World Tour: Ethnic violence in Mali, and a flawed election in Thailand

NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Trump recognition of Golan Heights—We start today in Washington, where President Donald Trump signed a significant executive order this week. It recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

TRUMP: Today I am taking historic action to promote Israel’s ability to defend itself, and really to have a very strong, very powerful national security, which they are entitled to have.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood by the president’s side during Monday’s White House ceremony.

NETANYAHU: Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self defense. And the Jewish people’s roots in the Golan go back thousands of years.

Israel took control of the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Mideast War. But the U.S. is the first country to recognize it as Israeli territory. The rest of the world considers it occupied land.

The Golan Heights decision came as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo finishes a week-long visit to the Middle East. During a stop in Lebanon, Pompeo urged the country to stand up to Islamic militant groups.

POMPEO: Frankly, Lebanon and the Lebanese people face a choice. Bravely move forward as an independent and proud nation. Or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future.

The Lebanese foreign minister disputed Pompeo’s description of Hezbollah, insisting the group is not a terror organization. Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey all denounced the U.S. decision to recognize the Golan Heights.

Ethnic violence in Mali—Next we go to Mali, where increasing ethnic tension sparked an attack that killed some 150 people.

A UN spokeswoman said Saturday’s attack marked a significant spike of violence in the region.

UN SPOKESMAN: The attack in Ogossagou, in the Mopti region of central Mali, is the latest in a series of assaults and a cycle of violence that has resulted in some 600 deaths of women, children and men, as well as thousands of displaced people since March 2018.

A UN team is investigating the attack. Witnesses said men from the Dogon ethnic group wielding guns and machetes attacked a Fulani village. The two groups have a long-running conflict over land for hunting, farming, and grazing.

WITNESS: [Man speaking in French]

Mali’s president vowed security forces would respond more quickly to threats of violence in the future.

Thailand election—Next we go to Thailand where international observers are criticizing a deeply flawed election.

Voters went to the polls Sunday for the first time since a military coup ousted the government in 2014. The head of the election observer team says a lack of transparency in the vote-counting process raises questions about the outcome.

ELECTION OBSERVER: The trust with the system and the issue with announcing the results, the delaying of the results issuing. Maybe it’s nothing wrong, but nobody knows, nobody is aware what is happening under the table.

Preliminary results show the military-backed party winning the most votes. But the party of the former government has won the most seats in parliament. Both parties have claimed victory. That sets the stage for continued instability in Southeast Asia’s second largest economy.

Official results are expected Friday.

Kenyan teacher wins $1M prize—And finally, we end today in Dubai. There a Catholic priest from Kenya has won the world’s top teaching prize.

JACKMAN: And the winner of the Global Teacher Prize for 2019 is … Peter Tabichi.

The prize comes with a $1 million award. That’s a windfall for a teacher who donates 80 percent of his salary to help underprivileged students in his village.

Students at the Keriko secondary school in Kenya’s Rift Valley celebrated the news of their teacher’s win.

AUDIO: [Keriko School students chanting]

Almost one-third of Peter Tabichi’s math and physics students are orphans or have only one parent. The school has just one computer and a student-teacher ratio of 58-to-1. But its students regularly win awards at national and international competitions.

Faith, one of Tabichi’s students, said the prize will benefit the entire community.

FAITH: I didn’t expect that he could win, but I had hopes because he is a very good teacher to us…

Tabichi says he plans to use the prize money to improve the school and feed the poor.

That’s this week’s World Tour. I’m Onize Ohikere, reporting from Abjua, Nigeria.

(Tabital Pulaaku via AP) The scene shortly after a violent attack which left at least 134 people dead and dozens more wounded, which according to witnesses was carried out by the ethnic Dogon militia who descended on Ogossogou village, Mali, early Saturday March 23, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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