Mauritania

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Former slave to run for office in Mauritania

Khady Lo

BBC Afrique

Habi Mint Rabah, pictured here in 2015
YouTube/ARTE
Colleagues say Habi Mint Rabah is militant and determined

A former slave who was released from bondage in 2008 is to stand in September's parliamentary elections, the anti-slavery group IRA-Mauritania says.

Habi Mint Rabah hopes to be elected as an MP for the recently formed IRA/Sawab coalition - which is comprised of IRA-Mauritania and the more established Sawab party.

"I became a slave at the age of five. Every day I had to take care of the cattle. Every night I was raped by my master," Ms Rabah said shortly after her release.

"I always thought, without really understanding, that it was normal."

Activists at a rally in Mauritania
Getty Images
Activists have long demanded an end to slavery in Mauritania

Slavery was outlawed in Mauritania but remains widespread, according to human rights groups. Black people of certain ethnic groups are often enslaved as domestic workers by lighter-skinned Mauritanians.

Convictions are rare, and the country has jailed more anti-slavery activists than slave owners, rights groups say.

Habi Mint Rabah was saved thanks to her brother Bilal Ould Rabah, who had managed to free himself. He alerted human rights organisations and the IRA movement, whose mobilisation resulted in the release of his sister after more than 35 years in bondage.

"She is a victim of slavery who we freed. She joined us, is militant, and will prove herself against the dominant pro-slavery group in the coming parliament," says IRA's President Biram Dah Abeid.

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EU boosts counter-terror funding for Sahel

A French soldier of the operation Barkhane, an anti-terrorist mission in Sahel, patrols during a tactical flight on March 12, 2016 over Mali
AFP
French forces have battled militant Islamists in the Sahel

The European Union has announced it is doubling its financial contribution to a security force mounted by the five countries of the Sahel region - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, promised the extra $61m (£44m) at the start of an international donor conference in Brussels attended by 50 nations.

She also highlighted the need for development funds in the region, where the EU is investing nearly $10bn in its seven-year plan until 2020.

She said it was important for the region and also for Europe.

A chronology of key events in the history of Mauritania, from the 3rd century to the present

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G5 countries meet in Niger for counter terrorism talks

Tomi Oladipo

BBC Africa security correspondent

(From L) President of Burkina Faso Roch Marc Christian Kabore, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, French President Emmanuel Macron, Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno and Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou poses during the G5 Sahel summit, in Bamako, on July 2, 2017.
Getty Images
The five African leaders of the G5 met last year with French President Emmanuel Macron (third left)

Heads of state from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger are meeting at this year’s G5 Sahel Summit in Niamey, Niger's capital.

While the operation of their joint regional counter terrorism force will be top of the agenda, they’ll also discuss other issues including regional development and the rotational presidency of the grouping, which is currently held by Niger.

The $500m (£360m) budget target for the G5 Sahel Force has nearly been met, although it is still not clear how this will be spent.

The force carried out its first operation last October and its second last month.

It is expected to collaborate with French and UN forces in the region to try and bring stability in the wake of instability from jihadi militants in the Sahel.

Protests over death of Senegalese fisherman

Laeila Adjovi

BBC Africa, Dakar

Fishermen sail by a pirogue (back) at the port of Saint-Louis 14 September 2006
AFP
Protests broke out in Saint-Louis (pictured in 2006)

In Senegal, hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets of the northern town of Saint-Louis, after a fisherman was killed by Mauritanian coastguards.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds in Saint-Louis, as angry protestors pillaged and torched shops owned by Mauritanians. At least three police officers were injured.

It came after coastguards reportedly opened fire on a Senegalese fishing boat that entered Mauritanian waters on Saturday night.

A 19-year-old fisherman from Saint-Louis subsequently died from gunshot wounds.

The Senegalese fisheries ministry condemned the killing and President Macky Sall called for an investigation.

Since the expiry of fishing agreements between the two neighbouring countries in 2016, there have been several incidents between Mauritanian coastguards and Senegalese fishermen.