Category Archives: African News

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Letter from Africa: How ‘cheating husbands’ are linked to Sudan’s protests


In our series of letters from African journalists, Zeinab Mohammed Salih explores how women in Sudan are using a Facebook group about love to expose alleged abuse amid anti-government protests.

Unprecedented numbers of women are taking to the streets to join daily nationwide protests that erupted in mid-December.

Despite a violent crackdown by the security forces and reports of sexual harassment, they remain undeterred.

More than 50 people are thought to have died at the hands of security agents and many have been tortured, rights groups say.

Yet women make up 70% of marchers at some protests, observers say, defiant in the face of the repressive laws of the conservative, Islamic state.

Zeinab Mohammed Salih quote: "NISS agents have started to wear face masks in an effort to avoid identification and ostracisation"

They all wear headscarves in compliance with the country’s Public Order Act, which regulates what women should wear – they can, for example, be flogged for wearing clothes such as trousers that are considered indecent.

Hair cut with razorblades

But a 23-year-old graduate told me how her headscarf was ripped off when she was detained on 31 January by security agents at a protest in the capital, Khartoum.

“They cut the bun off my head with a razorblade and they threatened me with rape when I was taken in their truck from downtown Khartoum,” Jode Tariq said.

What happens inside Sudan’s secret detention centres?
What happens inside Sudan’s secret detention centres?

A 24-year-old related a similar incident in Khartoum earlier in January.

“They cut my hair along with another woman at an unknown location used as a detention centre,” Afraa Turky said.

Female journalists Shamael al-Nnoor and Durra Gambo, who were both arrested for covering the protests over the last month, said some young women they met while in custody told them they had been sexually abused by security agents.

And dozens of other women thrown into jail have not been heard from since their detention.

Presentational grey line

Sudan’s Public Order laws

  • The law is Article 152 of the Criminal Code and applies to “indecent acts” in public
  • This can include wearing an “obscene outfit” or “causing an annoyance to public feelings”
  • Women must wear a headscarf and cannot wear trousers
  • Between 40,000 and 50,000 women are arrested and flogged every year by public order police because of their clothing
  • Women have also be charged under this law for being alone with a man
  • People can also be charged for drinking alcohol under these laws
Presentational grey line

But women are fighting back against these alleged abuses using a private all-women Facebook group that was set up three years ago to identify cheating husbands and follow their crushes.

Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is behind the brutal response to the demonstrations that started in the eastern city of Atbara initially in response to a hike in bread prices.

Now photos taken at protests of suspected NISS agents are shared in the group, called Minbar-Shat, which in Sudanese Arabic means “Extreme Love”.

If anyone is able to identify or knows anything about them – they share these details, sometimes even giving names, addresses and phone numbers. This has led to some protesters writing graffiti on houses saying a known NISS agent lives there.

‘Don’t look at me’

The Sudanese authorities have tried to block social media in the country, but the women bypass the blockade by using Virtual Private Networks (VPN), which can hide a user’s location.

A Sudanese protester carries a portrait of President Omar al-Bashir with Arabic writing that reads "Down and that is all" during an anti-government demonstration east of the capital Khartoum on 9 February 2019
Protesters angered with rising prices want President Bashir to step down

So successful has the strategy been that NISS agents have started to wear face masks in an effort to avoid identification and ostracisation.

Some protesters have told me that when they were arrested they were forced to look down towards the ground for hours.

One said, “I was beaten on my head with a stick because I accidentally looked up and he told me, ‘Do you want to take my pictures to Minbar-Shat? Don’t look at me.'”

The protesters themselves also have to wear masks but for different reasons.

They get them from pharmacies to avoid the bad smelling tear gas usually thrown at them during the protests.

Minbar-Shat is now active in posting on Toyota’s Facebook page informing the company about the use of their cars in Sudan by NISS members to arrest and sometimes run over protesters.

U-turn over dress laws?

Sudan’s poor record on women’s rights is well documented, with Human Rights Watch saying the security forces have often used sexual violence and intimidation to silence women.

Women protesters in Omdurman, Sudan
Many protesters now wear masks too because of the tear gas

Ten days ago a group of women were raped by a government militia at a camp for internally displaced people in northern Darfur, where the UN says rape has been used as a weapon of war during the conflict that began more 13 years ago to demand greater political and economic rights for communities in the region.

According to the No To Women Oppression group, thousands of women get arrested and flogged each year by the police for wearing indecent clothes or simply for being out with men.

President Omar al-Bashir holds his arms aloft in Sudan while addressing supporters
President Bashir, seen addressing supporters last week, has led Sudan for nearly 30 years

Interestingly, President Omar al-Bashir, who has led a hardline administration since coming to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, has softened his language about the Public Order laws.

The 75-year-old sees their harsh implementation as the reason for the protests and says they are too strict an interpretation of Sharia.

This is indeed a turnaround as he defended the law vociferously in 2010 when there was an outcry over a video on social media showing a woman screaming as she was whipped for wearing trousers.

But his words, spoken during a recent meeting with newspaper editors, seem unlikely to be able to douse the flames.

Ms Tariq and Ms Turky, who both had their hair cut by agents last month, insist they will not stop protesting until Mr Bashir leaves office.


Liberia gold mine collapse: Dozens arrested at ‘lawless’ rescue site”:


Liberia is rich in mineral deposits – and full of illicit mines

More than 60 miners, some armed, have been arrested at an illegal gold mine in north-eastern Liberia where around 40 people remain trapped in a collapsed pit, officials have told the BBC.

They “resisted” a team sent to restore order at the site, said Archievego Doe of the disaster management agency.

Another official described the situation as “lawless”.

Rescuers have so far retrieved seven bodies after the walls of the pit caved in on 10 February.

Liberian authorities deployed a team comprising the army, police, immigration and drug enforcement agency officials to the gold field in Nimba county, a major centre for illicit mining.

The immigration services were involved in the operation because some of the illegal miners are foreigners, Mr Doe said.

Thousands of people are believed to work in the mine, near the town of Tapeta.

Aubrey Wehye, the district superintendent of the Tapeta region, said the situation was “lawless”, adding that some of the illegal miners were in possession of “Guinean-made shotguns that they fire all night”.

The illegal miners fear that the government wants to shut down their operations, says the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh, who is in the capital, Monrovia.

Poverty and a weak economy mean there is no shortage of Liberians willing to risk death in illegal gold mines, our reporter says.

Map of Liberia, showing Nimba county

Miners have been searching for the dead and any survivors using their bare hands. Authorities now plan to use an earthmoving machine to widen the path to the mining pit so that an excavator can reach the site, Mr Doe told the BBC.

He said the number of fatalities was likely to rise.

Zimbabwe flooding: Nine rescued from Kadoma mine shaft”:


The men are reported to have had water up to their necks while they waited in hope of rescuers

Nine illegal miners have been rescued from a gold mine in Zimbabwe days after a burst dam flooded two shafts.

They are reported to have survived by finding higher ground and waiting while up to their necks in water.

Dozens are feared to have died 40m (130ft) underground since the accident happened on Tuesday night.

The government has declared the accident near the town of Kadoma, south-west of the capital Harare, a national disaster.

Miners say those trapped are mostly under the age of 24.

A video taken by a Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reporter showed a rescue team cranking a cable system by hand to pull one of the men out, tied to a rescuer.

Hopes for the missing miners had waned during the four days since flooding started, as rescuers had to pump out large amounts of water, slowing their progress.

“We are yet to assess and find any more people down there who are still alive,” government deputy chief mining engineer Tapererwa Paswavaviri told reporters.

ten men carrying one rescued miner past a crowd of onlookers
REUTERS

Nine people were pulled from the mine

The company that owns one of the mines, Rio Zimbabwe, says people entered the shafts illegally to look for gold. Illegal mining accounts for a large part of the country’s gold output.

Heavy rains on Tuesday night then destroyed a dam upstream and caused flooding in the soft ground.

Anxious family members at the scene became frustrated with the slow pace, with one telling Reuters news agency that it was “so painful” to see many rescue workers present but no successful rescues.

Previous mine disasters in other parts of Africa have cost the lives of numerous unauthorised miners.

REUTERS

The miners had entered the shafts illegally to look for gold

REUTERS

Some mine entrances were completely flooded

REUTERS

Rescuers built wooden platforms over unstable and muddy entrances

EPA

Family members and other female locals watched the rescue effort

Armed Masked Men Who Assaulted Sam George, Others To Face The Law”:


Minister of State in charge of National security, Mr. Bryan Acheampong, has given strong indications that the armed masked men who assaulted civilians at the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election will be made to face the full rigours of the law.

Mr. Acheampong said he has also instructed the Director of Operations for the National security to identify and fish out the man who assaulted the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Mr. Sam George during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, and remove him from operations of the National Security Council.

Speaking at the public hearing of the Justice Emile Short Commission of Inquiry on Thursday, Mr. Bryan Acheampong was, however, unable to state exactly what other punishment will be meted out the said individual who assaulted the legislator as well as his other fully masked armed colleagues who were caught on camera brutalizing civilians.

The Abetifi MP also disclosed that all of such masked and armed men, who assaulted individuals will be made available for questioning into circumstances leading to their misconduct.

The Minister of State in charge of National Security, also explained to the commission of inquiry that, the presence of masked armed men at the by-election was “not a failed operation” despite all the condemnation from civil society organizations, opposition political parties, and the general public.

According to him, the armed and masked men numbering about 60 of them deployed did not fire gunshots indiscriminately as reported by the media.

Appearing before the Justice Emile Short commission of Inquiry Mr. Acheampong explained that the armed security operatives seen in khaki and masks did not misconduct themselves in their handling of the volatile security situation during the by-election.

was used in their arrest after they initially resisted arrest.

Mr. Bryan Acheampong who is also a Member of Parliament of the Abetifi Constituency in his defence for the national security operatives said the gunshots they fired were warning shots and not directed at any person.

He alleged that all the gunshots wounds took place inside the house of the NDC parliamentary candidate for the by-election, Mr. Delali Kwesi Brempong.

“They tell me, that in the arrest of the nine people, six were injured I asked if it was from gunshots, they said no. They were resisting arrest and they applied minimal force in their language and sustained some injuries, they sent to the police station and they were given medical forms, so yes, some Ghanaians sustained injuries.”

Masked armed men were not part of Police operation – Ambrose Dery

The Interior Minister, Mr, Ambrose Dery in an interesting twist to the violence witnessed during the recently held Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, has earlier said the Police Service did not play any role in the disturbances.

Mr. Ambrose Dery who was first of to be invited to the public hearing of the commission of inquiry said, the Police service, which is under his ministry had no hand in the operations of the masked men who have been widely described in the media as party vigilantes aligned to the governing New Patriotic Party

He also disclosed that the vehicles used in transporting these masked and fully armed men to the La Bawaleshie polling centre, where most of the violence occurred, did not belong to the Police Service despite having the inscription “Police SWAT” on it and being driven by a uniformed police officer.

Mr. Ambrose Dery also noted he had no idea of the deployment of the masked men to the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency and only saw them on national television.

He also explained that the official report sent to him, by the IGP revealed that the masked men in Khaki uniforms were not personnel of the Ghana Police service.

“As reported to me, by the IGP, who was in charge of the operations, I will say that there were police deployed and there were also officers of the Ghana Immigration Service, also deployed in the 137 polling stations. That is what I know…”

“…I first saw on TV, some persons dressed in Khaki and some of them wearing masks and armed… and when I got the video, I forwarded it to the Police and he said these are not part of my men. I later got information that an officer of National security had said that they were national security operatives,” he said.

Background

The NDC withdrew from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election following the shooting incident and ordered its polling agents and observers out of the area.

The masked men were caught on camera beating up civilians who did not resist arrest. The men, fully armed were also seen in the company of some police officers.

Some of these men believed to party vigilantes of the ruling NPP were seen in T-shirts with the inscription ‘NSC’ which translates as the National Security Council of which the President of the Republic heads.

The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Samuel Nartey George, was seen being struck in the face by two security personnel in a viral video.

Mr. Bryan Acheampong, Minister of State in charge of National Security in an interview on the Citi Breakfast show, said his outfit deployed the masked men.

Liberia illicit gold mine collapse: Five bodies found”:


Liberia is rich in mineral deposits – and full of illicit mines

The bodies of five people have been recovered from a collapsed pit in an illicit gold mine in north-eastern Liberia, a local official has said.

Around 35 people are still believed to be missing after the walls of the pit caved in on Saturday.

The search for the dead and for any survivors is being carried out without specialist equipment by miners using their bare hands.

The gold field in Nimba County is a major centre for illicit mining.

According to the county administrator, David Dorr Cooper, more than 100,000 people work in the mine, near the town of Tapeta.

He said the field attracts workers from across the region, some of whom are armed. He described the area around the mine as “lawless”.

Local authorities have so far failed in their efforts to shut down the unregulated site.

Poverty and a weak economy mean there is no shortage of Liberians willing to risk death in illicit gold mines, says the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in the capital, Monrovia.

Map of Liberia, showing Nimba county

Mr Cooper told the BBC that the miners conducting the rescue operation themselves faced dangerous conditions in the pit.

They were using their hands to remove debris, he said, and would not use excavators – even if these were available – because of the risk of harming any trapped survivors.

The five bodies recovered on Wednesday had been swiftly buried because they were already decomposing, he said.

A senior doctor at Jackson F Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita told the BBC he had been treating survivors from Saturday’s disaster for cuts, broken limbs and dehydration.

Bouteflika seeks fifth term as Algeria’s president


Algeria’s 81-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will seek a fifth term in April’s elections, he announced in a message published by state media.

Mr Bouteflika has been in office for 20 years but has rarely been seen in public since he had a stroke in 2013.

He insisted his “unwavering desire” to serve Algeria allowed him to “transcend the constraints of health concerns”.

Critics say this makes it difficult for him to carry out his duties.

He is confined to a wheelchair and has cancelled recent official meetings.

Mr Bouteflika’s last meeting with a senior foreign official was during a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in September. An earlier meeting with her had been cancelled.

However, Mr Bouteflika is widely expected to win the April election, says BBC Arabic’s Ahmed Rouaba.

Is he the oldest world leader?

No, by quite a stretch.

The world’s oldest elected leader is 93-year-old Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Mahathir joked about his own age

when he was voted in as prime minister in May.

“Yes, yes, I am still alive,” he quipped to the crowd at a news conference.

Yes, yes, I am still alive,” he quipped to the crowd at a news conference.

Mr Bouteflika can look closer to home to find another elected president who is quite a few years older than himself.

Algeria’s neighbour, Tunisia, is led by 92-year-old President Beji Caid Essebsi.

Haile Selassie: Why the African Union put up a statue


A statue of Ethiopia’s last emperor has been unveiled outside the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The likeness of Haile Selassie is being given pride of place outside the $200m (£154m) building in recognition for his role in establishing its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

But that might not be the first thing that springs to mind on hearing the name Haile Selassie. The name is perhaps more easily connected with Jamaican singer Bob Marley and Rastafarians.

So who exactly is Haile Selassie, and how did he come to be worshipped as a god by people living thousands of miles away?

First things first: why is he getting a statue?

Haile Selassie was more than 30 years into his reign when he helped establish the OAU. Its first meeting, in May 1963, was held in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia – which has never been colonised although it was subjected to a five-year military occupation by Mussolini’s Italy – had served as a symbol of African independence throughout the colonial period.

Now other countries were finally gaining independence, and this was a chance to bring nations together to fight against colonisation and white minority rule while also co-ordinating efforts to raise living standards and defend their sovereignty.

“May this convention of union last 1,000 years,” Selassie, who spent a year preparing the city for the meeting, told the gathered delegates.

His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia
Haile Selassie was Ethiopia’s last emperor

As it happened, the OAU ceased to exist in its original form in 2002, replaced by the African Union (AU).

But his role in establishing the union has not been forgotten, and the statue is a way for the AU to recognise Selassie’s contribution.

So, how exactly did he come to be seen as a god?

It all comes down to his coronation in 1930, and a “prophecy” made by a Jamaican black rights campaigner, Marcus Garvey, a decade earlier.

Garvey had told his followers in 1920 they should “look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand”.

Rastafarian Reggae fans take parts in the Bob Marley "One Love" Festival and Rasta Fair to commemorate and celebrate the life of Bob Marley at the North Beach Amphitheatre in Durban, South Africa on February 3, 2019
Rastafarians believe Haile Selassie was the messiah

So, when a black man called Ras Tafari was crowned in Ethiopia, many saw that as a sign the prophecy had come true.

In East Africa, Ras Tafari (“chief” Tafari) became Haile Selassie (“power of the trinity”). Almost 8,000 miles away in the West Indies, Haile Selassie became God (or Jah) incarnate – the redeeming messiah – and Ethiopia, the promised land.

In short, the Rastafari movement was born.

Did Selassie believe it himself? Well, he certainly didn’t try to dispel the belief when he visited Jamaica in 1966. The emperor was greeted by thousands, desperate to get a glimpse of their god. Among the devotees was the wife of a young Reggae musician, Bob Marley, who was away in the US.

Rita Marley would later describe how she saw nail marks on Selassie’s palm as he waved at her. It was a moment of religious awakening, and when her husband returned, they embraced the belief.

Three years earlier, Rastafarians had begun to move to Ethiopia and a piece of land Selassie had put aside for black people from the West in 1948. After the visit, the numbers grew larger. Today, the community numbers about 300 people.

But followers were presented with a conundrum after Selassie died in 1975, a year after he was deposed in a Marxist revolution. After all, gods cannot die.

This was resolved after it was argued Selassie’s body was just his earthly body.

Also, it should be noted, Garvey was never a believer. In fact, he was a critic of Selassie.

What was he really like?

Opinion is still split over whether Selassie was good for Ethiopia or not.

A Human Rights Watch report accuses him of acting with “official indifference” to famines in various regions of the country and attempting to conceal the famine of 1972-72, in which an estimated 200,000 people died.

He is also known to have violently cracked down on people who opposed him during his reign.

The Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie (C) and Ghana"s founder and first President Kwame Nkrumah (L) during the formation of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa. Ghana
Selassi’s statue joins that of Ghana’s President Kwame Nkrumah, another AU founder

Marcus Garvey was unimpressed after he fled Ethiopia in 1936 following the invasion of Benito Mussolini’s troops a year earlier, describing Selassie as a “coward” and calling him out for “the terrors of slavery”. The practice was not outlawed in Ethiopia until 1942.

Academic Dr Yohannes Woldemariam has gone as far as to argue that Selassie should be remembered as a dictator. Indeed, he created a constitution which placed all the power in his hands and those of his descendents.

But his supporters argue he was a great leader and moderniser, who was one of the first African leaders to become a figure on the global stage.

His appeal to the League of Nations after his country was invaded is still remembered today – not least because it forms the basis of Bob Marley’s 1976 song, War.

What’s more, he was not made emperor through a chance of birth. Although born into a noble family in 1892, he was only named leader after impressing Menelik III with his intelligence.

And – as the AU’s statue to him reminds people – he was a great advocate for pan-African cooperation, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to have an effect on millions of people across the continent today.

Does Nigeria’s ‘generation democracy’ want to vote?


Nigeria’s first presidential election with a generation of voters who have only known democracy takes place next weekend.

Up until 20 years ago, the country was led by a succession of military rulers or short-lived civilian administrations.

But has a democratic era delivered for young people? Some 18 to 20-year-olds in Lagos and Abeokuta spoke to the BBC:

‘Nigerian politics is messed up’

Artist in front of his picture

Emmanuel Odumade, artist, 19

When it comes to the elections, I did register to vote. But I won’t lie, the registration process was so stressful, and we had to wait for two days to get the card.

If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have gone through the process, but people said that I needed to get the card to use it as an ID card.

It’s not that I’m not interested in politics but I would just say Nigerian politics is messed up. To me, I just feel like it’s not sincere. At the end of the day we all know who’s going to win, so what’s the use of voting? It’s not that your vote really counts.

Main presidential contenders:

Everything is just in a mess, we just need God’s intervention.

I am an artist – I discovered that I could draw because I fell in love with a girl at school.

I was trying to impress her and every day I would go to school with a new portrait of her. At the end of the day, she didn’t fall in love with me but I still had the talent.

As I get older, I want to be someone who speaks for my people through my art.

‘Are we practising democracy?’

Street seller with a tray of groundnuts on her head

Monday Victory, hawker and designer, 19

I didn’t register to take part in the election as I’m worried about violence. No-one is talking about it, but there is tension. I don’t want to vote because I hate something that might cause a fight.

Are we really practising democracy in Nigeria? I don’t know what to say, but I don’t think so. If we were practising democracy then there should be rules and regulations that people abide by.

But I don’t want military rule. I just want betterment for this country, not all this grab, grab, grab. It should be about showing your talents.

And there are many things that need fixing. For example, for a long time there are places where the roads are bad. And also electricity, like in the place where I’m staying – they should bring light there.

I am a fashion designer but I also help my aunt to sell groundnuts. I’ve finished school and I hope to study mass communication, but I’m struggling to get into university with the little money that I have.

I am an orphan – my mum died in 2013 of a terrible illness and my dad died in 2005 – so they can’t support me.

‘We have to make our nation proud’

Man in a market

Nasir Muhammad, gold trader, 19

It’s important for me to take part in the election, to help get a good leader for the nation. To know the kind of person we are voting for, that will help us and give us a caring nation.

By not voting you’re not helping the nation. We have to come together and make our nation proud and strong.

In this life, education is the key and I would like the government to pay our lecturers more and provide better equipment. There should also be better transportation and roads, good enough for vehicles and for people to walk along.

More on Nigeria’s vote:

I prefer democracy to military rule as we have the right to speak our mind and talk about what’s bothering us.

If I was the president, I would make sure that corruption is finished in Nigeria, because people are always shouting “corruption, corruption, corruption”.

I help my dad in the gold trading business. It’s a good business, which has paid for school fees and food for me and my eight siblings.

I’m now done with my secondary school, and I’d like to go to university to study zoology.

‘I want everything to cost less’

Man with straw hat on his head

Andrew Ogunnorin, furniture maker, 20

I wanted to register to vote to get the ID card but I didn’t have the time. We start work at 07.30 and we close at 21:00 and I couldn’t say to the boss that I wanted to go.

But even if I had registered I wouldn’t vote. There might be a fight afterwards and I don’t want a fight. They’d be shooting guns, taking out cutlasses and I don’t like that.

I don’t know anything about the people in charge, but I don’t think the president does any work. Look at how much things cost.

At one time if I wanted to buy a cup of rice it was 40 naira ($0.11; £0.09) – now it’s 80 naira. The money that used to buy two cups, now buys one cup. What has the president been doing?

I want everything to cost less like before. As an apprentice furniture maker I get 1,100 naira ($3; £2.30) a week.

Also, there is no regular electricity. Since morning we haven’t had power and nothing is working.

I’d like to continue my schooling and learn technical engineering, but I don’t have the money. My dad is a fisherman and my mum is a trader and they can’t pay to support me.

‘The leaders don’t listen’

Woman in church

Favour Ifadah, student, 20

I actually wanted to vote at first and went to register. But at the registration centre we had to spend hours waiting, waiting, waiting, and then we heard that the person responsible had not turned up.

We were told to come another day and I got annoyed as I have a lot of things to do. I ended up abandoning efforts to get a voter’s card.

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When I think about our leaders, I’m not saying they’re bad, but one thing I’ve noticed is that they don’t really listen to what the people have to say.

These are the people that they are leading and they should be concerned about our affairs. There’s been no water in my house for months, but who are we going to tell?

The most popular definition of democracy is “the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. But when we give this definition, it’s obvious that even the government doesn’t follow it.

It is supposed to be “the government of the people”, but who are the people? The people are suffering.

I love democracy since it has to do with the people. It’s about “we”, it’s not about the military imposing things on people saying: “You do this, you do this”.

‘Corruption is very, very bad’

Woman looking into the camera and smiling

Adijat Balogun, laundry worker, 19

I didn’t register to vote. I wanted to but I was so busy with work that I couldn’t make the time. I want to join the air force and at the moment I’m just focusing on that application.

All I want is for this country to be better. I’m a bit scared of the election and in the past I have heard that there have been killings.

I don’t really know about politics. I do think it’s important to be involved but I’m just not ready yet. There are a lot of things to change. Corruption is very, very bad and there’s poverty and hunger, and we want better jobs. But I don’t know how to solve these things.

I started as a laundry girl last year after finishing secondary school. I don’t do the washing, my job is to collect the dirty clothes and deliver the clean ones.

I make 15,000 naira ($41; £32) a month. It’s not enough, but I have to keep on going.

I’d like to join the air force because I want to be proud of myself. I love the uniform and there is respect. I pray to God that it works out.

‘We need more and better jobs’

Man looking into camera with cloth in the background

Caleb Obiefunwa, 18, cloth seller

I didn’t go and register to vote. I’m not interested in politics. For me it’s all about the business and making money. Now I need money to build my business, that’s it.

I hear about the election and I hear about the voting but at the end of the day it has already been decided who will win.

This country needs more and better jobs. There are so many graduates without work and something should be done for them.

I don’t know anything about the time of military rule. I don’t believe in history, I believe in tomorrow.

At the moment, I’m an apprentice, but after six years my boss will set me up with my own shop. What I earn is enough for me.

I hope that in 10 years’ time, by God’s grace, I will have what I need. I would like to be able to help the younger ones, if there is any way I can help I will do it.

‘No country is without problems’

Man with a dyed shirt on

Aribide Abiodun, cloth dyer, 19

I registered to vote and the process was good, everything went smoothly, and I’m going to vote.

People talk about the problems but I think the economy of Nigeria is good. There is no country that hasn’t had problems. I went to Cotonou in Benin last week and I saw over there that they have issues. And I can see on my phone that there is a problem in Togo.

So all we need is to be praying for the economy to be better and everything’s going to be good.

I think the president has been trying to get rid of the bad things in Nigeria. For example, the anti-corruption people are getting back stolen money.

My cloth dyeing business is going fine and I make about 10,000 naira ($28; £21) a week. I was born into this and have been working here since primary school.

When someone is working they are not going to suffer. In Nigeria, some of the youths don’t want to work, and because they don’t want to work, they get involved in things like internet fraud.

The only thing is to work and move closer to God.

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Chad: ‘More than 250 rebels’ captured in convoy raid,:


Chad’s military said on Saturday that it had captured more than 250 rebels during an operation against militants crossing from Libya.

A statement said that the large number included “four leaders” who had been detained.

They said 40 of the rebels’ vehicles had been destroyed and hundreds of weapons had been seized.

France, which provides military support to Chad, used warplanes this week to attack the convoy in the Ennedi region.

It announced on Thursday that it had attacked the stream of vehicles several times this week in conjunction with Chad’s armed forces.

The militants had managed to cross hundreds of kilometres into the country before being halted, AFP news agency reports.

Intelligence sources who spoke to Reuters news agency said only 100 militants had been captured.

The incursion is the latest in a series of threats against the rule of President Idriss Déby.

French troops are currently deployed in Chad as part of Operation Barkhane – an ongoing coalition effort in Africa’s Sahel region to fight jihadist insurgents.

France ruled Chad as a colony from 1900 until it gained independence in 1960 and it has supported President Déby before.

President Macron of France and President Deby of Chad hug in Paris in 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron pictured welcoming President Deby in 2018

A rebel coalition known as the Union of Forces of Resistance (UFR) says it was behind the latest convoy.

The alliance is made up of smaller rebel groups which oppose Déby’s presidency.

Local media say that the UFR’s chief of staff, Ousman Teguene, could be among those in custody.

Announcing the arrests, Chad’s military said they would continue their operation against rebels in the country’s Ennedi region.

President Déby has been in office since 1990, when he seized control in a coup.

Last year Chad’s parliament approved a new constitution that expanded his powers and could allow him to stay in office until 2033.

Tunisia attacks: Militants jailed over 2015 terror


Seven jihadists have been sentenced to life in prison in Tunisia over gun and grenade attacks at a museum and a beach resort in 2015.

Sixty people, mostly tourists, died in the attacks and many were wounded.

Other defendants received lesser prison terms, but 27 were acquitted.

The first attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March 2015 killed 22 people. Three months later, 38 tourists, most of them British, were shot dead at Port El Kantaoui near Sousse.

Among the dead in the beach attack were a 24-year-old beauty blogger; a 49-year-old man, his father and his nephew; and several couples on holiday together.

The man believed to have masterminded both attacks, Chamseddine al-Sandi, remains on the run, but there are reports that he was killed in a US air strike in Libya.

Two separate trials were held over the attacks, which Islamic State militants said they had carried out.

Photos of 30 British victims killed in Tunisia
Most of those who died in the Tunisian beach attack were British

Three gunmen – two in the Bardo attack and one in Sousse – were shot dead at the scene.

In the Sousse trial, four militants were given life sentences, while five others were sentenced to between six months and 16 years. A further 17 were acquitted.

Three Bardo defendants also got life terms and a number of others were jailed for shorter periods. At least 10 were acquitted.

A state of emergency has been in place since the attacks.

Tunisia’s already faltering tourism industry was badly hit, but it has shown signs of recovery in the past year with travel bans lifted by several countries, including the UK – as tour operators return.

There has been considerable progress in combating jihadists in Tunisia thanks to concerted international help, BBC Middle East analyst Sebastian Usher says.

But they still pose a potent threat, he says, while the endemic problems of chronic unemployment and lack of economic opportunity persist.

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