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Inside Africa

89-year-old Mugabe hits the campaign trail

Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, addresses and election rally at Nzvimbo, on July 11 2013. By Jekesai Njikizana (AFP/File) HARARE (AFP) - After 33 years in power, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is back on the campaign trail, where his advancing years are subtly starting to show.On July 31 Zimbabweans will go to the polls to elect a president. One name, a permanent feature on ballot papers since independence in 1980, will again appear.Robert Gabriel Mugabe -- born as the Ottoman Empire drew its final breath and when Calvin Coolidge was still in the White House -- has promised an election "fight for our lives".On the stump his rallies still draw in crowds fired up by his trademark hour-long speeches that spit fire at his political opponents.In the first 10 days of the campaign season, he has criss-crossed the country to address four rallies. ...

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DR Congo says 130 dead in clashes between army, rebels

Two women walk past a government army tank in Munigi, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, July 15, 2013. By Phil Moore (AFP) GOMA, DR Congo / North Kivu (AFP) - At least 130 people were killed, including 10 soldiers, in the deadliest clashes in months between troops and rebels in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said Monday.Fierce fighting broke out on Sunday outside the flashpoint city of Goma between the Congolese army and the M23 rebels, an armed group launched by Tutsi former soldiers who mutinied in April 2012.Loud blasts rang out north of the city on Monday afternoon, and hundreds of people were seen fleeing towards Goma in a cloud of dust, an AFP photographer reported."Our forces have inflicted very heavy losses on the M23 fighters, 120 have been killed and 12 captured," government spokesman Lambert Mende said.Mende said that 10 soldiers had also died in the ongoing clashes in the volatile east, an area rich in minerals including gold and coltan, which is used in cell phones and other electronic equipment.He said that the M23 rebels, who briefly seized Goma late last year before withdrawing under international pressure, attacked army positions "with the support of Rwandan troops.""For several weeks the M23 rebels and their Rwandan allies have been reinforcing their positions," Mende said.Both Rwanda and Uganda have been accused of supporting the M23, and US President Barack Obama early this month urged the DRC's neighbours "to stop supporting armed groups".Both countries have denied the charges."The toll from these skirmishes is not yet definitive but until now the army forces have responded with bravery and efficiency to this attack," Mende said.UN soldiers did not intervene, Mende stressed.Army forces also managed to recapture previously rebel-held positions as they fled, the spokesman said.Some 2,000 soldiers were reportedly deployed during the fighting but Mende declined to confirm this figure.The fighting outside Goma comes as a separate rebel attack in the town of Kamango in the northernmost part of North Kivu province sent 55,000 people fleeing to neighbouring Uganda, according to the Red Cross.Kamango was attacked and briefly occupied Thursday by a Ugandan-led rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).The ADF was formed in the mid-1990s in the Rwenzori mountains in western Uganda, close to the DR Congo border. It has been relatively quiet in recent years, but attacks have increased in recent weeks, according to a Western military source.A heavily armed brigade of some 3,000 UN troops with more power to fight renegade forces than ever before began arriving in the region in May.The troops, drawn in equal numbers from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania, are joining about 17,000 UN soldiers already deployed in the area with a limited mandate to protect civilians and themselves only.In all, about 30 armed groups are active in the region, where they have lucrative stakes in the illegal mining of diamonds, gold and coltan. ...

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US envoy presses Egypt leaders as Islamists rally

US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (L) meets Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour in Cairo, July 15, 2013. By Khaled Desouki (AFP) CAIRO (AFP) - A top US official pressed Egypt's interim leaders Monday for a return to elected government after the army ousted president Mohamed Morsi, whose supporters massed to rally for his return.Under Secretary of State Bill Burns urged the country's divided factions to engage in dialogue and end violence, according to comments he made in Cairo aired on Arabic television channels.He also condemned a fortnight of deadly attacks in the Sinai peninsula, but insisted the situation in war-ravaged Syria would not be repeated in Egypt, according to an Arabic translation.Burns is the first senior US official to visit Egypt since the military toppled Morsi, the country's first freely elected president, in a popularly backed coup on July 3.He was speaking after meeting the general behind the coup, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as well as the military-appointed president Adly Mansour and interim premier Hazem al-Beblawi.Egypt's new leaders are pushing ahead with a transition plan for an interim government and fresh elections, but Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood defiantly insists on his reinstatement.Burns' two-day visit comes as the authorities tighten the screws on Morsi's backers, freezing the assets of 14 top Islamists, and with Egypt rocked by a wave of deadly attacks, notably in the Sinai.Three factory workers were killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in the restive peninsula, medics said.Coptic Christians have also been killed in the Sinai, including a priest, as part of a string of sectarian violence around the country since the Islamist president's overthrow, said the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.In Paris, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned against "revenge" and "retribution," and denounced the arrests of Brotherhood officials.International concern is mounting over the fate of Morsi, who has been in custody since the coup and was quizzed by prosecutors on Sunday over complaints of possible criminal offences.Washington has refrained from saying he was the victim of a coup, which would legally require a freeze on some $1.5 billion in desperately needed US military and economic assistance to Cairo.On Sunday, two influential US Republican senators, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, urged the administration to cut the aid in response to the coup.Meanwhile, Egypt's military-appointed leadership has been trying to install a new cabinet that would oversee the transition to parliamentary and presidential elections.Beblawi, the interim prime minister, is expected to unveil his full cabinet on Tuesday or Wednesday.His priorities include restoring security and preparing for the elections, which the interim president has said could be held by early next year.The assets freeze against nine senior Brotherhood figures is part of an investigation ordered by chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat.Those targeted include its supreme leader Mohamed Badie.Also hit are five Islamists from other groups, including ex-militant faction Gamaa Islamiya, which carried out a deadly 1997 attack on tourists in Luxor, judicial sources said.The investigation relates to four deadly incidents since Morsi's ouster, including clashes outside an elite army headquarters in Cairo in which dozens of people, mostly Islamists, were killed on July 8.The assets freeze comes a day after prosecutors received criminal complaints against Morsi, Badie and other senior Islamists, with a view to launching a formal investigation.A Brotherhood spokesman vowed to continue "peaceful" protests until the reinstatement of Morsi, who interim leaders say is being held in a "safe place, for his own safety"."We have a noble goal, a just cause, for which we are prepared to sacrifice," Ahmed Aref told AFP.By early evening, pro-Morsi protesters were starting to arrive outside Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, where tens of thousands have been rallying for the past two weeks.Another Brotherhood official said protesters planned to march on the Republican Guards headquarters, scene of the July 8 violence.The demonstration was to begin after the iftar evening meal when Muslims break their Ramadan fast.Counter-demonstrations by Morsi opponents are also planned in Tahrir Square, although the epicentre of the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak remained relatively quiet at nightfall.During his single year of turbulent rule, Morsi was accused of concentrating power in Brotherhood hands, sending the economy into freefall and failing to protect minorities.But his supporters say his overthrow was an affront to democracy.Comments:Leave a comment. 0 comment so far.

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Mandela’s tribal king defects from ruling ANC

Thembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo (C), flanked by chiefs, arrives on July 9, 2013 to visit Mandela in hospital. By Alexander Joe (AFP/File) JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (AFP) - The king of Nelson Mandela's Thembu tribe defected from the ruling ANC to join the Democratic Alliance (DA) Monday, days after launching a fierce attack on President Jacob Zuma.King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, who rules over Mandela's tribe in the Eastern Cape province, the ANC heartland, was photographed holding a DA membership card in a very public snub to the ruling party.Last week Dalindyebo -- no stranger to controversy -- called Zuma a parasite, accusing him of being in the pocket of corrupt individuals.Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesman Mmusi Maimane said although they do not agree with some of the king's statements "anyone is free to join the DA."The king has spoken about his regular use of cannabis and has been charged with manslaughter, arson, assault and kidnapping."We believe that he represents an important component of society in the Eastern Cape," said Maimane.The predominantly white party which runs the Western Cape province is trying to boost its profile in black areas ahead of the 2014 elections.Dalindyebo was visited at his palace by DA regional leader Athol Trollip, after he expressed a desire to join the party.Tribal chiefs in South Africa are seen as crucial for tapping the rural electorate, which bears the brunt of poverty and lack of services.The controversial king claimed joining the party would be a gift to the ailing Mandela, whom he has visited in hospital.Comments:Leave a comment.

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Kigali says two mortar bombs fired into Rwanda from DRC

National army FARDC soldiers stand in formation in Karisimbi, south of Goma, on May 27, 2013. By Junior D...

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Presidential favourite visits flashpoint town in Mali

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita gestures during a press conference on May 1, 2007, in Bamako. By Georges Gobet (AFP/File) BAMAKO, District de Bamako (AFP) - One of the favourites to win Mali's presidential elections took his campaign to the northern Tuareg rebel bastion of Kidal on Monday, several sources told AFP, with two weeks to go until voting begins."Presidential candidate Ibrahim Boubacar Keita arrived Monday in Kidal for the election campaign," said an African source from the United Nations peacekeeping mission, while Keita's campaign chief confirmed he had spent "a few hours" in the town.Keita, a former prime minister, is among the front-runners in the July 28 election, seen as crucial to reuniting Mali after an 18-month political crisis that saw French forces intervene to push out Islamist rebels who had seized the country's north.Soumaila Cisse, a former president of the Commission of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, is also expected in Kidal "very soon", according to his campaign team.Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly vowed on Saturday that the country would push ahead with a "credible and transparent" vote despite widespread scepticism about the country's ability to stage the election.Much of the concern is focused on Kidal, which remains tense despite a peace deal with Tuareg separatists that allowed the Malian army to enter the town.Supporters and opponents of the Malian army have staged frequent demonstrations in recent days, with at least two UN peacekeepers and a French soldier injured by stones thrown during one protest.Most local government has been absent for more than a year since the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and allied armed factions linked to Al-Qaeda seized key towns in Mali's vast arid north.The town's governor returned to the area on Monday, however, after initially attempting to retake his post last week but being forced to retreat back to Bamako amid tension in Kidal.Malian military officers staged a coup in March last year after being overpowered by an MNLA rebellion that seized key northern cities before being sidelined by its Islamist allies who imposed a harsh form of sharia law in towns under their control.A French-led intervention launched in January drove out the Islamists but the MNLA took control of Kidal, 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) from the capital, which they consider the heart of the desert territory they call Azawad.Comments:Leave a comment. 0 comment so far.

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Mali election result should be respected: UN’s Ban

UN chief Ban Ki-Moon (L) shakes hand with OIF secretary general Abdou Diouf in Paris, July 15, 2013. By Fred Dufour (AFP) PARIS (AFP) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday called for the results of Mali's upcoming election to be respected even if the vote is "imperfect", amid scepticism about the country's ability to stage the poll."The results, even if the election is imperfect, must be respected by all parties," Ban told reporters in Paris, a day after attending France's national day celebrations.The first-round presidential election, due to be held on July 28, is seen as crucial to reuniting deeply divided Mali after an 18-month political crisis that saw French forces intervene in January to push out Islamist rebels who had seized the north.After meeting with Mali's interim president Dioncounda Traore and French leader Francois Hollande, Ban said he hoped the vote would be held "in a credible and peaceful manner, in a calm atmosphere."Much of the concern over the vote is focused on the restive northern town of Kidal, and there are also doubts about the authorities' ability to properly organise the vote in a country where 500,000 people have been displaced.But Mali's Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly told AFP on Saturday that a delay would only prolong the political crisis."The elections will be credible and transparent, given our conditions -- in other words in a country that has experienced an occupation and where the population is traumatised," he said.Comments:Leave a comment.

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Piracy ‘slows worldwide, surges off west Africa’

A Nigerian navy ship takes part in a joint counter-piracy patrol off Benin on September 28, 2011. By (AFP/File) LONDON (AFP) - The number of attacks by pirates worldwide has fallen in the last year but armed robbery and kidnappings at sea have surged off the coast of west Africa, a maritime body said on Monday.Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), urged west and central African leaders to act on an agreement reached last month to tackle the problem."This (code of conduct) should be translated soon into action on the water. If these attacks are left unchecked, they will become more frequent, bolder and more violent," he said."Cooperation and capacity building among the coastal states in this region is the way forward and urgently needed to make these waters safe for seafarers and vessels."In the first six months of this year, the London-based IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre recorded 138 incidents worldwide, compared to 177 in the same period in 2012.Hijackings fell from 20 to seven so far in 2013, while the number of sailors taken hostage fell from 334 to 127, the quarterly report said.Attacks off the coast of Somalia have dropped "significantly" in the first half of 2013, largely due to increased military action, the IMB's report said.But it warned of increased pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea, recording 31 incidents in the region -- 22 of which took place off the coast of Nigeria.There has been a surge of kidnappings at sea and pirates are targeting a wider range of ship types in a region already known for attacks on oil industry vessels, the report said.Comments:Leave a comment. ...

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Amplats forecasts bumper first-half earnings

The Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, pictured on January 16, 2013. By Stephane de Sakutin (AFP/File) JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Anglo American Platinum -- the world's biggest producer of platinum group metals -- said Monday it expects to announce a sharp increase in profits in its half-yearly results next week.Amplats said the six months to the end of June will show that headline earnings rose to between 4.80 rand and 5.35 rand ($0.48 and ($0.54).In the same period last year the firm reported a loss of 1.78 rand ($0.18), prompted by write-downs on unprofitable projects.The company said the weaker rand and higher sales volumes had helped drive profits, despite "the impact of higher costs and lower realised dollar metal prices."Like much of South Africa's mining industry Amplats has struggled amid rising wages and increased extraction costs at increasingly uncompetitive mines.The company is expected to issue its full earnings report on July 22.Comments:Leave a comment

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Al-Mustapha: HURIWA Calls For Probe Of Prosecutors

Following controversy trailing the release from detention as a result of the Appeal Court, Lagos Division's verdict which discharged and acquitted erstwhile Chief Security Officer to late Head of State General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha over the gruesome murder of the Wife of the indisputable winner of the June 12th 1993 Presidential Polls [Chief MKO Abiola] Alhaja [Mrs.] Kudirat Abiola, a call has gone to the National Judicial Council [NJC] headed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice [Mrs.] Maryam Alloma Mukhtar to probe the conduct of the team of prosecutors from the Lagos state judiciary that handled the proceedings.The Rights group said the investigation should determine whether the Prosecution team compromised the trial of the duo of Major Al-Mustapha and an aide to the late MKO Abiola; Mr. Lateef Sofolayan which may have resulted in the eventual alleged miscarriage of justice by the Appellate Court in Lagos just as the group canvassed public hearing of the probe by the National Judicial Council because of the sensitivity of the matter and because of overriding public interest in the matter which touches the constitutional bedrock of Nigeria's nascent democracy. ...

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