AFRICA

A turning point in Ethiopia?

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn dropped a veritable bombshell last week, when he announced that political prisoners would be released and that a detention centre in the capital that had become notorious for torture would be closed. What made this all the more surprising was that the government had never before even acknowledged the existence of political prisoners (when dissidents …

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Ethiopia to free political prisoners and close notorious prison

The Ethiopian government will drop charges against political prisoners and close a notorious prison camp in a bid to ‘widen the democratic space for all.’ Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn says the move to release all political prisoners is critical for national dialogue. The unprecedented pardon is expected to apply to both convicted political prisoners and those currently facing court …

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Africa: 5 humanitarian crises to look out for in 2018

Editors of the news agency IRIN* sketch out the gloomy-looking horizon in five African countries in the new year. Congo unravels You know the situation is bad when people start fleeing their homes, and it doesn’t get much worse than the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Here, violence in its eastern provinces has triggered the world’s worst displacement crisis – …

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After 38 years in power, Equatorial Guinea’s president says he’s ready to go

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea said a war was being organised against his regime, days after a government official announced the discovery of a “destabilisation attempt”. A “war” is being prepared “because they say I have spent a lot of time in power,” the president said on Saturday, without saying who he was referring to. Neighbouring Cameroon had …

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UN Secretary-General urges President Joseph Kabila to step down

There have been angry protests in Democratic Republic of Congo, calling for President Joseph Kabila’s resignation. Kabila has been in power since 2001. His second term in office officially ended in December 2016, but he is still there – refusing to leave. The UN Secretary-General has now waded into the crisis following deadly clashes in the capital, Kinshasa. Congolese protested …

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George Weah declares war on corruption and poverty in Liberia

In his first press conference since his election as president, George Weah has promised that he would not tolerate corruption in his government while his focus would be the transformation of the lives of the masses. Addressing journalists, his partisans and supporters at his first victory press conference held at the headquarters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on …

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Coup foiled in Equatorial Guinea, Cameroonian mercenaries blamed

Authorities in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea say they foiled an overnight attempt to overthrow the government of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasago – Africa’s longest serving leader. The attempt as reported by the French news portal Jeune Afrique took place overnight from Wednesday December 27 to Thursday December 28. Even though details of the incident are sketchy, there is said to be …

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George Weah: From international football superstar to an African president

George Weah emerged from Liberia’s slums to become a superstar footballer in the 1990s, and leveraged his status as a revered figure among the country’s young to be voted president. Weah easily beat Vice President Joseph Boakai in Tuesday’s presidential run-off, the culmination of 12 years spent building political credibility to match his huge popularity. “You know I’ve been in …

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Book: Africa’s entrapment by ‘spirits, witches and gods’

Superstition, defined as “irrational belief usually founded on ignorance or fear and characterized by obsessive reverence for omens, charms, etc”, is a phenomenon that is as old as humanity and it occurs in all cultures. Normal natural phenomena such as thunders and heavy rains used to be interpreted as the result of the actions of gods. With the increasing influence …

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George Weah or Joseph Boakai: Liberians choose new leader today

Liberians go to the polls Tuesday (26 December) to select either former international footballer George Weah (51) or Vice President Joseph Boakai (72) as their new president, in a vote that analysts say is too close to call. Campaigns over, ballot boxes and other electoral materials deployed across Liberia, the National Elections Commission (NEC) says all is set for today’s …

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Uganda parliament scraps presidential age limit, extends tenure to 7 years

The parliament of the East African country has scrapped presidential age limit, paving the way for Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, to rule until 2037 The Ugandan parliament on Wednesday evening (20 December) voted to scrap presidential age limit which was formerly pegged at 75 years. The controversial age limit bill was passed after going through …

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South Africa to take over White-owned land without compensation, says new ANC leader

In his maiden speech as president of the African National Congress (ANC), Cyril Ramaphosa, appealed for unity in the South African ruling party, pledging to tackle corruption and support resolutions made to empower poor South Africans, including the expropriation of land without compensation. As the ANC elective conference came to a close, many including Ramaphosa breathed a sigh of relief …

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South Africa’s ruling ANC elects Cyril Ramaphosa as new leader

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has elected Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa as its new leader. The former trade unionist and top businessman will replace his embattled boss; President Jacob Zuma; and would lead the ANC into elections slated for 2019. Ramaphosa polled 2440 votes as against 2261 received by his main rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in the tightly fought …

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ECOWAS intervenes in Togo crisis, urges ”inclusive dialogue”

West African leaders have called on Togolese political actors to hold an “inclusive dialogue” to resolve the political crisis in the country. The Summit of Heads of State of the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) made the call in Abuja, Nigeria, on Saturday. The conference expressed its concerns over persistent political tensions and condemned the forms of violence and …

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Liberia fixes new date for presidential rerun

Liberia will hold a delayed presidential run-off vote on 26 December, the electoral commission chief said on Tuesday (12 December). Former football star George Weah faces Vice-President Joseph Boakai in the poll that was held up for several weeks by a court challenge by the candidate who came third in round one. The winner will replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as …

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Thousands flee English-speaking parts of Cameroon

Thousands of people are fleeing villages in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon less than a week after President Paul Biya declared war against Anglophone separatist groups. Fleeing villagers complain troops are engaging in rape, killings, and harassment, but the military says they are out to defend the population. The number of people travelling along the Kumba Mamfe Road in the …

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Cameroon government declares ‘war’ on secessionist rebels

Crackdown comes after Anglophone insurgents kill soldiers and police officers, reports Mbom Sixtus* from Yahoundé The secessionist crisis in Cameroon’s western region is deepening, with the government promising to crack down hard after Anglophone militants shot dead four soldiers and two policemen last week. The soldiers were killed in an ambush on a military convoy outside the town of Mamfe …

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