Friday 20 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
The central African state of Chad is on course for reforms to the presidency after a forum on constitutional change that was boycotted by the opposition. The meeting, which ended late Tuesday, increases the presidential tenure from five to six years, with a maximum of two terms. The current mandate is five years with no limits on re-election. The forum was attended by more than 700 pro-government figures in political parties and religious and social groups. It was launched on March 19 by Chadian President Idriss Deby -- currently serving his fifth term -- who declared that it would "lead to the birth of the Fourth Republic." The opposition refused to take part, describing the proposed changes as a ploy...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
For the first time, Ethiopia has picked a leader from the Oromo ethnic group that drove years of anti-government protests, and analysts say Abiy Ahmed faces a tricky task of reconciliation and reform. The 42-year-old former minister of science and technology will take the reigns of one Africa's fastest growing economies after more than two years of protests and political turmoil that led to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's shock resignation last month. But analysts say Abiy cannot stabilise Ethiopia unless he convinces the country's long-serving ruling coalition to change its authoritarian ways.
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Egyptians were voting on Wednesday in the third day of a presidential election guaranteed to give a second term to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, leaving turnout as the only contest. Voters trickled into polling stations as authorities encouraged them to show up in high numbers. The country's election authority warned it would implement a law fining people who do not vote 500 pounds (about $30), saying that not voting "serves the interests of people who hate the country," state television reported. Sisi won his first term in 2014, a year after the former army chief ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against him. He won that election with 96.9 percent of the vote, against a left-wing candidate. This...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they are investigating an exiled opposition leader who has vowed to stand in December's presidential elections. The announcement late Tuesday coincided with a demand by the UN Security Council that the elections -- viewed as crucial for the stability of the troubled central African state -- be staged with "credibility and inclusivity." Public Prosecutor Flory Kabange Numbune told reporters the authorities had opened a judicial investigation into Moise Katumbi "so that he can answer for his deeds at the appropriate moment." The inquiry focuses on "appropriation of nationality," he said, alleging that Katumbi held Italian nationality in breach of DRC laws that forbid dual citizenship. Katumbi will also face trial in...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
A former Zambian minister and a leading critic of President Edgar Lungu appeared in court on Wednesday to deny charges that he had profited from the proceeds of crime. Chishimba Kambwili has emerged as one of the most prominent voices speaking out against Lungu, who is accused of increasingly authoritarian rule and of cracking down on dissent. Lungu had been due to face an opposition motion of impeachment in parliament on Wednesday but the process was delayed by officials who claimed more time was needed to consider the process. Kambwili, who has been in hospital for undisclosed condition since his arrest on Thursday, appeared in court under heavy police guard. "I understand the charge and plead not guilty," Kambwili told...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
In Egypt's Nile Delta city of Tanta, scene of a bloody church bombing a year ago, there were few indications Tuesday that the country was in the middle of a presidential election. Several banners were strung in the streets and a speaker from a car blared patriotic songs -- but polling stations were almost empty on the second day of a vote incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi looks sure to win. Among those who did come to cast their ballots Fawzia Fahim, a Coptic Christian octogenarian, said security was her motivation in backing Sisi for a second term. "I was determined to vote because without him the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorists would have turned the country into dust," she said,...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
French transport giant Bollore said Tuesday it would seek compensation for work already carried out on a major rail infrastructure project after Benin asked it to withdraw "amicably" in favour of China. Patrice Talon, president of the small West African country, said both the French conglomerate and its local rival Petrolin would be "compensated fairly", without elaborating. Philippe Labonne, deputy CEO of Bollore Transport and Logistics, said the firm should be compensated notably for the some 140 kilometres (85 miles) of rail it has already laid down. "We are a little disappointed not to complete" the project, he said, speaking to AFP on the sidelines of a business forum in the Ivorian business hub Abidjan. The project dates to 2008,...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Moroccan police on Tuesday announced an investigation into a video showing a teenage girl being pinned down, stripped and assaulted in broad daylight after it stirred a wave of anger. In the footage circulated online an assailant kneels on top of the teen touching and hitting her as she struggles in the dusty ground to get free. "Don't you have a sister?" she cries out, as a third person films the assault. Moroccan police announced that they had opened an investigation into the video to "identify the attacker" and "determine where and when this crime took place." Local media outlets called the incident "a scene of rare violence" and "atrocious". The North African nation officially champions a tolerant version of...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Mozambique's three main political parties agreed Tuesday to go ahead with constitutional reforms that will decentralise power as part of efforts to consolidate peace between the government and former rebels. "We have made significant strides," said Margarida Talapa of the ruling Frelimo party after it signed an accord with rebel force-turned-political party Renamo and another opposition party, the Democratic Movement of Mozambique (MDM). She acknowledged, however, that "we could have done more". Hailing a "consensus document," Talapa's counterpart as the head of Renamo's parliamentary group, Ivone Soares...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
A man attacked worshippers with a knife inside a mosque in Sudan's eastern state of Kasala on Tuesday, killing three people and wounding several others, a police officer told AFP. Kasala police chief Yahi Sulayman said it took place when worshippers had gathered for evening prayers in a mosque in Kasala city which borders Eritrea. "Three people have been killed and several wounded," Sulayman said. A medic at a hospital where the wounded were brought said they had been stabbed. Residents said the attacker had tried to address worshippers who refused to listen to him and then started stabbing them. "People in the mosque then retaliated and killed the attacker,"...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Cameroon's newly-appointed Interior Minister Paul Atanga Nji said on Tuesday he was bringing a "message of dialogue" to the restive southwest anglophone region, where the army is fighting separatists. Atanga Nji, himself an anglophone, told state radio he was in the region to "bring a message of dialogue, a responsible dialogue, a dialogue with those who know that Cameroon is one and indivisible". He also said he was there to "convey the thanks of the head of state (Paul Biya) to the administrative authorities and defence forces for the professionalism they have shown during the disturbances". Before his visit to the southwest, Atanga Nji visited the northwest anglophone region in mid-March, where he had called on "violent separatists" to desist...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Ethiopia's ruling coalition on Tuesday elected as leader Abiy Ahmed, from the country's largest ethnic group the Oromo, paving the way for him to become prime minister, state media reported. As leader of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Abiy is set to take over from Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced his resignation last month in a surprise move after over two years of sporadic and often deadly protests against his government. "The EPRDF council has elected Dr. Abiy Ahmed as the leader of the party," the government-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said. Abiy will be the first Oromo prime minister in the 27-year rule of the EPRDF, which has presided over years of rapid economic growth in Africa's second...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
A young woman hangs limp in the arms of men bringing her from the ocean to the sand as part of their lifeguard training in Accra, the capital of Ghana. While restaurants and hotels are bracing for the wave of Easter weekend tourists coming to the white sandy beaches along the Atlantic ocean, about 50 volunteers participated in the Ghana National Aquatic Rescue Unit (GNARU) training. Set up in 2016, the unit prepares for responding to drownings and heart attacks. Without official statistics, it's difficult to know how many people die each year from drowning in Ghana. But the waters of the Gulf of Guinea are strong, the currents deadly -- and many people don't know how to swim. A...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
In Cameroon's port of Douala, corruption, bureaucratic red tape, overpriced services and a growing backlog have combined to put a major drag on cargo trade through central Africa's largest harbour. More than 95 percent of Cameroon's maritime traffic transits through Douala, a sprawling hub that serves as the main gateway for landlocked Chad and Central African Republic. But the procedures for clearing goods are a permanent headache, and very little gets done without greasing palms with extra cash, traders say. "There is high-level corruption at Douala port," says one businessman as he slips a 1,000 CFA franc (1.50 euros) note to the ticket seller at the entrance -- a quarter of the official entry price. Bribes are just one of...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Sexual and ethnic violence are alarmingly on the rise in Democratic Republic of Congo's lawless east, spawning a humanitarian catastrophe with millions forced to flee their homes. At least 13.1 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, including 7.7 million who are severely food insecure, the UN Security Council said last week in a unanimous statement which the Kinshasa government dismisses as a gross exaggeration. As the spat continues with the DR Congo shunning a massive donor conference in Geneva next month aimed at raising $1.7 billion (1.37 billion euros) to tackle the crisis, rapes are increasing in the volatile region. "In 2015, we noticed a noticeable decrease in sexual violence,"...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Mozambique's renewed efforts to solve its spiralling "secret debt" crisis have again collapsed, leaving the country struggling to recover its reputation as one of Africa's potential growth hotspots. Last week, Finance Minister Adriano Maleiane flew to London to present creditors with a long-awaited restructuring plan for the $2.2-billion (1.77 billion euros) debt that Mozambique has defaulted on since last year. Maleiane presented options including a massive write-down, low interest rates until 2023 and a partial swap for a local long-term debt. All his proposals were dismissed by the Global Group of Mozambique Bondholders, which says it represents most of the holders of the Eurobond debt and commercial...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Kenyan Sevens coach Innocent Simiyu has named one debutant in his 13-man squad for next month's Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast. Impala winger Ian Minjire, 25, is one of the two changes to the side that reached the final of the World Rugby Sevens series in Vancouver, Canada earlier this month. Fullback Augustine Lugonzo returns to the team after missing both the Las Vegas and Vancouver sevens series due to personal commitments. Kenya have been drawn against former champions New Zealand, Canada and Zambia in Pool C at the Commonwealth Games, which will be held on April 13-15. Simiyu believes a good performance at the Hong Kong Sevens, which acts as the seventh round of the World Series on...
(AFP (eng) 03/28/18)
Liverpool goal machine Mohamed Salah sat on the bench as Egypt barely created a chance when losing 1-0 to Greece Tuesday on a mixed night for African World Cup hopefuls. Tunisia and Morocco won for the second time during the FIFA international window, but Senegal drew again and Nigeria lost after winning last weekend. Reigning African Footballer of the Year Salah has scored 36 goals in 41 appearance for Liverpool this season -- 11 less than the record held by Ian Rush. But Egypt coach Hector Cuper deemed the striker surplus to requirements in Swiss city Zurich and his decision backfired as the Pharaohs were outplayed. The lone goal came after 29 minutes when Nikos Karelis soared unmarked to nod...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algerian doctors are expanding a pay strike and teachers are resuming one, representatives said on Tuesday, putting pressure on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his prime minister at a time when resources are limited. Medical students and specialist doctors in several hospitals on Tuesday joined a strike by family doctors that has already been weakening health care in Algiers and other major cities for the last four months. Protests over economic grievances are frequent in the OPEC member, but this year’s walkout is the largest since riots in 2011 that followed uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere in the region. The protests come at a time of political uncertainty — Bouteflika, 81, has barely appeared in public since...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/27/18)
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The East African bloc IGAD has said South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar should be released from house arrest in South Africa as soon as possible on condition he renounces violence, amid signs of mounting diplomatic pressure on the Juba government. Machar, who has been held in South Africa since late 2016, should “be allowed to relocate to any country outside the region and not neighboring South Sudan”, read a statement issued after a meeting on Monday of officials from the eight countries in the bloc. IGAD said it had designated officials to decide on a third country. It was unclear why a third country that does not border South Sudan would be preferable to South Africa...

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