| Africatime
Sunday 26 March 2017
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
An official from the Polisario Front fighting for the independence of the Western Sahara on Tuesday blamed Morocco for the resignation of a UN envoy to the disputed territory. Christopher Ross quitting last week was a result of "Morocco blocking negotiations since 2012" on the future of the former Spanish colony, M'hamed Kheddad said. Morocco insists that the Western Sahara is an integral part of its kingdom, but the Algeria-based Polisario is demanding a referendum on self-determination. The two sides fought for control of the territory from 1974 to 1991, with Rabat gaining control of it before a UN-brokered ceasefire took effect. Ross submitted his resignation after spending eight years trying to resolve the dispute. An American who served as...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
Lawyers and human rights campaigners launched an initiative for African whistleblowers in Senegal on Tuesday, aimed at providing a secure means of exposing wrongdoing on the continent. African nations such as Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Guinea-Bissau regularly appear at the very bottom of rankings such as Transparency International's Corruption Index, while none make it into the top 30. The Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) will provide guidance from legal experts, secure submission of information and a hotline for potential informants, according to its founders. The initiative is the brainchild of Spanish superstar lawyer Baltasar Garzon -- who has defended Julian Assange of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks -- along with French lawyer William Bourdon, who worked on...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
Switzerland on Monday extradited a former member of the Algerian rebel Armed Islamic Group to France, where he has been wanted since September, Swiss authorities said. Merouane Benahmed, who was arrested in Switzerland six months ago after he skipped out on his house arrest in northwestern France, "was handed over to French authorities at the Thonex-Vallard border crossing," justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli said in an email. Benahmed, who had been living under house arrest in the French town of Evron since 2015, had failed to show up for one his mandated meetings with local police on September 8, triggering his arrest warrant. He was detained in Vallorbe, in the Swiss canton of Vaud, on September 22. Migration authorities at...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
The UN envoy for Western Sahara has offered his resignation after leading efforts for eight years to settle the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement, a senior UN official said Monday. Christopher Ross submitted his resignation in a letter sent last week to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is considering whether to make a new appointment. Ross's departure would highlight the failure of the United Nations to make progress in settling the decades-old conflict in north Africa. "He has worked for eight years to try to come up with a framework by which the parties -- the king of Morocco and the Front Polisario -- would be able to renew negotiations," said UN political affairs chief Jeffrey...
(Xinhuanet 03/07/17)
Algeria on Monday inaugurated a new air base in the southernmost province of Tamenrasset, as part of the North African nation's efforts to secure its border. The deployment of Hassi Tiririne air base was officially inaugurated by Deputy Defense Minister, Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, APS news agency reported, quoting a statement of Defense Ministry. This new military installation comes at a time where Algeria is facing constant terrorist threats, including the intrusion of weapons and terrorists. Several arm bunkers have been discovered in recent months along the borderline with Mali, Niger and Libya, while many terrorists were either captured alive or killed. Located in a region plagued by unprecedented security and political instability, experts believe...
(AFP (eng) 03/06/17)
When Fathia was seven years old, she would wait each day for classes to end, throw down her schoolbag and rush to play football with the boys from her neighbourhood. Now in her twenties, Algerian international Fathia plays for all-female club Afak Relizane, where love for "the beautiful game" has trumped gender stereotypes and even militant threats in the conservative yet football-mad North African nation. Coach Sid Ahmed Mouaz helped to launch Afak in 1997 in the middle of Algeria's blood-soaked civil war at a time when armed Islamists prohibited all women's sport. "The terrorists sent me a letter demanding that I stop girls' football," Mouaz recalls. But he refused to be intimidated. Midfielder Fathia has gone on to triumph...
(The Independent 03/06/17)
Th term was coined by sceptical officials, worried about the importance given to Commonwealth trade deals ahead of Brexit negotiations. Plans by government ministers to boost trade links with African Commonwealth countries are being internally branded “empire 2.0” by sceptical officials who are worried about the importance being placed on such deals ahead of the UK’s negotiations of leaving the European Union (EU). International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is expected to promise to build better links with the whole of the 52 member countries of the Commonwealth when ministers from each country meet in London later this week. But as the UK is prepares itself to leave the European Union, The Times reports that British ministers are planning to talk...
(AFP (eng) 03/03/17)
Three jihadist groups operating in the Sahel region have merged to form one single organisation, Mauritania's private news agency ANI said Thursday, citing a video distributed by the Islamists. Among the groups joining the merger south of the Sahara are Mali's Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and Al-Murabitoun, led by Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The new movement will operate under the name the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, and will be led by Ansar Dine's Iyag Ag Ghaly, ANI said, adding that it had received the video Wednesday. The Macina Brigades group, active in central Mali, has also joined the merger. ANI distributed a screenshot of the video showing five jihadist leaders seated together, with Iyad Ag Ghaly in the centre...
(AFP (eng) 03/03/17)
Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, whose novel "2084" depicted a dystopian state governed by religious law, says writers and artists need to join the fight against Islamic extremism. "Literature and the arts are not playing a big role in this struggle against barbarism," he said. In an interview with AFP, the 67-year-old elder statesman of Algerian letters urged writers to use their freedom of speech and do more to fight "fundamentalism". An avowed atheist, Sansal has long been a free thinker, criticising both religious fundamentalists and Algeria's government. He has continued to live in Algeria despite being personally
(Bloomberg 03/03/17)
Polar Star Management Ltd., which runs one of the best-performing African and Middle East hedge fund over the past five years, plans to start a private-equity unit that will invest in agriculture to exploit rising demand for food. The Cape Town-based firm plans to use its own money to buy small farms and processing companies in South Africa this year, then increase efficiency through consolidation and better management, said Murray Derksen, a director at Polar Star. It aims to raise 1.5 billion rand ($115 million) for the fund, which may also buy commodities such as grains, while targeting an internal rate of return of 8 percent to 12 percent, he said. “We looked at the increase in corn demand globally,...
(AFP (eng) 03/02/17)
A film raging against colonialism and the exploitation of Africa wowed viewers at the continent's top cinema festival Wednesday, winning shouts of approval at a screening packed to bursting point. "The African Storm" tells the story of an African president who nationalises businesses run by racist, cynical Western executives. Directed and produced by its Beninese star Sylvestre Amoussou, it tackles several hot-button issues including an exit from the CFA franc currency, closer ties with Russia and China as opposed to the West, criticism of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and pride in being African. One of 20 feature-length movies on show at the Panafrican Film and Television Festival (Fespaco) in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, the movie was punctuated...
(AFP (eng) 03/01/17)
Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has rarely appeared in public since a crippling stroke in 2013, marks his 80th birthday on Thursday amid persistent doubts over his health. He suffered a bout of bronchitis in February, forcing German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the last minute to cancel a scheduled visit to Algiers and sparking renewed speculation about his future. "The president has not directly addressed the Algerians since 2012. No Algerian can believe that there is not a power vacuum," Ahmed Adhimi, a professor of political science at the University of Algiers, told AFP. In a May 2012 speech, Bouteflika hinted he would give up power at the end of his third term in 2014. "For my generation, it's game...
(AFP (eng) 02/28/17)
The Algerian army "neutralised" nine Islamists in the North African country's restive eastern Kabylie region on Tuesday, seizing weapons and ammunition, the defence ministry said. "An army detachment neutralised terrorists near Azzefoun," a coastal town 170 kilometres (105 miles) east of Algiers, a ministry statement said. The authorities use the word "terrorist" to describe armed Islamists who have been active in the country since the early 1990s. A security source told AFP the militants were shot dead following a search near Azzefoun. Soldiers also seized ammunition, two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a sniper rifle, a shotgun and five hunting rifles, the source said.
(AFP (eng) 02/28/17)
The Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership -- the world's biggest individual prize -- drew a blank once again in finding a suitable laureate, it was announced Tuesday. The prize only goes to a democratically-elected African leader who demonstrated exceptional leadership, served their mandated term and left office within the last three years. The award comes with $5 million (4.7 million euros) paid over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life from then on. The prize, founded by Sudan-born telecoms tycoon Mo Ibrahim, has only been given four times in its 10-year existence. The philanthropist has said in the past that making no award sent just as strong a message on African leadership. "A very high bar was deliberately...
(AFP (eng) 02/27/17)
The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility on Monday for a suicide bomb attack in east Algeria which police said had been foiled. In a statement posted on the internet, the group said a "martyrdom-seeking brother" had been able to detonate an "explosives-laden bag" at a police station in the city of Constantine. The jihadist group said "a number of apostates" were killed and wounded in Sunday's attack. Police officials said a policeman managed to foil the attack, opening fire on the bomber and triggering the explosives belt he was wearing. National police said the attacker had been approaching the police station when he was shot by the officer. At the time of the foiled attack around 9:00 pm (2000...
(AFP (eng) 02/27/17)
The trial opened Sunday of a police colonel charged with the February 2010 gunning down of Algeria's police chief Ali Tounsi during a meeting in his Algiers offices. Colonel Chouaib Oultache, who headed the air division of the Directorate General for National Security (DGSN), or civil police, stands accused of "premeditated homicide". The interior ministry said at the time of the murder seven years ago that Tounsi was shot dead by a policeman with his service weapon in a moment of "mental disorder". The court on Sunday agreed to hear seven witnesses, including doctors who examined the police chief's body, from a list of 10 submitted by the defence, lawyer Amine Sidhoum told AFP. Oultache has already been sentenced to...
(AFP (eng) 02/27/17)
Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika is "doing well" despite a health scare last week which forced him to postpone a meeting with the German Chancellor, the general secretary of his party said. The president's office said he could not meet Angela Merkel in Algeria last Monday because he was suffering from bronchitis, but the 79-year-old has had persistent health woes leading to several periods in hospital over the past decade. "The president is doing well and is carrying out his engagements as usual," Djamel Ould Abbes of the National Liberation Front said in remarks carried by the press agency APS on Sunday. Bouteflika, Algeria's longest-serving leader, suffered a mini-stroke in 2013 that affected his mobility and speech. The 79-year-old has since...
(AFP (eng) 02/27/17)
Morocco said Sunday it will pull back from a zone of the contested Western Sahara that has raised tensions with Algeria-backed Polisario Front separatists. "The Kingdom of Morocco will proceed from today with a unilateral withdrawal from the (Guerguerat) zone," the foreign ministry said in a statement. It said the decision was taken by King Mohamed VI at the request of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Rabat now "hopes the secretary general's intervention will allow a return to the previous situation in the zone concerned, keep its status intact, allow the flow of normal road traffic and thus safeguard the ceasefire", it said. In a telephone call to Guterres on Friday, the king called on the United Nations to take...
(Xinhuanet 02/27/17)
Three police officers were injured late on Sunday as a suicide bomber blew himself out near a police station in the eastern province of Constantine, local media reported. The terrorist attack occurred in the locality of Bab el Kantara in downtown Constantine, TSA news website reported, specifying that a suicide bomber tried to blow himself out inside the police station, but was deterred by a policeman who opened fire on him. While falling down, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt, killing himself and injuring three police officers, the report said. Soon after the attack, counter-terrorism units were deployed around the police station. Located in a region plagued by unprecedented security and political instability, Algeria faces ongoing terrorist threats.
(AFP (eng) 02/27/17)
An African road movie about four women wowed its audience Sunday as it kicked off the Panafrican cinema and television festival (Fespaco), a showcase for the continent's burgeoning film industry. "Borders" ("Frontieres") directed by Apolline Traore, a Fespaco laureate in 2013, sweeps across Africa as its protagonists journey through Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin on their way to Nigeria. Along the way the women -- Ivorian, Senegalese, Burkinabe and Nigerian actresses -- are spared nothing as they are beset by customs officers, thieves, murderers and rapists. The film -- the first feature-length film to show at the festival -- deals with "the bravery of women," Traore told AFP at the festival in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou. "There is a...

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