Mali’s prime minister steps down as anger mounts over massacre

People take part in a rally to protest against the failure of the government and international peacekeepers to stem rising ethnic and jihadist violence in Bamako, Mali, on April 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Keita Amadou)
Updated 19 April 2019
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Mali’s prime minister steps down as anger mounts over massacre

  • Lawmakers had submitted a motion of no confidence Maiga and his administration for failing to clamp down on the unrest
  • Mali has been struggling to restore stability since Islamist extremists linked took control of the country’s vast desert north in early 2012

BAMAKO: Mali’s prime minister resigned along with his entire government on Thursday following criticism over their handling of an upsurge of violence in the center of the country and a massacre last month that left 160 people dead.
A statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said he had accepted Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga’s resignation, along with those of his ministers, two weeks after mass protests erupted over the rising tide of violence.
Lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties had submitted a motion of no confidence against the government on Wednesday, blaming Maiga and his administration for failing to clamp down on the unrest.
“A prime minister will be named very soon and a new government will be put in place after consultations with all political forces” from both the ruling and opposition sides, the statement from Keita’s office said.
The president had on Tuesday said in a televised address that he had “heard the anger,” without explicitly naming the prime minister.
The government had come under mounting pressure over its handling of violence in the restive Mopti region and especially a massacre on March 23 in which 160 people were killed in the village of Ogossagou near the border with Burkina Faso.
Members of the Dogon ethnic group — a hunting and farming community with a long history of tension with the nomadic Fulani people over access to land — were accused of being behind the mass killing.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Bamako on April 5 to protest against the upsurge of violence, accusing the government of not doing enough to stop it.
The protest was called by Muslim religious leaders, organizations representing the Fulani herding community, opposition parties and civil society groups.
Mali has been struggling to restore stability since Islamist extremists linked to Al-Qaeda took control of the country’s vast desert north in early 2012.
While the jihadists were largely driven out in a French-led military operation that began in January 2013, huge areas are still in the grip of lawlessness, despite a 2015 peace agreement with some armed groups that sought to definitively stamp out the Islamist threat.
Since then, militants have shifted from the north toward the more densely populated center of the country, where they have sharpened ancient rivalries and ethnic conflicts that date back years.
Jihadist attacks have also spread to Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.

 

Lawmakers had submitted a motion of no confidence Maiga and his administration for failing to clamp down on the unrest


Members of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

Updated 28 min 44 sec ago
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Members of first all-female Afghan orchestra missing in Slovakia

  • Zohra, an ensemble of 35 teenagers and young women musicians, played a concert on Saturday at a festival in the western town of Trencin
  • Some members of Zohra are orphans or from poor families

BRATISLAVA: Police in Slovakia said on Thursday they were searching for four members of Afghanistan’s first all-female orchestra who went missing from their hotel after performing at a local festival.
Zohra, an ensemble of 35 teenagers and young women musicians, played a concert on Saturday at a festival in the western town of Trencin, some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Bratislava, near the Czech border.
Four members went missing from their hotel on Sunday, Slovak police said.
“I can confirm that the search for two female teenagers and two female adults from Afghanistan is ongoing,” Pavol Kudlicka, a spokesperson for the Trencin regional police, told AFP on Thursday.
He added that the musicians returned to their hotel after the concert but went missing the next morning.
“Due to legal reasons and the ongoing investigation no names can be disclosed for now,” Kudlicka added.
Local Slovak media reported that some orchestra members had said that one of the girls had a cousin in Germany.
Some members of Zohra are orphans or from poor families.
They have faced death threats in their homeland where music was banned during the Taliban’s repressive 1996-2001 rule.
Music is still frowned upon in much of Afghan society, which is tightly segregated by gender.
Despite the disappearance, the Zohra orchestra, named after a Persian goddess of music, played several concerts in western Slovakia this week.
They have performed at home and abroad, notably at the closing the World Economic Forum in Davos two years ago.