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Breakaway Mali Islamist Miliant Group Calls For Peace Talks



BAMAKO- Two weeks after the start of the French military intervention in Mali, the Ansar Dine Islamist militant group has split into two, with the dissident faction calling for peace negotiations.

The dissident group is calling itself the Islamic Movement of Azawad (MIA) according to France 24.

In a statement, the MIA said they "rejected all forms of extremism and terrorism and was committed to fighting them," adding that it wanted a "peaceful solution" to the Mali crisis, reports the AFP.

The statement said the newly formed group was composed entirely of Malian nationals and called on Mali and France to cease hostilities in the zones it was occupying in the northeastern regions of Kidal and Menaka "to create a climate of peace which will pave the way for an inclusive political dialogue".

It is not clear how many fighters have left the Ansar Dine rebels to join MIA, however, France 24 reports that Alghabass Ag Intallah, a senior member of the Ansar Dine who helped seize Mali last year from government forces, is the leader of the new group.

According to the AFP, French planes destroyed two Islamist bases in northern Mali overnight, as well as their fuel stock and armory. More than 2,000 soldiers from Chad and 500 troops from Niger are being deployed in Niger near the Mali border, to open a second front against the Islamists as part of a 6-000 strong African force to boost – and eventually take over – the French intervention.

Most of the African troops for the UN-mandated intervention come from member countries of the West African regional grouping ECOWAS, such as Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Niger, according to Reuters. There are also troops from neighboring Burkina Faso as well as Burundi and Chad.

News of the French and African advances has been overshadowed by allegations that Malian government soldiers have executed Tuaregs and Arabs accused of collaborating with the rebels, reports Reuters. International observers are worried that this could trigger an ethnic bloodbath.

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Map Vardion via Wikipedia

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Map Acntx via Wikipedia

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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