AfricaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 05 May 2015 00:04:55 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbKerry 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
Burundi constitutional court to examine president's third term bid Burundi's constitutional court will examine the legality of President Pierre Nkurunziza's bid for a third term, the Senate said Wednesday, after days of violent protests over his plans to contest June elections.

Venant Barubike, private secretary to the Senate president, told AFP that a motion had been submitted to the court seeking interpretation of key articles related to a possible presidential third term.

At least five people have died in protests that erupted at the weekend after the ruling CNDD-FDD party designated Nkurunziza its candidate for the presidential election to be held in the central African nation on June 26.

Opposition figures and rights groups say Nkurunziza's bid for a third consecutive term goes against the constitution as well as the peace deal that ended a civil war in 2006.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the 13-year conflict, which divided the country along ethnic lines, between the Hutu majority and minority Tutsis.

African Union Commission Chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has welcomed the move, saying she was "pleased to note that the Burundi Senate has taken the third-term question to the constitutional court," adding that "it must decide responsibly."

The president, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian from the Hutu majority, has been in power since 2005.

His supporters say he is eligible to run again, given that he was elected to his first term by parliament -- not directly by the people.

The constitution states that the president is elected by universal direct suffrage, "for a mandate of five years renewable one time."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaWed, 29 Apr 2015 13:17:15 +0000
Togo president extends lead in vote: partial results Togo's incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe has extended a strong lead over his main rival in a weekend poll, according to the latest partial results issued Tuesday.

Gnassingbe looked poised to win a third term, with 69 percent of the vote against almost 18 percent for challenger Jean-Pierre Fabre, according to figures from the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Gnassingbe's family has ruled the small west African country for almost half a century.

The president, who first came to power in 2005 on the death of his iron-fisted father Gnassingbe Eyadema, saw his bid for a third term sharply boosted by overwhelming support from the north of the country, a family stronghold.

Figures released so far by the CENI concern about 26 percent of the estimated number of voters in Saturday's election.

Tchaboure Gogue, one of three candidates from small opposition parties who chose to take on both Fabre and the president, also found support in his native north.

The university professor is running third with eight percent of the votes.

The main opposition Combat for Political Change (CAP 2015), which backs Fabre but is a divided and fractious coalition of five parties, has accused the regime of fraud and ballot-stuffing.

However the African Union, which sent 43 observers to monitor the election, concluded that voters had been allowed "to choose their president... freely and in transparency".

Amos Sawyer, the head of 100 monitors sent by the 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS on Sunday said the vote had overall been "free, transparent and organised in an acceptable manner".

The electoral commission has yet to release any results from the capital Lome, a bustling port city on the Gulf of Guinea that has historically been an opposition stronghold of opposition.

Nationwide, the CENI has estimated turnout at between 53 and 55 percent, markedly lower than the rate of almost 65 percent in 2010, when Gnassingbe beat Fabre.

The army provoked an outcry when it first rushed Gnassingbe into office after General Eyadema died in February 2005, leaving a power vacuum following his rule of 38 years.

Gnassingbe swiftly stood down and an election was hastily organised, which saw him win his first five-year term in a land that was previously administered by Germany then France.

Togo celebrated 55 years of independence on Monday.

Currently there are no limits on the number of times a president can stand for re-election. The opposition wants a two-term limit.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaTue, 28 Apr 2015 13:52:14 +0000
Burundi president sticks to third term bid despite protests Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza will continue his bid for a third term in power, a spokesman said Tuesday dismissing calls by protestors who have clashed with police for three days.

At least five people have died since clashes broke out Sunday after the ruling CNDD-FDD party, which has been accused of intimidating opponents, designated Nkurunziza its candidate in for presidential elections due to be held in the central African nation on June 26.

"We won't back down, that is out of the question," presidential communications chief Willy Nyamitwe told AFP, blaming demonstrators for the violence and accusing some of them of carrying guns.

"This path of violence they have chosen, we recall the darkest years of our history," he said.

The government has banned all protests and deployed large numbers of police and troops onto the streets, firing live ammunition, tear gas and water cannons, with hundreds of stone-throwing protesters arrested.

Some of the protestors killed were shot at close range, while the police said at least 37 officers have been wounded.

Police reinforcements boosted the numbers of security forces seen on the streets on Tuesday, but protestors remained defiant -- although most were contained in side streets, and were blocked from the capital's centre.

Police chief Andre Ndayambaje appealed for people not to turn "protests into a rebellion."

But senior opposition leader Charles Nditije said protests would continue until Nkurunziza agreed not to run.

"He will have no other choice than to give it up because we are determined to go all the way," he told AFP.

"It will continue," said Jonathan, a 26-year old unemployed protester, saying that the problem is not that Nkurunziza had been in power for too long but that "he goes against the law."

- Dissidents hunted -

The president, a former rebel leader and born-again Christian, has been in power for two terms since 2005. Opposition figures and rights groups say his attempt to stay in power goes against the constitution as well as the peace deal that ended a civil war in 2006.

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the 13-year conflict, and there are fears the upsurge in political tensions could plunge the country back into violence.

But his supporters say he is eligible to run again, as his first term in office was after he was elected by parliament -- not directly by the people as the constitution states.

Nyamitwe said protestors were using the declaration of his candidacy as a "pretext" to avoid elections.

"These are people who just do not want to go to elections because they are afraid," he said, adding the ruling party had a right to present its choice of candidate "like all other parties."

On Monday, authorities arrested a leading dissident, human rights activist Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa, and shut down the main independent radio station.

An arrest warrant has also been issued for Vital Nshimirimana, head of a prominent NGO forum, who has gone into hiding.

Many are fleeing threats by the pro-government militia Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party. Rights groups allege that the militia has been armed and trained over the past year in order to help Nkurunziza remain in office.

The European Union said violence, arrests of human rights activists, restrictions on the media and an outflow of people into neighbouring countries had no place in an electoral process.

The US embassy in Bujumbura said it would "hold accountable those responsible for violence against the civilian population", while the African Union has appealed to the government to "exercise the highest restraint."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaTue, 28 Apr 2015 13:31:47 +0000
One dead, 90 injured in South Africa train crash: officials

imageJOHANNESBURG: A train driver was killed and at least 90 other people injured on Tuesday when two crowded commuter trains collided in Johannesburg, South African officials said, adding that emergency teams had cut one woman free from the wreckage.

"Paramedics, along with various services, arrived on the scene and found the wrecked trains blocking the tracks completely," Russel Meiring, spokesman for the ER24 paramedic group, said.

"Bent metal and parts of the train had been spread across the scene."

The News24 wire agency said the driver had died when his train hit a stationary train.

The trapped woman was transported by helicopter to hospital after being rescued.

"We have got 90 people injured," Metrorail spokeswoman Lillian Mofokeng told AFP.

The trains were both travelling from the capital Pretoria when crash occurred at a station in Denver suburb, east of Johannesburg.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaTue, 28 Apr 2015 08:41:35 +0000
I.Coast's Ouattara nominated to seek re-election as president The ruling coalition in Ivory Coast on Saturday nominated incumbent President Alassane Ouattara for re-election in October's presidential poll as the country seeks to move on from years of political turmoil.

Ouattara's official nomination was announced by former Ivorian head of state Henri Konan Bedie, with Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba also attending a grand ceremony held in the country's biggest stadium in Abidjan.

The 73-year-old Ouattara, decked out in a white hat and shirt, made a grand entrance into the 35,000-seat stadium riding in a convertible.

He was greeted by the crowd shouting "ADO president!" -- a reference to his initials as Alassane Dramane Ouattara.

The Ivorian leader had won the backing of his Rally of Republicans (RDR) party at a congress in March. Its ally the Democratic Party decided not to field its own candidate to help ensure Ouattara's victory.

Faced with a divided opposition, the former vice-president of the International Monetary Fund is the favourite in the presidential race.

Ouattara took office in 2011 after a bloody post-election crisis sparked by former president Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to hand over power, claiming electoral fraud in the 2010 presidential vote. More than 3,000 people lost their lives in the ensuing unrest.

The pro-Gbagbo Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party on Saturday said it would put forward a candidate to run against Ouattara.

"We will hold our congress in a few weeks and we will have a candidate to face Mr Ouattara," the main opposition party's head Pascal Affi N'Guessan said at a meeting in the central city of Bouake.

"Ivorians are waiting for this election to punish Ouattara," he said.

The FPI however remains split between hardliners demanding the release of Gbagbo -- currently awaiting trial in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity -- before any elections are held, and those in the party who back N'Guessan for the presidency.

Following a decade of political and military crisis, the economy in the west African nation -- the world's largest cocoa producer -- expanded by nine percent between 2012 and 2014, with strong investment in the public sector.

Ouattara has pledged to maintain similar levels of growth until 2020. But his critics say that the fruits of development have not been well distributed among the population of around 20 million people.

Ouattara also claims credit for restoring calm in the former French colony, although opposition figures and civil society activists argue that despite the creation of a truth and reconciliation committee to help heal the wounds of conflict, the results have not been significant enough.

"I found a country in ruins, which needed to be rebuilt," Ouattara told AFP in a 2013 interview.

"I made it clear that I am not sure how to finish this work in the time I have left and I will probably seek a second term."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaSun, 26 Apr 2015 12:12:23 +0000
Togo votes for a new president Togo votes for a new president on Saturday, with the incumbent Faure Gnassingbe seeking a third term in office to extend his family's grip on power into a second half-century.

Polling stations in the tiny West African nation open at 0700 GMT, with some 9,000 police and soldiers on patrol, and with borders shut until Sunday morning for security reasons.

Gnassingbe, 48, has been in power since the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, in 2005, winning contested elections that year and five years later.

Fears of election-linked violence are still fresh in the memory in Togo after some 500 people were killed and thousands more injured in the disputed 2005 vote, according to the UN.

The government announced the closure of land borders from 2100 GMT on Friday until 0600 GMT on Sunday "to ensure optimal security conditions" for the elections.

Armoured military vehicles were seen in the streets of the capital, Lome, on Friday, AFP journalists reported.

Some 3.5 million of Togo's seven million people are registered to vote. They will choose between Gnassingbe and his beaten opponent from last time round, opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre.

On the campaign trail, Gnassingbe vaunted his introduction of free primary schools and infrastructure projects such as new roads.

But Fabre, who heads a five-party coalition called Combat for Political Change (CAP 2015), has called for regime change after 48 years of unbroken rule by the president and his father before him.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 25 Apr 2015 07:41:03 +0000
Ebola retreat brings cheer to Sierra Leone chimps In the rising afternoon humidity 30-year-old Tom sits in the shade, picking fleas off his neighbour, unaware of how close he came to losing his home to Ebola.

Tom is a chimpanzee -- one of around 5,500 in Sierra Leone for whom the tropical fever poses as deadly a threat as it does to humans.

His rainforest sanctuary in the verdant hills around the capital Freetown suddenly found itself forced to close in August last year as the virus overwhelmed the human population, killing thousands.

With money running out and only a skeleton staff looking after Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Tom and around 85 companions were facing homelessness as the closure began to look permanent.

"We were all worried about what our lives would be like if the sanctuary was not opened again," staff member Abdul Koroma told AFP, adding that he and his fellow workers saw the park as "a baby we have nurtured".

And then one day in January, everything changed.

Weekly infections began dropping back down to double figures, and eventually single figures, and Sierra Leone was able to end curfews, lift travel restrictions, reopen borders and welcome back tourists.

"We have had many enquiries from local and overseas wildlife lovers asking when we would reopen and, taking into consideration the falling number of Ebola cases in recent weeks, we have decided to open up," programme director Bala Amarasekaran told AFP.

- 'Strongest chimpanzee ever' -

The 100-acre (40-hectare) centre was set up in 1995 to rescue chimpanzees whose families had been stolen for the pet trade or wiped out by bushmeat hunters, habitat destruction and the civil war that raged until 2001.

"After the outbreak, we decided not to accept any new chimps due to the potential risk of bringing the disease into the sanctuary, which would have been catastrophic for the chimps," said Amarasekaran, a Sri Lankan.

The Jane Goodall Institute estimates that around a third of the worldwide population of chimpanzees has been killed by Ebola since it first emerged in the 1970s.

The sanctuary -- which was losing almost a third of its income -- was finally able to open on Thursday last week, and Tom was among the residents welcoming the public back.

"He had been kept as a pet since a baby and had not interacted with other chimps since birth," said Amarasekaran.

"He was gradually rehabilitated in 2014, fed with natural food and familiarised with the surroundings and sounds of other chimps. Now he is just like the man next door."

The Ebola outbreak is just the latest tumultuous chapter in the reserve's 20-year history of heroism, heartbreak and villainy.

Among a colourful cast of characters to have stayed at Tacugama, undoubtedly the most infamous is Bruno, described on the website as "charismatic, spectacularly imposing and physically the strongest chimpanzee we have ever had".

Amarasekaran bought Bruno for $20 in 1988, when he was a just a few months old, and named him after British heavyweight boxer Frank Bruno.

- Hope for future -

Most of the chimps returned of their own accord, but the alpha male -- who was said to have personally killed the driver -- was never seen again.

"Bruno was never traced and we can't say whether he is alive or dead," Amarasekaran told AFP.

The reserve also housed Pinkie, thought to be the world's only albino chimpanzee, whose lifeless body was found in her enclosure in 2002, although no cause of death has ever been established.

Unrelated to Pinkie's case, the reserve has also been struggling for a number of years with the mysterious sudden deaths of a number of chimpanzees.

Staff believe a toxic plant endemic to the region, identified with the help of scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, may be the culprit but have not ruled out other possibilities.

One positive outcome of the Ebola crisis, as far as the sanctuary is concerned, is that it has curbed the traditional practice of killing chimpanzees for bushmeat.

But habitat destruction is a larger threat to the wild chimpanzee population, with forest cover barely five percent of what it was 100 years ago.

The story of Sierra Leone's chimpanzees may yet get a happy ending, as conservation efforts have helped the chimp population to double between 1980 and 2010, according to the country's first ever chimp census.

"As we prepare to celebrate our 20th anniversary in September, protecting wild chimpanzees and their habitats through sustainable development remains the key to our future and this is the legacy we aim for," Amarasekaran said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaTue, 21 Apr 2015 12:34:08 +0000