Africanews RSS Receive free and in real-time all news published by, by subscribing to our RSS feeds. Fri, 19 Jan 2018 20:49:34 +0000 Fri, 19 Jan 2018 20:49:34 +0000 Ethiopia must rework anti-terror laws, free more detainees - U.N. Fri, 19 Jan 2018 20:49:34 +0000 The United Nations has welcomed the positive political moves undertaken by the Ethiopian government after it released a number of detained politicians earlier this week. The U.N. however said there was more to be done in the area of freeing more more detainees and the need to rework anti-terror laws and other legislations that unduly targeted the media and activists. According to a U.N. human rights spokesperson, Liz Throssell, Ethiopia was at a critical juncture and the U.N. was ready to offer help in any way. “We do think that Ethiopia is at a key moment and that’s why we are saying that we stand ready to help Ethiopia,” Throssell said. “These are positive developments. We urge the government to continue to take steps to release individuals detained for expressing their political views,” Throssell added. The government announced in early January that it was set to discontinue cases against some political detainees and to release them as a means of fostering national unity. Of the over 100 released this week, Merera Gudina, a former lawmaker was the highest profile personality. Gudina, leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) was arrested in late 2016 and spent over 400 days before his release. Gudina was charged with terrorism before it was downgraded to multiple criminal charges. He is said to have met anti-government forces during a trip to Brussels. He denied the charges during his trial and reiterated his stance after release. He has said he is ready for dialogue with the government. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Johannesburg: Congolese community protests against Kabila [No Comment] Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:43:29 +0000 Members of the Congolese community living in South Africa demonstrated on Thursday against the current President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Joseph Kabila, calling on the leader to step down. Nigerian banker gives birth on Air France flight 35,000 feet mid-air Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:03:00 +0000 A Nigeria woman gave birth on board a flight after she went into labour a week earlier than her delivery date. Toyin Ogundipe delivered her son, Jake, in mid-air about 35,000 feet above sea level. The 41-year-old and her daughter, 4, were aboard an Air France flight heading to New York. She is a banker resident in the United Kingdom and was making the trip from the French capital, Paris, to New York in December last year. It took the intervention of two “medical passengers” to rescue the situation. A second-year urology resident, Dr. Sij Hemal and a French paediatrician, Stefanie Ortolan. The pair were ushered into a coach where Ogundipe was, at the time she was having a series of contractions. The U.K. Mailonline who carried the story said the doctors conducted necessary tests and decided to monitor her situation. Dr. Hemal said a cervix exam enabled them to know that they were going to deliver the child in the air. “My initial plan was to monitor her and her vitals, but we did a cervical exam and that’s when her water broke. “That’s when we knew we were going to deliver on the plane,” he added. The doctor said he used a shoestring to tie Jake’s umbilical cord after delivery. Ogundipe and her son – who holds U.S. citizenship, because he was born in U.S. airspace – were checked into a nearby hospital when they arrived in New York but they were discharged same day. “I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands,” Ogundipe said in a later interview. “They did everything a doctor or midwife would have done if I was in the labor room in the hospital. Even better, if you ask me.” In April last year, cabin crew on board a Turkish Airline flight from Guinea’s capital Conakry to Instanbul in Turkey helped deliver a premature baby girl 42,000 feet mid-air. The expectant mother, Guinean Nafi Diaby was 28 weeks pregnant and suffered labour pains after take off last Friday, leaving the cabin crew and some passengers no option but to deliver her of the baby. Guinean baby girl delivered by cabin crew 42,000 feet mid-air— africanews (@africanews) April 11, 2017 Photo credit: CLEVELAND CLINIC Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Malawi president asks cabinet to lead 'prayers for rain' Fri, 19 Jan 2018 14:57:02 +0000 A dry spell and worsening pest infestation are threatening Malawi’s staple maize crop, prompting President Peter Mutharika on Friday to call on government officials to lead prayers for rain. Impoverished Malawi is periodically hit by food shortages as the tropical southern African country relies heavily on rain-fed agriculture and most of its maize is grown on small plots by subsistence farmers. The current dry spell has been exacerbated by an outbreak of crop-munching fall armyworms, a pest from Latin America that first threatened African crops late in 2016. In a statement, Mutharika asked cabinet ministers and all senior government officials to lead prayer vigils at mosques and churches starting on Friday and throughout the weekend. “The President urges the faith community and all Malawians to pray for good rains and a productive season this Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” the statement said. Such a call can have resonance in deeply religious Malawi, which has high rates of church and Mosque attendance. But on social media, many questioned the effectiveness of divine intervention. ???— Lento (@Clement_lento) January 18, 2018 Official estimates of the damage to maize by both the drought and armyworms are underway, government and farmer organisations have said. The president declared the armyworms a national disaster in December after it was discovered that they had spread to 20 of Malawi’s 28 districts. Albert Changaya, a senior official in the department of agriculture, told journalists the armyworm infestation had spread from an initial 35,000 hectares to 206,000 hectares of maize. Malawi’s maize production in the 2016/17 farming season rose a third to 3.2 million tonnes. The surplus harvest led to maize prices falling and contributed to lower inflation as food accounts for 50.1 percent of Malawi’s CPI (consumer price inflation) basket. Malawi’s consumer inflation slowed to 7.1 percent year-on-year in December from 7.7 percent in November, the National Statistical Office said on Wednesday, with food inflation easing to 4.3 percent from 4.7 percent. The Tobacco Association of Malawi said separately on Thursday it was undertaking field estimates of the cash crop amidst the drought. Tobacco is a key export earner. Daniel Mumbere CHAN 2018: The challenges ahead [Sports] Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:45:33 +0000 The African Nations Championship was inaugurated in 2009 with the objective of promoting players who play exclusively on the continent. After five editions has it fulfilled its objectives? Serge Koffi tells you more in this segment. @kkoffiserge Dialogue the 'only path' to resolve Cameroon Anglophone crisis: U.S. Fri, 19 Jan 2018 13:51:32 +0000 The United States has reiterated its call for dialogue in Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis tasking the government to engage aggrieved parties in the restive region. The U.S. embassy in Yaounde were reacting to the recent deaths of two members of the Cameroon security apparatus. “We urge the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to act with restraint in response to these acts of violence. “We continue to appeal to all sides to enter into meaningful, broad-based dialogue.  Dialogue is the only path towards a resolution of legitimate grievances,” a statement issued early this week read. Cameroon crisis: two soldiers killed [The Morning Call]— africanews (@africanews) January 18, 2018 The U.S. condemned the murders and sent condolences to the families of the slain officers – the Marine was killed in Ekondo-Titi (southwest) on January 14 whiles the gendarme was killed in the town of Wum (northwest) on January 15. The deaths are a continuation of an armed attack on state security forces. President Paul Biya late last year declared war on the secessionists after four troops were killed. The number of slain troops is about a dozen with the latest incident. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Ceasefire violations in South Sudan to be investigated Fri, 19 Jan 2018 12:28:05 +0000 The body in charge of monitoring ceasefire violations in South Sudan’s conflict has said it will launch full investigations into allegations of truce violations in Jonglei state. In the press statement seen by Africanews, the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism, (CTSAMM) said it recently received allegations regarding ongoing hostilities in some areas of Jonglei region where the South Sudan government army’s convoy was reportedly implicated. “On the 3rd of January 2018, the CTSAMM were informed by the SPLA of the movement of administrative convoys intending to travel through areas of northern Jonglei State,” CTSAMM said in a statement. “Subsequently on the 13th of January 2018, CTSAMM received allegations regarding ongoing hostilities in the area where the administrative convoy was said to be.” The reports came in the wake of a tour of areas within the Jonglei region by the first vice president, Taban Deng Gai. During the visit of the first vice president, there were a series of clashes between locals or civilians along state borders Bieh and Akobo, who are allegedly supporters of ex-first vice president, Dr. Riek Machar. CTSAMM said it has launched an investigation in this area to ascertain whether a violation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities has taken place. ‘‘Our monitors are currently visiting Yuai and Akobo, and we intend to also visit other areas in the vicinity of northern Jonglei,’‘ CTSAMM said in a statement. While the motive of the fighting is not yet clear, some officials say some of the natives were opposed to the vice president’s visit. A days ago, both the SPLM/A – IO and other signatories of the truce called on CTSAMM to investigate any violations that might have happened in the Jonglei region. South Sudan warring parties re-signed the cessation of hostilities truce in December last year in a bid to revitalise the peace process facilitated by the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The four-year war in oil-rich South Sudan, a country that got her independence in 2011 from Sudan government after two decades of civil war, has forced more than a third of its 12 million citizens to flee their homes. Daniel Mumbere South Africa's black punks rock their way on to the world stage Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:55:45 +0000 Punk Rock has found a home in South Africa. In Soweto, a township steeped in rich musical history and pop culture, the genre is growing fast in influence and popularity. Local bands, TCIYF draws a crowd everytime they rehearse or perform. Fans were at first curious and then hooked. The sound that originated in the UK, America and Australia in the mid 70’s was meant to be anti-establishment, to upset the status-quo and mainstream culture. TCIYF are promoting the sound and spirit of Punk Rock to South Africa’s youth. “Punk rock is, is, what does it mean to me? It’s great man, it’s like I can express myself freely. I can be who I want, I can be myself,“said Sandile Mbatha, a member of the band. The sound that originated in the UK, America and Australia in the mid 70’s was meant to be anti-establishment, to upset the status-quo and mainstream culture. Band members discovered their love for punk music while part of a group of skaters called Skate Society Soweto, seven years ago. “I think it’s really, really influential throughout popular culture and stuff, you know. Where else, no any other music does what punk rock does,” said Letlohonolo Nxumalo, a punk rock fan. “There seems to be a lot of interest and partaking. Like the local skaters, even the little kids who are taking part in the skating. Yeah, that means a lot to the community,” said Milicent Munthu, another fan of TCIYF. In Soweto, a flashpoint of the anti-apartheid struggle when music was widely used to bring attention to the cause, punk rock could be considered just another form of self-expression. But it is one that is relatively new and has resonated with the youth – mostly ‘born frees’, a generation born after apartheid ended in 1994 and has lived only under democracy, but still feel let down by the system. “We started the band via skateboarding. We like skateboarding very fast and dangerous. So, you know you need a soundtrack to fit that. So we moved on right from the skateboarding into punk,” said one of the band’s founders and guitarists, Thula Sizwe. The rise of TCIYF and other black punk rockers around the country, show South Africa’s already diverse music scene is still expanding and there is room. TCIYF was named one of 10 black punk bands to listen to along with groups from Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe by online pop culture platform OkayAfrica. Somali army neutralises Al Shabaab commander, frees children Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:36:37 +0000 Somalia National Army commanders have kiled Al Shabaab’s local emir of Jame’a Jilay near Beled ul Amin, Lower Shabelle in a special operation overnight, according to local media reports. The troops also freed over thirty children who were being held at the al Shabaab camp. Recently, the Human Rights Watch said the armed group is conscripting children into its ranks, reporting that elders and teachers in rural parts of the southern Bay region in mid-2017 are being forced to hand over children – as young as eight – or face reprisals. But an al Shabaab spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation the group does not recruit members below the age of 15, and that no one is forced to join. He said children were being sent to Islamic religious schools to be educated. “There is an al Shabaab rule in the areas we control that children should learn, and we give them teachers at boarding madrasas where they study. We have agreed with the clan elders about the education of their children,” he said. BREAKING: Somali national army commandos have killed Al-Shabab’s local emir of Jame’a Jilay near Beled ul Amin, Lower Shabelle in a special operation overnight; troops have also freed six children thought to be held there, possibly to be trained as fighters: security source.— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) January 19, 2018 Somali military and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had recently stepped up the fight against Al-Shabaab since Mogadishu truck bombing in October last year which claimed lives of over 500 people. Al-Shabaab which once controlled a large swath of South and central Somalia is using hit and run tactics since the group lost the control of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu to Somali Army backed by continental troops. Daniel Mumbere Korean unity for Winter Olympics, what next for Catalonia leader? [International Edition] Fri, 19 Jan 2018 11:04:53 +0000 A diplomatic breakthrough…North and South Korea plan to march under a united flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremonies and compete together on their first joint Olympic team. The two countries agreed to the display of unity on Wednesday after high-level talks. Meanwhile, Catalan MPs in Barcelona have elected a pro-independence speaker at their first meeting since Madrid dissolved the region’s parliament. Separatist parties, who remain dominant after December’s election, want Carles Puigdemont to be president again. These are some of the stories we have in store in the International Edition, a programme that highlights stories packaged by the Editorial team of Euronews presented by Elayne Wangalwa. Egypt appreciates Ethiopia's goodwill, insists on technical recommendations Fri, 19 Jan 2018 10:29:15 +0000 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said that while his country appreciates the goodwill of Ethiopia in protecting their Nile interests, the only viable resolution to the dam stalemate is the completion of technical studies to ascertain the effect of the dam on the Nile waters. Ethiopia hopes the hydroelectric Grand Renaissance Dam will make it Africa’s largest power exporter. Egypt says it threatens its water supply which relies almost exclusively on the Nile that runs from Ethiopia through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Addis Ababa says it will have no impact. Egypt's FM to visit Ethiopia to revive Nile Dam talks— africanews (@africanews) December 24, 2017 Sisi explained that Egypt has never had any problem with development steps in the Nile Basin states as long as they do not harm Egypt’s interests. “We appreciate Ethiopia’s insistence on not harming Egypt’s water interests, but it is essential that the only way to accomplish this is to complete the required studies and to adhere to its results in order to avoid any adverse effects on the two downstream countries,” Sisi added. Delegations from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met in Cairo in November to approve a study by a French firm commissioned to assess the dam’s environmental and economic impact. But negotiations stalled when they failed to agree on the initial report with each blaming others for blocking progress. Hailemariam insists that Ethiopia is acting in the best interests of both countries. “We will never cause any harm to Egypt, we will do our best to guarantee a decent life to the sons of the Nile River, my country is ready to put end to all the problems between the two countries,” Desalegn said. Both leaders also agreed on several bilateral legal instruments including the establishment of an Egyptian industrial zone in Ethiopia. Daniel Mumbere African diplomats invite Trump to A.U. meeting to explain 'shithole' remark Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:36:24 +0000 African U.N. envoys suggested on Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump meet with African leaders in Ethiopia this month after he was reported to have described some immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole” countries. African ambassadors met with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who told them she regretted the political drama around what was said a week ago at a White House meeting on immigration, according to diplomats at the U.N. meeting. The diplomats said that South African U.N. Ambassador Jerry Matjila, who spoke on behalf of the group, told Haley that “it could be useful” for Trump to address African leaders directly when they meet in Addis Ababa at the African Union. That meeting is due to take place on Jan. 28-29, according to the African Union website. Haley told the ambassadors she did not know what had been said in last week’s White House meeting and promised to convey the African ambassadors’ message to Trump when she meets with him in Washington on Friday, according to the diplomats. Trump has denied using such derogatory language. The U.S. mission to the United Nations declined to comment on the U.N. meeting beyond a tweet it posted, which read: “Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today. We discussed our long relationship and history of combating HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region.” Thank you to the Africa Group for meeting today. We discussed our long relationship and history of combatting HIV, fighting terrorism, and committing to peace throughout the region.— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) January 18, 2018 African U.N. ambassadors issued a statement last Friday that said they were “extremely appalled at, and strongly condemned the outrageous, racist, xenophobic remarks attributed to the president of the United States.” They demanded Trump retract his remarks and apologize. According to diplomats at the U.N. meeting on Thursday, Haley also spoke about the billions of dollars that the United States had invested in the fight against HIV/Aids and terrorism in Africa and in humanitarian aid for South Sudan. Haley traveled to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in October last year. Daniel Mumbere Pics of the day, January 18, 2018 Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:57:07 +0000 Africanews samples the best pictures of the day’s news. Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett dies in U.S. helicopter crash Fri, 19 Jan 2018 08:25:03 +0000 Exiled Zimbabwe opposition leader Roy Bennett and four other people were killed in a helicopter crash in a remote northern part of the U.S. state of New Mexico, officials and his political party said on Thursday. The crash of a private Huey helicopter in rugged terrain near Raton, New Mexico, on Wednesday evening killed Bennett, 60, along with his wife, Heather Bennett, 55, James Coleman Dodd, 57, of Colorado, Charles Ryland Burnett, 61, of Texas and Paul Cobb, 67, of Texas, New Mexico State Police said. Bennett, a former treasurer general of the opposition MDC party, was an important figure in Zimbabwean politics and served time in prison under former President Robert Mugabe. He recently told CNN that his country would never again let itself be ruled by a dictatorship. “Roy was a resolute and committed fighter for democratic change in Zimbabwe,” the MDC said in a statement. The party described Bennett as a charismatic grassroots politician and successful farmer in the country’s eastern Chimanimani District. He was fluent in Zimbabwe’s Shona language, it said, and had helped hundreds of impoverished villagers pay school fees for their children. Though white, Bennett fought for the rights of black Zimbabweans, the party said, and had the nickname “Pachedu,” a Shona word that translates as “together” or “one of us.” Tributes to the fallen leader are being shared on social media. Just learnt of the tragic passing on in Canada of Heather and Roy Pachedu Badze Bennett. What a serious loss to mankind What a blow to Charles and the rest of the family . What a blow to our struggle . I can’t believe I can’t believe I will never speak to you again Badze !— TENDAI BITI (@BitiTendai) January 18, 2018 I’m devastated as I have just received tragic news about Roy Bennet and wife’s involvement in a helicopter crash while in Canada.— nelson chamisa (@nelsonchamisa) January 18, 2018 I remember when I was a reporter at The Standard & called Roy Bennett. Didn't know then that he spoke Shona. I kept asking for Mr Bennett. He kept shouting back “ndati ndivo vano VaBennett”. And I was wondering which fella is this taking me for a fool in that Manyika accent. RIP.— Ranga.?? (@RangaMberi) January 18, 2018 The MDC_T_</a> family will forever miss Roy and Heather Bennett. Fare thee well Pachedu. Your fought a good fight. You ran a good race. <a href="">matigary advocatemahere</a></p>&mdash; Douglas Mwonzora (DMwonzora) January 19, 2018 The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the crash 15 miles (24 km) east of Raton. Daniel Mumbere Eq. Guinea deserves praise for Gambia's peace, accepting Jammeh - Nguema Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:00:28 +0000 Africa’s longest serving leader Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea says his country deserves plaudits for the peace Gambians are currently enjoying. Nguema, 75, a year ago (January 2017) accepted to shelter the outgoing Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh in a deal brokered by the West African regional political bloc, ECOWAS. Speaking to French channels France24 and RFI in an exclusive interview, Nguema said: “First of all, I believe, you should congratulate Equatorial Guinea for the decision to host the former Gambian leader. “Particularly at a time when it saved a war situation in the country, because the ECOWAS forces were ready to invade the country which situation could have led to spillage of blood even affecting the citizens. “Because the outgoing president was ready to fight but as an individual I knew very well, I spoke to him via telephone and asked him to leave power.” Asked whether he will hand Jammeh over to an institution of justice if need be, Nguema said he will consult with his jurists when a request in that direction reached him. He stressed, however, that chasing someone who agreed to leave power will set a bad precedent. Jammeh had at the time refused to step down with the reason that his electoral defeat to then candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016 polls were defective. He unilaterally annulled the process and ordered a rerun. The opposition coalition refused to accept Jammeh’s backtracking on defeat putting the country on the verge of a political crisis. ECOWAS led at the time by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf started a mediation process led by Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders. Jammeh declared a state of emergency as his tenure run out, Barrow who was then in Senegal, took his oath of office at the Gambian embassy in Dakar. He had been flown out by ECOWAS for safety reasons. Jammeh later agreed to quit after Guinean and Mauritanian presidents held last minute talks with him at state house. He left The Gambia and has since been living Equatorial Guinea. #Gambia’s Ex-Prez #Jammeh spotted with host Prez Obiang #Nguema visiting a farm land in Eq. Guinea. Jammeh ready for farming in exile (1)— Alhagie Jobe (@freejobe39) March 21, 2017 Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Gabonese opposition activist missing since December 2017 Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:45:18 +0000 For almost a month now, the family and friends of Jocelyn Obame Nsimoro, better known under the pseudonym Stempy Love Obame, a Gabonese opposition activist, do not know his whereabouts. His family has not heard from him since December 18. Witnesses testified that they saw him being arrested by individuals who then boarded him in a white pickup truck with tinted windows. On Monday, a rumour spread like wildfire on social networks reporting the discovery of his remains in the prison of the Directorate General of Research. Africanews was able to contact Obame’s sister and this is what she had to say “We filed the complaint in court, we made statements in the brigades, in the Directorate General of Intelligence, and in the judicial police,” said Rosin Obone. “Since then, there has been no follow-up, we have not been called to tell us how the investigation is progressing…nothing at all. Those who hold Stempy must release him because his family needs him… We’re shot down. it’s a way to kill a family. If he did something wrong, let the justice system take care of it and tell us why he was arrested,” she added. The resurgence of kidnappings of opposition members continues to fuel the news, leaving families in total disarray and fear of never seeing their loved ones again. Alain Mbella Obame and Armel Mouendou also disappeared in December. Biafra agitation: Nigeria court upholds IPOB terrorist label Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:57:37 +0000 A court in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, has upheld an earlier ruling that pro-secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), is a terrorist group. The court presided over by Justice Abdul Kafarati ruled that the Attorney General of the Federation had used proper legal processes to apply for IPOB’s proscription in September 2017. The group through its lawyer, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, challenged the proscription order arguing that the government had violated the rights of the group having secured the order ex parte. An ex parte motion is one that does not require the other party to be represented for the court to take a decision. The judge said the AG having the consent of the president was enough grounds for the earlier proscription ruling. The judge also ordered the applicants to pay 500,000 naira as damages stressing that the rights of IPOB members had not been abused by the legal processes. The group based in Nigeria’s southeast has been pushing for secession following a similar independence struggle that happened decades ago. Leader of the current struggle, Nnamdi Kanu, has been missing since September 2017 after his followers clashed with the Nigerian Army in his hometown of Umuahia in Abia State. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Pope joins couple in matrimony aboard a papal flight in Chile Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:12:00 +0000 In the first such ceremony on a papal flight, Pope Francis performed a wedding for a steward and stewardess while flying between two Chilean cities on Thursday. Paula Podest Ruiz, 39, and Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriga, 41, who had a civil union eight years ago, told the pope that a religious ceremony that was to follow was canceled after their parish church in Santiago was heavily damaged in an earthquake in 2010. They asked him to bless their marriage. But he had something else in mind. “We told him that we are husband and wife. That we have two daughters and that we would have loved to receive his blessing. All of a sudden, he asked us if we were married for the Church too,” Ciuffardi told reporters afterwards on the plane, which was en route to the northern city of Iquique from Santiago. The couple explained to the pope how the 2010 earthquake had damaged the church they had hoped to marry in. ”He liked us and he asked: ‘Do you want me to marry you?’ He asked: ‘Are you sure?,‘” Podest said. “‘Yes of course,’ we said.” The pope performed the brief ceremony in the front of the plane. Ignacio Cueto, president of Latam airlines, who was on board, was the witness. An improvised marriage certificate was signed by the pope, the couple, Cueto and a bishop who was on the plane. “Being married by a pope on board a flight is something priceless,” Podest said. ”I asked him: ‘Do you marry people?’ He said: ‘Yes, from time to time. I have married 40 couples. But never has a pope married somebody on a flight,” she said. When the beaming couple emerged from the front section of the plane, some reporters in the rear section at first thought it was a practical joke. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke came out a minute later to confirm it all. “Everything is valid. Everything is official,” he said. He later sent reporters a picture of the marriage certificate. “We had a short and small ceremony. He took our hands and he asked if there was love in our marriage and if we want to keep on being together all life long,” Ciuffardi said. Podest told reporters and the pope that the couple had met on a flight when she was his boss, adding: “I am still his boss.” REUTERS Ethiopia ready to host 30th A.U. summit as corruption takes center stage Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:56:34 +0000 Authorities in Ethiopia say the country is set to host the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (A.U.). The summit which will take place at the A.U. headquarters in Addis Ababa is scheduled to kickoff on Monday January 22 till January 29, 2018. Corruption is set to take center stage in deliberations by leaders. The summit will be under the theme: ‘Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.’ The A.U. during its last session appointed Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari as its anti-corruption ambassador. Buhari missed the last session due to sickness, he was represented by the then Acting President Professor Yemi Osinbajo. Very interesting conversation to have in light of the fact that AU has declared 2018 the African Anti-Corruption Year and pres. Buhari is the champion of the theme of the year— Selemani Kinyunyu (@selemani) January 15, 2018 Aside corruption issues of conflict resolution across Africa will also be discussed – among others the situation in South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Libya. Permanent representatives of respective countries and the executive council of the A.U.will be expected to engage each other between the 22nd and 27th. African leaders will take their turn between the 28th and 29th of January. The current A.U. president Alpha Conde of Guinea is expected to hand over the mantle to Rwanda’s Paul Kagame – in what is a yearly rotation of the presidency. It will be the first time in a long while that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will not be present after he was deposed in November 2017. Outgoing Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is also likely to miss the session as she will have handed over executive power to president-elect George Weah. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Nigeria Air Force welcomes historic female combatant pilots Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:54:07 +0000 The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Wednesday welcomed 11 young pilots into its fold. Out of the 11 were two females and nine males. The National Helm portal gave the names of the two females as Flying Officers OS Ijelu and GC Nwaogwgwu. The Air Force disclosed that the history-making duo were winged as female combatant officers who qualify as pilot on fixed wing aircrafts. The NAF said in a statement on its Facebook page that 11 pilots had recently completed their one year flying training course at Westline Aviation, South Africa. In his opening address at the graduation ceremony which took place in the capital, Abuja, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, said the two female pilots made the ceremony a unique one. He said it “was the first time in the history of the NAF that female Regular Combatant officers would be decorated with wings as qualified pilots.” He further disclosed that by February 2018, 14 more pilots, 10 from the International Aviation College, Ilorin and 4 from South Africa, would complete their flying training. “By the end of February therefore, the NAF would have successfully winged 72 pilots. Furthermore, there are an additional 74 pilots that are training to qualify for awards of NAF wings. Out of this number, 64 are training in Nigeria while the remaining 10 are training outside Nigeria,” the CAS said. NIGERIAN AIR FORCE PRODUCES 72 PILOTS IN 2 YEARS, WINGS ADDITIONAL FEMALE PILOTS— Nigerian Air Force (@NigAirForce) January 18, 2018 The NAF has also trained 23 Instructor Pilots in the last 2 years while 7 are currently undergoing training abroad with 3 in the US and 4 in Jordan, according to him. The Air Force in Africa’s most populous nation is actively involved in the fight against terrorism especially in the northeast Borno State where Boko Haram insurgents operate. They also joined security operations in the southeast last year at the height of Biafra secessionist agitations. Nigeria also has an Air Force training school in the north central Kaduna State. Biafra agitation: Nigeria Air Force joins operation ‘Python Dance’ in southeast— africanews (@africanews) September 21, 2017 Photo credit: National Helm Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Uganda's Museveni says he could start signing death warrants Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:50:15 +0000 Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has made pronouncements about execution of criminals. According to him he was reconsidering an earlier position of not signing death warrants that were presented to him. Museveni, 73, said his Christian background had informed his decision to withhold signing death warrants but recent events had forced him to “revise” his position. “On the death penalty, I have not been assenting to hanging of convicts because of my Christian background but being lenient is causing people to think they can cause harm and get away with it. I will revise my position,” he wrote on Twitter. He had earlier delivered an address during the graduation of over 900 prisons officers at the country’s Luzira Prisons Training Academy on Thursday. The graduating class included 706 warders and wardresses and 213 non-commissioned officers. To the graduands, you are going out to a tempting world. Avoid sexual promiscuity (umalaya) which could cause you to lose your life. Avoid alcohol. Don’t be corrupt because you might become an inmate instead of a warder.— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) January 18, 2018 Most countries across Africa only have the death penalty on their death books but they are hardly implemented. Most presidents commute death sentences to life imprisonment. Egypt was the most recent case in Africa after 15 people were hanged for their role in terrorist attacks in the country’s Sinai region. In Nigeria, the penalty is reserved for kidnappers – the crime is rampant in the country. Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli for his part, told prison authorities not to bring warrants to him because he cannot give the final orders for a human being to be killed. “I know there are people who convicted of murder and waiting for death penalty, but please don’t bring the list to me for decision because I know how difficult it is to execute,” he said in September 2017 whiles swearing in a new chief justice. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Ethiopia, Egypt leaders say Nile dam must not destroy relations Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:15:02 +0000 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged on Thursday not to let differences over a dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile river ruin relations with Addis Ababa. Ethiopia hopes the hydroelectric Grand Renaissance Dam will make it Africa’s largest power exporter. Egypt says it threatens its water supply which relies almost exclusively on the Nile that runs from Ethiopia through Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Addis Ababa says it will have no impact. Sisi said negotiations with its two African neighbours were progressing and said a deadlock over a disputed, ongoing study on the dam’s impact must end. “The Nile basin enjoys great resources and capabilities that makes it a source of interconnection, building and development, not a source of conflict,” Sisi told reporters after meeting Ethiopia’s prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, in Cairo. Hailemariam echoed his comments: “We must make sure that this great river never becomes an object of competition, mistrust or conflict.” REUTERS CHAN 2018: Zambia, Namibia into quarters, fancied I. Coast eliminated Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:44:51 +0000 Zambia and Namibia qualified for the quarter-finals of the CHAN 2018 at the expense of fancied Ivory Coast and the Uganda Cranes. The two countries join Morocco and Sudan, who have already qualified from Group A. Namibia, playing at CHAN for the first time stunned Ivory Coast in the opening game with a late winner and on Thursday night, they beat Uganda by the same scoreline, 1-0, making it two wins in two games. Zambia beat tournament favorites 2-0 to send the Ivorians packing out of this year’s edition of CHAN ; Zambia 2 Ivory Coast 0 Goals Zambia: Mulenga (8,74) Namibia – Uganda 1-0 Goals Namibia: Nekundi (90+2) Group B (Marrakech) Standings Team: Pts Played Wins Draws Losses Zambia 6 2 2 0 0 Namibia 6 2 2 0 0 Uganda 0 2 0 0 2 I.Coast 0 2 0 0 2 Note: The top two teams qualify for the quarter-finals The final games in this group will be played on Monday with Ivory Coast taking on Uganda while Zambia will take on Namibia. Today, action in Group C resumes with high flying Libya taking on Nigeria’s Super Eagles who will be eager to record a win after they were frustrated to a goalless draw by Rwanda in their first game. Rwanda will take on Equatorial Guinea who lost their opening match to Libya. Both matches will take place at the Grande Stade de Tanger in Tangier. Follow our CHAN 2018 page for all the latest updates Daniel Mumbere Sudanese authorities arrest AFP, Reuters journalists Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:35:04 +0000 Sudanese authorities have detained a Reuters stringer and an AFP reporter who were covering protests in the capital Khartoum, the external information council, which deals with foreign media organizations, said. Reuters last had contact with its stringer early on Wednesday before he went to report on the demonstrations, which resulted in clashes between police and protesters. Abdelmoneim Abu Idris Ali, a 51-year-old who has worked for AFP in Khartoum for nearly a decade, was covering the protests on Wednesday in the Sudanese capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where riot police fired tear gas on protesters. An official in the external information council, contacted by Reuters, did not say whether charges would be brought against the two Sudanese journalists. The official had earlier said they would be released early on Thursday. “We do not know the circumstances of the detention and are actively seeking additional information about the situation,” a Reuters spokesperson said. “AFP management strongly condemns the arrest of Mr. Idris Ali and asks Sudanese authorities for his immediate release,” the agency said. Protests and clashes with security forces broke out across Sudan early this month after Khartoum imposed tough economic measures in line with recommendations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At least seven local reporters have also been detained according to the Sudanese Journalists Network. Reporters Magdi al-Ajib of the local privately owned newspaper al-Watan, Rishan Oushi of the local privately owned newspaper Mijhar al-Siyasi, Imtenan Al-Radi of the local privately owned newspaper al-Youm al-Tali, and freelance journalist Amal Habani were arrested on January 16. Shawky Abdelazim, al-Youm al-Tali editor, Khalid Abdelaziz, Reuters’ Sudan correspondent, and Abdelmunim Abudris, AFP’s correspondent were also arrested and remain in custody. The Committee for Protection of Journalists condemned the arrests and the crackdown that the Sudanese government has targeted at the media since the advent of the protests. “By arresting and intimidating journalists, confiscating newspapers and attempting to censor news dissemination, the Sudanese authorities keep trying to get journalists to stick to the official narrative or pay the price,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “We call on the authorities to release the seven journalists immediately and allow the press to do its job.” Over the years, critics have accused President Omar al-Bashir’s regime of cracking down on the media in Sudan, with watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranking the country 174th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index. Daniel Mumbere Increased vigilance against terrorist threat in Ghana's capital Thu, 18 Jan 2018 21:07:30 +0000 Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on Wednesday pledged increased vigilance to prevent possible terrorist threats after the opening of an investigation into the discovery of explosives in the capital Accra. Three men were arrested with grenades at the beginning of the week in the Odorkor district of Accra. Answering questions from journalists after his one year in office in Accra, President Nana Akufo Addo was certain about the preparedness of the Ghana police service to deal with any security threat. ‘‘Ghana in principle cannot be exempt as a potential target ,so the security preparedness of our country is an extremely important matter’‘,Akufo Addo said. Nana Akufo Addo assured that Ghana is safe. “I think that Ghana is stable, Ghana is secure, Ghana is safe, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure, that image, that reality of Ghana continues”,he added. Residents of Accra want the government to secure its borders. Nana Sarpong , a businessman said “these three people who were arrested, we do not know if they are part of a group, so I think we need to be vigilant vis-à-vis our borders so that things like that do not happen anymore. “ The police did not reveal the nationalities of the three men, but local media spoke of foreign nationals. They were placed in pre-trial detention by a court in Accra, where they are scheduled to appear on January 30th. Congo to join OPEC and the economic impacts in Sudan after U.S lifting sanctions [Business Africa] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:39:59 +0000 Congo Brazzaville joins OPEC in a bid to improve its oil production Congo, the fourth largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, wants to join OPEC in a bid to establish itself in the definition of policies and decision-making within the sector. Resources from the country’s oil account for about two-thirds of GDP – that is 75 percent of government revenue and 90 percent of export earnings. With the launch of the new Moho Nord oil field, Congo might be able to achieve its forecasts for an annual production of 117 million barrels. Financing opportunities increase after US lifted sanctions Sudanese government and institutions have started building their economic relations with counterparts in US after the world leader eased sanctions on it. There has been significant improvements and financial experts said the period of one hundred days after the economic embargo was lifted witnessed notable developments and movements between Khartoum and Washington including resuming banking transactions. The in depth story from our newsroom. Is Africa ready for bitcoin? [Business Africa] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 08:40:05 +0000 How do you trade with bitcoin in Africa? Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows value transfers around the world in seconds on the Internet without the need of a trusted authority, thanks to Blockchain technology. This virtual currency, as of last week is worth $13,000. It is becoming increasingly popular and is of interest to companies governments and individuals. But how does it work? and is Africa ready for it? Emmanuel Tokunbo Darko, bitcoin expert answered these questions. Exit of Zuma not on agenda of party meeting, says ruling ANC Secretary General Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:54:31 +0000 Secretary General of South Africa’s ruling party,the African National Congress on Thursday said, President Jacob Zuma’s removal as head of state is not on the agenda of a meeting of top officials from the ANC. “Those are the issues that we are discussing today, lekgotla, conference resolutions, January 8 rallies and preparing for the new year”,Ace Magashule, Secretary-General of the ANC said. He added ‘‘you must remember that there is a permanent position that former ANC presidents are former officials of our NEC, our former comrade. Nelson Mandela, comrade Mbeki, comrade Zuma, he can attend as he wishes’‘. There is widespread speculation that Zuma’s opponents in the ANC’s newly elected 80-member national executive committee will make a fresh push during four days of meetings which begin on Thursday to replace him with new party leader Cyril Ramaphosa. Orphan choir tours the world to raise funds to help other kids in Uganda Thu, 18 Jan 2018 16:44:10 +0000 Caleb was abandoned by his mother in Uganda as a small child, but instead of facing an uncertain future without family support he is travelling the English countryside with 16 other children just like him. Now 10 years old, Caleb is one of thousands of orphaned or vulnerable children who have been supported by Watoto Child Care Ministries, and part of a troupe of performers that will travel to all corners of Britain and beyond in the coming six months. “My mother first abandoned me in the road and then the local authorities brought me to Watoto. And then I met two years they took me to Watoto village. And then one year passed and then the second year when I’m in Watoto I started schooling,” Caleb said. Asia, also 10, was taken in by Watoto’s Neighbourhood programme when her single mother became unable to afford housing and schooling her. “I’ve been in Watoto for two years, this might be my third year. So when they took me Watoto my mother was very happy that she could at least have something to eat. Because when I was there I had to eat, I had to drink and she had to go for work and she had no one that can take care of me. So when she took me to Watoto she started tailoring and other businesses that can help her,” Asia said. In the next six months, Watoto’s touring choir will take Asia and Caleb to all corners of Britain and finally the Netherlands, helping to raise money for the organisation and spreading the word of its work. “Back home in Uganda there are more children who need help so we come here and get sponsors, so that they can sponsor the children and so that the children can be educated,” Asia added. Jacqueline Niaga is one of the adult support staff travelling with the children – and was once a member of the choir herself. Watoto took her into care when she was 8 years old and she toured the United States with the travelling choir a year later. Now 29, she carries treasured memories of her touring days and knows how valuable the trips are to other children who take part. “We have children who are between the ages of 6 and 13 and all the choirs last for a period of six months. So on the choirs we travel all around. This is the UK choir, there’s one in Asia, there’s two in the US, one in Canada and we have one that goes to Brazil so we’re going around the world. And still it’s the same thing, to raise awareness and support.” Jacqueline is especially proud of the Neighbourhood programme, which tackles one of the root problems facing poor families: mothers and children left to fend for themselves. “Neighbourhood, where we take care of vulnerable women, these are ladies who have been abandoned by their husbands and some of them have lost their husbands, some of them are living with HIV/AIDS and some of them have never been to school so they’re struggling with life to raise up their children.” The choir is part of the Watoto Ministry, which was founded in 1994 and takes care of about 3,000 children in three villages in Uganda, supported by sponsors based in-country and abroad. The Watoto Choir has performed to royalty and heads of government around the world, at venues including Buckingham Palace and the White House. Cape Town Mayor warns residents to respect restrictions on water consumption Thu, 18 Jan 2018 16:24:56 +0000 Residents of Cape Town will have to cut their water consumption by 40% from February 1st ,as the second largest city in South Africa is struck by its worst drought in a century. Cape Town Mayor ,Patricia de Lille who announced this on Thursday said ,if these new restrictions are not respected and the region does not record significant rainfall, water will no longer flow to the taps from April 21. She added that the population will be forced to line up at water distribution points. . “We reached a point of no return,” said Mayor Patricia de Lille during a press conference in Cape Town. “The crisis has reached a seriousness that requires a new series of emergency measures,” justified Ms de Lille. From February, residents will have to limit their daily water consumption to 50 liters, compared to 87 currently. City Council must approve Friday an increase in water rates for offenders. On average, 15 liters of water are consumed for a one-minute shower or flush toilet. “Despite our insistence for months, 60% of people in Cape Town use more than 87 liters of water a day, and we must assume that they will not change their behavior,” said the city’s mayor. “It is very likely” that residents will be without water at their taps from April 21, called “Zero Day”, again warned Patricia Lille. Since the beginning of 2016, water consumption in Cape Town has been reduced by almost half, but it is now stagnating at around 620 million liters per day, or 100 million liters above the target set by the municipality. Next week, the municipality must announce the 200 collection points where the inhabitants will be able to obtain 25 liters of water per day starting from “Zero Day”. Cape Town, popular with tourists, has been hit for three years by a terrible drought. Dams only contain 16% of usable water. All of southern Africa has experienced a very severe drought in recent years, aggravated by the cyclical El Niño weather phenomenon. But very heavy rains in recent months have allowed most of the region to redo its precious water reserves. The Cape region, however, was an exception, receiving most of its rainfall from May to August. Ghana's President says the economy is back on track Thu, 18 Jan 2018 16:11:26 +0000 Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo on Wednesday January 17 said, the country’s economy is rebounding and the major commodity exporter is poised to wean itself off bailouts through sustained fiscal discipline and a battle against corruption. The former opposition leader, sworn into office a year ago, said his government spent the past year stabilizing the economy, including clearing huge debts while rolling out infrastructure such as schools and roads. He also highlighted his government’s achievements in making secondary school education free for all. Akufo-Addo said it was one of many steps towards building a more capable workforce to take the economy further. “We shall work systematically to solve the problem, not just to the Senior High School, but from the kindergarten to the Junior High Schools as well. We shall put greater emphasis on technical, agricultural and vocational training and skills training in general. We have no choice but to educate and train our workforce to match the needs of the modern economy of the 21st century. This is only possible if we prioritize and accelerate the development and application of science, technology and innovation and also develop the capacity to design and manufacture machines, parts and tools for ourselves,” he told reporters. GDP growth in the West African state rebounded to 9.3 percent in Q3 2017 from 3.5 percent in the same period of 2016. Akufo-Addo said the government saved about $7 billion after reviewing power sector deals signed by his predecessor covering a 13-year contract. Eleven of the contracts had been terminated. It also saved at least $200 million through value-for-money procurement reviews, he said, without giving details. On the streets of Accra, the president got favourable reviews, mostly for scrapping fees for Senior High Schools (SHS). Residents also said they wanted to see more jobs and a drop in the cost of living. “His achievement, free SHS is in place, there are challenges but if you take the step you address the challenges. So definitely they will address the challenges. Free SHS, he has done it, nurses training allowances, teacher training allowances, now the biggest challenge is creating jobs for the youth to access. So on that score, I will give him 8/10,” said Seth Opoku, an engineer. “When it comes to utility bills and other stuff, you know light bills and… I think he has not improved on that, its not good but when we are talking of the SHS, you know I think from last year to this term its better because a lot of the parents are able to take care of their children to school because they are not paying the fees. So I think majority of the students have been in school for the time that Akufo-Addo has been President,” said Linda Fennin, an administrator. Just a few years ago Ghana’s economy was one of Africa’s most dynamic, but it was hit hard starting in 2014 by a slump in global prices for its gold and oil exports. A fiscal crisis saw inflation and the deficit rise sharply and the currency fall. Akufo-Addo made several promises to turn the country around, including promises to improve sustainable agriculture by building a dam in every village to enable year-round farming. “After a year in office, it will be fair to ask what frustrations and regrets if any, that I have? My answer will be, I wish we were had been able to do certain things much faster, every entire government machinery moves more quickly, because as I said, I’m in a hurry,” he told journalists. Didier Drogba says 'no' to politics despite Weah's invitation Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:22:23 +0000 Former Ivorian international, Didier Drogba, has dismissed talk of entering politics and possibly rising to become president of the West African county. According to him, there were different ways a person could impact on their societies stressing that despite politics being part, he had other ideas. The former Chelsea and Marseille forward was responding to talk that he could follow the footsteps of Liberia’s president-elect, George Weah, who won elections late last year. “It’s not necessarily the case that all footballers will [now] want to become president. George [Weah] has opened the way for him to make an impact in his own way, and others can make an impact on their communities in other ways. “He has been a model for me for a long time. He has been a big brother also for a long time and what he has done today shows that in the labor force, with perseverance, we can achieve our objectives and to realize our dreams for the good of the community.” Weah had charged Drogba to follow in his political footsteps after the Ivorian send words of congratulations to him in late December when he was declared winner of a presidential run-off vote. Weah gives Drogba a political ‘pass’: ‘Follow the same path’— africanews (@africanews) December 28, 2017 Weah’s presidential dream extends to 2006 when he first contested. He lost to outgoing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He run as a vice-presidential aspirant in 2011 but Sirleaf managed to secure a second straight term. With Sirleaf out of the picture, the former Liberian skipper won the first round of the October 2017 vote but failed to secure an outright win. The run-off between him and outgoing veep Joseph Boakai eventually delivered the seat he had started chasing over a decade ago. He is due to be sworn in on January 22, 2018. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Chilean police use water cannon to disperse crowds of protesters as Pope presides over Mass [No Comment] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:25:40 +0000 With Pope Francis in Chile, violence erupted in the streets of Santiago on Tuesday (January 16) as police used water cannon to crack down on demonstrators protesting the pope’s visit. Tanzania revokes licenses of 'drugs and explosives' ships Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:02:36 +0000 The government has revoked licences of two marine vessels flying Tanzanian flag after they were seized for shipping illicit drugs and explosives contrary to national and international laws. The development was announced by the vice president of Tanzania, Samia Suhumu Hassan during a press conference at State House in Dar es Salaam. The two ships in question were seized towards the end of last year and early this year in the Dominican Republic and Greece respectively. Greece intercepts Tanzania-flagged ship transporting explosives to Libya Tanzania-flagged ship seized with 1.6 tonnes of cocaine Hassan named the ships as Kaluba, which was seized in the Dominican Republic with 1,600 kilogrammes of cocaine and Andromeda, which was seized in Greece on January 6 with materials used to make explosives. ‘’ We revoked the licenses and ordered the owner of the ships to lower the Tanzanian flag. We will also take action against those who registered the ships,’‘ Hassan said. The vice president said President Magufuli has directed the authorities to take appropriate legal measures aginst those who were involved in registering the ships with the Zanzibar Marine Authority. ‘‘When they were registered, they signed declaration forms that the marine vessels would never be involved in illicit drug trade, ship weapons or be used for human trafficking. So, the fact that they have been seized for these very reasons, it means that the owners violated the laws’‘ The vice president said the decision was reached in consultation with authorities from the Revolution Government of Zanzibar and that, going forward,the two governments will form a committee to review registration of all ships flying the Tanzanian flag. Daniel Mumbere Tourism on the rebound in Mauritania [Travel] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 06:50:11 +0000 The number of tourists in the world increased by 7% in 2017, the highest in seven years, according to the World Tourism Organization the (UNWTO). The increase was mainly driven by Europe with 8% increase, particularly the Mediterranean. It is due to the global level of economic recovery and strong demand of many traditional and emerging emitting markets” the institution said. UNWTO also highlighted the good outcomes from Africa also with 8% increase , the report emphasized on the “resumption” of tourism in Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia, after a sharp decline in previous years due to terrorist attacks. I guess that what brought about the influx of tourists In the Mauritanian Sahara, the highlight of this segment. S. African regulator pursues criminal complaints against SAP, KPMG, McKinsey Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:12:29 +0000 South Africa’s companies registry office on Wednesday said it is pursuing criminal complaints against SAP, KPMG and McKinsey on suspicion that business they conducted with friends of President Jacob Zuma broke the companies act . The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) submitted the complaints to South African police in November and December last year and the matter is ongoing, the CIPC said in an emailed response to questions. German software maker SAP, auditor KPMG and management consultants McKinsey have all been accused of unduly influencing government contracts in collusion with companies controlled by the Gupta family, who have been accused of using political connections to win work with the state. “These assets are seized on the basis that they are suspected of being the proceeds of crime or corruption,” said Corruption Watch Executive Director, David lewis. However, the Guptas deny wrongdoing and say they are victims of a politically motivated witch hunt. The CIPC’s move marks the first time that any regulator or government authority has laid a criminal charge against the three firms in connection with a scandal involving the Gupta family. SAP said it had been co-operating with South African authorities investigating the deals for several months, including the police priority crime unit. McKinsey said it had not been formally provided with any affidavit or order from any authority. “We will see people and institutions being charged with a crime. If the charge is upheld, then the assets will be retained presumably. If not they will be returned,” Lewis added. KPMG cleared out its South African leadership in September last year after an internal investigation found work done for Gupta family firms “fell considerably short of KPMG’s standards”. KPMG denied it had done anything illegal. Zuma, who has faced and denied numerous corruption allegations since taking office in 2009, said last week he would set up a commission of inquiry into allegations of influence-peddling in the government. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected leader of the ruling African National Congress last month, has vowed to fight rampant corruption and revitalise the economy. Reuters Increased violence worsens dire humanitarian crisis in C.A.R - ICRC Thu, 18 Jan 2018 12:01:48 +0000 The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Mauer on Wednesday called on the International community to renew efforts to deal with the humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic, which has been plagued by conflict since 2013. Mauer is currently visiting the conflict ravaged country, where one in five Central Africans is currently displaced, and around 2.2 million people, around half the population, need humanitarian assistance. Violence has escalated in CAR since former colonial power France ended its peacekeeping mission last year, despite the election in March 2016 of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, which raised hopes of reconciliation. Mauer called CAR’s situation “one of the most neglected humanitarian tragedies in our world”, saying it remains largely underfunded. “This visit comes at a time and in a country where more than 30 percent of the population is displaced. More than half of the population needs humanitarian assistance. It’s also a country that does not appear in the news everyday or regularly on the international political or diplomatic agenda,” he said. Fighting in the country has flared since May last year, with the north-west and south-east of the country being the worst hit. Many continue to flee their villages, and tell stories of homes being torched, extortion and indiscriminate attacks. This hospital in the capital Bangui is one of the few hospitals still operating. “I was in Aliandao when the crisis started. I had to flee to my aunt’s place. When I came back to Alindao, I met a group of armed men who took me to the chief from a neighbouring village. They beat me up with a machete. They also beat my second son,” said one displaced woman Cecile. “Since 2017, we have taken 640 patients and performed 1,234 surgeries, which is around 100 surgeries a month,” said Chief surgeon, Abdramane Samake. “I want to bring the international community’s attention to what’s happening here and I want them to pay increased attention to those who are suffering and have been impacted by violence and address their needs, not only material needs but psychological as well,” Mauer said. Violence has also forced aid workers to pull out of the country, leaving many vulnerable people without assistance. According to the U.N.‘s Financial Tracking Service (FTS), lack of funds in 2017 had already forced aid workers to halve food aid and in some places stop it completely. The United Nations announced on Monday (January 15) that 100,000 people who have taken refuge to the city as a result of fighting need urgent humanitarian assistance. Nigerians protesters demand the release of Shi'ite leader Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:57:32 +0000 More than 200 members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and Pro-Democracy group, Concerned Nigerians, protested in Abuja on Wednesday to demand the release of their leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky. Concerned Nigerians said in a statement on Tuesday (January 16) the group would begin daily “sit-outs” on Wednesday to protest alleged killings of members of IMN and demand Zakzaky’s release. Convener, Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju said they are asking the government to do what is right. “What is happening to the Shia leader and the members of the Islamic Movement is completely injustice. A situation where they kill…. continuously kill their members you know… and continuously detain their leader. It’s uncalled for, it is against the norm of justice and equity and as sane Nigerians, as responsible Nigerians we must as a matter of fact condemn it which is exactly what we are doing ,” he added. Shia Muslim cleric Zakzaky, has been imprisoned at an unknown location without charge since December 2015 after his followers clashed with the army in the northern city of Zaria. Rumored to have died in detention, Zakzaky made his first public appearance in two years on Saturday. Member of Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Mohalled Ibrahim Gamawa said they are under threat. “We are being gunned down by policemen day in day out, and soldiers. Many of our members have been killed last week and from all indications they are going to kill our members the more this week because we believe that street protests is our right and we must come out and demonstrate if Sheik Ibrahim Zakzaky is not being released. So we ,” In 2016, Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna declared IMN a minority sect in the mainly Sunni Muslim north – unlawful on security grounds. The ban triggered a wave of attacks on IMN members, worsening sectarian rivalries in northern Nigeria, where the army is also fighting Boko Haram. Netherlands expels top Eritrean diplomat Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:56:58 +0000 The Dutch government has told the highest representative of Eritrea in the Netherlands to leave the country, minister of Foreign Affairs Halbe Zijlstra said on Wednesday. Tekeste Ghebremedhin Zemuy has been declared persona non grata, Zijlstra wrote in a letter to parliament, as the government found mounting evidence of Eritrea continuing to force tax payments from people who fled the country. A spokesman for the Eritrean Embassy declined to comment on the decision. Dutch radio programme Argos last month said Eritrean refugees were being intimidated into paying a “diaspora tax” at the embassy in The Hague, in order to get access to its services, despite earlier orders by the Dutch government to stop this practice. “This is an exceptionally severe measure, meant as a signal to the government of Eritrea”, Zijlstra said. “We want to make clear that we don’t tolerate these unwanted practices.” Zijlstra said he had decided not to close the entire embassy, against the will of a majority in Dutch parliament, as that would make it impossible to help Eritreans. He called on Eritreans to report criminal offences they had experienced at the embassy. Eritrea’s Diapsora Tax which is levied on citizenship rather than residence has been a source of controversy in many countries including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada among others. In 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning the use of the diaspora tax ‘to destablise the Horn of Africa’ and instructed Eritrea to ‘stop using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals’. Indeed on social media, a number of people condemned the expulsion of the diplomat and what they described as ‘double standards’ in treatment of countries with ‘diaspora tax’. My 2% is too little to #Eritrea. No one forced me to pay and no one can stop me. Mijn 2% is te weinig voor Eritrea. Niemand dwong me om te betalen en niemand kan me stoppen.#Netherlands gov stop bullying our gov. NLatUN</a> <a href="">NLintheUSA MinPres</a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Mussie Sibhatu ?☽ ?? (1People1Heart) January 17, 2018 Unless you believe, #African country #Eritrea does not have the right to tax it’s own citizen, why all this hoopla ? let #Netherlands former slave owners bark like a dog ?. they can’t stop the camel ? of the red see— Dawit (@EREVANGURD) January 18, 2018 Eritrea too. But their tiny 2% diaspora tax receives universal condemnation & action. Whereas US bullies foreign governments, foreign financial institutions & foreign residents for substantially more. Outright theft of capital belonging to other nations and their residents.— Gary Clueit (@clueit) January 18, 2018 The USA has the same sort of tax. They tax me on my foreign income, but the difference is I can't choose not to pay and simply lose consular services. If I don't pay America's tax, I go to prison. Why don't the Dutch kick the Americans out? I think we all know why. #Eritrea— Samson ?? (@samsonoferitrea) January 18, 2018 Daniel Mumbere Ethiopia frees opposition leader Merera Gudina [The Morning Call] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:55:03 +0000 After more than a year in detention, jailed Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been freed. The leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress was released on Wednesday morning and allowed to go home, where he was welcomed by thousands of people. He had been facing charges that included association with terrorist groups. Ethiopia has long been accused by Human rights groups of refusing to allow opposition groups to operate freely. Let us now hear more on the release of Merera Gudina. Press review [The Morning Call] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:52:44 +0000 Thursday’s press review with Hannane Ferdjani Pics of the day, January 17, 2018 Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:43:05 +0000 Africanews samples the best pictures of the day’s news. Cameroon crisis: Two soldiers killed [The Morning Call] Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:33:19 +0000 Two Cameroonian soldiers have been killed in the English-speaking areas where separatists are agitating for independence. According to a statement released by the US embassy in Yaounde, a Cameroonian marine in Ekondo-Titi in the Southwest region was killed on January 14 while a gendarme in Wum in the North West region was killed on January 15. The US called on the Cameroonian government “to show restraint” in the face of violent acts it blamed on English-speaking separatists. Dialogue the ‘only path’ to resolve Cameroon Anglophone crisis: U.S. Policemen killed as Americans and Canadians are kidnapped in Nigeria Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:23:53 +0000 Kidnappers have abducted two Americans and two Canadians in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna, killing two police officers, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. Kidnappings are rife in Nigeria, where domestic security is weak, though they overwhelmingly target other Nigerians. However, abductions of foreigners are not uncommon. The foreigners were ambushed by unknown gunmen on their way from the town of Kafanchan in Kaduna state to the capital Abuja, Mukhtar Aliyu, a spokesman for the Kaduna state police, said by telephone. Kafanchan is about 3-1/2 hours’ drive northeast of Abuja. “The two police escorts attached to them engaged the kidnappers in a fierce gun battle, which resulted in the unfortunate death of the two police officers,” Aliyu said. The United States embassy in Nigeria declined to comment. Global Affairs Canada is aware of the reports of the kidnapping of two Canadian citizens and consular officials in Nigeria are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information, spokesman John Babcock said. Canada cannot release further details on the case due to privacy concerns, Babcock said. This kidnapping will increase pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to deliver on security in Nigeria. The recent communal clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers that left over 70 dead highlighted the continued failure of the government to secure the lives of Nigerians. In October, kidnappers took four Britons in Delta state in the south. Three were released after negotiations, but the other, Ian Squire, was killed. The Abuja-Kaduna road has long been a haunt for kidnappers. Last February, two German archaeologists were abducted in the region, though were later freed. Yes, and who travels in that area at 10pm at night towards Abjua anyway? Nigeria's “highways” are treacherous enough as roads, and those approaches to Abuja from the north are known as kidnapping territory. Feel very sorry for the two dead police officer's families.— Chris W J Roberts (@cwjroberts) January 18, 2018 .USEmbassyAbuja</a> and <a href="">CanHCNigeria should be asking the IGP, COAS, DG SSS tough questions about the conflict economy in southern Kaduna. To what extent are security personnel/commanders complicit in and profiting from kidnapping for ransom (KFR) across Nigeria?— Matthew T. Page (@MatthewTPage) January 17, 2018 Kidnapping an American will surely bring an END to KIDNAPPING in Nigeria. They have a made a mistake. Chai!— Nazir Galadanchi (@nazirgaladanchi) January 18, 2018 Kidnapping of foreigners will scare away investors. The security architecture of Nigeria have to be strengthened effectively to forthwith curb the menace of kidnappings galore in the country.— Haruna Musa (@HarunaM90475877) January 18, 2018 Daniel Mumbere CHAN 2018: Morocco, Sudan qualify for the quarter finals Thu, 18 Jan 2018 07:48:28 +0000 Morocco, the host nation and one of the tournament favourites, qualified for the quarter-finals of the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) 2018 after their second win in two games. Morocco beat Guinea 3-1 on Wednesday while Sudan also earned their ticket to the quarters with a 1-0 win over Mauritania. Morocco, who had resoundingly beaten Mauritania in the opening match (4-0), was held in check (1-1) for just over an hour before Ayoub El-Kaabi’s completed his awesome show with a hat-trick. Following his two goals against Mauritania, the 24-year-old striker is now the tournament’s top scorer with five goals in two games. Sudan, meanwhile, beat Mauritania 1-0 to score two wins in as many games. Morocco 3 Guinea 1 Goals Morocco: Kaabi (26,64,68) Guinea: Saidouba (28) Sudan 1 Mauritania 0 Goals Sudan: Musa (30) Standings Group A (Casablanca) Team: Pts Played Wins Draws Losses Morocco 6 2 2 0 0 Sudan 6 2 2 0 0 Guinea 0 2 0 0 2 Mauritania 0 2 0 0 2 Note: The top two teams qualify for the quarter-finals Sudan will play the hosts Morocco on Sunday at the Stade Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca to determine the first place in the group, while the two teams which are already eliminated, Mauritania and Guinea will also be in action on the same day at the Grand Stadium Marrakech. Today, action in Group B will resume with Ivory Coast taking on Zambia while Uganda will play Namibia. Both matches will take place at the Stade de Marrakech. Follow our CHAN 2018 page for all the latest updates Daniel Mumbere Mnangagwa says Zimbabwe elections to be held in five months Thu, 18 Jan 2018 07:28:17 +0000 Zimbabwe will hold elections in four to five months, a newspaper on Thursday quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying, the first time since independence the southern African state will conduct a vote that does not involve former ruler Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa, who took over after Mugabe was forced to resign in November following a defacto military coup, was speaking during an official trip to Mozambique, the official Herald newspaper reported. “Zimbabwe is going for elections in four to five months’ time and we have to preach peace, peace and peace because we know it is good for us and we have no doubt that we will have peaceful elections,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying. The international community will be closely watching the vote, which is seen as a litmus test of Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials and is key to unlocking badly needed financial assistance and repairing relations with Western powers and international financial institutions. “We will ensure that Zimbabwe delivers free, credible, fair and indisputable elections to ensure Zimbabwe engages the world as a qualified democratic state.” Under the constitution, Zimbabwe should hold elections between July 22 and August 22 but parliament can elect to dissolve itself, triggering an early vote. The ruling ZANU-PF holds a two-thirds majority in parliament. Since 2000, elections in Zimbabwe have been marred by political violence and disputes, which led to the country becoming an international pariah under Mugabe’s 37-year rule. The next vote will pit Mnangagwa against the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is currently battling with cancer, a development that has weakened and divided his party. REUTERS 'After 400 days in prison. I'm OK,' - Ethiopia's Gudina 'open for dialogue' Wed, 17 Jan 2018 23:00:22 +0000 Merera Gudina, the freed leader of Ethiopia’s main opposition party, the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) says he is doing well after over a year in detention. The respected academic is reported by the BBC to have said he was ‘After 400 days in prison, I’m okay.’ On the back of a government call for engagement with the opposition, he added his readiness to engage with the regime. “I’ve never broken the law. As a former member of parliament, I know the constitution and have always respected the law. I’m delighted to be released. The government says it wants to lay the groundwork for national reconciliation, that’s what I heard about the state media,” he said. Gudina was arrested in December 2016 at the airport when he arrived from Brissels where he met with the European Union parliament to discuss political events back home. At the time, the government had imposed a six-month state of emergency meant to quell spreading anti-government protests that started in 2015. The protests centered mostly in the Oromia and Amhara regions. He was charged for flouting the state of emergency when he met persons considered terrorists by Addis Ababa. He was charged with terrorism before it was later replaced with multiple criminal charges. His trial was severally postponed whiles he strictly maintained his innocence. His release comes barely two weeks after the government said it was dropping cases against a number of politician prisonsers as a means of engendering national unity. Gudina and over 500 others were released in the first phase of the announced reform. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban U.K., Germany urge Ethiopia to respect political reforms plan, heal the nation Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:25:49 +0000 The United Kingdom and Germany have commented on the political ongoings in Ethiopia, charging the government to follow through with its promises on political reforms and opening up the democratic space. Their comments came in the wake of the release of over 500 politician prisoners as promised by government earlier this month. The release of Merera Gudina, a major opposition figure was key in their respective messages. Both Embassies also stressed the need to open up the political space and allow people to participate in the governance process. The Ethiopian ruling coalition, EPRDF, has been under pressure to respect rights of political opposition, of journalists critical of the regime and rights activists. U.S. tasks Ethiopia govt to follow through with political reforms The German Statement read as follows: The German Embassy Addis Ababa welcomes the release of 115 detainees, including Dr. Merera Gudina, in Addis Ababa. We congratulate the Ethiopian government to this important step, which contributes to widening the political space in Ethiopia. The Embassy encourages further steps to be taken, in order to give all political forces a voice in Ethiopia and to find a sustainable solution to the current tensions in the country. The British Embassy in Addis Ababa said: Very welcome news that release of the first round of prisoners has begun and includes important political figures. This sends a positive signal to the Ethiopian people and the international community. We look forward to the promised consideration of pardons and other steps to open up political space and promote broader democratic participation. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Careless Trump is racist, the world is not for him – Eq. Guinea's Nguema fires Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:47:48 +0000 Equatorial Guinea president says, careless, discriminatory, disrespectful are some words that best describes the ‘shithole’ comments reportedly made by United States president Donald John Trump. Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was speaking in an interview with the French news channels, France24 and RFI in an exclusive interview in the capital, Malabo. “I think it is careless, a head of state of a powerful country like America cannot talk like that because the world is not for him. He must respect all races of the world. “This was a discriminatory expression but it does not concern me because I’m black and I’m proud to be black. I do not have any (inferiority) complex in front of any white man.” Pressed on a definite answer over whether Trump was a racist, he said Trump’s comments had targeted blacks – Haitians and Africans, which made his words that of a careless person. Pushed further on the racist tag given the position advanced by other African heads of states, Nguema said, “that’s the truth, just as you have said the truth, it is racist.” The man who is Africa’s longest serving president having been in power for almost four decades also spoke about a failed coup attempt in December 2017, about the asylum granted to former Gambian leader Jammeh and Malabo’s relationship with France. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban Ghana's skeleton athlete qualifies to participate in 2018 Winter Olympics Wed, 17 Jan 2018 22:02:48 +0000 The West African nation of Ghana does not belong to countries that experience winter but it will be represented at the Winter Olymics due for Pyeongchang in South Korea later this year. Ghana’s qualification was made possible by one Akwasi Frimpong, a Ghanaian – born skeleton athlete. He will become the second Ghanaian to participate in the Winter Olympics. Skeleton is an individual winter sliding sport in which a person rides a small sled, known as a skeleton bobsled (or sleigh), down a frozen track while lying face down (prone). He managed to make the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) mark of ranking in the top 60 by middle of January, hence booking him a slot. Frimpong who was born and raised in Ghana left for the Netherlands at the age of eight. It’s official‼️Proud to announce that I will be representing Ghana at the 2018 Winter Olympics??. Dare to dream! #GhanaSkeleton??— Akwasi Frimpong (@FrimpongAkwasi) January 15, 2018 His official portal describes him as an athlete, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He has previously competed for the Netherlands and the United States but aways fell short of qualifying for the main Olympics. He only switched from bobsled to skeleton in 2015. “With all the things I went through as an (track and field) athlete in the Netherlands and the US, I have learned to face fear. I have learned that it’s possible,” Frimpong said in an interview with Business Insider last year. “Through skeleton I’m trying to show people to come out of their comfort zone as much as possible and get into something different. We cannot all be Abedi Pele, we cannot all be Usain Bolt, but we all have talent that we can definitely use,” Frimpong explained. Till Frimpong came into the picture, Ghana’s only appearance at the Winter Sports was back in 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia where Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, popularly known as the “Snow leopard”, represented the country in the slalom ski event. Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban