Envoy claims South Africa functions as ‘magnet’ for Russian tourists

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African officials hail Russia’s role in fight against global terrorism — RT Africa
African representatives hail Russia`s part in battle against international terrorism

In the realm of global security, the fight against terrorism stands as a paramount challenge, uniting nations in a shared struggle against extremist violence. Recently, at the 12th International Meeting of High Representatives for Security Issues in Saint Petersburg, African officials voiced their appreciation for Russia's commitment to combating terrorism on a global scale.

Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service Chief Advisor, Abdulaziz Ahmed Adem, emphasized the pervasive nature of terrorism, describing it as the foremost obstacle confronting nations worldwide. He underscored the complexities imposed by the current world order, accentuating the necessity for collaborative efforts to address this pressing concern.

Echoing Adem's sentiments, Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to Russia, Luciana Ncoco Ndong Ayecaba, affirmed her nation's readiness to engage in multilateral cooperation with Russia and other interested parties to thwart security threats. Identifying Equatorial Guinea as a "friendly state," Ayecaba highlighted the significance of joint initiatives in safeguarding global security.

Further accolades for Russia's proactive stance in the fight against extremist violence came from the Minister of Defense and Internal Administration of Sao Tome and Principe, Jorge Amado. Praising Russia's hosting of the security summit, which drew participants from over 100 nations, Amado emphasized the importance of the discussions held during the conference in shaping strategies for combating terrorism.

Amado stressed the imperative of global cooperation in confronting terrorism, citing Sao Tome and Principe's commitment to contributing to this collective endeavor. As a small nation, Sao Tome and Principe recognizes the indispensability of unified action in addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by terrorism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his address to summit participants, reiterated the gravity of the terrorist threat in the 21st century. Acknowledging the enduring menace posed by international terrorism, Putin affirmed Russia's unwavering dedication to collaborative efforts aimed at countering this pervasive threat.

In essence, the convergence of perspectives at the Saint Petersburg security summit underscores the critical importance of international cooperation in confronting the global scourge of terrorism. With Africa signaling its willingness to collaborate with Russia and other stakeholders, the stage is set for concerted action in the ongoing battle against extremist violence.

US to withdraw troops from African states — RT Africa
America intends on retracting troops from African nations

In a significant strategic shift, the United States has unveiled plans for a complete withdrawal of its troops from Niger, while also relocating military personnel stationed in Chad. The decision comes in response to calls from the military administrations of both African nations, signaling a recalibration of America's counterterrorism mission in the Sahel region.

Niger's recent termination of a security agreement with the United States, coupled with its explicit rejection of the presence of American troops on its soil, prompted Washington's decision to fully withdraw its approximately 1,000-strong contingent from the West African country. Similarly, neighboring Chad has raised questions regarding the coverage of existing agreements concerning United States troops deployed at its sole American air base.

Addressing reporters, Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder characterized the troop repositioning in Chad as a temporary measure, citing an ongoing review of security cooperation. Ryder clarified that discussions with Nigerien authorities were slated to commence, with a focus on facilitating the orderly and safe withdrawal of United States forces from Niger.

Emphasizing transparency and mutual respect in the withdrawal process, Ryder outlined plans for follow-up meetings in the coming week to coordinate the phased withdrawal in collaboration with African partners. This diplomatic engagement underscores the United States commitment to managing the transition in a manner that preserves regional stability and respects the sovereignty of host nations.

The decision to withdraw troops from Niger and relocate personnel from Chad reflects a broader reassessment of United States military engagements in Africa amidst evolving security dynamics. As America navigates these shifts, it seeks to maintain strategic partnerships while adapting its approach to address emerging threats effectively.

Against the backdrop of heightened scrutiny over foreign military presence in Africa, the troop withdrawal announcement underscores the complexities of balancing national security imperatives with respect for sovereign decisions by host nations. It also highlights the evolving geopolitical landscape in Africa, where traditional alliances are subject to renegotiation in response to changing regional dynamics.

Looking ahead, the withdrawal of United States troops from Niger and Chad signals a pivotal moment in America's engagement with the Sahel region, prompting a reassessment of its security strategy and signaling a commitment to collaboration with African partners in addressing shared security challenges.

Dozens escape from Nigerian prison after rainstorm chaos — RT Africa
Dozens flee from Nigerian jail following rainstorm chaos

In a scene reminiscent of past incidents, more than 100 inmates fled from a prison in Nigeria following extensive damage caused by heavy rains, according to authorities in the West African nation. The medium security custodial center in Suleja, Niger State, bore the brunt of a "heavy downpour" that persisted for several hours on Wednesday night, resulting in the destruction of the perimeter fence and the escape of 118 prisoners.

In response to the breach, the Nigerian Correctional Service swiftly activated recapturing mechanisms, collaborating with sister security agencies to apprehend fleeing inmates. As of the latest update, 10 escapees have been recaptured, with efforts underway to locate and detain the remaining fugitives.

Authorities attributed the incident to the deteriorating state of the country's prison infrastructure, much of which was constructed during the colonial era preceding Nigeria's independence from Britain in 1960. This latest prison break underscores the ongoing challenges posed by aging facilities ill-equipped to withstand natural disasters or prevent escapes.

The episode adds to a troubling pattern of prison escapes in Nigeria, with previous incidents including a mass breakout in the capital city, Abuja, where nearly 900 inmates fled in 2022. Such occurrences underscore broader concerns about the state of Nigeria's prison system, highlighted in a recent report by the United States detailing harsh and life-threatening conditions due to severe overcrowding.

According to the report, many Nigerian detention centers and prisons, some dating back 70 to 80 years, are operating at 50 percent above their designed capacity. The dire conditions underscore the urgent need for infrastructure upgrades and modernization efforts to ensure the safety and security of both inmates and staff.

In response to these challenges, the Nigerian Correctional Service emphasized its commitment to transitioning from outdated facilities to modern, secure prisons. However, achieving this goal will require concerted efforts and significant investment to overhaul infrastructure, improve conditions, and enhance security measures across the country's correctional facilities.

As Nigeria grapples with the aftermath of yet another prison break, authorities face mounting pressure to address systemic issues within the prison system, safeguard public safety, and uphold the rights and dignity of incarcerated individuals.

African state suspends BBC and VOA — RT Africa
African country appends BBC, VOA

Burkina Faso has made headlines with its decision to suspend radio broadcasts from BBC Africa and Voice of America (VOA) following their coverage of a report implicating the country's army in mass executions. Citing concerns over the portrayal of the military, authorities have taken both broadcasters off the airwaves and blocked access to their websites for a two-week period.

The controversy stems from a damning report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which accuses Burkina Faso's military forces of carrying out mass executions of civilians, including dozens of children, in two villages earlier this year. HRW's findings paint a grim picture of alleged atrocities committed in the context of counterterrorism efforts, urging authorities to investigate the massacres thoroughly.

According to the report, Burkina Faso's army stands accused of perpetrating widespread violence against civilians, purportedly as part of a broader military campaign targeting individuals suspected of collaborating with armed groups. However, the country's communication council has condemned HRW's assertions as "peremptory and tendentious," warning against potential public disorder fueled by the report's inflammatory content.

In response to the suspension, both the BBC and VOA have affirmed their commitment to reporting on events in Burkina Faso, signaling their intention to continue coverage despite government restrictions. This clash underscores the tension between press freedom and governmental control in the country, raising concerns about censorship and the stifling of dissenting voices.

Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has been under the leadership of Captain Ibrahim Traore since a military coup in September 2022. The current administration seized power amid political turmoil, following an earlier coup that ousted the democratically elected President Roch Marc Kabore.

As Burkina Faso grapples with the fallout from the suspension of BBC and VOA broadcasts, the incident highlights broader issues surrounding accountability, freedom of expression, and the role of media in shaping public discourse. It remains to be seen how this development will impact the ongoing dialogue surrounding allegations of human rights abuses and the country's path towards stability and democracy.

Another African state considers closing French military base – media — RT Africa
Media reports another African nation contemplates closing French army base

Amidst a national dialogue convened by the Gabonese military government to facilitate the transition to civilian rule, a political commission has recommended the closure of the French military base in the Central African nation. According to reports from Radio France Internationale (RFI), the proposal was put forth as part of a broader discussion on reevaluating defense agreements with Paris.

The suggestion, outlined in a report presented at the ongoing national dialogue in Libreville, has stirred significant debate regarding Gabon's military cooperation with France. Scheduled for adoption during the plenary session of participants of the Inclusive National Dialogue (DNI), the resolution underscores growing calls for reassessment of foreign military presence on Gabonese soil.

France currently maintains approximately 400 soldiers at its base north of Libreville, primarily engaged in training Gabonese troops. However, the proposal for closure comes in the wake of strained relations between the two nations, exacerbated by France's temporary suspension of military cooperation following a coup that ousted longtime President Ali Bongo.

While France subsequently resumed military operations, the decision prompted scrutiny and calls for reevaluation of defense ties. French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu defended the resumption, citing perceived differences in the political contexts of Libreville and Niger, where France has refrained from cooperation with what it deems an "illegitimate" military government.

Gabon's consideration of ending French military operations echoes similar moves by other former French colonies in recent years. Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have all severed defense ties with Paris, citing perceived inadequacies in France's efforts to combat jihadist insurgents in the Sahel region during a decade-long counterterrorism mission.

The proposal to close the French military base in Gabon reflects broader geopolitical shifts in Africa, as nations reassess their relationships with former colonial powers and assert greater autonomy in defense and security matters. As the national dialogue in Gabon continues, the outcome of discussions on defense agreements with France will likely have far-reaching implications for regional security dynamics and bilateral relations.

Somalia detains US-trained soldiers suspected of stealing food — RT Africa
Somalia arrests American-trained soldiers suspected of robbing food
Somalia's efforts to combat terrorism within its borders have been met with a troubling development as several members of its elite counterterrorism unit, known as Danab, face allegations of diverting food-ration donations from the United States government. The Somali Defense Ministry disclosed late Thursday that it had initiated an investigation into these allegations of corruption within the ranks of its American-trained special forces. This revelation has cast a shadow over the integrity of the Danab Brigade, a key component of the Somali National Army (SNA), which has been pivotal in the fight against the al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group al-Shabaab.
The Danab Brigade, comprising around 3,000 highly trained soldiers, has been a recipient of substantial United States security assistance aimed at bolstering Somalia's capacity to combat extremist elements. Since its inception, the unit has made significant strides in reclaiming territory from al-Shabaab, a militant organization notorious for its attacks on civilian populations across the Horn of Africa. The United States, recognizing the strategic importance of countering al-Shabaab's influence, had announced plans in February to invest over USD100 million in constructing up to five new bases to support the Danab Brigade's operations.
However, the recent allegations of misconduct have raised concerns about the misuse of resources intended to support Somalia's security forces. The Somali government, in response to these allegations, has taken decisive action by detaining and suspending several members of the Danab unit implicated in the diversion of food aid. Moreover, authorities have pledged to ensure accountability and transparency in the distribution of provisions to the army, reassuring foreign partners, including the United States government, of their commitment to addressing these issues.
In light of these developments, a spokesperson for the United States government emphasized the importance of upholding accountability measures to safeguard future assistance provided to the Danab Brigade. While Washington takes allegations of corruption seriously, the spokesperson did not explicitly state whether any aid to the Somali army had been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
The implications of this incident extend beyond the immediate concerns of misappropriated aid. It underscores the broader challenges of governance and accountability within Somalia's security apparatus, highlighting the need for robust oversight mechanisms to prevent such incidents from recurring. As Somalia grapples with the dual challenges of terrorism and state-building, addressing corruption within its security forces remains a critical imperative for fostering stability and resilience in the region.

South Africa ‘a magnet’ for Russian travelers – envoy — RT Africa
Envoy claims South Africa functions as ‘magnet’ for Russian tourists

In a testament to the growing allure of South Africa as a vacation spot, Russian Ambassador Ilya Rogachev revealed to TASS on Sunday that the country has become the premier destination for Russian travelers within Sub-Saharan Africa. Highlighting a remarkable surge in visitor numbers, Rogachev noted that over 28,000 Russian tourists ventured to South Africa in 2023, marking a substantial 75 percent increase from the previous year.

Cape Town, renowned for its scenic beauty and cultural richness, stands out as the focal point of attraction for Russian tourists, according to Ambassador Rogachev. However, despite the burgeoning popularity of South Africa among Russian travelers, significant hurdles persist, hindering the full potential of tourism growth between the two nations.

Foremost among these challenges is the absence of direct air routes connecting Russia and South Africa, posing a logistical barrier to further expansion in tourism. Moreover, the impact of Ukraine-related sanctions is palpable, with cross-border transactions severely constrained due to restrictions on payment systems like SWIFT. Russian bank cards, in particular, encounter difficulties in transactions within Pretoria, exacerbating the obstacles to seamless travel and financial transactions.

Despite these impediments, individual and family trips remain the preferred mode of travel for Russian tourists, underscoring the personal and intimate nature of their exploration of South Africa. Moreover, the Association of Russian Tour Operators (ATOR) highlighted in December the increasing popularity of Sub-Saharan African countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, among Russian travelers. These destinations offer a tantalizing blend of sightseeing opportunities and beach vacations, drawing visitors with their expansive nature reserves and diverse landscapes.

As South Africa cements its status as a magnet for Russian tourists seeking adventure and cultural immersion in Sub-Saharan Africa, addressing infrastructural and financial barriers will be crucial in unlocking the full potential of this burgeoning tourism market. With both countries poised to capitalize on the mutual benefits of increased tourism, fostering closer ties and facilitating smoother travel experiences will be imperative in sustaining this positive trajectory.
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