The Gambia's ministers for finance, foreign affairs, trade and the environment have resigned from President Yahya Jammeh's government, according to ministry sources and state television

The resignations were announced on Tuesday less than a day after the country's Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle pulled out of a case filed by Jammeh seeking to stop the inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow.

Fagbenle said late on Monday that he could not hear the new case, dealing a blow to Jammeh's efforts to halt the inauguration of Barrow, who remains in Senegal.

Inside Story: Can a showdown be averted in Gambia?

The inauguration is scheduled for Thursday, when Barrow is expected to return from Senegal. 

"Given that the injunction affects me in my capacity as the chief justice, I will recuse myself from hearing it," he said.

"The motion therefore waits for the constitution of the Supreme Court or allow the judges to arrive in The Gambia."

Edward Gomez, a lawyer for Jammeh's party, conceded that it was "certainly not possible under these circumstances" to have an injunction barring Barrow from being sworn in.

On Tuesday, Morocco's Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar and a top secret service official arrived in The Gambian capital Banjul to hold talks with Jammeh, Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque reported from neighbouring Senegal.    

There have been talks of a possible asylum or exile for Jammeh to an African country, in exchange for him stepping down.

The small West African country has been plunged into political turmoil since Jammeh disputed Barrow's December election victory and refused to cede power.

Jammeh has lodged a challenge to the election result with The Gambia's Supreme Court and last week filed a fresh injunction to prevent the chief justice from swearing Barrow into office.

Last week the Supreme Court said Jammeh's challenge to the election result could not be heard for several months as it did not have a full bench, and the extra judges needed to hear the case were not available.

The Gambia relies on foreign judges, notably from Nigeria, to staff its courts due to a lack of its own trained professionals.

With tensions running high, Jammeh said on Sunday that he had spoken to Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and was adamant he would not budge until the Supreme Court had heard his challenge to the poll result.

"The so-called deadline of January 19, 2017, is not cast in stone and all parties shall await the outcome of the Supreme Court," he said on state television.

Leaders of neighbouring countries and the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, have repeatedly called on the long-serving strongman to leave office peacefully, so far to no avail.

As well as Sirleaf, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Ghana's President John Mahama, who left office 10 days ago, have appealed to Jammeh to step down twice in person, without success, most recently on Friday.

Barrow was the surprise guest at a Bamako summit over the weekend, where he was welcomed as a head of state and introduced to several world leaders.

On Sunday, a personal tragedy struck his family when his eight-year-old son Habibou died after being bitten by dogs, according to a family source.

The prospect of military intervention in The Gambia has even been floated in recent days, following declarations by the United Nations and African Union that boots on the ground could get the green light without a rapid resolution of the crisis.

The head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel said on Friday that ECOWAS would ask the Security Council to approve the deployment of troops to The Gambia if Jammeh continues to refuse to leave office.

On Friday, it was reported that the Nigerian military issued a memo to prepare 800 soldiers for a possible deployment in Gambia. There have also been reports that the Nigerian military has sought training and logistical support from British advisers before any military intervention. 

Before his inauguration on Thursday, Barrow's special adviser Mai Fatty read a statement on his behalf in Dakar, urging Gambians to "exercise restraint, observe the rule of law and not to respond to provocation".

Source: Aljazeera

17th Jan,2017

African leaders to visit Banjul to push Jammeh to go

West African leaders are to head to Gambia to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to hand over power after his election defeat last month, according to Nigeria's foreign minister.

Geoffrey Onyeama said on Monday Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari will visit Banjul, capital of Gambia, on Wednesday along with his Liberian counterpart Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ghana's former president John Dramani Mahama.
The decision came as West African leaders met in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, to decide on next steps in their mediation of the Gambia's political crisis.

Wednesday's meeting would "discuss with President Jammeh the imperative to respect the constitution", Onyeama said in a statement.

He said the talks "agreed on the determination to resolve the Gambian political crisis in a manner that at every step of the way conforms with the constitution ... and respects the will of the people of The Gambia".

Those involved in the crisis talks were concerned over worsening security, including a crackdown on the news media, which has seen a number of radio stations taken off air.
Last month, high-level regional talks in Banjul ended without resolution.
Jammeh, a former coup leader who has ruled the country for 22 years, initially accepted his defeat by opposition figure Adama Barrow in the December 1 election.

But a week later, he reversed his position, threatening to hang onto power despite a wave of regional and international condemnation.

Diplomats are concerned the impasse over the poll could escalate quickly into violence.

Separately, Jammeh fired 12 ambassadors after they called for him to step aside and allow Barrow to take power, a foreign ministry source told AFP news agency on Monday.
Gambia's ambassadors to China, Britain, Turkey, Senegal, and the US, as well as the country's permanent representative to the UN, were among those sacked after sending a letter asking Jammeh to leave in late December.

"The Gambia government has recalled 12 ambassadors after terminating their services," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"I do not know why President Yahya Jammeh terminated their services, but I can tell you that these are the ambassadors that congratulated and endorsed President-elect Adama Barrow for his election victory."
Source: Aljazeera
9th Jan, 2017

Alassane Ouattara dismisses security chiefs as PM quits

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has dismissed the heads of the army, police and gendarmes following a two-day army mutiny that stoked security fears in the country. 

Disgruntled soldiers demanding the payment of bonuses and wage increases began their revolt on Friday, seizing control of Bouake, the country's second largest city, before troops in military camps in cities and towns across the country joined the mutiny.

Army chief General Soumaila Bakayoko, Gervais Kouakou Kouassi, the superior commander of the National Gendarmerie and Director General of the National Police Bredou M'Bia were relieved of command with immediate effect, a presidential statement said on Monday.

The dismissals came hours after the resignation of Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan resigned and dissolved the government, a move that had been expected following last month's elections but was delayed by the army revolt.

"I have tendered my resignation and that of the government," Duncan said after a meeting with Ouattara.

The mutiny came to an end when the government reached a deal with the troops and former divided rebels.

December's presidential vote saw Ouattara winning a second consecutive time, maintaining his majority in the parliamentary polls. Legislative elections, however, are usually followed by a change of government as a matter of procedure.

Ouattara was expected to announce a new prime minister later on Monday.

Ivory Coast, French-speaking West Africa's largest economy, has emerged from a nine-year political crisis as one of the continent's rising economic stars.

However, years of conflict and a failure to reform its army, which includes former rebel fighters and government soldiers, have left it with an unruly force plagued by internal divisions.

Source: Aljazeera

9th Jan,2017

Zuma vows to unite South Africans as ANC leadership race begins

President Jacob Zuma has promised to address problems of corruption and infighting within the ruling ANC party. The ANC Women’s League said that they would back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as a presidential candidate.

We accept that we have made mistakes," Zuma, told ANC supporters during the African National Congress (ANC) 105th birthday celebration that took place in a stadium in the Soweto township on Sunday. "When leaders and members of the ANC are corrupt and steal they are betraying the values of the ANC, the people and our country. We will not allow this," he added.

The past two years have been tough for South Africa's largest party, which has built its reputation around its role in the anti-Apartheid struggle and the legacy of its former leader Nelson Mandela. Amidst student protests and strikes by the mining unions, the ANC leadership has been embroiled in multiple scandals including the use of state money to make luxury improvements on Zuma's private home in Nklandla. At the same time South Africa's public protector launched an investigation into the role of an Indian business family, the Guptas, in influencing the appointment of government posts.

In August South Africa's ruling party saw its lowest election results to date in local elections. The party lost control of major metropolitan areas like the capital Pretoria and Cape Town to the main opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Although Zuma himself has repeatedly rejected calls from the opposition as well as his own party members to step down, it is clear that his term is coming to an end. In December 2017, he plans to step down as party leader as the country prepares for presidential elections in 2019. In Sunday's speech, Zuma made a last effort to unite party members.

"The ANC will elect a new national leadership towards the end of the year," Zuma said. "Too often, comrades fight for leadership positions as they see leadership as the route to material and personal gain." He went on to say that instead of infighting, the ANC should rather focus on the common enemies which he said were unemployment, poverty and inequality.

In the question of who will succeed Zuma and will ultimately become the ANC's presidential candidate for 2019, African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and South Africa's vice president Cyril Ramaphosa are seen as the main contenders.

While neither of them has declared their intention to run for the post, the powerful ANC Women's League on Saturday pledged their support to Dlamini-Zuma. "We've been saying we want a woman president, we want a woman president and therefore yesterday we had to define what we want and the most suitable candidate and face of our campaign was comrade Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma," explained ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini.

Dlamini-Zuma formerly held the post of South Africa's health minister, foreign minister and home affairs minister in both the Mbeki and Zuma administrations, before becoming the first female head of the AU. She is also President Zuma's ex-wife.


9th January,2017

Tunisia beach attack: ‘Mastermind’ named

A BBC investigation has identified the man accused of organising the terror attack on a beach that killed 38 people in Tunisia.

Chamseddine al-Sandi is described as the "mastermind" behind the attack in documents obtained by Panorama.

He is named in confessions from suspects who were arrested in connection with the shootings.

Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on the beach and in the Imperial Hotel near Sousse in June 2015.

Rezgui was killed at the scene, but the documents obtained by Panorama say that he was recruited and directed by al-Sandi.

The confessions say al-Sandi ran a militant cell responsible for both the Sousse shootings and the attack three months earlier at the Bardo National Museum in which 22 people died. Both attacks were claimed by the so-called Islamic State.

The documents show how closely Rezgui worked with the Bardo gang - describing how he met with them in cafes and mosques in Tunis and how he trained alongside one of the Bardo gunmen in an IS camp in Libya.

According to the confessions, al-Sandi recruited the attackers, paid for them to go to Libya for training and gave them their orders.

Al-Sandi is now believed to be on the run in Libya. The Tunisian authorities have issued warrants for his arrest in connection with both the Bardo and Sousse attacks, but the documents obtained by Panorama reveal the extent of his alleged involvement for the first time.

Of the 38 people who were killed in Sousse in June 2015, 30 were British, three were from Ireland, two were German, one was from Russia, one was Belgian and one was from Portugal.

The inquests into the deaths of the British tourists starts next week. But the lawyer representing many of the families told Panorama that he was unaware of al-Sandi's involvement and had not seen his picture before.

"I have not seen that," said Demetrius Danas. "If you are right, and the families see that, they will be shocked to see the face of the man who caused them so much sadness."

Some of the families who were caught up in the Sousse attack have told Panorama that they were assured by tour operator Thomson that it was safe to travel to Tunisia.

Nicki Duffield said she rang Thomson repeatedly to check on the security situation after hearing about the Bardo museum attack.

"I was just constantly asking: 'Are we going to be safe, can you guarantee we are going to be safe?'" she said. "We were definitely told that there would be increased security."

Alison Caine also called Thomson because she was worried about going to Tunisia.

She said: "We called them after Bardo to make sure that it was still safe to travel and they reassured us it was and security had been stepped up. But I just wanted to make sure again the following month so we called them again just to double-check."

Ms Caine said she felt reassured by Thomson: "Everything was fine, it was safe to travel. They were not doing any refunds or transfers."

The families say they were told by the tour operator that if they cancelled they wouldn't get their money back.

TUI, the travel company that owns Thomson, said it wants to understand the specific circumstances that led to the killings.

"We are cooperating fully with the Coroner and will continue to do so, in order to help ensure that the tragic deaths of those killed can be thoroughly investigated, the relevant facts determined and any lessons learned."

The company said it would be inappropriate to comment further before the inquests but it doesn't accept the accuracy of all the statements that have been made.

Source: BBC

9th January,2017

Calm restored in Ivory Coast after mutiny ends

Calm has returned to cities in the Ivory Coast after a deal between the government and soldiers ended a two-day revolt. Soldiers launched the uprising to demand improved pay and working conditions.

Shops reopened and traffic resumed in Ivory Coast's second-largest city, Bouake, on Sunday after mutinying soldiers agreed to head back to their barracks.

The revolt kicked off Friday when soldiers demanding pay rises, housing and improved working conditions seized the city, putting up roadblocks and firing their weapons into the air. From Bouake, the uprising quickly spread to other cities around the country, including the economic capital Abidjan.

Deal reached

Defense ministry officials met with the mutiny leaders late Saturday and reached an agreement aimed to address soldiers' demands and end the unrest.

"We have cleared the corridors everywhere as promised and we have been in barracks since last night," Sergeant Mamadou Kone told Reuters. "All over the country all our men have returned to barracks and wait for their money. The mutiny is over for us."

He added that the soldiers expected to be paid on Monday under the deal brokered by Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi. Following the negotiations, the minister was briefly detained by rogue soldiers in a tense standoff before he was released. On returning to Abidjan on Saturday night, Donwahi said all bonus arrears would be paid.

"We are aware that there are many problems to resolve... I can assure you that we will keep our commitments but they too should keep theirs," he said.

While the terms of the deal haven't been made public, sources close to the negotiations said the soldiers had demanded 5 million CFA francs ($8,000; 7,500 euros) each.

Years of conflict and failure to reform an army made up of former rebel fighters and government soldiers has left debilitating divisions in the West African nation.

This week's uprising follows another, almost identical revolt in 2014 in which hundreds of soldiers blocked roads in cities across the country to protest their pay. Following that unrest, the government agreed to a financial settlement and amnesty from punishment for the mutineers.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara entered office in 2011 after a postelection civil war that claimed over 3,000 lives. The crisis was triggered by former President Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to accept defeat and step down. Gbagbo was eventually arrested and turned over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague where his trial began a year ago for crimes against humanity.

Source: DW

9th January,2017

Ghana: Nana Akufo-Addo caught up in plagiarism row

The office of Nana Akufo-Addo issued an apology on Sunday after the new Ghanaian president was accused of lifting passages from speeches by Bill Clinton and George W Bush during his inaugural address to the nation.

Not long after his swearing-in ceremony on Saturday in the capital Accra, social media users started pointing out similarities between Akufo-Addo's speech and those delivered by the two ex-US presidents.

"Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us," Akufo-Addo said.

It echoed Clinton's 1993 inauguration speech: "Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. And Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. We must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who come before us."

In another instance, Akufo-Addo said: "I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation."

In his 2001 inaugural speech, Bush said: "I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building communities of service and a nation of character."

The presidency's communication director acknowledged the plagiarism and offered an apology.

"I unreservedly apologise for the non-acknowledgement of this quote to the original author. It was a complete oversight, and never deliberate," Eugene Arhin said, according to DPA news agency.

Akufo-Addo, a 72-year-old former human rights lawyer, defeated incumbent John Dramani Mahama in elections last month.

In September, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also issued an apology for plagiarising quotes from US President Barack Obama in a speech promising change in the West African country.

Buhari's office said at the time a paragraph in the speech urging Nigerians not to fall back "on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country so long" was copied from Obama's victory speech after his election in November 2008.

"It was observed that the similarities between a paragraph in President Obama's 2008 victory speech and what President Buhari read in paragraph nine of the 16-paragraph address ... are too close to be passed as coincidence," Buhari's office said in a statement.

Source : Aljazeera

9th January,2017

German development minister apologizes for comments about African men

Gerd Müller found himself in hot water after implying that all African men spend their money on alcohol and prostitutes. Müller said he was sorry for his "not very nuanced" comments.

Germany's Development Minister Gerd Müller apologized on Tuesday for making offensive comments about African men. Speaking from a UN climate change conference in Morocco, Müller said "I'm sorry, my statement was not very nuanced."

In a speech to conservative politicians, which was picked up by Germany's satirical news program the "Heute Show," the minister accused African men of being lazy drug addicts.

"When an African woman earns 100 dollars…she brings 90 dollars home. When an African man earns 100 dollars…what does he bring home? 30 dollars. You can be sure of what he uses the rest for: alcohol, boozing, drugs, women of course," said the member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU).

Müller was excoriated on social media, not only for his racist statements, which he claimed were meant to empower women, but for the perceived absurdity of a development minister conflating all African countries with a single unit.

"This is repulsive racism, thinly disguised as pseudoscience. Such comments are not worthy of a cabinet minister," said Social Democrat (SPD) lawmaker Katarina Barley.

This is the second such faux-pas made by conservative German lawmakers in recent weeks, with EU finance minister-designate Günter Oettinger slammed for calling a delegation of Chinese diplomats "slant eyes" and implying that political correctness run amok would lead to "compulsory gay marriage."

7th January, 2017

Source: DW

Drought in East Africa leaves millions in need of aid

Failed crops, emaciated cattle, and food shortages are just some of the challenges facing people in East Africa as they struggle with drought. Meteorologists say it is about to get even worse.

Wherever he looks, Burhan Semakula sees misery and hardship. "The crops have withered. It is very difficult to get hold of food. The livestock are also suffering and we are having to move them in order to protect them from the drought," he said.

Semakula is a teacher in Uganda's Luwero district, where 85 percent of the inhabitants live off the land. But that isn't possible without rainfall. "Our food is running out," he said.

The rest of the country is also feeling the impact of the drought. "If nothing is done, it will have an adverse effect on economic growth," Ugandan Finance Minister Matia Kasaija warned. The food shortage is also putting a strain on the national budget. "Perhaps we will have to cut back on other areas, so that no Ugandan dies of hunger," he said.

Around 34 million Africans have been hit by drought. The situation in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia is particularly precarious. Twelve million need food aid and all three countries have experienced devastation wreaked by El Nino's extreme weather patterns. "This has created a humanitarian crisis," said Shukri Ahmed from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). "The current drought is expected to aggravate the already difficult situation," he warned.

The drought is expected to become even more severe in the coming months, and the number of people suffering from hunger is set to rise accordingly. A new drought is forecast for parts of Kenya in 2017. There hasn't been any proper rainfall in some areas for more than year. "Cities in northeastern Kenya, such as Garissa, Wajir or Mandera, are among the worst affected regions," said development expert Titus Mung'ou. "Pastoralists there have lost more than 100,000 head of cattle."

Double blow

Northern Kenya is one of the country's poorer regions and most inhabitants depend on their livestock in order to survive. The drought has dealt them a double blow. Their herds have been weakened by hunger, and they are therefore unable to sell them at an adequate price. Prices are dropping because more and more pastoralists are putting livestock on the market. Meanwhile, the drought is forcing up the price of food, adding to their misery.

n Ethiopia, five million people are in need of aid. The drought is impinging on people's lives there in multiple ways, including schooling. Negash Ullala from the educational authority in Guji has had to close down two schools, as it was difficult to keep classes going when people were leaving. "The pastoralists who lived in this area moved with their children to find water and grass for their cattle." A total of 52,000 children in 186 schools have been affected by the drought.

Need to adapt 

Aid organizations say time is running out. They want to tackle the crisis by supplying seed, food aid or water for the livestock. But long-term assistance is also needed. Extreme weather conditions are recurring more often than in the past because of climate change.

"We are trying to find ways to alert the pastoralists to what is happening. They are going to have to adapt to the changing climatic conditions," said development expert Titus Mung'ou from Kenya. That includes stocking up on reserve supplies during the rainy season. Access to seed and fertilizer is also important. "Climate scientists should be working closely with the pastoralists," he said.              

7th January,2017

Source: DW


Berlin says it is unruffled by US lawsuit on colonial-era genocide

Namibian indigenous groups filed a lawsuit against Germany in a US court on Thursday, demanding compensation for genocide by German colonial troops in the early 1900s. Berlin appears unperturbed.

Germany's special envoy for dialogue with Namibia, Ruprecht Polenz, told DW that he was "not surprised" by a lawsuit filed by Namibian activists in a US court on Thursday.

The class-action suit, filed by Herero Paramount Chief Vekuii Rukoro and his Nama counterpart David Frederick, seeks reparations from the present German government for genocide carried out by German colonial troops in what is now Namibia more than a century ago.

Rukoro and Frederick are also demanding that their representatives be included in ongoing talks between Germany and Namibia, which are aiming for a joint declaration on their common past.

Polenz said that the lawsuit would not have any impact on the dialogue between the two governments at this stage.

"From the German government's point of view, the question of how to deal with the crimes that were committed between 1904 and 1908 is a political and moral question, but not a legal one," he told DW. "We are negotiating with the Namibian government about the political and moral consequences," he said.

It also remains to be seen whether the US court will have the necessary jurisdiction to deal with the suit.

The two plaintiffs are suing the German government under the Alien Tort Statute, a 1789 law often invoked in human rights cases. However, the US Supreme Court narrowed the law's reach in 2013, deciding that it was presumed not to cover foreign conduct unless the claims sufficiently "touch and concern" the United States.

The activists' lawyer, Kenneth McCallion, told Reuters that the Supreme Court ruling did "leave the door open" for US courts to assert jurisdiction in genocide cases.

Up to 90,000 Herero and Nama are believed to have been killed by German Imperial troops in the early 1900s in what was then the German colony of South-West Africa. Successive German governments have refused to accept the atrocities as genocide. The present government only agreed to the description genocide in 2015, reversing its earlier position.

The dialogue between Germany and Namibia includes discussions about an official apology for the genocide. However, Germany has publicly ruled out paying reparations directly to present members of the Herero and Nama ethnic groups. It has hinted, though, that it would be willing to pay Namibia compensation from which the entire population would benefit.

Paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro rejects this proposal. His lawyer Kenneth McCallion told Reuters that his client was "concerned that a trickle-down theory of some compensation or an increase in foreign aid to the Namibian government might not directly go to the victims and the descendants of the victims which are the indigenous communities themselves."

Speaking to DW, German envoy Ruprecht Polenz insisted that it was right that the German government ruled out direct compensations even before negotiations were concluded. 

"The expectations of the negotiations were fraught with such perspectives from the start", he told DW. "The fact is that after World War II, Germany only paid personal reparations to individuals who personally suffered in the concentration camps or were forced to do slave labor."
German opposition member of parliament Niema Movassat of "Die Linke" (The Left) party said the lawsuit was the "consequence" of the German government's refusal to enter into direct negotiations with the Herero and Nama.

"It is absurd to exclude a certain community from negotiations about a genocide that affected them. It is understandable that the people do not feel taken seriously," he told DW.

7th January, 2017

Source: DW


Soldiers launch mutinies in three Ivory Coast cities

Demobilised soldiers in the Ivory Coast have launched mutinies in three cities, bringing the threat of unrest back to Africa's fastest-growing economy. 

While the ex-soldiers have not yet stated their specific demands, the West African nation's defence minister, Alain-Richard Donwahi, said on Friday they were demanding salary increases and the payment of bonuses. 

The unrest began in Bouake, the country's second-largest city and onetime rebel stronghold, where heavy weapons fire was heard in the streets before spreading to two other major urban centres of Daloa and Korhogo. 

Gunfire also reportedly erupted at a military camp in the western town of Daloa on Friday.

Al Jazeera's Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar in Senegal, said regular soldiers have now joined the ranks of rebel soldiers to take control of Bouake, after they seized weapons from police stations on Thursday night and took up positions at entry points into the city. 

"These are former soldiers that were part of an ECOWAS force trying to maintain peace in Liberia ... Then they returned back to Ivory Coast where there was also a civil war and played a role to maintain peace and order in the country," he said.

"Now they are saying they weren't paid for their services." 

The city was the seat of a rebellion that controlled the northern half of the country from 2002 until Ivory Coast was reunited following a civil war in 2011.

"In Bouake during the civil war we saw heavy bombardment from government authorities. We saw mass graves," said Haque. 

"There are a lot of young men with arms there," he continued, adding people in the city were unhappy with their current living situation. 

Heavy shooting was heard at about 2am before later easing, residents said, and sporadic gunfire continued into the late morning.

"The city is under the control of former [soldiers]," an army officer told Reuters news agency.

"There are many of them at the north and south entrances to the city. We are on alert and await instructions from the hierarchy."

An officer at the West African nation's military headquarters in the commercial capital Abidjan said reinforcements had been sent to Bouake.

"The situation remains unstable and serious," he said.

Both Laurent Gbagbo, then the incumbent, and his rival Alassane Ouattara claimed victory in the 2010 election and the country quickly descended into turmoil.

Gbagbo was captured in April 2011 by forces loyal to Ouattara and delivered to the International Criminal Court charged with crimes against humanity. Ouattara was sworn in as president a month later.

Residents stayed indoors and businesses in Bouake remained closed on Friday morning.

"The city is deserted. Men in balaclavas are patrolling the city on motorcycles or in cars. They aren't attacking residents ... They told us to stay at home," said Ami Soro, a teacher living in Bouake.

Meanwhile a Daloa resident - speaking by telephone from a cocoa processing factory near the army camp - said the sound of weapons firing was continuing on Friday.

"There is gunfire at the second battalion [base] in Daloa. It's young demobilised soldiers," the resident said.

There was no clear sign of a link between the Bouake events and outbreak of shooting in Daloa, but the fact that the rebels were also demobilised soldiers could indicate the uprising was spreading.

In November 2014, a strike by former rebels who had joined the army ground the country to a standstill after spreading to Abidjan from Bouake.

The nearly 9,000 strikers, who joined the army between 2009 and 2011, were demanding full payment of back pay and promotions. The government agreed to a financial settlement with the soldiers, who returned to barracks. 

7th January, 2017

Source: Aljazeera

G20 summit: 'a disappointment for Africa


"We have 10 times more direct investment in the European Union than we have in the whole of Africa," Chancellor Angela Merkel told leaders at the G20 summit. So could African countries benefit from the G20 meeting?

Economic growth and international trade were the main talking points of the gathering of the world's 20 strongest economies in Hangzhou, China. While South Africa is the only African member of the G20, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out on the topic of investment in Africa. "There is an urgent need for direct investment in African countries because this cannot be shouldered by official development aid alone," she said. DW talked to Robert Kappel, a researcher at the Global Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), about Germany's economic interests in Africa.

DW: Why hasn't there been enough foreign direct investment for Africa?

Robert Kappel: First of all, the European Union's investment in Africa is really strong but in recent years, China is getting much more important and so are other countries. There is a hesitation on the European side regarding investment in Africa because of civil unrest, because of fragility and wars and in the past yearsonly a few countries benefited from stronger investment through enterprises. For instance, Ethiopia or Kenya and some countries in East Africa benefited more. The growth rates in some parts of the African continent are quite high, so it's beneficial for European investors to be on the ground and invest in those countries.

What do you make of the timing of Chancellor Merkel's calls for more foreign direct investment in Africa and the need to revise the rules?

The timing is really interesting because German investors are very hesitant and Merkel now sees that China has taken a lead position on the African continent. So Germany is now a little behind and sees that other countries and other enterprises are more important on the African continent. She sees that German industry needs a bigger market in Africa and needs resources from African countries for its own development. She realizes that Germany as an exporting nation cannot avoid the African continent.

Do you think the Chancellor's message was aimed at the German investors who in recent years have been reluctant to invest in other parts of Africa apart from South Africa due to concerns like security and taxes?

It's somehow a wakeup call. She's calling on the German industry to take a lead again and there is a certain idea in German industry and government circles, that Germany needs more investors in Africa. But there is also a certain idea of solidarity and of corporation with Africa because Africa needs much more investment. It needs money from industrialized countries and Germany as a major power in Europe could be one of the main actors on the African continent, without starting another scramble for Africa.


How significant is the African continent at the G20 summit. Will leaders be able to tackle some issues that affect both Africa and the rest of the world?

No, the G20 summit is very disappointing. The summit has not tackled the problems of sustainable development, it has no ideas on how to solve the refugee crisis in Africa, it has no ideas of moderating the problems of the climate change and it has no ideas on how to support Africa's structural transformation. All the measures taken at the G20 summit were just oriented towards the development of the G20 nations, the OECD countries and some other countries. For example, they talk about more growth because the growth rates in European countries, in OECD countries are very sluggish. They try to boost growth by organizing more cheap money for the investors - but cheap money without any interest rates for European countries is against investors in Africa who have to pay much higher interest rates to organize their industrial development. And there are many, many other topics which are not in favor of Africa.

Robert Kappel is President Emeritus and a senior researcher at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA).

Interview: Isaac Mugabi

Source : DW News

Face-off between Zuma loyalists and critics at ANC headquarters


#OccupyLuthuliHouse was the social media slogan that critics of South African president Jacob Zuma used to rally people to their party headquarters in central Johannesburg. The group came to present the party leadership with a petition for Zuma's immediate resignation as both head of state and ANC president. At the ANC headquarters, the small group of less than 100 protesters was however met by the veterans of the ANC's former military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, its youth wing and its womens' league who vowed to "defend" the party and its president.

The protests and the face-off outside the party headquarters in South Africa's biggest city show the deep divisions within the ANC. For the last year, President Zuma has been the center of a series of scandals ranging from the financing of upgrades of his private home in Nkandla, to his connections to the influential businessmen from the Gupta family. While criticism from both within and outside the ANC had grown, recent municipal elections showed just how far the ANC's popularity had dropped, as the party lost control of major urban centers including Johannesburg.

Deep divisions

"We lost because of the corruption of Jacob Zuma," one frustrated ANC member told news agencies. "We need a leadership who doesn't promote corruption."

Sasoma Bungani, one of the "Occupy Luthuli House" organizers also noted that the protesters were there to show their disappointment over what he described as the ANC's internal war. "We have realized that those internal processes are not going to work for us, hence one of our demands is that the ANC's National Executive Committee, because it is failing to hold the President accountable and that has led to our demise in the elections, should all resign because they have failed to play their role."

Zuma loyalists on the other hand said that they would defend Zuma until his term came to an end. "Who's got the proof that Zuma is corrupt? He's my president until the end of his term," one Zuma loyalist said.

Kebby Maphotsoe, national chairperson of the ANC's military veterans association, argued that the veterans had fought for freedom and would not allow this freedom to be undermined, least of all unruly party members who he viewed as invaders of Luthuli House: "We want to call up the leadership here in Gauteng Province to take steps to really discipline these comrades because they are behaving in an undisciplined manner."

Dressed in military uniform the veterans only calmed down when ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe addressed the group. "You have done what you should do, defending your organisation, defending your headquarters that is good enough," Mantashe said. "Don't do something that will give them publicity."

Mantashe then proceeded to the protesters and received their memorandum.

Who should take over?


Analyst and former ANC politician, Andrew Feinstein, sees the party's leadership struggle as the main force crippling the ANC at the moment. "The problem is that a lot of people within the ANC who are disgruntled with Zuma have actually left the organization," Feinstein told DW. "So the organization is shrinking in numbers, but the majority of members who have stayed within the organization have stayed loyal to Jacob Zuma." Gauteng Province, which encompasses the capital Pretoria and Johannesburg, is an exception, he explained, which is why the protest took place there.

Besides, Zuma's leadership qualities, Feinstein explained, there is of course a great deal of internal jostling over who could be the president's successor. Possible candidates could include Zuma's ex-wife and former chair of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and South Africa's deputy president and former unionist, Cyril Ramaphosa. It is however questionable whether either option would bring about a true reform within the party.

Source: DW News


Ethiopia fire kills 23 at prison 'holding Oromo protesters'


At least 23 inmates have died after a fire at an Ethiopian prison where anti-government protesters are reportedly being held, the government has said.

A government statement says 21 died of suffocation after a stampede while two others were killed as they tried to escape.

Some local media have disputed the account, citing unnamed witnesses who say prisoners were shot by the wardens.

There has been an unprecedented wave of protests in Ethiopia in recent months.

The identity of the prisoners has not been made public.

Sustained gunfire could be heard coming from Qilinto prison, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, after the fire broke out on Saturday, local media reported.

TV footage and photos posted on social media showed plumes of smoke rising from the prison compound.

Reports that the fire was started deliberately as part of an attempted jailbreak have not been independently verified.

There have been numerous protests in the Oromia region by members of the country's largest ethnic group since November 2015.

Inside Qilinto prison by Tesfalem Waldyes

Qilinto is a remand prison, where people can be held for three years or more as they await trial.

The prison is divided in four zones made up of brick walls and tin-roofed cells.

The prison hosts around 3,000 inmates at a time who are held in cells measuring 24m by 12m. Each cell holds between 90 and 130 inmates.

It is a highly secured prison with surveillance cameras installed on many corners.

All types of prisoners are held there but it is where political prisoners including bloggers, journalists and activists are usually sent.

Political prisoners usually mix with other criminals but they are usually locked up in a designated "Kitat Bet" (punishment house) or "dark house" if they complain about mistreatment.

Inmates can be exposed to communicable diseases due to overcrowding and get poor medical attention.


Due to the bad quality of food provided by the prison administration, prisoners mainly depend on food brought by their families.

Tesfalem Waldyes is an Ethiopian journalist who was held in Qilinto prison for a year before being released in July 2015.

Many Oromo activists are being held at the Qilinto facility, according to pro-opposition media.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says that more than 400 people have been killed in clashes with the security forces in Oromia, although the government disputes this figure.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has blamed "anti-peace forces" for the violence.

Gabon violence: Two killed amid protests over re-election of Ali Bongo


Two people have been killed in overnight clashes between demonstrators and security forces in Gabon's capital Libreville after disputed elections.

The deaths bring the number killed to five following a second day of violence.

Security forces in Gabon have arrested more than 1,000 people since the presidential vote.

Protests began after Wednesday's announcement that President Ali Bongo had narrowly been re-elected.

Voting is compulsory in Gabon, but it is not enforced; even in Australia where it is enforced, where you can vote by post or online and can be fined for not voting, turnout only reaches 90-95%.

The main reason that a full turnout is practically impossible is that electoral registers, even if they are recently compiled, can rarely be 100% up-to-date.

Even if no-one gets sick or has to travel, people still die. And when a register is updated, new voters are keen to add themselves to the list.

No-one, however, has any great enthusiasm for removing the names of those who have died, and over time the number of these non-existent voters increases.

How to spot signs of possible election rigging

The UN, which has expressed "deep concern" over the escalation of violence, joined the US and former colonial power France in calls for restraint and greater transparency about the election results.

I know who has won and who has lost," Mr Bongo told local media.

"Who has won? 1.8m Gabonese with whom we will progress together. Who has lost? A small group which had the objective of taking power to use Gabon instead of serving it."

Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya said on Thursday that 800 people had been arrested in Libreville and 400 in other areas of the country.

Thursday saw a second day of rioting, with police using tear gas to prevent crowds gathering at the national assembly building which was earlier set on fire by protesters.

Meanwhile, President Bongo's rival Jean Ping told the BBC that a presidential guard helicopter had bombed his headquarters and killed two people.

He has gone into hiding and is said to be safe.

    Mr Bongo  took office in 2009 after an election marred by violence

 He succeeded his father Omar Bongo who had come to power in 1967 and was Africa's longest serving   leader.

 Veteran diplomat Mr Ping had served as chair of the African Union

 He had been a close ally of Omar Bongo and had been his foreign minister . He had two children with Omar Bongo's daughter, Pascaline

The official election result from Saturday's election gave Mr Bongo a second seven-year term with 49.8% of the vote to Mr Ping's 48.2% - a margin of 5,594 votes.

But Mr Ping said the vote was fraudulent.

He cited the result in Mr Bongo's home province of Haut-Ogooue, where turnout was 99.93% and 95% of votes were for the president.

Mr Bongo took office in 2009 after an election marred by violence, succeeding his father Omar Bongo who had come to power in 1967.

Mr Ping had been a close ally of Omar Bongo, serving him in ministerial roles and having two children with his daughter, Pascaline, a former Gabonese foreign minister.

Tension between Tanzania's 'bulldozer' president and opposition


John Magufuli has been harassing the opposition and closing down newspapers and radio stations. Unsurprisingly this style of leadership has drawn criticism, but that is only half the story.

Not so long ago, John Pombe Magufuli, was basking in praise. Since his election in November, he has been cracking down on corruption and official waste. Air travel for government officials has been scrapped. He even abolished the Independence Day celebrations. His name became synonymous with cost-cutting measures. #WhatWouldMugufuliDo contained all manner of hints on how to scrimp and save.

But the president himself - known as "Bulldozer" since his days in office as a dynamic minister of works - is increasingly attracting attention by adopting undemocratic, authoritarian measures. Political rallies have been banned. Newspapers and radio stations critical of the government have been closed down. Live broadcasts of parliamentary proceedings have been halted, allegedly because of the need to economize.

Tanzania expert Ben Taylor sees no inconsistencies here and says Magufuli is merely sticking to his agenda. "I think the president has a genuine commitment to try to clamp down on corruption, tax evasion, inefficiency and waste within government," Taylor told DW.

Magufuli and his supporters are convinced that the whole country must unite behind him. "Inconvenient issues like freedom of speech, public debate are seen as detracting people from the focus of government and the population as a whole," Taylor added.

'We are here to work'

It is a policy that has the approval of many Tanzanians. Many are more interested in results rather than in the methods that Magufuli employs to achieve them, said Richard Shaba from Germany's Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Dar es Salam.

However, Magufuli's tendency of making statements in public without explaining them properly can cause problems. "Even the famous one 'Hapa kazi tu' (We are here to work) is not elaborated [upon], people are left to [find] their definitions which is not good," Shaba said.

Last week, Magufuli's clampdown took its most draconian turn so far. Six politicians from the opposition Chadema party were temporarily arrested. In spite of a police ban on political party meetings, Chadema had intended to stage protests against the government on Thursday (01.09.2016). However, the protests were postponed for one month at the last moment.

Magufuli still popular

Chadmea said it wants to await the outcome of mediation efforts by religious leaders in order to avoid violent confrontation. Ben Taylor suspects that the opposition simply lacks sufficient support for protests among the population. "There is no doubt that Magufuli remains extremely popular within Tanzania," he said. There is growing criticism of him, but that hasn't dented his popularity.

Opinion about Magufuli is divided, Shaba said. "The donor community started off by saying 'we have the man we were looking for' but today they're divided, they're not sure, and some are reserved. You have the political parties in general; they don't feel they are getting a fair deal. You have the man on the street, who feels that for the first time that the big and the mighty are forced to obey the law, or at least calm down, or are forced to listen."

Zimbabwe marred by unrest, businesses call for end to protests


Businesses in Zimbabwe have raised concerns about the damage to property following Wednesday's failed stay-at-home protest. The ruling ZANU-PF party blames foreign embassies for the unrest.

It was business as usual in central Harare on Wednesday and major services were in operation. Many had anticipated an outbreak of violence following calls by civil society activists to shut down the country. However, many Zimbabweans did not heed the calls.

Zimbabwe has witnessed a rise in social unrest in the last four months as citizens increasingly speak out against President Robert Mugabe's government. But critics say the civic movements and opposition parties lack good strategies when organizing their protests.

"All is not well in the Zimbabwean systems; be it on the part of the ruling party or of the opposition," said political analyst Alexander Rusero. Rusero criticized the civil society groups behind the protest movements for failing to unite themselves against the ruling party.

"If someone would seize this opportune moment, then we are going to have a revolution in Zimbabwe," he said. Rusero believes President Mugabe will continue to remain in power as long as the organizers of protests fail to bridge the divide among themselves.

Business losses

Last Friday, demonstrations held in the capital Harare turned extremely violent. The police interrupted a peaceful rally organized by opposition parties, in spite of a court order allowing the demonstration to go ahead.

The opposition parties had organized the rally to petition the government on electoral reforms ahead of the 2018 elections. They accuse President Mugabe of having used skewed electoral laws to steal previous elections.

Property worth thousands of euros (dollars) was destroyed and looted as the police used teargas and water cannon to disperse the protest. Small businesses complain that frequent clashes with the police are ruining trade.

"We work with people in offices, normally," said Simbarashe Chitagu, who runs a taxi business in central Harare. "We definitely know that there is no business for us when they call for a strike or a stay away."

Zimbabwe's economy is in distress. More than 80% of the population is unemployed and the majority of them work in the informal sector to make ends meet.

Speaking to DW, President of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers, Denford Mutashu, said the people involved in the protest movements should put property and the interests of businesses first.


"Direct loss due to destruction and vandalism amounts to hundreds of thousands of US dollars," Mutashu said. "This is not the Zimbabwe we want. We want a peaceful environment, where business thrives."

Call for dialogue

On Tuesday, the European Union (EU) delegation to Zimbabwe urged the government and civil society groups to condemn any form of violence in the strongest manner.

"We call on all parties involved [to understand] the importance of constitutional rights and freedoms which have to be upheld by everybody including the police force," EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Philippe Van Damme, said.

But President Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party played down the social unrest and accused foreign embassies of sponsoring those behind the protests to rise up against the government.

In an interview with DW, ZANU-PF deputy spokesperson, Psychology Maziwisa, said opposition parties had failed in their efforts to use these protest movements to oust the government.

"The shutdowns have been a clear and palpable failure on the part of the opposition," Maziwisa said. "It has exposed them as failures that are unable to organize and mobilize the people and are incapable of winning the 2018 elections."

Source: DW News

Gabon election 2016: Jean Ping demands a recount Jean Ping demands a recount under supervision of international monitors, as fresh clashes rock capital city.


Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping has demanded a recount after incumbent President Ali Bongo was declared winner of a knife-edge presidential election in the West African nation.

Loud explosions and gunfire could be heard in the Nkembo neighbourhood of the capital Libreville on Thursday, witnesses said, as security forces clashed with angry Ping supporters.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Libreville, Ping said the result was "a joke".

"Everybody inside and outside the country knows that I'm the winner. There is no doubt about that. All the European observers know that," Ping said.

"That man [Bongo], I believe, is used to cheating, always. And the population is not accepting this type of remake of cheating every seven years," the opposition leader added.

"What we are asking is, under the supervision of the international community, to count ballot by ballot, bureau by bureau. And then you will see that the margin is so big that he cannot win. It's as simple as that."

The Reuters news agency reported that rioting had erupted in at least nine different suburbs of the capital on Thursday, citing witnesses and a police source.

As the violence spread, France called on the government of the former French colony to release details of local vote tallies after the claims of rigging.

"The election result must be perfectly clear and transparent," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on RMC radio, adding that the election results should be published bureau by bureau.

 "We've never seen results like this, even in the father's time"

Overnight on Thursday, security forces attacked the opposition headquarters in Libreville, Ping said, wounding several people.

"The presidential guard plus some mercenaries and the police, after 1am, bombed my headquarters. They destroyed everything, and we have now two deaths and several people injured."

Bongo won 49.80 percent of Saturday's vote against 48.23 percent for Ping, a narrow margin of only 5,594 votes of a total 627,805 registered voters.

Fires and explosions


Moments after the poll results were announced by the interior ministry on Wednesday, anti-government protesters shouting "Ali must go!" tried to storm the offices of the election commission.

Later on Wednesday the country's parliament building was partially set on fire.

Al Jazeera's Catherine Soi, reporting from the electoral commission compound in Libreville, said Ping's camp would not accept the result.

"Protesters came right outside this compound, many of them lighting tyres and chanting anti-government songs," she said.

"They were dispersed by the police," she said, adding that explosions could be heard in the distance.

Earlier, clouds of smoke and tear gas could be seen over parts of the city where clashes were taking place.

By nightfall, protesters vented their fury by setting fire to the parliament building, sending skyward a plume of flames and black smoke, witnesses and AFP news agency correspondents said.

Fires were visible in other parts of Libreville and explosions were heard as protesters faced off against heavily armed security forces.

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies

EU calls for more transparency in Gabon elections

The European Union said on Thursday that the official announcement of election results in Gabon had plunged the African country into a "deep crisis" and said that verification of each polling station result was required.

"It is important that all actors reject violence and call for calm. Any protest must be peaceful means to prevent the burning of the country; the police must react responsibly," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

"Confidence in the election results can only be restored by a transparent verification polling station by polling station," she continued.

Demonstrators have clashed with police and set part of the parliament building on fire as anger boiled over among opposition supporters at President Ali Bongo's re-election in polls that his main rival, Jean Ping, claimed to have won.

The European Union, Mogherini said, was in contact with its partners, particularly in Africa, to promote a peaceful solution to the crisis.

(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Source: Reuters

Nigeria targets officials accused of stealing food from Boko Haram victims


By Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered police to arrest and make an example of government officials accused of stealing food aid intended for victims of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, the president's spokesman said on Thursday.

The Nigerian Senate last week launched an investigation into allegations of food aid being stolen and sold by state officials in Borno state, where aid agencies have warned of starvation, malnutrition and dwindling food supplies for the displaced.

"The president has asked the Inspector General of the police to catch some of these alleged thieves, to look out for them and make public examples of them," Buhari's spokesman, Garba Shehu, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Public outcry was sparked in April when photos posted on social media appeared to show food aid on sale in shops. The items had logos of aid agencies, leading many to believe they had been diverted by state officials in camps for the displaced.

Hundreds of people displaced by Boko Haram militants last week left their camps to stage a protest in Maiduguri, Borno's capital, to demand more aid, accusing officials of stealing food rations.

Protesters said they wanted to receive food aid directly, rather than through state-run feeding committees in the camps.

However, the government of Borno state dismissed the allegations of theft, and said they were politically motivated ahead of general and presidential elections in 2019.

"There are some politicians exploiting the IDP (internally displaced persons) situation for political purposes, by spreading rumors about food stealing," said Isa Gusau, spokesman for the state governor, Kashim Shettima.

"It is radically difficult to divert food," he said, adding that the international aid agencies involved in the distribution of aid would have spoken out if they had noticed any wrongdoing.

The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) last month warned that up to 5.5 million people in Nigeria's northeast might soon need food aid, double the current number, as soaring inflation was pushing up food prices.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said in late July that severely malnourished children are dying in large numbers in the region, where food supplies are close to running out, and warned of "pockets of what is close to a famine".

Nigeria's army, backed by its neighbors, has retaken most territory previously lost to Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency in the northeast seven years ago.

But most of the 2.3 million Nigerians who have fled are afraid to go back and cultivate their fields as the security situation remains volatile.

(Reporting By Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Editing by Kieran Guilbert and Katie Nguyen.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.

Source: Reuters

Gabon election: Parliament set alight amid street clashes

Supporters of Gabon opposition candidate Jean Ping have set the national assembly on fire after President Ali Bongo was declared winner of Saturday's presidential election.
Police were using tear gas and water cannon to try to quell street protests.
Mr Bongo secured a second seven-year term with 49.8% of the vote to Mr Ping's 48.2 %, a margin of 5,594 votes.
Mr Ping disputes the result. His camp has said figures from the president's stronghold showed a 99% turnout.
In 2009, Mr Bongo took over from his father, who came to power in 1967.
Witnesses said flames and smoke could been seen rising from the national assembly building in Gabon's capital, Libreville.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse supporters of Mr Ping who were also trying to access the electoral commission (Cenap) headquarters.
Blanche Simonny, a Jean Ping supporter and member of the civil society group Ca Suffit Comme Ca (Enough is Enough), told BBC Focus on Africa that thousands of people had gathered at the opposition headquarters before starting the march to the commission.
She said smoke was billowing from burnt tyres left on the streets.
There was no independent statement from Cenap, after Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet-Boubeya announced the results.

Delegates representing the opposition on the commission walked out of the vote count and refused to sign papers validating Mr Bongo's victory, according to a BBC Afrique reporter in Libreville.
Before entering politics Mr Ping was a renowned career diplomat who served as the chairman of the African Union Commission.

Nigerian economy slips into recession

Nigeria has slipped into recession, with the latest growth figures showing the economy contracted 2.06% between April and June.

The country has now seen two consecutive quarters of declining growth, the usual definition of recession.

Its vital oil industry has been hit by weaker global prices, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

But the government says there has been strong growth in other sectors.

Crude oil sales account for 70% of government income.

The price of oil has fallen from highs of about $112 a barrel in 2014 to below $50 at the moment.

Outside the oil industry, the figures show the fall in the Nigerian currency, the naira, has hurt the economy. It was allowed to float freely in June to help kick-start the economy, but critics argued it should have been done earlier.

The government, however, has found some positive news in the figures.


"There was growth in the agricultural and solid minerals sectors... the areas in which the federal government has placed particular priority," said presidential economic adviser Adeyemi Dipeolu.


Nigeria, which vies with South Africa for the mantle of Africa's biggest economy, is also battling an inflation rate at an 11-year high of 17.1% in July.


"A lot of Nigeria's current predicament could have been avoided," said Kevin Daly from Aberdeen Asset Management.


"The country is so reliant on oil precisely because its leaders haven't diversified the economy.

"More recently, they have tried, and failed, to prop up the naira, which has had a ruinous effect on the country's foreign exchange reserves and any reputation it might have had of being fiscally responsible."

Analysis: Martin Patience, BBC Nigeria correspondent

This economic recession comes as no surprise to millions of Nigerians. Many say they've never known it so tough.

The slump in global oil prices has hit Nigeria hard. The government depends on oil sales for about 70% of its revenues.

But critics say government policies made a bad situation even worse. The decision to delay devaluing Nigeria's currency meant many businesses struggled to get foreign currency to pay for imports, which had a cooling effect on the entire economy.

Following enormous pressure, the government changed tack this summer, allowing the naira to float.

That's led to a spike in inflation, but the hope is that it will attract foreign investors. The government also says the country needs to import less: it wants to see more products made in Nigeria.