WILL TIGRAY BE ETHIOPIA’S TIPPING POINT?

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By Donnelly McCleland Forces fighting Ethiopia’s military in the Tigray region laid out eight conditions on Friday [19 February] for beginning peace talks, including the appointment of an international mediator and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered airstrikes and a ground offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – the…

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NIGER HOPEFUL OF PEACEFUL TRANSITION IN PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF

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As vote-counting continues after the second round of Niger’s fifth presidential elections, Mohamed Bazoum took an early lead over ousted former President Mahamane Ousmane (1993-1996). Bazoum, the former interior minister and right-hand man of the incumbent Nigerien president, Mahamadou Issoufou (who voluntarily relinquished power after completing his two five-year terms), is the favourite to win…

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NATO RE-EVALUATES AFGHANISTAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has confirmed that it will keep an undetermined number of international troops in Afghanistan past the May withdrawal deadline previously agreed upon in a US-brokered deal. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg assured that troops would not leave the country “before the time is right” despite the Taliban’s call for a…

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G5 SUMMIT CONSIDERS OPTIONS FOR COMBATTING DEEPENING CRISES IN SAHEL REGION

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By Donnelly McCleland French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday [16 February] ruled out an immediate reduction of French troops battling Islamist militants in West Africa’s Sahel region, saying a rushed exit would be a mistake. Mr Macron and a group of five African allies — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — were taking…

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EGYPT OPENS GAZA BORDER

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On Tuesday 9 February, Egypt opened its Rafah border with the Gaza strip ‘indefinitely’. This crossing functioned as the enclave’s only access point not under Israel’s control but remained mostly closed since the split in the Palestinian government. Fighting broke out when Fatah refused to recognise the unexpected victory of Hamas in the 2006 elections….

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AUSTRALIAN STATE PASSES BILL BANNING ‘CONVERSION THERAPY’

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The legislative council of Victoria – one of Australia’s six states – passed the Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill on 4 February by a vote of 27-9 after lengthy debate. The bill, which outlaws any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, will now go to the Victorian governor for…

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UN DECLARES THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH AN ENEMY

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FALSE! A WhatsApp message is currently doing the rounds, which claims that the United Nations (UN) has declared the Christian Church an enemy. The message, sent without a name, has a link attached to it titled: Use of religious beliefs to justify rights violations must be outlawed says UN expert. The WhatsApp message makes the…

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CONTROVERSIAL FRENCH BILL AIMED AT RADICAL ISLAM COULD NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE CHURCH

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By Alex Pollock French lawmakers debated a bill on Monday [1 February] they hope will uproot radical Islam in the country, beliefs that authorities maintain are creeping into public services, associations, some schools and online with the goal of undermining national values. The bill is broad and controversial, with around 1,700 proposed amendments, and it…

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MASS PROTESTS CONTINUE IN WAKE OF MYANMAR COUP

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8 February saw continued pro-democracy protests in Myanmar in defiance of the military coup. On 1 February, Myanmar’s military (also called the Tatmadaw) detained the country’s recently elected leaders, including Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi. Power was transferred to General Min Aung Hlaing, who imposed a year-long state of emergency. The military said it…

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INDONESIA BANS FORCED RELIGIOUS ATTIRE IN STATE SCHOOLS

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After years of inaction, the Indonesian government has finally acted to prevent state schools from forcing students or staff to wear headscarves or other religious clothing. On 3 February, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Religion issued a joint ministerial decision on uniforms for students, teachers,…

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