Thursday 22 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
Authorities in DR Congo on Wednesday unveiled an electronic voting machine that will be used in key elections this year, despite accusations that the technology could skew the outcome. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) showed off the machine to reporters, saying it was essential for conducting presidential, legislative and local elections due on December 23. "It's not a cheating machine (but) a machine to simplify... (and) reduce costs," said Jean-Pierre Kalamba, CENI's rapporteur. On February 13, CENI chief Corneille Nangaa declared, "Without voting machines, there won't be elections on December 23 2018." Analysts see the elections as crucial for the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a sprawling country entrenched in poverty, corruption...
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
More than a hundred Tanzanian civil society groups raised their voices on Wednesday against "unprecedented" violations of human and democratic rights under the government of President John Magufuli. In a rare act of public solidarity, 105 organisations signed a statement warning of "multiple cases (of rights violations), unprecedented in (Tanzania's) history" involving "attacks, torture and forced disappearances of rights activists, journalists, political leaders and even ordinary citizens". They warned of "tension within the country, involving violations of both the freedom of the press and of expression" and raised fears about the "suffocation of democracy" through "by-elections stained by irregularities, and bloodshed that endangers national peace". Central to their concerns was the attempted murder in September of senior opposition lawmaker Tundu...
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
In global markets the price of cobalt, a mineral used in batteries for high-tech products from iPhones to Tesla electric cars, has nearly tripled to $81,500 a tonne in two years. But in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which produced two-thirds of the global supply of the coveted metal last year, artisanal diggers called "creuseurs" sell their best-quality ore for about $7,000 a tonne, blissfully unaware of how much the global price has rocketed. In Kolwezi, a mining town in...
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
Chad announced Wednesday it had struck a deal with Swiss mining giant Glencore to restructure debt of more than $1 billion from a cash-for-crude-oil loan. The poverty-stricken west African nation's state oil company loaned nearly $1.45 billion (1.18 billion euros) from Glencore in 2014, with the backing of four banks. The loan was to be repaid with crude oil assets, but Chad's economy has since been badly hit by a downturn in the price of oil exports. The two sides...
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
The new freezers at Somalia's only forensic laboratory can store thousands of DNA samples, although for now there are just five. The big hope is that they could be the start of a revolution in how the troubled Horn of Africa country tackles its widespread sexual violence -- provided some daunting hurdles are overcome. The first sample arrived at the start of the year taken on a cotton swab from the underwear of a woman, a rape victim from the...
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
A number of girls missing for several days after a Boko Haram attack on their school in northeast Nigeria have been found, a state government official and a senior military source said. Police said on Wednesday that 111 girls from the state-run boarding school in Dapchi, Yobe state, were unaccounted for following an attack by the jihadists on Monday night. The disappearance sparked fears of a repeat of the 2014 mass kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a similar...
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
Ivorian goalkeeper Ali Badra Sangare made several superb saves to help fourth-place Free State Stars draw 1-1 at leaders Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday in the South African Premiership. Sangare and his team-mates suffered an early setback when Percy Tau, widely regarded as the best Premiership performer of the 2017-2018 season, put the hosts ahead on five minutes. Zimbabwean Khama Billiat and Uruguayan Gaston Sirino combined to create a chance and Tau fired 2016 African champions Sundowns into the lead from...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Two French soldiers were killed and another was hurt Wednesday when their armoured vehicle struck a mine in Mali, the French presidency said. Around 4,000 French troops are deployed in Mali and neighbouring countries to fight jihadist groups that have staged a string of attacks and kidnappings, some targeting Western nationals. The two soldiers were from a cavalry regiment based in Valence, a city in southeastern France, President Emmanuel Macron's office said in a statement, which did not say where...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Nine people appeared in a Benin court Wednesday on charges of selling fake drugs at the start of a landmark trial in a regional campaign against illicit medicines. The suspects, who include executives from major pharmaceutical companies operating in the West African nation, were remanded in custody until March 6 on technical grounds. They are accused of "the sale of falsified medicines, (and) display, possession with a view to selling, commercialisation or sale of falsified medical substances." A tenth defendant,...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Hundreds of African migrants launched a hunger strike to protest Israel's implementation of its controversial policy to expel or indefinitely imprison them, a spokesman for the group said Wednesday. Israel has resolved to expel thousands of Eritreans and Sudanese who entered illegally over the years, giving them an ultimatum to leave or risk being imprisoned indefinitely. As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel is offering to relocate them to an unnamed third country,...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
The European Union is to double its funding for a joint African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region with a 50-million-euro boost, EU sources said Wednesday. The bloc is expected to announce the new money for the G5 Sahel force, grouping Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, at talks in Brussels on Friday which will be attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The move comes as a surge in rebel attacks has underscored the challenge facing the five countries, among the poorest in the world, which are on the frontline of a war against Islamist militants.
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Three militiamen from forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar were killed Wednesday in a car bomb attack in the central Waddan region, a militia spokesman said. The blast -- which was not immediately claimed by any group -- wounded two others at a checkpoint on the road leading to Tripoli, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) to the north, said commander Ahmed al-Mesmari. Jihadists from the Islamic State group remain active in central and southern Libya despite being forced out...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
President Alpha Conde's ruling party won a significant majority in Guinea's first local elections since 2005, near-complete results showed on Wednesday, although the main opposition party took the capital, Conakry. The election held on February 4 was the first of its kind since the end of military dictatorship, and followed eight years of delays blamed on lack of funds, political infighting and the 2013-16 Ebola crisis. Conde's Rally for the Guinean People (RPG) took 1.35 million votes, electing 3,284 councillors...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Fears grew in northeast Nigeria on Wednesday about the fate of potentially scores of girls who have not been seen since a Boko Haram attack on their school two days ago. Militants stormed the Government Girls Science Secondary School in Dapchi, Yobe state, on Monday evening. Locals initially said the girls and their teachers fled the attack. The jihadists gained worldwide notoriety in April 2014 when they abducted 276 girls from their school in Chibok, in neighbouring Borno state.
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Thousands of Zimbabweans gathered Tuesday to bid a final farewell to opposition veteran Morgan Tsvangirai who was one of Africa's most admired politicians and lived to see the fall of his political nemesis Robert Mugabe. "We are celebrating a hero," said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party's acting president Nelson Chamisa. Tsvangirai, the country's fiercest opponent of former president Mugabe's tyrannical 37-year rule, died on Wednesday aged 65 at a hospital in South Africa where he had been undergoing treatment for colon cancer. His body was flown to the burial ceremony aboard a military helicopter, accompanied by his mother Mbuya Tsvangirai.
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Zimbabweans marked Robert Mugabe's 94th birthday on Wednesday with an official day off, but without the extravagant cakes and fawning tributes that defined February 21 for much of his 37-year rule. As president, Mugabe typically celebrated with a rambling speech while wearing a suit decorated with images of his own face at a party that included a lavish feast. But following his ousting in November after a brief military takeover, this year's festivities were restrained. Other than a solitary editorial...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Qatar and Chad are to restore diplomatic relations, severed in August soon after the start of a Saudi-led boycott of the emirate, Doha's foreign ministry said Tuesday, Lolwah Al-Khater, Qatar's foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on social media that both countries would return their ambassadors with immediate effect. "Moments ago MOU (memorandum of understanding) was signed between Qatar and Chad; Diplomatic relations to be resumed with immediate exchange of ambassadors," she tweeted. Al-Khater added that the agreement was "a victory for both countries". Chad closed Qatar's embassy in N'Djamena in late August, accusing Doha of seeking to destabilise the landlocked African semi-desert country.
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Liberia's new President George Weah on Tuesday pledged to fight corruption as he spoke about conditions in his "broke country" on the first day of an official visit to Paris. The former international football star who, took office on January 22, is faced with a dire economic situation in Liberia following two civil wars and a deadly Ebola epidemic in 2013-2015. "I inherited a country that is very broke, depleted by political malfeasance. We have to make sure that the...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
Nigeria's aviation authorities said Wednesday they had launched an investigation into how a passenger plane overshot the runway while landing in the southern city of Port Harcourt. The incident involving a Dana Air Boeing MD-83 jet happened at about 7:30 pm (1830 GMT) on Tuesday. None of the 44 passengers and six crew on board was injured. But Sam Adurogboye, of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), told AFP the plane was "badly damaged", adding: "We have launched an investigation."...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
A Boko Haram attack on a girls school in northeast Nigeria has revived fears of another Chibok-style mass kidnapping, even as the government claims the jihadists are on the verge of defeat. Dozens of heavily armed fighters stormed Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state on Monday evening, firing shots and setting off explosives. Students and teachers at the Girls Science Secondary School fled into the bush for safety, fearing the Islamist militants would abduct them. The potential for a repeat of what happened some 275 kilometres (170 miles) away by road in Chibok, in neighbouring Borno state...

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