Two French journalists executed in Mali



BAMAKO // Two French radio journalists were found dead after being kidnapped by armed men in northern Mali in what President Francois Hollande called a “despicable” act as he ordered an emergency ministers’ meeting for Sunday.

Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon of Radio France Internationale (RFI) had travelled on Saturday to the northern city of Kidal to interview a spokesman for the Tuareg separatist group the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), and were abducted outside his home, according to their employer.

RFI said MNLA spokesman Ambery Ag Rhissa said he heard a commotion outside and “saw the kidnappers put the journalists into a beige 4X4”.

Men in turbans and speaking the Tuareg language of Tamashek “ordered Mr Ag Rhissa to get back inside and forced the journalists’ driver to lie down”, RFI said, adding that he had heard Verlon and Dupont resist and protest at their abduction.

“This was the last time that the journalists were seen alive,” said Marie-Christine Saragosse, CEO of France Media Monde, which owns RFI.

Mr Hollande expressed “his indignation over this despicable act”, in a statement from his office.

The French leader, who sent troops to Mali in January to oust Islamist rebels from the north, called a meeting of his ministers for Sunday to establish “jointly with Malian authorities and UN forces, the circumstances of the killings”.

Mr Hollande and Malian leader Ibrahim Boubacar Keita spoke over the telephone, reaffirming their determination “to relentlessly pursue the fight against terrorist groups that are present in northern Mali”, the French president’s office said.

The UN Security Council members also “strongly condemned” the slaying of the journalists and “reiterated their full support” for the UN mission in Mali, a statement said.

The fatal kidnapping occurred just days after four Frenchmen held hostage in neighbouring Niger were freed reportedly for a huge ransom, a claim France denied.

The exact circumstances of the journalists’ deaths are not yet known.

French army spokesman Colonel Gilles Jaron said French forces in Mali, alerted about the kidnapping, immediately sent out a patrol and two helicopters.

“The bodies of the two journalists were found by the patrol about 12km east of Kidal on the ground near a vehicle that had stopped,” Col Jaron said, adding it was about two hours after their abduction.

Dupont, 57, was an African affairs specialist who had spent 27 years covering the continent since joining RFI in 1986, including stints in Ethiopia, Sudan and 10 years in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“She always wanted to dig, dig deeper and she shared this passion with us and always encouraged us to go further,” her colleague Nicolas Champeaux said.

RFI said Verlon, 55, who had been at the station since 1982, was a seasoned journalist who was “used to difficult terrain across the world”.

A spokesman for European foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was “great sadness” on hearing news of the incident.

The spokesman added the deaths were a “heinous crime” which must not go “unpunished”.

The press group Reporters without Borders called the killings “an unspeakable and revolting act”.

Moussa Ag Assarid, the MNLA’s spokesman in Europe, told the French i-Tele news channel the journalists had been abducted by “unknown elements”.

The town of Kidal, situated more than 1,500km northeast of Mali’s capital Bamako, is the traditional homeland of the Tuareg people and the birthplace of the MNLA’s rebellion.

A French government source said the journalists had asked to be taken there with troops from France’s Operation Serval mission but ended up going with the United Nations’ MINUSMA peacekeeping force after Serval refused for safety reasons.

The deaths have added to security concerns following an upsurge in rebel violence in the aftermath of the French military intervention that ousted armed groups linked to Al Qaeda from northern Mali cities. They had taken control in the north in the chaos following a March 2012 coup.

Mali is set to hold parliamentary elections in three weeks which are supposed to mark the completion of the country’s transition back to democracy.

The MNLA took control of Kidal in February but the Malian authorities finally reclaimed the city after signing a deal with the MNLA on June 18 aimed at reuniting the country.

Under the deal, MNLA forces moved into barracks as regular Malian troops were deployed to secure Kidal.

Some 2,000 French troops from an initial deployment of 3,000 will remain on the ground – including around Kidal – until the end of December, with the withdrawal of a further 1,000 to be completed by the end of January.

MINUSMA is eventually expected to comprise about 12,600 troops and police but Malian soldiers have nevertheless voiced concerns over the prospect of France’s departure from its former colony.

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Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

How the UAE gratuity payment is calculated now

Employees leaving an organisation are entitled to an end-of-service gratuity after completing at least one year of service.

The tenure is calculated on the number of days worked and does not include lengthy leave periods, such as a sabbatical. If you have worked for a company between one and five years, you are paid 21 days of pay based on your final basic salary. After five years, however, you are entitled to 30 days of pay. The total lump sum you receive is based on the duration of your employment.

1. For those who have worked between one and five years, on a basic salary of Dh10,000 (calculation based on 30 days):

a. Dh10,000 ÷ 30 = Dh333.33. Your daily wage is Dh333.33

b. Dh333.33 x 21 = Dh7,000. So 21 days salary equates to Dh7,000 in gratuity entitlement for each year of service. Multiply this figure for every year of service up to five years.

2. For those who have worked more than five years

c. 333.33 x 30 = Dh10,000. So 30 days’ salary is Dh10,000 in gratuity entitlement for each year of service.

Note: The maximum figure cannot exceed two years total salary figure.

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

THE SCORES

Ireland 125 all out

(20 overs; Stirling 72, Mustafa 4-18)

UAE 125 for 5

(17 overs, Mustafa 39, D’Silva 29, Usman 29)

UAE won by five wickets

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The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

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The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

PREMIER LEAGUE FIXTURES

All times UAE (+4 GMT)

Saturday
West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur (3.30pm)
Burnley v Huddersfield Town (7pm)
Everton v Bournemouth (7pm)
Manchester City v Crystal Palace (7pm)
Southampton v Manchester United (7pm)
Stoke City v Chelsea (7pm)
Swansea City v Watford (7pm)
Leicester City v Liverpool (8.30pm)

Sunday
Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United (7pm)

Monday
Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion (11pm)

Aayan’s records

Youngest UAE men’s cricketer
When he debuted against Bangladesh aged 16 years and 314 days, he became the youngest ever to play for the men’s senior team. He broke the record set by his World Cup squad-mate, Alishan Sharafu, of 17 years and 44 days.

Youngest wicket-taker
After taking the wicket of Bangladesh’s Litton Das on debut in Dubai, Aayan became the youngest male cricketer to take a wicket against a Full Member nation in a T20 international.

Youngest in T20 World Cup history?
Aayan does not turn 17 until November 15 – which is two days after the T20 World Cup final at the MCG. If he does play in the competition, he will be its youngest ever player. Pakistan’s Mohammed Amir, who was 17 years and 55 days when he played in 2009, currently holds the record.

Abu Dhabi traffic facts

Drivers in Abu Dhabi spend 10 per cent longer in congested conditions than they would on a free-flowing road

The highest volume of traffic on the roads is found between 7am and 8am on a Sunday.

Travelling before 7am on a Sunday could save up to four hours per year on a 30-minute commute.

The day was the least congestion in Abu Dhabi in 2019 was Tuesday, August 13.

The highest levels of traffic were found on Sunday, November 10.

Drivers in Abu Dhabi lost 41 hours spent in traffic jams in rush hour during 2019

 

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