Friday 20 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/23/18)
Grieving Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was missing as Gabon lost 4-2 on penalties to hosts Thailand on Thursday after a 0-0 draw in a Bangkok tournament semi-final. The 28-year-old recent signing from Borussia Dortmund withdrew from the "Panthers" squad at the last minute after his grandmother died in Spain. In a moving social media tribute, 2015 African Footballer of the Year Aubameyang said: "You gave me so much love, you learned me so many things. "I speak Spanish because of you. I'm proud to be your little son. One last Kiss to tell you goodbye." Gabon also lacked defender Bruno Ecuele Manga and winger Denis Bouanga, who preferred to concentrate on club careers in Europe. The central Africans made a...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
The UN envoy for Libya told the Security Council Wednesday that he is launching a new, final push to bring Libya's rival leaders on board a 2015 political deal that set up a unity government. Ghassan Salame said he believed there was "very little chance" of agreement on amending the deal that established the UN-backed government under Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. "However, starting tomorrow, I shall commence a new, and final attempt to realize the amendments," said Salame, who briefed the council by video-conference from Tripoli. The United Nations has launched a plan to bring stability to Libya through...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
CAIRO (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin accepted an invitation from his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir to visit the North African country, Sudan’s state news agency said on Thursday. Putin, fresh from an election victory granting him his fourth term and extending his leadership of Russia by six years, called Bashir on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations, SUNA said. Bashir congratulated Putin who affirmed his country’s commitment to investing in Sudan’s energy, oil, gas, and gold mining sectors. “The president extended an invitation to the Russian president to visit Sudan and discuss developing relations and building a strategic partnership and Putin accepted the invitation,” SUNA said. It provided no date for the visit. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Benin's President Patrice Talon has asked local firm Petrolin and French giant Bollore to "withdraw" from a major rail infrastructure project to make way for China, in the latest development of the controversial scheme. In an interview published on Thursday in the French magazine Challenges, Talon asked the two companies to "withdraw amicably from the project", which links Benin to Niger to the north, promising they will be "compensated fairly". "A private investor cannot finance the railway we want alone," the head of state was quoted as saying, describing Bollore's offer as "lower-end".
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) - Former Madagascar finance minister Jean Razafindravonona is being held in pre-trial detention over misappropriation of public funds, the country’s anti-graft office said on Thursday. Razafindravonona, who was finance minister from April 2014 to February 2015, was detained on Wednesday. “He is involved in a case of expenses related to fictitious public contracts,” Benjamin Ratovoson, head of the Independent Anti-Corruption Office (Bianco) in the capital, told Reuters. Lawyers for Razafindravonona, who previously served as the director of the budget office in the finance ministry...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram were in Nigeria's capital on Thursday, a day after their surprise release that fuelled rumours about how their freedom was won. 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 Islamist militants on Wednesday morning. The girls -- many of them dressed in matching fawn-coloured long hijabs -- boarded a Nigerian military transport plane from the Borno state capital Maiduguri to Abuja on Wednesday night. In the capital...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
JUBA (Reuters) - U.S. sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil operators will work against efforts to restore peace and stability in the nation, the government said on Thursday. The sanctions, which were announced on Wednesday, will require companies and government bodies to apply for special licenses to do business in the United States, an action designed to increase pressure on President Salva Kiir to end the conflict and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. “These measures are viewed by the Ministry of Petroleum as counterproductive to the shared mission of the Republic of South Sudan’s and the United States’ governments to bring peace and stability to South Sudan,” the ministry said in a statement. It pledged to work with the U.S...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
A U.N. peacekeepers’ camp near Kidal in Mali came under rocket fire on Thursday, the U.N. mission said, shortly before a visit by the prime minister, the first to the northern city by a top government official for four years. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and eight of his ministers are due in Kidal as part of a nine-stop national tour. The city and the province of the same name, the country’s most rebellious, have been under Tuareg control since an uprising in 2012. “I am headed to Kidal,” Maiga said on Twitter before his departure, giving no scheduled arrival time. The West African country, which is mostly desert, is due to hold a presidential election on July 29, but there are...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
At least 14 people died and several others were wounded Thursday when a car packed with explosives blew up in front of a popular Mogadishu hotel, a government spokesman and witnesses said. "There was a heavy blast here and the number of casualties we have is so far 14 killed and a number of others wounded," said Abdiazis Ali Ibrahim, a spokesman for the security ministry. "The toll could be higher," he added. Witnesses said the explosion was caused by a car bomb on one of the capital's busiest streets that was packed with people heading home from work. "The blast was so huge, a vehicle containing explosives went off near a teashop in front of Weheliye hotel, leaving more...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
A former Zambian minister and a leading critic of President Edgar Lungu was arrested in Lusaka on Thursday over allegations of making profits from criminal activity. 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. "He has been charged with 37 counts of being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime and two counts of obtaining pecuniary advantage," Kambwili's lawyer Keith Mweemba told AFP. Mweemba said that Kambwili was detained by police and would appear in court on Friday. Kambwili, a lawmaker from the governing Patriotic...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
A former municipal councillor in Burkina Faso has been abducted in a northern zone bordering Mali which has been repeatedly targeted by jihadists, the security ministry said Thursday. Troops were combing the area after the abduction in Lassa village, Soum province, by "five armed individuals on motorcycles" on Wednesday evening, a statement said. His whereabouts were unknown, the ministry added. A similar incident in April last year saw two civil servants abducted in Ina-Bao, also near the Mali border. Both were later released. In 2015, the Ansar Dine group led by rebel leader Iyad Ag Ghaly kidnapped Australian Kenneth Elliot and his wife Jocelyn in Djibo, a town bordering Mali and Niger. Jocelyn Elliot was released a year later but...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
PARIS (Reuters) - Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy told magistrates that accusations of illicit Libyan funding for his 2007 election campaign were a web of lies that had made his life “hell” and lost him a re-election bid in 2012, Le Figaro newspaper said. The 63-year-old, who held power from 2007 to 2012, was told by investigators after two days of questioning in police custody on Wednesday he was formally suspected of passive corruption, an offense that carries a sentence of up to 10 years in jail. At issue is a murky affair of Libyan spies, arms dealers and allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi provided Sarkozy’s 2007 election campaign with millions of euros shipped to Paris in suitcases...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Mali's Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga made his first visit to the country's troubled north Thursday with a stop due in the city of Kidal, which is still in the hands of former rebels. Just hours before the visit, five French soldiers were wounded in Kidal when their base was attacked, the French army said in Paris, demonstrating the scale of the problem facing troops in the region. Around 4,000 French troops are deployed under Operation Barkhane alongside the United Nations 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Riot police in Ivory Coast on Thursday arrested protestors and fired teargas to prevent an opposition demonstration from going ahead, AFP journalists said. The opposition coalition Together for Democracy and Sovereignty (EDS) called the march to protest against the electoral commission which it accuses of political bias. It comes ahead of senatorial elections on Saturday, with municipal and regional polls due later in 2018 ahead of presidential elections in 2020. Police used tear gas and arrested around a dozen demonstrators who were heading towards the starting point of Thursday's rally in the economic centre Abidjan. After three hours of trying to evade police, the EDS cancelled the rally. EDS spokesman Jean-Gervais Tcheide was arrested while he was being interviewed by...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who succeeded ousted Robert Mugabe in November, has pardoned at least 3,000 prisoners to clear out overpopulated jails, officials said Thursday. The pardon will see the release of all female prisoners except those serving life terms, as well as all disabled and juvenile prisoners. Terminally-ill prisoners and those above the age of 60 who have served a third of their time will also be freed. "The president in terms of the constitution of Zimbabwe has granted amnesty to prisoners," the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) said in a statement.
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
The United States imposed restrictions Wednesday on exports of US technical support to the South Sudanese oil industry, warning that it is fuelling the bloody civil war there. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said exporters will henceforth need a license to export, re-export or transfer US technology or equipment to 15 "South Sudanese oil-related entities." The names of the companies will be added to a US Commerce Department list on Thursday, but South Sudan's oil is largely exploited though joint ventures between state-owned Nilepet and Chinese, Indian and Malaysian firms. A non-governmental watchdog, The Sentry, said that any oil firms on the list using US-made equipment would now find it hard to order spare parts, hampering their operations. "The listed...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
HARARE (Reuters) - A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2 billion deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was “open for business”. Signing the agreement with Cyprus-based Karo Resources, Mines Minister Winston Chitando said work would start in July, with the first output of platinum group metals expected in 2020, aiming to reach 1.4 million ounces annually within three years. It was unclear, however, where all the funding would come from and analysts said the project start date of July looked very ambitious. Located in the Mhondoro-Ngezi platinum belt, west of Harare, where Impala Platinum Holdings has operations, the project will include a coal mine and...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Boarding schools have been shut indefinitely in the northeast Nigerian state most affected by Boko Haram violence, the government has said, in the latest blow to children's education. "All boarding secondary schools in the state, with the exception of those in (the state capital) Maiduguri and (the town of) Biu, will close down with immediate effect until further notice," the Borno state government said. Borno is the spiritual home of Boko Haram Islamists, whose name translates loosely from Hausa as "Western education is forbidden". The high-profile abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Borno state, in April 2014, and 110...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
French ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy blasted what he said was a lack of evidence for corruption charges against him over claims the late Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi funded his 2007 election campaign, in his court statement published Thursday. The day after he was charged in France's most explosive political scandals in decades, the 63-year-old rightwinger said in the statement published by the Figaro newspaper that he had been in "living hell" since the allegations emerged in 2011. Demanding he be treated as a witness rather than a suspect, he urged magistrates to consider "the violence of the injustice" if it was proven...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory. Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara. Council members expressed "their full support" for Koehler's diplomatic efforts to "relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit," said the council president, Dutch Ambassador Karel van Oosterom. However, no date was announced for the resumption of formal talks on ending the dispute. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Koehler, a former German president, in August...

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