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FILE PHOTO: Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif attends a summit on climate resilience in Pakistan, months after deadly floods in the country, at the United Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland, January 9, 2023.

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Sharif’s return to power, Burkina Faso killings, Boeing’s big fine, Trump’s delegates

201:Shehbaz Sharifsecured 201 votes in Pakistan’s parliament to become prime minister after a bitterly contested election in which former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s supporters shocked the establishment, delivering the greatest vote share to independent candidates allied to Khan.

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FILE PHOTO: Russian officers from the Wagner Group are seen around Central African president Faustin-Archange Touadera, as they are part of the presidential security system during the referendum campaign to change the constitution and remove term limits, in Bangui, Central African Republic July 16, 2023.

REUTERS/Leger Kokpakpa

Have gun, will travel? Russia wants you in Africa

Moscow has reportedly begun recruiting 20,000 soldiers to be deployed to at least five Russia-aligned African countries to replace Wagner Group mercenaries previously stationed there as Russia deepens its influence on the continent.

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Supporters of Burkina Faso's junta attend a rally to mark the one-year anniversary of the coup that brought Captain Ibrahim Traore to power in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on Sept. 29, 2023.

REUTERS/ Yempabou Ouoba

ECOWAS “officially” loses three junta-run states

Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger say they have withdrawn from West Africa’s largest political bloc – but the Economic Community of West African States says it hasn’t received the paperwork. It won’t matter much in the short term because all three were already suspended by ECOWAS following military coups in their countries. Big picture? The move underlines an emerging cleavage in international alignment between the Sahel, trending toward Russia, and the coastal states with stronger ties to the US and Western Europe.
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Burkina Faso's interim President Ibrahim Traore at the Russia-Africa Summit in Russia in July.

Sputnik/Alexei Danichev/Pool via REUTERS

Russia helps Burkina Faso go nuclear

Burkina Faso has signed a deal with Russian state energy company Rosatom to build a nuclear plant in the West African nation. The agreement follows discussions in July between Burkinabe military leader Capt. Ibrahim Traore and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg.
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Colonel Sidi Mohamed delivers a message as he stands with other Nigerien junta leaders.


New African alliance bolsters military junta in Niger

In what could prove to be a major stumbling block to restoring democratic rule in Niger, on Saturday its ruling junta signed a mutual defense pact with the governments of neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.

The three countries have all seen their governments toppled by military coups since 2020. Niger’s fell most recently in June with the ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum, who remains under arrest on charges of “high treason.”

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Students attend their final exam at the secondary school in Burkina Faso


Hard Numbers: Education crisis in Burkina Faso, Chinese formalizes ties with the Taliban, NASA unveils UFO study, Russian oligarchs off the hook

1,000,000: In Burkina Faso, where violence has raged unabated for five years, more than a quarter of schools are closed due to a sharp increase in fighting. The number of closed schools has risen by thirty percent since a coup last year, affecting more than 1,000,000 students and creating a looming education crisis in the country.

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Candles are placed at a makeshift memorial near the former PMC Wagner Center, associated with the founder of the Wagner Group and Yevgeny Prigozhin, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

REUTERS/Anastasia Barashkova

Wagner and Russia’s next moves

Russia has confirmed the identities of the 10 people who died in a plane crash last Wednesday northwest of Moscow. They included Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, as well key associates Dmitry Utkin and Valery Chekalov.

The question now turns to what happens to Wagner forces and the group’s clients, particularly African nations that are of strategic importance to Russia. Can President Vladimir Putin pick up where Prigozhin left off?

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Displaced families from the north of burkina fas.

Hans Lucas

Hard Numbers: Burkina Faso warns of humanitarian crisis, Afghan girls poisoned at school, Lula unveils Amazon rescue plan, Saudi Arabia makes soccer “sovereign”

2,000: The number of internally displaced people in the West African nation of Burkina Faso has soared by more than 2,000% since 2019 and now surpasses 2 million people. They are mostly women and children who have fled attacks by Islamic extremist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. The government and aid workers warn of a growing humanitarian crisis.

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