Africanews RSS Receive free and in real-time all news published by, by subscribing to our RSS feeds. Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:38:34 +0000 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:38:34 +0000 Ethiopia restricts internet access amidst new protests Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:38:34 +0000 Reports indicate that authorities in Ethiopia have restricted access to social media in the wake of renewed clashes that have led to deaths in the Oromia region. A popular news portal, Addis Standard, said access to regular internet was impossible in the affected areas which included the capital, Addis Ababa. According to the portal, the restriction “came amidst increasing reports of student protests in various university campuses against the killing of a student in Adigrat Univ & at least 15 civilians in Chelenko. Access is however possible via the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) connections. More often than not when internet cuts are imposed, people are advised to switch to VPNs for access. VPNs are basically network setup for use by a limited number of individuals, such as employees of a company and are often encrypted for security. It is not the first time the country has resorted to internet cuts for political reasons. But the most recent case was in June this year, when access was cut during a national examination. The move was defended at the time by authorities as a means of securing the integrity of the Grade 10 and 12 university entrance examinations. “The shutdown is aimed at preventing a repeat of leaks that occurred last year,” one Mohammed Seid, public relations director of Ethiopia’s Office for Government Communications Affairs, told Reuters. The recent protests have been blamed partly on federal forces and a paramilitary unit of the neighbouring Ethiopian-Somali regional state, the Liyu Police. The government has in the past accused activists of abusing social media to spread inciting material that has often led to anti-government protests. The government in August this year lifted a state of emergency imposed in October 2016 to quell similar protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions. Beating Ethiopia’s internet outage – Diplomacy, cash and technology | Africanews— Jawar Mohammed (@Jawar_Mohammed) June 5, 2017 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Children and their place as new target of Tech companies [The Morning Call] Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:44:04 +0000 Tech companies are offering kids versions of their products that have already invaded adult life. Children, the target of choice for tech giants, is the Great Angle of today. Unrest in Ethiopia's Oromia region, federal forces blamed for deaths Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:28:40 +0000 There is an uneasy calm in Ethiopia’s Oromia region following the deaths of fifteen civilians at the hands of federal security forces. About a dozen others are said to have suffered gunshot wounds. The Addis Standard news portal cited the Oromia region communications Bureau chief, Addisu Arega Kitessa, as implicating members of the national defense force, adding that a probe was underway to ascertain how peaceful civilians had been killed. Adissu Arega said people in the region’s east Hararghe zone had hit the streets to protest the killing of an individual leading to the latest clashes that have claimed more lives. Locals told the Addis Standard portal that a notorious paramilitary force – the Liyu Police – were to blame for the death of the individual, for which reason they staged the protest. The security forces were said to have applied superior force to dismantle road blocks in other parts of the region. Hospital staff in the city of Dire Dawa confirmed that a dozen other people had been treated for gunshot wounds. “On December 09, 2017; residents of Babile and Moyale towns in east Hararghe and southern Ethiopia respectively have told the VOA Amharic that there were everyday killings committed by members of the Liyu police. “Several pictures showing wounds of gun shots and dead bodies are circulating in Ethiopia’s social media space,” Addis Standard noted in its report on the situation. The Oromia region was the heartbeat of anti-government protests that hit Ethiopia in late 2015 through the better part of 2016. The protests spread to the Amhara region leading to deaths after a violent security crackdown. The widening protests led to the imposition of a six-month state of emergency in October 2016. It, however, lasted 10 months after the parliament voted an extension after the initial expiration in April this year. It was eventually lifted in August 2017. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban One Planet Summit kicks off in Paris [The Morning Call] Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:01:31 +0000 Less than a year since US president Donald Trump announced a withdrawal from the Paris climate deal, a group of 50 world leaders — ranging from Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to British Prime Minister Theresa May —gather in Paris this tuesday for an invitation-only climate change summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron. Mr Macron’s two-day climate change conference, called the ‘One Planet Summit’, is expected to focus on how to finance the global transition away from fossil fuels and measures needed to adapt to changes already underway caused by global warming. The Paris Agreement includes a provision calling for developed countries to provide $100 billion annually in financing for climate initiatives beginning in 2020 — a number that remains far off, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. [Photos] Buhari and Museveni, Africa's farmer presidents Tue, 12 Dec 2017 11:44:45 +0000 The job of president is ordinarily a full time undertaking which involves thinking for a nation – irrespective of who voted for you or not. From the party politics, the national, regional, continental and international commitments, family responsibilities and others, presidents the world over take annual leaves. In the case of Africa, two of its oldest leaders have in the recent past posted photos of their farming exploits – Nigeria’s Buhari and Uganda’s Museveni. Incidentally both men are former military men. Buhari shared photos from his farm in his hometown Daura located in the northeastern Katsina State. It wasn’t long before his Ugandan peer Yoweri Kaguta Museveni also shared similar photos. “I’m spending a few days at home in Daura before I travel to France for the One Planet Summit. Today I paid a visit to my farm. I grow fruits & vegetables,& keep cattle. I hope this will inspire one more person to take up farming. My vision is for a country that grows what it eats,” his post accompanying the photos read. “Spent the last two days at my farm in Kisozi, Gomba District. I want Ugandans to know that you can keep indigenous breed of cattle and still have high milk yield and good quality animals,” Museveni said. He went on to deliver some advice on the importance of farming. “As Africans, we should embrace who we are and cease having low esteem, which drives us to covet everything foreign/Western,” he stressed. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban South Sudan president deploys army to disarm civilians in three restive states Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:41:11 +0000 President Salva Kiir is said to have ordered the army chiefs to mobilize available resources to enforce a three-month state of emergency in three states. The states in question are Gok, Western and Eastern Lakes. A statement released on Monday evening authorized the army to use force if armed civilians refused to be disarmed. Reuters quoted a legislator as saying intercommunal fighting in the the country’s Great Lakes region has hit 170 from the 45 reported earlier. “Right now, from both sides, we have 170 plus people who lost their lives. Three hundred forty two houses have been burnt and almost 1,800 people displaced,” Dharuai Mabor Teny told Reuters. The clashes are reported to have often led to the burning of houses and other property. At the heart of the recent deadly clashes is a land dispute. Security forces, however, say security has improved after a recent deployment. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban IMF director applauds Benin's economic performance Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:34:15 +0000 While on a visit to Benin, Christine Lagarde, the director of the International Monetary Fund applauded the performance of the economy of the country. She also announced that in 2018, growth forecasts could reach 6%. The result according to her is because the government respects the commitments it made. “You had the ambition to tackle poverty reduction by spending better and more in the field of education and health, she said, “and you had the ambition to establish the rules of good governance to encourage investors to look at Benin with a favorable perspective. “I believe that in these major areas, clearly your government is demonstrating that it can keep its word, she added. Benin has concluded with the international financial institution an economic and financial program of 127 million euros, support to reduce poverty in the country. According to the president, his country is pacing the paths of rebirth. “Through work, seriousness, good governance, well-informed reforms, sacrifice, the fight against impunity, we can get out of poverty and begging,” Benin President Patrice Talon asserted. Despite this support, the Beninese economy remains dependent on Nigeria. The oil giant suffers drastic drop in oil prices and the consequences are reflected in neighboring countries. Mugabe flies to Singapore for annual holidays, first trip since ouster Tue, 12 Dec 2017 10:05:11 +0000 Former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has left the country to Singapore. Reports indicate that the 93-year-old is taking his annual holidays. A section of the media also reports that he will have a routine medical checkup whiles away. It is the first time he has left the country since his resignation in November after being leader for 37 years. A media outfit reports that the entire Mugabe family including wife Grace and children Bona, Robert Junior and Chatunga are all part of the trip. The sons are said to have returned from South Africa to join the Singapore trip. The last public appearance of Mugabe was when the army allowed him to preside over a graduation ceremony in the capital Harare, days after the takeover. His wife has not made a public appearance since. Mugabe's two sons are back in Zimbabwe =>Mugabe family expected to leave Zimbabwe for their yearly holiday =>Mugabe's daughter, Bona Chikore expected to deliver her second baby in Asia =>Mugabe expected to fly to Singapore for regular medical checks at Gleneagles Hospital— Povo Zim (@povozim) December 9, 2017 The army took over the reigns of government in what it said was a bid to deal with criminals around Mugabe and persons who had brought economic hardship onto the citizens. Despite holding out for over a week of intense pressure to step down – a combination of mass protests supported by the army, a recall by the ruling party and parliamentary impeachment process meant Mugabe was left with the resignation option or being forced out. His resignation notice to parliament was met by cheers in the chamber as Zimbabweans at home and abroad celebrated. Mugabe during his time in office flew to Singapore to seek medical treatment for eye cataract, according to government. Opposition elements have, however, alleged that the leaders suffered from a more acute ailment. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Morocco fights against deforestation [no comment] Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:02:01 +0000 Liverpool's Salah aims to become Egypt's greatest Pharaoh Tue, 12 Dec 2017 09:08:52 +0000 Egyptian international Mohamed Salah says he does not want to be remembered as a national football great, he aims to be the greatest “Pharaoh” – alias of the Egyptian senior national team. The 25-year-old who plies his club trade with Liverpool was speaking to the BBC after he was announced the broadcasters’ best African footballer of 2017. “I have always followed my way, and I want everyone in Egypt to follow my way. Since I left Egypt, in my mind, I want to be the best Egyptian ever. I work hard and try to be different from them.” He was the Pharaohs top scorer as they qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup. HE scored seven goals in all including the all important penalty that secured qualification against Congo Republic at home. The year, however, started with heartbreak for the team as they were beaten by Cameroon in the finals of the last AFCON played in Gabon. At the club level, he has been on form for Liverpool since joining this season. He has dreams to retain the gong next year. A good season plus a good World Cup outing would just do the trick: “I am very happy to win this award. It’s always a special feeling when you win something. You feel like you did a great year, so I’m very happy. I would also like to win it next year!” He has had club stints with English Premier League side, Chelsea, before moving on to play with Roma in the Italian league from where he joined Liverpool. His rise to the top football accolade meant that he beat off competition from fellow team mate Sadio Mane (Senegal), Victor Moses (Nigeria, Chelsea), Naby Keita (Guinea, Leipzig) and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Dortmund). Egypt’s national team is record CAF African Cup of Nations title holders with seven trophies to their credit. The team has churned out many footballing greats as much as Egyptian sides have also flown the flag in intercontinental tournaments. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF to hold first post-Mugabe congress Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:48:02 +0000 Zanu-PF is set to hold its first post-Mugabe congress this week, a way for Zimbabwe’s new strongman to further assert his authority within the historic party. Robert Mugabe Square, not far from the magistrates’ court in Harare has been chosen as the venue for the over 6,000 delegates. According to some analysts, new Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnagagwa will be inducted party leader, in view of the elections in 2018. In addition all the pro-Mugabe or the G40 in reference to the supporters of former First Lady Grace Mugabe will all be pushed to the exit. A purge criticized by members of the G 40 who call for union during this congress. The new head of state will take advantage of this party conference to appoint his two vice-presidents. According to some sources, Mnangagwa is under pressure to reward Constantino Chiwenga and others who remained loyal and pivotal in his eventual takeover from Robert Mugabe, following a military intervention last month. For the second vice president, the League of Women of the party want one of their own to be appointed to the position. It should be noted that before the story turned, this congress was intended to consolidate Robert Mugabe’s position as Zanu PF’s candidate for the elections and Grace Mugabe as a possible vice president. A wish aborted since the veterans and the army took over the party. Car bomb kills Somali TV journalist in Mogadishu Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:35:40 +0000 A Somali television journalist was killed in a car bombing in the capital Mogadishu on Monday, an editor for the TV station and local authorities said. Mohamed Ibrahim Gabow had borrowed the car from a friend, Mohamed Moalim Mustaf, an editor at Kalsan TV, told Reuters. “Unexpectedly it exploded and he died on the spot. We do not know who was behind it,” he added. Local government officials confirmed the incident. We have now burried the body of our journalist colleague Mohamed Ibrahim who was killed a bom on Monday evening.Condolance to family #NUSOJ.— Mohamed Moalimuu (@MOALIMUU) December 12, 2017 “The journalist … died after a bomb planted in a car he drove exploded. His body has now been taken to a hospital. The police will investigate,” said Abdifatah Omar Halane, the spokesman for the mayor of Mogadishu. Gabow is the fourth journalist killed this year in Somalia, currently ranked 167th out of 180 countries for journalist safety by Reporters Without Borders. No group has ever claimed the killing of a journalist in the capital. Somalia has been convulsed by instability, violence and lawlessness since early 1990s following the toppling of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. REUTERS Cycling: Nkurunziza pedals off Tour du Burundi Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:19:04 +0000 Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza on Tuesday flagged off the country’s annual cycling event Tour du Burundi. Nkurunziza himself took part in the first few kilometres of the race which attracted over 30 professional cyclists and 50 enthusiasts. Cyclists pedaled off at the capital of Burundi’s Ngozi Province north of the country where they will cycle a distance of 125 km to the capital Bujumbura. “Where there is peace, there is joy. We thank the organizers of this race for having chosen the holiday season. It is a good opportunity to celebrate Christmas with all Burundians,” said President Nkurunziza. The 527-kilometer race will last five days, where winners will be awarded in Gitega for the top five finishers in the professional and amateur categories, and to three winners in the general classification. On the second day, cyclists will make 123km from Bujumbura-Nyanza Lac south of the country, where they will leave on December 13 for Bukirasazi in the province of Gitega in central Burundi after having traveled 125 km from from Nyanza Lac. On the 4th day on December 14 the race will make 101 km between Bukirasazi and Cankuzo east of the country. From Cankuzo, the organizers have planned to move all cyclists and their bicycles in vehicles to the capital of Karusi Province in central Burundi where they will spend a night of rest before making the final leg between Karusi and the main town of Gitenga Province which is the final destination, a distance of 53 km. However there were safety concerns raised by some cyclists. “The safety was not assured because there were trucks along the road, and among us there are those who were injured, which is why third place does not satisfy me at all because I was a favorite to win this race,” Ciza Obed a cyclist said. IMAGE COURTESY: TOUR DU BURUNDI Follow @Muisyo_ Victor Muisyo Pregnant girls in Sierra Leone get special government schools Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:39:47 +0000 At 17, Fatmata is pregnant with her second child. She was only 15 when she gave birth to her first child. She and her cousin were forced to leave school when their pregnancy became too visible. A rule imposed in Sierra Leone by the government, which considers that these girls show the bad example. “I was unhappy because I could not see my friends or the girls in my village at school, but I was pregnant, and then I had to take care of my child, I would have preferred something else, but I did not have a choice,” Fatmata said. In this small country in West Africa, one in three pregnant persons is a teenager. In response to international pressure related to these controversial exclusion measures, the government has been forced to open special classes for pregnant girls. They can continue their education, following a very light program, and away from other adolescents. But, young fathers are spared. Brima Turay, press secretary, at the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Education said “it’s counterproductive to isolate young boys just because they impregnate a girl. Boys do not bear children, but girls yes, and it shows, that’s the big difference.” The government claims that this initiative is a success: 5,000 of the 14,000 girls enrolled in these special schools eventually returned to traditional school after pregnancy. But nearly two-thirds of them remain permanently excluded from the education system. “It is not because these girls are pregnant that their education has to stop. That’s very clear, and we told the Minister of Education: we want these girls to be educated, not discriminated against, but the government does not allow that,” Wongani Taulo, in charge of education for UNICEF noted. Sex education does not exist in Sierra Leone. And even temporary solutions are under threat: the government says it does not have enough money to continue funding these courses. At the risk of condemning thousands of teenagers to drop out of school completely. AFP Apple confirms acquiring Shazam for reported $400m Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:38:32 +0000 Apple has confirmed acquiring Shazam, a London-based app that allows smartphone users to identify music, for a reported $400m. Apple which revolutionised music with the introduction of the the iPod and iPhone, said Shazam was a natural fit for its Apple Music streaming service. “We are thrilled that Shazam and its talented team will be joining Apple,” an Apple spokesperson told The Verge. “Apple Music and Shazam are a natural fit, sharing a passion for music discovery and delivering great music experiences to our users. We have exciting plans in store, and we look forward to combining with Shazam upon approval of today’s agreement.” Neither side would officially say how much Apple had paid, but a figure of about $400m has been reported, less than half the $1bn the app was last valued at when it tapped investors for cash in 2015, The Guardian reports. An article published on the Verge says that Shazam can help Apple in a number of ways despite its low revenues. The most obvious would be with Apple Music, where Shazam’s team could help improve the experience of the service, it says. If Apple decides to shut down the app, it would also take away referrals to Spotify, which together with Apple Music gets 1 million clicks per day from Shazam. Also, Shazam’s music and sound recognition, which is already integrated with Siri, could gain a deeper integration with iOS, much like Google has done with its song recognition feature on the Pixel. When the deal is closed, it will become Apple’s biggest acquisition since it bought rapper Dr Dre’s headphones company Beats Electronics for $3bn in 2014. Shazam has been downloaded over 1bn times and although Shazam is popular with smartphone users it has struggled to make much money, with revenues of $54m in 2016. The technology behind Shazam is called audio fingerprinting, and it provides the ability to link short, unlabeled pieces of audio content to corresponding meta data about that content. Audio fingerprinting enable users to identify the song title by providing a small piece of audio sample of the song instead of entering some keywords to look for. Follow @Muisyo_ Victor Muisyo Would you let your kids use facebook? [Sci Tech] Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:17:25 +0000 Mixed reactions greet news of Facebook’s Messenger app for kids.The global networking giant has promised that the app will need parental approval before use and also block children from sharing nudity, sexual or violent content. But will these measures ensure adequate security for our children? In South Africa,a programe known as Young women in STEM that is Science,Technology , Engineering and Maths has been launched. The programe focuses on developing the technical skills and mindsets of young women between grades 9-11 to encourage them to pursue STEM subjects and careers. And,the Aberystwyth University of Wales in the United Kingdom is working with the Zanzibar Malaria Elimination Programme to fly drones over known malaria hot spots to fight malaria. Ignatius Annor has details of these stories on this edition of Sci Tech. Follow @IgnatiusAnnor ICC reports Jordan to UN Security Council over Sudan's Bashir visit Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:25:02 +0000 The International Criminal Court (ICC) has warned that it will refer Jordan to the U.N. Security Council for failing to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir when he visited Amman in March. Bashir travelled to Jordan for the annual meeting of Arab leaders at the invitation of King Abdullah II of Jordan. Jordan is a signatory of the Rome Statute of the ICC and is therefore obliged to enforce an ICC warrant like the one issued against Bashir in 2009. Bashir is wanted by the court for alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. But since the indictment in 2009, Bashir has blatantly defied the arrest warrant by travelling to countries that are signatories of the Rome Statute including Uganda, Rwanda and Egypt. South Africa is the only country where Bashir was troubled as a local human rights group lodged an application in court challenging the country’s failure to arrest a ‘war criminal’ despite the ICC obligations. He eventually left the country before the end of the African Union summit he was attending, disregarding a court order that would have seen his detained and handed over to the ICC. Mozambique, China agree $60m airport deal Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:58:51 +0000 Hardly a week after BBC reported that the $200m Nacala International Airport, which was opened in 2014 and turned into an international centre for passenger distribution, was hardly being used, Mozambique has clinched yet another airport deal. China has given the Southern African nation $60m to build an airport in the Southern port city of Xai Xai. Mozambique’s foreign minister says the airport would improve the mobility of people and goods, and make it easier to respond to natural catastrophes in the remote Gaza province. While the ‘ghost’ Nacala Airport reportedly serves 20,000 passengers of the projected 500,000 a year, Mozambique is not deterred in its appetite for infrastructural projects. China’s ambassador to Mozambique also confirmed that China has also agreed to finance the purchase of 100 commuter buses at a cost of $7.5m in addition to installing a satellite television system in 500 Mozambican villages. Airtel denies exit rumours in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:54:39 +0000 Telecoms operator Airtel has dismissed claims that it is planning to exit the African markets of Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, even as it affirmed that it is open to a merger or acquisition to rescue its non-profitable businesses in Africa. Airtel Africa said in a statement that it was pursuing other options to turn the businesses profitable. “We had stated that we are open to consolidation opportunities either through acquisitions or mergers, to create a viable business in these three (Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) markets. It was never said that we were looking at exiting these markets,” the statement said. Airtel was making reference to a story by India’s Economic Times indicating the three African markets where the telecom firm is not performing positively, and needed to pursue an exit plan. According to analysts, exiting these three markets would help the Asian telecom giant reduce leverage and boost margins in Africa. In its statement, Airtel reaffirmed its mission to be either the first or second “operator in each country it operates “through market consolidation”. The company said it had participated in consolidations in the past, including the acquisition of Yu in Kenya and Milicom in Ghana all of which “validates our stand that in-country consolidation have resulted in achieving better market positions”. The Kenyan government through the Information, Communication and Technology secretary Joe Mucheru said they are yet to receive any official notification that Airtel was planning to quit Kenya while efforts to reach representatives of the company in Rwanda and Tanzania were unsuccessful. This is only the latest report indicating that the Indian firm is reviewing its Africa strategy, considering overhauls and exits of its businesses in East Africa. In January, the company’s chairman told Bloomberg that it was considering “stake sales” in some of its African operations. Separately, analysts said if Airtel’s stated interest in buying 9mobile (formerly, Etisalat Nigeria) – the fourth largest mobile carrier in Nigeria – translates in a deal, it would become the largest telco by subscribers in a market that is Bharti’s largest in Africa and generates 30% of its revenues in the continent. Agencies IMF chief Lagarde starts Africa tour in Benin, forecasts 6% growth Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:24:15 +0000 The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde projected a growth forecast of 6% for Benin during a joint press conference with President Patrice Talon in the economic capital, Cotonou. “We consider that the performance of the Beninese economy will in 2018 be higher than that of 2017. We have a forecast of 6%,” said Lagarde. Benin has had productive relations with the International Monetary Fund since 1963 and has over the years benefited from different IMF programmes including the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (1993-1996), the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (1996-1999, 2000-2004, 2005-2009) and the Extended Credit Facility (2010-2013 and 2017-2019). In April this year, Benin concluded with the international financial institution an economic and financial program worth $ 150.4 million in support of the “Benin Revealed” program, named after government action program, in place for less than two years. IMF chief Lagarde described Benin as a ‘ a partner who keeps its promises’, praising the West African country for respecting its commitments to restore finances and accomodate domestic and foreign investment. “Your government is demonstrating that it can keep its word,” said the executive director of the IMF, citing the government’s efforts in the areas of education, health and “the establishment of good governance”. The president of Benin used the occasion to defend his government’s liberal economic policies that have been protested by many sectors in recent months. “We continue to survey the paths of our rebirth.We have in less than 18 months, managed with the Parliament to vote fifty laws of progress”, said President Talon. Lagarde is on a 3-day state visit of Benin which will see her visit NGOs, women leaders and business leaders with the country’s chamber of commerce before flying to Ethiopia on Wednesday. Kenya's Supreme Court gives reasons for upholding Uhuru Kenyatta's win Mon, 11 Dec 2017 20:15:34 +0000 The Supreme Court on Monday explained why it dismissed two election petitions challenging the October 26 repeat election in East Africa’s biggest economy, Kenya. The Supreme Court had on September 1 made a historic judgement when it annuled the outcome of Kenya’s presidential election that was held on August. It ordered a repeat election that was boycotted by the main opposition candidate Raila Odinga, won by the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta and challenged in court by activists. According to the six judges, there were nine issues for consideration from the two consolidated petitions. In a decision read by Justice Isaac Lenaola, the judges ruled as follows; On the issue of whether the petitioners had the right to challenge the outcome and whether the case was a public interest litigation, court ruled that they had a right to sue, saying any Kenyan is free to challenge the presidential poll. The court also ruled that there was no need for fresh nominations for the repeat presidential election after the first poll was voided. On the issue of which candidates were eligible to contest,the judges said the IEBC was guided by a court order in including all the parties in the repeat poll. This effectively dealt with the issue raised concerning the late inclusion of a candidate, Cyrus Jirongo. “We therefore find no fault on the part of the commission to include Mr Jirongo in the repeat poll because they were guided by the court,” he said. Although the judges agreed that the public pronouncement by Nasa candidate Raila Odinga on his withdrawal from the race on September 10 and the letter written to the IEBC was substantive and legally effective, the move could not have led to the cancellation of the repeat poll. They said the withdrawal of a candidate from the presidential election is not contemplated in the Constitution and the Elections Act. Regulations 52, the court said, requires that a candidate who intends to withdraw must do so within three days of nominations by writing to the national returning officer. They added that Regulations 52 was, however, not applicable in the current case because nominations had been conducted in May 2017 and the nominations were not among the issues that led to the nullification of the August 8 presidential poll. When reading the judgment, Justice Smokin Wanjala said the validity of an election cannot be challenged on the basis of whether the election was held in all the 290 constituencies. This was in response to the question on whether failure to hold elections in all constituencies would void the poll. The judges said they were not intimidated by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statements that were made after they annulled the August 8 election. The court also dismissed the claim that the Jubilee Women’s Brigade intimidated people by wearing military-style clothes during campaigns. On claims of irregularities, Justice JB Ojwang said the petitioners made general allegations without proving the claims. He said the IEBC cannot be faulted for shifting some polling stations in Kibra and Mombasa because, as they noted, there was violence in some parts of the country that made it impossible to hold the poll in some areas. ‘All claims of irregularities have been effectively rebutted by the respondents’, the judge said. UN peacekeepers honour Tanzanian troops killed in DR Congo Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:33:57 +0000 The UN force in Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday paid tribute to troops who were killed last week. Tanzanian and Nepalese troops formed a guard for 14 coffins, draped with the Tanzanian flag, in a ceremony near Beni, in North Kivu province. “The death of our Tanzanian friends shall be written in the history of the Congolese nation, in tribute to their sacrifice,” said Congolese General Leon Mushale. “They will remain in the hearts of the Congolese people.” Tanzania’s president John Pombe Maguguli eulogised the peacekeepers at the country’s independence celebrations over the weekend saying ‘our soldiers died protecting the peace and security in the neighbouring country, DRC’ The soldiers were killed on Thursday in the conflict-torn east of the country after clashes with suspected Ugandan rebels, the so-called Allied Democratic Forces. David Gressly, the UN’s deputy special representative for the DRC, said the peacekeepers would not step back from their work. “The Blue Helmets will continue to protect the people of Beni,” he pledged. The attack is the bloodiest against MONUSCO, a force that was deployed in DRC in 1999, and the worst against a UN force since the death of 24 Pakistani peacekeepers in Somalia in June 1993. The European Union on Monday said the “unacceptable attack… underscores the fragility of the security situation in eastern DRC, amplified by the current uncertainty over the country’s political situation.” It called on the DRC authorities to carry out an inquiry “so that those responsible can be swiftly brought to justice,” according to an EU statement issued in Kinshasa. The bodies of the Tanzanian troops are to be repatriated on Tuesday or Wednesday, the Tanzanian army said on Sunday. Ethiopia reduces sentences of jailed journalists, activists Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:07:59 +0000 The Ethiopian federal supreme court has today reduced the jail terms of 20 defendants who were accused and sentenced to various years in jail after having been charged of terrorism related. Among the 20 are two journalists Kalid Mohammed Ahmed and Darsema Sori Banqash, both working with Radio Bilal. In January this year, the Supreme Court sentenced all but one of the defendants under the file name of the first defendant Kedir Moahmmed Yusuf to five years and six months each while the journalist Darsema Sorri, was sentenced to four years and five months on grounds of poor health. The 20 were charged with terrorism for contravening article 7(1) of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (652/2009) and criminal charges for violating articles 32(1) (a) and 38(1) of the FDRE Penal Code of 2004. According to today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, the five years and six months jail term of all the defendants was reduced to three years and six months each; whereas the jail term of Darsema Sorri was reduced from four years and five months to three years and seven months. However, four of those charged are also facing seperate charges in relation to a deadly fire outbreak in the Qilinto prison in September last year. The remaining 16 whose sentences are reduced are expected to be released from jail anytime soon since they have already served their times. The charges against the 20 defendants also include “inciting protests among Muslims in the cities of Addis Abeba, Jimma and Wolkite by preparing and distributing fliers and stickers claiming that the government arrested “The Committee”; organizing unlawful demonstrations calling for and inciting protests.” According to the Addis Standard, Muslims in the Horn of Africa nation have since 2011 been protesting what they see as undue interference of the government in the religious affairs. .pressfreedom welcomes the reduced sentences for journalists Darsema Sori and Khalid Mohamed in #Ethiopia but urges authorities to immediately release them and all other imprisoned journalists – #FreeThePress –— CPJ Africa (CPJAfrica) December 11, 2017 Ethiopia’s media environment is considered one of the most restrictive in Africa, characterised by use of the anti-terrorism law to harass and intimidate journalists, censorship and closure of publications and the internet. Pics of the day: 11 December, 2017 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:12:18 +0000 Russia's Putin, Egypt's Sisi discuss nuclear deal, Middle East tensions Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:54:09 +0000 Russian President Vladimir Putin met Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on Monday for talks over a nuclear power plant and tensions in the Middle East following Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Putin’s visit to Cairo reflects the deepening ties between Russia and Egypt, the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid after Israel and a strategic U.S. partner in the Middle East because of its control of the Suez Canal. During the visit, Egypt and Russia signed an agreement to start work on Egypt’s Dabaa nuclear power plant. Russian state nuclear company Rosatom said the Dabaa nuclear station it will build in Egypt will have four reactors and cost up to $21 billion with construction expected to finish in 2028-2029. Moscow and Cairo signed an initial agreement in 2015 for Russia to build the plant, with Russia extending a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction. They were also to discuss the resumption of Russian flights to Egypt as soon as possible, a presidential spokesman told MENA state news agency. Moscow halted civilian air traffic to Egypt in 2015 after militants bombed a Russian Metrojet flight leaving from the tourist resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing 224 people onboard. The high-level Russian visit comes after the U.S. government in August decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and to delay another $195 million because of its failure to make progress on human rights and democratic norms. Russia launched a military operation to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015, and there are signs Moscow is keen to further expand its military presence in the region. In November, Russia’s government published a draft agreement between Russia and Egypt allowing both countries to use each other’s air space and air bases for their military planes. Putin has been steadily building relations with Egypt. On his first visit to Cairo in 2015, he was the first leader of a major power to meet with Sisi after the former Egyptian army commander ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in 2013. That prompted Washington to cool relations with Egypt, and the U.S. government suspended some military aid. Since then the two leaders have increased cooperation, reviving the historical alliance between Egypt and Soviet Union of the 1970s. Cairo had moved closer to the United States when Washington brokered a peace deal with Israel in 1979. Libya is a particular interest, where Egypt and Russia have both backed Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar who has become one of the most powerful leaders in the North African state since it fell into factional fighting after a 2011 uprising. Ivory Coast to pay off 'rogue' soldiers $110m to retire Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:09:50 +0000 Ivory Coast will pay over 4000 soldiers $25,782 each as a retirement package designed to reduce the size of an unruly and mutiny-prone army. The government had last week announced that it would retire up to 1,000 soldiers by the end of this year, with a plan of having 4,400 troops leave the army over the next four years. While the military spokesperson did not reveal how much each soldier would receive upon voluntary retirement, documents obtained by news agencies outline a plan that would see each retired soldier receive an equivalent of 15 million CFA Francs. The retirement plan is seen by diplomats and international observers as a step towards implementation of military reforms that are necessary to bring the Ivorian forces, estimated at about 25,000 troops, in line with ‘accepted standards’ Ivory Coast, which was Africa’s fastest growing economy in 2016 was hit hard by successive uprisings by low ranking soldiers. The last uprising in May this year which lasted five days as soldiers seized control of the country’s second largest city Bouake, ended with the government offering thousands of soldiers up to $12,000. These costly bonuses coupled with the effect of plummeting cocoa prices have left Ivory Coast, the world’s leading cocoa producer, reeling with cash-flow problems and a tarnished image. Ivory Coast is still recovering from a brief civil war fought after President Alassane Ouattara won a disputed election in 2010 but incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down. Ouattara has struggled to assert his authority over the army, which was cobbled together in an uneasy merger of the northern New Forces rebels who supported him and the professional troops who had fought against him. South Africa state prosecutor defies court ruling, extends Zuma deadline in corruption case Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:13:33 +0000 South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has extended the deadline for President Jacob Zuma to submit arguments on why he should not be prosecuted for corruption to the end of next month. “They must submit their representation on the 31st of January,” said NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku, referring to Zuma’s lawyers who requested an extension from the Nov. 30 deadline. The November 30 deadline had been given by state prosecutor Shaun Abrahams, whose appointment was ruled ‘invalid and set aside’ by the High Court last week. Court argued that President Zuma could not appoint the National Director of Public Prosecutions since he was clearly conflicted, given the many criminal charges against him that have not gone away. South African court rules Zuma appointment of state prosecutor invalid #SupremeCourt #JacobZuma— africanews (@africanews) December 8, 2017 Zuma said he would appeal the court’s ruling and the NPA’s spokesperson Mfaku confirmed that Abrahams would remain in office until the appeal is determined. The charges against Zuma relate to a 30 billion rand ($2 billion) government arms deal arranged in the late 1990s and have amplified calls for Zuma to step down before his term as president ends in 2019. In October the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision by a lower court that the nearly 800 corruption charges filed against Zuma before he became president be reinstated. It then fell to Abrahams, appointed by Zuma as chief state prosecutor in 2015, to decide whether or not the NPA would pursue a case against Zuma. Tanzania's Magufuli slammed for releasing child rapists Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:49:40 +0000 Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli is under fire for pardoning persons convicted of raping school girls. According to a child rights activist who heads the Community for Children’s Rights located in the country’s north, the president’s action comes across as a punishment to young children. Kate McAlpine is quoted by the BBC Africa LIVE page as saying she was horrified but unsurprised by Magufuli’s actions. She related the incident of last weekend to the president’s unyielding stance on pregnant school girls. “Pregnant schoolgirls are pregnant because they are victims of violence. He has a blind spot when it comes to recognising children as victims. “There seems to be a punitive attitude towards young children,” McAlpine added. Magufuli’s Independence Day pardon While addressing hundreds of people at the country’s 56th independence anniversary, Magufuli announced a pardon of prisoners with the immediate release of 1,828 convicts while 6,329 others would have their sentences reduced. But notable among the beneficiaries was popular musician Nguza Viking a.k.a. Babu Seya and his son Johnson who had been jailed for life after being found guilty of defiling 10 primary school girls in 2004. Like many of Magufuli’s actions throughout his 2 years in office, this pardon was received with mixed reactions. While some Tanzanians welcome the return of the popular Rumba musician, there are sections who have taken to social media to express their dismay at the pardon of convicted rapists. Tanzania’s president John Pombe Magufuli made the country’s independence day his own day when he cancelled the 2015 national celebrations in favour of a community clean up campaign and redirected the funds towards an anti-cholera drive that was happening in the country at the time. Indeed since then, Tanzania’s independence day has always coincided with performance assessments of this president who is reputed as a no-nonsense, results oriented politician. He has publicly taken on civil servants, government parastatals, politicians, the media, political opponents and mining multinational companies that were thought to be ‘too powerful to question.’ Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Real vs PSG, Chelsea vs Barca in UEFA Champions League round of 16 ties Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:54:52 +0000 The draw for the UEFA Champions League round of 16 ties have been made with mouthwatering clashes between top European sides. Spanish and French champions, Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain will face each other whiles Chelsea and Barcelona renew their fierce rivalry in the two top fixtures. Italian giants Juventus will face English side Tottenham Hotspurs. The remaining English sides have tricky duels as follows: Manchester City vs Basel, Liverpool vs Porto and Manchester United vs Sevilla. The round of 16 #UCLdraw has been made ? Backing your team to progress?— ★ #UCLdraw ★ (@ChampionsLeague) December 11, 2017 Mali dance labs bring performers together for a festival of experimentation [no comment] Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:42:42 +0000 Twenty four dancers have been meeting in Bamako, Mali to share ideas and history of movement from different countries around Africa. Organised by Haitian dancer Kettly Noel, this festival has grown over the years to become a Mecca for dancers, choreographers and musicians. U.S. envoy and Uganda govt spokesman clash over age limit debate Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:23:28 +0000 Deborah Malac, the United States ambassador to Uganda has clashed with the government spokesman over the contentious presidential age limit law. Malac in an interview with the local newspaper,Daily Monitor, stated that the government had to respect the rights of and accommodate the views of persons opposed to the law. She is quoted as saying: “to debate, differ and disagree in a non-violent manner” is a basic tenet of a vibrant democracy. The government spokesman Frank Tumwebaze, however, said it was not for the ambassador to comment on internal political issues of a sovereign country. He pointed her to incidents back in the U.S. where police continue to kill black people. According to him, Ugandan politics is “none of their business …their aid and trade relations are not conditions for meddling into the internal politics of the country.” Another area where the two crossed swords was on freedom of the media. Malac is on record to have said that the media was ‘under assault,’ whiles commenting on the recent arrest and prosecution of publishers and journalists over a publication. She buttressed a position advanced by the U.S. Department of State that it was worried about the case of the Red Pepper Group in the light of media freedoms in Uganda. The eight accused persons – three journalists and five publishers – have been charged mainly with treason and other offences over a story that said President Museveni planned to overthrow his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, a claim the government has dismissed. “Her claim that journalism in Uganda is under assault is not only unfortunate but also an act of extreme arrogance. The decision (the ruling) National Resistance Movement government took long ago to liberalise the media and fully guarantee space for independent press was deliberate and aimed at building our democratic culture. “That is why we have more than 300 radio and almost 50 TV stations all licensed all over the country broadcasting freely. “However, when certain actors in the media offend certain established laws and public interest and are charged in court, it doesn’t mean the whole journalism is under attack as she concludes. “Charging people in court is not an abuse of their rights. Being in court means you have a chance to defend yourself and get justice,” the spokesman’s response to the ambassador read. Photo Credit: The Uganda Daily Monitor Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Genetically modified cotton sowed trouble in Burkina Faso Mon, 11 Dec 2017 11:16:57 +0000 In 2000, farmers in Burkina Faso, Africa’s top cotton grower, were desperate. Their cotton fetched top prices because its high-quality fibre lent a luxurious sheen to clothing and bedsheets. But pests , bollworms were threatening the crop. Even when you dropped the bollworm larvae into a bucket of poison, farmers said, they kept swimming. U.S. agro-chemical company Monsanto proposed an answer: a genetically modified strain of cotton called Bollgard II, which it had already been introduced in America and was being marketed worldwide. Monsanto’s GM was established in large-scale farming in South Africa, but not among the smallholders who produce most African cotton. The Burkina farmers agreed to a trial and the country introduced seeds with a genetically modified gene in 2008. The resulting cotton was pest-free, and the harvest more abundant. By 2015, three-quarters of all Burkina Faso’s production was GM, and it became a showcase for the technology among smallholders in Africa. From 2007 to 2015, delegations from at least 17 different African nations visited Burkina to see it. But there was a problem. While the bug-resistant genes produced more volume, the quality fell. Last season, the cotton farmers of Burkina Faso abandoned the GM varieties. “Truthfully, genetically modified cotton, it’s not good today. It’s not good tomorrow. When you produce genetically modified cotton in your farm, after two years, you cannot plant anything else on your land,” said farmer Paul Badoun. The country’s GM experience, told by more than three dozen Monsanto insiders, farmers, scientists and cotton company officials as well as in confidential documents reviewed by Reuters, highlights a little-known quandary faced by genetic engineering. For Burkina Faso’s cotton growers, GM ended up as a trade-off between quantity and quality. For Monsanto, whose $13.5 billion in revenues in 2016 were more than Burkina Faso’s GDP, it proved uneconomical to tailor the product closely to a market niche. The Burkinabes knew from the start that American cotton varieties containing Monsanto’s gene could not deliver the quality of their home-grown crop, cotton company officials and researchers told Reuters. But they pressed on because Monsanto agreed to breed its pest-resistant genes into their native plants, which they hoped would protect the cotton and keep its premium value. That, they say, was a failure. Cotton quality is most commonly determined by the length of the fibre, or staple, that emerges when a tuft is pulled out of a cotton boll. The longer the fibre or staple, the higher the quality. Monsanto’s American Bt cotton produced short fibres, the kind typically used to make fabric for everyday use such as jeans and t-shirts. In the three seasons before Burkina introduced Bt cotton, over 90 percent of its output was classed as high quality long- or medium-staple by the country’s cotton companies. In 2010-2011, GM cotton made up over half of production, but only 21 percent of the crop reached the previous quality standard. “We wanted to increase our production, so that is one of the reasons why we decided to use genetically modified cotton in our country,” Burkina Faso Agriculture Minister Jacob Ouedraogo told Reuters. In July 2015, Monsanto wrote to the Burkina growers saying the quality problems had been offset by other benefits. Asked by Reuters about the quality problems and whether it promised to fix them, the company did not respond. Instead, it pointed to a dispute that erupted with Burkina Faso over payments for seed-licensing fees. Monsanto paid nearly $3 million in compensation to the Burkinabes in those first two seasons due to the quality problems, according to the memo reviewed by Reuters, which was sent in 2015 to complain about losses cotton companies had incurred. Monsanto declined to comment on this point. Burkina Faso’s cotton continued to suffer. In 2014-2015, average Bt cotton fibres from around the country were up to 2.29 mm shorter than the conventional strains. The cotton lost its premium pricing. The impact, according to the Burkinabes, was a drop in the value of its output of at least 3 cents per pound of cotton, or between 2 and 5 percent of the volatile global benchmark price. Monsanto, which has agreed to a $66 billion take-over by Germany’s Bayer, told Reuters its genetic traits transformed Burkina Faso’s cotton sector, improving the lives of 350,000 farmers and the roughly 4 million Burkinabes who depend on them, by increasing production and reducing pesticide use. For Burkina Faso’s farmers, Bt cotton’s benefits were “barely acceptable,” according to a 2016 study by the French government’s agricultural research agency, CIRAD. It found farmers made more money, but the new seeds also increased their financial risk. “As farmers, we always stick to what works for our production. We would rather work hard and harvest a lot rather than working less and harvesting more. The genetically modified cotton allowed us to work less but the fiber that we harvested was much shorter and lighter compared to the conventional cotton, which is much more demanding to farm but give us a more satisfying harvest. That is why we prefer conventional cotton seeds,” said cotton farmer Sounkalo Djobo. Burkina Faso is now clawing back its reputation. In the 2016-2017 season, the first since it returned to conventional cotton seeds, 98.8 percent of its production was graded as medium to long staple. So far, the bollworms have not returned. If they do, Burkinabe officials say they aren’t turning their backs on GM, although the country does not use the technology at present. However, they say, any varieties must fit their unique needs. Africa must look out for about 6,000 IS returnee combatants – A.U. Mon, 11 Dec 2017 10:25:45 +0000 The Africa Union’s (A.U.) Commissioner for Peace and Security has said African countries needed to prepare for the return of about 6,000 Islamic State (IS) combatants from former strongholds of Iraq and Syria. Smail Chergui, whiles addressing a meeting in Algeria said countries needed to work more closely in the area of intelligence sharing and other security arrangements in order to counter the returning insurgents. His comments comes at a time when the Iraqi government has declared victory over the group having pushed them out of areas they previously held and degraded their military capabilities. “There are reports of 6,000 African fighters among the 30,000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East,” Chergui is quoted by the Algeria Press Service news agency to have said. “The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and intense cooperation between African countries,” he stressed. Since declaring a caliphate in Iraq and Syria back in 2014, IS in Iraq has been engaged in armed warfare with the government forces, local rebels and U.S. backed forces. They are still engaged with government and rebel forces and Russia/Iran troops in Syria. It is largely believed that the group has not only lost territories but also its military capabilities. IS is said to have recruited fighters from around the world especially via social media platform, Telegram. There are fears that most of the foreign fighters will relocate to other parts of the world. Africa’s already fragile security allied with IS links with other terrorists groups on the continent according to security watchers makes it a key destination for such combatants. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Somalia's free ambulance service gets $32,000 from online fundraiser Mon, 11 Dec 2017 09:17:55 +0000 Aamin Ambulance, the Somali capital’s first and only free private ambulance service has received a sum of $32,966 from a fund raiser started by a national resident in Sweden. Abdi Addow, opened a gofundme page to raise funds to support the ambulance service right after the twin bomb blasts that hit Mogadishu on October 12, 2017. The outfit also credits one Nadifa Mohamed for being a key fund raiser. Aamin Ambulance is reputed as the first emergency service almost always at the scene of bomb blasts which are frequent in the country. It has offered first aid to bombing victims for over a decade. GOOD NEWS!!! Two amazing individuals Abdi Addow (AbdiAddow1</a>) & Nadifa Mohamed (<a href="">thesailorsgirl) started raising funds for AaminAmbulance</a> two months ago. Today we have received their raised funds of $32,966.42. Thank you for the support & the donations. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Aamin Ambulance (AaminAmbulance) December 7, 2017 Abdi Addow’s goal was to raise 100,000 Swedish Krona (US $12,286) to support Aamin Ambulance but just 16 hours after the page was created, 38,213 Swedish Krona (US $4,694) was raised by 198 people. He said the money he hoped will help improve communications, medical supplies, vehicles and human resource in order for Aamin Ambulance to be able to provide quicker emergency response. “Please support the unsung heroes and heroines of Aamin Ambulance,” he appealed on the page. Even though they currently own a fleet of 10 ambulances which is the largest in the country and they have a team of volunteers who respond quickly to emergencies, the amount raised is to be invested in three new ambulances and repairs to the existing fleet. AaminAmbulance</a> intend to spend the raised money on 3 new ambulances and repairs to their existing fleet. Anyone know where we can find some good 2nd ambulances? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Nadifa Mohamed (thesailorsgirl) December 7, 2017 Aamin Ambulance works in partnership with the Somali federal Government, UNOCHA, UNDP and WHO. The October twin bomb blasts, described as the single deadliest attack ever in the Horn of Africa nation, claimed over 500 lives according to a government committee. The impact of the truck bomb the committee established, was worsened by it exploding next to a fuel tanker that increased its intensity and left many bodies being burnt or mutilated beyond recognition. “So far we have confirmed 512 people died in last month’s explosion … (Some) 316 others were also injured in that blast,” Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwac, chairman of the Zobe Rescue Committee told Reuters. The bomb attacks were the deadliest since militant group al Shabaab began an insurgency in 2007. Al Shabaab has not claimed responsibility, but the method and type of attack – a large truck bomb – is increasingly used by the al Qaeda-linked organisation. Al Shabaab stages regular attacks in the capital and other parts of the country. Although the group says it targets the government and security forces, it has in the past detonated large bombs in crowded public areas. It has sometimes not claimed responsibility for bombings that provoked a big public backlash, such as the 2009 suicide bombing of a graduation ceremony for medical students. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Contaminated infant milk intended for France and foreign markets withdrawn Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:54:02 +0000 The French government has withdrawn infant milk manufactured by the Lactalis group, intended for France and foreign markets, because of a risk of contamination by salmonella. While Lactalis had already recalled twelve references of infant milks manufactured in its factory in Craon (Mayenne) on December 2, the Ministry of Economy and Finance published Sunday a list of more than 600 lots that are recalled, prohibited to the consumption and export. The quantities involved are “huge”, acknowledged a spokesman for Lactalis, who presents himself as “world leader in dairy products”. Bercy explains in his statement that the measures taken by the group since December 2 are “not likely to control the risk of contamination” by these bacteria. This previous booster was ordered after Salmonella contamination of 20 infants under 6 months of age who had consumed these products. However, five new cases of salmonellosis were reported in infants this week, one of which had consumed a rice milk that was not among the recalled products on 2 December. “These children are fine,” reassured Bercy. Salmonellosis is a food poisoning that ranges from mild gastroenteritis to more serious infections. They are potentially more dangerous for young children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. The investigations carried out since December 2 “have made it possible to identify and confirm the link between these contaminations and the consumption of infant nutrition products from the LNS group’s production lines” (Lactalis Nutrition Santé), Bercy said. Lactalis spokesman spoke of a “probable cause of contamination on one of our drying towers (from the Craon plant) in the period from 1 to 6 May”. “As a precaution, it was decided to proceed to a broader recall of all products manufactured since February 15,” he added. Meeting of Egypt and Palestine presidents over Trump's Jerusalem move Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:31:47 +0000 Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Cairo on Monday to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a presidential statement said on Sunday. The statement said Sisi wanted to discuss “ways to deal with the crisis in a manner that preserves the rights of the Palestinian people and their national sanctities and their legitimate right to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital”. Last Wednesday, December 6, 2017; Trump officially announced that the U.S. formally recognised the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that plans were afoot for their embassy be moved. World leaders have since slammed Trump’s move calling it a setback for peace efforts between Israel and Palestine and a security risk to the larger Middle East region. The European Union, the United Nations and African Union have all expressed worry over Trump’s move. The move has provoked series of anti-American protests across the Muslim world. Deadly clashes have erupted between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. Somalia, Djibouti, Egypt and other African countries have expressed their condemnation. Confusion over arrest of author critical of Cameroon president Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:12:03 +0000 Patrice Nganang, a Cameroonian professor and author was last week arrested by the police as he was due to fly out of the country to Zimbabwe, where his family resides. The cause of his arrest has been pinned on his critical views of president Paul Biya’s handling of the ‘Anglophone crisis’ in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon. His wife and lawyer averred that he was being held over an article he authored and which was published in the French magazine, Jeune Afrique. His lawyer Emmanuel Simh said last Friday: “He is accused of insulting the president of the republic, and after the hearings we will be able to give further information.” But the information minister, Issa Bakary Tchiroma is also reported as saying Nganang’s arrest was over a Facebook post threatening the president. His arrest “arose following a promise of death on the person of the Head of State, made by the person concerned through a message posted on his Facebook page, December 3, 2017 at 19 hours 27 minutes”, AFP quoted Mr. Tchiroma as saying. What has become known as the ‘Anglophone Crisis’ in Cameroon is at the stage of an armed confrontation between secessionists and the army. President Paul Biya two weeks ago declared war on the activities of the secessionists. The declaration followed attacks on members of the security forces, which incidents claimed six lives – four soldiers and two policemen weeks ago. It brought the total number of casualties to 10 after four others were killed earlier. The separatists are pushing for an independent country that seeks to breakaway with the two predominantly Anglophone regions. The Cameroonian government has been slammed in the recent past by rights organizations like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch for trampling on the rights of the media and political actors. Yaounde is accused of torturing people being held and unnecessarily delaying trials which do not follow the due course of the law. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Kenya opposition postpones Odinga's December 12 swearing in Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:02:52 +0000 Kenya’s main opposition coalition, the National Super Alliance (NASA) has announced a postponement of the swearing-in ceremony of its leader Raila Odinga as president of the country. A statement released on Sunday, two days to the December 12, event said the latest decision had been reached “following extensive internal consultations and engagements with a wide range of national and international interlocutors.” NASA said it was aware that the postponement will be a disappointment to Kenyans who were looking forward to the day. They added that a new date for the event will be announced in the coming days “We wish to assure them that our resolve has not changed. Specifically, we wish to reiterate that any national dialogue must have electoral justice on the agenda. We are not interested in sharing illegitimate dictatorial power,” a statement signed by Raila Odinga and three other leaders stated. Statement on Inauguration of The Rt. Honourable Raila Odinga and His Excellency Kalonzo Musyoka— NASA Coalition (@CoalitionNASAKe) December 10, 2017 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Aliko Dangote: Only African on Bloomberg's '2017 50 Most Influential People' Thu, 07 Dec 2017 16:16:13 +0000 Nigerian business mogul and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, was the only African to make the 50 Most Influential People in 2017, according to a list released by Bloomberg magazine. The man described as President of the Dangote Group of companies has often made such lists due to his business concerns and humanitarian efforts back home in Nigeria. The list pooled together people from five broad categories: business, tech, politics, entertainment and finance. In the area of business Bloomberg said of the personalities, “In business, like Africa’s richestman devoted to boosting food production in Nigeria and a designer who made Adidas the powerhouse that it is today.” A reviewer Paul Wallace wrote about the 60-year-old: “Dubbed “the quiet billionaire” for his relatively frugal lifestyle, Dangote fast-tracked plans to help his country of 180 million people import less of what it eats. “Dangote, who made his fortune in the cement industry, is turning his attention to dairy and sugar farming; he’s earmarked $800 million to buy 50,000 cattle in the hope of producing 500 million liters of milk annually by 2019. “He’s also racing to finish a 650,000-barrel-a-day oil refinery near Lagos, set to be one of the world’s biggest, and says he intends to spend as much as $50 billion in the next decade on renewable energy and petrochemical refineries, including investments in the U.S. and Europe. Which is all fine, but not quite his grand ambition: buying Arsenal, his favorite soccer team.” A photo of Dangote was displayed last Wednesday on the Nasdaq Tower in New York following his selection on the Bloomberg list. Other persons who made the list include Nikki Haley, the United States envoy to the United Nations, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon; Paul Gaudio, Global Creative Director of Adidas and Michel Barnier, E.U. Chief Brexit negotiator. Elon Musk of Tesla, Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci; California state governor, Jerry Brown, CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman were also on the list. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Sudan gov't imposes temporary ban on some imports to support currency Sun, 10 Dec 2017 15:23:52 +0000 Sudan has imposed a temporary import ban on selected foods and other items in an effort to protect its currency and narrow its budget deficit after the end of U.S. trade sanctions in October, the government said. The Sudanese pound has been weakening against the dollar since Washington lifted 20-year-old economic embargo, paving the way for traders to step up import volumes and putting pressure on already scarce hard currency. The central bank holds the official exchange rate at 6.7 pounds to the dollar, but a low supply in formal channels have meant traders have had to rely on Sudan’s black market for dollars. Meat products, fish and fresh produce were among the 19 items included in the temporary ban the trade ministry signed, according to a statement released late on Saturday. The ban was effective Dec. 7, the day it was signed. The central bank announced emergency measures last month after the pound fell to a record low of 27 against the dollar on the black market. The pound’s value has picked up since, trading at about 25 on Sunday. REUTERS Ex-Cameroon player credited with World Cup's 'worst tackle' dies Sun, 10 Dec 2017 15:04:03 +0000 Former Cameroon international Benjamin Massing, whose crunching tackles at the World Cup in 1990 earned him an infamous reputation, died aged 55 on Sunday, local media reported. The defender’s scything body check on Claudio Caniggia in the opening game against Argentina in Milan was later dubbed the worst tackle in World Cup history. It reinforced an unwanted reputation of defensive brutality that surrounded Cameroon’s unprecedented run to the quarter-finals of the tournament, going further than any African side had done before. Cameroon’s 1990 World Cup star Benjamin #Massing has died at the age of 55? 1990: #Cameroon were holding on for dear life as they lead 1-0 v Argentina. Caniggia broke free, skipped past two tackles then MASSING?— Oluwashina Okeleji (@oluwashina) December 10, 2017 Massing was sent off in the opening game of the 1990 World Cup and sat out the next three, but returned to play against England in the last eight in Naples where he gave away a penalty for a tackle on Gary Lineker as Cameroon were beaten 3-2 in extra time. Massing, who played in France at Creteil, won 34 caps for his country between 1986 and 1992. The cause of his death was not reported. REUTERS Togo frees detained Imams critical of government Sun, 10 Dec 2017 12:17:52 +0000 Authorities in Togo have released two religious leaders detained for their critical views on the regime of President Faure Gnassingbe. One of the two Imams, Alpha Alhassane, a revered spiritual leader in the second largest city of Sokode is also a known adviser of a leading opposition Pan-African National Party leader Tikpi Atchadam. His arrest in October this year led to violent protests in Sokode with public buildings reportedly torched by angry protesters. The gendarmerie, post office, parts of the Togo Telecoms building among others were targeted by the protesters who clashed with the security forces, reports said. Even though the reason for his arrest at the time was unknown, it was reported to be linked to the series of anti-government protests organised by the opposition. A video making the rounds on social media, showed the Imam with well wishers supposedly after his release from detention. #Togodebout , Farida_N</a> <a href="">RFIAfrique, bbcafrique</a> <a href="">#Liberation</a> dè imames a <a href="">#Kara</a>. <a href="">FauremustgoNow!— Noel LeGrand (@noel_legrand) December 8, 2017 The political crisis in the tiny West African nation dates back to August this year when an opposition coalition began protests calling for widespread political reforms and an immediate end to the Gnassingbe family dynasty which has ruled Togo for the last five decades. The president has recently said government was ready for dialogue with opposition. Key among the reform calls, a two five-year term limit for presidents as well as a two-round voting system. Changes to the composition of the country’s constitutional court. Faure’s father, Eyadema, scrapped term limits in 1995 to allow him stay in power. He ruled for 38 years till his death in 2005 when with the help of the military, his son – a minister at the time, rose to the office through contested polls. He is in his third mandate which ends in 2020. The opposition want him to be ruled out of future polls but the government’s proposal is crafted such that he could run in the next two polls – 2020 and 2025. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Ghanaian rogue trader gets reprieve in U.K. deportation case Sun, 10 Dec 2017 12:15:55 +0000 Kweku Adoboli, a former UBS trader jailed for Britain’s biggest fraud over unauthorised trades that cost the Swiss bank $2.3 billion, averted the immediate threat of deportation at a court hearing in London on Thursday, December 7, 2017. Adoboli’s case made global headlines when he was arrested in 2011 and tried in 2012 over the huge losses to UBS, caused by trades far in excess of his authorised risk limits which he had pretended to hedge by booking fictitious off-setting trades. A Ghanaian national who has lived in Britain since he was 12, Adoboli, now 37, has been appealing against an order made by the British authorities in July 2014 that he should be sent back to Ghana as a foreign criminal. He asked the Court of Appeal on Thursday to stop the deportation process until the Home Office, Britain’s interior ministry, responded to several claims he has made that it has mishandled his case. Among other issues, he says officials falsified a copy of his passport, wrongly asserted he was ineligible to work in Britain, and got basic facts about his life wrong in the deportation order. A Home Office spokesman said: “The case is ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment.” The court agreed to Adoboli’s request and adjourned the case. Adoboli, whose pay when he was at UBS had peaked at an annual 360,000 pounds ($482,650) in 2010, represented himself in court as he cannot afford legal fees. Since his release from prison in June 2015, Adoboli has campaigned for cultural change in financial services. He says he is remorseful for the actions that led to his fraud conviction, but should be allowed to stay in Britain because of strong personal ties in the country and the public interest in his advocacy work. “I paid my dues in full as a model prisoner and since as an advocate for learning and change,” he wrote in a legal document seen by Reuters. Adoboli has gained widespread support for his efforts to stay in Britain, including from Scottish National Party lawmaker Hannah Bardell, who represents the area in Scotland where he has been living with his two godsons and their parents. Born in Ghana in 1980, Adoboli moved to Jerusalem with his family in 1984 when his father, a United Nations official, was posted there. The family later moved to Syria, and Adoboli never lived in Ghana again apart from during a short stint when the family had to leave Damascus because of the first Gulf War. In 1992, aged 12, Adoboli was sent to a Quaker boarding school in Yorkshire, northern England. He has lived in Britain ever since. REUTERS Zimbabwe president names new head of state intelligence outfit Sun, 10 Dec 2017 11:14:17 +0000 Zimbabwe has named a former diplomat as the head of its intelligence agency, state-owned newspaper The Herald said on Saturday. Isaac Moyo, who was serving as an ambassador to neighbouring South Africa and Lesotho, replaces retired army general Happyton Bonyongwe, the paper quoted chief secretary to the president, Misheck Sibanda, as saying. No one was immediately available to comment in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office. The Herald is a mouthpiece for the government. Moyo takes over a domestic spy network, the Central Intelligence Organisation, that permeates every institution and section of society and has been used by former President Robert Mugabe to stay in power. He has served as a member of the African Union’s Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), intelligence provider to the union’s 55 states. Mnangagwa, who was sworn in two weeks ago in the wake of the de facto military coup that ended Mugabe’s 37-year rule, has been ringing in changes in his administration including appointing leading military officials to top posts in his cabinet. REUTERS Ethiopia backs A.U. stance on Jerusalem, says no plans to relocate embassy Sun, 10 Dec 2017 10:51:15 +0000 The Ethiopian government says its embassy will continue to be in the known Israeli capital, Tel Aviv despite United States president opting to recognise Jerusalem as the capital. At a press conference late last week, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Meles Alem told reporters that Trump’s move applied to the U.S. alone. ‘We, as part of the African Union, endorse the two-state solution,’ he added. Last Wednesday, December 6, 2017; Trump officially announced that the U.S. formally recognised the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that plans were afoot for their embassy be moved. World leaders have since slammed the move calling it a setback for peace efforts between Israel and Palestine and a security risk to the larger Middle East region. The European Union, the United Nations and African Union have all expressed worry over Trump’s move. The move has provoked series of anti-American protests across the Muslim world. Deadly clashes have erupted between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. Somalia, Djibouti, Egypt and other African countries have expressed their condemnation. Ethiopia is a known ally of both the United States and Israel. Their relation with the U.S. borders on anti-terrorism and diplomacy. The same is the situation with Israel in addition to cultural and traditional ties extending decades back. What has the A.U. Chief said about U.S. position on Jerusalem “The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, notes with deep concern the decision of the United States Government, announced today, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel. “He regrets this decision, which will only increase tensions in the region and beyond and further complicate the search for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates the solidarity of the African Union with the Palestinian people and its support to their legitimate quest for an independent and sovereign State with East Jerusalem as its capital. “In this context, he calls for renewed international efforts to find a just and lasting solution to the conflict, based on the existence of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security, within the framework of relevant African Union and United Nations pronouncements.” Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Viral video of Tanzania lesbian proposal lands four in court Sat, 09 Dec 2017 13:42:56 +0000 The two women alleged to have taken part in a lesbian marriage in Tanzania were last Friday arraigned before a court. Milembe Selemani, 35, and Janeth Shonza, a 25-year-old university student were brought before the Mwanza Resident Magistrate Court. Emmanuel Luvinga, the state attorney told the presiding magistrate that the two had committed offences of lesbianism on August 31, 2017. He added that their actions were contrary to section 138(a) of the country’s penal code. Two other persons were also hauled before court for their involvement in the lesbian union which found its way onto social media leading to the arrests. They were: Richard Fabian, 28, who is alleged to be the source of the viral social media video. The other Annet Mkuki, 24, was held for being the master of ceremony at the said event where the two women exchanged rings and were shown kissing. Richard was accused of breaching a section of Tanzania’s Cyber crimes Act of 2015. A bail application by their lawyer was refused and the next hearing slated for December 13, 2017. Police in the Mwanza region said more arrests had been made in respect to the particular case and they were on the hunt for other suspects connected to the event. Regional Commander, Ahmed Msangi, said the incidence of homosexuality although illegal was increasing and that it needed to be condemned by all. He tasked members of the public to provide police with information on persons engaged in the act. Tanzanian president John Magufuli’s government has stepped up a crackdown against homosexuality since coming into power in 2015 and threatened in June to arrest and expel activists, as well as deregister all non-governmental organisations that campaign for gay rights. Go and champion gay rights elsewhere, not in Tanzania – government warns— africanews (@africanews) June 28, 2017 In October, authorities in the main city Dar es Salaam raided a meeting at a hotel, saying the gathering was promoting same-sex relationships, and arrested at least 12 men. Since homosexuality is a criminal offence in Tanzania, rights groups are reluctant to speak publicly in defence of gay rights. The country’s health ministry banned non governmental organisations last year from distributing free lubricants to gays as part HIV/AIDS control measures. Some health experts warn that shutting down HIV/AIDS outreach programmes targeting gay people could put the wider population at higher risk of infections. Around 1.4 million Tanzanians among a population of more than 50 million are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to government estimates. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban The fascinating Egyptian dream of a new capital in the middle of the desert Sun, 10 Dec 2017 09:53:58 +0000 Luxury hotels, upscale residential neighborhoods, a modern airport, a 345-meter tower … Egypt hopes to impress the world with its new capital in the desert, a project yet far from unanimous. “We have a dream,” a very urgent dream to go outside the administrative capital and outside of Cairo, and right now we are realizing that dream’‘ says Khaled El Husseiny, who is charged by the authorities with presenting the site to about 15 foreign journalists during an official visit. Some 45 kilometers east of Cairo, between the Suez and Ain Sokhna roads, a few trucks are working on new tracks that wind through a vast expanse of almost virgin sand. On the site of the future headquarters of the Council of Ministers, the workers are working on the construction of what will be the government district, supposedly to house the presidential palace, the Parliament, 32 ministries and several embassies. “I work more than twelve hours a day on this bogus shipyard where no one comes to see us,” says one of them, the complexion and a mask wrapped around the head to protect the sun. “Do you want to go on TV?” “Then go back to work!” Exclaims the foreman furiously. Announced in 2015 by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, this new capital officially entered in October in its first phase of design. Of about 170 km2, it is expected to be partly operational by 2019 and gradually accommodate more than 6 million inhabitants. The authorities say they want to respond to the overcrowding in Cairo, known for its endless traffic jams. With its 18 million inhabitants, Greater Cairo should see its population increase to 40 million by 2050, according to official figures. AFP Protests at Libyan embassy in London against slavery Sun, 10 Dec 2017 06:38:11 +0000 Demonstrators protested outside the Libyan embassy in London on Saturday, calling for the British government to pressure Libya to end the slavery and inhumane treatment of migrants. It follows the emergence of video footage last month that appeared to show men being sold at a slave market in Tripoli. Protesters gathered in London to march on the Libyan embassy because at the moment, there are up to one million migrants in Libya, many of whom are hoping to travel to Europe. But estimates are that tens of thousands are being held in camps, detained by people smugglers and armed militia in conditions that have been described as horrific. Among other abuses, the migrants are vulnerable to being sold off as laborers in slave auctions. Video that emerged last month showing men being sold as slaves sent shockwaves around the world. But humanitarian and migrants groups say this is something that’s been going on for years. “Actually what is happening in Libya is not new. It started even before Gaddafi was toppled so now it’s at the forefront of the news channels which is good so we can deal with modern slavery once and for all. The international community needs to get to the root cause of the migration of Africans in sub-Saharan Africa to places like Libya. They need to get to the root cause which is economic. They need to start actually investing properly and ethically in African economies,” said Koffi De Lome, an organizer of the protest. On Thursday, the United Nations Security Council expressed grave concern about the reports of migrants being sold into slavery in Libya saying such actions amount to “heinous abuses of human rights.” Libyan authorities have promised an investigation into the practice and have reached an agreement with European and African leaders for the emergency repatriation of refugees and migrants who are stranded and detained in Libya. Libya and Italy to set up joint operations to tackle migrant smuggling Sat, 09 Dec 2017 17:48:47 +0000 Libya’s UN-backed government has entered into an agreement with Italy to establish a joint operations room for tackling migrant smugglers and traffickers. The agreement was announced after a meeting in Tripoli between the head of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Seraj, Libyan Interior Minister Aref Khodja, and his Italian counterpart Marco Minniti. While no details were given as to where the center would be located and how it would work, Seraj’s office said the center would consist of representatives from the coastguard, the illegal migration department, the Libyan attorney general, and the intelligence services, along with their Italian counterparts. Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities have begun to block departures under Italian pressure. More than 600,000 migrants have made the journey over the past four years. More pressure mounted on the Libyan authorities when CNN released footage that appeared to show African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya. Protests in Europe and Africa caused the UN backed Libyan government to promise action including investigating reports of slavery and bringing the perpetrators to justice. The United Nations migration agency IOM is currently repatriating migrants back to their home countries, helping up to 13,000 to return voluntarily to Nigeria, Guinea and other countries from Libya this year. It provides them with transport and pocket money and documents their often harrowing testimonies. The agency recently blasted social media giants Facebook for not doing enough to prevent use of their platforms by the people smugglers. The Italian navy already has a presence in Tripoli port, providing “technical” assistance to Libya’s coastguard, according to Italian and Libyan officials. The coastguard, which is receiving funding and training from the European Union, has become more assertive in recent months in intercepting migrants and bringing them back to Libya. According to Saturday’s statement, Seraj told Minniti that “despite the successes achieved in the migration file, the number of illegal immigrants outside shelters remains large and we need more cooperation, especially in securing the borders of southern Libya through which these migrants flow”. Egypt's Coptic Church shuns U.S. Mike Pence's visit citing Trump's Jerusalem announcement Sat, 09 Dec 2017 16:22:15 +0000 The fallout over Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, continues. The latest protest action has come from Egypt’s Coptic Church which has rejected a meeting requested by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during his visit later this month. The church said they could not host Mike Pence when he visits Egypt because of Trump’s decision, which according to them, came “at an unsuitable time and was made without consideration for the feelings of millions of people” Downtown Cairo had earlier witnessed hundreds of protesters who demonstrated against the decision, joining European and Arab leaders that have criticised and rejected Trump’s decision. Hundreds of Egyptians protest U.S. decision on Jerusalem— africanews (@africanews) 8 décembre 2017 In Tunisia, thousands of protesters had also demonstrated against the decision, burning US and Israeli flags. The Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi reportedly sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemning the U.S. decision, saying it undermined Palestinian rights. Jerusalem itself witnessed the deadliest protests characterised by arrests, injuries and even death as Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police. Jerusalem city is home to the holy places of three major religions including Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Israel and Palestine have both laid claim to the historic city for a long time, with neither claim earning the stamp of international approval. REUTERS