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Africa Diary

US Sanctions Three Malian Military Officials For Working With Wagner

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned three Malian transition government and military officials for facilitating the deployment and expansion of the Private Military Company ‘Wagner’s (Wagner Group) activities in Mali. The United States took this step based on evidence showing that these Malian officials have contributed to the Wagner Group’s malicious activities in Mali. Colonel Sadio Camara (Camara), a Malian national, is Mali’s Minister of Defense. Colonel Camara planned and organized the deployment of the Wagner Group in Mali. In 2021, Camara made several trips to Russia to solidify the agreement between the Wagner Group and the Malian transition government to deploy the Wagner Group to Mali. Colonel Alou Boi Diarra, a Malian national, is Mali’s Chief of Staff of the Air Force. In his previous role as Air Logistics Chief, Diarra significantly contributed to the logistical movement of Russian entities in Mali. Together, Camara and Diarra formulated and executed the plan that ultimately ushered the Wagner Group into Mali. Lieutenant Colonel Adama Bagayoko, a Malian national, is the Malian Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff. Bagayoko serves as an advocate for the Wagner Group to the Burkinabe transition government, working to secure the Wagner Group’s deployment to Burkina Faso. Additionally, Bagayoko is also reportedly seeking to facilitate the Wagner Group’s access to gold mining in Mali. The US Treasury Department said Ivan Aleksandrovich Maslov (Maslov), the U.S.-sanctioned head of the Wagner Group in Mali, met with Bagayoko on several occasions during 2022 in efforts to advance the group’s mining business in Mali.

Source: Africa Report

Coup In Niger Met With Protests, Diplomatic Condemnation

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) planned to send the president of Benin, Patrice Talon, to Niger to assist with negotiations over a coup to remove President Mohamed Bazoum, who remained in military custody in the presidential palace. The coup actors took to live television late Wednesday to confirm their intent to remove Bazoum and dissolve the country’s constitution. They said Niger’s borders would remain closed. Talon and Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the current chair of the ECOWAS heads of state, confirmed the visit from Abuja, where Talon and Tinubu met to discuss the crisis in Niger. “The leadership of the ECOWAS region and all lovers of democracy around the world will not tolerate any situation that incapacitates the democratically elected government of the country,” said Tinubu in a statement. “Nigeria stands firmly with the elected government in Niger.” The presidency in Niger said its people supported the Bazoum government and shared images from Niamey, and in other countries, where people had gathered to protest the coup. “Spontaneous demonstrations by democracy advocates broke out all over the city of Niamey,” said the Nigerien leaders. There are no reports of injuries due to the coup so far, and the protests appeared peaceful.

Source: Africa Times

Hackers Shake Kenya’s Digital Financial System

A major cyber-attack that caused an outage of more than 5,000 public services in Kenya for more than 48 hours while disabling Internet-based and mobile payment platforms has exposed the growing threat of payment service disruptions to the economy. The attack hit a critical section of the country’s financial system with M-Pesa, a mobile service product that is fast turning into an artery for the circulation of money in Kenya’s economy, also disrupted. Activities on the M-Pesa App — which handled transactions valued at Sh1.3 trillion in the year to March—were particularly affected in what is turning into a major test of the country’s preparedness against cyber-attacks as the government moves most of its services online. But it is the hacking of e-Citizen — a government e-services portal — that has shocked the national intelligence and financial systems on the risk of a shutdown of public services days after the government shifted to the platform. ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo described the attack as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, which disrupted the servers by jamming the platform with meaningless Internet traffic to successfully bar legitimate users from access.

Source: Business Daily Africa

US sanctions ISIS chief financier in Somalia

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The US Department of Treasury on Thursday designated a key financier of the extremist group ISIS in Somalia in the latest measure on counterterrorism. “Today, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Ofac) imposed sanctions on Abdiweli Mohamed Yusuf, the head of the finance office of the Somalia-based affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), designating him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT),” reads the statement. According to the US, Yusuf has played a key role in the delivery of foreign fighters, supplies, and ammunition on behalf of ISIS-Somalia, which serves as a hub for disbursing funds and guidance to ISIS branches and networks across the continent. ISIS-Somalia generates much of its revenue through extortion, specifically targeting local communities for money and recruits, often under the threat of violence. Yusuf has been the head of the ISIS-Somalia revenue department and the money collected is used by the group to support violent extremism across Africa according to the Treasury Department.

Source: The East African

South Africa’s President Raises Food Security Concerns In Russia-Africa Summit

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, has called for peace in Ukraine during his speech on Friday at the Russia – Africa summit in St Petersburg. Ramaphosa also expressed his concern with the issue of food security in Africa following Russia’s pulling out of the grain deal. “Even in this case with the conflict in the Ukraine we still advocate for peace and in a way we feel we have a right to call for peace because the ongoing conflict as you heard over the course of the day also negatively affects us, as African countries. Apart from wanting to support a peace process all over the world, this conflict is now directly affecting us as well. As we told you the last time as far as food security is concerned the price of our fertilisers have gone up”, said the South African president. Only 17 African heads of state were present at the summit, a significant drop when compared to 43 at the first Russia-Africa summit held in 2019.

Source: Africa News

BBC Apologises for Asking ‘Inappropriate’ Question At Women’s World Cup

The BBC apologised after one of its reporters asked Morocco captain Ghizlane Chebbak an “inappropriate” question during press conferences. Before their match against Germany, Morocco’s captain Ghizlane Chebbak was asked about whether the team included any LGBTQI+ players since in Morocco, laws that discriminate against women and LGBTQI+ people are still in place. Morocco criminalised same-sex relationships and made homosexual actions subject to sentences of up to three years in jail. “We recognise that the question was inappropriate. We had no intention to cause any harm or distress,” a BBC spokesperson is reported to have said. Meanwhile, a question to Zambian coach Bruce Mwape about whether he intended to step down in the wake of sexual assault accusations was asked during the team’s press conference before their match against Spain. There were reports that FIFA was looking into him for alleged sexual misconduct. The media conference with Mwape was cut short as a result of more questions about the charges being raised, despite a request for inquiries to focus on football and the competition itself.

Source: All Africa