Mali’s president announced his resignation just hours after armed soldiers seized him from his home in a dramatic power grab following months of protests demanding his ouster. Speaking on national broadcaster ORTM just before midnight August 18, a distressed Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, wearing a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said his resignation — three years before his final term was due to end — was effective immediately. A banner across the bottom of the television screen referred to him as the “outgoing president.”
The news of President Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators and alarm by former colonial ruler France, and other allies and foreign nations.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission.
A U.N.-backed tribunal convicted one member of the Hezbollah militant group and acquitted three others of involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri 15 years ago. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon said Salim Ayyash was guilty as a co-conspirator of five charges linked to his involvement in the suicide truck bombing. Hariri and 21 others were killed and 226 were wounded in a huge blast outside a seaside hotel in Beirut on Feb. 14, 2005.
However, after a years-long investigation and trial, three other Hezbollah members were acquitted of all charges that they also were involved in the killing of Hariri, which sent shock waves through the Middle East. None of the suspects were ever arrested and were not in court to hear the verdicts. The tribunal’s judges also said there was no evidence the leadership of the Hezbollah militant group and Syria were involved in the attack.
The brother of the suicide bomber who set off an explosion at a 2017 Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds, was sentenced to a minimum of 55 years in prison. Hashem Abedi, 23, had denied helping plan the attack at Manchester Arena but was found guilty of murder, attempted murder, and conspiring to cause explosions. His sentencing had been postponed due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
His elder brother Salman Abedi set off the bomb in the arena’s foyer at the end of the May 22, 2017 concert, as fans — including thousands of children and young people — were leaving the pop star’s show. He died in the explosion. Judge Jeremy Baker said that the two brothers were “equally culpable for the deaths and injuries caused by the explosion.”
The Trump administration is set to demand the restoration of all international sanctions on Iran in a move that will further isolate the United States at the United Nations. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was traveling to New York on Thursday to notify the U.N. that the U.S. is invoking the “snapback” mechanism in the Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The snapback would reimpose U.N. sanctions that were eased in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program. But the U.S. move would face steep opposition and could prompt a revolt from the council’s other members. None of them believes the U.S. has the standing to do it because Trump withdrew from the deal two years ago. Trump and Pompeo have made no secret of their intention to pursue this course, particularly after the administration’s embarrassing defeat last week at the Security Council on extending the arms embargo on Iran, that expires in October.