AfricaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 25 May 2015 13:17:45 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbRights groups decry Ethiopia press clampdown ahead of elections Rights groups said elections on Sunday in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country, would not be free or fair due to a clampdown on freedom of speech.

Ethiopia on Sunday holds its first general election since the death of long-time strongman Meles Zenawi whose successor, Hailemariam Desalegn, is almost certain to stay in office.

Over 36.8 million Ethiopians have registered to vote in what is seen by the international community as a key test of the state's commitment to bringing greater democracy to the Horn of Africa nation.

Rights groups routinely accuse Ethiopia of clamping down on opposition supporters and journalists and using anti-terrorism laws to silence dissent and jail critics.

"Citizens are expected to choose the right party to lead them for the next five years. To do so, they need to have a clear understanding of their country's political, social, and economic situation," the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said, with ranks Ethiopia as the "fourth most censored country" in the world.

"But in a country with limited independent media, many Ethiopians struggle to find the information needed to help them make informed decisions."

The ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has been in power for over two decades and is confident of a win, but insists the result will be decided on its economic record alone.

Ethiopia is now one of Africa's top performing economies and a magnet for foreign investment. The EPRDF won 545 of the 547 seats in parliament during the last elections in 2010.

This time, the only opposition MP has chosen not to run again, while polls in the constituency of the one independent MP seeking reelection were postponed Friday, after he complained there had not been "enough time and space" for campaigning.

"The lead-up to the elections has seen an onslaught on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly," Amnesty International said in a statement.

"This onslaught undermines the right to participation in public affairs freely and without fear as the government has clamped down on all forms of legitimate dissent."

The government routinely dismisses such critics, and government spokesman Redwan Hussein told AFP that voters would choose the representatives based on their performance.

"If they want to give us another chance they will vote for us," he said. "If they have a grudge, they will not give their vote to EPRDF."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 23 May 2015 08:56:06 +0000
Burundi leader makes first appearance since failed coup Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza on Sunday made his first appearance since an attempted coup, warning of a threat from Shebab militants and sending a clear message he is in charge of the central African nation.

Dressed in a blue blazer and polo shirt, the president smiled and shook hands with reporters at the presidency in Bujumbura's city centre. He gave only a brief statement, without even mentioning the failed plot to overthrow him.

A group of top generals on Wednesday launched a bid to oust Nkurunziza while he was on a visit to neighbouring Tanzania after weeks of deadly street protests over his controversial bid to stand for a third term in office.

Nkurunziza spoke about reported threats from Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants, who have threatened attacks against Burundi and other states that contribute troops to the African Union force in Somalia.

"We have taken measures against Al-Shebab. We take this threat seriously," the president said.

Nkurunziza has been accused of launching a campaign of repression against opponents and trying to silence independent media since coup leaders admitted defeat on Friday after fierce fighting with loyalist troops.

Seventeen alleged plotters appeared in court on Saturday, including a former defence minister and two top police commissioners, to face accusations of "attempting to overthrow the state".

Willy Nyamitwe, a close aide to the president, said Burundi's election commission "could decide to delay" parliamentary and presidential votes due to the crisis, but gave no indication the president had changed his mind about standing for re-election.

"We will put everything in place for the laws and constitution to be respected and for elections to be held," he said, insisting any delay would not be used as a pretext for Nkurunziza to prolong his rule.

Parliamentary elections are due to take place on May 26, and presidential polls on June 26. Nyamitwe suggested they could be delayed by "two or three days, by a week".

The election commission said a decision on the delay would be announced in the coming days.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaMon, 18 May 2015 05:56:31 +0000
Gunmen kill 2 Egypt judges, prosecutor in Sinai Gunmen killed two Egyptian judges and a prosecutor Saturday in the Sinai Peninsula, where security forces are battling an Islamist insurgency spearheaded by an Islamic State group affiliate, officials said.

The shooting in North Sinai's provincial capital El-Arish also killed the officials' driver and wounded another prosecutor, the health ministry said.

Police initially said three judges were killed in the attack that came hours after a court in Cairo sentenced ousted president Mohamed Morsi to death for his role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.

Some of Morsi's fellow defendants included jihadists in Sinai, where militants often attack members of the security forces.

Police said the officials came under attack while being driven to a court hearing in El-Arish.

Health ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar told AFP four people were killed.

"Two judges, a prosecutor and the driver of the car were killed, while another prosecutor was wounded," he said.

Following the attack, the first of its kind in Sinai, the interior ministry put police on high alert across the country and suspended all leave, a ministry official said.

The justice ministry also decided to move, starting on Sunday, some court hearings in El-Arish to Ismailiya "to protect the judges", a ministry official said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Imaduddin)AfricaSat, 16 May 2015 17:00:21 +0000
Burundi president back in capital, to address nation Friday Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has returned to the capital Bujumbura following a failed coup attempt and will address the nation on Friday, officials in the president's office said.

"He is in Bujumbura in a very secure place," an aide to the president told AFP. "He will address the nation today."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaFri, 15 May 2015 08:21:34 +0000
Nigeria's Jonathan says friends abandoned him after defeat Outgoing Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said Sunday that some of his friends deserted him shortly after he conceded defeat to his rival General Muhammadu Buhari in the March election.

Jonathan publicly conceded defeat to Buhari on March 31, a decision which was commended by local and foreign commentators and doused tension in the country.

"Some hard decisions have their own costs. No doubt about that. It is a very costly decision but I must be very ready to pay for it," Jonathan said during a farewell church service in Abuja.

Jonathan's public admission of defeat in the nail-biting election came more than six hours after he rang Buhari to concede, earning him widespread praise for statesmanship.

"If you take certain decisions, you should know that people close to you will even abandon you at some point. I tell people that more of my so-called friends will disappear."

Many party faithful and erstwhile loyalists of Jonathan have either crossed over to Buhari's All Progressives Congress or made harsh statements against Jonathan's party or its leaders.

Jonathan said he was not surprised by the desertions or statements by his former loyalists, adding that former South African president Frederik de Klerk faced a similar situation when he decided to abolish minority rule in that country.

Jonathan said that de Klerk's marriage to his wife, Marike, broke down after he took that decision.

"But that is the only decision that made South Africa to still be a global player. If by this time w still have minority rule in South africa, nobody would have been talking about South Africa in the present generation," he said.

He said that ministers who served under him should brace themselves for "persecution" following his loss and his decision to concede defeat.

Buhari, a former military leader, is scheduled to be sworn into office on May 29.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaSun, 10 May 2015 16:04:14 +0000
South Africa opposition set for first black leader ELIZABETH: Members of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance voted Sunday at a congress expected to elect the party's first black leader in what has been billed as a watershed moment for the mostly white party.

Some 1,425 delegates from across the country began casting their votes by secret ballot early in the morning with all eyes on Mmusi Maimane, 34, the party's parliamentary leader and the favourite to succeed outgoing leader Helen Zille, who has led the party for eight years.

Maimane was raised in the township of Soweto -- heartland of the anti-apartheid struggle -- and joined the Democratic Alliance (DA) only in 2009.

He faces competition from Wilmot James, a 61-year-old mixed-race party veteran who is current the party's chairman.

"Voting has closed and counting is now underway. Results are expected by 1 pm (1100 GMT)," said Congress Presiding Officer Penny Tainton.

Sunday's vote marks "a milestone for the DA and South African politics", according to an editorial in the Sunday Times.

"For much of the past two decades, our political contest has been a black versus white affair, with the ANC (African National Congress) seen as the party of the previously oppressed and the DA as a party of white interests," the newspaper added.

It said the new leader would face a "tough balancing act" between growing support for the party without alienating its traditional voters.

Many delegates would not reveal who they were voting for, although Lydia Makoe from Limpopo province in the north made her preference for Maimane clear.

"He is our new leader, there can't be any better candidate," she said.

In 2014 Maimane was elected as the party leader in parliament, with Zille's backing, and he has on several times locked horns with the ruling ANC lawmakers, including President Jacob Zuma.

In 2014 he also unsuccessfully ran for position of premier of Gauteng province, South Africa's economic hub which includes the city of Johannesburg.

Zille, a charismatic former journalist and anti-apartheid activist, has not endorsed any candidate to succeed her but on Saturday said the new leadership will have her support.

She will announce her successor.

Under Zille the DA made inroads in areas long dominated by the ANC, and it is looking to grow its support in the next local government elections in 2016.

The DA boosted its share of the vote from 16.6 percent in 2009 to 22.2 percent in 2014 elections, but still struggles to present itself as a credible alternative to the ANC, which has ruled since the formal end of apartheid in 1994.

The DA has its roots in the now defunct Progressive Party, co-founded by the late anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman in 1959.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaSun, 10 May 2015 12:02:09 +0000
WHO declares Liberia Ebola-free The UN health agency on Saturday declared Liberia Ebola-free, hailing the "monumental" achievement in the west African country where the virus has killed more than 4,700 people.

"The outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Liberia is over," the World Health Organization said in a statement, adding that 42 days had passed since the last confirmed case was buried.

"Interruption of transmission is a monumental achievement for a country that reported the highest number of deaths in the largest, longest, and most complex outbreak since Ebola first emerged in 1976," it said.

During the two months of peak transmission in August and September "the capital city Monrovia was the setting for some of the most tragic scenes from West Africa's outbreak: gates locked at overflowing treatment centres, patients dying on the hospital grounds, and bodies that were sometimes not collected for days", it added.

"At one point, virtually no treatment beds for Ebola patients were available anywhere in the country.

"It is a tribute to the government and people of Liberia that determination to defeat Ebola never wavered, courage never faltered."

At the same time, WHO warned that because Ebola outbreaks were continuing in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, there was a high risk that infected people could cross into Liberia.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 09 May 2015 11:00:37 +0000
Kerry calls for unity to defeat terrorism US Secretary of State John Kerry called for unity in the face of terror attacks Monday, as he visited a memorial in Kenya to the 1998 bombing of the US embassy.

The embassy bombing by Al-Qaeda was the worst attack in the east African nation by militants, killing 213 people.

"The terrorists who struck on August 7, 1998 failed utterly in their purpose, which was to implant fear in the hearts of the Kenyan people and to divide America from the citizens of this country," Kerry said.

"They failed for the same reason that terrorists will always fail. Yes they can reduce a building to rubble, and yes they can even deprive innocent people of their lives, but they do not give anyone anything of what really makes life worthwhile."

Last month Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab gunmen massacred close to 150 people, mostly students, in a raid on a university in the northeastern Kenyan town of Garissa.

"We know that the struggle in which we are all engaged now is not going to be over soon -- nearly two years ago at Westgate mall, five weeks ago at Garissa university and at other times," the top US diplomat said.

"Words are not sufficient to express our sorrow, our outrage, or our wish that we can somehow reverse time and bring all the victims back."

Kerry arrived in Kenya on Sunday for talks on security cooperation and ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to his late father's home country.

The fight against Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants features high on the agenda, with Kenya struggling to stop increased cross-border attacks by the militants even though it has thousands of troops in southern Somalia.

"We do have however the power to fight back, not only with our military and law enforcement, but also through something that may be even more powerful and that may make a bigger difference in the end, and that is our unity and the character of our ideals," Kerry said.

"Unlike some we do not define ourselves in terms of hate. We are builders, we are teachers, we are dreamers, we are doers."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaMon, 04 May 2015 09:01:46 +0000
About 160 more hostages rescued from Boko Haram stronghold: Nigerian army Nigerian troops have rescued about 160 more hostages from Boko Haram's Sambisa Forest stronghold in northeast Nigeria, the country's army told AFP on Thursday.

"We are still trying to compute the actual number of those rescued. But tentatively there are about 60 women of various ages and around 100 children," said army spokesman Sani Usman.

Usman said one woman was killed in the fighting and eight other rescued hostages were injured. A soldier was also killed and four others wounded.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaThu, 30 Apr 2015 09:31:24 +0000
Egypt's Sisi pledges elections in 2015 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi vowed that parliamentary polls, originally set for last month, will be held before the end of the year, in an interview published Wednesday.

"I give my word: they will be held before the end of the year," he told El Mundo newspaper in an interview published on the eve of his official visit to Spain.

Egypt's parliamentary polls were set to start on March 21 and run until May 7 but were postponed after the constitutional court ruled that parts of the electoral law unconstitutional.

The election would be the first for a new parliament since former army chief Sisi overthrew president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Critics accuse Sisi, who was elected president in May 2014, of establishing an authoritarian regime by eliminated all opposition, but he told El Mundo he has prevented Egypt from descending into civil war.

"I faced a difficult equation: my role is to guarantee life and security of 90 million Egyptians who faced the risk of chaos. If I let anything be done, is it Europe that would pay the salaries of Egyptians?" he said.

"Don't judge me without taking into account the reality on the ground," he added.

"If the state collapses, that would cause terrible harm to Europe and the region would face a disaster. Egypt is not Iraq, or Syria or Yemen, nations that each have over 20 million residents. We are 90 million.

"I do what I can to protect Egyptians. I try not to arrive at situations that I could regret," he added.

"Egyptians can break with al-Sisi if they wish. If I had not intervened, there would have been a civil war."

Sisi refused to answer a question about Egypt's first freely elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, who was sentenced last week by an Egyptian court last week to 20 years in prison for abuses against protesters.

But after just a year in power, Morsi was himself toppled by then-army chief Sisi following mass street protests.

At least 1,400 Morsi sympathisers were killed by Egyptian authorities after he was ousted from power. Over 15,000 Morsi sympathisers were jailed and hundreds were sentenced to death.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaWed, 29 Apr 2015 13:41:02 +0000