Archive for May 1, 2012
Representatives of a West African trade bloc have slapped economic and diplomatic sanctions on the nation of Guinea-Bissau after negotiations failed in an attempt to restore the previous leadership overthrown by an April 12 military coup.
The 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed the sanctions Tuesday (May 1) after talks in neighboring Gambia with coup representatives failed to end the crisis. The sanctions target the leaders of the military junta that seized power and its supporters, the Associated Press reported.
Authorities have been concerned that Latin American narcotics gangs have turned Guinea Bissau into a trans-shipment point for drugs bound for Europe.
Guinea-Bissau, a small former Portuguese colony, was just weeks away from a presidential run-off election when troops revolted and seized interim President Raimundo Pereira and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior. Gomes was the front runner in the anticipated runoff – before the coup. Both men were later released and both have left the country for Ivory Coast, Reuters reported.
The situation in the north West African nation of Mali just seems to get more confused every day. First Tuareg tribesmen, equipped with heavy weapons they took from Libya when Muammar Qaddafi’s regime collapsed, revolted for the umpteenth time seeking an independent homeland in the desert north.
Then government soldiers led a young Army captain ousted the sitting president in Bamako, the capital. The coup’s leaders said President Amadou Toumani Toure had botched the Tuareg insurgency – leading to the deaths of many government soldiers – and sized the state broadcast center, the presidential palace and several key positions..
The Tuaregs took advantage of the chaos in the wake of the March 22 Army coup and swept down from the desert capturing three key cities — including fabled Timbuktu — and about half the country’s northern territory. And some among the Tuaregs are seizing the moment to impose strict Muslim sharia law in their territory, according to a Human Rights Watch report.
The latest wrinkle: a counter coup by troops loyal to Toure, was apparently put down by the junta, although there was sporadic gunfire Monday (May 1), the New York Times reported.
Mali’s collapse into chaos is a bit of an embarrassment for the U.S. military, which has spent several years training the armed forces there to help battle Islamic extremist groups with ties of al Qaeda.
An anti-Western Islamic militant group is threatening news media outlets with more bombings like the one that killed four people at one of Nigeria’s leading newspapers: ThisDay.
A video, purportedly from the group Boko Haram, threatens the Voice of America and Radio France International as well as several Kenyan news outlets.
On Thursday (April 26) a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing himself, three passers-by and a security guard at ThisDay’s offices in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. Four more people were killed in another bombing targeted to news media outlets the same day, AFP reported..
There have been a series of bombings around the country in recent days. Twenty-three people were killed in Islamist militant bombings at two churches in Maiduguri and Kano in the predominantly Muslim north.
On Monday (April 30) another suicide attack on a police official’s convoy in eastern Nigeria left 11 dead and 20 injured.