Category - Africa: Sub-Saharan

Sub-Saharan Africa

Millions of Nigerians come out to vote in tight poll

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.

Ebola outbreak ‘over by August’, UN suggests

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.”

Chad, Niger launch joint offensive against Boko Haram in Nigeria

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.

Chadian aircraft ‘bomb Nigerian town in anti-Boko Haram raid’

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

45 churches torched in Niger capital in cartoon demos: police

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.

UN Ebola czar says epidemic has ‘passed the tipping point’

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.

Burundi: Violence Sparks Alarm Ahead of Burundi Polls

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.

Floods Leave Hundreds Homeless

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.

US air strike ‘targets al-Shabab leader’

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?

In protest of inaction, ICC prosecutor stops investigating Darfur genocide

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.”

DR Congo declares itself Ebola-free

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.”

Boko Haram calls ceasefire, talks claims ‘lies’

AFP, By Aminu Abubakar, October 31

Kano, Nigeria – Boko Haram denied that they had agreed to a ceasefire in a new video obtained on Friday by AFP, describing the Nigerian government claims as a lie and apparently ruling out future talks.

The group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, also claimed the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped from the remote northeast town of Chibok, in Borno state, in April had converted to Islam and been married off.

Burkina Faso’s Parliament Stormed, Set Ablaze by Protesters

NBC, October 30

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso — Thousands of protesters stormed Burkina Faso’s parliament on Thursday and set fire to the building, witnesses told Reuters. The crowd then headed towards the prime minister’s office as a government helicopter flew overhead, shooting tear gas canisters at protesters, a Reuters witness said.

Lawmakers had been due to vote on Thursday a plan proposed by the government to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore stand for re-election next year, when he was due to stand down due to a two-term limit. Most deputies had not yet arrived for the vote when protesters entered the building. “We did this because Blaise was trying to stay too long. We are tired of him,” said Seydou Kabre, a protester in the crowd headed to the prime minister’s office. “We want a change. He must go!” Security forces protecting the house of Compaore’s brother opened fire as demonstrators tried to attack the building, leaving three bodies lying motionless on the ground, a witness said.

BBC: Burkina Faso parliament set ablaze

Ebola crisis: Mali confirms first infection case

BBC, October 24

The Mali government has confirmed the first case of Ebola in the country.

It said a two-year-old girl had tested positive for the haemorrhagic virus. She recently returned from neighbouring Guinea.

More than 4,800 people have died of Ebola – mainly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone – since March.

Meanwhile, an international team of scientists has been set up to determine the effectiveness of using the blood of Ebola survivors as a treatment.

It is hoped the antibodies used by the immune system to fight Ebola can be transferred from a survivor to a patient. The study will start in Guinea.

Nigeria declared Ebola-free after containing virus

Reuters, October 20

Abuja – The World Health Organisation declared Nigeria Ebola free on Monday after a 42 day period with no new cases, in a success story with lessons for countries still struggling to contain the deadly virus.

“Nigeria is now free of Ebola,” WHO representative Rui Gama Vaz told a news conference in the capital Abuja, prompting a round of applause from other officials.

“This is a spectacular success story … It shows that Ebola can be contained but we must be clear that we have only won a battle, the war will only end when West Africa is also declared free of Ebola.”

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Nigeria had 20 cases in total, of which eight died.

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