Africa at a glance

Tuesday June 11 2019

Employees pose in front of

Employees pose in front of "Salvator Mundi", a painting by Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci during a photocall at Christie's auction house in central London ahead of its sale at Christie's New York on November 15, 2017. On June 10, 2019, London-based art dealer Kenny Schachter revealed on the website Artnews that the $450 million mural now resides in a yacht owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. PHOTO | TOLGA AKMEN | AFP 

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  • US envoy heads to Sudan to call for halt to attacks on civilians

A top US diplomat will head to Sudan on Wednesday to urge an end to a bloody crackdown on protesters.

Washington says Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, plans to meet both members of the military leadership and protest leaders in Khartoum.

The news came as a civil disobedience campaign entered the third day with the military saying it had arrested members of forces involved in the crackdown.

Landline internet connections went down on Monday, a week after mobile online services were cut, as the military tries to quell mass action over the killing of more than 61 protesters.

  • UN hears calls to enforce Libya arms embargo

The UN Security Council has renewed its authorization of a European Union mission to combat arms smuggling off Libya's coast amid calls for tougher action to cut the flow of weapons.

The council voted unanimously to extend the work of Operation Sophia until June 2020 after being moved by Germany with the backing of France, Britain, Belgium and South Africa.

The UN resolution allows EU vessels to inspect ships in the Mediterranean suspected of carrying weapons, a mission EU suspended in March after forces of Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize Tripoli.

  • Gabon govt reshuffle after timber smuggling scandal

Gabon' Prime Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale has reshuffled top government officials following a scandal over the smuggling of precious timber.

The new government team includes 28 ministers, ten fewer than the outgoing team, while the number of woman in the cabinet increases to 11 from six.

On Saturday, President Ali Bongo Ondimba asked Bekale to form a leaner administration made up of "exemplary, honest and ethical" characters.

  • Algeria detains car tycoon in graft case

Algerian authorities on Monday detained an automobile tycoon linked to ousted president Abdelaziz Bouteflika on charges of corruption, one of his lawyers said.

Mahieddine Tahkout was detained along with his son and two of his brothers on charges of corruption and money laundering, a day after they were questioned by an investigative judge.

Tahkout's family runs the Tahkout Manufacturing Company (TMC) which assembles vehicles in Algeria for South Korean carmaker Hyundai.

  • Botswana court to rule on scrapping anti-gay laws

Botswana's high court is expected to rule Tuesday on whether to decriminalise gay sex in a landmark case being watched across Africa after Kenya recently upheld its own anti-homosexuality laws.

In March, the court postponed a ruling on the issue after an unnamed applicant challenged two sections of the penal code under which offenders face a jail sentence of up to seven years.

More than half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have anti-homosexuality laws but Angola, Mozambique and Seychelles recently scrapped anti-gay laws in recent years.

  • New York Times to cease political cartoons after anti-Semitism row

The New York Times has announced it will no longer include daily political cartoons in its international edition, weeks after apologising for publishing a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deemed anti-Semitic.

The cartoon, published in April, depicted Netanyahu as a guide dog wearing a Star of David collar and leading a blind Donald Trump who was wearing a kippah, or a Jewish skullcap.

Editor James Bennet said the paper had planned for a year to cease running political cartoons in the international print version of the Times, in line with the US edition, effective July 1.

  • South African green groups sue state over air pollution

Two South African environmental groups are suing the government over air pollution in the northeastern province of Mpumalanga, where 83 percent of the country's coal is mined.

Lawyers for GroundWork and the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action say the government has violated the constitutional right to a healthy environment.

According to an October report by Greenpeace, Mpumalanga's nitrogen dioxide emissions are the highest in the world.

  • Rights group calls on Senegal to tackle Koranic school abuses

Human Rights Watch wants Senegal to reform Koranic schools saying pupils are facing "alarming rates" of abuse, including rape, neglect and imprisonment.

In Senegal, a Muslim majority nation, children from poor backgrounds have long been entrusted to Koranic schools, called daaras, for education.

In its report HRW and a coalition of Senegalese groups, called on President Macky Sall to protect the young students known as "talibes" living in unregulated daaras.

  • Media group study finds Google makes billions from news

Google took in some $4.7 billion in revenue in 2018 from "crawling and scraping" news websites without paying publishers, according to a media industry-sponsored study released on Monday.

The study by the News Media Alliance underscores industry arguments about Google and other online giants harming traditional news organizations by dominating the internet news ecosystem and ad revenues generated through it.

Google disputed the findings of the study, saying its news portal and search engine drive more than 10 billion clicks to publishers' websites, traffic that yields subscriptions and significant ad revenue.

  • Amazon dethrones Google as top global brand: survey

US retail giant Amazon has moved past hi-tech titans Apple and Google to become the world's most valuable brand as of last year.

The brand value of Amazon surged by 52 percent to $315 billion, global market research agency Kantar said in its 2019 100 Top BrandZ report released Tuesday.

Apple ($309.5 billion) held on to second spot with Google ($309 billion) slipping to third. Microsoft, Tencent, Facebook, Visa, MacDonalds, Alibaba and AT&T completed the top ten.

  • Vodafone Egypt fined 500,000 euros for coverage outage

Egyptian authorities said Monday they had fined the national branch of mobile phone giant Vodafone the equivalent of $565,000 over a coverage outage last week.

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) said services dropped for several hours on June 3 just ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting.

Vodafone is the leading provider in Egypt with 40 per cent of the country' s 100 million plus mobile phone lines followed by Orange, Etisalat and We.

  • World's most costly painting on Saudi prince's yacht: report

A London based art dealer Kenny Schachter claims the $450 million "Salvator Mundi," said to be painted by Leonardo da Vinci, now resides in a yacht owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Since its record sale at Christies in 2017 the mural in which Jesus Christ is depicted emerging from darkness blessing the world with one hand while holding a transparent globe in the other has not been displayed in public.

The dealer made the disclosure on the website Artnews as doubts linger whether the work was by the Italian master or by his workshop.

  • Egypt asks UK to halt auction of Tutankhamun sculpture

The Egyptian embassy in London has asked Britain to stop the planned sale by Christie's of an ancient sculpture representing King Tutankhamun's head and return it to Egypt.

Christie's has announced that the brown quartzite head of the pharaoh which is more than 3,000 years old would be sold on July 4 where it could fetch more than $5.1 million.

Egypt has also petitioned the UN cultural agency UNESCO to intervene including for other items until the validity of ownership certificates is established.

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