CW 34/2020: Clear Demands
Press Review 15 August 2020 to 21 August 2020

Coup d’état in Mali

On Tuesday, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was deposed in a coup d’état by Malian forces. Insurgent troops marched into the country’s capital Bamako later that day and arrested  the President and his Prime Minister. Shortly afterwards, Keïta had to announce his resignation in a televised speech. He also dissolved the government and parliament. The coup had been preceded by months of protests demanding Keïta’s resignation. The President and his government have been accused of manipulating the parliamentary elections, corruption, failure to fight Islamists and failure in political and economic reforms. Recently, mediation attempts between the protest movement M5-RPF, a coalition of civil society members and parts of the political opposition led by Imam Mahmoud Dicko, and the government have repeatedly failed. According to initial information, at least parts of the protest movement seem to welcome the overthrow of the president, and pictures of cheering people in Bamako are going around the world. Imam Dicko also announced his withdrawal from politics after meeting with the putschists without giving any further explanation. Meanwhile, the international community strongly condemned the coup. The West African economic community ECOWAS and the UN Security Council called for the restoration of constitutional order. The African Union temporarily excluded Mali from the organisation. European leaders also expressed concern about the destabilising effect on the whole region. Meanwhile, Officer Assimi Goita has presented himself as the leader of the military junta and head of the self-proclaimed National Committee to Save the People. The military junta stated its intention to hold elections in the foreseeable future and to maintain all agreements with national and international partners to combat terrorism.


Burundi’s possible reparation demands on Germany and Belgium

Burundi intends to demand reparations from the former colonial powers Germany and Belgium. An expert group of historians, economists and anthropologists, appointed by the Senate in 2018, is studying the effects of colonialism on the nation. According to the French foreign broadcaster Radio France International, the Commission will soon quantify the losses and damages and make recommendations for reparations claims, which will be forwarded to the governments of Germany and Belgium. The East African country could thus claim around €36 billion in compensation for decades of colonial rule and the resulting damage to the country. The importance of the colonial division of ethnic identities for the country’s current conflicts is also highlighted. In addition, the demands should also include the return of historical artefacts and archival material stolen between 1899 and 1962. In 1890 Burundi became a part of German East Africa. After the First World War, the former German colony was under Belgian rule until it gained independence in 1962. With its demands for reparations, Burundi is following similar demands from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, which received an official apology from the Belgian royal house for the crimes of the former colonial power at the end of June this year. Belgium has now set up a panel of experts to review its colonial history.


In other news

The magazine PeerJ reports this week on the rediscovery of the Somali elephant shrew, which was thought to be extinct. During an expedition in Djibouti last year, a large and healthy population of the small mammals belonging to the Sengi species was found. It is the first documentation of the animal in 50 years and comes as a pleasant surprise after the organisation Global Wildlife Conservation listed the tiny creature among the 25 most wanted lost species. The name is based on external similarities with shrews. One of the main features of the elephant shrews is a small trunk, which they share with the distantly related and obviously larger elephant.

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