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


AP Explains: Why African states have started leaving the ICC

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 22:38:09 UT

Many in the international community cheered when the treaty to create the ICC, the Rome Statute, was adopted in 1998 as a way to pursue some of the world's worst atrocities: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The African Union has called for immunity from prosecution for heads of state, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at his inauguration in May — with al-Bashir in attendance — declared the ICC to be "useless." Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has become a symbol of the limitations facing the ICC, which does not have a police force and relies on the cooperation of member states. Al-Bashir has been wanted by the tribunal for alleged genocide and other crimes in Sudan's Darfur region after the U.N. Security Council first referred the case to the ICC in 2005. [...] al-Bashir has visited a number of ICC member states, including Malawi, Kenya, Chad and Congo. The ICC has no power to compel countries to arrest people and can only tell them they have a legal obligation to do it.

Truck of refugees hits Boko Haram mine in northeast Nigeria

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 22:12:22 UT

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Military officials say a truck carrying refugees to a newly liberated town exploded a land-mine in northeast Nigeria and wounded several people. A taxi-van of refugees exploded Oct. 12 outside Maiduguri, killing eight people and an armored personnel carrier escorting refugees hit a land-mine, injuring several soldiers.

Nigerian leader asks for $30 billion in foreign loans

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 21:08:03 UT

Buhari sent letters Wednesday to Parliament seeking approval to borrow $29.6 billion — more than the entire budget — for power, railways, roads, education, health and water resources. Nigeria is suffering a foreign currency crunch forced by slumped oil prices and militant attacks that have slashed petroleum production.

South African police use stun grenades on student protesters

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:26:34 UT

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African police have used stun grenades to disperse student protesters outside parliament, where the finance minister was giving a budget speech. Sometimes violent protests for free education have hit many South African campuses since last month, when the government recommended that universities increase 2017 fees by no more than 8 percent.

South African photographer Juda Ngwenya is remembered

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:15:18 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Juda Ngwenya, a former South African photographer for the Reuters news agency, was remembered on Wednesday for skillfully recording some of the most pivotal moments in his country's transition from white racist rule to multi-racial democracy. "Each shutter of his camera became an unstained record of truth," South Africa's deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a message of tribute delivered by his spokesman. Mandela was elected president and Ngwenya later gave him a framed photograph of the moment when the anti-apartheid leader stood, beaming and raising his right arm, after casting his ballot. "Juda was a smart dresser, taking pride in disproving the myth that photojournalists are an untidy bunch who do not take care of themselves," Reuters photographer Siphiwe Sibeko said in a tribute in South Africa's Mail and Guardian publication.

ISIS-linked militants seize port town in northern Somalia

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 17:09:34 UT

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Residents say fighters linked to the Islamic State group have seized an ancient port town in Somalia's semiautonomous northeastern state of Puntland. The development marks the first victory for the fighters, who are expanding the areas under their control amid a rivalry with the al-Shabab extremist group.

Gambia says it is leaving International Criminal Court

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 14:50:32 UT

In announcing the decision Tuesday night on national television, Gambia accused the court of unfairly targeting Africa and calling it the "International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans." Under the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, signatory countries have a legal obligation to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal. [...] some African states have allowed people wanted by the ICC, notably Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, to visit, and some say leaders ought to be immune from prosecution. Rights groups often accuse Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, of abuses including a clampdown on political opponents. Kebba Samuel Nyanchor Sanneh, European coordinator of the pro-democracy group Gambia Consultative Council, called Tuesday's announcement by the tiny West African country "merely an attempt to divert world attention from the flawed electoral process."

Nigerian militants say they bomb Chevron oil export pipeline

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:49:51 UT

WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian militants have bombed an oil export pipeline operated by U.S.-based multinational Chevron, according to the attackers and residents, and the militants are warning companies not to carry out repairs to sabotaged infrastructure that has reduced oil exports from Africa's largest economy to a near 30-year low. Multiple, sophisticated attacks since February cut about a million barrels daily from Nigerian crude oil exports estimated at 2.2 million barrels a day and lost the country its position as Africa's biggest oil exporter. The Avengers have said they want to force multinationals out of the oil-producing Niger Delta because careless production has impoverished residents through massive pollution that has destroyed fishing grounds and agricultural fields.

Police vehicle set on fire near South African university

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 20:31:29 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rioters in South Africa set a police vehicle on fire Tuesday and stoned vehicles near a Johannesburg university that has been the scene of sometimes violent protests by students demanding free education. The violence broke out in streets near the University of the Witwatersrand at around the same time that student protesters met and marched off the campus, South African media reported.

2 Ugandans arrested demonstrating for Trump at US embassy

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 16:36:50 UT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Two Ugandan opposition activists were arrested outside the U.S. Embassy while demonstrating their support for Donald Trump, a police official said Tuesday. Museveni is a U.S. ally on regional security, one reason many Ugandans believe the U.S. government is not eager to criticize Museveni's alleged rights violations at home.

Somali extremists kill 12 non-Muslims in northern Kenya

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 13:26:38 UT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Islamic extremist gunmen from neighboring Somalia killed 12 people in an attack on non-Muslims in Kenya's northern Mandera County, an official said Tuesday. The gunmen used grenades and homemade explosives to break into the guest house and then stormed in with guns, said Mohamed Saleh, Mandera's regional commander. Al-Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to Somalia since 2011 to fight the extremists, who are waging an insurgency against Somalia's weak, Western-backed government.

UN warns of 'alarming rise in hate speech' in South Sudan

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:19:51 UT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief warned Tuesday against the "alarming rise in hate speech and incitement to violence against certain ethnic groups" as fighting continues in South Sudan. Opposition fighters also put thousands of civilians in danger, Amnesty International said, entering U.N. civilian protection sites during clashes, potentially in an attempt to use people as human shields.

Al-Shabab claims attack on African Union base in Somalia

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:10:01 UT

Sheikh Abdiaziz Abu-Musab, the al-Shabab military spokesman, said the attack targeted the Djiboutian base in retaliation for "immorality and massacres" he said were committed by the troops, which are part of the African Union force fighting the extremists in Somalia. Despite being ousted from major strongholds across Somalia, al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, has been attacking military positions of Somali and African Union troops bolstering Somalia's government.

Ethiopian magazine stops publication amid state of emergency

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:31:04 UT

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopia's best-selling magazine says it is terminating its print edition because the state of emergency the government imposed this month is making regular publication "impossible." The Addis Standard said Tuesday it has become increasingly difficult to operate during the state of emergency, which has restricted some rights and given security forces the power to detain suspects without court orders.

South Sudan's army committed atrocities, Amnesty says

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:34:24 UT

Opposition fighters also put thousands of civilian lives in danger, according to Amnesty International, entering U.N. civilian protection sites during clashes, potentially in an attempt to use people inside as human shields. South Sudan's government has agreed to the formation of a hybrid court set up by the African Union to investigate war crimes committed during its civil war, which began in December 2013 and has killed tens of thousands.

Kenya police say 12 people killed in extremist attack in Kenya's northern Mandera County near the Somali border

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 05:38:42 UT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya police say 12 people killed in extremist attack in Kenya's northern Mandera County near the Somali border.

Kenyan president commutes all death sentences

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 23:38:19 UT

The president's press office said Monday that some 2,747 convicts on death row will now serve life sentences. Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International's regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes says the decision to commute all death sentences brings Kenya closer to the growing community of nations which have abolished the death penalty, calling it a cruel and inhuman form of punishment.

South African opposition says ICC withdrawal is illegal

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:13:36 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's main opposition party on Monday tried to block a government plan to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, saying the move is illegal and that the country's top court should intervene. The government acted unconstitutionally because it announced plans to withdraw from the human rights tribunal based in The Hague, Netherlands, without consulting the South African parliament, the Democratic Alliance party said in an affidavit asking the Constitutional Court to hear its case. Last week, South Africa notified the United Nations that it will withdraw from the treaty that created the International Criminal Court, alarming international human rights groups and raising fears of an African exodus from the court, which has more than 120 member states. [...] last week, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi signed legislation to withdraw from the ICC, which had said it would investigate political violence that followed Nkurunziza's decision last year to pursue a third term, which some have called unconstitutional. In May, a court in Senegal known as the Extraordinary African Chambers, set up by the African Union, found Habre guilty of torture, mass killing, war crimes and other violations and sentenced him to life in prison. South Africa's withdrawal announcement followed a dispute last year over a visit by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

ICC oversight chief calls on South Africa, Burundi to remain

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 20:53:38 UT

Kaba acknowledged criticism that the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, mostly prosecutes African nationals, adding "But we must also remember that these are African states that have applied to the court." Kaba spoke as South Africa's main opposition party criticized the government's decision last week to withdraw from the ICC, which has more than 120 member states.

China says hostages held by Somali pirates are freed

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:35:29 UT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Following more than four years in captivity, 26 Asian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates have been released from their captors, China's Foreign Ministry confirmed Monday. The 26 sailors will be repatriated to their home countries, John Steed, coordinator of the Hostage Support Partners for the U.S.-based organization Oceans Beyond Piracy, said in a statement. Most hostages held by Somali pirates have been sailors on merchant ships, although European families also have been kidnapped from their yachts while traveling in the dangerous waters.

Officers: 83 Nigerian soldiers missing in Boko Haram attack

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 18:20:44 UT

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Some 83 Nigerian soldiers are missing in action since Boko Haram Islamic extremists attacked a remote military base in the northeast, senior army officers said Sunday. The soldiers were unable to fight back and fled because Boko Haram had superior fire power, the officers told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give information to reporters. President Muhammadu Buhari promised to better arm Nigeria's military when he was elected in March 2015, blaming corruption for the deaths of thousands including soldiers in the 7-year-old Islamic insurgency that has killed more than 20,000 people. Military officers also are currently facing courts-martial for allegedly selling arms and ammunition to Boko Haram, indicating the corruption bedeviling the country's fight against the Islamic extremists continues despite government efforts to halt graft.

Somali extremists retake town in central Somalia

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 16:36:29 UT

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Islamic extremist rebels recaptured a town in central Somalia after African Union and Somali troops pulled out Sunday, according to residents. Despite being ousted from major strongholds across Somalia, al-Shabab, which is allied to al-Qaida, has recently been attacking military positions of Somali and African Union troops bolstering Somalia's government.

Burkina Faso police kill suspected extremist in capital

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 16:06:20 UT

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso's police director-general says a police squad has killed a suspected Islamic extremist after a shootout in the capital. Authorities months ago arrested some al-Qaida-linked extremists connected to a January attack in Ouagadougou that killed 30 people and the March assault in Ivory Coast that killed 19.

Thousands flock to Cameroon hospitals in search of family

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 15:55:21 UT

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Thousands of Cameroonians have flocked to hospitals in the country's two main cities on Sunday in search of corpses and survivors after an overloaded train derailed Friday, killing more than 70 people and injuring 600. A survivor who was travelling with my brother told me that no medical staff or rescue worker attended to him while he was trapped under the debris for 24 hours before he died. Government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said that security services were immediately mobilized to help the victims.

Widows of victims of Nigeria's Boko Haram say aid overdue

Sun, 23 Oct 2016 12:02:56 UT

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — After her husband was killed by a Boko Haram suicide bomber late last year, Hajjagana Mbasaru was forced to pull her children from school and rely on friends to feed them. Like other widows of civilians fighting the Islamic extremists in northern Nigeria, she spent long months waiting for any kind of government support. [...] last week, officials in northeastern Borno state stepped up with a small handout: two bags of rice and some beans. Often armed with only machetes, iron bars and batons, the men worked to round up suspected Boko Haram fighters and intercept suicide bombers. In addition to helping these families, Ahmad said officials hoped the food distribution program will motivate the civilian defense fighters who are still battling the extremists: "We believe it will help to boost the morale of those who are still active in the ongoing war against terrorism."

Cameroon train crash kills more than 70, injures 600

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 20:10:47 UT

ESEKA, Cameroon (AP) — Authorities in Cameroon rushed more than 600 injured people to hospitals in the country's two main cities Saturday in an effort to save lives a day after an overcrowded train derailed, killing more than 70 people. The injured were being taken to hospitals in the capital, Yaounde, and the port city where the train was heading, Douala, officials said, as the president declared Monday to be a national day of mourning. Rescue workers and medical staff at hospitals put the death toll at 73, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to speak to the press about the issue.

Mauritanian released from Guantanamo won't pursue complaints

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:40:37 UT

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — A Mauritanian who returned home Monday after being held at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 14 years says he will not file complaints against the United States or Mauritania. Ould Slahi attracted attention in 2015 with the publication of "Guantanamo Diary," the first and only memoir by a still-imprisoned Guantanamo detainee that became an international best seller.

Somali pirate says 26 Asian sailors freed after 4 years

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 17:22:35 UT

The 26 sailors "are currently in the safe hands of the Galmudug authorities and will be repatriated using a U.N. humanitarian flight shortly and then on to their home countries," John Steed, the coordinator of the Hostage Support Partners for the U.S.-based organization Oceans Beyond Piracy, said in a statement. Piracy off Somalia's coast was once a serious threat to the global shipping industry, but attacks have dropped dramatically in recent years after ships began carrying armed guards and European Union naval forces increased patrols. The majority of hostages held by Somali pirates have been sailors on merchant ships, though European families also have been kidnapped from their yachts while traveling in the dangerous Indian Ocean coastal waters.

Overloaded train derails in Cameroon, killing at least 53

Sat, 22 Oct 2016 01:20:15 UT

Volunteer rescue workers, family members and others at the scene gave first aid as those stranded and hurt cried for help in Eseka, where the trained derailed and damaged the rail lines about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of the capital, Yaounde. Health Minister Andre Mama Fouda, who flew to the scene with other officials, called on medical staff from neighboring towns to come and help and said that the government would take care of the injured.

Cameroon's transport minister says at least 53 people killed, 300 wounded in train derailment

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:39:58 UT

ESEKA, Cameroon (AP) — Cameroon's transport minister says at least 53 people killed, 300 wounded in train derailment .