update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety
Conflict Group Reports
Readers are reminded that the Crisis Group (www.crisisgroup.org) publishes
a detailed monthly report on all rebel attacks and other violent incidents
in the three countries covered in this news summary and other countries
including Burkina Faso.
No fresh news on the existing hostages, but the chief of “Reporters
Without Borders” reported that French journalist Olivier Dubois
was kidnapped April 8 while working in Mali’s northern city
of Gao. A video was released later that showed Dubois saying he was
kidnapped by the al-Qaida-linked group JNIM.
At the time of this report the “total cases” Covid figures
were: Niger 5,321, Mali 14,115 and Tchad 4,882 cases. Due to different
collection criteria these figures are not completely comparable.
The IOM DTM site reports for two of the countries were available on
the IOM site covering the month of March at the time of this report.
It should be noted that these figures are only for migrants at the
monitoring points and migrants who avoid these points are not included.
In addition, the accumulation of refugees at remote frontier points
such as Assamaka are not included, nor are repatriation convoys or
The figures (estimated where full details are not available) show
migrant traffic across the northern borders of Niger, and Mali
Niger: Madama: around 150/day northwards to Libya: 95/day back from
Libya. Arlit: around 200/day north to Algeria and 100/day back from
Algeria (Note: no monitoring at Assamaka)
Mali: Under 240/day north to Algeria and under 10/day southbound from
Algeria, summed over all north monitored entry points. Note: no monitoring
at Kidal so some of these numbers may be internal migration.
Tchad: no report again this month.
The main event of the month in Africa was clearly the death of the
Tchad president Idris Deby in combat. It appeared that during a conflict
with a group of rebels north of the capital he was killed, ironically
on the day he was supposed to have had confirmed his re-election as
The accounts and reasons for his death vary between reports and even
the location and the actors. It has of course spawned a whole mass
of conspiracy theories as to how and why it occurred.
The rebels were the FACT group (“Front pour l’Alternance
et la Concorde au Tchad”, led by Mahamat Mahadi Ali) who had
advanced from Libya down the west side of the Tibesti and had taken
the towns of Wour and Zour (maybe), and the town of Gouri, and then
crossed the open desert to close in on Mao, only about 250 miles north
of the capital. This bypassed all the Tchad government troops at Bardai,
Faya, Yebbi Bou, Fada, Oum Chalouba, and further south.
It is possible that the attack came through Niger, and there were
report of some FACT personnel being stopped in Niger prior to the
attack. (See Niger report below) Whatever, it was a remarkable maneuver.
It was reported that yet again Deby benefitted from French aerial
surveillance, if not air strikes, but the rebels claimed one chopper
shot down. The casualty and capture counts from both sides were unrealistic.
The rebels retreated after the conflict with the Tchad army, but were
not destroyed, despite reports from the Tchad government that they
had fled into Niger, and as this report was being prepared were still
holding the town of Nokou. The situation in the north in the Tibesti
mountains was unclear.
The origin of FACT is not entirely clear: it apparent was created
after a split with another North Tchad rebel group, the UEDD, both
groups being based in Libya and formed mostly from members of the
Gorane ethnic group. One report indicated that these groups had been
used as militia by Hafter, one of the protagonists in the ongoing
civil war in Libya, a possible source of its weaponry.
Meanwhile in the capital, a military junta headed up by a son of Deby,
called Mahamat Idris Deby took over. The protests by the Africa Union
at the putsch were limited, and the French also somewhat surprisingly
did not condemn the putsch, and indeed the French president arrived
shortly after to attend the funeral of Idris Deby in person, (together
with the heads of each of the G5 countries ) at which he praised Idriss
Deby role in suppressing Jihadist in the Sahel.
By this time the second-place presidential candidate, Albert Pahimi
Padacke had been appointed prime minister, (he was previously prime
minster from 2016 to 2018 under Idriss Deby) and later in the month
a whole raft of civilian minister were appointed, and a promise of
elections in 18 months issued. Notwithstanding protests continued
in the capital.
In other parts of Tchad, things continued as normal. There was a raid
by Boko Harem near lake Tchad which reportedly killed some dozen soldiers
and the inter-group conflicts between herders and farmers continued
in the Salamat region with a reported 100 deaths.
On the economic front it was report that the Moroccan group “Marita”
was planning to sign an agreement with the Tchad Company “Sonmig”
for the exploitation of gold reserves.
The Crisis Group report for Mali for February contains yet another
depressing sequence of reports of violent incidents all over Mali
by the ISGS and JNIM Islamicist group from the far north at Tessalit,
near the Algerian border, to the south of the country.
The Malian M5 protest group, whose demonstrations were instrumental
in the downfall of the previous president IBK, has broken with the
Imam Dicko over his cooperation with the new military government,
and his attempts to sideline M5 Group. This disagreement was reported
to have been progressive more serious over the last few months.
One report indicated that Iyad Ag Ghaly, a prominent jihadist leader
was ready to negotiate with the Mali government.
In Mid-April, in the capital Bamako, one signatory to the 2015 Algiers
peace negotiations gunmen was shot dead Sidi Brahim Ould Sidati, leader
of ex-rebel Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA). Also as reported
above a French Journalist was kidnapped in the Gao area.
Some good news: the that interim government announced the constitutional
referendum for October and presidential and Parliamentary elections
Niger had several Jihadist attacks this month in both the east and
the west of the country.
In early April the rebel group ISGS set several schools on fire and
killed 17 Zarma civilians near Ayorou. Another rebel group, the ISWP
attacked Diffa with an IED attack the next day. An attack on the Damask
town just south of the border of Nigeria caused a wave of people fleeing
Nigeria into Niger.
The UN has reported that some 80,000 people have fled Niger into the
Mardi region fleeing the Islamic rebels and violence in northern Nigeria
since the beginning of the year.
A report was published in mid-April indicating that two members of
FACT (see Tchad report above) were arrested in Agades on March 17th.
These were Ahemd Brahim, and Hohammed Taher Ali Kedelaye, but were
released and apparent made it to Libya somehow.
Another report indicated that a cache of arms was found in caves some
50k north east of Arlit in the Aiir mountains. Between Arlit and Assamaka
a truck crashed reportedly killing 8 artisanal goldminers.
The suspected leaders of the failed coup at the end of March were
arrested in Benin and extradited to Niger. The coup was reportedly
led by one Captain Sani Gourouza.
A new government was announced by the new president, Mohamadou, in
early April consisting of 33 ministers including five women, but many
positions were handed to the previous president’s supporters.
The minister of defense in the new government is Alkassoum Indatou,
a Targui from Agades.
Hama Amadou, the opposition leader who was not permitted to contest
the election and jailed, has been allowed to leave Niger and go to
France, and specifically the American hospital in Paris.
A film about the gangster underworld of Zinder has reviewed acclaims
at a (virtual) film festival in London.
The Niger government has issued local bonds to the value of 130m$
at interest rates of about 5%.