Showing posts with label african news. Show all posts
Showing posts with label african news. Show all posts

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Conflict in Nigeria: Boko Haram battles 'kill at least 50'

battle in nigeria
Battle in Nigeria
More than 50 people have died in days of fighting between Nigerian forces and suspected Islamist gunmen in the country's north-east, officials say.

Boko Haram militants had suffered heavy casualties in a lengthy gun-battle in the town of Damaturu, said army chief of staff Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika.

"We killed over 50 of them," said Lt Gen Ihejirika.

The group, whose name means "Western education is forbidden", often targets security forces and state institutions.

"They came with sophisticated and heavy weaponry... and bombs but our trained soldiers subdued them," Lt Gen Ihejirika told local radio.

Seven policemen and two soldiers died in the clashes, Yobe's Police Commissioner Lawan Tanko told the BBC.

Deaths were also reported after clashes in Potiskum to the west of Damaturu.
'Lobbing grenades'

The fighting had erupted in Damaturu - the state capital of Yobe - on Thursday afternoon, Police Commissioner Tanko said earlier.

One eye-witness told the BBC that bomb blasts and shooting could be heard around Damaturu for several hours.

"People are scared and they are just moving out of the town now," said the witness, who gave his name as Suliman.

Boko Haram first came to prominence in 2009 when hundreds of its followers were killed when they attacked police stations in Maiduguri.

Its founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was arrested but died in police custody.

Boko Haram resumed its attacks - mostly in Maiduguri - a year later and has since staged deadly raids across the mostly Muslim north, as well as central areas such as Jos and Abuja.

Under Yusuf's leadership, the group demanded that Nigeria become an Islamic state but it is now believed to be made up of several factions, with various demands.

News by BBC

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Islamists seen as winners in Egypt election

Vote Counting in Egypt
(Reuters) - Egypt's ruling military painted a dire picture of the economy on Thursday as election officials delayed releasing results of a landmark parliamentary poll that Islamist parties looked set to win, saying votes were still being counted.

They said first-round results would be declared on Friday, a day when youthful protesters demanding an immediate end to army rule have called a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square to remember the 42 people killed in clashes with riot police last month.

Egyptians voting freely for the first time since army officers ousted the king in 1952 seem willing to give Islamists a chance. "We tried everyone, why not try Sharia (Islamic law) once?" asked Ramadan Abdel Fattah, 48, a bearded civil servant.

Islamist success at the polls in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, would reinforce a trend in North Africa, where moderate Islamists now lead governments in Morocco and post-uprising Tunisia after election wins in the last two months.

Parliament, whose exact makeup will be clear only after Egypt's staggered voting process ends in January, may challenge the power of the generals who took over in February after a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak, an ex-air force chief.

The army council, under growing pressure to make way for civilian rule, has said it will keep powers to pick or fire a cabinet. But the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's party said this week the majority in parliament should form a government.

The poll results had been expected on Thursday, but some constituencies had not completed their counts.

In an alarming revelation, an army official said foreign reserves would plunge to $15 billion by the end of January, down from the $22 billion reported by the central bank in October.

Mahmoud Nasr, financial assistant to army chief Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, told a news briefing that a widening budget deficit might force a review of costly subsidies, especially on petrol, to save money.

The economic crunch has forced the Egyptian pound to its lowest level in nearly seven years after tourism and foreign investment collapsed in the turmoil since Mubarak's overthrow.

The world is closely watching the election, keen for stability in Egypt, which has a peace treaty with Israel, owns the Suez Canal linking Europe and Asia, and which in Mubarak's time was an ally in countering Islamist militants in the region.

Washington and its European allies have urged the generals to step aside swiftly and make way for civilian rule.


Western powers are coming to accept that the advent of democracy in the Arab world may bring Islamists to power, but they also worry that Islamist rule in Egypt might erode social freedoms and threaten Cairo's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's oldest Islamist group, says its new Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is set to win about 40 percent of seats allocated to party lists in this week's vote, which passed off peacefully, albeit with many irregularities.

FJP officials say the party also leads the race for individual seats that make up a third of the total in the poll.

Al-Nour Party, one of several newly formed ultra-conservative Salafi Islamist groups, said on Thursday that it expects to pick up 20 percent of assembly seats overall.

"In light of the media campaign against us, we believe our results are largely acceptable," said Youssry Hamad, Nour's spokesman. "We are doing as well as the Muslim Brotherhood."

The liberal multi-party Egyptian Bloc has said it is on track to secure about a fifth of votes for party lists.

"For the first time in Egypt we don't see a political intention by the state to forge the elections," said Magdy Abdel Halim, coordinator of an EU-backed group of election monitors.

He said the infractions observed did not affect the legitimacy of a vote held in a "reasonably fair atmosphere."

Egypt's April 6 youth movement, a prime mover in the revolt against Mubarak, said an Islamist win should not cause concern.

"No one should worry about the victory of one list or political current. This is democracy and this great nation will not allow anyone to exploit it again," its Facebook page said.

If the FJP and Nour secure the number of seats they expect, they could combine to form a solid majority bloc, although it is far from certain the Brotherhood would want such an alliance.

Senior FJP official Essam el-Erian said before the vote that

Salafis, who had kept a low profile and shunned politics during Mubarak's 30-year rule, would be "a burden for any coalition."

The FJP might seek other partners, such as the liberal Wafd or the moderate Islamist Wasat Party, set up by ex-Brotherhood members in 1996, although only licensed after Mubarak's fall.

Nour Party spokesman Hamad said solving Egypt's problems might be beyond one party. "We believe a coalition government that comprises all political streams is the best option. The burden is too much after all these years of corruption."


Some Egyptians fear the Muslim Brotherhood might try to impose Islamic curbs on a tourism-dependent country whose 80 million people include a 10 percent Coptic Christian minority.

Ali Khafagi, the leader of the FJP's youth committee, said the Brotherhood's goal was to end corruption and revive the economy. Only a "mad group" would try to ban alcohol or force women to wear headscarves, he said.

The priority of the Brotherhood, which gained trust by aiding the poor under Mubarak, is likely to be economic growth to ease poverty and convince voters they are fit to govern.

Essam Sharaf's outgoing government quit during protests against army rule last month in which 42 people were killed, most near Cairo's Tahrir Square, hub of the anti-Mubarak revolt.

Kamal al-Ganzouri, asked by the army to form a "national salvation government," aims to complete the task in the next day or two, but acknowledged on Wednesday that five presidential candidates had turned down invitations to join his cabinet.

Protesters who returned to Tahrir last month, angered by the military's apparent reluctance to cede power, say the generals should step aside now, instead of appointing a man of the past like Ganzouri, 78, who was a premier for Mubarak in the 1990s.

Mohamed Taha, 46, an accountant who supports the liberal Egyptian Bloc, said the election showed that young activists had failed to present a viable program. "Their revolution was stolen and they are stuck searching for who stole it," he said.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Togo Bus Crash: Soccer Players Killed After Vehicle Plunges Into Ravine

togo bus crash
Soccer Player
LOME, Togo — At least six topflight Togolese soccer players were killed and another 28 people critically injured on Saturday after a bus carrying their team plunged into a ravine and caught fire.

In a statement read on national television, the Togo government said President Faure Gnassingbe had ordered that those injured from the Etoile Filante club be taken to the military wing of the Lome Central Hospital to receive urgent medical attention.

A delegation, led by sports minister Christophe Tchao, traveled to the accident site with an ambulance to evacuate the injured.

The accident happened near the city of Atakpame, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Lome, as Etoile Filante was on its way to Togo's second largest city of Sokode for Sunday's league game against Semassi.

A tire is believed to have burst, causing the bus to topple over and plunge down a ravine. Some of the victims reportedly burnt to death. Eyewitness accounts said the bus flipped over several times as it crashed into the ravine.

"We do not know how we managed to get out of the accident," said one of the survivors, goalkeeper Mama Souleyman.

Images on Togo national television showed the smoldering wreckage of the bus, which was almost completely burnt to ashes.

Lome-based Etoile Filante is a seven-time Togo national league champion and was runner-up in Africa's continental club competition in 1968.

Last year, two Togo national team officials were killed and several players hurt after a gun attack on the team's bus as it traveled to the African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola.

In 2007, Togo sports minister Richard Attipoe was among 22 people who died when a helicopter carrying Togolese soccer fans and officials crashed in Sierra Leone after an African Cup qualifying match.

News by Huffingtonpost

Friday, November 25, 2011

In Vote in Morocco, Many Stay Skeptical

Vote in Morocco
CASABLANCA, Morocco — Yassine Bousalim, a 26-year-old chef from the poor neighborhood of Derb Sultan, where lingering smells of garbage fill the air, watched voters come and go on Friday from the polling station across the street, with an air of disgusted detachment.

“I won’t go and vote,” he said. “I just don’t think anything will come out of this.”

Mr. Bousalim is among the many young and disenchanted Moroccans who chose not to vote in their country’s first parliamentary elections since the passage of a new Constitution last year. That document, an effort by King Mohammed VI to respond to local and regional unrest during the Arab Spring, was approved in July. It gives more powers to Parliament and the prime minister, but preserves most of the king’s prerogatives, including absolute control over military and religious issues.

“Corruption is too big,” said Mr. Bousalim, one of about 57 percent of the 13.5 million eligible voters who are under the age of 35. “Each time we are confronted to an institution, we want to be treated with respect,” he said. Results are expected Saturday.

In contrast to Tunisia, where millions flooded to the polls to vote last month on the first free elections after the overthrow of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the turnout here is expected to be lower. Still, this election is being watched closely as a significant and calibrated step toward democracy. The Tunisian elections were won by the main Islamist party, Ennahda.

The Interior Ministry said that by 5 p.m., two hours before polls closed, about 34 percent of registered voters had cast ballots.

But the change here may still be significant. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) is expected to do well, it could even become the country’s largest party and, in a coalition government, provide the next prime minister, who will have the power to appoint ministers and dissolve Parliament.

“We believe that we will be the No. 1 party,” said Abdelilah Benkirane, the PJD’s general-secretary in an interview. “Therefore the prime minister will be from our party,” he said.

The PJD was founded in 1998 and is the largest opposition party, with 47 seats in Parliament. It has broadly appealed to Morocco’s large numbers of poor voters by focusing on economic and social issues. It has paid attention to the success in Turkey of the governing AK Party, which has fused religion and modern politics.

“They want the best for the country,” said Iman Bajebour, 20, who took a break from her work as a nurse to cast a ballot for the PJD in Derb Gharaf, a poor neighborhood here. “From my prospective, the PJD will fight corruption,” she said.

But some Moroccans are nervous that the party would back anti-Western policies if brought to power. Last week, the French-language weekly “Tel Quel” splashed the headline, “Morocco will be Islamist,” across its cover.

Other main contenders out of the many parties seeking seats include the Party of Authenticity and Modernity (PAM), created in 2009 out of several smaller parties by a close friend of the king, and Istiqlal, the historic party of independence, founded in 1944, and currently in power.

For some Moroccans voters, though, the elections could consolidate the king’s recent democratic push.

“I think it is the duty of citizens to come and vote,” said Marwan Sayarh, a 30-year-old businessman who voted for the first time. “Morocco is becoming more democratic and I want to support it.”

The country’s loyalty to King Mohamed VI, who has been in power since 1999 and has responded this year to calls for democratic change, contrasted with the revolts against secular nationalist governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

“We are on a path of continuity, mobilization, and of coherence,” said Salaheddine Mezzouar, the country’s finance minister and head of the moderate RNI party, a prominent political force in the country. Some commentators have speculated that he could be prime minister.

Analysts say that given Morocco’s complex proportional electoral system and the few requirements for aspiring candidates and parties — there are 5,873 candidates from more than 30 parties — it is unlikely that one party would emerge with a majority.

But discontent toward the political elite is real among voters here, and some social activists have called for a boycott of the vote. The February 20 Movement for Change, which led the protests against the government this year, is urging its supporters not to vote.

Mr. Bousalim, the chef, said he was tempted to join the February 20 movement because “they would really help.” But he fears police retaliation, which according to Human Rights Watch, detained more than 100 of its members since October to question them about the distribution of pro-boycott leaflets or other activities.

The February 20 movement is a hybrid and youthful coalition of students, independents, leftist activists and Islamists. It has held regular demonstrations and played a key role in pushing reforms and orchestrating protests against political corruption. It favors a constitutional monarchy, in which the king reigns but does not rule. But Morocco is conservative and the monarchy has deep roots, and the February 20 movement has been criticized outside the large cities.

The movement has denounced the king’s reforms as insufficient and argues that the new Constitution in fact reinforces the king’s prerogatives. Parliamentary elections would bring another corrupt assembly to power, they say.

Fouad Abdelmoumni, an economist and a leading coordinator of the movement, said that the king “still has the main authority in his hands.”

“The conditions for democracy are not there,” he said. 

News by NYTimes

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