Wednesday 18 April 2018
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Former Madagascar finance minister Jean Razafindravonona is being held in pre-trial detention over misappropriation of public funds, the country’s anti-graft office said on Thursday. Razafindravonona, who was finance minister from April 2014 to February 2015, was detained on Wednesday. “He is involved in a case of expenses related to fictitious public contracts,” Benjamin Ratovoson, head of the Independent Anti-Corruption Office (Bianco) in the capital, told Reuters. Lawyers for Razafindravonona, who previously served as the director of the budget office in the finance ministry...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Forty-four African countries have signed an agreement establishing a free trade area seen as vital to the continent's economic development, the head of the African Union said Wednesday. "The agreement establishing the CFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) was signed by 44 countries," said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission. The creation of a free trade area -- billed as the world's largest -- comes after two years of negotiations, and is one of the AU's flagship projects for greater African integration. However, the agreement will still have to be ratified at a national level, and is only due to come into force in 180 days. The full list of countries which did not sign the agreement is...
(AFP (eng) 03/20/18)
A powerful tropical storm that lashed the island of Madagascar has left 20 people dead and affected 19,000 more, according to an official toll. The storm also closed several national highways that were flooded by the heavy rain, the country's disaster management office said late Monday. In a previous toll late Sunday it said 17 people had died and 15,000 had been affected. Storm Eliakim slammed into the northeastern Masoala peninsula on Friday before barrelling south down the coast. By Monday it had moved away from the Indian Ocean island and "presents no more danger".
(AFP (eng) 03/19/18)
A powerful tropical storm which swept through Madagascar has left 17 people dead and affected thousands of others, according to an official toll published on Sunday. Storm Eliakim packed winds of up to 105 kilometres (65 miles) an hour after hitting the northeast of the Indian Ocean island on Friday and barrelling down the east coast. The death toll was announced by the country's disaster management office, which also said 15,000 people had been affected by the storm. Madagascar, one of the poorest countries on the planet, has been hit by about 40 cyclones and tropical storms over the past 10 years.
(AFP (eng) 03/14/18)
The EU warned African and other countries on Wednesday that their citizens will find it harder to get visas to Europe if they refuse to readmit economic migrants under the bloc's efforts to curb migration. Brussels has been seeking greater cooperation from such countries to take back irregular migrants since Europe was hit in 2015 with its worst migration crisis since World War II. "I cannot understand how a country can refuse to take back its nationals" when they have...
(AFP (eng) 03/13/18)
The Madagascar government on Monday summoned the US ambassador after the embassy commented on a court decision that left dairy cows belonging to ex-president Marc Ravalomanana unattended and without food. A court had ordered the closure of AAA, an agribusiness owned by Ravalomanana, over violation of certain standards. Last week the company's gates were sealed, preventing workers from entering the farm to feed the cattle. Two cows reportedly died, triggering the US embassy's fury. On Friday the US embassy posted...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
Joseph Ralaiharo has lived cut off from society in a remote village in central Madagascar for more than half a century. His battle with leprosy, an infection that causes unsightly sores, nerve damage as well as eye and respiratory problems, has left him shunned by society. "I can't go home anymore because nobody wants to see me," said 65-year-old Ralaiharo. "We can no longer go to wells to collect water, or into the fields. Even our own land has been...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
A thousand artists from over 50 countries will gather in Ivory Coast on Saturday for a week-long festival of African music, theatre, dance, comedy, slam poetry and storytelling. The 10th edition of the biannual Market for African Performing Arts, known by its French initials as MASA, will mark the 25th anniversary of the event. This year's crop of artists come from all over Africa and the African diaspora in Japan, Haiti and Canada, performing in the economic capital Abidjan and...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
Madagascar's authorities said Wednesday they had arrested a suspected poacher after 12 lemurs, a highly endangered species, were found dead. The bodies of the rare primates were found on February 28 in the forest of Antavolobe Iaroka, in the eastern district of Andasibe. "We have placed in custody one person who was arrested and have identified the hideout of two other hunters," Environment Minister Johanita Ndahimananjara told a press conference in Antananarivo, the capital. Lemurs "aren't just tourist objects or factors in the equilibrium of our ecosystem, they are animals which contribute to the preservation of our forest," Ndahimananjara said, speaking ahead of a meeting on how to combat poaching of the animals.
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)
About 224 million people are suffering from malnutrition across Africa as climate change and conflicts heighten food insecurity across the continent, a top UN food agency official said Monday. The official, speaking at a conference on Africa organised by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the situation was a "cause of concern" as the continent's population was expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. "Under-nourishment appears to have increased from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The African Union's chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing on Thursday a French newspaper report alleging that China had spied on the continental body as "lies" intended to derail cooperation. The report published by Le Monde in January claimed technicians at the AU's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources. "I don't see it is in the...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
The World Health Organization chief Wednesday said a deadly plague epidemic appeared to have been brought under control in Madagascar, but warned the next outbreak would likely be stronger. "The next transmission could be more pronounced or stronger," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva, insisting that "the issue is serious." An outbreak of both bubonic plague, which is spread by infected rats via flea bites, and pneumonic plague, spread person to person, has killed more than 200...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Israel began warning thousands of African migrants Sunday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse. On January 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 migrants who had entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese. The controversial plan gives them until the end of next month to leave voluntarily or face jail and eventual expulsion. Immigration authority spokeswoman...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Megastar Rihanna vowed she would "never stop fighting" to get millions of children back in school on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron promised a major boost in foreign aid for education in developing nations. Macron co-hosted a conference in Dakar organised by the Global Partnership for Education with Senegalese President Macky Sall, while Rihanna attended as the organisation's global ambassador. "We have made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done, we have a long way...
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
Rihanna on Thursday used her star power to urge key governments to commit to ensuring education for the world's poorest as she takes part in an international conference in Senegal. The chart-topping singer arrived in the capital Dakar where she on Friday will join the Global Partnership for Education talks co-hosted by Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron. Rihanna, the fourth most followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers, took to social media to urge Macron,...
(AFP (eng) 01/29/18)
President Donald Trump said the United States "deeply respects" Africans and will dispatch its top diplomat to the continent, in a letter to African leaders seen by AFP on Sunday. The letter sent last week comes after Trump provoked a firestorm of indignation among African nations earlier in January when he reportedly called them "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers in Washington. While Trump has denied the remarks, they are expected to be formally condemned by the 55 member states of the African Union during their ongoing summit in the Ethiopian capital. "I want to underscore that the United States deeply respects the people of Africa, and my commitment to strong and respectful relationships...
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
Most inhabitants of Madagascar thought the plague was a footnote of medical history until the disease dramatically returned last year, slaying more than 200 people. Fear and anxiety rippled across the Indian Ocean island nation. "People were afraid to come to hospital -- they were afraid of catching the plague," recalled Professor Mamy Randria, head of the infectious diseases service at a hospital in the capital Antananarivo. Randria found himself on the front line of an urban war against the...
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
US President Donald Trump on Friday asked the African Union chairman to pass on his "warmest regards" to other regional leaders at a summit this weekend, after sparking outrage with a reported slur against Africans. Trump met Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where some African business leaders say they are planning to boycott Trump's closing speech later Friday. The outspoken US leader congratulated Kagame on taking over as chair of the 55-nation African bloc, which Trump said was a "great honour". "I know you're going to your first meeting shortly. Please give my warmest regards," Trump told Kagame after they held a one-on-one meeting at the forum.
(AFP (eng) 01/26/18)
The oldest remains of a modern human outside Africa have been dug up in Israel, offering evidence of what genetic studies have already suggested -- that humans migrated out of Africa some 50,000 years earlier than previously thought. Facial fragments, including a jawbone and several teeth, were found at a site called Misliya Cave in Israel, one of several prehistoric cave sites located on Mount Carmel. The bones date to between 174,000 and 188,000 years old, said the report in...
(AFP (eng) 01/22/18)
It's a tale worthy of a John le Carre novel. A French security expert who went to Madagascar to advise the island nation's president but subsequently fell out with his political master was jailed for three years for corruption and abuse of power. But he managed to escape and make a treacherous 15-hour Indian Ocean crossing aboard a wooden paddle boat to the nearby French territory, Mayotte, before flying back to Paris. Houcine Arfa, 54, who gave his guards the...

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