) group, active in northeastern Nigeria, have killed more than 36,000 in ten years of conflict and two million people still cannot return home.



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