AfricaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 27 Nov 2015 20:52:07 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbGirl, peacekeeper killed in Sudan shelling: UN Shelling killed a four-year-old girl and an Ethiopian peacekeeper in the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan, the United Nations mission in the area said Friday.

Abyei has been contested since Sudan split into two countries in 2011, and there have been tensions between the Arab Misseriya and Ngok Dinka peoples in the region.

In Thursday's attack, "seven shells were fired from the northwesterly direction of Abyei town, by unknown persons," the UN mission in Abyei.

"Five of the shells landed around the vicinity of the residence of the Ngok Dinka paramount chief and another inside his compound, while the third landed at a nearby primary school," UNISFA said.

"The incident resulted in the death of one Ethiopian military officer and a four-year-old girl from the local community. Three other locals were wounded."

The mission said it had placed several units in the area on high alert.

There are sporadic reports of violence between the Arab Misseriya and the Ngok Dinka peoples in Abyei.

UNISFA condemned the attack, saying it could lead to further violence, labelling it the work of "anti-peace elements who do not want to see peace return to Abyei".

It was not possible to reach the Sudanese military for comment, and the South Sudanese army said they had no information about the shelling.

South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011 under a peace deal signed to end 22 years of bloody civil war in the country.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaFri, 27 Nov 2015 16:40:44 +0000
Boko Haram militants kill 15 in southern Niger Boko Haram militants attacked a village in Niger's southern border area of Diffa on Thursday, killing 15 people, two security sources said.

The guerrillas arrived in the village of Gogone on foot and opened fire indiscriminately on residents, the sources said, adding that Niger troops had pursued them.

Niger's Diffa region has suffered dozens of cross-border strikes this year by the militant group whose stronghold in northeast Nigeria lies just a few kilometres away.

A state of emergency has been declared there in a bid to boost security.

But the attackers often manage to flee across the River Komadougou, marking the border with Nigeria.

Central African leaders in regional bloc CEEAC said on Wednesday at a summit that they were raising 50 billion CFA Francs ($80 million) to help Nigeria's neighbours fight the militant group.

An 8,700-strong regional task force with troops from Chad, Niger, Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon is operational but has yet to begin joint military strikes against the group.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaThu, 26 Nov 2015 19:08:14 +0000
Nigeria's new ministers brainstorm roles after Buhari shake-up Speaking from a cramped and makeshift office, a top Nigerian civil servant says his minister, Udoma Udo Udoma, has spent much of the fortnight since his appointment in meetings trying to work out his team's remit.

Udoma's new Ministry of Budget and National Planning reduces the power of the finance ministry - previously responsible for allocating spending - and, the civil servant says, will "help ministries to synergise".

That is no small task.

Since President Muhammadu Buhari took office on May 29, and in the months of campaigning beforehand, projects - including roads and other infrastructure initiatives - and foreign aid have been put on hold in the absence of a cabinet. Critics say that the power vacuum has exacerbated an economic crisis caused by plunging oil prices.

And even though the former military ruler swore in his cabinet on Nov. 11, work may not get under way until early next year as Nigeria comes to a halt for a Christmas break in mid-December.

Meanwhile, the 36 ministers need to pin down what their roles are after Buhari cut the number of federal ministries from 29, under his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, to 24 and named 17 new top civil servants as part of plans to end decades of mismanagement and corruption.

With oil prices unlikely to pick up any time soon, Kemi Adeosun, a former investment banker and now finance minister, is charged with the biggest challenge - reviving the economy in Africa's top oil producer.

A senior civil servant said Adeosun also spent much of her time in meetings since being sworn in. Hers were with the African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Diplomats were glad to finally have a finance minister to meet.

She was so busy that she struggled to find time for her official photograph to be taken.

"We're all criss-crossing," said Agriculture Minister Audu Ogbeh of himself and fellow cabinet members who have visited each other to discuss where their remits overlap.

"We're talking. Nobody can do it alone," he said.


Under Buhari's plan, the 2016 budget - the key to unlocking spending - is now the responsibility of Udoma's new ministry, where cardboard boxes containing computer equipment are still piled high in the reception area.

The government has not even completed the first step towards compiling the budget - a medium-term expenditure framework covering three years - that is usually submitted by August or September.

That is then approved by parliament at which point government starts working on the following year's budget. Parliament usually sees the budget before the Christmas holiday but a proposal for 2016 is yet to emerge and discussions are likely to take longer than usual with public finances so eroded.

A document from Vice President Yemi Osinbajo seen by Reuters proposed a budget of 7-8 trillion naira ($35-$40 billion), up from 4.4 trillion this year, but diplomats have been wondering where the money will come from as revenues have collapsed or whether government bodies hitherto not included in the core budget will be added.

Clement Nwankwo, director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, an Abuja-based think-tank, said ministers would make little impact until a budget was in place.

"The mood has dampened," he said, describing a lull after the much-anticipated cabinet news. "Expect the cabinet to really start work around late January," he said.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaMon, 23 Nov 2015 19:30:17 +0000
Algeria sees energy earnings, reserves dropping sharply in 2016 Algeria's energy earnings are forecast to fall to $26.4 billion next year while foreign exchange reserves will dip to $121 billion after low oil prices cut into the OPEC nation's economy, Finance Minister Abderrahmane Benkhalfa said on Sunday.

The North African state, a major gas supplier to Europe, has already said energy earnings will fall by 50 percent this year to about $34 billion.

Oil and gas sales make up 95 percent of its exports and account for 60 percent of the country's budget.

Algeria is considering higher taxes, import duties and a hike in subsidised diesel and electricity prices to help cover its deficit after the slump in crude oil prices eroded its revenues, according to a draft of its 2016 budget.

"We have to be vigilant in the management of our money. We have to control public spending," the minister told the parliament where the draft budget law was presented.

"We have to mobilise new resources. We have planned a reasonable increase in the prices of fuel and electricity to cover production costs," he said.

Domestic prices for energy products are very low by international standards in Algeria, which analysts say is the main reason behind high consumption rates in the country of 40 million people.

The world oil price slide is testing an economic system that relies on energy revenues to pay for a vast range of social subsidies, from public housing to cheap loans and subsidised fuel, which helped Algeria avoid the kind of "Arab Spring" uprisings that erupted in its North African neighbours.

Benkhalfa said overall spending on subsidies will rise 7.5 percent next year.

That includes mainly food, transport, housing and public health coverage.

Algeria is also trying to draw more foreign investment to help increase oil and gas production, which has remained largely stagnant in the past three years.

Algeria posted a trade deficit of $10.825 billion in the first 10 months of 2015 against a $4.29 billion surplus a year earlier, after a 40.7 percent drop in energy earnings, customs data showed on Sunday.

The finance minister said foreign exchange reserves will drop to $151 billion by the end of this year before reaching $121 billion in December 2016.

That represents the equivalent of 23 months of imports, he said.

Reserves were $159 billion in June 2015, down from $193 billion in the same month in 2014.

The law is widely expected to be approved by the parliament, but some lawmakers have criticised the government's plans to increase the prices of some subsidised fuels. "This is a dangerous law.

The government wants its citizens to pay for deficits from their own pockets," said Lakhdar Benkhellaf, a deputy for the opposition Islamist party Justice and Development Front.

"The price increases will push inflation up."

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaSun, 22 Nov 2015 20:03:51 +0000
Egyptians vote in second round of parliament elections dogged Egyptians voted on Sunday in the second phase of elections that are meant to restore parliament after a more than three-year gap but which critics say have been undermined by widespread repression.

The elections have been hailed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as a milestone on the army's roadmap to democracy but voter turnout has been low, with only a quarter of the electorate casting ballots in the first phase on Oct. 18-19.

Sisi supporters won a landslide in the first leg and are expected to repeat their performance on Sunday and Monday when voting takes place in the capital Cairo and 12 other provinces.

Sisi cast his ballot at a girls' school in Cairo soon after voting opened at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT). State television once again showed footage of largely empty polling stations.

The government announced it was giving public sector workers half a day off on Monday to encourage them to cast their ballots.

Many who abstained said they felt the polls offered little genuine choice in the absence of the main opposition Muslim Brotherhood and other critics and that parliament would change little in lives dominated by the struggle to earn a living.

"There is no reason to vote, these elections don't mean anything.

All these candidates are running so they can get MP perks," said Hassan, a 21-year-old student who declined to give his full name.

"I urge everyone, especially the youth, to participate and cast their ballots," Tayeb told journalists outside the polling station where he cast his vote. "We tell boycotters to stop this immediately; Egypt is like your mother, boycotting is like disobeying your parents."

Egypt's last parliament was elected in 2011-12, in the first election after the popular uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Voting then was marked by long queues and youthful excitement.

The Muslim Brotherhood, long the country's main opposition movement, won about half the seats.

A court dissolved that parliament in mid-2012. A year later, Sisi, then military chief, removed President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood from power after mass protests against his rule.

When it ousted Sisi, the army won the backing of other political groups by promising prompt parliamentary elections.

Instead, Sisi went on to win a presidential vote in 2014. Parliament polls will finally be completed this month.


The new parliament will contain 568 elected members -- 448 elected on an individual basis and 120 through winner-takes-all lists. Sisi may appoint up to a further 28 lawmakers.

On Sunday and Monday, candidates will be vying for 222 individual seats and 60 list seats.

"For the Love of Egypt", a loyalist electoral alliance led by former intelligence officer Sameh Seif Elyazal, won all 60 list-based seats contested in the first round, which covered Egypt's second city of Alexandria, the province of Giza, which includes parts of Cairo west of the Nile, and 12 other provinces.

In the absence of the Brotherhood, critics say the ballot offers many names but little genuine choice.

A list of socialist and liberal parties which would have presented the main opposition choice eventually withdrew, leaving the field dominated by Sisi supporters, Mubarak-era figures, provincial notables and businessmen.

These figures performed well in round one.

The lack of interest in voting reflects disillusionment with politics but also voter fatigue after a turbulent few years.

Egyptians have participated in two presidential elections, two parliamentary elections and three constitutional referendums since the 2011 uprising. Polls often drag out over several weeks with different rounds and run-offs draining them of momentum.

"Zamalek is so empty because all the schools are closed; traffic is great. I wish we had elections here all the time," said Ahmed Abbasi, a 44-year-old electrician.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaSun, 22 Nov 2015 19:59:23 +0000
Obama condemns 'appalling' Mali militant attack LUMPUR: US President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned what he called the "appalling" militant hostage seige in Mali that left at least 27 people dead, including an American citizen.

"This barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge," he said during a visit to Malaysia, referring to the global threat of extremist violence.

Gun-toting militants took more than 100 people hostage for around nine hours at a top hotel in Mali's capital Bamako on Friday.

The assault was claimed by the Al-Murabitoun group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

The incident added to fears over the global militant threat a week after the devastating Paris attacks that killed 130 people and were claimed by the Islamic State group.

Special forces staged a dramatic floor-by-floor assault to end the Mali siege after about nine hours.

Speaking on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit in Kuala Lumpur, Obama said "the terrorists began ruthlessly killing people and taking hostages" at the Bamako hotel.

"On behalf of the American people I want to extend our deepest condolences to the people of Mali and the victims' families, including at least one American," he said.

"These were innocent people who had everything to live for."

Malian security sources said at least 27 hostages were killed.

US officials have confirmed one US citizen was among them, with another dozen Americans surviving the attack.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 21 Nov 2015 06:55:49 +0000
Mali in mourning after at least 27 killed in hotel attack Mali on Saturday began three days of national mourning and declared a state of emergency after a nine-hour siege by militant gunmen at a top hotel in the capital left at least 27 people dead.

The assault, claimed by Al-Qaeda affiliate the Al-Murabitoun group led by notorious one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, ended after Malian and international troops stormed the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako.

The attack came as fears are mounting about terrorist threats a week after devastating attacks in Paris that killed 130 people claimed by the Islamic State group, which also said it had downed a Russian passenger jet in Egypt weeks before.

The Malian government declared a 10-day nationwide state of emergency from midnight on Friday over the assault and called three days of mourning for the victims, who included three Chinese, an American and a Belgian.

Malian security sources said 27 out of more than 100 people taken hostage in the raid had died, while at least three "terrorists" were killed or blew themselves up.

US President Barack Obama on Saturday condemned the "appalling" attack, adding that "this barbarity only stiffens our resolve to meet this challenge" of extremist violence.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei expressed condolences for the victims and their families, adding: "China expresses indignation and strongly condemns this atrocity."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the "horrific terrorist attack," suggesting the violence was aimed at destroying peace efforts in the country.

Mali has been torn apart by unrest since the north fell under the control of militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda in 2012.

The extremists were largely ousted by a French-led military operation launched the following year, but large swathes of Mali remain lawless and prone to attacks.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 21 Nov 2015 06:54:04 +0000
One new confirmed case in previously Ebola-free Liberia: WHO The World Health Organization on Wednesday confirmed that a new case of the deadly Ebola virus has surfaced in Liberia, which was declared Ebola free in September.

"There is one confirmed case," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told AFP, without providing further details.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaFri, 20 Nov 2015 09:48:57 +0000
Guinea president sacks minister, officials over violence Guinean President Alpha Conde on Thursday sacked his interior minister and two other government officials for "gross misconduct," for their handling of deadly violence that broke out at a religious gathering last weekend.

Interior Minister Mahmoud Cisse, Secretary of State for Religious Affairs El Hajd Abdoulaye Diassy and his deputy Aboubacar Fofana were dismissed, according to orders from Conakry, which gave no further explanation and did not name any replacements.

A source in the presidency told AFP that "President Conde blames his now former colleagues for the catastrophic event management at Touba".

Two people were killed, many wounded and vehicles and buildings torched when rival groups clashed over the construction of a large mosque in the city, which lies some 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of Conakry in the Gaoual prefecture.

"Authorities deployed security forces to maintain order in the region after the destruction," and an investigation has been opened, Court of Appeals prosecutor Cherif Moundjour told state media on Wednesday.

"At this time, 13 people have been arrested" and are being held in Gaoual, he said.

"They are being prosecuted for murder, criminal conspiracy, destruction of private property and intentional injury."

The violence comes after Conde was reelected for a second five-year term last month and is due to be sworn in on December 14.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaFri, 20 Nov 2015 08:22:46 +0000
Bomb scare on Polish plane en route to Egypt A plane carrying 161 passengers from Poland to Egypt was forced to make an emergency landing in eastern Bulgaria early Thursday because of a bomb scare, airport officials said.

The aircraft had been en route from Warsaw to the Red Sea resort of Hurghada when one of the travellers, a man in his sixties, announced there were explosives on board.

"The plane made an emergency landing at Burgas airport at 0545 (0345 GMT) after a passenger said there was a bomb onboard," airport spokeswoman Kristina Neykova said Thursday.

The passengers were evacuated from the aircraft and Bulgarian security forces conducted an extensive search of the plane, she added.

The man who sparked the incident has been taken into custody.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaThu, 19 Nov 2015 08:12:26 +0000