Friday 20 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
The head of Tanzania's main opposition party was charged Tuesday with inciting hatred and rebellion after being arrested alongside five other members of his party, a legal source said. Freeman Mbowe, leader of the Chadema party, was charged over his alleged role in a February 16 protest during which a 22-year-old student who was not taking part was shot dead by a stray bullet from police. Mbowe is being prosecuted on eight charges, according to a source at the Kisutu court in Dar es Salaam, speaking on condition of anonymity. The charges of inciting hatred and rebellion are linked to a speech Mbowe gave during the protest in which he said President John Magufuli would not last long in his...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Four leading opposition and rights figures are being held in Niger prisons following a banned weekend demonstration that turned violent in the capital Niamey, media reports said Tuesday. They were among 23 people arrested after the protest Sunday against new taxes degenerated into clashes between demonstrators and police. Officials of the Collectif d'ONG, an association of grassroots groups that organised the protest, said those in custody had been charged with organising and taking part in a banned march and "abetting damage to public and private property".
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Nearly 5,000 people have fled Burkina Faso's northern frontier region with Mali since January as a result of cross-border jihadist attacks, the International Red Cross said on Tuesday. The exodus from the border province of Soum since September now totals "more than 18,000," it said in a statement. The figure applies to people who have been helped by the Red Cross and Red Crescent to head away from the violence. Many are being given vouchers that can be exchanged for food in local stores. The Red Cross said it was worried for rural communities in the region during the months between June and August, when drought and unrest could imperil the next harvest. According to official figures, 80 jihadist attacks...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/27/18)
GABORONE (Reuters) - Botswana’s Debswana Diamond Mining said on Tuesday production jumped 11 percent to a three year high in 2017 and it expects growth this year as lower taxes in the United States leave consumers with more to spend on luxury goods. Debswana, a joint venture between De Beers and the southern African country’s government, said annual production rose to 22.2 million carats last year. Sales jumped 16 percent, contributing to a 20 percent increase in earnings before interest, tax and amortization. De Beers Executive Vice-President, Diamond Trading, Paul Rowley, said a weaker dollar had boosted diamond sales and he expected global demand for diamonds to rise again this year after rising...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Eight prominent columnists working for Kenya's biggest media group quit Tuesday over what they said was increased meddling by government and a loss of media freedom at its outlets. The columnists include George Kegoro, executive director of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission; Lynne Muthoni Wanyeki, Africa director of the Open Society Foundation; and Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy at Birmingham University. "I resign to protest the growing infringement on media freedom. I resign to show solidarity with the voices that have been silenced. I resign because we must live our beliefs," Cheeseman wrote on Twitter. In a joint statement, the eight highlighted several incidents in recent years that they said pointed to meddling in the independence of the Nation Media...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
In a contentious vote late Monday, Tunisia's parliament voted to end the work of a tribunal tasked with healing the wounds of six decades of dictatorship. After two particularly stormy sessions on Saturday and Monday, Tunisian MPs rejected an extension of the Truth and Dignity Commission's (IVD) mandate, set to end on May 31, parliament said on Twitter. The vote was 68 against, zero votes for and two abstentions. But dozens of MPs, including those of the Islamist Ennahdha party, left parliament before Monday's vote...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
As the Dapchi schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were finally reuniting with their families, Nigeria delivered a small bombshell: it revealed it had begun ceasefire talks with the notorious jihadists. The talks began months ago, according to officials. But, to those desperate for a breakthrough in the bloody insurgency, they also caution that divisions among the militants may well hamper progress toward peace -- and analysts say similar initiatives have foundered in the past. "Government is ever ready to accept the unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group who show strong commitment," President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday when he met the schoolgirls in Abuja, the national capital. "We are ready to rehabilitate and...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Five people were killed when a fire broke out in a camp housing thousands displaced by Boko Haram violence near the Nigerian border with Cameroon, military and civilian sources told AFP. The incident happened on Monday in a camp for around 55,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) in the town of Rann, 175 kilometres (105 miles) east of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, they said. "There was a fire outbreak in the IDP camp... which killed five people, three women and two children," a senior military officer in the town said. Several people suffered burns, dozens of livestock were lost and around 200 makeshift tents were destroyed, the officer said. A civilian guard assisting the military in the town said...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Polls opened in Egypt on Tuesday for the second day of a presidential election incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win easily against a little-known rival. Few voters could be seen at one polling station which opened at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) in Cairo. Authorities have been urging Egyptians to participate in the three-day vote, hoping for a high turnout despite what is seen as a foregone conclusion. Sisi's sole rival is Moussa Mostafa Moussa -- himself a supporter of the president. Other candidates withdrew, were sidelined or detained. Sisi, a former army chief elected in 2014 a year after ousting his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi, urged voters to turn out en masse. The army had ousted Morsi following...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/27/18)
CAIRO (Reuters) - Voting got off to a slow start on the second day of Egypt’s presidential election, which President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to win easily, as authorities urged people to turn out and give the former general a strong mandate. Sisi says he is seeking a second term to repair the economic damage from years of political turmoil, defeat Islamist insurgents and revive Egypt’s role as a pre-eminent Arab power. Critics have slammed the three-day election as a sham; his only opponent is an obscure politician considered a Sisi loyalist. More serious challengers were forced to step down and several opposition politicians called for a boycott of the vote, saying repression had removed credible challengers. But authorities...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
The head of a local militia group and a policeman have been arrested over the shock killing of two UN experts in DR Congo a year ago, officials said on Monday. The two were arrested by troops on Saturday in the village of Bukundo, where the pair were found murdered, the deputy governor of Central Kasai province, Manix Kabuanga, told AFP. The militia chief was named as Vincent Manga, while the policeman was not identified. The two "are currently in the hands of the military judiciary," a source at the military prosecutor's office in Kananga, the provincial capital, said.
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Police in Niger have arrested 23 people after a demonstration against new taxes in one of the world's poorest nations turned violent, the interior minister said Monday. The arrests came after a protest on Sunday, Bazoum Mohamed told AFP, adding that the organisers had defied a ban and then clashed with the police. "They incited (the public) and disrupted public order and were arrested for rebellion for describing the ban as illegal," he said. A radio and television network owned by Ali Idrissa, one of four leading civil society members arrested, was also closed on Sunday.
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Gambian police have arrested a top official in the state intelligence agency over the murder of political activist Solo Sandeng in April 2016, a spokesman said Monday. Sandeng's death in custody sparked a political movement that eventually ousted former leader Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the tiny West African nation with an iron fist for 22 years. More than a dozen former agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) face charges or are already on trial for the United Democratic Party organiser's murder after his arrest at an opposition protest. Police spokesman Superintendent David Kujabie said James Mendy, NIA head of security, was "in police custody and is being investigated in connection with the murder of Solo Sandeng". A security source...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Sierra Leone's electoral body announced on the eve of a presidential run-off on Monday that the vote would be delayed until Saturday after losing days of preparation due to a court order. The country's High Court had earlier lifted an injunction imposed on Saturday that halted the runoff until further notice, after considering a fraud complaint filed by a lawyer linked to the ruling All Peoples' Congress (APC). The National Electoral Commission (NEC) said more time was needed "due to logistical delays resulting from the injunction" and called on voters to cast their ballots "in an environment of peace". Aside from their main legal complaint, the APC further alleged on Sunday that the electoral commission was working with a different...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Five people have been killed in fresh clashes between farmers and nomadic herders in Benue state in central Nigeria, the epicentre of a wave of deadly violence this year over grazing land, police said Monday. "Just yesterday we had a case where two persons were reportedly killed in a village in the Agatu local government area," said Benue State Police Commissioner Fatai Owoseni. Three more people were killed in the region over the weekend, he added. The state lies in Nigeria's so-called Middle Belt that separates the predominantly Muslim north from the largely Christian south. The area has long been a hotbed of ethnic, sectarian and religious tensions between indigenous farming communities, who are mainly Christian, and the nomadic Hausa/Fulani...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Of the many headaches facing the UN mission in DR Congo as its mandate comes up for renewal, few are greater than the ethnic bloodshed and brewing humanitarian crisis in the Kasai region. The sprawling diamond-rich region exploded into violence in September 2016 after soldiers killed a local traditional leader known as the Kamwina Nsapu. Fighting has left more than 3,000 people dead and displaced 1.4 million others, according to the Roman Catholic church. Hunger stalks the region as a result of harvests that have been missed or destroyed. According to the UN Children's Fund, Unicef, 400,000 severely malnourished children are in danger of dying. Reports of killings, arbitrary arrests and kidnapping with ransom demands...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Inside a sprawling former "imperial palace" near Bangui, Russian instructors have set up a camp where they are training soldiers of the Central African Republic (CAR) in using Russian weapons. Since late January, the former home of president Jean-Bedel Bokassa -- who took over in 1966 and later declared himself emperor before being overthrown in 1979 -- has been transformed into a hive of activity. Over the past two months, more than 150 instructors have been brought in, according to a diplomatic source. They are training soldiers to use Russian arms at this 40-hectare (100-acre) site 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the CAR capital. Bloodily divided by ethnic and religious strife between rival armed gangs, the CAR has been subjected...
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Self-testing kits and vending machines distributing prescription drugs are two ways that HIV treatment is being automated to reduce stigma in South Africa, home of the world's biggest HIV epidemic. With 7.1 million people living with HIV in the country, removing human intervention is helping experts target hard-to-reach groups like young men who are often reluctant to queue in public clinics. Students, porters and labourers have flocked to a new HIV self-testing stand outside a supermarket in Hillbrow, a gritty district of central Johannesburg. The project was started in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2015 and expanded last year to include South Africa, which has an 18.9-percent HIV rate among adults.
(Reuters (Eng) 03/27/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African Murray & Roberts (MURJ.J) on Tuesday rejected German investor ATON’s buyout offer, which values the engineering and construction company at nearly $600 million, as “opportunistic” and poor value for shareholders. German investor Lutz Helmig’s ATON, which already owns a third of Murray & Roberts, offered to buy the rest of the company at 15 rand ($1.29) per share — a 56 percent premium to last Thursday’s closing price. However, Murray & Roberts’ independent board said the offer price, in conjunction with the risks presented in execution, was “particularly unattractive” for its shareholders. “It is the independent board’s view, therefore, that the proposed cash offer price of 15 rand per ordinary share is opportunistic and materially...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/27/18)
LONDON (Reuters) - Global oil traders Vitol and Glencore are in talks to financially back Nigerian firms racing to buy assets owned by Brazil’s Petrobras valued at up to $2 billion, several sources familiar with the matter said. Cash is being lined up for purchases of stakes in two major oilfields in the west African country, according to the banking and industry sources. The potential consortiums including Glencore and Vitol offer the local bidders financial backing that would otherwise be hard to secure directly through international banks. For the traders, a deal would guarantee access to high-quality crude oil for many years. They would then be able to syndicate out the debt to banks. Signing up to long-term financing deals...

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