Sunday 21 January 2018
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will hold elections in four to five months, a newspaper on Thursday quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying, the first time since independence the southern African state will conduct a vote that does not involve Robert Mugabe. The vote, a litmus test of Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials, will be crucial to unlocking badly needed financial assistance and repairing relations with Western powers and international financial institutions. Mnangagwa, a protege of Mugabe, came to power in November after a de-facto military coup when the 93-year-old was forced to resign after the military confined him to his Harare mansion. It was the culmination of a power struggle between Mnangagwa and former first lady Grace Mugabe, who was being groomed...
(AFP (eng) 01/18/18)
Two Americans and two Canadians have been kidnapped and two Nigerian police escorts killed in an ambush in northern Kaduna state, police said Wednesday, in the latest abduction targeting foreigners. State police spokesman Mukhtar Aliyu said "unknown armed men" seized the four North Americans on the road to Abuja at 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Tuesday. "They engaged in a fierce gun battle with the two police escorts attached to the expatriates, who unfortunately lost their lives," he added. No further details were given and Aliyu said "every possible means" were being used to rescue the four abductees and arrest the kidnappers. In Washington, a State Department official referred to the abduction of only one US citizen.
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
KADUNA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Kidnappers have abducted two Americans and two Canadians in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing two police officers, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. Kidnappings are rife in Nigeria, where domestic security is weak, though they overwhelmingly target other Nigerians. However, abductions of foreigners are not uncommon. The foreigners were ambushed by unknown gunmen on their way from the town of Kafanchan in Kaduna state to the capital Abuja, Mukhtar Aliyu, a spokesman for the Kaduna state police, said by telephone. Kafanchan is about 3-1/2 hours’ drive northeast of Abuja. “The two police escorts attached to them engaged the kidnappers in a fierce gun battle, which resulted in the unfortunate death of the two police...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
MASENO, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Armed with a solar-powered water pump for irrigation and a quarter-acre piece of borrowed land, widow Hakima Mohammed has become a Western Kenya tree tycoon. Since 2013, she has sold at least 1.5 million seedling trees, mainly to local small-scale farmers, who are planting them as a way to boost their incomes from wood and fruit sales, particularly in the face of recurring droughts that have shriveled crops. In the process, the 57-year-old has found a way to support herself and her family – and Kenya is getting a hand in its efforts to see at least 10 percent of the country’s land covered in trees by 2030, as part of efforts to rein...
(AFP (eng) 01/18/18)
Privately-owned newspapers went back on sale in Mauritania on Wednesday for the first time in more than a month, after a paper shortage forced them off the shelves and prompted complaints from the national press union. A government-funded printing press covers two-thirds of private publications' costs in the French and Arabic-speaking West African nation, while such media are barred from publishing advertisements from public bodies to raise their own money. On Wednesday, "The Nouakchott Daily" and the weekly Arabic-language "Al-Akhbar" were available in kiosks in the capital, an AFP journalist said. A source at the finance ministry said the government had intervened to help fund new print runs and pay the salaries in arrears of national printing press workers. "It's...
(AFP (eng) 01/18/18)
Congo's government met with members of a key rebel group on Wednesday for the first time since a landmark ceasefire was signed after months of renewed armed conflict in the oil-rich nation. Fighters loyal to ex-rebel chief Frederic Bintsamou -- seen as having disbanded after a 2003 peace deal -- rose up again in April last year in protest at the re-election of President Denis Sassou Nguesso. The fighting in the southern Pool region affected at least 138,000 people and halted district elections in July. It also cut off crucial transport routes between the capital Brazzaville and the main oil port -- worsening an already dire economic situation for the country affected by plunging crude prices. "There's a time to...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s parliament approved on Wednesday an increased military presence in Libya and the deployment of up to 470 troops in Niger to combat migration and the trafficking of people toward Europe, many of whom wash up on Italian shores. At the end of last year, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said he would redeploy some troops to North Africa from Iraq and Afghanistan, requiring parliament to reopen to give its consent, despite having already closed ahead of the March 4 national election. Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (Go Italy!) party, which is in opposition, backed the resolution, while the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement refused its support, saying the measure would prevent whoever wins the election from setting their own foreign...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria’s presidency on Thursday denied that President Muhammadu Buhari had given a radio interview in which he said that he did not know whether he would seek re-election in 2019. Reuters had cited Buhari as saying in the interview that the decision was both personal and also one for all Nigerians. The presidency said the person speaking had not been Buhari, and that Buhari had not given any interviews on Thursday. It was not immediately clear who the interviewee was.
(Reuters (Eng) 01/18/18)
YENAGOA/LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian militants threatened on Wednesday to attack off-shore oil facilities within days, raising fears of a repeat of a 2016 wave of violence that helped push Africa’s biggest economy into recession. The Niger Delta Avengers - the fighters behind many of the 2016 attacks - said they had planned the assaults after giving up on talks to give their impoverished southern region a greater share of the oil revenue it produced. “This round of attacks will be the most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals,” the group said in a statement in its website. It said its targets, in the seas off the swampland delta region, would include the Bonga...
(AFP 01/18/18)
Helen Obiri et Conseslus Kipruto ont été désignés mercredi soir à Nairobi athlètes de l'année 2017 au Kenya après leurs victoires aux Mondiaux de Londres au mois d'août dernier. Helen Obiri, 28 ans, avait gagné le 5000 m en battant au sprint la championne olympique du 10.000 m, l'Ethiopienne Almaz Ayana, remportant ainsi son premier titre mondial en extérieur. Elle a été élue devant la championne du monde du 1500 m Faith Chepngetich. Conseslus Kipruto, champion olympique et du monde en titres du 3000 m steeple, a été désigné athlète de l'année devant le champion du monde du 1500 m Elijah Manangoi et le champion du monde du marathon Geoffrey Kirui. Les lauréats, choisis par les journalistes sportifs kényans, ont...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
It's been seven years since they ousted their longtime dictator in the first of the Arab Spring uprisings, but Tunisians are still taking to the streets. Why, after so long, has the country been unable to tackle its economic problems? Unemployment, corruption and austerity measures in the 2018 budget have fuelled widespread protests as the North African country marked the anniversary of the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. While Tunisia has been praised as a model of democratic transition, post-revolution governments have struggled to improve living standards and tackle pervasive graft. Why the new protests? "Work, bread and national dignity"...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
A Saudi Arabian preacher was shot dead in Guinea's east after organising a prayer service that angered some villagers in the majority-Muslim West African country, local sources said Wednesday. The man, who was a member of a mission building mosques in Upper Guinea, was killed on Tuesday night in the village of Kantebalandougou, between the towns Kankan and Kerouane. He was "shot twice in the chest while riding a motorcycle with a villager on the way to get his car," a security source told AFP. According to a preliminary investigation, the preacher, along with two of his compatriots, had organised "a prayer that was not to the taste of the local population, particularly traditional hunters who then ambushed him," the...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
Two Nigerian civil servants are facing charges for allegedly embezzling funds earmarked for a day to publicise the fight against corruption, a court official told AFP Wednesday. The pair, from the federal ministry of power, works and housing, are accused of diverting 4.5 million naira ($12,500) out of five million naira allocated to mark International Anti-Corruption Day in 2014. Deputy director Mohammed Musa Abimiku and Micah Paman, who was serving as the chairman of the ministry's anti-corruption and transparency unit, appeared in court in Abuja earlier this month. Both pleaded not guilty. Judge Olukayode Adeniyi granted the pair bail on 10 million naira ($27,700) and adjourned the case until February 26. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
Civil servants in Benin walked out on Wednesday, calling for the repeal of a new law banning them from taking industrial action. The three-day strike, called for by seven trade unions representing public sector workers in areas such as health and the justice system, began on Tuesday. Many courts, schools and medical clinics in the country's commercial capital, Cotonou, were deserted as a result, according to AFP reporters in the city. In response, the government attempted to get workers back at their posts but union leaders said the tactic had not worked and the strikers had held firm. Benin's parliament last month approved the controversial law to prevent the military, police, health and justice workers from going on strike. The...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
The United Nations this year will seek more than $1.5 billion to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), an official said Tuesday, warning the country was at a "breaking point". "The size of the crisis in the Congo is really challenging our collective ability to respond", said the UN migration agency's chief envoy to the country, Jean-Philippe Chauzy. The African giant has been plagued by near-relentless instability since independence from Belgium in 1960. Evem so, "no-one was expecting the humanitarian crisis to expand to such an extent last year," Chauzy told reporters in Geneva.
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
A group of Tanzanian Muslims who have been held in prison since 2013 on terror charges stripped naked in an unusual protest to demand the start of their trial, a witness said Wednesday. Some 60 Muslims were detained nearly five years ago following a series of deadly attacks in Arusha, a mainly Christian city in the north, but they have yet to go on trial. A witness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident occurred on Tuesday morning when the group was on its way to court for a procedural hearing. "Of the 60 accused in the bus, 19 got out completely naked, taking everyone by surprise," the witness said. "Security forces immediately led them to an isolation cell...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
Ghana's president, Nana Akufo-Addo, on Wednesday vowed no let-up in security after an investigation was launched into a possible extremist plot in the capital. Three men were charged on Tuesday with possession of explosives after suspected hand grenades were found in the Odorkor area of Accra. Ghana's inspector general of police, David Asante-Apeatu, said officers were looking for "potential allies" of the trio "inside and outside the country". Akufo-Addo told a news conference to mark his first year in power that the extremist threat was "a reality for all of us" and "Ghana, in principle, cannot be exempt as a potential target". Ghana has so far not been attacked but neighbours Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have not been so...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina was freed from jail on Wednesday after the government dropped charges against him as part of a wider prisoner amnesty, state media reported. In his first reported comments after his release, Merera urged the government to hold "honest negotiations" with political organisations to consolidate a national consensus. Merera is the first high-profile dissident to be freed since Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced earlier this month that Ethiopia would release an unspecified number of jailed "politicians." The detention of Merera, chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), had become a cause celebre for members of the Oromo ethnic group. In 2015, they began months of anti-government demonstrations that spread across Ethiopia, leaving hundreds dead...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
Sudanese security agents arrested the leader of the opposition Communist Party on Wednesday after it organised a protest in the capital Khartoum against rising bread prices, its spokesman told AFP. Sporadic protests have erupted in parts of Sudan, including Khartoum, after bread prices more than doubled earlier this month following a jump in the cost of flour. On Tuesday, hundreds of Sudanese demonstrated near the presidential palace in response to a call by the Communist Party. Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters with batons to disperse the crowd. Early on Wednesday, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested the Communist Party's leader, spokesman Ali Saeed said.
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
About 200 protesters marched Wednesday in the Sudanese capital's twin city of Omdurman against rising food prices, with anti-riot police firing tear gas to disperse the rally. Prices of food items but mainly bread have surged in past weeks across Sudan after a jump in the cost of flour due to a shortage of wheat supplies. Sporadic protests have since erupted in parts of Sudan, including Khartoum, with demonstrators coming out onto the streets in their hundreds. "No, no to hunger! No, no to high prices!" protesters shouted as they marched towards a square in central Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum on the west bank of the Nile River. Anti-riot police moved in swiftly to stop their march and...

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