DR Congo urged to delay election results

The African Union (AU) has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) to postpone the release of its presidential election results.

The pan-African organisation, which aims to promote unity and democracy, says it has “serious doubts” about provisional results released last week.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was declared the winner but another opponent of the current administration, Martin Fayulu, insists he won.

Final results are due on Friday.

A number of AU heads of state and government met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday and released a statement about the disputed 30 December election.

“There were serious doubts on the conformity of the provisional results, as proclaimed by the National Independent Electoral Commission, with the votes cast,” it read.

“Accordingly, the [AU] called for the suspension of the proclamation of the final results of the elections,” it added.

What’s the latest on the election?

Mr Fayulu alleges that provisional winner Mr Tshisekedi made a deal with the outgoing President Joseph Kabila.

Mr Kabila has been in office for 18 years and the result, if confirmed, would create the first orderly transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960.

The electoral commission said Mr Tshisekedi had received 38.5% of the vote, compared to 34.7% for Mr Fayulu. Ruling coalition candidate Emmanuel Shadary took 23.8%.

Mr Fayulu filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court on Saturday demanding a manual recount of votes.

But the court has never overturned results before, and some think most of its judges are close to the ruling party.

The declaration of Mr Tshisekedi as winner has also been disputed by the influential Catholic Church which says it deployed 40,000 election monitors across the country.

International experts based in the US, and the French and German governments, have also raised doubts.

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WATCH: Is South Africa the Rainbow Nation?

South Africa is further removed now from the ideal of a rainbow nation than at any other time since the official end of apartheid in 1994. Some feel that the extremists are increasingly gaining traction and poisoning the atmosphere, as they incite hatred for short-term political gain. The tide is turning in South Africa. Following the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, South African anti-apartheid politician and activist and the former wife of Nelson Mandela, at the beginning of April, only a handful of the leading anti-apartheid campaigners now remain.

South Africa ex-president Jacob Zuma is on trial for corruption. He and his cohorts have lined their pockets in an unprecedented fashion over the course of recent years. Now younger politicians, unwilling to wait any longer for a redistribution of wealth in South Africa, are making radical demands. They want white farmers to have their land confiscated without compensation. Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s new president, has indicated he too would support that. But at the same time, he appears to be taking a more professional approach and is keen to clean up South African politics. Nevertheless both black and white South Africans say relations between them are worse than ever since the end of apartheid.

Most feel that it was only under Nelson Mandela, who would have turned 100 years old on July 18th, that South Africa took genuine steps towards becoming a rainbow nation. We look at a country that carried the hopes of an entire continent back in 1994, but now threatens to break down amid controversy and contradictions.

Watch the documentary by clicking on the image at top of this page.

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Women’s World Banking: Inviting Women Into The Financial Fold

President of Women’s World Banking, Mary Ellen Iskenderian, says there is a growing recognition that women’s financial inclusion is not only important in achieving every other social goal, but it makes financial sense.

Women’s World Banking is a global NGO has provided low income women in developing countries access to micro-financing for nearly four decades. That is done by working through institutions that focus on empowering women in the financial space. Their model involves looking for companies who can tailor their products to cater for the needs of woman in the low income group, with a special focus on savings and other financial products that offer sustainability and easy access through the use of various technologies.

More information: https://www.mfww2017.womensworldbanking.org/

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Equatorial Guinea says attempted 'coup' thwarted

African nation says mercenaries from neighbouring states tried to overthrow President Teodoro Mbasogo last month.

    The central African nation of Equatorial Guinea says it thwarted an attempted “coup” in late December against the government of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Africa’s longest-serving leader.

    The government accused at least 30 armed mercenaries from Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic of attempting to overthrow Mbasogo with the support of Guinean opposition forces just before Christmas, a government minister said this week.

    The “mercenaries … were recruited by Equatorial Guinean militants from certain radical opposition parties with the support of certain powers”, AFP news agency quoted Nicolas Obama Nchama, the country’s security minister, as saying.

    Nchama did not explicitly name what opposition groups or foreign powers the government believes were involved in the alleged coup.

    On Wednesday, AFP reported, citing state television station TVGE, that Guinean security forces clashed with mercenaries, reportedly killing one, near the border.

    The attempted putsch took place in the night between December 27 and 28, news website Jeune Afrique reported.

    Military general arrested

    Police in Cameroon arrested a military general from Chad among 30 heavily armed men at the Kye-Ossi border between that country and Equatorial Guinea in late December, according to Cameroon media outlet Cameroon-Info.net.

    Mbasogo ordered the border be shut after the arrests, the website reported.

    The opposition Convergence for Innovation party published a list of 146 activists it said were detained since the alleged coup attempt, Anadolu reported.

     

    On December 29, however, Equatorial Guinea’s ambassador to France appeared to play down the events.

    “We have nothing to hide,” Miguel Oyono Ndong Mifumu told Radio France International. “We cannot talk about an attempted coup. Everything is calm in Malabo.”

    He was later quoted by AFP as saying that an “invasion and destabilisation attempt” had been committed against the country.

    Mbasogo has been in power since 1979 in the oil-rich central African nation.

    “Corruption, poverty, and repression continue to plague” Equatorial Guinea under his rule, according to Human Rights Watch, and “mismanagement of public funds and credible allegations of high-level corruption persist, as do other serious abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention, and unfair trials”.

    In October, a French court found Mbasogo’s son, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who is also the country’s vice president, guilty in absentia of embezzling tens of millions of euros from the country and laundering the money in France. 

    The court seized $120m worth of assets and handed down a three-year suspended prison sentence and a $35m fine.

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    Kenya declares hotel siege over with all attackers killed, final toll at 14

    NAIROBI (WASHINGTON POST)- In a morning address to the nation on Wednesday (Jan 16), Kenya’s president, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, declared the end of a 19-hour terror attack on a Nairobi hotel and office complex.

    He said 14 civilians had been killed, as well as all the attackers, and that 700 civilians had been evacuated to safety. Right up until his announcement, gunshots had continued to ring out from the besieged buildings.

    A staff member at a morgue near the hotel had earlier told the Post that the facility had received 15 bodies.

    Morgue staff determined that the dead included 11 Kenyans, an American and a Briton, but that two others had not yet been identified.

    The US State Department confirmed that one American was killed in the attack.

    The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-aligned Somali militant group Al-Shabab in statements to international media on Tuesday. It echoed a September 2013 attack by the group at the Westgate shopping mall just a mile away, in which fighters armed with automatic weapons killed 67.

    Throughout Tuesday afternoon and evening, hundreds of guests at the DusitD2 hotel and workers in its adjoining office complex hid under desks, locked themselves in rooms, or ran for cover as the attack unfolded. Gunfire was audible throughout the night and into the morning.

    On Wednesday, Nairobians came out in large numbers to donate blood. The city regained its regular buzz and congestion as its roughly four million people went back to work.

    Like the Westgate attack, Tuesday’s seemed to be aimed at Kenyan professionals and foreigners. It also demonstrated how capable Al-Shabab was of carrying out attacks outside Somalia despite a dramatic increase in airstrikes against them by the Kenyan air force and US military.

    Details of some of the victims became known by Wednesday morning as colleagues and family members announced the deaths of co-workers and loved ones.

    Among the dead was Mr Jason Spindler, an American business executive who was the CEO of a consulting firm that has its Africa headquarters in the complex that was attacked.

    A friend of Mr Spindler’s wrote of him on Twitter: “Jason Spindler was one of those rare men who was loved by pretty much anyone he touched in Kenya and around the world… He chose a life of hope and inclusion. I am grateful to have known and learned from him.”

    A Kenyan parliamentarian, Ms Fatuma Gedi, announced the deaths of two Kenyans of Somali descent Feysal Rashid Haji and Abdalla Sheikh Mohamed Dahir.

    “We will come out of this cowardly act stronger and more united as a nation,” Ms Gedi wrote.

    Others posted happier news about friends and family who had made it out alive.

    One announced being reunited with Mr Bryson Mwakuwona, a blogger on menswear who described himself on Twitter thus: “Thinker, sportsman, Purveyor of thoughts and clothes. I enjoy sunsets.”

    Mr Brian Kuira, self-proclaimed “optimist who loves coffee and elephants”, also took to Twitter to announce his own freedom.

    “We’ve been rescued from Dusit. I have a new found respect for Kenyan cops, so professional as they evacuated us. Thank you all for the prayers,” he wrote.

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    Ghana country profile

    Ghana is considered one of the more stable countries in West Africa since its transition to multi-party democracy in 1992.

    Formerly known as the Gold Coast, Ghana gained independence from Britain in 1957, becoming the first sub-Saharan nation to break free from colonial rule.

    Gold, cocoa and more recently oil form the cornerstone of Ghana’s economy and have helped fuel an economic boom.

    The country is named after the great medieval trading empire that was located northwest of the modern-day state until its demise in the 13th century.

    FACTS

    Republic of Ghana

    Capital: Accra

    Population 25.5 million

    Area 238,533 sq km (92,098 sq miles)

    Major languages English, African languages including Akan, Ewe

    Major religions Christianity, indigenous beliefs, Islam

    Life expectancy 64 years (men), 66 years (women)

    Currency Cedi

    LEADER

    President: Nana Akufo-Addo

    Nana Akufo-Addo won the presidential election in December 2016, tapping into an electorate fed up with a sputtering economy and ready for change.

    The erudite 72-year-old human rights lawyer won 53.8% of the vote, according to the country’s election agency, and incumbent John Mahama conceded defeat after a hotly contested race that was seen as a test of the country’s democracy in a region plagued by dictators and coups.

    MEDIA

    Ghana enjoys a high degree of media freedom, and the private press and broadcasters operate without significant restrictions.

    Radio is Ghana’s most popular medium, although it is being challenged by increased access to TV.

    TIMELINE

    Some key dates in Ghana’s history:

    1482 – Portuguese settlers arrive and begin trading in gold, ivory and timber with various Akan states.

    1500s – Slave trade: Slavery overtakes gold as the main export in the region.

    1600s – Dutch, English, Danish, and Swedish settlers arrive; slave trade becomes highly organised.

    1642 – The Portuguese relinquish their territory to the Dutch and leave the Gold Coast.

    1807 – British dominance: British ban on slave trade from the Gold Coast becomes effective.

    1874 – The Gold Coast is officially proclaimed a British crown colony.

    1957 – Independence: Ghana becomes first black African colony to declare independence.

    1964-1992 – Military rule: Succession of destabilising coups, Ghana is predominantly a one-party state.

    1992 – New constitution, multi-party system is restored.

    2010 – Offshore oil production starts, fuelling Africa’s fast-growing economy.

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    Relief replaces fear after Kenya attack

    After 19 hours of terror, gunfire, bloodshed, and inevitable confusion, the siege at an upmarket hotel and business complex in the hills west of Nairobi’s central business district ended abruptly on Wednesday morning.

    “The security operation… is over and all the terrorists eliminated,” Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on national television, to widespread public relief.

    Throughout the night, cowering groups of civilians – many had spent hours hiding in their offices or in bathrooms – were escorted to safety by security forces. The sporadic bursts of gunfire and the boom of explosions continued well beyond dawn.

    “Eight hours and still praying for a rescue hopefully soon,” businesswoman Aggie Asiimwe Konde texted from her hiding place overnight, before being rescued three hours later with “over 50 people in my group. No injuries”.

    “Please help… I am at 14 Riverside Drive… huge bomb then gunshots now I am hiding in toilet,” Ronald Ng’eno messaged on social media. Two hours later he said he was “still hiding… Phone charge almost off… We are still in bathroom gunshots in building, please pray… If I die… please tell my family I love the(m).” He was also rescued early on Wednesday morning.

    Read more:

    On the crowded street outside the large, upmarket complex, friends and relatives embraced those who emerged, and thanked Kenyan security forces. A fleet of ambulances stood ready to take the wounded to hospital.

    “We managed to move slowly… and carefully, as the gunfire was getting closer, then we managed to jump over a small fence,” said one man.

    At least one British citizen and an American were among the dead. The American victim was named as Jason Spindler. His brother, Jonathan, announced on Twitter that Jason had survived the 9/11 attacks in New York, and “passed away this morning during a terror attack in Nairobi… I am sure he gave them hell!”

    Several bodies were photographed slumped at their tables in the Secret Garden restaurant – among the first places that the gunmen targeted on Tuesday afternoon.

    The attackers – thought to be members of Somalia’s militant al-Shabab group – were filmed by a security camera as they walked, in dark camouflage outfits, through a car park and then opened fire.

    A guard later reported that he had seen the same group visiting the hotel – presumably to acquaint themselves with the layout – in the days leading up to the attack.

    President Kenyatta confirmed that 14 people had been killed and more than 700 rescued. However, there is speculation that the death toll may rise, as well as a long-standing degree of public scepticism about official figures.

    Kenya’s security services have faced strong criticism for their handling of past terrorist incidents – in particular the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in which rival agencies were accused of infighting, looting, and lying about key details of the four-day siege.

    On Wednesday, President Kenyatta and his interior minister both implied that lessons had been learned.

    “I want to commend the quick and effective response by our elite fighting teams for neutralizing all the terrorists. We have dealt with the threat decisively, and shown our enemies and the world that we are ready to deal with any threat to our nation,” said Mr Kenyatta.

    Interior Minister Fred Matiangi told journalists outside the compound that the operation demonstrated “how well our security forces are prepared”.

    On Tuesday evening, the minister had faced criticism for claiming, prematurely, that all the buildings had been secured. He declined to confirm how many attackers had been involved, or killed.

    Kenya’s vital but precarious tourism industry has been badly damaged by past terrorist attacks – not least Westgate and the 2015 attack on a university campus in Garissa – and by negative travel advice issued by foreign governments.

    This time, President Kenyatta was quick to “assure every Kenyan and foreign visitor” that they were safe.

    The latest attack came on the third anniversary of a devastating assault by al-Shabab militants on a Kenyan army post in Somalia in which, it is widely suspected, as many as 180 Kenyan troops were killed.

    It is a stark reminder that al-Shabab remains a powerful force, with the capacity to strike at a well-guarded target in a neighbouring country.

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    South Africa care deaths: Disgraced official apologises

    The deaths of 143 mentally disabled patients, many from neglect, has shocked South Africa and families of the victims say they will not rest until those responsible are behind bars.

      A former South African health official has apologised for the deaths of 143 mentally disabled patients that occurred while she was in office.

      Qedani Mahlangu was the top provincial health official when more than a thousand patients from a facility called Life Esidimeni were moved to privately-run care facilities – patients died of hunger and neglect.

      More than 50 are still missing, and their families want answers.

      Al Jazeera’s Tania Page reports from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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      Death Toll Rises to 14 in Attack on Nairobi Hotel-Office Complex

      NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll rose to 14 on Wednesday in a terrorist attack waged by Shabab militants, including a suicide bomber and several gunmen, who stormed a luxury hotel and office complex in Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said.

      Mr. Kenyatta said later in a speech to the nation that all of the attackers had been “eliminated” and that the operation was complete, after gunfire was heard from the complex earlier on Wednesday morning, a day after the authorities said that all of the buildings in the area targeted in the assault had been secured.

      “We will seek every person involved in planning, funding and executing this heinous act,” Mr. Kenyatta said. He said the nation was on the highest alert “and shall remain so.”

      We wish to caution all members of the public including politicians that Dusit Hotel and the area around 14 Riverside Drive is a Crime Scene that is under an active security operation.Until it is declared safe, everyone not actively involved in the operation should avoid the area.

      Relatives of the victims were traveling to morgues and hospitals in search of more information, and the Red Cross said it had set up teams to help them find victims and deal with the aftermath. The State Department said that one of the victims was an American, but provided no details.

      “We can now confirm that 14 innocent lives were lost in this murderous attack,” Mr. Kenyatta said. Seven hundred civilians were evacuated during the response to the terrorist attack, he added.

      The attack on Tuesday began at about 3 p.m., when four men reportedly jumped out of a white car, opened fire at a security checkpoint, and blasted their way into the complex. The police and counterterrorism forces quickly responded, and gun battles were fought and cars burned as the police rushed people out of the complex.

      Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, Fred Matiang’i, speaking at the scene shortly after the operation came to a close, said, “The operation was executed very strictly and precisely.”

      “We are moving now to Phase 2,” he added, “which is handling the criminals.”

      The Shabab, which carried out a bloody attack at the Westgate mall in the Kenyan capital in 2013, is based in Somalia, where it has sought to impose its strict interpretation of Islam.

      Dusit International, which runs the DusitD2 hotel in the Nairobi complex, said the hotel had been temporarily closed and that guests had been relocated elsewhere in the city, The Associated Press reported.

      In his speech, Mr. Kenyatta sought to project an air of normalcy, encouraging everyone to go about their daily business. “We assure every citizen and foreigner that you are safe,” he said.

      But he also made clear that the fight against the Shabab and other militant groups would be a long one, while expressing confidence. Kenya is a nation that never forgets those who hurt “its children,” he said. “We have prevailed against evil and shall continue to prevail,” he added.

      Reuben Kyama and Emily Oduor reported from Nairobi, and Michael Wolgelenter from London.

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      Jollof Rice Nigeria's National Dish

      Original article published at TasteAtlas.

      Jollof rice is Nigeria’s national dish that is believed to be the origin of the popular Cajun dish known as jambalaya. The other name for the dish is benachin, meaning one pot in the native language of the Wolof people who created it.

      Although it is a Nigerian dish with Senegalese origins, it can be found all over West Africa with some variations in the ingredients, but the main principle stays the same – rice is cooked in a rich tomato sauce so that it soaks in all the flavors. The most common ingredients found in jollof rice include rice, tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, salt, and pepper.

      On top of that, any kind of meat, vegetable, fish or spice can be added. It is important to have a delicious sauce, so in addition to tomatoes, there are also ingredients such as coconut milk, nutmeg, partminger (African basil leaf) and sometimes even Roiboos tea used in the sauce.

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