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Mali’s President Ibrahim Keita resigns

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Mali’s president said he was resigning to avoid “bloodshed” early Wednesday, hours after his arrest by troops in a sudden coup that followed a months-long political crisis in the fragile West African nation.

Rebel soldiers detained Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Prime Minister Boubou Cisse on Tuesday afternoon and drove the pair to a military base in the town of Kati, near the capital Bamako, which they had seized that morning.

Jubilant crowds in the city center, gathered to demand Keita’s resignation, had cheered the rebels as they made their way to the 75-year-old’s official residence.

Keita appeared calm as he appeared in a state television broadcast after midnight to declare the dissolution of the government and national assembly, and said he had no choice but to resign with immediate effect.

“If it pleased certain elements of our military to decide this should end with their intervention, do I really have a choice?” he said of the day’s events.

“(I must) submit to it, because I don’t want any bloodshed.”

It was unclear whether Keita was still in custody at the Kati base, which is a twist of fate was also the site of the 2012 putsch that brought him to power.

Neighbouring states, France and the European Union all warned against any unconstitutional transfer of power as the coup played out on Tuesday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded the “immediate and unconditional release” of Keita and Cisse as diplomats in New York said the Security Council would hold emergency talks on Wednesday.

The Economic Community for the West African States (ECOWAS) condemned the coup in a statement, pledging to close land and air borders to Mali and push for sanctions against “all the putschists and their partners and collaborators”.

The 15-nation bloc — which includes Mali — also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

As the day unfolded, the United States and France released separate statements voicing deep concern about the turn of events and urged against regime change.

French President Emmanuel Macron had also discussed the crisis with his counterparts in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Senegal and expressed his “full support for the ongoing mediation efforts of West African states”.

His office had added that he “condemned” the mutiny.

The US envoy to the region J. Peter Pham joined the calls for restraint and echoed its opposition to any “extraconstitutional” change.

– ‘Shifts in the mood’ –

Keita and Cisse’s sudden detention came on the heels of an apparently conciliatory message from the government in Bamako — which had urged the soldiers to engage in dialogue.

“The observed shifts in mood reflect a certain frustration that may have legitimate causes,” Cisse’s office said in a statement, without offering further details.

It added that the government was open to “fraternal dialogue in order to remove all misunderstandings”.

The drama coincided with opposition plans to resume protests against Keita.

Mali had been in the grip of a deep political impasse since June, and Keita had faced increasingly strident demands for his resignation.

The June 5 Movement, named for the date of its first protest, has channelled deep anger over a dire economy, perceived government corruption and a brutal jihadist conflict.

The opposition alliance’s anti-Keita campaign veered into crisis last month when at least 11 people were killed over three days of unrest that followed a demonstration.

– Rising tensions –

Mali is the linchpin of French-led efforts to roll back jihadists in the Sahel, and its neighbours are anxious to avoid the country sliding into chaos.

Swathes of its territory are already outside of the control of the government, which is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that first emerged in 2012 and has claimed thousands of lives.

The failure to end that conflict fuelled frustrations with Keita’s rule, analysts say.

Tensions flared in April when the government held a long-delayed parliamentary election, the results of which are still disputed.

ECOWAS last month suggested the formation of a unity government while sticking by Keita, but the compromise was bluntly rejected by the opposition.

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WORLD NEWS

Girl dies after her teacher flogged her for getting two math questions wrong

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A schoolgirl has died after allegedly being beaten by her teacher for failing to answer two maths questions correctly.

The 10-year-old girl, identified by her surname Zhang, was a student at a primary school in the city of Guangyuan, central China.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the teacher, identified by the surname Wang, beat the girl on September 10.

Zhang was beaten on her palms four times and ordered to kneel for four minutes.

 

Girl dies after her teacher flogged her for getting two math questions wrong

 

Feeling dizzy, she was sent to the hospital by her grandmother and the teacher and was pronounced dead later that day at 3.30 pm.

She also had her ears pulled and her head beaten.

Medical experts found no wounds and an investigation into her death is underway.

The Cangxi county government has set up a task force and the teacher has been suspended from work, along with the school’s principal.

The victim’s grandmother told local media that she had a twin sister who was in the same class. She said Zhang looked close to fainting during the beating.

The grandmother also mentioned that Zhang was scared of her maths teacher, who she claimed often gave corporal punishment to students.

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Former Mali dictator Moussa Traore laid to rest

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Mali held a state funeral for ex-dictator Moussa Traore on Friday, attended by the head of the ruling military junta and other former leaders of the Sahel state.

Traore, who ruled Mali for 22 years before being deposed in a 1991 coup, died at age 83 in the capital Bamako on September 15.

The former autocrat was buried at a Bamako military camp on Friday, where a funeral band played at the arrival of his coffin, which was draped in the Malian flag.

Soldiers dressed in full regalia stood at attention, according to AFP journalists, while two planes performed a flypast overhead.

As a young lieutenant in 1968, Traore was the main instigator of a coup that overthrew Modibo Keita, the country’s first president after independence from France in 1960.

Traore became president the following year and ruled with an iron fist, before he himself was ousted in a military coup in 1991.

In recent years, the ex-dictator was increasingly seen as an elder statesman in the notoriously unstable country, with politicians soliciting his advice.

In attendance on Friday was the head of Mali’s ruling military junta Colonel Assimi Goita, part of a group of young officers who launched a coup ousting president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita on August 18.

Former President Amadou Toumani Toure — who deposed Traore in the 1991 coup — was also among the mourners, alongside other ex-leaders.

Russian diplomats attended the ceremony on Friday, according to AFP journalists, but no French or European Union diplomats were present.

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US to ban TikTok downloads, WeChat use from Sunday

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The United States on Friday ordered a ban on downloads of popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok and use of the messaging and payment platform WeChat, saying they threaten national security.

The move, to be implemented Sunday, comes amid rising US-China tensions and efforts by the Trump administration to engineering a sale of TikTok to American investors.

“The Chinese Communist Party has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the US,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The initiative would ban WeChat, an app with massive use among Chinese speakers, and TikTok from the online marketplaces operated by Apple and Google.

But while WeChat will effectively be shut down from Sunday in the US, existing TikTok user will be able to continue using the app until November 12 — when it would also face a full ban on its US operations.

But the Commerce Department said if national security concerns over TikTok were resolved before then, the order may be lifted.

TikTok’s brand of brief, quirky videos made on users’ cellphones has become hugely popular, especially among young people.

The plan follows through on a threat by President Donald Trump, who has claimed Chinese tech operations may be used for spying, and it ramps up the pressure on TikTok parent ByteDance to conclude a deal to sell all or part of TikTok to allay US security concerns.

A deal which appeared to be taking shape would allow Silicon Valley giant Oracle to become the tech partner for TikTok, but some US lawmakers have objected to allowing ByteDance to keep a stake.

The ban on WeChat, owned by Chinese giant Tencent, has the potential for disrupting the widely used social media and financial application.

US officials said in a recent court filing they would not target those using WeChat for ordinary personal.

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