Friday 20 April 2018
(Reuters (Eng) 03/22/18)
KIGALI (Reuters) - Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, signaled its opposition to a continental free trade zone, saying it would defend its own businesses and industry. The $3 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people, was accepted by 44 countries on Wednesday, but Nigeria and South Africa, the second-biggest economy, did not sign up, diminishing its impact. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Pretoria would sign up once domestic legal requirements had been satisfied. However, his Nigerian counterpart, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, took a defiantly protectionist stance, saying the economic and security implications of the deal needed further discussion. “We will not agree to anything that will undermine local manufacturers and entrepreneurs, or that may lead to Nigeria becoming...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Kenya's ruling Jubilee Party on Wednesday denied that Cambridge Analytica had stage-managed the victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta in highly disputed and deadly 2017 elections. The British firm at the centre of a scandal over the improper use of Facebook data in US President Donald Trump's election 2016 campaign, has also come under the spotlight in Kenya, where it worked on Kenyatta's campaign last year and in 2013. An expose aired by Channel 4 television in the United Kingdom included hidden camera footage of company managing director Mark Turnbull bragging about their role in Kenya's elections. "(In) the campaign which we ran in 2013 and 2017 for Kenyatta, we have rebranded the entire party twice, written their manifesto, done two...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Wildlife authorities in Zimbabwe shot dead a large crocodile that strayed into the northern town of Hwange and blocked entry to a hospital, an official said Thursday. The crocodile took up position outside the main gate to St Patrick's hospital and charged at anyone trying to enter or leave, creating panic among residents, local media reported. Parks and wildlife authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo confirmed the incident, adding that crocodile attacks were on the rise in recent weeks due to heavy rain. "We received a report on Tuesday from Hwange where a crocodile was seen in the residential area and we had to put it down because it had become a threat to human life," Farawo told AFP. "Because of the...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
A key third party in Sierra Leone announced Wednesday it would not ask supporters to back either contender in a March 27 presidential run-off, after police warned violence has plagued campaigning. With the margin between the opposition Sierra Leone Peoples' Party (SLPP) and ruling All Peoples' Congress (APC) on a knife-edge, tensions are high in the West African nation. The National Grand Coalition (NGC), which took 6.9 percent of votes in the March 7 first round with an issues-focused platform, said it would support neither and had "grave misgivings" about the process. "The message from the overwhelming majority of NGC members and supporters is clear: NGC should not endorse either APC or SLPP or enter into a coalition arrangement with...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Hundreds of angry protesters on Wednesday set fire to a police station in Tunisia's impoverished mining region in a fresh surge of unrest over unemployment and official neglect. Central Tunisia has been hit by demonstrations this year that saw the North African nation's vital phosphate output blocked for several weeks. An AFP correspondent said unemployed youths took to the streets of the town of Mdhilla, close to several mines, clashing with police who fired tear gas.
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
Claudia Cardinale, the Tunis-born Italian movie star, was the guest of honour on Wednesday as Tunisia inaugurated a long-awaited complex to showcase its cultural wealth. The richly equipped City of Culture complex, launched a decade ago but long stalled, incorporates a modern art museum, a 1,800-seat opera, two theatres, a cinema, library and studios to host festivals. "Every Tunisian should be proud of this project, culture is the main tool with which we will fight terrorism," President Beji Caid Essebsi said at the opening ceremony. "Tunisians have to dream and have confidence in themselves." The project was initially launched under president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who was overthrown in a 2011 revolution. Located in central Tunis, the nine-hectare (22-acre)...
(AFP (eng) 03/22/18)
The UN said Thursday it has resumed operations in the town of Rann in northeast Nigeria, just over three weeks after a Boko Haram attack killed three aid workers. "The authorisation by the United Nations for flights to resume to Rann for aid workers was taken on Monday. The first flights went on Tuesday," said UN spokeswoman in Abuja Samantha Newport. "UN aid workers are not authorised to overnight (in Rann) and daily operations are expected to continue until the security conditions are met," she told AFP. Heavily armed Boko Haram fighters attacked a military base in the remote Borno state town next to a camp housing some 55,000 people displaced by the Islamist insurgency. Eight security personnel were killed...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/21/18)
TORONTO/LONDON (Reuters) - Canada’s First Quantum Minerals said on Wednesday that it disputes a 76.5 billion Zambian kwacha ($8.07 billion) bill by Zambia’s tax agency for unpaid duties on imports to its Sentinel mine between January 2012 and December 2017. Zambia has reduced “significant” tax assessments against it in the past, First Quantum said on a conference call. But the company would not speculate on any outcome of a review of the government’s claim, which could take up to six months. The bill comprises $150 million for higher import duties, $2.1 billion in penalties and $5.7 billion in interest, said First Quantum, which owns two copper....
(Reuters (Eng) 03/21/18)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday placed sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil-linked operators it said were substantial sources of revenues for the government, aimed at increasing pressure on President Salva Kiir to end the country’s conflict. “By placing these entities on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List, the United States will impose a license requirement on all exports, re-exports, and transfers of any U.S.-origin items to those entities,” the State Department said in a statement. Those on the list include government, state-linked and private groups in South Sudan that “are involved in activities that are contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States,”...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Tanzanian police said Wednesday they had arrested a driver and a farmer accused of urging fellow citizens to protest against the increasing authoritarianism of President John Magufuli on social media. A call for nationwide protests on April 26, first launched by an opposition activist, has spread across social media for several weeks, prompting a harsh response from government and even Magufuli himself. "These two people here were inciting others to protest on April 26, saying on social media that there is no freedom, that there is a dictatorship, which is totally false," said police chief...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Boko Haram Islamists who kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in Dapchi, northeast Nigeria, just over a month ago have so far returned 101 of the students to the town, the government said on Wednesday. Information Minister Lai Mohammed said the girls were released "unconditionally". "No money changed hands," he told reporters in the capital, Abuja. He added: "As of now, the number (of girls confirmed to have been released) has increased to 101." One of the missing girls' parents, Kachalla Bukar, said Boko Haram militants shook hands and took pictures with them before leaving.
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
The landmark trial over a failed 2015 coup in Burkina Faso resumed in Ouagadougou Wednesday after being suspended three weeks ago when defence lawyers staged a walkout, an AFP correspondent said. There was a large audience as the hearing opened before a military court which convened at a banqueting hall in Ouaga 2000, an upmarket southern district of the capital. A total of 84 defendants are on trial over a September 2015 attempt to overthrow the transitional government which took power after President Blaise Compaore was ousted a year earlier. Behind the coup was an elite unite of presidential guards loyal to Compaore who took the country's...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Libya is far from ready in political, judicial or security terms to hold free and fair elections as sought by the United Nations. UN special envoy Ghassan Salame has submitted an action plan to stabilise Libya centred on holding legislative and presidential elections this year. However, "for elections to be free and fair, they need to be held in an environment free of coercion, discrimination, or intimidation of voters, candidates, and political parties," HRW said. A 2015 UN-brokered deal that saw the establishment of a Government of National Accord (GNA) was meant to overturn years of chaos...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Forty-four African countries have signed an agreement establishing a free trade area seen as vital to the continent's economic development, the head of the African Union said Wednesday. "The agreement establishing the CFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) was signed by 44 countries," said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission. The creation of a free trade area -- billed as the world's largest -- comes after two years of negotiations, and is one of the AU's flagship projects for greater African integration. However, the agreement will still have to be ratified at a national level, and is only due to come into force in 180 days. The full list of countries which did not sign the agreement is...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Egyptians on Wednesday to vote in next week's election to show they are in charge, a day after he denied any role in excluding his rivals. The incumbent will stand in the March 26-28 vote against a sole candidate whose half-hearted campaign poses no threat, after more heavyweight rivals were sidelined or detained. "I need you because the journey is not over," Sisi told a mostly female audience in a speech. "I need every lady and mother and sister, please, I need the entire world to see us in the street" voting. "Even if they vote 'no'. It's still a big deal and a respectable thing which will be implemented... We should affirm to the...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
On the streets of Cairo's Shubra district, many Coptic Christians -- but not all -- say they will support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in his re-election bid on Monday. Pro-Sisi banners hang overhead in the neighbourhood where many Copts reside, often showing the president standing alongside Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. "There is no other man like him... at the moment," Edward Tawfik, a 60-year-old who runs a coffee shop in the area, told AFP as his customers smoked water pipes and played backgammon. Sisi, who as defence minister led the 2013 overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, was elected in 2014. Many Christians say he rescued the country by ousting Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, following massive...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/21/18)
CAIRO (Reuters) - Teacher Abdelrahman Ali wonders if he will be able to afford diapers for the second child his wife is expecting. He can no longer put meat on the dinner table and has to borrow money from his mother-in-law as hard times bite in Egypt. Ali and other middle class Egyptians - the social backbone of successive governments - are bracing for more hardship after an election next week widely expected to give President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a second term. “With our first pregnancy, we bought all we needed to prepare ... but this time around, we’re leaving it in the hands of God. It’s very difficult,” said Ali, who teaches Arabic at a private school. Sisi’s only...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
The former anti-corruption chief fighting fraud in DR Congo's lucrative eastern mines has been jailed for life by a military court on charges of rebellion and murder, judicial sources told AFP. Abbas Kayonga was arrested by UN peacekeepers in the eastern city of Bukavu on November 5 just days after his dismissal for "grave negligence". Efforts by Congolese troops to arrest him had sparked deadly clashes with his bodyguards, which left six people dead before the UN troops intervened. He appeared at military court in Bukavu a day later alongside around 30 others, on charges of rebellion. In a verdict reached Tuesday, the court sentenced him and 13 others to death, with the military prosecutor ordering them transferred to Kinshasa...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
The United Nations Security Council is considering a French-drafted resolution that would task peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo with helping to prepare credible elections. The draft text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, would renew the MONUSCO force's mandate for a year and outline its priorities as the DR Congo heads for historic elections on December 23. The elections in the vast mineral-rich African country are to pave the way for a transfer of power from President Joseph Kabila, who took over from his father after he was assassinated in 2001. Kinshasa authorities have set a date for the vote but Kabila has not clearly stated whether he will step aside, raising fears that the country...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Ghana and the United States are working to forge closer ties between their armed forces but both countries denied that involved setting up military bases in the West African nation. News reports in Ghana on Tuesday cited leaked documents from a recent cabinet meeting that formed the basis of a request to parliament to approve an agreement between the two governments. Ministers reportedly backed a proposal to allow the US military access to and the use of facilities in Ghana. There have long been rumours in Ghana that the United States wants to establish a base in the country as part of its military operations in Africa. But Ghana's defence minister Dominic Nitiwul said there were currently no more than...

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