Sunday 21 January 2018
(Reuters (Eng) 01/15/18)
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopian authorities have dropped charges against a senior opposition leader and hundreds of others who had been jailed for involvement in unrest that gripped the country in 2015 and 2016, the country’s attorney general said on Monday. Hundreds have been killed in violence in the Horn of Africa country since protests first erupted in its central Oromiya province over allegations of land grabs. Several dissident politicians have since been jailed having been charged with involvement in terrorism and collusion with the secessionist Oromo Liberation Front, which the government has branded a terrorist group. Facing mounting unrest, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced earlier this month that jailed politicians would be released and those facing trial would have...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
French investigating magistrates have closed a probe into allegations that French soldiers raped children in the Central African Republic while on a peacekeeping mission, judicial sources told AFP on Monday. The magistrates said there was no evidence that members of Operation Sangaris, deployed to keep warring militias apart, had abused children at a camp for people displaced by the fighting in 2013 and 2014, the sources said. The state prosecutor had last year called for the case to be closed. While admitting "it is not certain that no sexual abuse took place", the prosecutor said that "differences" in the testimonies of the children who came forward made it impossible to establish guilt among the troops. No one was ever charged...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
People in Kamanyola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo paralysed the town and faced off against police on Monday, angered by poor security, local sources said. "Residents, mostly angry young people, last night destroyed Kamanyola administrative centre and burned all the files," the administrator of Walungu territory in South Kivu province, Dominique Bofondo, told AFP. The violence erupted after a money-changer was murdered at his home in the town, which lies on the main road linking provincial capital Bukavu and Uvira. Kamanyola came under attack by an armed group last year. By midday Monday, police fired warning shots to disperse demonstrators who were trying to set fire to a police station...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/15/18)
TRIPOLI/TUNIS (Reuters) - Heavy clashes broke out in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday, leaving at least 10 people dead and shutting the airport during what the government said was an attempt to spring militants from a nearby prison. The attack triggered the heaviest fighting in Tripoli for months, undercutting claims by the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to have largely stabilized the city. It also undermines GNA efforts to persuade diplomatic missions to return. Automatic gunfire and artillery rounds could be heard from the city center early in the day and Mitiga airport, which operates all civilian air traffic to and from the capital, said flights had been suspended until further notice. The fighting pitted the Special...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
A gunman was killed in Senegal's southern Casamance region during a shootout at the weekend with soldiers searching for the killers of 14 men in an area known for its illegal logging networks. A military source told AFP on Monday that troops fell upon an armed group in the search area. "There were clashes. We killed one of them," the source said. Senegalese police said Sunday they had arrested 22 people suspected of involvement in the January 6 massacre, which many have blamed on rival criminal outfits who target prized teak and rosewood timber. The arrests were the first in connection with the killings in a region largely separated from the rest of Senegal by The Gambia, and which has...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Catholic bishops in the Central African Republic have appealed to armed groups controlling swathes of the chronically unstable country to stop looting and lay down their arms. Mired in poverty but rich in minerals, the former French colony has been battered by a conflict between rival militias that began in 2013 after then president Francois Bozize was overthrown. The bishops made the appeal during an episcopal conference in the capital Bangui on Sunday. "In the name of God, we ask the armed groups to unconditionally lay down their arms," and "stop all sorts of crimes (including) looting natural resources and causing the dysfunction of the state", they said during mass. The closing ceremony of the conference was attended by President...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Islamist militants Boko Haram on Monday released a new video purporting to show at least 14 of the Chibok schoolgirls whose mass kidnapping nearly four years ago became a symbol of NIgeria's brutal conflict. But despite a concerted global campaign for their release, and talks between the government and the militants, the girls shown in the recording vowed not to return to their parents. The 20-minute-long video is the first since May last year, when another woman who also claimed to be among the 219 seized from the town in Borno state said she wanted to stay. Both videos will compound the suffering of the girls' families and friends but also indicate the extent to which they may have become...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Fierce fighting forced the closure of the Libyan capital's only civilian airport on Monday, officials said, after a militia in charge of security there said it had been attacked. The Facebook page of Mitiga International Airport, in eastern Tripoli, said "flights have been suspended because of fighting that broke out this morning". Al-Radaa, a force loyal to the UN-backed Libyan government and tasked with keeping the facility secure, said in a statement it had come under attack. An armed group "has attacked Mitiga international airport... which is home to a prison where more than 2,500 people are detained for various" reasons, Al-Radaa said on Facebook. Fighters attacked in a bid "to free" some of its members detained there, it added,...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Tanzanian President John Magufuli will not seek to extend presidential terms in the country, his party said Saturday, moving to quash calls from his own party to prolong his rule. Magufuli "informed party members and other Tanzanians that the ongoing debate about increasing the presidential term from five to seven years displeases him," his ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) said in a statement. Such an ammendment was against the party's rules and the constitution of Tanzania, the statement said, adding that Magufuli does not plan to make the change "at any time during his presidency". The announcement came after some members of his party called for Magufuli, who was elected in 2015, to make the change so he could...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Men armed with machetes killed four soldiers in an attack Sunday near the main Kananga airport in Kasai, an opposition stronghold in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo, residents said as tensions returned to the restive region. The assailants attacked the soldiers as they were sleeping in their tent, the sources told AFP, adding that they then set fire to the tent. "An army vehicle arrived not far from my house and I saw four bodies of soldiers that they were transporting as well as another soldier with blood all over his body and wounds," one resident said by telephone. The regional army commander, Brigadier General Marcellin Assoumani Issa Kumba...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Somalia's Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents are increasingly threatening civilians to force them to hand over young children for "indoctrination and military training", Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Monday. The rights watchdog said an aggressive campaign to recruit children had begun in mid-2017, with the jihadists taking reprisals against communities who refuse to cooperate. Hundreds of children have fled their homes to avoid this fate, often alone, it said in a statement. "Al-Shabaab's ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers on Monday repelled an attack in the eastern Beni region by ADF Ugandan Islamist rebels, who are suspected of murdering 14 UN peacekeepers last month. The army had on Saturday announced an offensive against the Allied Democratic Forces, one of a number of armed groups acting in North Kivu and South Kivu -- the two provinces which border Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. "The ADF attacked our position in Muzambay at 4:00 am (0200 GMT)," said army spokesman Captain Mak Hazukay. "Our forces pushed them back after heavy fighting." "The firing started very early while we were still sleeping but stopped around 6:30 am," said Aimee Makinda...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
A diamond thought to be the fifth largest of gem quality ever found has been discovered in Lesotho, miner Gem Diamonds said Monday, and could be worth as much as $40 million. The company unearthed the D-colour stone at the Letseng mine in the landlocked southern African country and described the 910-carat find as of "exceptional quality". "Since Gem Diamonds acquired Letseng in 2006, the mine has produced some of the world's most remarkable diamonds, including the 603 carat Lesotho Promise," Gem Diamonds chief executive Clifford Elphick said in a statement. "However, this exceptional top quality diamond is the largest to be mined to date... This is a landmark discovery." Ben Davis, a mining analyst at Liberum Capital, speculated in...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
The Congolese army on Saturday announced a new operation against armed groups, notably the ADF Ugandan Islamist rebels suspected of murdering 14 UN peacekeepers last month. Army vehicles transported some 300 troops to the operation's headquarters near Beni in the restive eastern province of North Kivu. Tanks and armoured vehicles were also deployed, according to an AFP correspondent, who added that heavy and light weapons fire could be heard. The Democratic Republic of Congo army "has decided to launch an offensive operation against the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) as well as against armed groups in the Beni and (neighbouring) Lubero areas," army General Marcel Mbangu told reporters. "For us this is the last time. We are going to fight until...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Senegalese police said Sunday they have arrested 22 people suspected of involvement in a January 6 massacre of 14 young men in the troubled region of Casamance. The arrests were the first in connection with the killings in a region separated from the rest of Senegal by The Gambia, and which has been the target of an independence campaign for more than 35 years. "Ongoing investigations have opened up useful lines of enquiry leading to the arrest thus far of 22 people, all of Senegalese nationality," a police statement said. A rebel movement in the area has blamed the massacre on a feud in the illegal teak logging industry, ending a period of relative calm in Casamance. Around 20 men...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Tunisia's government on Saturday announced an increase in aid to the needy and improved health care as part of social reforms following a week of unrest triggered by austerity measures. Social Affairs Minister Mohamed Trabelsi told reporters that monthly aid to needy families would rise from 150 dinars (50 euros) to between 180 and 210 dinars (60 and 70 euros). He said reforms which have been in the pipeline for several months would guarantee medical care for all Tunisians, without elaborating, and also provide housing to disadvantaged families. The announcement came after President Beji Caid Essebsi consulted with political parties...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
The first major scalp claimed by Angola's new president Joao Lourenco in his war on corruption and nepotism was that of his predecessor's daughter, who was sacked as head of the state oil company. The next big name linked to former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos was that of his son, Jose Filomeno, who was removed from his post at the top of the African nation's $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. Quick work for a president with barely 100 days on the job. Lourenco's manoeuvering against the nepotistical vestiges of Angola's last president began in earnest in November with the toppling of Isabel dos Santos -- said by Forbes to be Africa's richest woman. The shake-up at the Sonangol oil...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Gabon opposition leader Jean Ping was prevented from taking a flight to France late Saturday by security forces who said he needed to stay over a judicial matter, he told AFP. Ping, a 75-year-old career diplomat, was narrowly defeated by incumbent Ali Bongo in last year's presidential election, a victory that he claims was tainted by electoral fraud. "I was supposed to travel this evening but the security forces prevented me," the former African Union chief said. Ping told AFP he had not been notified of any ban on leaving the country, but said it appeared to be linked to a judicial request that he help with an inquiry in which he has been called as a witness. An official-looking...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Guinea-Bissau's Prime Minister Umaro Sissoco Embalo has submitted his resignation to the president, in a bid to end a two-year political crisis in the poor west African nation. Guinea-Bissau has been in the throes of a power struggle since August 2015, when President Jose Mario Vaz sacked former prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira. Embalo, who became prime minister in December 2016, tendered his resignation to Vaz last week, he told AFP late Saturday. "I am not someone who clings to power. If the president does not trust me, I won't wait to be fired, I will leave," he said. A source at the presidency confirmed the resignation had been submitted. At its latest summit on December 16, the ECOWAS west...
(AFP (eng) 01/15/18)
Tunisians on Sunday marked seven years since the uprising that launched the Arab Spring, with fresh protests and some people expressing pride but others anger over persistent economic problems. The North African country is seen as having had a relatively smooth democratic transition since the January 14, 2011 toppling of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power. But seven years later, anger has risen over new austerity measures after a year of rising prices, with protesters again chanting the 2011 slogans of "Work, Freedom, Dignity". On Sunday, several hundred people took part in rallies in the capital Tunis, responding to calls to demonstrate from a powerful labour union and several political parties. Security was tight as...

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