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The US State Department said on 22 May that Russia’s Wagner mercenary group plans to send arms to Ukraine via its operations in Mali, an impoverished landlocked nation in Africa’s sprawling Sahel region. Ruled by a military junta since a May 2021 coup, its interim president, Colonel Assimi Goita, fell out with France, a long-term ally, over the junta’s reluctance to announce a return to democracy. The coup was Mali’s second in two years. 

In January 2022, Mali expelled France’s ambassador and by September French President Emmanuel Macron had withdrawn all his troops from the country, where they’d been battling Jihadist terror groups for over nine years. 

Enter Russia, ever the opportunists. As early as February 2022, ‘’several hundred’’ Wagner troops arrived in Bamako, the Mali capital, according to General Stephen Townsend, then commander of the U.S. Africa Command force. They were delivered by Russia’s air force. Both Russia and Mali claim Wagner personnel are there to train Mali’s embattled army, but the United Nations says Wagner troops were involved in, and oversaw, the massacre of at least 500 people near the village of Mouri, in Mali’s Mopti region. That happened in March 2022, barely a month after they’d arrived in the troubled African nation. 

Wagner in Africa: Russia’s Other Empire in the Making – Bloodier than Ukraine

Wagner’s presence in Mali will likely be paid for with licenses to mine gold, as it is in Sudan and the Central African Republic. That gold helps finance its operations in Ukraine. 

‘’There are indications that Wagner has been attempting to purchase military systems from foreign suppliers and route these weapons through Mali as a third party,’’ State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

Miller didn’t mention which ‘foreign suppliers’ might be involved, so it may be a coincidence that the Amercian ambassador to South Africa, Reuben Brigety, accused the Pretoria government of sending arms to Russia after a Russian ship, the Lady R, docked at the South African naval yard in Simonstown earlier this month. The ship is under U.S. sanctions. 

‘’We are confident that weapons were loaded on to that vessel and I’d bet my life on the accuracy of that assertion,’’ Brigety said, adding that the ‘’arming of Russia by South Africa is fundamentally unacceptable.’’ 

China’s Belt and Road Power Grab Comes Under Pressure in Sudan

South Africa, which manufactures sophisticated weaponry, military equipment and vehicles, rebuked Brigety and denied that it provided Russia with equipment. It didn’t, however, explain why a sanctioned civilian ship had moored in a naval yard. Soon after, South Africa’s defence minister and intelligence minister visited Moscow on separate trips. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says his country is part of a team of six African nations attempting to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, spurred by concerns over grain supplies affected by Russia’s invasion of its neighbour. 

Brigety’s accusation came after Ramaphosa had sent a delegation to Washington late April in an attempt to allay US concerns about South Africa’s cosy relationship with Moscow. At stake is South Africa’s membership or participation in America’s Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, a law that gives some African states beneficial trade access to US markets.

South Africa’s membership is due to be renewed – or cancelled – in 2025, and it is imperilled, not least by South Africa’s reluctance to state whether Putin will attend a BRICS summit towards the end of August.

The BRICS nations, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are due to meet just a month ahead of a possible AGOA summit also scheduled to take place in South Africa. U.S. officials told South Africa’s Daily Maverick that members of Congress would feel insulted were they to be invited days after Putin, wanted on an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, had been in the country. It’s Congress that decides which African nations are or aren’t going to benefit from AGOA. 

Either way, the scope of Russia’s attempts to exert influence across the length of Africa should disturb Western powers, according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime. ‘’Russia has sought to increase its political involvement in Africa since the 2014 invasion of Crimea,’’ it said in a January report. ‘’Sanctioned Russian entities in Africa – which are primarily involved in the mining sector – may be turning to illicit means of transporting goods, minerals, and money to fly under the radar of international sanctions.’’  By Brian Latham, Byline Times

The report also says the attack by Malian troops and Wagner in Moura included rapes and torture. Wagner mercenaries operate in Mali and at least six other African nations, where they have been accused of atrocities, while the U.S. has said Wagner is trafficking natural resources from African nations to fund the invasion of Ukraine. Democracy Now

Prince Harry loses High Court security battle against Home Office in major blow for Duke of Sussex© GB News

Prince Harry has lost his security battle against the Home Office in a major blow for the Duke of Sussex.

The royal was challenging the Home Office over his security arrangements when visiting the UK. 

The Duke of Sussex fight to secure a judicial review over a decision that he should not be allowed to pay privately for his protective security has ended in defeat.

Harry will now been unable to bring a second High Court challenge against the Home Office.

The royal is pursuing multiple separate civil cases through the courts in London.

This is a breaking news story. More to follow.. By Svar Nanan-Sen, GB News

Kenyan doctor Hudson Alakonya (centre) attained a Ph.D. in oncology from the University of Oxford in 2023. He is flanked by his professors from the university. PHOTO   
Kenyan doctor Hudson Alakonya (centre) attained a Ph.D. in oncology from the University of Oxford in 2023. He is flanked by his professors from the university.

Kenyan doctor Hudson Alakonya added another feather to his cap when he attained the Doctor of Philosophy in Oncology on Tuesday, May 23.

He became the first Kenyan to attain that level of academic achievement earning praise from many Kenyans. 

“I am elated and grateful to pass my Ph.D. Presenting to Kenya the first Doctor of Philosophy in Oncology from the University of Oxford.

“This milestone wouldn’t have been possible without unwavering generosity and guidance from many people. I owe them immeasurable gratitude," he stated.

Before heading to UK to pursue a PhD, Alakonya had obtained a Master's in Science (MSc) in Cancer and a Bachelor's in Technology (B. Tech) in Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology from the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM) in Kenya.

“My sincere tributes go to my supervisor Prof. Bart Cornelissen and the Cornelissen Lab members for supporting and nurturing me with utmost kindness during my time at the University of Oxford,” he added. 

In 2018, the scholar co-founded a non-profit organisation called the Integrated Cancer Research Foundation (ICRF) of Kenya which deals in oncology research.

The organisation aims to use evidence-based research to prevent cancerous tumors from being life-threatening.

He thanked his family and members of ICRF for supporting him in his academic journey.

Rhodes Trust 

Alakonya also thanked the Rhodes Trust for providing him with the Rhodes scholarship which supported his postgraduate academic achievement.

“I am sincerely indebted to the Rhodes Trust for awarding me the Rhodes scholarship that has helped me to achieve my academic and professional ambitions, connected me to the world & transformed my socioeconomic life,” he noted.

The Rhodes Scholarship prides itself in being the oldest international scholarship programme first awarded in 1902. It offers 103 scholarships every year.

In 2022, the Rhodes Trust partnered with the Schmidt Future to create the Rise Challenge which offered a Ksh121 billion prize for the winners of the competition. Schmidt Future was founded by technology mogul and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, alongside his wife, Wendy Schmidt.

Applicants aged between 15 and 17 years applied for the competition targeted to support the winners with money to finance their ventures.

In September 2022, eight Kenyan students were feted among 100 winners selected from the 80,000 that applied for the competition.

The winners included Edith Chemutai, James Nyaga Ngatia, Marietta Halima Kazungu, Natasha Njoki Ndai, Wema Wambugo Marandu, Belinta Simiyu, Annette Odhiambo and Lesein Mutunkei.By Steven Thuku,


The High court has encountered a setback in the trial of the suspects accused of murdering the daughter and driver of Works and Transport minister General Edward Katumba Wamala.

The court session was unable to proceed with reading the charges against the suspects due to a lack of interpreters. The suspects are Yusuf Siraje Nyanzi, Hussein Sserubula, Muhammad Kagugube, Sirimani Kisambira, Abdullah Aziz Ramadhan, Dunka, Kamada Walusimbi, Habib Ramadhan Marjan, and Huzaifah Wampa.

During the court session before lady justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha, the prosecution aimed to disclose additional exhibits in the case and share an inventory report of the exhibits they intend to rely on for the prosecution of the accused persons.

The prosecution led by Lillian Omar and Marion Ben Bella, presented an inventory report showing that exhibits numbered from 319 to 377, including physical and documentary evidence, had been shared with the defense lawyers, represented by Geoffrey Turyamusiima, in preparation for the trial.

However, when the judge attempted to read the charges, it was discovered that there were no interpreters for the languages understood by the accused persons, namely Lusoga and Nubian. The suspects indicated that they understood English, Lusoga, Luganda, and Nubian.

As a result, the judge decided to adjourn the case until June 5 with the hope that interpreters for Lusoga and Nubian would be available on that day. In January 2022, the accused persons were committed by the Nakawa Chief Magistrate's court to face trial on multiple charges, including terrorism, murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, financing terrorism activities, and belonging to a terrorist organization.

These charges stem from a shooting incident in which, Gen Katumba, his bodyguard Sgt Khalid Kuboit, and Boniface Mucunguzi survived, while the minister's daughter, Brenda Nantongo, and driver, Sgt Haruna Kayondo, tragically lost their lives. The prosecution alleges that the accused persons were involved in various crimes, including multiple murders and robberies committed at different locations.

Exhibits recovered during police searches include firearms, ammunition, motorcycles, hoods, ropes, and materials related to terrorism. The evidence suggests that the recovered firearms were previously used in other high-profile murder cases. In July 2021, the defense lawyers filed an application seeking the release of the suspects, claiming that they had been tortured.

However, their request for an urgent hearing during the Covid-19 lockdown was rejected by the High court civil division. - URN/The Observer

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