AfricaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 23 Dec 2014 02:08:26 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbMugabe fires more cabinet ministers Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has fired two cabinet ministers and five deputy ministers, the presidency announced late Sunday, in an apparent purge targeting allies of his former deputy Joice Mujuru.

The move came after months of political upheaval in Zimbabwe over the succession to 90-year-old Mugabe when he dies or steps down.

Mugabe, who is currently holidaying in Asia, dismissed Flora Buka, minister of state for presidential affairs and Sylvester Nguni, minister of state in the office of the vice president, saying "their conduct and performance were below expected standards", according to a presidency statement.

The two were seen as allies of former vice president Mujuru, who was dismissed two weeks ago along with seven cabinet ministers and a deputy minister.

Five deputy ministers -- for health, justice, rural affairs, work and transport -- were also dismissed on Sunday.

Once seen as favourite to step into Mugabe's shoes, Mujuru has since come under constant attack, notably from Mugabe's increasingly powerful wife Grace.

Mujuru has been accused of plotting to assassinate the president, fomenting factional divisions in the ruling party, and of dodgy business dealings.

Mujuru was replaced as vice president by Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, a long-time ally of Mugabe.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaMon, 22 Dec 2014 09:30:27 +0000
Egypt's Sisi replaces spy chief Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday removed the powerful general intelligence chief appointed just days after the ouster of Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi in July last year.

General Mohamed Farid El-Tohamy was replaced by his deputy General Khaled Mahmoud Fuad Fawzy, Sisi's office said in a statement, without specifying why.

"The president issued an order sending General Tohamy, the head of general intelligence, into retirement," it said, adding that he had been given a medal for his work.

General Fawzy takes charge of Egypt's intelligence operations from Sunday.

Former army general Sameh Seif al-Yazal, an expert on military strategy who has close ties with the security services, told AFP that Tohamy, 67, had been unwell and had "spent the last two months in hospital".

Tohamy was appointed spy chief after the ouster of Morsi on July 3, 2013.

Then army chief Sisi got rid of Morsi after mass street protests against the Islamist president's turbulent one-year rule.

A subsequent government crackdown targeting Morsi supporters has left hundreds dead, thousands jailed and dozens sentenced to death in mass trials which the United Nations says are "unprecedented in recent history".

Most of the estimated 1,400 dead were killed when police stormed two pro-Morsi camps in Cairo in August last year.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Imaduddin)AfricaSun, 21 Dec 2014 15:10:08 +0000
UN chief praises Ebola nurses, pledges support during visit UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday praised healthcare workers fighting the Ebola virus as he paid his first visit to Liberia and Sierra Leone following an outbreak that has killed nearly 7,000 people.

Ban paid tribute to local workers and the United Nations, but he singled out medics from the three countries at the heart of the epidemic who have fallen sick while treating patients.

He visited an Ebola treatment centre outside Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, and listened as 28-year-old nurse Rebecca Johnson told how she contracted Ebola while treating patients only to survive and then return to work.

"We will stand with Sierra Leone until this outbreak is under control and the country has recovered from its impact," Ban said, calling Johnson's story was "touching and moving."

Sierra Leone now accounts for more than half of the 18,603 total confirmed cases since the outbreak was detected in March in the forests of southeastern Guinea. It has since spread to six West African nations including Liberia.

Sierra Leone's government launched "Operation Western Area Surge" this week to contain the outbreak, which is raging hardest in western areas around the capital. Health workers passed street-by-street looking for the sick.

Ban later visited the British-run headquarters of the operation and held talks with President Ernest Bai Koroma.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 20 Dec 2014 07:58:56 +0000
Kenyan leader signs controversial anti-terror bill into law Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday signed into law a controversial anti-terror bill that sparked brawls in parliament and charges that it violated basic freedoms.

Kenyatta said he was satisfied that the amendments passed by the National Assembly on Thursday did not breach the bill of rights.

"All concerns raised by the different stakeholders were addressed by the relevant parliamentary committees," he told journalists, calling on all Kenyans to read the new law and ascertain this for themselves.

"Its intent is one -- just one -- to protect the lives and property of all the citizens of this republic," he said.

The new law gives authorities sweeping powers to crack down on terror suspects and curtail press freedoms in a country that has suffered a string of attacks by Somalia-based Shebab militants.

The controversial measures extend the time police can hold terror suspects from the current 90 days to nearly a year, increase sentences and give more powers to tap phones.

Journalists could face up to three years behind bars if their reports "undermine investigations or security operations relating to terrorism," or if they publish images of terror victims without permission from the police.

The government argues the measures are necessary to confront the militants, but rights groups and the opposition say they are an assault on basic freedoms.

Divisions over the legislation triggered heated exchanges between lawmakers that culminated in a brawl, forcing the vote to be repeatedly delayed on Thursday.

Kenyatta said the conduct of MPs opposed to the bill was "deplorable" and accused them of "being oblivious to the threat that is upon our country at this point in time."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaFri, 19 Dec 2014 13:36:15 +0000
54 Nigerian soldiers sentenced to death for mutiny: lawyer

imageABUJA: A Nigerian court martial on Wednesday sentenced to death 54 soldiers convicted of mutiny after they allegedly refused to deploy for an operation against Boko Haram militants in the northeast, their lawyer said.

"They sentenced 54 to death and acquitted five," said prominent human rights lawyer Femi Falana, following a verdict in the trial that began on October 15 and was conducted behind closed doors.

Military officials were not immediately available for comment.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaThu, 18 Dec 2014 06:40:26 +0000
Ebola centres overflow as Sierra Leone steps up fight HOLE: Ebola centres in Sierra Leone overflowed on Wednesday as health workers combed the streets of the capital Freetown for patients, after the government launched a major operation to contain the epidemic in West Africa's worst-hit country.

President Ernest Bai Koroma said on national television that travel between all parts of the country had been restricted as part of "Operation Western Area Surge", and public gatherings would be strictly controlled in the run-up to Christmas.

In the Devil Hole neighbourhood just outside Freetown, Ebola surveillance officers questioned Ibrahim Kamara as he sat in a discarded vehicle tyre, his eyes glassy and his breath coming in gasps.

"Is the body weak?" a surveillance officer shouted. Kamara, 31, nodded despondently while onlookers gathered round. "Vomiting?" the officer asked. Kamara nodded again. Kamara's wife, Adama, said a neighbour had died on Saturday from Ebola-like symptoms. When they had tried to take a taxi to hospital, the driver made them get out when he discovered her husband was ill.

The surveillance officers wrote down the Kamaras' address and the names of five family members in their household, before calling an ambulance.

Such street-by-street searches form a key part of a month-long push by the government, a British task force and international groups in the populous west of Sierra Leone, where the epidemic is raging.

Their aim is to score a breakthrough against the disease within four to six weeks.

Sierra Leone, neighbouring Guinea and Liberia are at the heart of the world's worst recorded outbreak of Ebola. Rates of infection are rising fastest in Sierra Leone, which now accounts for more than half of the 18,603 confirmed cases of the virus.

The death toll from the epidemic has risen to 6,915 as of Dec. 14, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, adding that the increase cases in Sierra Leone appeared to have slowed, although 327 new cases were confirmed there in the past week.

Shortages of resources, strikes by unpaid healthcare workers and logistical challenges have dogged the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The ambulance meant to collect Kamara took three hours to arrive in Devil Hole, where he had already been waiting for six hours on the street. A nurse in the ambulance said some holding centres were already full as a result of the surge.

When the ambulance drove away, Kamara left behind a red blanket. It was immediately sprayed with disinfectant by the Ebola response team while his wife watched expressionless.


At the King Tom Cemetery in Freetown, weary grave diggers clothed head to foot in protective waterproof yellow clothing said that they had buried 51 people on Wednesday alone.

With the cemetery already full, burial teams have expanded the site to a former rubbish dump, angering some bereaved families.

Syringes and rusting iron lay in empty graves, while the burial teams had to throw stones at pigs roaming among the rubbish to keep them away from the dead. Health officials are alarmed by the widespread transmission in Freetown, similar to an eruption of Ebola in the Liberian capital Monrovia in August which is only now being brought under control. According to the government plan, health workers will seek victims and anyone with whom they have had contact, transporting the infected to new British-built treatment centres.

"Given the efforts we have undertaken we would expect to see a significant decrease in cases within several weeks," Tom Frieden, director of the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Reuters during a visit to Freetown.

The programme showed some early signs of progress. Russell Macleod, a British military consultant with the surveillance team in the Western command and control centre in Freetown, told Reuters they received a record number of alerts that morning. By lunchtime, they exceeded Tuesday's total by 50 percent with 140 alerts on the Ebola hotline.

In response, the live case management team dispatched teams to 52 suspected cases, he said.

As part of the efforts, Koroma said worshippers on Christmas Day must return home after services and other festivities are banned. New Year's Eve services must stop by 5 p.m. local time (1700 GMT), while New Year's Day festivities are prohibited. The government also banned Sunday trading and halted Saturday shopping at noon, Koroma said.

"This is the festive season where Sierra Leoneans often celebrate with families in a flamboyant and joyous manner but all must be reminded that our country is at war with a vicious enemy," he said.

Copyright Reuters, 2014

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaThu, 18 Dec 2014 05:34:29 +0000
Two Egyptians, two Emiratis killed in military aircraft crash Four crew members were killed, two of them Egyptian and two Emirati, when their military aircraft crashed during joint exercises on Wednesday, officials said.

The crash occurred in Egypt, the UAE's official news agency WAM said.

The crash was caused by a technical problem, the Egyptian military said in a statement, without specifying what type of aircraft was involved.

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates enjoy a close relationship, cooperating in various fields besides military activities.

In August UAE warplanes carried out air strikes from Egypt against Islamist-led militias that had seized the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaThu, 18 Dec 2014 05:16:42 +0000
UN chief to travel to Ebola-hit countries: UN sources NATIONS: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will travel to Ebola-hit countries in West Africa this week to raise awareness about the health crisis, UN officials said Tuesday.

Ban is to make the announcement at a year-end press conference at the United Nations on Wednesday, UN official said.

The UN chief is to visit Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Mali to take stock of international efforts to beat back the world's worst outbreak of the disease, which has left more than 6,800 people dead.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaWed, 17 Dec 2014 06:31:04 +0000
Tunisia looks to cap off revolution with presidential vote Tunisians vote in the second round of a presidential election on Sunday, capping off four years of a sometimes chaotic transition since their country sparked the Arab Spring.

Incumbent Moncef Marzouki faces political veteran Beji Caid Essebsi in the vote -- the first time Tunisians will be allowed to freely elect their president since independence from France in 1956.

It was protests in Tunisia and the 2011 ouster of longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that set off the chain of revolts that saw several Arab dictators toppled by citizens demanding democratic reforms.

From Egypt and Libya to Syria and Yemen, violent unrest followed.

But Tunisia has largely avoided the bloodshed that has plagued other Arab Spring states, and its citizens are feeling hopeful ahead of the runoff vote.

"We hope the transition will be over, that the elections will be honest," said 29-year-old student Anissa Yahyaoui. "I hope that everyone will go vote and everything will go well."

Major challenges remain for Tunisia.

The small North African nation's economy is struggling to recover from the upheaval of the revolution and there are fears that widespread joblessness will cause social unrest.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaWed, 17 Dec 2014 05:23:36 +0000
British embassy in Cairo reopens to the public The British embassy in Cairo said on Tuesday it has resumed services to the public, nine days after they were suspended over security concerns about the mission's main building.

The Canadian embassy next to the British embassy, which also suspended services, remains shut to the public.

"The British embassy in Cairo resumed public services today, Tuesday 16 December, after security issues related to the building were resolved in cooperation with the Egyptian government," a statement by the mission said.

On December 7, London closed its embassy to the public for "security reasons", but without specifying what these were.

The Canadian embassy announced the next day that it was doing the same.

Egypt's authorities said they had no reports of any specific threat to the embassies, but diplomats say some missions have raised concerns about the security provided by the host country.

The crackdown overseen by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has left at least 1,400 people dead and thousands jailed.

Dozens of Morsi supporters have also been sentenced to death after mass trials described as the United Nations as "unprecedented" in recent history.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaTue, 16 Dec 2014 10:01:29 +0000