Welcome to Wednesday, where NGO workers are killed in Afghanistan, two are arrested after the French president is slapped in the face, and a 61-foot-long scroll makes a splash in China. Le Monde also takes us to Mali, where a second military coup in nine months leaves Malians and international allies alike worried about what happens next.
• Ten NGO workers killed in attack in Afghanistan: The Kabul government has blamed the Taliban for an attack that killed ten NGO workers and wounded 16 others, though the militant group denies responsibility. The workers were part of a British-American mine clearance organization, the HALO trust.
• Authorities in Nicaragua arrest two more presidential challengers: Opposition figures Felix Maradiaga and Juan Sebastián Chamorro have been arrested and were held under a controversial new security law passed by president Daniel Ortega's government. The 75-year-old Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term in November's election.
• Chinese students hold principal hostage: Rare school protests arose after a plan to merge a Nanjing college in Jiangsu province with a less prestigious vocational school. The principal was held hostage for more than 30 hours over students' fears that their degrees would be devalued as a result of the merge.
• U.S. billionaires avoid paying income tax: ProPublica, the investigative news website, obtains access to the tax returns of some of the world's richest people, who often manage to avoid paying income taxes thanks to loopholes in the law. According to ProPublica, Jeff Bezos paid no tax in 2007 and 2011, while Elon Musk paid nothing in 2018.
• Two arrested after slap of French President Macron: A man grabbed President Emmanuel Macron by the forearm and slapped him across the face yesterday during a meet-and-greet with a crowd in southern France. Reports say the first arrest is the bearded man who levied the slap, the second is the person who filmed it.
• "Butcher of Bosnia" loses genocide appeal: Bosnian warlord Ratko Mladic lost his final legal battle after being found guilty for orchestrating genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Balkan nation's 1992-1995 war.
• Woman saves her twin sister by punching a crocodile: UK-born twin sisters Melissa and Georgia were swimming in a lagoon in Mexico when Melissa was attacked by a crocodile. Georgia kept punching the crocodile on the head, and dragged Melissa out to the boat. Melissa is now in an induced coma and Georgia is covered in bite marks.
French local daily La Provence reports on "the slap" French President Emmanuel Macron received while shaking hands with the crowd during an official visit in the southeast of the country. Two men were arrested following the incident.
Mali: second military coup raises questions at home and abroad
Nine months after the military installed a new interim leader, a young Colonel has again taken over the country in what appears to be a pure power play. But it may not be so simple, and Malians and international allies alike are worried about what happens next, write Cyril Bensimon, Morgane Le Cam and Elise Vincent in French daily Le Monde.
While the years-long war against jihadists in northern and central Mali is still far from being won, the military has once again used its resources to intervene in the civilian-political game in Bamako. On August 18, 2020, a group of five colonels, led by Colonel Assimi Goïta, forced Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, known as "IBK," to resign. Nine months later, it was the same story all over again, this time with the transitional president.
What went on behind the scenes that allowed the overthrow of the Malian power structure for a second time in just nine months? As much as IBK's fall had been the culmination of weeks of popular protest, this second coup was a pure power play. Angered by the growing influence of the military, which has controlled four key ministries since the beginning of the transition period, President Bah N'Daw announced the dissolution of the government on May 14 and reappointed his Prime Minister Moctar Ouane. Colonel Goïta, the Vice-President and head of defense and security, was not informed. Tensions rose.
In Bamako, Malians appear tired of seeing their political life marked by ineffective policies sanctioned by successive coups d"état, the fifth since the country's independence in 1960. As expected, the virtues of democracy are no longer strong considerations for the group that formed on May 24 to support the takeover. "Our politicians, from IBK to Bah N'Daw, have all failed. When they betray the motherland, our army is there to teach them a lesson," warned one Malian named Alexandre.
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