Africa at a glance - The East African

Africa at a glance

Thursday April 25 2019

Men playing traditional Waza music from Sudan's

Men playing traditional Waza music from Sudan's Blue Nile province march in front of the military headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, April 20, 2019. A group of judges have said they will join the protests on Thursday. PHOTO | BRYAN DENTON | THE NEW YORK TIMES 

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  • Sudanese judges say to join protests for first time

For the first time since nationwide protests erupted in Sudan, the country's judges say they will join the demonstration outside the army headquarters later Thursday where thousands have camped demanding civilian rule.

"Sudan's judges will march from in front of the constitutional court at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Thursday to the army headquarters to support change and for an independent judiciary," a statement from a group of judges said on Wednesday.

The participation of judges came as three military chiefs resigned after the ruling council reached "agreement on most demands" with protest leaders who have called for a million-strong march to demand a civilian government.

"We have an agreement on most demands presented in the document of the Alliance for Freedom and Change," Lieutenant General Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman of the ruling military council, told reporters after the meeting between the council and leaders of the umbrella group leading the protest movement.

He said there "were no big disputes" while one of the protest leaders who attended the meeting, Ahmed al-Rabia, said the two sides had also agreed to form a joint committee.

It was not clear what the mandate of the committee would be.

After the meeting the military announced Lieutenant Generals Omar Zain al-Abdin, Jalaluddin Al-Sheikh and Al-Tayieb Babikir had resigned.

  • Egypt confirms death penalty for monks over bishop killing

An Egyptian court on Wednesday confirmed death sentences for two monks over the 2018 murder of a bishop, after the country's Mufti issued an opinion approving the punishment, a court official said.

In a case that shocked the Middle East's largest Christian community, Coptic Bishop Epiphanius was found dead with a head wound in July at the Saint Macarius monastery in the plains of Wadi al-Natrun, northwest of Cairo.

Prosecutors said one of the monks, Isaiah, confessed to striking the cleric with a metal bar as the second monk, Philotheos, kept watch.

The authorities blamed the killing on unspecified "differences" between the bishop and the two monks, one of whom was later defrocked.

The sentence, passed down in February, was referred to Egypt's Grand Mufti.

The country's top theological authority is required by law to give his legally non-binding opinion in cases of capital punishment, meaning the monks can still appeal.

  • Mozambique braces for cyclone Kenneth

Mozambique was bracing for a powerful cyclone to make landfall on Thursday, just one month after another cyclone devastated the country and neighbouring Zimbabwe leaving more than 1,000 dead.

The UN warned that the latest storm could trigger flash flooding and landslides in Mozambique's far north and the government closed dozens of schools likely to be in the storm's path.

National airline LAM has suspended flights between the capital Maputo and Pemba on the northeast coast because of Cyclone Kenneth, it said in a statement.

The Red Cross warned it was "especially concerned about its possible impact in Mozambique where communities are still recovering from the devastation of Cyclone Idai".
Idai was the most powerful storm to hit the region in decades and cut a path of destruction through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe on the night of March 14-15, causing damage of around $2 billion.
Comoros and Tanzania would also be impacted, added the statement issued by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies' Africa director, Fatoumata Nafo-Traore.

  • Armed gunmen shoot dead four bus passengers in Burkina Faso

Armed gunmen stopped a bus travelling in northern Burkina Faso and shot dead four passengers, local sources said Wednesday, with jihadists suspected of staging the attack.

Passengers had their ID's checked before the shooting took place, a local authority told AFP, after the bus was intercepted in the village of Liki on Tuesday.

"The four people killed were from the same ethnic community," while the others were not harmed, the source said.

Burkina Faso, a former French colony, has seen a surge in attacks blamed on radical Islamist groups -- mainly the Ansaroul Islam group and the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) -- in the last four years.

In early April, 62 people were killed in jihadist attacks and subsequent intercommunal clashes in northern Burkina Faso, which lies near the Mali border.

  • Angola frees 40 Cabinda 'separatists'

Angola has released 40 supporters of independence for Luanda's oil-rich Cabinda exclave held on charges of rebellion and conspiracy since earlier this year, their lawyer said Wednesday.

They were among a group of activists, including two senior officials, rounded up in an operation that targeted a new, small secessionist group, the Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC), which was created last year.
"Only 40 of the 51 activists have been freed and the others are inexplicably still in detention despite being arrested at a demonstration," lawyer Arao Bula Tempo told AFP.
The wave of arrests was launched on the eve of a planned demonstration that was to mark the 134th anniversary of a treaty recognising the autonomy of Cabinda, which was due on February 1.
Cabinda is a coastal exclave with the status of a province of Angola. It produces 60 percent of Angola's oil yet the majority of its 400,000 residents live in poverty.

Cabinda has been rocked by a separatist insurgency since it officially became part of Angola at independence in 1975.

Rights groups frequently report cases of torture and human rights violations.
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), is by far the largest separatist movement.

  • Moroccan police use water cannon to disperse protesting teachers

Moroccan police used water cannon Wednesday night to disperse a demonstration in the capital by thousands of contract teachers protesting over their employment terms.

The teachers, chanting "No to dismantling public schools" and "Social justice", had come to camp out in front of parliament in the centre of Rabat to press their demands before their rally was broken up by police, an AFP journalist reported.

The public-sector teachers, mostly wearing white coats, had come from several cities around the country.

A meeting with the education ministry that was supposed to have taken place on Tuesday was cancelled.

Teachers on temporary contracts launched a strike in March and have held major demonstrations to press their demand for permanent employment arrangements that would improve their rights and benefits, especially over retirement.

  • Algeria reopens corruption probe against ex-energy minister

Algerian authorities have reopened an investigation against an ex-energy minister close to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika , according to state media.

Chakib Khelil, 79, who was energy minister for 10 years until he quit the government in 2010, faces renewed accusations of corruption that he had beat a few years ago, the APS news agency reported.

News of the investigation against him adds to the arrests this week on graft charges of four tycoons with links to Bouteflika as well as the detention of the country's richest man, Issad Rebrab, on suspected false customs declarations.

  • Burundi seeks Zimbabwe support to join SADC

Burundi on Wednesday sought the support of Zimbabwe in its bid to become a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Burundi Foreign Affairs Minister Nibigura Ezechiel told journalists after delivering a special message to President Emmerson Mnangagwa from President Pierre Nkrunziza that the East African country looked forward to becoming the newest member of the regional bloc, the state run news agency New Ziana reported Wednesday.

"The process of dealing with our SADC application is going very well," he said.

"We believe that Zimbabwe will continue to support Burundi in its bid," he added. Burundi applied for SADC membership in 2017 but the application was put on hold.

If allowed to join SADC, Burundi will become the second East African country to join the regional grouping after Tanzania.

  • Tanzania makes advance payment of $ 309 mln for mega hydropower project

Tanzania on Wednesday made advance payment of about 309 million U.S. dollars to an Egyptian company for the construction of the 2,115MW Stiegler's Gorge hydroelectric project. 

Doto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, handed over a check for the amount to representatives of Egyptian state-owned Arab Contractors.

The payment was part of an estimated cost of $ 3 billion dollars to be whole funded by the government of Tanzania.

Last week, Tanzania's CRDB Bank Plc and the United Bank for Africa signed a $737.5 million dollars bank guarantee to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) for the implementation of the mega hydropower project. The project will be implemented for 36 months on a joint venture between Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric Company, said James.

  • Boeing puts cost of 737 MAX crisis at $1 bn

Boeing said Wednesday that its 737 MAX crisis had cost $1 billion in the first quarter as it withdrew its 2019 profit forecast on continued uncertainty about when the grounded jets will fly again after two deadly crashes.

The US aerospace giant also cited spending on the software fix and related training, according to an earnings presentation released Wednesday that listed the $1 billion in 737 program costs.

The results are the first since the company entered crisis mode with the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, which along with an October Lion Air crash claimed 346 lives.
Shares rallied in early trading, reflecting relief that damage from the 737 MAX crisis thus far was not worse.

On Wednesday, however, Norwegian, Europe's third biggest low-cost airline, now in financial difficulty, said it was further delaying deliveries of Airbus and 14 Boeing 737 MAX planes it had ordered to beyond 2021.

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