Africanews RSS Receive free and in real-time all news published by, by subscribing to our RSS feeds. Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:33:54 +0000 Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:33:54 +0000 S. Sudan rebels free Kenyan pilots after compensation paid - rebel spokesman Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:33:54 +0000 South Sudanese rebels have released two Kenyan pilots they were holding after receiving compensation for the family of a civilian killed when their plane crashed last month, a rebel spokesman said on Monday. The plane came down in Akobo, in the Greater Upper Nile region in early January, and the rebels asked for compensation for the family of a woman who was killed, and for others who lost livestock. Lam Paul Gabriel, deputy spokesman of the rebel SPLA-IO told Reuters that $107,700 had been paid. “I have just confirmed now that pilots have been released by the local leaders of Akobo after they received a full compensation from the Kenya delegates,” Lam said. “That is not a ransom. It is just a compensation requested not by the SPLA-IO but by the families of the deceased and the owners of the properties. All we did as SPLM-IO is just to facilitate the exchange and provide security for the pilots.” A South Sudan army spokesman declined to comment. A Kenyan foreign ministry spokesman said they would issue a statement. Oil-rich South Sudan has been in the throes of civil war since 2013 months after President Salva Kiir fired his then deputy Riek Machar. The conflict has displaced a third of the population, shut down most of the oil production and strangled the economy. Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 after fierce fighting broke out in Juba, is now being held in South Africa to stop him fomenting trouble, diplomatic and political sources say. REUTERS Nigerian bishop 'backed by pope but rejected by rebel priests' resigns Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:50:14 +0000 A Nigerian bishop whom Pope Francis had fiercely defended has resigned after a five-year, sometimes violent, standoff with rebel priests and faithful who rejected him as an ethnic outsider, the Vatican said on Monday. The case of the Vatican versus the people of the diocese of Ahiara in southwestern Nigeria had become a rare battle of wills that tested the power of papal authority and could set a precedent for future appointments. A Vatican statement said the pope had accepted the resignation of Peter Ebere Okpaleke as bishop of the diocese of Ahiara. It said the position had been declared vacant and that a papal administrator would run it for the time being. Many priests and faithful had refused to swear allegiance to Okpaleke because he is not from Mbaise, a heavily Catholic area in southwestern Nigeria made up of an amalgam of indigenous clans connected by intermarriage. Bishop Okpaleke comes from the neighbouring Anambra state. Okpaleke was appointed bishop by then-pope Benedict in 2012, but the protests prevented him from ever taking over the diocese. His installation ceremony took place in another area of Nigeria because the doors of the Ahiara cathedral were locked so the bishop could not enter. Pope Francis demands obedience The situation came to a head last June when Francis demanded that all priests in the diocese write him a letter within 30 days pledging their obedience to and accepting Okpaleke as their bishop because he was appointed by a pope. Those who did not write such a letter would face suspension from the priesthood, the pope told them at the time. Francis also demanded that the rebellious priests write a letter of apology to Okpaleke. Fides, the Vatican’s missionary news agency, said some 200 priests had written to the pope promising their obedience. But many had also told the pontiff that they had “psychological difficulty in collaborating with the bishop after years of conflict”. On Monday, Fides published excerpts from Okpaleke’s resignation letter, saying he had not been able to take possession of diocese or even live within its territory because of continuing “violent reaction and resistance”. The agency, which is controlled by the Vatican, said the rebellious priests should “reflect on the grave damage inflicted on the Church” through their “unreasonable actions opposing a bishop legitimately appointed by the Supreme Pontiff”. In his resignation letter, Okpaleke said remaining bishop in would not be beneficial to the Church. Kenya football coach Paul Put resigns Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:27:43 +0000 Kenya’s national football coach, Paul Put, has resigned from his position, after just three months in charge of the Harambee Stars. Football Kenya Federation (FKF) released a statement Monday afternoon, saying the Belgian national had resigned citing personal reasons. “Football Kenya Federation wishes to inform the general public that Mr. Paul Put has officially resigned as the Kenya National Football Team, Harambee Stars Head Coach, citing personal reasons…, ‘’ read part of the statement from the FKF. Your thoughts on immediate former Harambee Stars coach Paul Put’s resignation? #JazaStadi— Jaza Stadi (@jaza_stadi) February 19, 2018 Put led the Harambee Stars to victory at the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in December last year and was leading the team in the ongoing 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers. “The tactician’s resignation, though down to personal reasons is a setback to the country’s ongoing 2019 AFCON qualifiers as he was an integral member of the Technical Bench,’‘ FKF Communications and PR manager, Barry Otieno said. Kenya are currently third in Group F of qualifying for AFCON 2019, following a 2-1 loss away to Sierra Leone last June. They are scheduled to face the group’s leaders Ghana in Nairobi in September. Ethiopia is the other team in the group. The federation thanked the 61 year old tactician for his service and announced that Stanley Okumbi will take charge of the national team as the process of finding a suitable replacement ensues. Put has previously coached The Gambia and Burkina Faso. Some media reports have linked him with the Guinea job that recently feel vacant after the coach was fired for a dismal showing at the Championship of African Nations. Daniel Mumbere Millions of Africans suffering from malnutrition as effects of climate change and conflicts bite Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:01:17 +0000 About 224 million people are suffering from malnutrition in Africa as effects of climate change and conflicts bite. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Monday. According to Bukar Tijani, FAO’s Assistant Director General for Africa, the situation was a “cause of concern” as the continent’s population was expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. He was speaking on Monday at a regional conference on Africa in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. “Under-nourishment appears to have increased from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between 2015 and 2016,” he added. The rise in malnutrition and food insecurity was related to climate changes and natural disasters he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum. Tijani singled out Somalia ,South Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR), which he said conflicts in these countries further exacerbated food insecurity. On a positive note, Tijani said Africa’s economy was improving and its food and agriculture market was estimated to reach one trillion dollars by 2030. Hundreds of delegates from across Africa will be attending the five-day conference in Khartoum to discuss efforts to eradicate hunger and food insecurity in Africa. South African police hunt for allies of Zuma extends to China, India and Dubai Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:57:56 +0000 South Africa has widened a corruption probe into allies of ex-president Jacob Zuma to other countries including India, China and Dubai. Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula made the announcement days after South Africa issued an arrest warrant for one of the brothers of the Gupta business family, close associates of scandal-plagued Zuma who was forced to resign on Wednesday. Mbalula told public broadcaster SABC that Ajay Gupta and another four people who are being sought in connection with the case were all out of the country. While there was no indication that they fled the country fearing arrest, Mbalula vowed that they will “be followed up” through Interpol with the possibility of extradition to face trial in South Africa. He refused to name the suspects except for Ajay Gupta who police last week declared a fugitive. Local media reports suggested that Zuma’s son Duduzane, a business associate of the Guptas, is also among those being sought. Eric Oteng At least 17 killed in Mozambique capital as pile of garbage collapses Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:56:59 +0000 At least 17 people died and several others were injured in Mozambique’s capital early on Monday when a 15-metre pile of garbage collapsed due to heavy rain and buried seven houses, officials said. The collapse happened at around 3 a.m. (0100 GMT) in the impoverished Hulene neighbourhood, which is around 10 km (6 miles) from the centre of Maputo. The houses were built illegally and authorities had previously asked the residents to leave, officials said. “Up to now 17 dead bodies were recovered. We fear more might be unaccounted for. So we will keep searching for bodies buried underneath the garbage pile,” a councillor for Ka Mavota Municipal District, Despedida Rita, told reporters. Land pressure in many African cities leads some people to squat on land they do not own as they seek higher wages available in urban centres. The dwellings are sometimes built on land that is marginal or unsafe. AFP French astronaut, Thomas Pesquet preparing for "zero gravity" flight Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:38:54 +0000 Since his return from the International Space Station last year, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet has been training to fly the Airbus “Zero-G” plane, which recreates the weightless conditions of space flight. As he prepares to start his new job he took part in a special flight with members of the public who had paid 6,000 euros per ticket for an out-of-this-world experience. Thomas Pesquet, French Astronaut saying “For me, it is interesting while waiting maybe for the chance to go back into space.It allows me to remain active.It’s still an incredible experience even as a pilot, a lot of people are lucky enough to do this, I am at the crossroad of my life as a pilot of Airbus, and my life as an astronaut now. “ The aircraft, unique in Europe, has been adapted to perform parabolic flights that enables the plane to rise 50 degrees, then making it descend in the same way, to recreate the conditions of weightlessness. These flights, specifically for scientific research, are sometimes open to the general public. Thomas Pesquet, French Astronaut saying “It i s very impressive, ... the nose of the plane goes up a lot and comes down a lot, we do not usually see it in airliners but it is fully mastered. It’s more impressive in the cockpit than inside the plane, inside when you’re floating you do not see all that, but in the cockpit it’s something special. “ After a month on a flight simulator at the Airbus Group training center in Toulouse, he is now in the process of obtaining his qualification. Thomas Pesquet, French Astronaut saying, Here we go! We have started. It brings back a lot of memories. It’s like being on the International Space Station. It doesn’t last long, but we are in freefall. We are in freefall around the earth in the Space Station, today we are in an aeroplane but it’s the same thing. Nothing would stop us , if it were not for the fact that the plane has to go back to normal altitude. At the Space Station this just goes on, but it is the same idea.” Once qualified for this type of flight, Pesquet 39, will take up his duties flying the plane in March 2018 for the next campaign of scientific experiments organized by Novespace. Eric Oteng Ethiopia crisis needs reforms not emergency rule - E.U. warns govt Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:43:56 +0000 The European Union (E.U.) has cautioned Ethiopian government over the decision to impose a state of emergency on the heels of promised political reforms. In a statement released on Monday by E.U. spokesperson, Catherine Ray: “The announced reinstatement of the State of Emergency risks undermining this very objective. “It is therefore of the utmost importance that it should be as limited in time as possible and respectful of human rights and fundamental freedoms, notably those enshrined in the Ethiopian Constitution. Violence should also be avoided,” the statement said. Ethiopians criticize state of emergency #Ethiopia africanews reports— Chika Oduah (chikaoduah) February 19, 2018 Commenting on resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the E.U. averred it it “opens a period of uncertainty in Ethiopia,” adding that “It will be important for the new government to have the full capacity to pursue the positive reforms initiated by the Prime Minister to address the grievances of the population. “Only a constructive dialogue among all stakeholders – authorities, opposition, media, civil society – will allow for a peaceful and durable resolution of the crisis.” Desalegn remains in his post as premier until the ruling EPRDF coalition elects his successor at its next congress. According to Defense Minister Siraj Fegessa, the emergency rule was to curb spreading violence across the country. Defiance strike in Ethiopia’s Amhara region over state of emergency— africanews (@africanews) February 19, 2018 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Tanzania police arrested over death of passer-by during opposition protest Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:30:51 +0000 The death of a 22-year-old female student in Tanzania’s main city of Dar es Salaam has led to the arrest of six police officers. The six are held for their complicity in events leading to the death of Akwilina Akwilline who was killed during an opposition demonstration late last week. The police over the weekend came under fire for her death. Witnesses say she was sitting in a public bus that was passing by during a confrontation between police and protesters. President John Pombe Magufuli has commented on the incident in a tweet issued in Swahili. He said a probe had been ordered into the incident and that the perpetrators will be made to face justice. The death of Ms Akwilline’s has thrust into the public space, the debate about the crackdown on opposition activities in the country. The Catholic Church in a recent message accused the government of threatening the country’s peace by stifling dissent and banning peaceful protests. “Political activities are prohibited by the instrumentalization of the police,” the letter by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Tanzania read. The Church has been accused in recent months by the opposition of remaining silent in the face of “the dictatorial drift” of President Magufuli. “The activities of political parties, such as public gatherings, demonstrations, marches, debates inside premises, which are the right of every citizen, are suspended until the next elections,” the bishops further bemoaned. The Catholic Church was criticized for being silent after the alleged assassination attempt in September 2017 on Tanzanian MP Tundu Lissu, the opposition chief in parliament. Lissu, who is also president of the Bar Association, is currently being hospitalized in Brussels after months of intensive care in Kenya. Although the attack was carried out in broad daylight, in a residential area guarded by the police, no suspect has yet been arrested. The parliamentary party, Chadema, accuses the government of being behind the attack. Nicknamed “Tingatinga” (Bulldozer in Swahili), President Magufuli has made an impression since taking office at the end of 2015, being unyielding in the fight against corruption. But his unconventional and brutal style earned him the reputation of being autocratic and populist by his detractors, while freedom of expression is increasingly reduced in the country. Opposition party meetings banned, newspapers closed, and journalists and artists beaten or threatened with death for criticizing government. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban 'Songbird of Wassoulou's' comeback [Culture on The Morning Call] Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:00:38 +0000 Mogoya, meaning “Today’s People” is the first album in eight years from Malian music sensation, Oumou Sangare. It has taken her, once again to stages around the world to countries as far flung as Australia, Mexico, Japan and various stops across Europe. On the album, she continues her mission to fight for the empowerment of women and this time tackles another taboo subject. DRC's Bakambu could be Africa's most expensive player Mon, 19 Feb 2018 13:20:00 +0000 Could DRC’s Cedric Bakambu be the most expensive player in Africa? He speaks about the digits on his new deal. We have some action from CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup. Plus, sad week for Nigerian football fans; the leading club Kano Pillars has announced the death of their defender Chinedu Udoji, who was involved in a car accident on Sunday. Follow @RazAthman [LIVE] Tsvangirai memorial at Mugabe square, party politics dominate Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:02:09 +0000 A memorial is being held for veteran Zimbabwean opposition chief Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of his burial on Tuesday (February 20) at his home village of Buhera. Thousands of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters clad in red have thronged the Robert Mugabe Square in the capital Harare to pay their respects to the former leader. His mortal remains were returned to Zimbabwe from South Africa where he died at a Johannesburg hospital. The government has said it will give him a state-assisted burial despite being a former Prime Minister of the country. The event has been dominated by intra-party bickering and the presence of his wife, Elizabeth Macheka. His mother had threatened to commit suicide if the widow and new party leader attend the event. Follow our live page for more details as we continue coverage till he is laid to rest. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Malawi cholera cases pass 500, eight people dead Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:14:54 +0000 Cholera cases in Malawi have tripled and four more people have died, the Ministry of Health said on Monday, a month after the spread of the disease from Zambia was thought to have been contained. Ministry of Health spokesman Joshua Malango said the number of cases had increased to 527 from 157 recorded in January, and that deaths had doubled from four to eight. He said new cases continued to emerge in Central and Northern Malawi districts, including the administrative capital, Lilongwe where 10 new cases were recorded at the weekend. “It’s mainly due to drinking of water from contaminated, shallow sources. We’ve intensified chlorine spraying in the localised infection centres,” he said. Responding to cholera cases in Mchitanjiru, Lilongwe, UNICEF and UKinMalawi</a> are collaborating with Government of Malawi in providing alternative safe water sources and promoting hygiene practices in the community. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; UNICEF Malawi (MalawiUNICEF) February 8, 2018 REUTERS Zimbabweans react to death of Tsvangirai [no comment] Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:37:02 +0000 Zimbabweans reacted to the death of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, saying it was a great loss to the country. Tsvangirai died on Wednesday (February 15) after a long battle with cancer, casting his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party into the unknown less than three months after the army ousted long-time ruler Robert Mugabe. Driver killed as Kabila's convoy crashes in Zambia Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:27:18 +0000 An accident involving the motorcade of the Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila killed a Zambian driver over the weekend. Local media portal, Mwebantu, identified the deceased as 35-year-old Andrew Phiri who died after his vehicle collided head on with another vehicle in Kabila’s entourage. The incident is reported to have happened on Sunday morning along Lusaka’s Leopards Hill Road opposite Saudi Arabia and France embassies. Kabila was on a two-day official visit to the neighbouring country. Even though the exact cause of the accident has yet to be established, the driver of the vehicle in Kabila’s escort escaped unhurt. #DRCongo President #Kabila motorcade was involved in road traffic accident in #Lusaka,#Zambia. The motor vehicle carrying the visiting President Kabila was not affected— Mwebantu (@Mwebantu) February 18, 2018 The deceased had sustained varying degrees of injuries including a fractured left leg, arm and multiple cuts on the forehead. He was rushed to University Teaching Hospital where he was later pronounced dead. It is the second such incident involving Kabila, last Tuesday, three soldiers and two civilians were killed and 11 others injured in an accident involving his motorcade back home. Defiance strike in Ethiopia's Amhara region over state of emergency Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:34:47 +0000 The city of Gondar in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara regional state has been hit by a strike days after the declaration of a national state of emergency by the Council of Ministers. Even though it is not known who called for the sit-down strike, reports indicate that the measure has left the city deserted. Shops have not opened and some government offices remain closed. According to a top blogger, Befeqadu Hailu, the city is pressing ahead with the strike despite it being a prohibited act under the state of emergency declared late last week. Minister of defense Siraj Fegessa stated that it will be in place for six months.— Addis Gazetta (@addisgazetta) February 19, 2018 Amhara region along with Oromia were the main centers of spreading anti-government protests that led to the imposition of the last state of emergency in October 2016. The six-month measure eventually run for ten months after the government extended it by four months in April. It was lifted in August 2017 and followed by a series of security headaches. According to government, the latest state of emergency is aimed at curbing rising insecurity across the country following the release of hundreds of political prisoners. Addis Ababa said the move, part of wider reforms, was aimed at fostering national unity. The state of emergency was imposed almost twenty-four hours after the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. He will, however, stay on till the ruling coalition settles on his replacement at their next congress. Ethiopia bans protests, incitive publications under state of emergency— africanews (@africanews) February 19, 2018 Botswana hangs man who murdered girlfriend and son in 2010 Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:38:58 +0000 Botswana has hanged a man for murdering his girlfriend and her son, the first execution in two years by the only southern African nation not to have abolished the death penalty. Joseph Poni Tselayarona, 28, was executed on Saturday after the 2010 murder of his girlfriend and her three-year-old son, the Botswana Prison Service said. As Botswana was executing the convict, over in West Africa, The Gambia was also taking steps towards abolition of the measure. President Adama Barrow during the country’s 53rd Independence anniversary placed a moratorium on the death penalty. “I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as a first step towards abolition,” Barrow said in his Independence Day speech. The last time the country used the measure was in 2012 when exiled leader Yahya Jammeh executed nine prisoners by firing squad. Jammeh fled Gambia in 2017 after a shock electoral defeat in December 2016. An opposition coalition led by Barrow defeated him in a process he described as free and fair only to backtrack and dispute the results citing irregularities. An ECOWAS force had threatened to oust him after failed mediation by the regional bloc. Ethiopia bans protests, incitive publications under state of emergency Mon, 19 Feb 2018 08:18:31 +0000 Ethiopia’s state of emergency (SOE) imposed late last week includes a ban on protests and publications that incite violence, Defence Minister Siraj Fegessa said on Saturday. The SOE measure was made a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his surprise resignation in a televised speech on Thursday. According to him, the resignation was to smoothen the way for further reforms. “Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” Desalegn said in a LIVE television address. According to the state-affiliated FBC: “The decree prohibits preparing, printing and circulating via media writings that could cause disturbance and suspicion among people as well as displaying or publicizing signs which could stir up violence. The decree also allows law enforcement bodies to detain without court warrant any individual who is believed to have orchestrated, led and organized as well as partaken in criminal acts against the constitution and constitutional order. Even though it adds that such persons will be made to “face justice after necessary investigation,” this point is at the heart of claims that the army under the measure undertakes arbitrary arrests and detention of hundreds without recourse to due process. The security forces also have the right to seize materials deemed to be of criminal nature. They could search any houses, areas and vehicles as well as stop, ask and search a person without a court warrant, the Minister noted. Other restrictions include that a road could be blocked, service delivery institutions could be shut down for some times. People could also obliged to remain at or prevent from entering a specified area. The Minister stressed that an expanded version of measures under the rule will be communicated subsequently. The measure was approved by the Council of Ministers and is due to be presented to the legislature for approval in 15 days. Parliament is currently on recess. Ethiopians criticize state of emergency— africanews (@africanews) February 18, 2018 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Gambia suspends death penalty en route to abolition Mon, 19 Feb 2018 07:52:29 +0000 Gambian President Adama Barrow on Sunday announced a moratorium on the death penalty as the West African country rebuilds its international standing following the removal last year of its longtime authoritarian ruler Yahya Jammeh. Capital punishment is on the decline across Africa, where governments executed 22 people in 2016 compared to 43 the previous year, according to Amnesty International. “I will use this opportunity to declare a moratorium on the use of the death penalty in The Gambia, as a first step towards abolition,” Barrow said in a speech to mark the 53rd anniversary of the country’s independence from Great Britain. Jammeh, who fled Gambia a year ago after losing his latest re-election bid, drew international criticism in 2012 when his government abruptly executed nine prisoners by firing squad. Since taking office a year ago, Barrow has tried to repair damage done to Gambia’s reputation by Jammeh’s 23-year rule, which was marked by human rights abuses and spats with foreign governments. Earlier this month, Gambia rejoined the Commonwealth, which Jammeh withdrew from in 2013, calling it a “neo-colonial institution”. REUTERS Ethiopians criticize state of emergency Sun, 18 Feb 2018 20:00:40 +0000 The state of emergency declared by the Ethiopian government on Friday following the resignation of Prime Minister Hailamariam Desalegn will remain in force for six months. This was announced on Saturday by the Minister of Defence who invoked the risk of new “clashes on ethnic lines” and the need to protect constitutional order. But in the streets of Addis Ababa this decision has not been widely accepted. “I do not believe that a state of emergency will bring peace and stability to the country. Peace and stability should flow from negotiations between the people and government,” opined Andualem Melese, a resident of Addis Ababa. Kebede Wondu also a resident of Addis Ababa thinks young people simply want democracy and leadership. “Who will meet their expectations? In my opinion, declaring a state of emergency is not the answer,” he says. “In order to solve the actual problems, the executive council has decreed a state of emergency and it will soon be approved by the House of Representatives of the People. We still don’t know what the state of emergency has in store for us, but we’ll see what happens next,” says Mulushewa Kebede. Ethiopia is in the midst of a political crisis marked by anti-government protests that have been unprecedented for a quarter of a century. The repression of these demonstrations has resulted in at least 940 deaths, according to the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which is linked to the government. Relative calm had only returned with the establishment of a state of emergency between October 2016 and August 2017 and thousands of arrests. Togo crisis talks set to begin on Monday Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:22:29 +0000 The Togolese government and opposition finally decided to convene on Monday for a last resort at dialogue. Discussions supposed to resolve the political crisis that has been going on for six months. Since the advent of multiparty politics in the early 1990s, some 15 dialogues and talks have been held in Lomé, without ever leading to a political transformation. The reform of presidential mandates and the voting system, already provided for in the 2006 Comprehensive Political Agreement, has never been carried out, despite the fact that it was meant to appease a country frustrated by the violence following the election of Faure Gnassingbé. However, on the eve of the opening of the dialogue, suspense remains over the agenda and the stakeholders in the discussions. In recent weeks Faure Gnassingbé‘s party has reiterated in the local media that it would be “out of the question” to discuss the immediate departure of the Head of State or a commitment on his part to leave power. Iran is the world's greatest threat, says Netanyahu Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:15:43 +0000 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel would act against Iran if needed, not just its allies in the Middle East, reiterating that Tehran was the world’s greatest threat. “Israel will not allow Iran’s regime to put a noose of terror around our neck. We will act without hesitation to defend ourselves. And we will act if necessary not just against Iran’s proxies, that are attacking us, but against Iran itself,“Netanyahu said. Addressing the Munich event for the first time, Netanyahu urged the U.S. and European officials gathered to counter Iran immediately. He held up a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone after its incursion into Israeli airspace earlier this month. In response Iran’s Foreign Minister said the shooting down of an Israeli jet after it bombed an Iranian site in Syria had shattered Israel’s “so-called invincibility”. “Israel uses aggression as a policy against its neighbours,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Munich Security Conference, accusing Israel of “mass reprisals against its neighbours and daily incursions into Syria, Lebanon and other countries.” “Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it’s as if a disaster has happened,” Zarif said. Zarif retaliated that Netanyahu’s holding up of what he said was a drone was a “cartoonish circus” that did “not even deserve the dignity of a response.” Meanwhile around 50 people took part in a protest against the Iranian regime organised by the National Council of resistance of Iran on Munich’s Stachus square in close proximity to the conference’s venue, timed to coincide with Zarif’s speech. The Munich Security Conference is marketed as a major global forum that has for the past 5 years brought together world decision makers to engage in an intensive debate on current and future security challenges. Dlamini Zuma denies reports she wants to quit parliament Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:48:33 +0000 Former African Union Commission Chairperson and ANC MP, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Sunday denied reports that she was “tired” and wanted to quit Parliament. Earlier, reports emerged that Dlamini Zuma had told President Cyril Ramaphosa that she wanted to step down as an MP. She is claimed to have cited exhaustion and wanting out of politics as her reasons for deciding to resign, Sunday Times reported. Dlamini Zuma’s representatives Mandown Media in a statement denied what they labelled “false and fake news reports” on her fatigue and resignation from Parliament. “Dlamini Zuma has also noted with displeasure the several fake news stories carried by the publication in the past, some of which have received a sanction against the publication from the Press Ombudsman. “Her appeal is that in conducting its duties the publication should in the least do so in a balanced manner and offer her the right to response at a minimum.” Her representatives added that: “Dlamini Zuma wishes to emphasise that she remains at the service of South Africa as a member of the South African parliament, and no fake news will dissuade her from her duties. Dlamini Zuma remains a loyal member of the ANC collective as a branch, National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Working Committee (NWC) member and no mischievous attempts of wedge driving will persuade her out of the movement she has dedicated all her life to. For the record— Dr Dlamini Zuma (@DlaminiZuma) 18 février 2018 They reiterated that Dlamini Zuma remained “full of energy and was neither resigning nor fatigued”. Eric Oteng Billionaire ups ante on Gupta bounty Sun, 18 Feb 2018 11:09:58 +0000 The stakes for the capture of fugitive Ajay Gupta have been raised with South African billionaire Magda Wierzycka upping the bounty on his head. Early on Saturday morning Wierzycka tweeted that she would match the current bounty “Rand for Rand”. On Thursday after the Hawks announced that Gupta was on the run‚ private forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan announced a R200‚000 reward for his capture. On Saturday he offered another R300‚000 for the location of Gupta’s brothers‚ Atul and Rajesh Gupta‚ and Duduzane Zuma‚ the Guptas’ ally and son of former president Jacob Zuma. The Guptas are said to be protected by an army of heavily armed bodyguards who are reported to continuously move them between safe houses. Wierzycka‚ speaking to TimesLIVE‚ said she was now offering an additional R200‚000 to the first bodyguard‚ who was with Ajay Gupta‚ who alerted the authorities to his whereabouts. “There are people around them who are protecting them. We are wanting to provide incentives to people who know where they are‚ and to people who are actively helping them‚ to do what is right and turn these guys in. “While the chances of the Guptas having caught commercial international flights out of South Africa are a low probability‚ the chances of them having used private means to go to places like Swaziland or Lesotho are high. They may still be stuck there. “This is an appeal to those protecting them and the families of those protecting to them – particularly those of the bodyguards – to do the right thing for the country and turn them in.” She said as well as offering a reward to the bodyguards‚ she was also offering R200‚000 to the first of the accused in the Estina Dairy Farm project case who turned state witness. On Thursday‚ the Guptas’ nephew‚ Varun Gupta‚ along with the family’s allies‚ Nazeem Howa‚ Ashu Chawla‚ Ronica Ragavan and Kamal Vasrum‚ appeared in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and theft and for allegedly contravening the Organised Crime Act and Public Finance Management Act. They appeared alongside their co-accused‚ Free State agriculture department officials Peter Thabethe and‚ Dr Takisi Janki Masiteng‚ and chief of staff of the national mineral resources department Sylvia Dlamini. The eight were caught for allegedly stealing R220-million from the Estina project‚ which was established to help indigent farmers in the Free State towns of Vrede and Warden. The project was the brainchild of former Free State agriculture MEC‚ Mosebenzi Zwane‚ who is the current mining minister. Wierzycka said the R200‚000 she was offering would go to the legal fees of the first of the eight accused who became a state witness against their co-accused. “The accused who turns state witness will definitely need help with their legal fees.” She said in total she was offering R900‚000 in rewards‚ but would potentially raise this amount‚ “as things evolve”. Eric Oteng China tops list of lenders to Kenya Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:29:46 +0000 China was the top country that advanced bilateral loans to Kenya in 2017, latest data from the Treasury shows. China gave Kenya Sh520 billion ($5,202.37 million) for the period ending December 2017. The Treasury data shows that China loans to the Kenyan government have been growing since December 2015 when it advanced the government a total of Sh273 billion ($2,734.72 million). Other major lenders are Japan Sh82.48 billion ($824.81 million), France Sh62.25 billion ($622.52 million), Germany Sh32.46 billion ($324.67 million), and Belgium Sh10 billion ($100.06 million). PUBLIC DEBT In total, foreign countries advanced a total of Sh758 billion ($7.58 billion) to the government during the period under review. The Chinese loan surpassed the International Development Association and International Fund for Agricultural Development facilities for the first time. The multilateral institutions advanced the government Sh518 billion ($5,181.44 million) for the period ending December 2017. “The external public debt stock increased by Sh42.5 billion ($4,253.0 million) from Sh185 billion ($18,504.5 million) on December 2016 to Sh227 billion ($22,757.4 million) by end of December last year,” the Treasury report indicated. IMF The debt stock comprised bilateral debt (33.3 per cent), multilateral debt (35.8 per cent), commercial banks’ (30.1 per cent), and suppliers’ credit (0.7 per cent). This increase was attributed to disbursements made during the period. Other multilateral institutions that advanced huge amounts to the government included Asian Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and other institutions. Collectively, multilateral institutions advanced Sh815 billion ($8.15 billion). Eric Oteng Morgan Tsvangirai's body arrives in Zimbabwe to a rapturous welcome Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:00:53 +0000 Hundreds thronged Zimbabwe’s main airport on Saturday as the body of opposition icon Morgan Tsvangirai, who died of cancer in neighbouring South Africa, arrived home for burial. Tsvangirai, a fearless opponent to the ruling Zanu-PF party, died on Wednesday at the age of 65 after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. The body was taken to a military camp where the bodies of national heroes lie in state before burial. Opposition compatriots earlier held memorial services in the capital Harare and in the second city of Bulawayo to honour Tsvangirai who was often derided by former president Robert Mugabe as “a stooge of the west”. Tsvangirai will be buried on Tuesday in his rural home in Buhera, 250km south of Harare. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. The former trade union stalwart led the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) since its formation in 1999, posing the most formidable challenge to Zanu-PF’s nearly four-decade rule. In 2008, Tsvangirai beat long-time ruler Mugabe in the first round of presidential elections, narrowly came short of garnering enough votes to be declared outright winner. However he then pulled out of the second round of voting, which was marred by violence including the killing of around 200 opposition supporters. Tsvangirai’s death came as tensions over his succession are threatening to tear the MDC apart. Libyans mark seven years post revolution that ousted Gaddafi amid multiple crises Sun, 18 Feb 2018 07:40:45 +0000 Thousands of Libyans on Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the start of protests that ousted former leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In the capital Tripoli, and across many cities in the North African country, thousands packed public squares where the authorities were organising concerts and other festivities. The celebrations were held amid political and economic challenges that the country is facing. Libya descended into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising, with rival militias, tribes and jihadists vying for influence across the oil-rich country. A 2015 UN-backed deal to set up the unity government in Tripoli was meant to end the turmoil. But Libya has remained riven by division between the Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Fayez al-Sarraj and a rival administration backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east. The country is grappling with civil war, humanitarian crises and the threat from militant groups leading some to suggest Gaddafi should not have been removed from power. It has also become a major transit hub for African migrants trying to reach Europe. Speculation rife as Ramaphosa set to purge cabinet Sun, 18 Feb 2018 06:41:51 +0000 South Africa’s newly appointed president Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to conduct his first cabinet reshuffle soon, according to local media reports. The new president delivered his first State of the Nation Address on Friday, where he made it clear that he would be looking to restructure government. He added that a growing and prosperous country was dependent on a strong and functioning state – and even alluded to resizing government departments. Ramaphosa also hinted at scaling down the bloated cabinet, which grew to 76 ministers and deputy ministers under former president Jacob Zuma. The 65-year old, hailed a “new dawn” in South Africa and promised to fight to “turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.” Ramaphosa was sworn in as head of state last Thursday after Zuma reluctantly resigned on orders of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Speculation is rife and media reports suggest that the first ministers to be axed are those linked to the Guptas or those who have underperformed. Now market focus is on whether Ramaphosa would reshuffle the cabinet before budget day on February 21 and replace finance minister Malusi Gigaba. Some analysts say Ramaphosa will have to balance the need to reassure foreign investors and local businesses with the intense popular demand for dramatic measures to address South Africa’s economic challenges. Togolese sculptor promoting African history Sat, 17 Feb 2018 20:54:51 +0000 Tsévié, located in the heart of the forest, about twenty kilometers from the Togolese capital Lomé. This is where a talented Togolese painter Ake O’lokan operates. His passion towards painting is vivid and deeply rooted in all his work that touches on human memories. “ I paint using straw and cow dung. Now I target what people like and I do get quite an audience with good suggestions, with good vision .When I wake up in the morning I do head to the park “Adjitart” I think of what I’m going to work on. Here in the Bush I I can discover more about the leaves which I know the virtues.I am beyond the creation .We speak of the spiritual dimension that creates art,” said Ake O’lokan. AKE O’LOKAN is also a sculptor . In his park there are several unique pieces: traditional masks and sculptors that have traces of human nature or even animals threatened by extinction. It also denounces the phenomenon of illegal immigration symbolized by a canoe . “First of all there is a canoe which speaks of immigration. Everyone wants to go to the west because they are saying that it is Eldorado. It is true. It depends on what we see on the media and what they make us believe. But I do say that when you have a lot of experience you will realise that this is not true. Because the pride of who we are it is ourselves first. When you sell less expensive we will buy less expensive and nobody will respect you,” said Ake O’lokan. Water crisis hits Cape Town, schools resort to ration water Sat, 17 Feb 2018 19:18:28 +0000 South Africa’s most popular tourist city is still battling drought conditions. The City of Cape Town is running out of water. The drought that’s plagued the Western Cape Province has dragged on for three years now. Most dams in the region are down to just about 20% capacity. If dam levels continue to decline, the city’s taps will run dry by June. Day Zero has been moved to the 4th of June, two months later than the 21st of April that was initially when the city was expected to run out of water. There’s been some rainfall. But the City has also implemented level 6B water restrictions, which means that daily consumption per person is down to just 50 litres per day. The City enjoyed a bit of unexpected rain this week. 8mm of rain fell, not nearly enough though for the region to avoid Day Zero. Witness in activists deaths claims life in danger in Senegal Sat, 17 Feb 2018 19:13:25 +0000 A former Congolese policeman, Paul Mwilambwe, a major suspect in the murder of two eminent Human Rights activists has claimed that his life is in danger. The suspect who was indicted by a Senegalese court stays in the country awaiting for further trials in Dakar. Mwilambwe who was a Major General in the Congolese police claimed to have witnessed the murder of the renowned Human Rights activist Floribert Chebeya and Fidèle Bazana. He fled to Senegal and later testified and denounced his own participation in the murder. Mwilambwe will soon be tried in Senegal, where he has been in exile, under a law that permits prosecution of residents for crimes committed elsewhere. But the UN’s investigator for extrajudicial executions, Philip Alston, told the United Nations Human Rights Council that the murder suggests official responsibility,’ U.S. 'strongly disagrees' with Ethiopia state of emergency Sat, 17 Feb 2018 17:06:19 +0000 The United States embassy in Ethiopia said on Saturday it disagreed with the government’s decision to impose a state of emergency to calm political unrest the day after the prime minister’s surprise resignation. The statement came after the council of ministers imposed yet another six months nationwide state of emergency last night, which defence minister Siraj Fegessa, said would include a ban on protests and publications that incite violence. ‘‘We strongly disagree with the Ethiopian government’s decision to impose a state of emergency that includes restrictions on fundamental rights such as assembly and expression,’‘ the statement said. The prime minister’s resignation followed a wave of strikes and demonstrations successfully demanding the release of more opposition leaders. ‘‘We recognise and share concerns expressed by the government about incidents of violence and loss of life, but firmly believe that the answer is greater freedom, not less,’‘ it said. Under a previous state of emergency, declared in October 2016 and lasting 10 months, thousands of Ethiopians were arrested by the military. The current state of emergency has to be approved by the national parliament, which is currently on recess, giving the council 15 days to enforce the emergency rule until parliament reconvenes. The statement urged the government in Ethiopia “to rethink this approach and identify other means to protect lives and property while preserving, and indeed expanding, the space for meaningful dialogue and political participation that can pave the way to a lasting democracy.” Daniel Mumbere University vice chancellor arrested over 'fake' Grace Mugabe PhD Fri, 16 Feb 2018 21:40:29 +0000 Zimbabwean anti-corruption investigators said on Friday they had arrested a university professor over the suspected fraudulent awarding of a doctorate to former first lady Grace Mugabe. Levi Nyagura, the vice chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) following an investigation into the PhD. It emerged that Grace was awarded the degree by the university in 2014 after just months of study. Doctorates typically require several years of full-time research and writing. “Nyagura has been arrested. We cannot have people who award fake degrees,” Goodson Nguni, a ZACC commissioner told AFP over the telephone. The professor will be charged with abuse of office, he said, refusing to say whether Grace also faces arrest. Grace Mugabe’s apparent desire to succeed her 93-year-old husband prompted the army takeover that saw Robert Mugabe ousted from power in November last year. A copy of the 226-page doctoral thesis, titled “The Changing Social Structure and Functions of the Family” was only published last month following public calls for Grace to be stripped of her PhD. Critics had argued that Grace, 52, had not actually studied or undertaken research to earn the doctorate. She was personally capped by then-president Mugabe, who was also the chancellor of the university. AFP Burundians forced to sign up to vote in referendum, opposition says Sat, 17 Feb 2018 14:19:51 +0000 Burundians are being forced to sign up to vote in a May referendum on extending presidential term limits, Burundian opposition figures and residents say, although the government denies the allegations. The constitutional amendment would extend the presidential term to seven years from five, allowing President Pierre Nkurunziza to run again in 2020. It would limit the president to two consecutive seven-year terms, but won’t take into account previous terms, potentially extending his rule to 2034. The deputy chairman of the opposition FRODEBU party, Léonce Ngendakumana, told Reuters on Saturday citizens were being intimidated into signing up to vote in a week-long registration exercise. ”Checkpoints have been set up, likely by youths of the ruling party, to check receipts (of registration). Students who have not been registered are sent back to do so,” Ngendakumana said. “This referendum is organized in total opacity and extreme intimidation. A referendum held in such conditions will result in a biased outcome.” Nkurunziza came to power in 2005 after a peace deal ended a decade of civil war between the Tutsi-dominated army and Hutu rebels, in which 300,000 people were killed. He ran for a third term in 2015, which opponents said violated the terms of the peace deal, sparking clashes resulting in hundreds of deaths. Nearly 430,000 people have fled the tiny East African nation of 10.5 million. Registration Drive A traveller who requested anonymity confirmed to Reuters he had been stopped at a roadblock near the Rwandan border and asked to confirm he had registered. Reuters spoke to people who also reported roadblocks in central Karusi province. Five people in total told Reuters about roadblocks in three different locations. The registration drive also targeted 16-year-olds, since they will be able to vote in the 2020 elections. A memo displayed at the Bururi secondary school in the south of the country said: “Whatever service you are requesting will be conditional on a receipt confirming that you registered (to vote)”. Thérence Ntahiraja, the interior minister’s assistant, told Reuters compulsory registration is illegal. “Enrolment just like voting is a voluntary act. I think the perpetrators of those incidents are over-zealous people,” he said. Two days ago, the minister for interior urged officials to get potential voters to register. “We are asking the administration … if necessary to go door to door to see if all the people of the voting age have registered. Of course they will not force them,” Pascal Ndayiragije said on state radio. The constitutional amendment being voted on in May also changes other government powers. It will replace two vice-presidencies with a prime minister from the majority party, who will be head of the government. Parliament will be able to pass laws with a majority rather than the two-thirds of votes currently needed. The opposition can still nominate a vice president, but he will have no powers. REUTERS Charity groups says over 350 mn kids live in conflict zones Sat, 17 Feb 2018 13:50:17 +0000 More children than ever before are living in conflict areas and are at risk of death and violence, the charity Save the Children said on Thursday (February 15), with Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia the worst countries for young people. In a report, the global charity said at least 357 million children – or one in six worldwide – were living in conflict zones, an increase of 75 percent since the early 1990s. Increased urbanisation, longer-running conflicts and a rise in the number of schools and hospitals being targeted heightened the danger for children, according to Save the Children. Other threats include abduction and sexual violence. “We are seeing a shocking increase in the number of children growing up in areas affected by conflict, and being exposed to the most serious forms of violence imaginable,” Helle Thorning-Schmidt, chief executive of the charity, said in a statement. “Children are suffering things no child ever should; from sexual violence to being used as suicide bombers. Their homes, schools and playgrounds have become battlefields,” added Thorning-Schmidt, the former prime minister of Denmark. United Nations figures show more than 73,000 children have been killed or maimed in 25 conflicts since 2005, the year it started collating such statistics, according to the report. Since 2010, the number of U.N.-verified cases of children being killed and maimed has gone up by almost 300 per cent. Aid agencies say the true figure is likely to be far higher given the difficulties of verifying accounts in conflict zones. Save the Children said the worsening situation for children in conflict zones was due to increased fighting in towns and cities, and the growing use of bombs in densely populated areas. Children are being targeted with more brutal tactics, such as the deployment of youth as suicide bombers and the widespread use of weapons such as barrel bombs, according to the charity. Those in the Middle East are most likely to be living in a conflict zone – two-fifths of children in the region – followed by Africa, with 20 percent living in war-torn areas, it said. “Children in conflict zones around the world are coming under attack at a shocking scale, with parties to conflicts blatantly disregarding international laws,” said Manuel Fontaine, head of emergency programmes at UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency. Reuters Black Panther wins the hearts of African cinema fans Sat, 17 Feb 2018 12:10:30 +0000 Africans can’t get enough of the first Marvel superhero movie with a predominantly black cast. Black Panther has received rave reviews from critics and cinema goers who have flocked to its’s premieres in Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa among others. South Africa hosts Black Panther stars Some of the cast actually flew down to South Africa for the premiere, with Kenyan born actress Lupita Nyong’o, tweeting that ‘the excitement is spellbinding’. A gift to be back in the motherland to bring #BlackPanther here for the South African Premiere. The joy, love and excitement here and worldwide is spellbinding. Something really special is happening! #WakandaForever #BlackPantherSA— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) February 17, 2018 Zimbawean born actress Danai Gurira earlier tweeted about ‘taking Black Panther to the motherland’. En route to South Africa!!! Taking BP to the Motherland! #BlackPanther #WakandaForever— Danai Gurira (@DanaiGurira) February 15, 2018 Nigerians celebrate In Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, film fans, Nollywood stars and comics mingled at the screening of the movie. Most people were dressed in traditional Nigerian robes and gowns, with some opting to wear specially made attire in keeping with the film’s futuristic take on African garments. “Black Panther is a film that celebrates black excellence. Bringing it to Nigeria is especially exciting,” said Bolaji Kekere-Ekun, a 33-year-old filmmaker. “The people who made the film were very specific about the references they used in relationship to Africa. They are pulling from the best fashion and art,” he said. Wakanda Black panther is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells the story of the new king, T‘Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who is challenged by rival factions. The fictional African country is depicted as a verdant land with stunning waterfalls where spacecraft designed like tribal masks soar over a modern metropolis. Directed by black director Ryan Coogler and featuring actors including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong‘o and Forest Whittaker, the film has received widespread critical acclaim after years of criticism about the under-representation of black people in Hollywood. Ugandans claim Wakanda Ugandans who have two actors with roots in the East African country featured in Black Panther, Daniel Kaluuya and Florence Kasumba, have been showing why Wakanda is actually Uganda. When u watch Black Panther…look out for location on globe..Its not a coincidence Wakanda rhymes with Uganda and our guy is called O“Wakabi” and u see Murchison falls and rift valleys and impenetrable forests and mountains of the moon! Come vacation in Wakanda/Uganda.— Chazzy Chaz (@SEEMUGASHA) February 16, 2018 The young one of a Uganda is a Wakanda….after all Wakanda is a fictional East African nation bordering Uganda, might as well be our baby. ?? #BlackPanther #WakandaCameToSlay— Asiimwe Jolly (@asiimwejolly1) February 17, 2018 “As it turns out, the filmmakers, prod. designers, & costumers of Marvel’s #BlackPanther imagined Wakanda as an amalgamation of real African nations, economies, & cultures, including Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, & the Congo.“???????????— Janelle Villadiego (@jdcv_17) February 14, 2018 Oscar-nominated Daniel Kaluuya looking like the king he is in a Kanzu, traditional wear for men in Uganda, at the world premiere of #BlackPanther ?— Dionne Grant (@DionneGrant) January 30, 2018 With some scenes from the movie shot on location from Mountain Rwenzori and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in Southwest Uganda, who can blame them for staking their claim. Daniel Mumbere Ethiopia's state of emergency to last six months Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:48:16 +0000 Ethiopia’s defence minister has told journalists that the state of emergency declared yesterday will last six months. The country’s Council of Ministers declared a state of emergency barely 24 hours after the resignation of the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. The council “came to the conclusion that imposing emergency rule would be vital to safeguarding the constitutional order of our country”. ‘‘There are still pockets of areas where violence is prevalent. The council (ruling EPRDF coalition) were unanimous in their decision,’‘ the defence minister Siraj Fegessa said. An opposition politician, Bekela Gerba, who was recently released from prison by the authorities told VOA Amharic that he doesn’t think that the state of emergency will get the support of legislators from Amhara National Democratic Movement and Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization. The decree is expected to be tabled to the national parliament within 15 days. The previous state of emergency was endorsed by the parliament. The defence minister said the state of emergency includes a ban on protests and publications that incite violence. State media are expected to provide all the details later today during news bulletins. Mulatu Gemechu, deputy secretary of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, had earlier told Reuters that Ethiopia needed a completely new political system after years of unrest. Gemechu believes the ruling coalition has lost authority and all parties must be involved in mapping the country’s future. Rights advocates have frequently criticised Ethiopia’s government for mass arrests and long jail terms handed to political opponents and journalists. But more than 6,000 political prisoners have been freed since January as the government has struggled to placate discontent. The prime minister’s resignation followed a wave of strikes and demonstrations successfully demanding the release of more opposition leaders. Olympics:beer company rescues Jamaican women's bobsleigh team Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:40:56 +0000 The Jamaican women’s bobsleigh team were training in Pyeongchang on Saturday February 17 after the beer company Red Stripe supplied them with a bobsled just in time to compete. Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian and Carrie Russell were practicing at the sliding centre ahead of the opening heats on Tuesday February 20. The Jamaican’s participation in the Games was in doubt after the sudden departure of their coach – former Olympic and world champion Sandra Kiriasis – on Thursday February 15. Kiriasis, who blamed her exit on an inexplicable demotion by team officials that she could not have accepted, was preparing for Jamaica’s first female bobsled appearance at an Olympic Games. The Jamaican bobsleigh federation president Christian Stokes said Kiriasis had been “a destructive force on the team” but the 43-year-old rejected the allegations and said she had been suddenly demoted to a position as the team’s track analyst. The decision meant there was a dispute over who owned the bobsled with Kiriasis claiming she would need to be paid in order for the Jamaicans to use it. The Jamaica Bobsleigh Federation rejected her claim but it left the team in limbo not sure if they would be able to compete. However, late on Thursday, Red Stripe USA sent a message on Twitter to the Jamaican Bobsled Team offering to supply a bobsled with the Jamaicans replying to say they would be happy to talk about it. Early on Saturday, the communications manager for the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team, Kathleen Pulito posted a message on Twitter confirming Red Stripe had helped the team be able to compete. “Jamaica Bobsled texts are blowing up and I am loving it! #RedStripeToTheRescue #SleighAllDay,” she posted. The IOC President’s Spokesman, Mark Adams said at the Games’ daily news briefing on Saturday that he wasn’t sure whether the deal between Red Stripe and Jamaica breached any IOC sponsorship or commercial rules. Adams said he would look into it adding that he was sure everyone would like to see the Jamaican team compete. Reuters Trailblazing tech Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:25:38 +0000 As 4,000 VIP guests gather at the World Government Summit in Dubai to discuss everything from business, politics and technology, Inspire Middle East brings to you exclusive interviews with two of the most illuminating personalities on the ground. Will.I.Am on music, technology and education: World-famous producer and musician, is also a passionate tech entrepreneur. After his company built an Artificial Intelligence operating system, he was invited to the summit by the UAE’s Minister of Artificial Intelligence, His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama.’s activities transcends music, business and technology, going all the way to education. “I also have a school – in the ghetto that I’m from – where we teach kids computer science and engineering – starting from nine years of age, up to 18. “I was one of those kids who was bust out from the ghetto to learn computer science at an early age – and now that I’ve had success in music I want to go back to my neighbourhood, so kids don’t have to leave. I want to encourage them to not ‘get out of the ghetto’ but to ‘change the ghetto’. “The problem with the words ‘underdeveloped communities’ is that the people in the communities aren’t educated to be the developers.” The celebrity is steadfast in his commitment to helping the next generation: all of the children in his school graduate to attend college, and 80 percent of them go into the fields of robotics, computer science and engineering. Present times, says, should be heralded as the cusp of next ‘industrial revolution’ thanks to the wonders of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D printing. The artist also attributes some of today’s finest innovations to the scientists of yesteryear. Using music as an example, he highlights the importance of inventions dating back to the 1800s, whilst musing how unaware so many of today’s artists are of the fact. “My industry is based off Edison’s gramophone – without the gramophone and the recording of sound, there would be no recording industry. So, that’s the intersection of art and science. “And when people get up there and hold a Grammy, they’re really holding a piece of technology – no-one thanks the engineers or the scientists. Instead, they thank everyone but them. ‘I’d like to thank my Mom. Love you Mom.’ And they forget the science.”’s flying visit to Dubai allowed him to reflect upon what really inspires him about the region. He’s optimistic about the UAE’s tech future, seeing the potential for the country to create its own I.T or A.I giant. The repercussions and positive impacts of this, he says, have the potential to be felt the world over. “It’s just the beginning, it’s brand new. That’s inspiring – to see and anticipate the wonderful stuff. I can’t wait to see what this region contributes to the world in terms of IT, connectivity and opportunity in solving problems.” An out-of-this-world teen: Alia Al Mansoori A wholly inspiring young Emirati woman is leading the way for the Middle East’s contribution to space science. Reaching for the stars, 15-year-old Alia Al Mansoori has designs on being the first female astronaut to explore the “Red Planet”. “The UAE mission that is sending humans to Mars is not exact yet, however, they’re planning for the 2030s. I’ll be around 30 years old by then, so I think I’ll be in the right age,” she tells Inspire Middle East. Al Mansoori’s curiosity about space was first sparked at the age of five, and with the support of her family and teachers, she has since channelled her energy into learning science, technology, engineering and maths. Today, she is the youngest guest attending the World Government Summit and is proud to have had some of her research published on NASA’s website. Her ambition is to inspire other teenagers in the region to follow in her lunar footsteps, to which effect she has created her own website, Emirati Astronaut. Whilst life on Earth is enjoyable for this young celebrity, Al Mansoori can’t wait to blast-off into space and discover a new realm. “I’ll miss most my family, my country and my friends. But I’ll also miss things like the beach and the desert. But, you know, space is amazing and I’m pretty sure I won’t miss Earth for a very long while. “One thing I’d actually not miss is the wars and negativity that is happening here on Earth and I’m hoping that the mission to Mars will actually inspire everyone around the world and give them hope.” Tech-inspired art: The Sharjah Light Festival Another event taking place in the MENA region this week, shone a light on what technology can also do for the worlds of art and entertainment. The 8th edition of the Sharjah light festival attracted an estimated 1 million visitors to watch jaw-dropping exhibits by 24 international artists. Whilst in Europe, cities like Berlin and Lyon have hosted similar festivals – none could compare to Sharjah’s, given the enormity of its operation on the ground. “Here we have a huge playground to make big installations. Here we’ve got more techniques, more projectors, more LED screens, more Sky tracers …more of everything to make our creations,” explains French light artist, Matthieu Felix. The event has been in gaining in popularity with every edition and the Sharjah Tourism Development Authority is striving to double the number of visitors to 2 million in the coming years. Adding to this, with international artists already well represented – the aim is for Emirati citizens to make up 20% of the creative pool in the next four years so that they too may one day see their names up in lights. Social eyes: Inspired talent trending online Take a closer look at some examples of what has inspired The Middle East on social media this week. Yendoram lights #sharjahlightfestival A post shared by sivaprasad (@s_prasad) on Feb 10, 2018 at 9:30am PST Colours & my ?. #sharjah #sharjahlightfestival A post shared by Jay (@jay_dela_torre) on Feb 11, 2018 at 1:50pm PST All I see is magic ☄ #photography #filmmaking #weddingphotography #familyphotography #eventsphotography #photosession #photooftheday #birthdays #hennanights #lovestories #sharjahphotographer #sharjahphotography #photoshoot #dubaiphotography #babyphotography #canonphotography #canonphotos #canon5dmarkiv #hotchocolate #catsphotos #sharjah #sharjah_light_festival #sharjahlightfestival #my_photography #جلسات_تصوير #تصوير_اعراس #تصوير_أطفال #تصوير_مناسبات #تصوير_حفلة_خطبة #تصويري Une publication partagée par MemoReel (@memoreel18) le 11 Févr. 2018 à 11 :30 PST Three suicide bombers kill 18 in Nigeria's Maiduguri Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:22:29 +0000 Three suicide bombers killed 18 people in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, capital of the state worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency, its police commissioner said on Saturday. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack but the use of suicide bombers in crowded areas is a hallmark of the Islamist militant group, which has killed more that 20,000 people since 2009 and forced over two million to flee their homes. Damian Chukwu, police commissioner for Borno state, said the attack took place at a fish market around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the centre of Maiduguri at about 8:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Friday. “The three suicide bombers were killed and 18 other persons died. Twenty-two people were injured,” said Chukwu. “Some suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers attacked Kasuwan Kifi village, infiltrated the market and detonated themselves there, “ Habu Mai Hula, a local resident said. Suicide bombings have continued despite repeated assertions by the government and the military since 2016 to have defeated the Boko Haram insurgency, which aims to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s northeast. President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015 with a promise to improve security for ordinary Nigerians. But in addition to the jihadist insurgency, communal violence has plagued swathes of the country in the last few months, including a clash on Thursday that killed 18. Football for Friendship draw held ahead of the 2018 World Cup Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:09:47 +0000 The 2018 Football for Friendship (F4F) draw was conducted on Thursday in Moscow, Russia. Bringing together young people from 211 countries, the programme encourages them to play the game while upholding the values of friendship, equality, peace and respect. Organised by official partner of FIFA and major sponsor of the World Cup Russia 2018, Gazprom, F4F will climax in Moscow in June this year, as an exciting curtain-raiser to the World Cup. ‘‘For the very first time, young athletes from all parts of the world where football is played will meet on the same field. Football for Friendship gives everyone an opportunity to unite behind the principles of equality and respect for each other,” notes Viktor Zubkov, chairperson of the global energy company. Format Tournament features 32 International Teams of Friendship, named after endangered animals Team feature athletes from different countries, different gender and different physical abilities Players are aged 12 Teams are coached by young coaches aged 14 – 16 Tournament to be covered by global media including Children’s Press Center of 12 year old journalists The draw was officiated by high profile personalities including Fatma Samoura, the FIFA Secretary General and football legend Marco Van Basten. “We were glad to support this unique initiative from our FIFA partner Gazprom,” said Fatma Samoura. “The forum is a perfect example of how football can be used to open doors for girls and boys from all backgrounds, a mission that FIFA supports actively.” “This programme gave me the opportunity to find new friends from all over the world. Equality, Peace and Friendship are the main values that we talk about with peers and with adults. We really can change the world for the better. I really believe in it, ‘’ said 12 year old Juan Manuel Pinola Silveira, the Young Ambassador of the programme Football for Friendship. .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } The Football for Friendship programme has been organised by PJSC Gazprom since 2013 and has grown from 8 participating countries to 211 today. The programme is supported by FIFA, UEFA, International Olympic Committee, football federations of various countries, international children’s charity funds, and the world’s leading football clubs. Daniel Mumbere Nigerian cinema fans celebrate release of ''Black Panther'' movie Sat, 17 Feb 2018 10:04:45 +0000 Movie fans, actors and comic enthusiasts in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos have been flocking to screenings of Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther” which opened in Africa’s most populous country this week. The Walt Disney Co movie, which features a predominantly black cast, is set in the fictional African nation of Wakanda. It tells the story of the new king, T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), who is challenged by rival factions. “For once we are not just dressed in slave clothes undergoing slavery or brutality or what have you, but for once we are dressed in good clothes for once and we are telling our stories and we are focusing on different tribes that make up Africa. That is just great to be happening at this point in time, that is just amazing”,actress Ijeoma Agu said. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is also a cultural powerhouse that boasts the continent’s biggest film industry, known as Nollywood. Lagos is the country’s filmmaking hub. At a screening of “Black Panther” on Friday (February 16) in Lekki, an upmarket district of Lagos, Nollywood stars mingled with TV personalities and locals. The showing was one of a number of screenings in the city. Most people were dressed in traditional Nigerian robes and gowns, with some opting to wear specially made attire in keeping with the film’s futuristic take on African garments. Film maker , Bolaji Kekere -Ekun is proud of the empowerment theme of the story. “The people that made the film, the film makers were very specific about the references they use in relationship to Africa, so they are pulling from the best fashion, the best arts. I can see the references in the work and I really respect that. And then there is the African American empowerment story in there as well so it is amazing”,Kereke-Ekun said. Local actress Ijeoma Grace Agu used body paint and a two-piece outfit as an homage to the film’s fashion aesthetic and said she was excited to watch the film. “They tried to portray black actors in a good light, we have got the Nollywood actors doing fabulously well and of-course reaching out to Africans in the diaspora and all the rest, so clearly this is another tribute to black actors”, a guest Dapo Ojora noted. Directed by black director Ryan Coogler and featuring actors including Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whittaker, the film has received widespread critical acclaim after years of criticism about the under-representation of black people in Hollywood. Reuters South Africa's new president hails 'new dawn,' warns of tough decisions Fri, 16 Feb 2018 21:19:17 +0000 South Africa will face “tough decisions” as it works to repair its economy after years of stagnation, new President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a sober address on Friday that sought to draw a line under the turbulent rule of his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Hailing a “new dawn” a day after his inauguration, he promised to fight corruption, which had weakened the state-owned enterprises in Africa’s most industrialized economy, and to trim a bloated cabinet. Ramaphosa said his government was committed to “policy certainty and consistency”, in contrast to Zuma, who was criticised for policy shifts and unpredictable cabinet changes that rocked domestic financial markets and confounded investors. The 65-year-old was sworn in as head of state on Thursday after Zuma reluctantly resigned on orders of the ANC. “This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions,” Ramaphosa said in his first State of the Nation address. “We are determined to build a society defined by decency and integrity, that does not tolerate the plunder of public resources, nor the theft by corporate criminals of the hard-earned savings of ordinary people,” he added. Ramaphosa’s election as president, which was unopposed in the parliament, has prompted a wave of optimism among South Africans hungry for change after nine years of economic stagnation and corruption scandals. Zuma denies all wrongdoing. “Tough decisions have to be made to close our fiscal gap, stabilise our debt and restore our state-owned enterprises to health,” Ramaphosa said. He promised to make job creation a priority in 2018. South Africa’s rand rallied soon after Ramaphosa started his address, trading near its three-year best. Financial markets have rallied since Ramaphosa took over from Zuma as ANC leader in December, as investors warmed to his pledges to woo overseas investment. He thanked Zuma for the way he had approached recent events. Facing waning electoral support for his party, Ramaphosa needs to avoid alienating ANC members still loyal to the 75-year-old former president. In a direct appeal to poorer black voters – the core of the ANC’s support – Ramaphosa said he would aim to speed up the transfer of land to black people. Two decades after the end of apartheid, the ANC is under pressure to redress racial disparities in land ownership where whites own most of the land. Ramaphosa said he pursue a policy of “radical economic transformation” that will speed up expropriation of land without compensation, but said this should be done in a way that increases agricultural production and improves food security. Ramaphosa said mining had potential for growth and jobs. “We need to see mining as a sunrise industry,” he said. South Africa’s mining industry has been a major employer and contributed 7.7 percent to gross domestic product in 2016. The sector also accounts for 25 percent of exports in Africa’s most industrialized economy. South Africa’s GDP is estimated to grow by around 1 percent this year. ‘SAME OLD SPEECH’ Africa’s most developed economy needs faster economic growth if it is to reduce high unemployment – currently at 27 percent – and alleviate widespread poverty that has persisted since the end of white minority rule in 1994. The leader of the opposition, and head of the Democratic Alliance party, Mmusi Maimane, said the president was reading from an old script. “We could have gotten more bolder action today, but I heard more of the same stuff,” Maimane said. The leader of the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters party (EFF), Julius Malema, said he welcomed the commitments to shrink the cabinet and take back land. “He (Ramaphosa) has a lot of ideas but no plan of how to go about it, but let’s give the benefit of doubt,” Malema said. Ramaphosa, a former union leader who played an important role in talks to end apartheid, is expected to announce major cabinet changes in the coming days to replace Zuma acolytes in key portfolios who have been accused of mismanagement and implicated in corruption. Ramaphosa, who will see out the remainder of Zuma’s presidential term until elections next year, faces an uphill battle to win public and investor support. He ended his speech by quoting trumpeter and singer Hugh Masekela, known as the “father of South African jazz” who used his music in the fight against apartheid. “In his song, ”Thuma Mina“, he anticipated a day of renewal, of new beginnings. He sang: ”I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around“,” Ramaphosa said. Most of the lawmakers there broke into song and danced. REUTERS U.K., Canada issue Ethiopia travel advice after state of emergency declaration Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:23:50 +0000 The United Kingdom and Canada have issued travel advice in respect of Ethiopia following Friday evening’s declaration of a state of emergency. State broadcaster, EBC, reported that the Council of Ministers had imposed the measure to curb rising insecurity across the country. A summary of the United Kingdom’s travel advice read as follows: “On 16 February 2018, Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency. No further detail is currently available. Travel Advice will be updated as the situation develops. If you are in Ethiopia remain aware of your surroundings and follow the advice of local authorities. For their part, the Canadian government updated the safety and security button on Ethiopia. “State of emergency: The Government of Ethiopia declared the state of emergency on February 16, 2018. Restrictions on gatherings and curfews could be imposed. “Telecommunications could be disrupted. Monitor the media and follow the instructions of local authorities,” the advice added. Ethiopia risks becoming Middle East type military dictatorship – ex-US envoy Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:25:33 +0000 A former ambassador of the United States has expressed worry at political and security ongoings in Ethiopia. “In Ethiopia, instead of an all-parties reconciliation conference, I fear a Middle East type military dictatorship takeover and a zero sum game bloody outcome. USG, do not let it happen,” he said in a tweet on Friday evening. Herman Cohen who is a former Assistant Secretary of State also entreated the U.S. government to ensure that Ethiopia does not implode. The government imposed a state of emergency according to the state EBC to curb unrest across the country. Details of the measure are yet to be explained reportedly on Saturday morning. In January 2018, outgoing Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced wide ranging political reform which has seen thousands of prisoners released especially in the Oromia region. Desalegn has since submitted his resignation and the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is set to name a successor to him at its next Congress. Did Equatorial Guinea request death penalty for opposition activists? Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:49:58 +0000 The Equatorial Guinea prosecutor has reportedly requested the capital punishment for 147 main opposition activists. AFP reports that the trial of the activists started early last week in the high court of Mongomo, the stronghold of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The prosecutor’s death penalty request was tabled on Wednesday (February 14th). The activists were being tried for: “sedition, attack on authority and public disorder,“ according to their lawyer. “The prosecutor has demanded the death penalty against all opponents,“ lawyer Fabian Nsue told the AFP. The government which claim to have foiled an attempted coup in late December 2017, have yet to respond to a request for information. The 147 activists, include leaders of the Citizens for Innovation (CI) party, who have been rounded up since the parliamentary elections of November 2017. According to a statement from their party, some 30 defendants could not stand during the trial, “because of torture“ during their detention in Guantanamo, the nickname given to the central police station of the capital, Malabo. Ethiopia declares state of emergency to curb spreading violence Fri, 16 Feb 2018 17:39:14 +0000 Our journalists are working on this story and will update it as soon as more information becomes available. EU deploys Election Observation Mission to Sierra Leone Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:22:15 +0000 The European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Sierra Leone to observe the general elections scheduled for 7 March. The EOM Core Team of nine EU election analysts arrived in Freetown on 25 January, and will stay in the country until the completion of the electoral process to prepare a comprehensive assessment. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission appointed Ms. Jean Lambert, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer. “The elections of 7 March 2008 are a milestone for the democratic process of Sierra Leone. It’s a great opportunity for the government, the National Election Commission and political parties to foster transparent, credible and peaceful election” Federica Mogherini said. She added that this year’s general elections are very competitive and the rule of law should prevail. This is the fourth time the European Union is observing general elections in Sierra Leone which reflects its long-term commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country. “The forthcoming general elections will be another defining moment in the country’s democratic process as a peaceful transition of power will take place for the second time after the end of the civil war”, Ms Lambert said. She added that Sierra Leone has achieved progress in terms of democratization and governance since the end of the civil war, and this election should further consolidate stable democratic institutions. The deployment of an EU EOM aims to contribute to enhancing the transparency of the process, the respect for fundamental freedoms and will submit to the consideration of the authorities a set of recommendations to further improve the election framework for future elections. In early March, additional 40 short-term observers will be deployed across the country. A delegation of the European Parliament and diplomats from EU Member States will also reinforce the mission on election day. U.S. issues Ethiopia alert, warns of tricky security situation Fri, 16 Feb 2018 16:09:07 +0000 The United States has issued a security alert for Ethiopia in the wake of political and security developments over the last week. About ten people were reported dead during protests in the Oromia region. The terse statement read: “As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Embassy is temporarily suspending all travel outside of Addis Ababa for Embassy personnel.” They also gave five key actions for U.S. citizens to follow in the light of the current situation. Monitoring local media for updates, avoiding large gatherings and demonstrations, employing sound security practices. “Remain aware of your surroundings, including local events. Remember that the security environment in Ethiopia is fluid and can deteriorate without warning,” completed the list of precautionary measures. The country’s Premier Hailemariam Desalegn resigned his post on Thursday following protests in Oromia. The country has released a number of political prisoners following the promise of political reforms in January. The ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is set to name a successor to Desalegn at its next congress. Desalegn became Prime Minister in 2012 after the death of Meles Zenawi. The PM is head of government in the country’s political structure. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Cameroonian entrepreneur turns snail cleaning into a profitable business [no comment] Thu, 15 Feb 2018 11:41:26 +0000 Snails are eaten in large quantities in West Africa where they are considered a delicacy, but most people do not know how to clean them. One entrepreneur is readily doing the job – processing snails and selling them through a profitable business.