Wednesday 25 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
A thousand artists from over 50 countries will gather in Ivory Coast on Saturday for a week-long festival of African music, theatre, dance, comedy, slam poetry and storytelling. The 10th edition of the biannual Market for African Performing Arts, known by its French initials as MASA, will mark the 25th anniversary of the event. This year's crop of artists come from all over Africa and the African diaspora in Japan, Haiti and Canada, performing in the economic capital Abidjan and five other cities, the organisers said. Artists include Ivorian jazz fusion drummer Paco Sery, traditionalist Malian singers P-Pentatonique and Cape Verde's Maria de Barros. MASA was launched in 1993 by the International Organisation of La Francophonie, which represents French-speaking countries...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
Sierra Leone's election chief called for patience on Thursday as ballots from its general election are counted, with tensions high after a police raid on an opposition leader's home. More than 3.1 million Sierra Leoneans were eligible to cast their ballots for a new president, parliament and local councils on Wednesday, which passed without incident until polls closed. National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman Mohamed Conteh told media "we value accuracy above speed" speaking in Freetown. "Please be patient and peaceful," he added. The NEC also confirmed one staff member was arrested in Waterloo, around 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Freetown, for pre-marking ballot papers. Partial tallies are expected within 48 hours and complete results within two weeks. The Sierra Leone...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
Counting began on Wednesday in Sierra Leone following a general election, as the residence of an opposition leader was raided by police. Polls closed at 5 pm as expected for the West African nation's 3.1 million voters, who were choosing a new president, parliament and local councils. Partial tallies are expected within 48 hours and complete results within two weeks. President Ernest Bai Koroma, who cannot run again after two consecutive five-year terms, has anointed former foreign minister Samura Kamara as his successor for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). Around 6pm the residence where Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) leader Julius Maada Bio was staying was surrounded by police, who were initially refused entry, they told AFP. After an...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/08/18)
FREETOWN, March 7 - Sierra Leone voters queued for hours in steamy humidity on Wednesday to elect a new leader they hope will bring an end to years of economic crisis caused by the twin shocks of a commodities slump and an Ebola epidemic. President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping aside after his maximum two terms in office, and sixteen candidates are vying to replace him, of whom four are seen as having a realistic chance. Despite the high turnout on a steamy day, voting generally went smoothly before the polls closed and the counting process began. National Election Watch, a coalition of independent election monitors, said in a mid-day report that most polling places opened on time and reported...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
Sierra Leoneans voted Wednesday in a general election to pick a new president, with many craving economic change and a boost to living standards in one of the world's poorest countries. By midday long queues had formed under the boiling sun in the capital, Freetown, as party leaders cast their votes and one party complained of irregularities in the northern provinces. "So far voting has been peaceful and I'm satisfied with the process," said Julius Maada Bio, presidential candidate for the main opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP). "I will only accept a free, fair and credible election," he told journalists at the barracks where the former military leader voted.
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
Francis Kanu's face darkens as he remembers the day of Sierra Leone's deadly mudslide last August, and the months that followed waiting for government assistance that never came. Now is his moment of revenge against the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). He waits quietly in line at the ballot box to deliver his vote for an opposition party. "The way they treated me... that did not go down well with me," he said, echoing a common sentiment in Sierra Leone's Regent community, where more than 400 people were suffocated or crushed in the disaster. The APC is hoping for another five years in power, but pockets of the country are fed up with successive mismanagement of crises including the Ebola...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
Sierra Leoneans voted in a general election on Wednesday to pick a new president in the impoverished West African country scarred by the Ebola crisis and the legacy of a brutal civil war. Dozens of people joined queues at a polling station in the capital Freetown as early as 3 am, four hours before the vote kicked off, amid frustration with the two parties that have alternated since independence. “I’m going to share my vote,” said Harolda Forbes, 27, before casting her ballot for ruling party candidate Samura Kamara as president but the opposition's lineup for parliament in a country still recovering from a horrific 1991-2002 civil war. President Ernest Bai Koroma, who cannot run again...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
Sierra Leone holds a general election on Wednesday to pick a new president in a climate of voter frustration with the two parties that have ruled since independence. More than 3.1 million voters are registered for the polls, which open at 7am (0700 GMT) and close at 6pm (1800 GMT) across the small West African nation. The economy is in a dire state following the 2014-16 Ebola crisis and a commodity price slump that drove away foreign investors, and living conditions are among the poorest in the world. "We are prepared; we are committed to conduct credible elections," said Mohamed Conteh, chief commissioner of the National Election Commission (NEC), adding all electoral materials had now been distributed to polling stations...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/18)
"Sir, we're going to handcuff you," a coast guard from Sao Tome tells a man accused of fishing illegally in the archipelago's waters. But the "fisherman" is really a French navy seaman disguised in a T-shirt, cap and sunglasses -- a member of an unusual multinational training exercise to combat crime in the Gulf of Guinea. Illegal fishing, piracy and hostage-taking haunt the vast bay lying off West Africa, whose coastline runs from Liberia in the west to Gabon in the south. According to the European Union, the Gulf of Guinea is the "worst-affected region" in the world for unauthorised fishing. In 2016, around a third of all catches, a haul worth about 1.5 billion euros ($1.8 billion), were illegal,...
(AFP (eng) 03/06/18)
The ruling party candidate seeking to succeed President Ernest Bai Koroma as Sierra Leone's president claimed Monday he was his boss's "biggest legacy" to the country as election campaigning wrapped up. The ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) held a rally attended by thousands in the northern city of Makeni while the opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP) gathered crowds in its southern stronghold of Bo ahead of Wednesday's general election. APC candidate Samura Kamara told AFP he was the one to carry on Koroma's work after 10 years in power -- though the president has tried to distance himself from accusations his former foreign minister was a personal choice rather than a party decision.
(AFP (eng) 03/06/18)
Down a dirt road that slopes off a bridge, hundreds of men and women waist-deep in the river sift through gravel, separating specks of gold from the sludge. It may be the eve of a general election in Sierra Leone, but those who eke out a living here in Magburaka have few expectations from a new government, whichever party wins. "I have no political party. The politicians don't help me," said Mariatu Bangura, emerging from the brown water to stand barefoot on the bank of the River Rokel in Tonkolili district. As 3.1 million voters select a new president, parliament and councils on Wednesday, it will be just another day of work for this 30-year-old mother of four in this...
(AFP (eng) 03/05/18)
Sierra Leone holds a general election on Wednesday with uncertainty over the impact of new movements vying to break the stranglehold of two parties which have ruled since independence from Britain in 1961. President Ernest Bai Koroma is stepping down after a decade and many feel his anointed successor cannot kickstart the diamond-rich West African nation's economy, devastated after a brutal 1991-2002 civil war fuelled by the so-called "blood diamonds." Former foreign minister Samura Kamara is campaigning as a stability candidate but will not simply follow "his master's voice", the outgoing president told AFP on Saturday. The historic opponent of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) is the Sierra Leone...
(AFP (eng) 03/05/18)
The West African nation of Sierra Leone is among the world's poorest countries despite its significant mineral wealth, and scarred by a brutal civil war and the deadly Ebola virus. Here is some background about the country as it prepares to go to the polls on March 7. - Brutal civil war - Founded by Britain in 1787 for freed slaves evacuated from the Caribbean, Sierra Leone was a British colony until independence in 1961. Thirty years later -- after a series of coups and rife instability -- it was plunged into a devastating civil war notorious for its mutilations, drugged child soldiers, sex slaves and rapes. The 11-year conflict (1991-2002) was launched by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel...
(AFP (eng) 03/05/18)
Sierra Leone elects a new president on March 7 to replace Ernest Bai Koroma who is stepping down after two terms. There are 16 candidates in the fray and here are short profiles of the four most prominent ones: Samura Kamara: All Peoples Congress (APC) Kamara, a career politician and economist by training, is outgoing president Ernest Bai Koroma's hand-picked successor. He served as the country's foreign minister until last year when he stepped down to pursue his bid for the presidency under the flag of the ruling party. During a presidential debate held on February 15, Kamara, 66, offered a political vision that adheres closely to the APC's platform for the last decade. He has told voters the party...
(AFP (eng) 02/26/18)
Sierra Leone goes to the polls on March 7 for a general election that will select a new president, parliament and local councils. With President Ernest Bai Koroma stepping down after a decade in power marred by corruption, an Ebola outbreak and deadly mudslides, what are the main issues facing the West African country's 3.1 million voters? - New parties and old faces - Sierra Leone is dominated by a two-party system comprising the ruling All Peoples Congress party (APC) and opposition Sierra Leone People's Party (SLPP). A new party, the National Grand Coalition (NGC), was formed by its presidential candidate Kandeh Yumkella when he broke away from the SLPP. Although Yumkella is unlikely to win, his charisma and alternative...
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)
About 224 million people are suffering from malnutrition across Africa as climate change and conflicts heighten food insecurity across the continent, a top UN food agency official said Monday. The official, speaking at a conference on Africa organised by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the situation was a "cause of concern" as the continent's population was expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. "Under-nourishment appears to have increased from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between 2015 and 2016," Bukar Tijani, FAO's assistant director general for Africa, said at the regional conference that opened on Monday in Khartoum. "Over the same period, the number of under-nourished rose from 200 million to 224 million in Africa. This...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/16/18)
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Two decades after fleeing Sierra Leone to escape a brutal civil war, former child refugee Euphemia-Ann Sydney-Davies is preparing to meet British royalty at London Fashion Week. The fashion designer will present one of her creations - a three-piece suit made of Ghanaian cloth - next week at an event hosted by Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, at Buckingham Palace. The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, spearheaded by Livia Firth who co-founded sustainability brand consultancy Eco-Age, connects designers and artisans from Britain and many of its former colonies to showcase and champion sustainable fashion. The scheme pairs up-and-coming designers like Sydney-Davies with fashion giants - from Britain’s Stella McCartney to New Zealand’s Karen Walker, and big global brands...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The African Union's chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing on Thursday a French newspaper report alleging that China had spied on the continental body as "lies" intended to derail cooperation. The report published by Le Monde in January claimed technicians at the AU's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources. "I don't see it is in the interest of China to spy," AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said during a visit to Beijing, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss deepening cooperation on a variety of issues, as well as opening a...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
A British court heard testimony of the alleged complicity of a British mining company in police brutality including rape on Tuesday, in an unusual hearing held in Sierra Leone. Hearings in the civil case, brought by 142 claimants seeking damages from Tonkolili Iron Ore Ltd, began this week in Freetown, in what is believed to be the first time the British High Court will be heard overseas. Judge Mark Turner said in a previous hearing in London he wanted to meet the claimants in person. British courts agreed to hear the lawsuit because the iron ore producer was previously a subsidiary of African Minerals Ltd (AML), which was headquartered in London before it went into administration in 2015. The court...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Israel began warning thousands of African migrants Sunday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse. On January 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 migrants who had entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese. The controversial plan gives them until the end of next month to leave voluntarily or face jail and eventual expulsion. Immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP that officials began issuing migrants letters on Sunday advising them that they had 60 days in which to leave the country voluntarily. For now, the notices are being given only to men without families, officials said...

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