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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Africa Africa News From the Associated Press


South African workers criticize Ramaphosa in protest

Wed, 25 Apr 2018 15:37:28 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thousands of South African workers have demonstrated around the country against a proposed minimum wage, accusing President Cyril Ramaphosa's government of being hostile to labor. Members of the South African Federation of Trade Unions on Wednesday marched in downtown Johannesburg and other cities. They said the planned minimum wage of $1.60 per hour is too low and will only deepen poverty in South Africa. Workers from some unions not affiliated with the strike did not participate in the protest. There were reports of blocked roads, stone-throwing and looting in some parts of the country. South African media outlets say some unrest is linked to local dissatisfaction over an alleged lack of government services.

Photographer Joao Silva still shooting despite loss of legs

Wed, 25 Apr 2018 13:17:59 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Joao Silva, a photographer who was grievously injured in Afghanistan in 2010, says journalists who choose to cover conflict should have a clear understanding of the horrific consequences of combat. The New York Times photographer said Wednesday at an exhibition of his work in Johannesburg, his home base, that "it's the easiest thing" for journalists to go to war because they can walk away anytime they have had enough. The civilians left behind often have "nowhere to go. They are stuck. They have to live this reality or this nightmare day in, day out," said Silva, whose own war coverage ended when a buried explosive blew off his legs while he was with U.S. soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan.

Judge tosses lawsuit by Utah imam involving no-fly listing

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 18:16:16 UT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a Utah Muslim leader who said he was wrongly placed on a government watch list and temporarily blocked from leaving Kenya with his family last summer. The lengthy screening process undergone by Yussuf Abdi on flights since the trip is inconvenient but not unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson wrote in the decision Monday. While the right to travel is protected by the Constitution, "the Supreme Court has not recognized a right to convenient or unimpeded travel," Benson wrote. Lawyers for Abdi, an imam and U.S. citizen, said the screening is more than an inconvenience. They haven't decided if they'll appeal the ruling.

Gunmen kill 15 at Nigeria church, including 2 priests

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 15:47:28 UT

YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — Officials in Nigeria say gunmen have killed 15 people in an early-morning attack on a Catholic church, including two priests. The attack took place in Ayar-Mbalom, a community in Benue state. Terver Akase, a media aide to the Benue state governor, says the attackers also burned down 50 houses. President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement calls the violation of a place of worship "vile, evil and satanic" and an attempt to stoke religious conflict. Benue state in central Nigeria has seen a series of attacks in recent weeks, many linked to a long-running dispute between farmers and herdsmen. A few days ago 10 people were killed by alleged herdsmen in the state.

UN peacekeeper in S. Sudan accused of inappropriate touching

Tue, 24 Apr 2018 13:16:20 UT

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — The United Nations says a Nepalese peacekeeper in South Sudan has been accused of inappropriately touching a teenage girl in exchange for money. The allegation in the town of Aweil comes two months after 46 Ghanaian peacekeepers were recalled when some members allegedly paid local women living in a protection camp in the town of Wau for sex. A U.N. statement says an investigation into the latest allegation is underway. Multiple U.N. peacekeeping missions have faced allegations of sexual abuse or exploitation in recent years, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calling it a "global menace" that must end. The U.N. has about 15,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan, whose civil war is well into a fifth year.

Attacks on South Sudan health facilities, workers increasing

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 16:00:07 UT

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Everyone and everything is a target in South Sudan's civil war, as attacks against health facilities and aid workers increase, a new report says. At least 50 medical institutions were attacked in 2016 and 2017, says the report released Monday by the New York-based Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. In at least 750 incidents over the same period humanitarian access was denied by various armed groups, including government troops.

US builds drone base in Niger, crossroads of extremism fight

Mon, 23 Apr 2018 11:15:10 UT

AGADEZ, Niger (AP) — On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America's battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa's vast Sahel region. Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger's government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries.

Israeli minister vows to help Ethiopian Jews move to Israel

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 19:32:31 UT

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Israel's Justice minister vowed to help Ethiopia's Jews immigrate to Israel as soon as possible during a rare visit to Ethiopia. Ayelet Shaked visited the synagogue in Addis Ababa on Sunday. "These programs that will eventually reunite Ethiopian Jews with their families in Israel are not generally easy," said Shaked to the group gathered in the synagogue. "But I will try everything within my power to work with relevant offices to make this happen in the shortest time possible," she said. Shaked, on what is reported to be her first official visit to Africa, said she came to find out more about the situation of Ethiopia's estimated 8,000 remaining Jews.

New South African church celebrates drinking alcohol

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 11:54:04 UT

ORANGE FARM, South Africa (AP) — Dressed in a red robe and a gold-trimmed bishop's miter, the clergyman pours whiskey into his cupped hand and anoints the forehead of the man sitting before him. "You are hereby invested as a minister ... This is a double tot," he says of the remaining whiskey in the chalice. He hands it to the new minister, who downs it. "Hallelujah!" shout the congregation members who erupt in singing and dancing, swigging from bottles of beer. Welcome to Gabola Church, which celebrates the drinking of alcohol. The South African church was started eight months ago and has found an enthusiastic following.

South Africa's leader cuts short UK visit after protests

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:30:22 UT

MAHIKENG, South Africa (AP) — South Africa's president cut short a visit to Britain to return home and deal with violent protests in a provincial capital, calling late Friday for calm and saying more discussions on the "serious" issues were needed. President Cyril Ramaphosa left the Commonwealth summit in London to visit the North West capital of Mahikeng, where residents brought life to a standstill with protests over alleged corruption and calls for the premier to resign. The turmoil has presented Ramaphosa with the most significant test of his public peacemaking skills since he took office in February. A statement from his office noted clashes with police and called for engagement "rather than violence and anarchy.

Zimbabwe nurses' strike a test of new government

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:43:18 UT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Scores of nurses demonstrated in Zimbabwe's capital on Friday after the government fired 16,000 of them from public hospitals for demanding better working conditions and higher pay. The protest, during which the nurses offered a free clinic to passers-by, was a test of the new government's attitude toward public demonstrations. Police looked on but did not interfere. The collapsed economy is a major challenge facing President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took office in November after a military intervention ended Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule. Mugabe's government responded harshly to protests.

Al-Qaida claims deadly attack on French, UN forces in Mali

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:25:14 UT

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Al-Qaida extremists have claimed responsibility for an attack in northern Mali that killed a U.N. peacekeeper and wounded seven French soldiers. SITE Intelligence Group reported Friday that the al-Qaida branch in Mali posted a message saying it had carried out the attack nearly a week ago. The message called it retaliation for a series of recent military operations that had killed some of the branch's fighters. Witnesses said the attackers struck the town of Timbuktu in vehicles disguised as belonging to the Malian military and the U.N. peacekeeping mission. Extremists controlled Timbuktu and other northern towns in 2012 before a French-led military operation forced them from power the following year.

South Sudan says military chief has died during Egypt visit

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 13:28:19 UT

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan's military chief has died during a visit to Egypt and after a "short illness," the government announced Friday. Gen. James Ajongo Mawut had taken over the role a year ago after Paul Malong was fired and put under house arrest. The death comes ahead of a new round of peace talks expected in May as a regional bloc seeks an end to the country's five-year civil war. Conflict analysts said the death will put pressure on South Sudan President Salva Kiir to make critical decisions regarding his fragile ruling coalition. Alan Boswell, a South Sudan analyst for Small Arms Survey, said Kiir has pushed out former allies in recent months as he "concentrates power in fewer and fewer hands.

Zimbabwe's Mugabe summoned over alleged diamond looting

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:27:44 UT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — A Zimbabwean parliamentary committee is summoning former leader Robert Mugabe to explain past comments on alleged diamond looting — the first time a public institution has called him to account for such claims made during his 37-year rule. Mugabe, who resigned in November following a military intervention and extraordinary public demonstrations, has said $15 billion worth of diamonds were looted from fields in the country's east. He later said he had no basis for that figure and spoke off the top of his head. But parliamentary committee chairman Temba Mliswa told The Associated Press the 94-year-old still should appear on May 9 to explain his comments.

Burundi's new foreign minister once led violent youth group

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:09:50 UT

BUJUMBURA, Burundi (AP) — Burundi's president has appointed the former leader of a violent youth group linked to the ruling party as his foreign minister. In a Cabinet reshuffle announced Thursday night, President Pierre Nkurunziza appointed Ezechiel Nibigira to replace Alain Aime Nyamitwe as foreign minister. The choice is controversial in the East African nation because Nibigira once led the Imbonerakure, the ruling party's youth wing, which has faced repeated accusations of rights abuses against civilians. Human Rights Watch and others have documented some of the group's alleged crimes, including murder.

Tiny African kingdom of Swaziland changes its name

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 08:06:02 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Breathe easy, Switzerland: The tiny African kingdom of Swaziland is changing its name. King Mswati III announced it during celebrations of the 50th anniversary of independence and his 50th birthday. It appears to be as easy as that, as the king is an absolute monarch. Many African countries upon independence "reverted to their ancient, native names," he said. "We no longer shall be called Swaziland from today forward." The kingdom will be known by its historic name of eSwatini. The king has used that name in the past at openings of Parliament and other events. Some Swiss have responded with relief as the countries often are confused on online forms.

Tiny African kingdom of Swaziland changes its name

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 22:02:12 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Breathe easy, Switzerland: The tiny African kingdom of Swaziland is changing its name. King Mswati III announced it during celebrations of the 50th anniversary of independence and his 50th birthday. It appears to be as easy as that, as the king is an absolute monarch. Many African countries upon independence "reverted to their ancient, native names," he said. "We no longer shall be called Swaziland from today forward." The kingdom will be known by its historic name of eSwatini. The king has used that name in the past at openings of Parliament and other events. Some Swiss have responded with relief as the countries often are confused on online forms.

UN Security Council mourns death of Ivory Coast ambassador

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 20:24:42 UT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The Security Council bid farewell Thursday to veteran diplomat Bernard Tanoh-Boutchoue, the Ivory Coast's ambassador to the United Nations who died just months after starting a two-year term on the U.N.'s most powerful body. Council members opened their meeting by standing in silent tribute to their 67-year-old colleague, who diplomats said became ill Tuesday and was taken to a hospital where he died Wednesday. Peruvian Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, the current council president, said the Security Council "with great shock and profound sadness acknowledges the sudden passing yesterday of our dear colleague and friend.

New round of South Sudan peace talks is delayed

Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:34:16 UT

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Officials say the next round of South Sudan peace talks has been delayed without explanation. The talks were meant to resume next week in neighboring Ethiopia, mediated by a regional bloc. The discussions have sought an end to South Sudan's civil war, now well into its fifth year. A statement by the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission says the regional bloc will announce the new dates for the talks "in due course.' "The gap between positions of the parties seems to be still quite wide," says a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorized to speak to the media. She says tentative dates for the next round of talks are May 2-6.

Kansas militia members convicted of Somali refugee bomb plot

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 22:06:30 UT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Three Kansas militia members were convicted Wednesday of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somali refugees, an attack thwarted by another member of the group who tipped off federal authorities about escalating threats of violence. Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen were convicted of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was convicted of a charge of lying to the FBI. Sentencing is set for June 27. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the verdicts a significant victory against domestic terrorism and hate crimes.

Zimbabwe marks Independence Day — from Mugabe, too

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:18:53 UT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Celebrating Independence Day for the first time without Robert Mugabe as leader since 1980 felt like a second emancipation for some Zimbabweans on Wednesday. For others, not quite. The southern African nation still faces persistent economic problems including cash shortages and high unemployment. Major public hospitals have been shut down after the government fired more than 16,000 nurses for striking against low salaries and poor working conditions. As the first post-Mugabe elections approach in the months ahead, some found hope.

Taiwan's leader visits rare African ally, tiny Swaziland

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:12:33 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Taiwan is emphasizing its ties with one of the few countries that grant it diplomatic recognition as President Tsai Ing-wen visits the tiny African kingdom of Swaziland. Ing-wen's first trip to the nation of 1.3 million people marks 50 years of official ties between the two countries, the king's 50th birthday and a half-century of Swaziland's independence. Ing-wen won election as Taiwan's first female president in 2016. She has refused to endorse China's insistence that Taiwan is Chinese territory, and ties with Beijing have plummeted. China maintains that countries must recognize the mainland nation and not Taiwan as the one and only China.

200 child soldiers freed in S. Sudan, but problem continues

Wed, 18 Apr 2018 10:12:16 UT

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — More than 200 child soldiers were released by armed groups in war-torn South Sudan, part of a series of releases that will see almost 1,000 children freed in the coming months. An estimated 19,000 children are believed to be in armed forces amid the country's 5-year civil war, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions. South Sudan has one of the highest numbers of child soldiers in the world, according to the U.N. At the "laying down of the guns" ceremony, 112 boys and 95 girls were returned to their families in areas outside the town of Yambio on Tuesday.

Jury has case of 3 men accused of plotting to bomb Somalis

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:15:35 UT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Jurors began deliberating Tuesday afternoon in the case against three Kansas militia members accused of scheming to bomb a mosque and apartment complex housing Somalis. During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Mattivi credited another militia member for alerting authorities, calling Dan Day the "one man standing between these three defendants and apartment complex full of innocent people." Curtis Allen, Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright face charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Wright also faces a charge of lying to the FBI.

Niger may have arrested militant with ties to US ambush

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 17:29:46 UT

NIAMEY, Niger (AP) — Niger's military has detained a suspect who it believes could be the militant leader who was being pursued when an ambush left four American soldiers dead in October, the American ambassador said Tuesday. U.S. Ambassador Eric P. Whitaker told The Associated Press he does not know the identity of the detained suspect but that the head of Niger's special forces is hopeful it's a known extremist leader. At the time of the October ambush that also left five Nigeriens dead, U.S. forces and their counterparts from the Niger military were pursuing Doundou Chefou, a militant suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of an American aid worker.

Burundi forces kill perceived regime opponents, says group

Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:34:56 UT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Burundi's government forces and ruling party members have beaten and killed perceived opponents of an upcoming referendum that could allow the president to extend his rule, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, citing what it called "widespread impunity" for local authorities and their allies. The New York-based rights group reported that it had confirmed 19 cases of abuse since December 12, "all apparently to press Burundians to vote yes on the referendum" that is scheduled for May 17.

Families of Nigeria missing girls call for UN help

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 17:26:44 UT

YOLA, Nigeria (AP) — Family members of the Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by Islamic militants four years ago are now calling for the U.N. to intervene to find out their fate. Some 113 girls never returned, though some were forced to marry their captors and have said they will not come home. The Nigerian government has vowed to bring them all back. However, Ayuba Alamson Chibok, a spokesman for the parents, said "no one is paying any attention to our grief." More than 100 of the girls abducted from Chibok in 2014 were later released. But it's been an especially agonizing wait for the families of those girls still unaccounted for.

German expat kidnapped in northern Nigeria, police say

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:29:03 UT

KANO, Nigeria (AP) — Authorities in northern Nigeria say a German engineer has been abducted by gunmen in the town of Kano. Witnesses said that several armed assailants killed a police officer early Monday before abducting the foreigner. The police spokesman in Kano, Magaji Majia, confirmed the kidnapping and said that a manhunt was underway to find the German. The German Foreign Ministry in Berlin had no immediate comment. Kidnappings for ransom are not unusual in Nigeria, although abductions of foreigners in the north are rare. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the engineer's capture.

3 officials resign in Kenya's electoral body over poll probe

Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:19:30 UT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Three commissioners from Kenya's electoral commission Monday said they've resigned over the suspension of the body's chief executive officer who was sent on compulsory leave to pave the way for wider investigations into the commission's conduct in last year's elections. The three commissioners said the vote to suspend CEO Ezra Chiloba was not done properly. "The challenges of the 2017 elections call for the commission to self-reflect and to institutionalize best practices. However the institution has continued to be dysfunctional with arbitrary decision making and leaking of internal documents," said a statement from the three.

French army describes 'underhanded' extremist attack in Mali

Sun, 15 Apr 2018 18:16:43 UT

PARIS (AP) — The French army says a deadly extremist attack on a U.N. military camp in northern Mali was "particularly sophisticated and underhanded." Officials have said the attack on a camp for the U.N. mission known as MINUSMA in Timbuktu on Saturday left one peacekeeper dead and a number of wounded. The French army said in a statement Sunday that seven soldiers from the French military operation known as Barkhane were among the injured and that 15 attackers were killed in a counterattack. The statement said some of the jihadists wore peacekeepers' uniforms and explosive belts and used vehicles covered up with U.N. and Malian army codes. Three car bombs were exploded, it said.