Africanews RSS Receive free and in real-time all news published by, by subscribing to our RSS feeds. Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:03:49 +0000 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:03:49 +0000 Togo forces teargas protesters seeking end to the Gnassingbe dynasty Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:03:49 +0000 Security forces in Togo fired teargas on Saturday to disperse thousands of protesters calling for an end to the Gnassingbe family dynasty, which has ruled the West African nation for five decades. President Faure Gnassingbe has been in power since the death in 2005 of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, who had been at the helm for 38 years. Wearing the red colours of the opposition PNP party, chanting and singing “50 years is too long!”, the demonstrators in Lome called for the reinstatement of the constitution limiting terms that Eyadema introduced in response to protests in 1992. “We do not understand our little Togo,” said demonstrator Ali Boukari. “The father Eyadema was in power for 38 years, his son will soon have done 15 years. All we are demanding is a term limit and they shoot (tear gas) at us.” The 1992 constitution brought in notional multi-party democracy after decades of dictatorship, and limited presidential terms to two, but ten years later lawmakers amended it to enable Eyadema to run for another term – a common pattern in Africa. Then, when he died, the military effectively tore up the constitution by installing his son as interim president, instead of the head of the national assembly, as was legally required. The protests that followed Faure Gnassingbe’s first election victory in 2005 triggered a violent security crackdown in which around 500 people were killed. “We are protesting against the arbitrary nature of governance and denial of freedom to assemble,” PNP leader Tikpi Atchadam said. REUTERS Embattled Grace Mugabe fails to appear at SADC First Ladies meeting Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:00:47 +0000 Zimbabwe’s first lady Grace Mugabe did not make an expected appearance at a summit of regional leaders in South Africa on Saturday, following allegations of assault against her by a 20-year-old model. South Africa has granted Grace Mugabe diplomatic immunity, a security source told Reuters on Friday. Police had placed border posts on “red alert” to prevent her fleeing after Gabriella Engels said she was whipped by Grace Mugabe with an electric extension cable on Sunday as she waited with two friends in a luxury Johannesburg hotel suite to meet one of Mugabe’s adult sons. Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old president of Zimbabwe, was seen in Pretoria on Saturday attending the South African Development Community summit, but his 52-year-old wife was not at his side or part of his delegation. While the man who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 was being welcomed with other heads of state in a conference hall, protesters outside the building demanded his wife face justice. South African television reported that Grace Mugabe had not attended the summit where she had been scheduled to take part in a session for leaders’ spouses from 1000 GMT. Harare has made no official comment on the saga and requests for comment from Zimbabwean government officials have gone unanswered. The South African government has restricted all official comment to the police ministry. Adding to the diplomatic wrangle, South African Airways (SAA) suspended flights to Harare after one of it planes was grounded in Zimbabwe on Saturday for failing to produce an operating permit, the airline spokesman said. “We’ve been operating for more than 20 years in that market, without this being a requirement,” said SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali, adding the airline had cancelled one Harare-bound flight so far while its plane was grounded in Zimbabwe. The move followed the grounding of an Air Zimbabwe flight in Johannesburg on Friday for not having a foreign operator’s permit on board after a random check by South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority. REUTERS Burkinabes march against terrorism in the streets of Ouagadougou Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:04:29 +0000 Close to a thousand Burkinabes have marched to say no to terrorism in the capital Ouagadougou following the recent attack of a restaurant which left about 18 people dead. The march was organised by the civil society and other personalities who contributed for the printing of T-shirts carrying anti-terrorism messages. Those who turned out for the march believe the impact will be felt in Burkina Faso and beyond. “We are here to express this solidarity and also our availability to continue in the fight against terrorism, a fight shared with the American people and the people of Burkina Faso and all the peoples of the Sahel region,” U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Andrew Young said. During a speech the mayor of Burkina Faso, Armand Béouindé said: “The country remains standing and will never kneel before the blind barbarism perpetrated by those who have lost faith in God and in their own humanity.” Prayers and other blessings were also made for the peaceful repose of the souls of the 18 people killed during the recent attack as well as the speaker of Burkina Faso’s National Assembly who died on Saturday. Elvis Boh [Photos] Buhari returns to Nigeria after 103-days U.K. medical vacation Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:28:11 +0000 Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned home on Saturday from three months of medical leave in Britain where he received treatment for an unspecified ailment. Buhari’s leave, began on May 7 and was his second trip to London this year. Dressed in a dark kaftan and Muslim prayer hat, the 74-year-old Buhari descended from his plane at the international airport in Abuja to excitement from a very large waiting party that involved government officials, the media and ordinary Nigerians. He was greeted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has acted as interim leader, and was accorded a military salute. He made no statement and immediately travelled to the presidential villa. The presidency on Saturday reported that the president was o return Saturday afternoon. Whiles in London, Buhari received lots of visitors including his Vice, leaders of the legislature, his media team among others. The presidency has not disclosed the precise nature of the 74-year-old’s ailment, which has led to speculation in Nigerian media and on social media about his illness and whether he will seek a second term by contesting the 2019 election. Buhari, who took office in May 2015, handed over power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, in his absence to allay concerns of a void at the helm of Africa’s biggest economy. “President Muhammadu Buhari returns to the country later today, after receiving medical attention in London,” the president’s spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement on Saturday. “President Buhari is expected to speak to Nigerians in a broadcast by 7 a.m (0600 GMT) on Monday, August 21,” he said. It was his second break for medical leave in Britain this year after a first that began in January and lasted nearly two months. Buhari reduced his working day to a few hours after returning to Nigeria from his first stint of medical leave on March 10, diplomats and government sources said. REUTERS Sierra Leone threatened by a health crisis after deadly floods Sat, 19 Aug 2017 16:52:57 +0000 Four days after the deadly floods and landslides that left more than 400 dead in Sierra Leone, the capital Freetown, is facing another threat; the outbreak of diseases like malaria and cholera. Dead bodies still being found in flooded houses are contaminating water and new cases of diarrhea and fevers prove the serious risk of a health crisis. Ali Kamara, a resident in the city’s suburb Lumley, trying to help victims appealed for government support. “At the moment, we do not have clothes to wear, we have no place to sleep, we do not even have water to drink, so we need help from the government. We cannot remove the bodies and the building is demolished, and somebody has to come and pull the corpses from there. We need the help of the government”. The tragedy’s death toll had been put at more than 400 by Thursday, Africa’s worst weather disaster in twenty years. Two cholera related cases have already been reported and the Red Cross is on the ground. The secretary general of Sierra Leone Red Cross Society, Constant Kargbo said they are striving to clean up the affected areas. “On the washing aspect we have to clean the areas.We have control staff and infection prevention that will clean up to prevent the spread of the disease and we also intend to distribute water taps for people to access clean water to drink”, Kargbo. Following a call for donations, Beijing has promised a million dollars. The European Union provided an initial 350,000 dollars for emergency assistance. Israel and West African countries have provided some funds and basic needs. Sierra Leone is still recovery from the Ebola crisis and a long civil war. Raziah Athman DR Congo government destroys thousands of 'outmoded' passports Sat, 19 Aug 2017 18:03:11 +0000 The Congolese government on Thursday destroyed thousands of decommissioned passports, too old to meet current technological standards. The destruction was ordered by court, that ruled the diplomatic travel documents did not contain a chip that could read information automatically at immigration posts. Most of these passports had been acquired by 2014, a year before the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), which Congo is a member, introduced the biometric passports. Before French dignitaries, and local authorities, the passports were set up in flames. “It’s not a loss. In any case, these passports do not serve any purpose. As has been indicated on numerous occasions since 2015 the government issued biometric passports that are readable. This is not the case for these destroyed ones”, said Cyprien Sylvestre Mamina, the Secretary General of the Ministry Congolese Foreign Affairs. The authorities kept the plan discrete, not revealing whose passport was going to be destroyed. The old diplomatic passports were also used in trafficking and smuggling, a problem both the Congolese and French governments have been trying to end. “It is rather the result of work that has been carried out closely with the Congolese authorities to bring about the destruction of these Passports that were no longer circulating but could always prompt people to reuse them fraudulently”, Bertrand Cochery, French ambassador to the Congo. An investigation into cross boarder crimes is ongoing but France and Congo are bound by an agreement that exempts visas for diplomatic passport holders. Raziah Athman Kenya opposition files case at Supreme Court challenging Uhuru's re-election Sat, 19 Aug 2017 13:12:48 +0000 Kenya’s opposition coalition went to the Supreme Court late on Friday to challenge the results of a presidential election which it says was rigged. Election authorities have said that President Uhuru Kenyatta won the Aug. 8 election by 1.4 million votes, but opposition leader Raila Odinga said the results are false. He has not yet presented evidence of fraud. Kenyans who remember the violence that followed the disputed 2007 election, when about 1,200 people were killed, were relieved when Odinga announced this week he would turn back to the courts, rather than the streets, to make his case. Odinga also went to court to challenge the 2013 election result and his decision to turn to the judiciary helped quell violence then. Lawyers for Odinga’s National Super Alliance did not speak to reporters as they entered the court just 90 minutes before it closed for the weekend and the deadline for delivering their petition expired. But a statement from Dennis Onyango, a spokesman for Odinga, gave details of the petition, saying votes for the opposition had been removed from the some of the totals. The statement also accused election officials of faking documentation. “NASA (party) agents…were removed from polling stations and replaced by impostors who were caused to sign fictitious names and sign blank result forms,” the statement said. “Data analysts have examined over 25,000 results forms for vote declarations and detected 14,000 of them that had errors ranging from statutory documents not signed by returning officers, others not authenticated by an official rubber stamp, and yet others that do not have agent names of signatures.” He did not give any specific examples. The paper forms, which should have been signed by an agent for each part supervising the polling station, were designed to be an additional check against the possibility of rigging. The electoral commission had been slow to publish scanned copies of papers detailing results from each of the country’s 40,883 polling stations. “The nature and extent of the flaws and irregularities so significantly affected the results that the IEBC (election commission) cannot accurately and verifiably determine the number of votes any of the candidates received,” the petition concluded. The Supreme Court has 14 days to hear and determine the petition, a constitutional requirement designed to minimize the period of uncertainty in case of an electoral dispute. If the court upholds the election, Kenyatta will be sworn in. If Odinga can prove that rigging took place to an extent that would overturn the result, then Kenya must hold another presidential election in 60 days. At least 28 people have been killed in election-related violence since polling day, many of them shot by police. But while there have been scattered protests in Odinga strongholds, the demonstrations were relatively muted. International and domestic observers have said the election was largely free and fair. REUTERS Anti-Grace Mugabe protests outside SADC summit in South Africa Sat, 19 Aug 2017 12:38:53 +0000 Anti-Grace Mugabe protests have been staged outside the venue of ongoing Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) summit in South Africa. Protesters waving placards and chanting calls for the Zimbabwean First Lady to be arrested were stopped by police outside in Pretoria, where the 37th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government is being held. The protests were being held in the wider context of human rights in the Southern Africa region. Protests were held against Zambian president Edgar Lungu and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Profile: Zimbabwe’s controversial First Lady, Grace Mugabe Some Anti-Grace Mugabe protesters at #SADCsummit in #SouthAfrica— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) August 19, 2017 #SADCSummit : Protesters chanting “Arrest Grace please, Grace is a disgrace” outside venue of SADC Summit in Pretoria— Povo News (@povonewsafrica) August 19, 2017 The 52-year-old has been unable to leave South Africa since she arrived last week. She is in the middle of an assault case involving a 20-year-old model, Gabriella Engels. The model says Mrs. Mugabe physically attacked her with an electric cord in an uptown Johannesburg hotel. Her crime was for “hanging out” with her two sons who school in the country. Her 93-year-old husband is attending the summit but media reports indicate that she has not been cited at the venue. South Africa has been mulling over whether or not she qualifies for diplomatic immunity. Lawyers representing the model have, however, warned the government against the “immunity” overtures stressing that they will sue the government if Mrs. Mugabe is allowed to leave without appearing before court. #SADCsummit protest against human rights abuses …. in pictures #SouthAfrica #Pretoria— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) August 19, 2017 #SADCSummit civil society grps plan 2 protest ref:human rights abuse. These people from #DRC are angry President Kabila is in #southafrica,— harumutasa/aljazeera (@harumutasa) August 19, 2017 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Mali president postpones referendum on constitutional reforms Sat, 19 Aug 2017 12:41:07 +0000 Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has shelved plans for a referendum on constitutional reforms that have been met with opposition and ignited regular street protests, he said on state television overnight. The constitutional changes would have given extra powers to the president, created new regions, established a new Senate chamber and recognised claims by ethnic Tuaregs in the north to a degree of autonomy by officially labelling their desert provinces with the Tuareg name ‘Azawad’. Keita’s opponents were unhappy with the extra powers he would have secured under the reforms, including being able to nominate a quarter of the Senate and remove the prime minister at will. “I have decided in all responsibility to postpone the organisation of a referendum on the constitutional revision,” Keita said in a late-night broadcast. “I have done this because, given the way that our country is confronted with so many major challenges, we cannot add to the existing problems … controversy and misunderstanding.” Malians have become disillusioned with Keita’s government, as insecurity has worsened dramatically over the past year and is spreading beyond the desert north to the south and centre, including the capital Bamako. The reforms were agreed as part of a peace deal with mostly ethnic-Tuareg rebels in Mali’s north in 2015. That deal has so far failed to quell unrest in the north, where rival pro and anti-government factions are locked in a cycle of tit-for-tat killing, while Islamists continue to launch devastating attacks. Suspected Islamist gunmen attacked a United Nations peacekeeping base in the northern city of Timbuktu on Monday, officials said, killing seven people – five Malian security guards, a gendarme and civilian. Another another attack in the central town of Douentza killed a Malian soldier and a U.N. peacekeeper. REUTERS Shell lifts its first crude cargo from Libya in 5 years - industry sources Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:19:44 +0000 Royal Dutch Shell has lifted a cargo of 600,000 barrels of crude oil from Libya’s Zueitina port, its first from the war-torn north African country in 5 years, two industry sources told Reuters on Saturday. “Libya is a significant resource holder and Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd (STASCO) has a history marketing Libyan crudes,” a Shell spokesperson said. “We welcome new business opportunities with Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC). However, we don’t comment on specific trading deals,” the spokesperson added. REUTERS South African minister who assaulted woman at a nightclub resigns Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:32:48 +0000 A South African deputy minister who assaulted a woman at a nightclub weeks back has resigned his position, the presidency disclosed on Saturday. The incident involving Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, sparked outcry from civil society and opposition parties. The assault which occured at a nightclub in Johannesburg happened a few days before the country observed the National Women’s Day on August 9 – a commemorating the 1956 women’s protest march under the apartheid government. He formally issued an apology for his actions. “I should have exercised restraint. That shameful incident should not have happened,” Manana said in a statement, adding that he will cooperate with police. BREAKING NEWS: #MduduziManana, who is accused of assaulting a woman resigns.— SABC News Online (@SABCNewsOnline) August 19, 2017 The main opposition party the Democratic Alliance called for Manana to step down. President Jacob Zuma is on record to have described violence against women and children a national “crisis”. Zuma said at the time that he was disturbed by the incident involving Manana. “The South African Government has made violence against women a priority crime,” Zuma said in a statement. “Women have a right to safety and security and must not be attacked or abused by anyone, anywhere in the country, regardless of the position of the either the perpetrator or victim. South Africa must be safe for all women.” South Africa has a high rate of violent crime and a string of grisly murders of women and children earlier this year sparked outrage. The police ministry confirmed that a case of assault was being investigated against Manana. He appeared before a court days after the incident. The police said they were bent on following through the case to its logical conclusion. “The police must be given space to investigate this case without fear or favour, no one is above the law irrespective of their position in society,” said Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Mali: Ex-police chief accused of amputation and flogging women jailed 10 years Sat, 19 Aug 2017 11:17:04 +0000 A former police chief of an al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group in Mali’s restive northern region of Gao has been sentenced to 10 years in jail. Aliou Mahamar Toure was put on trial in the capital Bamako on charges of aggravated assault, amputation and public flogging of women who failed to wear the veil. “The court found the accused guilty of all the charges against him, but with extenuating circumstances, and sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment,” president of the Assize Court said. He denied the charges and sought to give an explanation for the crimes that he was charged with. “It is not me, they are Mauritanian, Algerian and Saharawi jihadists who cut off their hands,” he said in a single hearing of his trial. Until his arrest in 2013, Toure was a senior member of MUJAO, an insurgent group linked to al-Qaeda. He was arrested following a French intervention that drove out al-Qaeda and other rebel groups from the area they had held in 2012. International rights groups have said that he had to be held for more serious crimes committed during his tenure as Gao’s police chief. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Popular Somali referee gunned down outside his home in Mogadishu Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:54:57 +0000 A prominent Somali referee Osman Jama Dirah was gunned down Thursday night by unknown assailants outside his home in the capital Mogadishu. He was shot multiple times on his way from a neighbouring mosque by two men armed with pistols, a friend of the deceased and former national footballer Anas Ali Mohamud told the VOA. They fled the scene immediately. The reason for his killing is unknown. Osman Jama Dirah has served as a referee for over 20 years and is an active member of the Somali Football Federation. Armed groups target popular figures in Somalia including journalists. Last year, Somali radio journalist Abdiaziz Ali Haji was shot dead in Mogadishu by unidentified gunmen. A young Somali female journalist, Sagal Salad Osman, who worked for state-run media SNTV, was also killed months earlier. She was the second journalist to be killed in six months after Hinda Haji Mohamed who also worked for the state media was killed in a car bomb in Mogadishu in December 2015. Ismail Akwei Rwandan genocide fugitive extradited from Germany Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:57:14 +0000 A suspected Rwandan 1994 genocide mastermind Jean Twagiramungu has been extradited from Germany on Friday and handed over to Rwandan authorities for prosecution. Twagiramungu was in handcuffs and a T-shirt when he was handed over to local authorities at the Kigali International Airport. #BREAKING Plane carrying extradited Genocide fugitive Jean Twagiramungu (from Germany) has just landed at Kigali International Airport.— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 18, 2017 He was arrested two years ago in Frankfurt and has since battled extradition in courts which finally proved unsuccessful. Twagiramungu is the first genocide suspect extradited from Germany. In November 2016, two suspects – Jean-Claude Iyamuremye and Jean-Baptiste Mugimba – living in the Netherlands were extradited after several judicial proceedings to try them in the Hague. They lost their case at the Hague Court of Appeal and were extradited per the request of Rwandan authorities. The two suspects lived in the Netherlands with their wives and children after the genocide in 1994 which saw some 800,000 people, mostly from Rwanda’s Tutsi minority, killed. Ismail Akwei Nigerians in London stage protest outside President Buhari's residence Fri, 18 Aug 2017 22:57:46 +0000 A Nigerian pressure group has staged a protest outside the residence of ailing President Muhammadu Buhari calling for him to return home or resign as president. The Concerned Nigerians group was granted a permit for the protest on Friday and Saturday as a follow up to series of protests held in the capital Abuja in the past weeks. The “Resume or Resign” protesters were allocated a barricaded spot across the Abuja House where the president is residing, and they had mounted banners and posters with messages demanding his resumption of office or resignation. What a huge turnout of “resume or resign” protesters Abuja house in London. Hahahahaha….— Abiodun Collins (etccollins48) August 18, 2017 Unlike that of London, the protest in Abuja last Tuesday became physical when pro-Buhari protesters clashed with the opposing group at a market. #Resignorresume #OurMumuDonDo #MuhamaduBuhari to either return to the country, resume office or resign.— Essienobom Raymond (@essienobomray) August 8, 2017 Buhari left Nigeria for Britain on May 7 for medical attention. This is his second medical leave this year for an undisclosed ailment creating a lot of controversy in the country since his first leave in January that lasted nearly two months. He was visited by government officials last month to prove to Nigerians that he was alive after rumours of his death spread across the country. Buhari announced last week that he is ready to return from London and is waiting for his doctor’s approval. Until then, the protesters say they will continue protesting till he meets their demands. Ismail Akwei Uganda gay pride event called off due to 'threats', U.S. slams government Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:03:44 +0000 Organisers of Uganda’s gay parade have called off their annual event celebrating lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender culture and pride due to alleged threats of violence and arrest. The Pride Uganda organisers said in a statement on Thursday that Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo has threatened to arrest them if they hold the festival. “He has categorically stated, time and again, that gender and sexual minorities have no rights in Uganda and today had all the venues of the planned Pride events surrounded by state militia,” the statement said. “The courage and determination that we carry in our hearts is not enough to put the lives of so many innocent people at risk,” it added as reason for the cancellation. The United States Mission in Uganda slammed the Ugandan government for denying the LGBTI community their right of association. “The U.S. is disappointed with reports that the Ugandan government has forced the cancellation of LGBTI Pride Week events … It is the responsibility of the Govt to ensure that human rights of all citizens, including LGBTI citizens, are respected and protected,” they tweeted. (1/3) The U.S. is disappointed with reports that the Ugandan government has forced the cancellation of #LGBTI Pride Week events.#humanrights— U.S. Mission Uganda (@usmissionuganda) August 17, 2017 (2/3) Under Uganda’s constitution, all individuals and organizations have right to associate freely in private and in public, without fear.— U.S. Mission Uganda (@usmissionuganda) August 17, 2017 (3/3) It is responsibility of the Govt to ensure that #humanrights of all citizens, including #LGBTI citizens, are respected & protected.— U.S. Mission Uganda (@usmissionuganda) August 17, 2017 Last year, the same event was stopped by the police after the authorities threatened to arrest the organisers of the event, arguing such gatherings were illegal under Uganda’s penal code. Some of the patrons of the event were ordered into the vehicles and driven to Kampala for questioning. They were later set free without any charges. In August, 2016, police raided a night club where a gay pride event was underway and arrested at least 15 people. They were also released. In 2009, a Ugandan lawmaker introduced a bill that prescribed the death penalty for some homosexual acts, saying he wanted to protect Ugandan children. The proposed bill prompted international condemnation. A less severe version of the bill passed by lawmakers was rejected by a Ugandan court as unconstitutional. Ismail Akwei Kenyan soldiers drop guns to compete in the East Africa military games Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:03:39 +0000 Kenyan soldiers are fired up to retain the title as winners of the East African Community (EAC) military games and cultural events to be hosted by Burundi. The annual event is being held for the second time in the Burundian capital Bujumbura starting this weekend. All the countries in the East African community are participating including Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. South Sudan, the newest member of the community is expected to send troops for the games. The Kenyan Defence Forces won last year’s event held in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. The sporting activities include athletics, basketball, football, handball, netball among others. The Kenyan Defence Forces expressed their readiness on Twitter with pictures of their troop striking a Usain Bolt celebratory pose. They were handed the National Flag on Friday for the games. Bujumbura Here We Come! The East African Community Military Games and Cultural Events. #EACMilitaryGames #UlinziDaima 🇧🇮🇰🇪🇷🇼🇹🇿🇺🇬 jumuiya— Kenya Defence Forces (kdfinfo) August 18, 2017 Reigning East African Community Military Games Champions #KDF were today handed the National Flag as they head to 🇧🇮 for the 11th Edition.— Kenya Defence Forces (@kdfinfo) August 18, 2017 Ismail Akwei Ethiopian PM, others summoned by court as witnesses in terrorism trial Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:04:01 +0000 Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemeriam Desalegn and two other government officials have been summoned by a federal high court to serve as witnesses in the ongoing terrorism and criminal trials of two Oromo opposition leaders and 15 others. The Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament Abadula Gemeda and Oromia Region President Lemma Megerssa are expected to appear in court in November 2017, local media portal Addis Standard reports on Friday. The court ruled in favour of the defense to summon the three top government officials after four days of hearings. The opposition leaders on trial are Bekele Gerba, first secretary general of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) and Dejene Fita Geleta, secretary general of OFC. They were arrested with 20 others at the end of 2015 in connection with the 2015 Oromo protests that resulted in the death of hundreds of protesters. They were accused of inciting the deadly protests and having links with outlawed political party Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) which has been labeled a terrorist organisation by the government. The court acquitted five of the defendants in July this years after over a year in detention. Bekele Gerba, a university lecturer, had his terrorism charges reduced to criminal charges and an attempt to get bail last week was denied. Dejene Fita Geleta and the fifteen other defendants, made up of OFC party activists and students, remain under trial for terrorism. The hearing will resume on November 6 when the prime minister and other two top government officials are expected in court. A lot of opposition figures have been arrested and jailed in Ethiopia in connection with the 2015 Oromo protests. The Horn of Africa country has been accused of regularly using security concerns as an excuse to stifle anti-government statements and clamp down on media freedoms. Ismail Akwei Nigerian woman celebrates admission to Oxford University, 'haters' ask why Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:07:27 +0000 A Nigerian woman, like Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai took to Twitter to celebrate her admission to the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom. Oluwaroresimi Eniayo Abasiamami’s tweet on Thursday was slammed online among the many congratulatory messages she received. What did she tweet? “Me laughing when society tells me that black people can’t get into Oxford but your girl just did with A*A*AA #BlackExcellence.” Me laughing when society tells me that black people can’t get into Oxford but your girl just did with A*A*AA#BlackExcellence— oluro omo babe (@rorexdo) August 17, 2017 This tweet received over 4,000 retweets, 21,000 likes and over 300 replies. The replies started in positive congratulatory tones until the first troll (a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community) replied: “Had to make it a race issue”. Had to make it a race issue— no worries mate (@officialmarfs) August 17, 2017 This opened the floodgates for a debate on race and if Oxford University admits many black students or not. Honestly who ever said black people can’t get into Oxford? If I cared, I’m sure I’d find the stats for demographics online of the students..— James Hawkins (@James_Hawkins97) August 18, 2017 It’s already a race issue, she didn’t make it one. Congratulations are in order!— sarah (@sarah_kerry) August 18, 2017— mog (@MxrganBeesley) August 18, 2017 Oluwaroresimi Eniayo Abasiamami left the debate to respond to the congratulatory messages she was receiving including one that gave her a message to give to Malala who also gained admission to the university. I would be so honoured to meet her!!! If I do I’ll definitely say hi for you loool but thank you xxx— oluro omo babe (@rorexdo) August 17, 2017 She explained in some replies that she personally faced people who told her she couldn’t make it to Oxford University and she did. She deleted the replies and tweeted: “This tweet has also sparked some debate. I was gonna try and start explaining myself to everyone but something in my spirit told me not to.” Oluwaroresimi expressed gratitude to all those who wished her well. So this was unexpected I thank everyone for their encouraging messages I really appreciate it— oluro omo babe (@rorexdo) August 18, 2017 Ismail Akwei We'll be vilified anyway, so do what's right for the people - Rwanda's Kagame Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:07:46 +0000 Rwandan President Paul Kagame has called on Africans to go beyond adversities and stay united to chart a path into the future. Kagame made the statement on Friday during his swearing-in ceremony which was attended by over a dozen African heads of state and government in the capital Lusaka. “Our experience is that we will be vilified anyway, no matter what. So we might as well do what we know is right for our people, because the results are much better, and the costs are much lower,” he said in his inaugural address. “There is no single model for nation-building. At the root of any success are good choices, built on a mindset which can be summarised in three words: Do It Yourself,” he advised. The 59-year-old president, who is about to serve another seven years in office, said there is no need to worry about Africa’s direction because it is positive. “Those who are worried about our welfare should feel at ease. We are the best students of our own shortcomings … Africa is on the right path and we are going to do just fine,” Kagame said. He acknowledged the reforms within the African Union and called for pro-activeness do deliver quick results for the people. “Let’s build on the reform spirit that has taken root in the African Union, and indeed in every African country, to quickly deliver the results that our people expect and have been waiting for,” he said. Kagame slammed foreign interference in African affairs saying: “Every African country has to contend with efforts to force us to live on someone else’s terms. They demand that we replace systems that are working well for us with dogmas in which their own people are rapidly losing faith”. “Africa has no civilizational problems, only assets. Sans aucun doute [Without any doubt]. Over centuries of adversity, our civilisation sustained us. Today it endows us with ambition, compassion, and creativity. “It is important for Rwandans and our fellow Africans to feel reassured that attacks on our character only make us stronger, provided we respond with clarity and conviction,” he said. President Paul Kagame took the oath of office as President of Rwanda after winning the August 4 elections with 98.7 per cent of votes. This is his third term in office. Present at the inauguration ceremony were Kenya’s President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe, Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic, Brahim Ghali of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger. Also in Kigali were presidents Edgar Lungu of Zambia, Idriss Deby of Chad, Macky Sall of Senegal, Sasou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Hage Gottfried Geingob of Namibia, Prime Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, Patrice Emery Trovoada and Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn among other government representatives. Ismail Akwei DRC drivers strike over poor roads in Beni Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:48:54 +0000 Drivers of bus companies at Beni in the DRC are on strike after suspending trips on the Beni -Butembo road. The drivers have been complaining about the poor state of the roads. Difficulties in driving on this road due to the slow rehabilitation has caused pain to the drivers who are sometimes obliged to push their cars before being able to reach their destinations. “The road is not very good. It is suppose to help all of us. The governor, mayor and the city police all use this road. The food we have today is thanks to this road. We pay taxes everyday but we don’t see the impact of the taxes we pay,” one of the drivers said. As the strike action continues, the drivers union is also engaged in dialogue with DR Congo authorities during which they have been requesting the departure of the Chinese enterprise in charge of rehabilitation. Another driver added: “We are requesting that the government should stop the contract with the Chinese company in charge of rehabilitating the road. The road has not been well rehabilitated ever since they came here.” The drivers protest at Beni is having negative consequences on traders. The poor state of roads has led to an increase in the prices of goods. Elvis Boh South Sudan: More urgency needed in quest for South Sudan peace – UN Refugee Chief. Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:48:52 +0000 As worsening violence in South Sudan drives more people to run for their lives, the UN is calling on warring parties, regional states and the international community to look for urgent ways to find peace. Among the 400.000 South Sudanese who fled to Darfur is 42-year-old mother of seven who travelled for more than a month to seek safety. “We were afraid because there was a lot of shooting. There were explosions and shooting everywhere. We just had to protect the children and run with them,” South Sudanese refugee, Sadia Mohammed said. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi recently visited the Al-Nimir refugee camp in East Darfur, Sudan, where he met South Sudanese refugees and their local hosts. He praised Sudan for its role in hosting thousands of South Sudanese refugees. “Most of them say that the main worry is war, it’s conflict, threatening their children, threatening the women, threatening their livelihoods, their homes. But coupled with lack of food and of course one thing compounds the other, clearly,” UN Commissioner for refugees, Filipo Grandi said. More funds are needed to feed the refugee population as the crisis deepens. The UN High Commission for refugees recently launched a 1.4 billion dollar humanitarian appeal as they seek vital aid to those fleeing fighting and hunger. U.N. Security Council members urge new probe into killings of monitors Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:42:22 +0000 Several members of the United Nations Security Council urged U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday to establish a follow-up investigation into the murders of two U.N. investigators in Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year. Michael Sharp, an American who was coordinator of a sanctions monitoring group that reports to the council, and Zaida Catalan, a Swede, were killed on March 12. The monitors were carrying out investigations in the ravaged Kasai region. “We urge him to take action swiftly, towards a further investigation that we can uncover the truth for Zaida and Michael and for the safety of all U.N. personnel around the globe. Because five months on from the murder, accountability has yet to materialize. Those who ordered their killings remain at large,” said John Allen , Britain’s deputy ambassador to U.N. A report presented this week by an internal board of inquiry revealed that the assassins were likely militia members from the places in question. However from a seperate report this month, the involvement of state security services was not precluded. In a letter to the president of the Security Council this week, Guterres said he planned to discuss the establishment of a “follow-on mechanism” to the board of inquiry with Congo officials and council members. Twitter mocks 'detained' Grace Mugabe amid diplomatic moves Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:18:49 +0000 South Africans are having a fun time on social media platform – Twitter, and the subject of their trolls is First Lady of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe. The 52-year-old has been unable to leave South Africa since she arrived last week. She is in the middle of an assault case involving a 20-year-old model, Gabriella Engels. The model says Mrs. Mugabe physically attacked her with an electric cord in an uptown Johannesburg hotel. Her crime was for “hanging out” with her two sons who school in the country. The tweets mocking the First Lady range from the use of photos, GIFs, videos and quotations attributable to her. #GraceMugabe ➡Mbalula is scared of Zuma , ➡Zuma is Scared of Robert Mugabe ➡Robert Mugabe is scared of Grace , ↔Case Closed NEXT CASE .— liberty nyati (@iamDJNyati) August 16, 2017 #eNCAcartoon: Saving Grace (from Herself) #GraceMugabe— eNCA (@eNCA) August 17, 2017 Grace Mugabe is confused by the fuss over attack. Where she comes from, the victim would hve been arrested for antagonizing the First Lady.— Enocent Nemuramba (@enocentn) August 17, 2017 No grace for Grace Mugabe.— Sbuda Myeni (@MyeniSbuda) August 18, 2017 #GraceMugabe #WanyaTsotsi The story in a Movie— Flat-six (@ozozo3) August 15, 2017 Mzansi and Chill are like water and oil 😂😂😂😂👇#GraceMugabe— African Son 🌍 🇿🇦 (@thabang_one) August 18, 2017 #GraceMugabe chilling in SA like…— Deza magqabi (@dezanova45) August 18, 2017 They can also rename all extension cords Grace Mugabe cords.— Cde Never Maswerasei (@CdeNMaswerasei) August 18, 2017 If #GraceMugabe is set free, she might think she can also run for presidency in South Africa😂 #thisflag🇿🇼 #VoteAgainstZanuPF— Barry (@JeSuisBarry) August 18, 2017 Mood: Go trapiwa ke Grace Mugabe— Katlego (@katlego_Jay) August 18, 2017 When South africans heard that Gerrie Nel will be representing the victim assaulted by #GraceMugabe— Honourable Franco (@Sir_F_Kgaphola) August 17, 2017 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Grace Mugabe immunity reports untrue: South Africa govt Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:10:40 +0000 The South African government has moved to dispel media reports that it was set to grant immunity to embattled First Lady of Zimbabwe, Grace Mugabe. Wife of the Zimbabwean leader is at the center of an assault allegation levelled by a 20-year-old model, Gabrielle Engels, who was allegedly whipped and injured by Mrs. Mugabe. Reuters news agency on Friday morning cited a government source as confirming that Grace Mugabe will be granted diplomatic immunity to allow her return home. “There would obviously be implications for our relations with Zimbabwe. Sadly the other countries in the region are watching us and how we are going to act,” the anonymous source is quoted to have said. “What is likely to happen is that she will be allowed to go back home, and then we announce that we’ve granted diplomatic immunity and wait for somebody to challenge us,” he added. Rights group Afriforum, which is advising Engels, said it would be illegal for Pretoria to give Mugabe immunity and branded the plans a “disgrace”. They have further hinted of hauling the government before court if Mrs. Mugabe is allowed to leave. The Ministry of Police on Thursday confirmed that a “red alert” had been placed at all border posts in respect of the 52-year-old accused. The incident of Sunday evening has locked up Mugabe in South Africa after she failed to appear in court for a hearing. She was in the country for medical attention, a basis on which most legal experts aver that she does not qualify for immunity and is thus liable for prosecution. Engels said she was assaulted by Mugabe on Sunday evening as she waited with two friends in a luxury Johannesburg hotel suite to meet one of Mugabe’s adult sons. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Grenade attacks on bars in Burundi capital kill 3, wound 27 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 14:01:25 +0000 Grenade attacks on two bars killed at least three people and wounded 27 others in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura, police and hospital sources said on Friday. Police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye told reporters one person died at the scene and 29 others were rushed to hospital after grenades were thrown into two bars in the Buyenzi district on Thursday night. Hospital sources said two people died of their injuries later. One survivor, who asked not to be named, said the attackers had not attempted to rob the bars or the patrons. Burundi has suffered from periodic low-level violence since 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a third term in office. Opponents said his candidacy violated the constitution and a peace agreement that ended a civil war in 2005. The opposition mostly boycotted the polls and Nkurunziza won a third term. A wave of unrest followed. The International Criminal Court said it left about 450 people dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Since then, political violence has continued to simmer. Earlier this month, attackers targeted another bar in the same district, causing two deaths and wounding four. REUTERS How Sierra Leone can learn from mudslide to avert future deaths [Experts] Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:16:50 +0000 A mudslide which devastated Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown this week, killing about 400 people and leaving more than 3,000 homeless, has raised questions about deforestation, urban planning and disaster preparedness in the West African nation. The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked aid organisations, land rights activists and researchers what lessons Sierra Leone can learn from the mudslide to avert such crises in the future. JOSEPH MACARTHY – CO-DIRECTOR OF THE SIERRA LEONE URBAN RESEARCH CENTRE “The major cause of mudslides and flooding is the chaotic development caused by the rapid urbanisation of Freetown. Deforestation has become the order of the day with people grabbing any available land for housing, since land is very limited and hard to access, especially for the poor and middle-income groups. This is exacerbated by the fact that town planning is almost non-existent, with housing development taking place without recourse to planning. This mudslide could have been prevented. Any endeavour to avoid a reoccurrence should take into account more than just settlement relocation, slum clearance imposing stiff housing standards or doing settlement planning. It should be about understanding what forces people to live in risky areas, as well as factors as such as population growth, urbanisation rates, land availability, land costs and crucially, the capacity of government to control urban development.” MAKMID KAMARA – AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL’S DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL ISSUES “While flooding is a natural disaster, the scale of the human tragedy in Freetown is, sadly, very much man-made. Devastating floods are now an annual occurrence in Freetown. The authorities should have learned lessons from previous similar incidents and put in place systems to prevent, or at least minimise, the consequences of these disasters. The right to adequate housing under international law requires that every home be ‘habitable’, which includes providing protections against disasters such as this. Due to a lack of regulation and insufficient consideration for minimum standards and environmental laws, millions of Sierra Leoneans are living in dangerously vulnerable homes.” JAMIE HITCHEN – POLICY RESEARCHER AT THE AFRICA RESEARCH INSTITUTE “The devastation caused by annual flooding and mudslides in Freetown can be greatly reduced if the government commits, financially and politically, to addressing well documented underlying urban management issues: waste management, deforestation, the provision of housing and spatial planning. For too long, decisions regarding the management of the city have been driven by political calculations to the detriment of most residents. Solving urban challenges is less about identifying what they are, but mobilising the political will to act. More participatory approaches to urban planning can generate ideas for solving problems, such as the chronic shortage of affordable housing. Forcibly relocating communities is not the answer; greater dialogue and collaboration with them is.” FARID ABDULKADIR – HEAD OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT UNIT, AFRICA REGIONAL OFFICE AT THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES (IFRC) “Freetown and other precarious cities need safer urban planning and land use initiatives. They need to repair environmental damage and to resettle, in a planned and respectful way, people living in areas that are simply too dangerous. Grassroots organisations like the Red Cross can work within communities to reduce the likelihood of flooding and landslides. They can also advocate for better flood defences, sanitation and drainage infrastructure, and early warning systems.” IDALIA AMAYA – EMERGENCY RESPONSE COORDINATOR FOR CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES (CRS) “Every year there are heavy rains in Sierra Leone, which are becoming even more severe due to climate change. This makes it crucial for those living in flood-prone areas to be prepared for an emergency, especially vulnerable populations like women and the elderly. Public education is vital. We need to promote safer construction practices in urban areas and people need to understand the risks they are facing when building homes on dangerous landscapes. We should never have to wake up in the morning and find the bodies of schoolchildren buried in the mud because their homes were in a precarious place.” REUTERS Barcelona terror attack, N.Korea steps back from the brink [International Edition] Sat, 19 Aug 2017 10:12:03 +0000 A terror attack in Barcelona. At least 13 people have been killed and scores injured after a van rammed into a crowd of people near the popular tourist area of Las Ramblas. Meanwhile, North Korea seems to have stepped back from the brink of a nuclear war. Kim Jong Un appears to have backed away from a threat to fire missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam. We have this and more stories in the International Edition, a programme that highlights stories packaged by the Editorial team of Euronews. Live updates: Manhunt underway for suspected Barcelona attack driver Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:15:52 +0000 Spanish police say that the driver of the van that ploughed into crowds may still be alive and at large. They initially believed he was Mousa Oukabir, one of the five men shot dead by police in the Catalan resort of Cambrils, 120 km down the coast from Barcelona, after they drove their car at pedestrians and police officers. But now they say the driver could have been Younes Abouyaaqoub. The Spanish government said that the terror cell behind the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils has been “dismantled”. Here’s how events unfolded. A fourth person was arrested on Friday in connection with the attacks in northeastern Spain that killed 14 and wounded 130, Catalan police said on Friday. Spanish police shot dead five would-be attackers after confronting them early on Friday in Cambrils, a town south of Barcelona where hours earlier a suspected Islamist militant drove a van into crowds Six civilians and a police officer were injured in Cambrils. One woman died from her injuries on Friday. Police said the Cambrils incident was linked to the van attack in Barcelona on Thursday afternoon. Witnesses to that attack said a white vehicle had zigzagged at high speed down Las Ramblas, ramming pedestrians and cyclists, sending some hurtling through the air and leaving bodies strewn in its wake. Emma Beswick [LIVE] Rwanda's Paul Kagame takes oath of office for third term Fri, 18 Aug 2017 21:48:58 +0000 Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is to be sworn-in as President for his third term in office after a landslide victory in polls held in early August. Kagame won the presidential race with 98.7% of the votes. The main opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana shared the remaining votes. The 59-year-old has been leader of the country since the year 2000. Before the last elections, Kagame – a former refugee, military chief and vice-president – has won the last two in 2003 and 2010 – all by over 90% of votes. African leaders gather for Kagame’s swearing-in Update7 : Quotes from Kagame’s inaugural address “Today is a day of celebration and a day to thank each of you. Today is a day of renewal and gratitude. I would therefore like to begin by thanking those who have joined us here. “The presence of so many brothers & sisters from around Africa honours our nation deeply & gives us strength. We thank you. Africa has been with Rwanda when we needed you most. “Nothing gives our people greater pride than contributing together with you to the greatness of our continent. Standing alongside us are friends of Rwanda who have always kept our country in their hearts & worked hard to advance it. “I want to acknowledge the leaders and members of the 8 political parties who joined with RPF to nominate me as their candidate. For twenty-three years, we have collaborated with deep mutual respect to repair the social fabric of our devastated nation. “I also congratulate the two other candidates who brought their message directly to citizens. Together, we created a positive environment where no vote was cast against anyone but rather all were cast for. “If we always succeed in rallying so strongly around ideas and leadership that work best for all of us it would be a good thing.” “ They demand we replace systems that are working well for us with dogmas in which their own people are rapidly losing faith. Africa has no civilizational problems, only assets. Sans aucun doute. Over centuries of adversity, our civilisation sustained us. Today, it endows us with ambition, compassion and creativity. Africans are the biggest students of our own problems.” Update 6: Security forces parade and cultural troop performance Rwanda Defense Force parade at #Kurahira2017— Presidency | Rwanda (@UrugwiroVillage) August 18, 2017 Update 5: Inspecting a military guard mounted. What does the oath say? President #Kagame swears in as the next President of the Republic of #Rwanda after winning elections with a landslide. #KagameInauguration— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 18, 2017 Update 4: Kagame takes oath, signs oath and set to deliver address After taking oath, CJ Rugege hands over to Paul Kagame, the national symbols: Constitution, National Flag and National Emblem. He also received a sword from the Chief of Defence Staff of Rwanda Defence Forces. President Kagame signs the oath of office after swearing in as Rwanda's Head of State for next 7 years. #KagameInauguration— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 18, 2017 President-Elect PaulKagame</a> is now going to take oath. It will be administered by Prof Sam Rugege, the Chief Justice <a href="">#KagameInauguration</a></p>&mdash; The New Times (NewTimesRwanda) August 18, 2017 Update 3: Prayers held, Foreign Minister introduces list of dignitaries present “Rwanda is a country that has come far away. Through all we have passed through, Rwanda is a blessed country. “We are here to celebrate a man through whom the best things our country has seen are manifested. Electoral campaign was marked by a festive mood all across the country.” As Foreign Affairs Minister LMushikiwabo</a> introduces the Heads of State, the crowds cheer with passion. <a href="">#KagameInauguration</a></p>&mdash; The New Times (NewTimesRwanda) August 18, 2017 Update 2: Three anthems to kick start the ceremony The East African anthem will be followed by the African Union anthem before the Rwandan national anthem to officially kick off proceedings. African Union and EAC Anthems will now be sang as the ceremony officially begins. #KagameInauguration— RBA (@rbarwanda) August 18, 2017 Update 1: Kagame and First Lady arrive for the ceremony President-elect PaulKagame</a> has arrived accompanied by First Lady Jeannette <a href="">#Kagame</a> amid applause from the public <a href="">#KagameInauguration</a></p>&mdash; The New Times (NewTimesRwanda) August 18, 2017 Where is the ceremony taking place? The oath is part of the ceremony that officially marks the start of a new term for the President. President-elect Paul Kagame will be sworn in for another seven-year term in office. The President-elect takes oath of office within 30 days after the final results of the election have been officially released. The ceremony will take place at Amahoro National Stadium and will be aired live on #Kurahira2017 #KagameInauguration— Government of Rwanda (@RwandaGov) August 18, 2017 Who will administer the oath of office? The oath will be administered by Chief Justice, Sam Rugege. After President-elect Kagame is duly sworn-in, he will deliver an inaugural address. Roll call of African leaders present The President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou Acting President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Gabonese President Ali Bongo Zambian President Edgar Lungu The President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir President Idris Deby Itno of Chad Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé of Togo President Guelleh is the Head of State for Djibouti President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya President Alpha Condé of Guinea who is also the African Union chair Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic Brahim Ghali of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic President Macky Sall of Senegal President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo President Hage Gottfried Geingob of Namibia. Prime Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, Patrice Emery Trovoada Vice-President of Ivory Coast, Daniel Kablan Duncan Acting Vice-President of the Gambia and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat Former Botswana President Festus Mogae Former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa. The Speaker of Parliament of Equatorial Guinea, Gaudencio Mohaba Mesu Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Habib El Malki Speaker of Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo Aubin Minaku. Deputy United Nations Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed Prime Minister of Madagascar Foreign Affairs ministers of Ghana, Benin, Eritrea, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tunisia, Liberia IAAF tribunal upholds Frankie Frederick's ban [The Morning Call] Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:49:24 +0000 The IAAF disciplinary tribunal on Thursday upheld the ban on former Namibian sprinter and IAAF Council member Frankie Fredericks pending an investigation into a potential ethics violations. Press Review [The Morning Call] Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:49:54 +0000 Press Review with Nathalie Wakam Ethiopia PM says poverty at heart of instability in Horn of Africa region Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:14:06 +0000 Hailemariam Desalegn, the Ethiopian Prime Minister has identified poverty as the main underlying factor of instability in the Horn of Africa region. He added that economic integration was a sure means to secure the region. The 52-year-old Premier who just ended a three-day official visit to Sudan was addressing Khartoum-based diplomatic community and Sudanese intellectuals. His research paper titled: ‘Horn of Africa: Possibilities of an Economic Community,’ stressed the need for the region despite its security challenges to build global competitiveness via economic integration. “The time is now for Africans to play their role by filling the market gap observed at the global level,” he is quoted to have said. The Horn of Africa region is dogged by terrorism from al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab in next door Somalia. Sudan and South Sudan all have internal crisis that affects the entire region. Ethiopia is seen as a major player – politically, economically and security-wise in the region. Aside Eritrea, with who they have a long drawn border dispute, Addis Ababa is on good terms with all its other neighbours. The Eritrea border spat is not the only security headache Addis Ababa suffers. Internal security issues rising from anti-government protests in parts of the country led to a state of emergency that was only recently lifted after 10 months period. It was imposed in 2016 October to quell the protests. Ethiopia is actively engaged in the fight against Somalia’s insurgent group, Al-Shabaab. They contribute to the Africa Union mission (AMISOM) and also deploy troops independently to combat insurgents and anti-peace elements. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Congo PM resigns, dissolves cabinet [The Morning Call] Fri, 18 Aug 2017 09:36:41 +0000 Few weeks after the release of the final results of the legislative and local council elections, Congolese Prime Minister Clement Mouamba has tendered his resignation to head of state Denis Sassou Nguesso. Grace Mugabe assault: Prosecutor who jailed Pistorius represents victim Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:24:27 +0000 Gerrie Nel, a former top prosecutor for the South African government has been confirmed as the legal representative of the 20-year-old model allegedly assaulted by the Zimbabwean First Lady, Grace Mugabe. Nel in january this year resigned from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to join private firm AfriForum. Nel during his time at the NPA handled high profile cases including that of paralympic athlete, Oscar Pistorius. AfriForum at a press conference held on Thursday afternoon confirmed that they had written to the DIRCO asking that the point about granting Mrs. Mugabe diplomatic immunity be turned down. In attendance at the press conference was the victim and her mother. Gabriella Engels had a plaster on her forehead. Gerrie Nel in commenting on approach for financial settlement clarified that: “No amount was mentioned, they were just contacted through a third person.” The victim’s mother also expressed high hopes that with the team of legal experts interested in the case, she could now sleep knowing that she had people in their corner. South Africa’s police minister is on record to have said a ‘red alert’ had been issued for Mrs. Mugabe, should she attempt to leave the country. She failed to appear in court earlier this week and there are moves to have her released under diplomatic arrangements. Gerrie Nel is reknown for his high profile prosecutions earning him the nickname ‘the bulldog.’‘ His most recent high profile case being in the Oscar Pistorius – Reeva Steenkamp murder case. He is also credited with leading the team that jailed a former national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi who was convicted of corruption in 2010. The Selebi case won him two awards in 2012. He was named Prosecutor of the Year by the local Society of State Advocates and received a Special Achievement Award from the International Association of Prosecutors for “fierce pursuit of the vision of the National Prosecuting Authority’s ideals to achieve justice in society” Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban IAAF highlights, table tennis and football Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:08:54 +0000 This week’s Sport on The Morning Call, a start off with the IAAF World Championships London 2017, the most specular games in the federation’s history! Records made, others broken, but what was there for Africa to take? And,Great Britain’s Mohamed Farah didn’t finish so great, thanks to Ethiopians who have sandwiched Mo’s ten gold medals in the 5000 and 10000-meter fields. In table tennis, Egyptian Assar Omar emerged champion at the International Table Tennis Tournament held in Lagos . Finally what is sport without football, a look at the contenders for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach 2017 and Real Madrid’s win with Cristiano Ronaldo missing in action! 40 killed in landslide in eastern DR Congo Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:07:29 +0000 Forty people have been killed in a landslide in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Pacifique Keta, the vice governor of Ituri province, said on Thursday. Seismic and volcanic activity have been responsible for a number of landslides in the region in recent years. Reuters Over a dozen African heads of state, leaders in Rwanda for Kagame's inauguration Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:59:48 +0000 Over a dozen African heads of state and leaders have arrived in Rwanda’s capital Kigali ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Paul Kagame scheduled for Friday. Among the heads of state present are presidents Faustin Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic, Brahim Ghali of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger. President Touadera arriving at the airport. Several African heads of state will attend the inauguration ceremony at Amahoro Stadium— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 17, 2017 Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh is the 3rd Head of State to arrive for the swearing in slated for Friday #Rwanda #Kagame— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 17, 2017 The President of Niger just arrived at Kigali International Airport for the inauguration ceremony #Rwanda— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 17, 2017 Also in Kigali are presidents Edgar Lungu of Zambia, Macky Sall of Senegal, Sasou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo and Hage Gottfried Geingob of Namibia. The latest head of state to arrive for the swearing in of President PaulKagame is Zambia's Edgar Lungu— The New Times (NewTimesRwanda) August 17, 2017 President Macky Sall of Senegal has also arrived a day before the swearing in of President #Kagame— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 17, 2017 President Sasou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo has also arrived at Kigali International Airport #KagameInauguration— The New Times (@NewTimesRwanda) August 17, 2017 The Prime Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, Patrice Emery Trovoada is also representing his country for the swearing-in including the Vice-President of Ivory Coast, Daniel Kablan Duncan; and Acting Vice-President of the Gambia and Minister of Women’s Affairs, Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat also arrived in Kigali on Thursday with former Botswana President Festus Mogae and former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa. The Speaker of Parliament of Equatorial Guinea, Gaudencio Mohaba Mesu also arrived early as well as the Speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Habib El Malki and the Speaker of Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo Aubin Minaku. The dignitaries will witness the swearing-in of Paul Kagame on Friday at the Amahoro National Stadium for his third term of office. Kagame won the August 4 presidential elections after garnering 98.7% of the votes against main opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana who performed poorly in the polls. The result was not different from what Kagame secured in the 2003 and 2010 polls after he became president in 2000 following the resignation of his predecessor Pasteur Bizimungu. Paul Kagame will serve another seven-year term. Click here for all the election news on our Africa Elections page Ismail Akwei 'There is freedom of worship but not healing' - Zimbabwean pastors warned Fri, 18 Aug 2017 12:32:13 +0000 Zimbabwe’s health ministry has warned pastors against healing diseases without medical practice certificates from health authorities. Deputy Health and Child Care Minister Aldrin Musiiwa told the media on Wednesday that churches and faith healers should register their practice with the health ministry if their healing powers can be backed by empirical evidence. “There are various mushrooming churches that are purely premised on healing sessions, and healing in this country is regulated, meaning that they must be regulated,” he was quoted by local news portal NewsDay. “You can’t just start healing from nowhere when you are not registered, you need a certificate for the healing practice and failure to do so is soon going to lead to prosecution,” he warned. Musiiwa also added that: “There is freedom of worship in the Constitution, but under this freedom there is no freedom of healing, therefore, all healers must be known and they must be registered.” He cited the proliferation of churches that advertise healing sessions and telling people that they have cured AIDS without any medical test to prove the claim. The deputy minister vowed to crack down on the practice which is believed to be patronized by a large number of Zimbabweans. Ismail Akwei Ghana implements ban on import, sale of skin bleaching products Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:02:20 +0000 The Ghana Food and Drugs Authority has commenced the implementation of the ban on import and sale of skin bleaching products imposed in January this year. The Acting Chief Executive of the Authority, Mimi Darko told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that they are cracking down on the products in the market. She told the committee that the FDA has stopped registering products containing the bleaching chemical hydroquinone and has launched a sensitization programme against the sale of the product in the market. “The bleaching agent in most bleaching creams is hydroquinone and the Ghana standard now is, there should be zero percent hydroquinone in bleaching creams,” she is quoted by local media. “The FDA is working with cosmetic sellers to ensure that those creams are not available on the market. The lab is also testing to make sure that even if they try and hide it, we will find it in laboratory analysis,” she added. The ban on skin bleaching creams followed that of neighbouring Ivory Coast – a major production point of bleaching creams – in 2015. The Ivorian health ministry said at the time that the ban was due to fears of lasting damage to health. Bleaching creams contain mercury and its derivatives, cortisone, vitamin A or more than two percent hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is a lightening agent that is used to develop photographs. Ismail Akwei Burkina Faso soldiers to get counter-terrorism training from Germany Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:02:32 +0000 Burkina Faso has agreed to a counter-terrorism training offer from Germany after the capital Ouagadougou was attacked late Sunday night resulting in the death of 18 people. A top German official disclosed the training deal after a meeting with Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Kabore on Wednesday, Bloomberg news reports. “Germany is engaged in Mali in the training of its forces, and we decided to enlarge it to the Burkinabe and they accepted,” Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Defense Ministry, Ralf Brauksiepe, said. The recent attack in Burkina Faso is the second in less than two years after the January 2016 attack on the Splendid hotel that left over 30 people dead. Sunday night’s siege extended to Monday leaving dozens of people injured at a Turkish restaurant where security forces exchanged gunfire with the gunmen who were subdued. Troops from five Sahel countries are putting together a joint counter-terrorism force in the region to tackle jihadist threats. The troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger are undergoing training in Mali. The African Union (AU) has called on the international community to support the G5-Sahel Joint Force to strengthen security cooperation on the regional level. Ismail Akwei West African countries offer aid to Sierra Leone, China donates $1m Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:06:20 +0000 Neighbouring West African countries have come to the aid of Sierra Leone after a deadly mudslide on Monday swept away homes killing over 300 people, with over 2,000 displaced in the capital Freetown. Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe and Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) donated $500,000 to President Ernest Bai Koroma during his visit to the country on Thursday. He expressed his country and the region’s sympathies to Sierra Leoneans and wished that the money could help in emergency response efforts. Gnassingbe’s gesture was complemented by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Marcel Alain De Souza, who donated $300,000 for food and medical aid on behalf of the regional body. De Souza accompanied the Chairperson Faure Gnassingbe to Freetown. Senegal and the Ivory Coast sent delegations to Freetown on Wednesday to express their condolences to President Ernest Bai Koroma. Senegal donated $100,000 and the Ivory Coast gave a tonne and a half of medical supplies. The Guinean President and African Union Chairperson Alpha Conde visited the country a day earlier to personally express his sympathies. On Thursday, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited Freetown and joined President Koroma at the burial of the victims. Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo also said on Thursday that his country is sending relief items to Sierra Leone to aid in the recovery process. Government is in the process of sending relief items to Sierra Leone to aid in the recovery process. (3/3)— Nana Akufo-Addo (@NAkufoAddo) August 17, 2017 The Ghana government has also set up a centre at the foreign affairs ministry to receive donations from the public to be sent to Sierra Leone. Groups, organisations and individuals have also launched campaigns for donations to support victims of the mudslide that was caused by torrential rains. #SierraLeone need our help. 100% of your donation is going straight to victims of the Sierra Leone mudslide! Please RT. cc: Ahaspora— Mac-Jordan 🇨🇦🇬🇭 (MacJordaN) August 17, 2017 President Ernest Bai Koroma, who appealed for urgent support after the disaster, praised the show of solidarity by the countries in the region. “Such solidarity shows a sense of belonging in the typical African way when one of us is facing difficulties,” he said on Thursday. He described the tragedy as unprecedented and thanked the donors for the timely intervention. China made the biggest donation since the disaster struck by offering a million dollars for disaster relief including aid workers to offer medical help to injured victims. The African Union Commission had called on Africans in the continent, diaspora and international partners to support Sierra Leone. Ismail Akwei Muslim pilgrims in Africa start journey to Saudi Arabia for Hajj 2017 Sun, 06 Aug 2017 14:47:02 +0000 Millions of Muslims worldwide are heading to the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj pilgrimage. The Saudi Arabia government has increased the quota of pilgrims from all the 178 registered countries with 950,000 pilgrims expected to arrive at Jeddah, 750,000 at Madinah and 100,000 by land and sea. Last year, 1,325,372 foreign and 537,537 domestic pilgrims performed Hajj, making a total of 1,862,909 pilgrims – the least number recorded in the last 10 years. The first group of pilgrims arrived in the city of Madinah last week from Pakistan to begin the religious rituals ahead of the largest annual gathering of people in the world starting on August 30 to September 4. 109 South African pilgrims were the first non-Arab Africans to arrive in the country last weekend for the pilgrimage. At least 6,091 out of the 80,000 registered pilgrims have so far arrived in Saudi Arabia from Nigeria aboard 14 flights in four days, Nigerian officials said. Ghana’s 6,200 pilgrims will begin their journey on August 10 by air from the capital Accra and northern city of Tamale. 9,300 pilgrims from Somalia are participating in Hajj this year as against the 7,300 pilgrims last year. The Somali government said that the Saudi government has also lifted the ban on allowing Somali livestock into the Kingdom. Gambia is also sending 1,700 pilgrims this year while 15,000 from Ethiopia are participating. The island nation of Mauritius is sending 1,500 pilgrims from August 15. 29,000 medics and paramedics have been deployed by the Saudi health ministry to serve the Hajj pilgrims at its designated 25 hospitals and more than 155 temporal primary health care centers. The facilities have 5,000 beds, including 500 for intensive-care units and 550 for emergencies with 100 mini-ambulances. The ministry has instructed participating countries to administer a mandatory meningitis vaccination and a recommended flu vaccination for all pilgrims. Travelers from countries at risk of yellow fever transmission must present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate which is valid from 10 days after the vaccination date. A polio vaccine is required from pilgrims of some 20 countries – 14 from Africa – that are deemed vulnerable to reinfection eventhough they are no longer affected by the disease. The countries include: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Laos, Madagascar, Myanmar, Niger, Ukraine, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Hajj Ritual The Hajj ritual is traced back to the time of the Prophet Abraham by Muslims. It is a religious obligation to embark on Hajj at least once in a lifetime of every Muslim who can afford it. Hajj is observed for five days in the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is one of the five pillars of Islam. Male pilgrims wear two white seamless cloths called Ihram which is meant to show equality before God. One of the cloths is wrapped around the waist reaching below the knee and the other draped over the left shoulder and tied at the right side. For female pilgrims, they are allowed to wear any Islamically approved dresses when they reach the Miqat (a destination where intent is declared depending on where you are coming from). The pilgrims perform ablution at the Miqat, declare their intention for Hajj and then refrain from all the prohibited activities including sexual relations, using perfumes, cutting nails, shaving, killing animals among others. On the first day of Hajj, the pilgrims walk seven times around the Kaaba and kiss the black stone or point at it and pray if they can’t reach it. This is followed by prayers inside the mosque near the Kaaba and then drink water from the Zamzam well which is believed to have gushed out where Abraham’s crying son Ishmael was placed when his mother went out looking for water for him. The pilgrims then move to the Safa and Marwah hills near the Kaaba where they run or walk seven times between the hills like Ishmael’s mother Hagar did in search of water for her son. The male pilgrims then completely shave their heads while the females cut a piece of their hair to signal the end of the ritual in Mecca called Umrah. After the morning prayer, the pilgrims proceed to Mina where they spend the whole day in prayer. They move to Arafat the next day and stand in vigil from noon to sunset to offer supplications, seek repentance and listen to sermons from where Prophet Muhammad is believed to have delivered his last sermon. The ritual at Arafat is compulsory to fulfil a Hajj successful. The pilgrims leave Arafat for Muzdalifah where they combine two prayers and spend the night in the open and gather pebbles for the next day’s ritual. They move to Mina to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing seven pebbles at the largest of three pillars. Animals are slaughtered after throwing the pebbles to commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice to God. This is simultaneous with the Eid al-Adha festival of sacrifice celebrated by Muslims worldwide. The male pilgrims shave their hairs after the sacrifice and females clips pieces of their hair. They then head to the holy mosque at Mecca for another circumambulation of the Kaaba. On the fourth day, the pilgrims go to Mina and throw seven pebbles at each of the three pillars. The same ritual is done on the fifth day and the sixth if the pilgrim is not able to return to Mecca. Before leaving Mecca, the pilgrims perform another circumambulation of the Kaaba for seven times anti-clockwise. This ends the Hajj ritual. Ismail Akwei Nigeria draws the line on hate speech, classifies it as terrorism Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:08:06 +0000 The Nigerian government has announced that hate speech under the country’s amended anti-terrorism law is an act of terrorism and will not be tolerated. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo clearly stated on Thursday at a security forum in the capital Abuja that the government is taking intimidation of people by words and speech very seriously. “Hate speech is a specie of terrorism … We’ve drawn a line against hate speech, it will not be tolerated, it will be taken as an act of terrorism and all of the consequences will follow it,” he said. FG has today drawn the line on hate speech. Hate speech is a specie of terrorism. The Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended (1/3)— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) August 17, 2017 “Speech that promotes violence against an individual or group, especially when such comes from people of your own faith, tribe or group, your silence in such situations can only be seen as an endorsement,” he warned leaders. Silence in such situations can only be seen as an endorsement. Hate speech & the promotion of the same through history from Nazi (1/3)— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) August 17, 2017 Germany & the extermination of Jews to the Rwandan genocide succeeded in achieving their barbarous ends by the silence of influential (2/3)— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) August 17, 2017 voices. The silence of leaders at this time – in our country- will be a grave disservice to our country, its peace & its future. (3/3)— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) August 17, 2017 He also cautioned community leaders against speaking in a manner that creates dissension or to intimidate a population because “they do a great disservice to our unity and nation.” Nigeria’s amended Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 defines terrorism as inter Alia, an act which deliberately done with malice which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population. The West African country has recently faced a series of inter-ethnic conflicts which have further divided the country in tribal lines. Ismail Akwei Three U.S. airstrikes kill seven al-Shabaab militants in Somalia Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:08:42 +0000 A joint Somali-U.S. security operation against al-Shabaab since Wednesday resulted in the killing of seven militants including a senior al-Shabaab leader in southern Somalia town of Jilib. The Somali government said in a statement on Thursday that the operation was authorized by President Farmaajo and the security forces “in coordination with international partners” killed the militants who are responsible for multiple bombings in Mogadishu. Authorities in #Mogadishu say that seven militants have been killed in a US airstrike in Jilib,a rich agricultural town in southern #Somalia— Abdulaziz Billow Ali (@AbdulBillowAli) August 17, 2017 The United States Africa Command also confirmed that “a series of three precision airstrikes killed the seven fighters” in coordination with Somali forces. “U.S. forces work closely with Somali military forces against al-Shabaab in Somalia to degrade the al-Qaeda affiliate’s ability to recruit, train, and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and in the United States,” they said in a statement. Al Shabaab has been able to carry out deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory to African Union peacekeepers supporting the Somali government. The group’s insurgency aims to drive out the peacekeepers, topple Somalia’s western-backed government and impose its strict version of Islam on the Horn of Africa state. Ismail Akwei Republic of Congo's Prime Minister resigns Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:52:14 +0000 Clément Mouamba, Prime Minister in the Republic of Congo has resigned. He presented his resignation letter on Wednesday days after the country’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso announced he would form a new government. The information was made public on Thursday in a statement issued by the country’s Presidency. Mouamba announced his resignation along with the rest of his cabinet following the president’s address to the nation during the country’s 57th independence anniversary. In his speech, he acknowledged the real and worrying economic situation the country is currently facing and called for new leadership. Denis Sassou Nguesso also promised that the new cabinet would revive the country’s economy even as the country concludes a structural adjustment programme with the International Monetary Fund. No date has however been given for the formation of the new government, which also comes in the wake of the recent parliamentary elections. Nguesso’s Congolese Party of Labour (PCT) won the majority seats. Linnete Bahati Africa-U.S. AGOA trade talks deadlock [Business Africa] Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:52:51 +0000 Africa-U.S. AGOA trade talks deadlock Trade delegates who met in the Togolese’s capital Lome for the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, conference were hoping to hear more about Trump’s trade policy with Africa, as he has been silent on the issue since he came to power. However no decision was taken by both parties during the conference with both sides parting with a feeling of little accomplishment. In the following story, Armellle Nga and Linette Bahati take a look at the essence of this agreement expected to end in 2025. Afolake Oyinloye Angola looks to tourism while China's manufacturing pace slows [Business Africa] Thu, 17 Aug 2017 17:41:17 +0000 Angola looks to tourism In a bid to diversify its economy in the midst of oil crisis. Angola is shifting it gaze from black gold to explore the virtues of tourism. Unlike oil, revenue from tourism is expected to remain in the country. Angola wants to become an international hub for Ecotourism like Zimbabwe, South Africa or Namibia. China’s manufacturing pace slows China’s exports and imports grew much less than expected in July, raising concerns over whether global demand is starting to decline even as major Western central banks consider scaling back years of massive stimulus support. China’s Statistics bureau data showed factory output rose 6.4 percent in July from a year earlier, the slowest pace since January this year. Afolake Oyinloye Sierra Leone deadly mudslide: Queen Elizabeth, Kofi Annan send condolences Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:50:39 +0000 Britain’s Queen Elizabeth sent her deepest sympathies to hundreds of victims of a mudslide in Sierra Leone that swept away homes on the edge of country’s capital city in one of Africa’s worst flood disasters in living memory. The African nation gained independence from Britain in 1961 after more than 150 years of colonial rule and still has many traces of its British past. On Wednesday, hundreds of Freetown residents queued to identify relatives crushed by the mudslide on Monday. “Prince Philip and I were deeply saddened to learn of the terrible flooding and landslides in Freetown that have led to the deaths of so many people,” Queen Elizabeth wrote in a message to the president of Sierra Leone. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost loved ones and those whose homes and livelihoods have been affected,” she said. For his part, Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations issued a statement via his social media accounts. He called for all human interventions to help lessen the impact of such natural disasters. The full statement read: “I join the people of Sierra Leone in mourning their family members, friends and fellow countrymen lost in the recent mudslides. “The scale of this catastrophe is truly heartbreaking, and continues to require the urgent support of the international community. “While natural disasters will always be a source of unexpected tragedy, we must acknowledge the role we play in exacerbating extreme environmental conditions. “Human-driven deforestation is a major cause of not only landslides, but also soil erosion, flooding, loss of biodiversity and global climate change. Without protecting our environment, we cannot hope to reduce the risk of such tragedies from reoccurring.” REUTERS SA police issue 'red alert' for Mrs Mugabe amid diplomatic exit talks Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:03:35 +0000 South African borders have put out a “red alert” in respect of Zimbabwean First Lady, Grace Mugabe, the police minister, Fikile Mbalula has told local media. The 52-year-old is currently facing assault charges following a bloody attack on a 20-year-old South African model who was said to be hanging out with Mrs Mugabe’s two sons. “We, in terms of South African Police, already put tabs in the borders in relation to her leaving the country, so there is no question about that,” said Mbalula. “So tabs have been put, a red alert has been put, so she is not somebody who has been running away,” he added. Profile: Zimbabwe’s controversial First Lady, Grace Mugabe South African police had earlier confirmed that Grace Mugabe remained in the country despite reports that she had returned to Harare. The case is now hanging on diplomatic ropes after she was said to have applied for diplomatic immunity after the attack on Gabriella Engels in an upmarket Johannesburg hotel. Mbalula who was speaking on the sidelines of a gender violence event in Pretoria stressed that the issue was now with the Department of International Relation and Cooperation (DIRCO) but Police was on stand by to enforce the country’s laws to the latter. “There has been an exchange since the day I announced she would appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, which was an agreement, she didn’t appear up until the point now, where issues of immunity must be attended to.” “Anyone that comes to South Africa must know we are a constitutional state and a law state and nothing will just be left.” Wife of Africa’s oldest political leader had failed to appear at a court hearing on Tuesday relating to the allegations that she attacked Gabriella Engels with an electric extension chord. Hinting at a potentially serious diplomatic rift between the southern African neighbours, police said Harare had asked that Mugabe be granted diplomatic immunity but made clear she would be “processed through the legal system”. Mrs Mugabe has been charged with assault after allegedly beating up a model who was in the company of her sons in a hotel room in Johannesburg. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban