Voters brave sun, insecurity and queues but presidential election extended to Sunday in some areas after tech glitches.
Al Jazeera, March 28
Nigerians turned out en masse on Saturday to vote in what is expected to be one of the tightest presidential races in their history between incumbent Goodluck Jonathan and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.
Analysts are calling the poll a pivotal historical event for the young democracy. Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has ruled Africa’s most populous nation virtually unopposed for 16 years.
But it is possible he could lose to Buhari, who has contested three previous elections but never come close to victory before.
Al Jazeera: Goodluck Jonathan hopes it will be 2011 all over again.
BBC, By Smitha Mundasad, March 23
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa will be over by August, the head of the UN Ebola mission has told the BBC.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed admitted the UN had made mistakes in handling the crisis early on, sometimes acting “arrogantly”.
A year after the outbreak was officially declared, the virus has killed more than 10,000 people.
“We have been running away from giving any specific date, but I am pretty sure myself that it will be gone by the summer.”
Reuters, March 8
Chad and Niger launched a joint army operation against Boko Haram in Nigeria on Sunday, intensifying a regional offensive designed to defeat the Islamic group, military sources said.
It is the first incursion deep into Nigeria by troops from Niger, which have so far only fought Boko Haram in the border area. Chad has already sent troops many kilometres inside northeastern Nigeria and has won territory back from the Sunni jihadist group near the Nigeria-Cameroon border.
“We can confirm that Chadian and Nigerien forces launched an offensive this morning from Niger. The offensive is underway,” said Colonel Azem Bermandoa, spokesman for Chad’s army.
BBC, February 1
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar have signed a deal, committing to end the conflict that has devastated the country.
The ceasefire agreement was signed at talks in Ethiopia.
But consultations will continue on the contentious issue of a future government and power-sharing.
The conflict – which erupted in December 2013 – has displaced about 1.5 million people and earlier ceasefire deals have not been lasted.
“Complete cessation of hostilities in South Sudan is expected as of this morning (Monday),” said Seyoum Mesfin, a negotiator from the regional Igad bloc.
AFP, January 31
N’Djamena, Chad – Chadian aircraft on Saturday bombed the Nigerian town of Gamboru in a raid targeting Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, security sources said.
A raid was carried out around midday by two fighter jets on the town in Nigeria’s far northeast along the Cameroon border, sources from Chad and Cameroon said on condition of anonymity.
Boko Haram overran the town several months ago as part of its campaign to seize territory in the region and create an Islamic state.
The Boko Haram uprising has become a regional crisis, with the four directly affected countries — Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria — agreeing to boost cooperation to contain the threat.
AP: Africa agrees to send 7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram
AP, By Ashraf Sweilam, January 29
El-Arish, Egypt – Militants struck more than a dozen army and police targets in the restive Sinai Peninsula with simultaneous attacks involving a car bomb and mortar rounds on Thursday, killing at least 26 security officers.
An Army spokesman immediately blamed former Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack, which killed 25 Army soldiers and one policeman.
The wide-ranging attacks late Thursday required a previously unseen level of coordination. At least one car bomb was set off outside a military base, while mortars were simultaneously fired at the base, toppling some buildings and leaving soldiers buried under the debris, official said.
Other attacks included mortar rounds fired at a hotel, a police club and more than a dozen checkpoints, officials said.
BBC: Egypt’s Sisi cuts short visit over Sinai attacks
Al Arabiya: Sisi cuts short overseas trip after Sinai attacks
AFP, January 19
Niamey – Forty-five churches were torched over the weekend in Niger’s capital during deadly protests over the publication of a Prophet Mohammad cartoon by the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, police said on Monday.
The protests, which left five people dead and 128 people injured in Niamey, also saw a Christian school and orphanage set alight, Adily Toro, a spokesman for the national police, told a press conference.
Similar unrest sparked by the French satirical weekly, which was targeted by a bloody Islamist raid on January 7, saw five people killed in the southern city of Zinder, where 45 were wounded.
AFP, By Carole Landry & Andre Viollaz, January 15
The Ebola crisis has “passed the tipping point” and there is now a reasonable chance the deadly outbreak could end quickly, the UN special envoy said Thursday.
UN Ebola coordinator David Nabarro welcomed fresh data from the World Health Organization showing that all three hardest-hit countries in West Africa had registered the lowest weekly tally of new cases in months.
“I’m absolutely delighted to see that the incidence of confirmed Ebola cases week-on-week is reducing,” Nabarro told AFP in an interview.
“This suggests that we have passed the tipping point and we are beginning to be on the downward slope of the outbreak,” he said.
Mounting violence in Burundi is adding to concern over an already volatile political climate. The government and the opposition are trading accusations, while rights groups warn that basic freedoms are being restricted.
Deutsche Welle, By Dirke Köpp and Eric Topona, January 15
A wave of violence has been sweeping the Central African country of Burundi for weeks. Heavy clashes between the military and rebels have left scores of people dead. Unidentified assailants dressed in military fatigues killed several members of the ruling party in early January.
Meanwhile the political climate is becoming harsher ahead of legislative elections in May, which are to be followed by presidential polls in June.
The incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza, is exacerbating an already difficult situation in the country by pursuing a third term in office. Burundi’s constitution only allows for two terms, as was agreed in 2000, in a peace deal that ended a civil war. But President Nkurunziza’s camp argues that when he was elected for the first time in 2005, it was not by popular vote but by the legislature.
Observers see a clear connection between the upcoming elections and the escalating violence. “The attacks come just as the ruling party and the government are having problems with the opposition,” said Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, president of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons (APRODH), a rights organization in Burundi.
Associated Press, By Maggie Michael, January 12
Cairo — An Egyptian court on Monday acquitted 26 men arrested in a televised raid last month by police looking for gays at a Cairo public bathhouse, a ruling that set off deafening cheers and jubilation inside the courtroom as some of the defendants uncovered their faces and cried with relief.
The trial, which had caused an uproar among activists and rights groups, captured public attention after a pro-government TV network aired scenes of half-naked men being pulled from the bathhouse by police.
Same-sex relations are not explicitly prohibited in Egyptian law but homosexuality is a social taboo in the conservative, Muslim-majority country. Same-sex marriage is unheard of. Only in recent years have movies and fiction included gay characters.
The courtroom erupted into a frenzy after the word “acquittal” was heard from the judge and women ululated. Scott Long, an American researcher who had followed the case said he was both “shocked and delighted.”
“I hope this is a sign that these raids will come to an end,” Long told The Associated Press amid the cheering. “Finally there was a judge who listened to the evidence.”
The Herald, By Walter Nyamukondiwa & Nyemudzai Kakore, January 5
Low-lying areas of the country have been hit by flooding with more than 200 families being displaced while 52 houses and a secondary school were destroyed in Mashonaland Central. One person was reported killed while another was missing after being swept away by flooded rivers as rains continue to pound the country.
This brings the number of people who have died so far due to the floods to 10.
Eight family members died on Saturday when the car they were travelling in was swept away while crossing a flooded Ngwazani River near Kadoma.
Their bodies were found yesterday trapped inside a Honda CRV in the river. In Mashonaland Central province two people were marooned with 52 houses and a secondary school destroyed by the floods.
“In Mbire district, 37 houses collapsed including Makuwatsine Secondary School buildings. At least 15 houses were flooded in Mukumbira, Mt Darwin while 200 families were displaced and had to be housed at Kanongo Primary School,” Mashonaland Central provincial administrator Mr Josphat Jaji said.
Pentagon says Washington has carried out an air strike against a senior leader of armed group in Saacow in Somalia.
Al Jazeera, December 30
The United States has launched an air strike targeting a senior leader of Somalia’s al-Shabab group, the Pentagon has said.
Military spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the raid on Monday hit a target in Saacow, in sourthern Somalia, shortly after the armed group’s intelligence chief surrendered to government and African Union forces.
“At this time, we do not assess there to be any civilian or bystander casualties,” Kirby said.
A senior Pentagon official confirmed that the US was targeting Abdishakur Tahlil. US officials identified Tahlil as the chief of intelligence for the al-Shabaab.
BBC: US strike in Somalia ‘killed al-Shabab intelligence chief’
BBC: Who are Somalia’s al-Shabab?
Fatou Bensouda said she is pausing a probe into war crimes due to little help and lack of cooperation
Al Jazeera, December 12
The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) told the U.N. Security Council on Friday that she is ceasing her investigations in Sudan’s chaotic Darfur region because no one has been brought to justice in a decade and the council has done little or nothing to help.
Darfur’s situation is deteriorating and the brutality of crimes is increasing, but there have been no discussions with the council for “concrete solutions,” Fatou Bensouda said. She demanded a new approach.
Darfur was the council’s first referral to the ICC, which is seen as a court of last resort for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted on charges of all three and is accused of orchestrating atrocities in Darfur, but he remains at large and refuses to recognize the court’s authority. He has traveled freely to some African countries that are parties to the statute that created the ICC but have refused to arrest him as required.
Bashir claims victory after ICC shelves probe
Reuters, December 13
Khartoum – Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir claimed victory over the International Criminal Court on Saturday after it shelved further investigation of war crimes in Darfur, and reaffirmed his hard line on the rebel region.
The Hague-based court indicted Bashir in 2009 for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in suppressing the Darfur revolt.
But the court’s prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said on Friday she was shelving the Darfur investigation for lack of support from the Security Council, the U.N. body able to take coercive measures that could compel Bashir and co-defendants to face the court.
“They wanted us to kneel before the International Criminal Court but the ICC raised its hands and admitted that it had failed,” Bashir said in a defiant speech.
“The Sudanese people have defeated the ICC and have refused to hand over any Sudanese to the colonialist courts.”
McClatchy, By Nancy A. Youssef, November 21
Washington — A House Intelligence Committee investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi concludes that while the Central intelligence Agency had properly secured its compound in the Libyan city, the State Department knew its security precautions were inadequate at the U.S. Special Mission where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens died.
But the report, while offering rich and previously unknown details about the hours-long attack on the two facilities, still leaves unanswered a key question: If, as the report states, the CIA station chief in Tripoli, State Department diplomatic security agents and CIA contractors in Benghazi knew the mission wasn’t properly secured, why was Stevens allowed to stay there for what was supposed to be a four-day visit?
Indeed, security appeared lax even after 80 attackers had stormed the sprawling four-building complex when CIA contractors arrived to offer assistance, the report said. “The CIA security team observed that some, perhaps all, of the [diplomatic security] agents were unarmed and one of them was not wearing shoes,” the report said.
AFP, November 15
Kinshasa – The Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday declared itself Ebola-free, after a three-month outbreak of the killer disease claimed at least 49 lives.
The DRC outbreak, which began in August, involved a different strain of Ebola from the one that has claimed more than 5,100 lives in west Africa.
“The end of the epidemic… does not mean we are completely out of danger,” said DRC Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi. “Like every other nation, the DRC remains threatened by the possible import of the Ebola virus disease raging in west Africa.”