AfricaStay updated with Business News, Pakistan news, Current world news and latest world news with Business Recorder.., 04 Jul 2015 03:15:58 +0000SRA Framework 2.0en-gbAfrican Union troops retreat in Somalia as Shebab attack African Union troops fighting Somalia's Shebab insurgents have pulled back from several key towns following a series of attacks by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters, local officials said Friday.

The withdrawal, a rare retreat after AU troops seized swathes of territory from the radical militants, includes the towns of Qoryoley and Awdhegele, which have since been taken over by Shebab in Somalia's southern Lower Shabelle region.

The Islamic militants have stepped up their attacks during Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan.

"They pulled out of Qoryoley, there is not a single soldier left behind," local government official Mohamed Haji Osman said. Residents reported that the Shebab had since moved in and hoisted their black flag over the town, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) southwest of the capital Mogadishu.

"Shebab fighters entered the town and their flag is flying over the district headquarters. All AMISOM and Somali troops pulled out," said resident Ahmed Hassan.

Awdhegele district commissioner Mohamed Aweys said he left the town after soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) retreated.

"This is a complete setback because Al-Shebab is gaining ground," he said.

The Shebab is fighting to overthrow Somalia's Western-backed government which is propped up and protected by the 22,000-strong AMISOM force.

Last week, the Shebab attacked an AMISOM base in Lego village, 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of the capital Mogadishu, manned by around 100 Burundian soldiers.

The Shebab later boasted of having killed 80 soldiers and carried off the bodies of 60 of them, before setting the base on fire.

Video images taken by the Shebab and seen by AFP show several bodies scattered around the ransacked base, with one shot showing around a dozen bodies lined up.

Shebab commander Mohamed Abu-Abdallah said his fighters were celebrating their advance in Lower Shabelle.

"The enemy is fleeing from the region... this is the beginning of the fall of the Christian invaders," he said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaFri, 03 Jul 2015 12:49:20 +0000
Liberia announces return of Ebola, with one new death Liberia announced the return of the deadly Ebola virus on Tuesday, more than six weeks after the country eradicated the disease.

"A new case of Ebola has been reported in Margibi County. The person has died and was confirmed positive before death. He has been buried," said deputy health minister Tolbert Nyensuah.

The official told a radio station experts had traced and quarantined anyone who may have had contact with the victim, without giving numbers or any details on the patient.

"We are investigating to know the origin of this new case. We ask all Liberians and all other nationals living in Liberia to continue taking the preventive measures," he said.

Liberia's neighbours Guinea and Sierra Leone are both battling the outbreak, which has killed more than 11,000 people, but the coastal Margibi County is much nearer the capital Monrovia than either border.

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva the UN health body had been informed of the case.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaTue, 30 Jun 2015 10:29:15 +0000
Mozambique turns 40, high on gas prospects Mozambique turned 40 on Thursday, mixing formal military parades with exuberant African dancing as it turned from a generation of civil war and poverty to look to a more prosperous future, powered, it hopes, by vast amounts of natural gas.

In contrast to the early years of independence from Portugal in 1975, when the challenge was navigating the choppy waters of the Cold War, the southern African nation's leaders now face the burden of the growing expectations of its 26 million people.

Underpinning the national optimism in this $17 billion economy is the prospect of massive revenues from an estimated 180 trillion cubic feet of off-shore gas - enough to supply Germany, Britain, France and Italy for nearly two decades.

The deposits in the northern Rovuma Basin, near the border with Tanzania, may be a decade from production but the impact of foreign investment the IMF says could amount to $100 billion is already being felt.

"The future is in our hands," President Felipe Nyusi said in an address at Maputo's national stadium, after a fly-by from one of the military's few air-worthy jets. "Mozambique has all the conditions to emerge within the next decade as a united and economically strong country."

The economy has posted 7 percent growth for the last five years, spurring a construction boom in a capital that is quickly shedding its reputation as a sleepy, beachside backwater.

Shiny new headquarters of foreign energy and engineering firms sit alongside mobile phone shops and high-end boutiques, jostling for space on bustling city-centre streets with branches of European and South African banks.

But there are side-effects to the boom that may pose difficulties for the country and its guardians in the former Marxist Frelimo party.

Few jobs are being created beyond the narrow confines of hydrocarbon development, and the surge in the country's metical currency resulting from its gas prospects is hobbling other more labour-intensive sectors such agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.

Copyright Reuters, 2015

]]> (Asfia Afzal)AfricaFri, 26 Jun 2015 07:26:46 +0000
Top Burundi leader flees days ahead of polls Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza's controversial bid to stand for a third consecutive term in office was dealt a fresh blow on Thursday after one of his top deputies fled the country and urged him to step down.

In a letter addressed to Nkurunziza, whose re-election bid has already sparked weeks of civil unrest, a refugee crisis and a coup attempt, second vice-president Gervais Rufyikiri urged the president to "put the interests of the Burundian people before your personal interests."

"Withdraw your presidential bid, because it violates the constitution," the letter said.

Rufyikiri told France 24 television he had sought refuge in Belgium.

"I left... because I was not able to continue to support the attitude of the president, his desire to lead the people of Burundi on the path of illegality," he told the broadcaster late Wednesday from Belgium.

In the Burundian capital Bujumbura, the reaction from Nkurunziza's camp was defiant -- wishing Rufyikiri "good riddance" and accusing him of having had links to coup plotters who tried but failed to force the president from power in mid-May.

"Good riddance to him, all the more so because investigations have proved that Gervais Rufyikiri was mixed up in the failed coup attempt," the president's communications advisor, Willy Nyamitwe, told AFP.

"Someone of his rank, who was involved in an attempt to overthrow democratically-elected institutions... his departure is good riddance for us," he added, dismissing the suggestion that Rufyikiri was in exile because he had dual Burundian and Belgian nationality.

"He can't say he fled because he left officially, with the president's authorisation and with expenses. We only consider that he has resigned."

- Exodus -

Rufyikiri had already been sidelined in the government, having joined other members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party earlier this year who had spoken out against Nkurunziza's bid to stay in office for another five-year term.

In his letter, Rufyikiri said the president was pushing Burundi into a "real socio-economic crisis" and accused him of being "deaf".

"You yourself had frequently said 'In Burundi, there are the deaf'. History may well class you at the top of the list of this category, given the way you have turned your back on all those who have sent you messages advising you to abandon an unconstitutional third mandate," it said.

The re-election bid has been branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that paved the way to end 13 years of civil war in 2006, and there are widespread fears that the current crisis could plunge the country back into widespread violence.

Parliamentary elections are due to be held on Monday, ahead of the presidential vote on July 15.

Several other top officials -- including members of the election commission and constitutional court -- have already fled impoverished and landlocked Burundi, joining at least 100,000 ordinary people who have joined a refugee exodus to neighbouring Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

Last week, the Burundian human rights group Aprodeh said that at least 70 people have been killed, 500 wounded and more than 1,000 jailed since late April, when opposition supporters took to the streets to protest Nkurunziza's re-election bid.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaThu, 25 Jun 2015 13:04:08 +0000
25 killed in two Egypt road accidents Twenty-five people were killed and 29 others injured on Sunday in two separate road accidents in Egypt, where poor road and traffic regulations kill thousands each year, officials said.

One accident took place on the highway linking Cairo to the Mediterranean coast further north when a minibus collided with a truck killing 13 people and injuring four, said a health ministry official.

Twelve people were killed and 25 injured in the other accident when a bus overturned near the Red Sea resort town of Hurghada, medics and security officials said.

The driver of the bus, which was carrying hotel employees from Hurghada to Cairo, apparently lost control of the vehicle causing it to overturn, they said.

Traffic accidents are common in Egypt, where roads are often poorly maintained and traffic regulations little enforced.

The World Health Organisation says they account for nearly 12,000 deaths annually.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Shoaib-ur-Rehman Siddiqui)AfricaSun, 14 Jun 2015 20:19:39 +0000
DR Congo opens probe after NGO accuses UK firm of bribery Kinshasa said on Friday it had opened an investigation after an NGO alleged a British energy company paid off an army officer accused of silencing critics of exploration in a Congolese national park.

Global Witness, a British NGO, on Wednesday published scans of four cheques totalling $15,600 (14,000 euros) allegedly issued by a Congolese subsidiary of Soco International to an army major posted to Virunga National Park.

The park, which lies in the east of the country, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to many of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas.

The NGO also published what it said was a receipt for the cheques signed by the officer on May 15, 2014, along with another dated April 30, 2014, confirming he had received $26,650 (24,000 euros).

"The government... has ordered the opening of an inquiry to verify the allegations" made by Global Witness, an official statement said.

It noted that Kinshasa had made a military detachment available to Soho since the end of 2014 after the company requested improved security for its personnel and facilities following a "series of incidents".

Soco has previously denied breaching British bribery laws and condemned the use of violence and intimidation, and last year appointed law firm Clifford Chance to look into the allegations surrounding the Virunga project.

In a statement Wednesday, it said this review had concluded that allegations of bribery were "substantially inaccurate", and that there was no evidence the firm or its staff promoted or supported any intimidation of opponents.

However, there were "non-material instances where those with whom the company worked made payments in breach of group policy. These are subject to remedial advice".

Global Witness says local and international NGOs have accused the army officer they name, and the troops under him, of beating, detaining and even killing opponents of Soco's work.

In 2010, the Congolese government granted French oil giant Total and British group Soco permits to explore concessions in Virunga, but the resulting outrage caused it to suspend them a year later.

Total and Soco subsequently agreed not to enter into the limits of the park, although the latter said it intends to finish a seismic study requested by the government.

Once this is completed in the middle of 2015, Soco says it will have no further involvement in the concession.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 13 Jun 2015 06:03:29 +0000
Leaders at African summit expected to avoid migration troubles Despite growing pressure to address the tragedy of African migrants drowning in the Mediterranean, the African Union is unlikely to offer any home-grown solutions to the crisis, say analysts.

Refugees will be discussed in a closed session at the first day of the African Union summit on Sunday, in anticipation of a meeting with the European Union in the latter half of this year.

But African leaders, many of whom routinely flout human rights, are accused of lacking the will to criticise each other on refugee and immigration policies for fear of attracting criticism themselves.

The stalemate thwarts efforts to combat the continent's refugee crises.

"I am not sure to what extent the leaders can tell each other this type of uncomfortable truth," said Tjiurimo Hengari, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

"The solutions are mostly domestic, it's about better governance. They need to tell each other: we need to promote inclusive growth, we need to promote good governance."

Last weekend alone, 6,000 people, most of them sub-Saharan Africans, were pulled to safety from fishing boats and rubber dinghies off Libya.

Nearly 1,800, mainly African and Middle Eastern refugees, have drowned in the Mediterranean this year.

The summit's host, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, is unlikely to take the lead on any pan-continental effort to tackle the refugee crisis, as he faces criticism over deadly xenophobic violence in his country earlier this year.

Nigeria and Zimbabwe were among those who lashed out at South Africa for not protecting their citizens after a series of anti-migrant attacks in January and April.

In the aftermath of the unrest, a defiant Zuma refused to accept blame.

"As much as we can have a problem alleged to be xenophobic, our brother countries contributed to this," he said. "Why are the citizens not in their countries?"

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaSat, 13 Jun 2015 05:50:12 +0000
Death toll now 31 in NE Nigeria market blast At least 31 people were killed when an explosion ripped through a busy market in the northeast Nigerian city of Yola, an emergency official said on Friday.

"So far, we have 31 dead victims and 38 people in hospital receiving treatment" as a result of Thursday's blast, the National Emergency Management Agency's coordinator in the city Sa'ad Bello told AFP.

"Some whose injuries were not severe were discharged," he added.

The blast happened at about 7:40 pm at the Jimeta Main Market in the Adamawa state capital, just as traders were finishing business for the evening.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Yola has also suffered attacks, but not in recent years. It had come to be seen as a relative safe haven for hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee their homes because of the violence.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaFri, 05 Jun 2015 09:30:49 +0000
Burundi government calls for 'frank' dialogue with opposition An aide to Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza on Thursday called for "a frank and constructive dialogue" with the opposition, who have driven weeks of street protests against his bid to stand for a third term.

Nkurunziza's communications advisor, Willy Nyamitwe, said although the government considered the president's bid to be perfectly legal, he said for the first time that the matter was not "taboo".

"It is true that during previous discussions, we have left the issue on the menu" during a summit of regional powers that was held in neighbouring Tanzania last Sunday, he told AFP.

"So this question (of a third mandate) should not come up again. But for the president, it is not a taboo subject," he added, urging the opposition to engage in "a frank, constructive dialogue" so that elections can be held.

Although still standing by Nkurunziza's bid for re-election, the comments nevertheless mark a more conciliatory stance by the authorities -- who have previously said the entire matter was not up for discussion.

Close to 40 people have died in protests that began when Nkurunziza announced in late April that he would stand again, after Burundi's constitutional court gave him the green light. Opponents say his candidacy is unconstitutional and goes against the 2006 Arusha peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.

Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt last month and has since ignored international pressure, including aid cuts, aimed at forcing him to reconsider.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaFri, 05 Jun 2015 07:00:07 +0000
Burundi on the brink of economic collapse During Monday's truce in anti-government protests, Renovat Ndayizeye was quick to try to reopen his stall in Jabe market in Burundi's capital. He has scarcely sold a single pair of shoes since demonstrations began weeks ago, and he is getting desperate.

"I haven't worked since the protests began, we are living on our savings, and now I have nothing," said the 26-year old salesman, surrounded by others who had taken advantage of a pause in the protests to reopen their small wooden shack shops.

Some customers did turn up to shop, but only for basic necessities like rice, meat, vegetables and soap.

Across the Burundian capital, business has been paralysed since demonstrators opposed to President Pierre Nkurunziza's third term bid began street protests, leading to almost daily, violent clashes with police. For over a month, customers have deserted the market and traders have left their goods locked up in the once teeming alleys.

The consequences of the political crisis in Burundi, and the protests primarily in its capital, are dramatic for traders like Ndayizeye, but also potentially disastrous for the country's already faltering economy.

The tiny Great Lakes nation was ravaged by a 13-year civil war that ended in 2006 and today is one of the poorest countries on the planet: gross national income per capita is $260 (238 euros), 58 percent of the population suffers chronic malnutrition, it exports very little, produces too little to feed itself and is riddled with corruption.

Many of the demonstrations have taken place on the outskirts of Bujumbura, fuelled by poverty and unemployment. This does not prevent them from playing the economic card, erecting barricades to prevent people from reaching their workplaces in order to hit the economy and force the president to abandon a third term bid they believe is unconstitutional.

Protesters are seeking to "turn Bujumbura into a dead city," fumed a senior official in the ruling CNDD-FDD party. "The impact of the demonstrations on the economy is real. It is a terrible weapon."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2015

]]> (Parvez Jabri)AfricaWed, 03 Jun 2015 06:20:14 +0000