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Humanitarian Associations in Burkina Faso Campaign for Revenue Sharing from the Mining Industry with “Just 1%” Hashtag

Bobo Vendors in Burkina Faso - Public Domain

Bobo Vendors in Burkina Faso – Public Domain

A new hashtag is trending in Burkina Faso online networks: #Justeunpourcent (Just 1 Percent in English). The hashtag refers to a campaign initiated by local NGOs to the Parliament that requests that 1 percent of the mining revenues be shared with humanitarian associations to fight poverty in Burkina Faso. Nadine Kone from Ouagadogou kickstarted the campaign on twitter :

Just 1 Percent: To all the Members of Parliament in Burkina Faso, this is a way to help communities against poverty.

Ebola Strips Africans of Their Cultural and Human Values

A social anthropologist and sociologist Ginny Moony explains how Ebola outbreak strips off Africans of their humanity:

 The way West-Africans care for their sick and deceased, supposedly differs significantly from that of the rest of the world. This is far from true. All over the world, the essence of care for the sick is practically the same: the touching of sick and dead relatives is a natural phenomenon. All over the world the deceased are cleaned up and the body is neatly laid out so that family members and acquaintances can say farewell. In the Netherlands, we have the possibility to lay out our dead loved ones in our parlour for days. And physical contact with the body of the deceased will take place until the coffin is sealed and put into the ground or taken to the cremation ovens.

In the case of the Ebola affected countries, normal human behavior is dismissed as “old-fashioned and undesirable practices” by the World Health Organization and experts analyzing the Ebola outbreak. Nobody questions whether it is reasonable to deny people the care for their loved ones and the right to be in charge of the mourning process. The solution to prevent people from getting infected with Ebola is clear: no touching, under any circumstances. More empathic solutions, like the provision of protective gear to family members so they can bury their loved ones themselves or with guidance, are not being considered. The population is pushed into the corner; if they do not cooperate, they will go to jail. These harsh measures alienate the people from the authorities even further. Ebola is a punishment. Not for the international community, not for the politicians, not for the elite, but only for the poor masses. The people feel alone. Deserted. Huge amounts of money are coming in, more and more reinforcements arrive and still the epidemic wins more ground every day….

AQIM Losing Ground to Dāʻish in the Sahel Region

AQIM militants in the Algerian desert via wikimedia commons - Public Domain

AQIM militants in the Algerian desert via wikimedia commons – Public Domain

While the Islamist group Boko Haram threatens to  extend its caliphate in the north -east part of Nigeria, major developments are taking place in the Sahel with respect to the security of the region. Kaci Racelma, a Nigerien blogger wrote in his blog A Niamey ( In Niamey) about the relationship that terrorist groups forge and then undo (in french)  :

Fort d’importants relais au Maghreb et en Afrique subsaharienne, le mouvement qui a déclaré, en juillet 2014, un Califat à cheval entre la Syrie et l’Irak, pourrait entrainer dans son sillage d’autres groupuscules. Et ce malgré les discriminations pratiquées en interne à l’égard des combattants djihadistes africains. En prenant appui sur plusieurs groupes terroristes présents en Afrique comme le Mujao, Ansar al-Charia et AQMI, l’EI pourrait gagner du terrain dans la sous-région du Sahel. Une zone d’importance stratégique pour le leader Abou Bakr Al-Baghdadi qui souhaite y étendre son influence [..] Au Sahel, l’EI avance aussi ses pions. Le leader mauritanien du Mujao, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou, qui a à son actif plusieurs attentats contre les services de sécurité algériens, est la principale cheville ouvrière de cette avancée. Même s’il s’est affranchi de Mokhtar Belmokhtar, l’émir algérien d’AQMI, pour créer le Mujao qui rassemble des djihadistes subsahariens, Ould Mohamed Khayrou entretient toujours de bons rapports avec lui. Or ce dernier tisse actuellement des liens avec l'EI. Après avoir prêté allégeance à l’EI, le leader du Mujao a par ailleurs créé à Gao, un Conseil de la magistrature destiné à appliquer la charia. “Nous avons réussi à régler de nombreux litiges. La loi coranique nous sert à trancher et rendre justice” a-t-il annoncé le mois dernier. Même si pour des raisons de compétition, le chef d’AQMI, Abdelmalek Droukdal refuse pour le moment de prêter allégeance à l’EI, beaucoup de ses cadres ont cependant rejoint les rangs de ce mouvement. Cette situation nouvelle fragilise les fondements d’Al Qaida qui perd de plus en plus de terrain. 

Thanks to strong connection in the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, Daesh, could recruit a few additional groups in its wake,  despite their well-known discrimination internally against African jihadist fighters.
Building upon the support of several terrorist groups present in Africa such as as Mojwa , Ansar al- Sharia and AQIM , Daish could gain ground in the Sahel region. A strategic importance for the leader Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi who wishes to expand its influence area [..] In the Sahel, Daish is progressing fast. The Mauritanian leader of Mojwa, Hamada Ould Mohamed Khayrou , who was responsible for several attacks against the Algerian security services, is the leading force behind this progress.  Even if he decided to grow his group away from the ifnluence of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the ex-leader of Algerian AQIM, to create the Mojwa by bringing together several sub-Saharan jihadists, Ould Mohamed Khayrou still maintains a good relationship with AQIM. Ould Mohamed Khayrou is now the main contact of Daeish in the region . Having now sworn allegiance to Daeish ,Ould Mohamed Khayrou also created Gao, a Judicial Council for Sharia Law. ” We are now able to settle many disputes. We use the Quranic law to sort out justice ” he announced last month. Although for political reasons, the current AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdal refuses to swear allegiance to Daeish, many of its army leaders have now joined the ranks of Daeish. This new situation weakens the foundations of AQIM, who is clearly losing more and more ground in the region.

Threats to Press Freedom in the Fight Against Ebola in Liberia

The body of a victim of Ebola virus is seen covered with a sheet at the back of a truck in Monrovia, Liberia -Public Domain

The body of a victim of Ebola virus is seen covered with a sheet at the back of a truck in Monrovia, Liberia -Public Domain

The Press Union of Liberia is concerned about the threat to freedom of information as a result of the actions taken by the government to limit the expansion of the Ebola virus. The union wrote a letter to the Minister of Justice to draw his attention to the challenges media workers are currently facing. Here is an excerpt of the letter:

The Press Union of Liberia’s attention is specifically drawn to several circumstances that do not only restrain journalists in their obligation to seek out and share useful news and information with the public, but significantly threaten even media participation in the global fight against Ebola. By all accounts, the media space in Liberia has been a significant partner in the fight to strengthen awareness in our society about the impact and challenges of the epidemic. Notwithstanding the loss of revenue due to the emergency nature of the epidemic and the effect on general life, the media has remained committed to this fight. Unfortunately, several actions against media by government actors, especially during these times, have simply given room to growing skepticism about the disease, and further exacerbating the denials within the community. We think this is unfair and improper.

Togolese Bloggers Poke Fun at President for Over the Top BillBoard

Someone sure wanted people to know that he was thankful for Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé generosity. This week, a giant billboard was raised in Lomé, Togo that praised the president's action in favor of providing lunch for school children. The billboard seen below reads in french :” Thanks Daddy Faure for the children's school lunch“. Togolese citizens were taken aback by the message and its exuberance. They took to twitter to poke fun at the Billboard and create the hashtag #merciPapaFaure (Thank you Daddy Faure). 

OK, how about some fun with the hashtag #mercipapaFaure ? 

The photo above has been shared widely on twitter. Adzima provides some background on the state of the affair for the Togolese children at school.

Ex-President's Return Triggers Media Warning from Government in Madagascar

Marc Ravalomanana - Public domain

Marc Ravalomanana – Public domain

The political situation is tense again in Madagascar after ex-president in exile Marc Ravalomanana's return to the country. The conditions under which he came back and the subsequent house arrest and deportation to the North of the country are strongly debated on most malagasy media outlets. Heninkaja Rakotomanantsoa, managing editor of a TV channel in Antananarivo, posted in Malagasy on his facebook profile that all press editors received a warning memo from the government about fact-checking any news pertaining to the return of Marc Ravalomanana : 

 Nahazo fampîtandremana ny Onjam-peo sy ny Fahitalavitra rehetra, sao hono mitarika any amin'ny fanakorontanana saim-bahoaka ny fampahalalam-baovao diso, na tsy voamarina.

All media outlets in Madagascar (TV and radio) received a warning that they will be held responsible of threats to national security if they are caught spreading false information or rumors (since Ravalomananana's return). 

Iranians protest in solidarity with Kobane

Iranians held several protest rallies in different cities including Tehran,Tabriz and Mehabad to support Kobane‘s people on Tuesday.Fighting continues to rage in the Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane

Iranian Judiciary Sets 1-Month Deadline to Block Viber

Iranian judiciary has set a one-month deadline for Hassan Rohani's government to block or to control messaging applications Viber, WhatsApp and TangoMe.

Trinidadians Concerned Over “Largest Ever Budget”

As the Trinidad and Tobago government, in anticipation of national elections next year, serves up a massive budget, two political bloggers take the country's leaders to task.

Afra Raymond, whose blog keeps a close eye on politics, corruption and transparency, provided some disturbing financial context:

The Minister of Finance has just met cynical expectations by announcing Trinidad & Tobago’s largest-ever budget for 2015, with estimated revenue of $60.351 Billion in support of estimated expenditure of $64.664 Billion. This expenditure is $4.313 Billion more than the expected revenue, with 2015 being the sixth consecutive year of deficit budgets with a nominal total of just under $34 Billion in excess expenditure in that period.

While Raymond was not surprised at the “high-stakes election budget”, he maintained that there were a few key issues to be considered – the importance of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Property law being passed, the government's exclusion of a billion dollar water recycling project in the country's accounts, continued ambiguity about the specific output of the state housing programme and the issue of campaign finance reform, to name a few.

Over at This Beach Called Life, the blogger had additional concerns, such as the intolerable traffic situation between south and north Trinidad (most corporate offices and state agencies are concentrated in the island's capital, Port of Spain, with nothing being done to alleviate the problem), as well as the government's latest controversial crime-fighting gimmick, the purchase of armoured vehicles that has been one of the hot topics of discussion on social media, with many netizens getting the sense that the concept of community policing has been traded for an approach that could potentially endanger civilians. The blogger summed up the situation this way:

Naturally, Kamla’s [Persad-Bissessar, the Prime Minister] amusing and often childish sounding chant ‘serve the people, serve the people, serve the people’ can no longer be heard as the Government buys fifty two armored vehicles to ‘blow up the people’ should they step out of line. Are we a nation on the verge of revolt?

Yes, a revolt might be near simply because when the Government [...] removes the unsustainable subsides on gasoline, water, electricity [...] all hell will break loose in paradise and whether party financiers get their contracts and the appropriate kickbacks paid will be the least of the Government’s concerns.

Building Sustainable Peace in The Central African Republic

As the UN launchs its peace keeping mission with the arrival of 1,500 troops in the Central African Republic (CAR), a few observers were wondering why it took so long given the extent of the casualties. Les Cercles nationaux de Réflexion sur la Jeunesse (CNRJ) is an NGO in Bangui, CAR that strives to build the foundation for sustainable peace in the country in partnership with the University of Bangui. Here is a video that illustrates the work in process :    

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