Friday 20 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
A government official was killed and a district administrator wounded Thursday in an ambush blamed on anglophone separatists in western Cameroon, a human rights activist said. The attack hit a convoy carrying a government official responsible for land ownership issues in part of the Southwest, who was killed. The area's prefect survived the attack but was injured, the activist said. The report was confirmed by sources in the security services, but the government in Yaounde would neither confirm nor deny it. Unrest blamed on armed separatists has increased in recent weeks in the Northwest and the Southwest, two English-speaking territories that became part of the mainly French-speaking country...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Zambia's main opposition party has filed a motion to impeach President Edgar Lungu for violating the constitution, the presidency said Friday, in the latest development following a disputed 2016 election. The impeachment motion will be put before parliament on March 28 by the United Party for National Development (UPND). Although it could win support from some members of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), such as former minister Chishimba Kambwili, a leading Lungu critic who was arrested on Thursday, it looked set to be easily defeated. For an impeachment motion to succeed, the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in parliament. The UPND has 58 of the 167 lawmakers. "They do not have the numbers and the motion will not go anywhere,"...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari received the released Dapchi girls on Friday in a meeting clouded by the absence of a Christian student still held by Boko Haram for refusing to convert to Islam. "We entered into negotiation solely to make sure that no single girl was hurt. This strategy paid off as the girls are being released without any incident," Buhari said to reporters at the presidential villa in Abuja. The girls, dressed in brightly coloured hijabs, enthusiastically sang the national anthem before posing for photos with Buhari outside in a garden. Describing the release of the 107 youngsters -- 105 schoolgirls and a younger boy and girl -- as a "cheery and hearty" development, Buhari pledged to recover "every...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
UN peacekeepers have found eight decomposing bodies in a village in the volatile Ituri province of northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the agency told AFP on Friday. A local official said the eight had been killed during a March 12-13 attack on Djugu area in which at least 30 people were killed by assailants using guns, machetes and arrows. "MONUSCU peacekeepers found eight lifeless, decomposing bodies in a village in the Djugu area yesterday," said Guy Karema, a spokesman for the UN mission who is based in Bunia, capital of the Ituri region which has been blighted by ethnic strife. The discovery was made after the peacekeepers were tipped off by a group of people who said they themselves had...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
The World Bank will provide Ivory Coast $1 billion for development, in particular to help it get more value out of its agricultural exports, a top official for the bank's Africa region has said. Of that figure, $300 million would be set aside for the cocoa industry while another $200 million would be ploughed into cashew nut production, said Makhtar Diop, vice president of the World Bank's Africa region. Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa-producing nation and the second largest producer of raw cashews. It currently exports most of these products raw, meaning it forgoes the jobs and revenue from processing them into products consumers eat. The funds, loans with advantageous terms, will be transferred in the first half...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Mali's Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga landed in the restive town of Kidal on Friday, representing the first such visit since 2014 to an area that remains in the hands of former rebels. Five French soldiers were wounded in Kidal on Thursday in an attack that France's defence minister said was likely linked to Maiga's visit. The prime minister touched down at 10:00 am (1000 GMT) at a UN base after a day-long delay due to bad weather, where he was greeted by the head of the world body's mission in the country, Mahamat Saleh Annadif. Appointed in December, Maiga was charged with bolstering security as jihadists mount near-weekly attacks on security forces, raising safety fears ahead of the presidential...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
The vice-president of Mauritius assumed temporary power on Friday a week after the resignation of President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim over allegations of a credit card scandal. A statement from the presidency said Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory had assumed the functions of the president on 23 March. He will hold the position until he is either confirmed by parliament or someone else is appointed. Gurib-Fakim, Africa's only female head of state, submitted her resignation in the "national interest" following accusations that she used a bank card provided by an NGO to make personal purchases, including jewellery and luxury goods worth at least 25,000 euros. In a statement as she handed over power on Friday, Gurib-Fakim said she had "a heavy heart" but insisted...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Tunisia to extend the mandate of a commission set up to examine human rights violations during six decades of dictatorship. The widely-praised Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) was set up following the 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings. Tunisia's parliament is set to vote on Saturday whether to prolong its work. But HRW's Tunisia director, Amna Guellali, accused Tunisian authorities of hampering the commission "by refusing to fully cooperate with it and by adopting a controversial law on administrative reconciliation."
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
What's left of the Nanduadua mosque lies deep within a labyrinth of alleyways in Mocimboa da Praia, a port town in Mozambique's far north. A handful of veiled women hurry past the one-time place of worship, which is now reduced to rubble. "It was the mosque of criminals," local resident Ussene Amisse told AFP. "The mosque of those with hearts of stone." The Mozambique government ordered it to be levelled in October after a bloody attack blamed on radicalised Muslim youth who allegedly worshipped at the mosque. The apparent jihadist attack -- the first of its type in the country -- sent a shockwave through Mozambique, which emerged from its long civil war in 1992. The strike targeted a nearby...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised on Friday to free the remaining Christian schoolgirl still held by Boko Haram, as he prepared to meet the other Dapchi students released by the Islamist militants. Buhari is to meet the girls in Abuja later on Friday, after which they will undergo medical checks and counselling similar to that given to other former captives released by Boko Haram. A total of 104 of the 110 students seized from the school in Dapchi, in the northeastern state of Yobe, on February 19 were dropped off by the jihadists on Wednesday morning. Five other girls died on the day they were abducted, while the last one...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
A top UN official on Thursday urged Liberia to implement the recommendations of a truth commission, dating back to 2009, which included prosecuting eight ex-warlords for alleged crimes against humanity. "Liberia is at a turning point", Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a conference in Monrovia, adding that a lasting peace "will only be possible if we ensure full and true reconciliation." She said it was "critical to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and for the legislature to pass key bills that will support local inclusion and reconciliation." She warned that peace would "remain fragile as long as people feel excluded from the economic...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Gambian prosecutors have charged eight former spies with conspiracy to murder in the case of an activist whose death in custody sparked a political movement that ousted former leader Yahya Jammeh. Eight agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) were charged on Wednesday with conspiracy to commit murder and accessory to the facts of murder, police spokesman David Kujabie told AFP on Thursday. The alleged torture and killing of United Democratic Party (UDP) organiser Solo Sandeng in April 2016 sparked rare protests in the small West African, and encouraged a weak and split political opposition to unite behind a single flagbearer. That flagbearer, then unknown businessman Adama Barrow, beat Jammeh in December 2016...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Sierra Leone's police on Thursday dismissed accusations by the election commission that officers were disrupting its activities ahead of a March 27 presidential run-off, bringing the force's impartiality into question. Tensions are high ahead of the vote with a campaign marked by violent attacks and intimidation against politicians and supporters, along with an increase in inflammatory tribal rhetoric. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) said in a statement late Wednesday the police had "unwarrantedly entered NEC premises, unannounced and at random, interrogated NEC staff; and obstructed them from performing their duties." Their actions "served to intimidate some staff", it added. The police responded on Thursday by pointing out it was investigating 200 election-related crimes nationwide, some involving NEC staff. A spokesman...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Gambian environmental activists on Thursday removed a pipe dumping waste from a Chinese animal feed factory directly into the sea after months of complaints that it was a health hazard. The residents of Gunjur, a Gambian village an hour south of the capital Banjul, have complained that toxic waste has killed fish and affected the health of their community since the Golden Lead factory opened in September 2016. "We got the National Environment Agency (NEA) involved in the issue," explained former minister Amadou Scattred Janneh, who led the protesters. "They were instructed by the NEA to remove the pipe, and they have not done so for the past eight months," he added. "The community of Gunjur gave the Golden Lead...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Liberia's president George Weah on Thursday denied breaking the law by firing the head of a government agency overseeing the mining and forestry sectors. The mining of iron ore and production of latex to make rubber constitute the bulk of Liberia's exports, and are rare sources of tax revenue for the poor West African nation. Campaign group Global Witness has said that the replacement of Konah Karmo as Head of the autonomous Secretariat at the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) was illegal. But Weah defended his decision telling journalists "everyone works at the will and pleasure of the president, and the president decides who is capable". "I have not broken any law, I am making appointments, those names I...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
South Africa's government was facing growing questions on Thursday over who should foot the legal bills of former president Jacob Zuma as he fights numerous allegations of corruption. His successor President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared to endorse underwriting the mounting legal court costs of his erstwhile political master. "The acts on the basis of which it is alleged that the former President committed criminal offences took place during his tenure as a government official both at provincial and later at national level," wrote Ramaphosa in a letter to the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party. Ramaphosa added that the government had forced Zuma to agree to pay back the legal aid if he was found to have "acted in his personal...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
South African internet and entertainment group Naspers on Friday raised $9.8 billion (7.8 billion euros) selling two percent of its hugely-profitable stake in Chinese technology giant Tencent. Naspers' investment in Tencent has been "one of the greatest venture-capital investments ever", according to Bloomberg News. It said the stake in Tencent that Naspers bought for $32 million in 2001 was valued at $175 billion on Thursday. Naspers, Tencent's biggest investor, vowed to not sell any more shares for three years. "These funds will be utilised to reinforce Naspers' balance sheet and invested over time in Naspers' development businesses," the Cape Town-based company said in a statement. Shenzhen-based Tencent has risen rapidly as China embraced the internet, with the company's fortunes boosted...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
In the Egyptian village of Abu Shosha, far south of Cairo, residents hit hard by economic hardships are planning to vote for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in elections starting on Monday. "We only began to feel safe after Sisi" became president and boosted security, said Tarek Mohamed Hafez, a cattle trader in his 40s. Dressed in a striped traditional galabeya gown, he was selling cows at the weekly cattle market in the village, in Qena province 650 kilometres (400 miles) south of the capital. "We didn't have any kind of security," he said, standing amid makeshift shelters held up by wooden sticks to provide shade. "Women couldn't even move to go to a doctor." Hafez was talking about the period...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
As Tunisia prepared this week for a pair of World Cup warm-up games, coach Nabil Maaloul had to juggle languages as he issued instructions on the training field, reflecting how wide the north Africa nation have cast their net. After qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 2006 and drawing two behemoths, England and Belgium, as well as Panama in their group, Tunisian management made a push to strengthen their squad. The result is that, in Russia, a quarter of Maaloul's squad could be players raised in France. The four latest binational recruits don't speak Arabic. This week, Ellyes Skhiri, from French club Montpellier, Mouez Hassen, also based in France with second division Chateauroux, Seif-Eddine Khaoui (Troyes)...
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer rued his team’s missed opportunities for World Cup qualification after their three-run defeat to United Arab Emirates saw them all but drop out of the running for next year’s event. “It’s very painful,” Cremer said of Zimbabwe’s defeat. “We had two bites at getting to the final, and we’ve stumbled at the last hurdle.” With five points, Zimbabwe needed a victory over either West Indies or UAE to reach the World Cup in England and Wales next year. But they lost both games, and now only a miraculous low-scoring tie between Ireland and Afghanistan on Friday will see them through. Their World Cup dreams are effectively over. “We were so hungry (to win),” said Cremer. “The...

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