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Burkina Faso's junta leader Captain Ibrahim Traore attends the first ordinary summit of heads of state and governments of the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) in Niamey, Niger July 6, 2024.

REUTERS/ Mahamadou Hamidou

Hard Numbers: Coup bloc, Gaza school bombed, Ukraine in the dark, Tesla in China, Six days in Greece

3: Junta leaders from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso announced Saturday they would form their own international bloc and “irrevocably” turn away from ECOWAS, just ahead of the latter’s summit on Sunday. Burkina Faso’s President Ibrahim Traoré claimed the new alliance would stand up to Western influence in Africa, saying “These imperialists have only one cliché in mind: ‘Africa is the empire of slaves’.”

16: An Israeli attack on a UNRWA school in Gaza killed at least 16 people and wounded 50 on Saturday, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. UNRWA officials said at least 500 people have now been killed while sheltering in its facilities in Gaza, but Israel claims Hamas often uses the facilities as operating bases, essentially positioning civilians as human shields.

100,000: Russian airstrikes on power infrastructure in northern Ukraine left over 100,000 households in the dark on Saturday night. Targeting energy plants and transmission equipment has become a key strategy for Russia in its attempts to damage civilian morale in Ukraine, and the country’s energy utility says it has lost nine gigawatts of power capacity over the last three months — enough to power the entire Netherlands.

947,000: Tesla has officially been added to a list of approved government vehicle purchases in the Chinese province of Jiangsu, the only foreign-owned EV manufacturer on the list. However, the company manufactured over 947,000 cars at its Shanghai factory last year, most of which were sold in China.

6: Greece is experimenting with a six-day workweek, which allows firms that operate 24 hours a day to schedule employees to work up to eight hours at 40% overtime on the sixth day after a regular 40-hour workweek. They also have the option to spread 40 hours across six 6.5-hour work days. Workers are critical of the new rules, which seem to run against positive experiences some countries have had with four-day workweeks.

Myanmar military troops take part in a military exercise at Ayeyarwaddy delta region in Myanmar, February 3, 2018.

REUTERS/Lynn Bo Bo/Pool

Myanmar’s military moves into Rakhine villages

Myanmar’s military has begun expelling residents from villages surrounding Rakhine’s state capital Sittwe in response to threats from the rebel Arakan Army. The junta is reportedly moving into these villages, planting landmines, and bombing roads that lead into the city to inhibit the AA’s advances as it takes an increasingly defensive stance in its three-year-old civil war. The military has also been accused of murdering 76 people and burning down villages on the outskirts of Sittwe, allegations it denies.

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FILE PHOTO: Chadian interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby speaks during the launch of his presidential campaign ahead of the May elections in N'Djamena, Chad April 14, 2024.

REUTERS/Israel Matene/File Photo

Chadians are voting, but don’t expect change

Chad is the first of the coup-ridden Sahel states to move toward democracy. Well, inch toward democracy.

The current frontrunner is Gen. Mahamat Déby, who has been ruling in an interim capacity since his father, former President Idriss Déby, died while fighting rebels in 2021. The elder Déby led a coup in Chad in 1990 and ruled for three decades. His death opened the possibility of a new era in Chadian politics, with the younger Déby promising to hold elections – in which he wouldn’t run – within 18 months.

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FILE PHOTO: Rebel Bamar People's Liberation Army soldiers in full armor marching. April 15, 2023.

Matrix Images / Mar Naw via Reuters Connect

Myanmar’s democratic rebels set terms for talks. Will the Junta engage?

An alliance of fighters loyal to the former democratic government and ethnic minority militias has opened the door to talks with the junta in Myanmar over building a civilian-led federal government. The plan comes just ahead of the three-year anniversary of the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi and her brief democratic experiment, and follows three months of successful rebel offensives to take key border crossings to India, China, and Thailand.

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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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Thousands of supporters of Niger's coup flocked to a stadium in the capital Niamey on Sunday.

Reuters

Niger deadline passes

The Economic Community of West African States threatened to intervene militarily if Niger’s coup leaders didn’t restore the country’s democratically elected leader, President Mohamed Bazoum, by Sunday. That deadline has now passed without any sign of a military response.

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Demonstrators gather in support of the putschist soldiers in Niamey, Niger.

REUTERS/Balima Boureima

Niger, Niger burning bright


Supporters of Niger’s junta – which overthrew democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum last week – took to the streets of the capital, Niamey, on Sunday, waving Russian flags and denouncing France, its former colonial power. Protesters destroyed a plaque bearing the words “Embassy of France in Niger” and replaced it with Nigerien and Russian flags, while others set the tricolore ablaze.

What got protesters burning mad? Over the weekend, France and the EU joined the US in suspending aid to Niger, demanding that Bazoum be reinstated and order restored. In 2021, France provided 97 million euros in development and military aid, while the EU pledged 40 million euros to help train and equip Niger’s armed forces.

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