Category - Africa: Sub-Saharan

Sub-Saharan Africa

Congo’s longtime president calls referendum in bid to extend rule

France24, September 23

Congo Brazzaville’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso said Tuesday he was going ahead with a referendum on changes to the constitution that could allow him to extend his hold on power.

“I decided to give the people a direct voice” on the bill, Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled for 30 of the past 35 years, said in a statement on public radio and television, though he gave no dates for the vote.

A commission, the composition of which is not yet known, must propose a new draft constitution before a date is chosen for the referendum.

The 72-year-old president had previously convened a “national dialogue”, which came out “by a large majority” in favour of amending the constitution to remove an upper limit on the age of presidential candidates as well as the number of terms the head of state can serve.

UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troops

Anders Kompass said to have passed confidential document to French authorities because of UN’s failure to stop abuse of children in Central African Republic.

The Guardian, By Sandra Laville, April 29

A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.

Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN’s failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts.

Kompass, who is based in Geneva, was suspended from his post as director of field operations last week and accused of leaking a confidential UN report and breaching protocols. He is under investigation by the UN office for internal oversight service (OIOS) amid warnings from a senior official that access to his case must be “severely restricted”. He faces dismissal.

The treatment of the aid worker, who has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years, has taken place with the knowledge of senior UN officials, including Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, and Susana Malcorra, chef de cabinet in the UN, according to documents relating to the case.

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.