Africa at a glance

Thursday June 13 2019

Donald Booth addresses the press in Juba, South

Donald Booth addresses the press in Juba, South Sudan, on March 25, 2015 when he was the US special envoy on mediating peace in the country. The US State Department nominated him as a special envoy to Sudan on June 12, 2019, hoping he can help craft a "peaceful political solution" between the military rulers and groups seeking civilian rule. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP.  

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Second patient dies of Ebola in Uganda

A 50-year-old woman who tested positive for Ebola in Uganda has died, the second fatality since the virus spread from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.
A health ministry official said the deceased was the grandmother of the five-year-old boy who died on Tuesday after they attended the burial of an Ebola patient in Congo where the virus has killed more than 1000 people.

US names special Sudan envoy as protesters demand guarantees

The United States Wednesday named Donald Booth as a special envoy to Sudan to find a "peaceful political" solution between demonstrators and military generals.

Protest leaders, however, have refused to back down after seeing the ruling council repudiate all earlier concessions and violently attack demonstrators, killing more than 60.

Alliance for Freedom and Change leader Madani Abbas Madani said "any agreement (reached with generals) must have regional and international guarantees" on implementation.


Governor sacked after Mali massacre

The Malian government on Wednesday sacked the governor of the central Mopti region following a village massacre in which 35 people died.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita also declared three days of mourning while on a visit to the TSobane Da village.

He said the cabinet had drawn lessons from the tragedy in dismissing General Sidi Alassane Toure.

The killings have sparked fears of ethnic retaliations in an area where violent jihadists have held sway since 2015.

Life terms in Egypt for foiled Sisi attack: security sources

An Egyptian military court on Wednesday sentenced nearly 300 people to prison terms, including some who in 2014 attempted to attack President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Security sources said 32 were sentenced to life in prison, which is 25 years in Egypt, 264 were jailed for terms of between three and 15 years while two were acquitted.

The foiled attempt on Sisi's life was reportedly made while he was in Saudi Arabia in 2014 for a pilgrimage but the presidency denied it happened.

Ghana security forces free two kidnapped Canadians
Two young Canadian women were freed from their kidnap ordeal by Ghanaian security forces unharmed after being snatched at a golf club Kumasi last week.

Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said five Ghanaians and three Nigerians are being held in connection with the kidnapping

The women, aged 19 and 20, have been flown to the capital Accra enroute to Canada where they work as development volunteers with Youth Challenge International

Algeria ex-PM detained in graft probe

Algeria's Supreme Court ordered that a former prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, be detained after he appeared before judges in connection with a corruption investigation on Wednesday.

The court also ordered the detention of an ex-Transport Minister Abdelghani Zaalane in a similar case.

The two men served under former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in April after weeks of street protests.

Since then, senior officials and rich businessmen who prospered during Mr Bouteflika's 20 years in power have been targeted in a series of corruption inquiries.

Egypt, Jordan, Morocco to attend US Mideast peace conference

Egypt, Morocco and Jordan have agreed to attend the unveiling of the economic component of a new US peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the White House said on Wednesday.

White House said the three Arab countries and the UN would be represented at the June 25 and 26 event in Bahrain, an initiative of US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Palestinians have rejected the plan which intends to dole out economic benefits if they accept Washington's political proposals on disputed lands, believing it favours Israel.

Cocoa prices soar as ICoast, Ghana threaten supply cut

A threat by Ivory Coast and Ghana to sell Cocoa subject to a minimum price has pushed up prices at the New York commodity exchange.

After a two-day meeting with buyers at Accra, the two countries which produce 60 per cent of the commodity's global output demanded a floor price of $2,600 per tonne.

The market responded with September contracts up 1.4 per cent to $2,540 per tonne as the two countries pegged the sale of the 2020/21 crop to the floor price being in place.

Norway forces sovereign wealth fund to go greener

Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest at more than $1 trillion, is set to divest assets in mining giants working with coal as well as energy companies dealing with fossil fuels.

This follows a decision by Parliament enhancing restrictions on coal exposure from 30 per cent of a company's activities to more than 20 million tonnes of coal or more than 10,000 megawatts of electricity from coal.

The fund could offload holdings in giants such as Glencore, BHP Billiton, Anglo American, Germany's RWE and Italy's Enel estimated at $5.8 billion.

Commodities regulator urges review of financial risk posed by climate change

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Wednesday called for a comprehensive review of the risk posed by climate change whose contagion will not spare financial markets.

Its commissioner Rostin Behnam made the call as global losses from disasters reached $160 billion in 2018 against a generational average of $140 billion.
"That poses a risk to financial markets as well", Democrat Behnam said in comments that are likely to antagonise US president Donald Trump, an outspoken skeptic of climate change.

'Don't drink and drone' laws passed in Japan
While most of the world is struggling to control drink driving, Japan has passed news laws to control flying of drones under the influence.

Up to a year in prison awaits those who while drunk operate drones weighing more than 200 grams. They could also be set back by $2,750 in fines.

Drone stunt performers will also be fined the equivalent in yen of $4,585.

Six people were injured in 2017 at a robot festival when an industrial size drone delivering sweets to children plunged 10 metres into the crowd.

Climate change on track to reduce ocean wildlife by a fifth
Climate change is set to empty the ocean of nearly a fifth of all living creatures, measured by mass, by the end of the century when the earth will be four degrees hotter. researchers have calculated.
According to a report by researchers in the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 17 percent of marine biomass will be wiped out led by rising temperatures, already up by a degree.

Bigger fish and marine mammals would see sharp declines while limiting warming to two degrees as per the Paris climate treaty would still decimate ocean's biomass by five percent.

Disease pushes World's fattest parrot closer to extinction

New Zealand scientists fear illness is wiping out the critically endangered kakapo, the world's fattest parrot, from the face of the earth.

One of the last kakapo flocks on the remote Codfish Island has been hit with a fungal respiratory disease called aspergillosis with 36 parrots on treatment.

Seven parrots have died, including two adults, a heavy blow for species with less than 150 adult birds left.

Veterians attribute the spread of the disease to a "really warm year down south."