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Tuesday, 19th February 2019
10:22:12am

West Africa

Articles related to West Africa

Nigeria's military says four civilians are dead in an extremist attack in the northeast that targeted a mosque during morning prayers.

A statement on Saturday says troops repelled the attack in the Jere local government area in Borno state, killing three Boko Haram extremists. 

The statement says a member of a civilian self-defense force also was killed as he tried to stop a suicide bomber from entering the mosque.

The military calls the attack a "desperate" attempt to disrupt Nigeria's election, which has been delayed until February 23 because of logistical issues elsewhere.

-AP

Suspected Boko Haram rebels have attacked the convoy of the governor of Nigeria's Borno state in the country's northeast and killed at least three people, officials said.

Two security sources told Reuters news agency on Wednesday that three people died. A government and a separate security source said as many as 10 people were killed in the attack.

Nigeria's newspaper Daily Trust reported that Governor Kashim Shettima's convoy came under attack while travelling from state capital Maiduguri to Gamboru Ngala for a campaign rally. 

The report said "many people were killed" and quoted witnesses as saying many others were missing following the attack.

Shettima belongs to Nigeria's ruling party. His spokesperson could not be reached for comment, Reuters said.

Gamboru Ngala, a border town in northeast Nigeria, is separated from Cameroon's Fotokol town by a bridge.

The region is a hotbed of Boko Haram and has witnessed increased attacks in the recent months on military bases.

The armed group appears to have regained ground in 2018, pushing into towns and villages it had previously lost to the Nigerian military.

With days to go for the Nigerian presidential and legislative elections, the latest attack once again brings the country's security situation in focus.

Voters in Nigeria, Africa's biggest democracy, go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president.

Incumbent Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term in office but faces a tight contest from main challenger, Atiku Abubakar, a businessman and former vice president.

-Aljazeera

Senegal's former President Abdoulaye Wade has called for a boycott of the West African nation's February 24 elections, accusing the current president of locking down the vote.

Wade returned to Dakar on Thursday as hundreds greeted him at the airport, cheering and wearing T-shirts bearing his son's image.

Karim Wade was eliminated as an opponent to incumbent Macky Sall. The younger Wade has been in Qatar since his release from prison in 2016 after serving three years for corruption.

Wade urged Sall's four opponents to not give credibility to the vote and urged Senegalese to burn their voting cards.

Wade's appeal is not likely to be followed. On Wednesday, Mamadou Diop, one of his most loyal allies, announced his support for former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck.

The president has not reacted.

-AP

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara has refused to comment on the acquittal on crimes against humanity of his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court while insisting investigations would continue.

"No reaction from me, it's an ongoing trial..." Ouattara said in an interview with Radio France International in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa where he was attending an African Union summit.

But he added: "Someone must be responsible for the 3 000 deaths. I hope that justice will shine a light on that, it is what the victims are asking for."

ICC judges acquitted Gbagbo and his aide Charles Ble Goude on charges stemming from a wave of violence after disputed elections in the west African nation in 2010.

ICC orders conditional release of former I. Coast leader Gbagbo

The International Criminal Court orders the conditional release of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo and his aide Charles Ble Goude after they were cleared last month on charges of crimes against humanity. Appeals judge Chile Eboe-Osuji ...

More than 3 000 people died on both sides of the Ivory Coast conflict after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara, his internationally backed rival.

Post-election violence

Gbagbo, the first former head of state to stand trial at the ICC, is currently living in Belgium under conditions pending a possible prosecution appeal following the acquittal on January 15.

He had been held in the Netherlands since 2011.

The ICC's unwillingness to let Gbagbo return to Ivory Coast is thought to have been linked to the country's refusal to surrender Gbagbo's first wife, Simone, despite an outstanding ICC warrant for her arrest for her role in the post-election violence.

She was convicted and jailed by the courts there in 2015, but Ouattara granted her an amnesty last year along with 800 others.

"We are continuing our investigations in order to establish who is responsible [for the deaths]," Ouattara said in the interview to be broadcast on Monday.

And he denied that any pressure had been brought to bear on the ICC to prolong the detention or trial of Gbago.

"Interfering with international or national justice, this is not how I manage my country... let justice take its course," he said, refusing to discuss any possible return of Gbagbo. "Let's wait and see."

Ouattara also returned to the subject of the resignation of the speaker of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro, who headed rebel forces during the Ivorian war, and then joined the government under Gbagbo.

Soro is a member of Ouattara's Rally of Republicans (RDR) and is rumoured to have fallen out with Ouattara and possibly to have his own presidential ambitions.

Ideological differences

Ouattara said he believed there were ideological differences between the two but "no problem" between them.

"I'm not a man to force anyone [to resign]... Soro believed that we did not share the same ideology. We are a social liberal party and he considers himself a Marxist. I understand that this is not compatible with his beliefs," he said.

"He is a young man that I consider as one on my sons. I do not rule out that he will return."

Nor did Ouattara rule out Soro standing for the presidency in 2020.

"It's his choice, he can do as he wishes. The constitution authorises him to do so and it is not a question of me standing in the way of his candidature...."

Gbagbo's release has come at a particularly tense time in Ivory Coast.

With presidential elections due in 2020, Ouattara has not said whether he will seek another term, and the coalition he formed with Henri Konan Bedie, his former ally against Gbagbo, has collapsed.

"It's very clear, I can run if I want. There's a new constitution [since 2016]," he said.

"All the legal opinions that I have consulted have confirmed it. I will announce my decision in 2020. I can take a decision up until July 28, 2020," he said.

-AFP

Amnesty International on Tuesday called for the "immediate and unconditional" release of Maurice Kamto, leader of Cameroon's opposition MRC, after he was arrested in the country's economic capital Douala.

Kamto, who came second in October's presidential election which he claims was rigged, was detained on Monday at the home of another politician, prompting some 300 people to protest outside.

Party treasurer Alain Fogue was also arrested on Monday and over the weekend, Paul-Eric Kingue, who ran Kamto's election campaign, and rapper Valsero were also detained alongside 115 others for attending opposition protest marches in several towns.

Amnesty International warned that the arrest of Kamto and his staff "signals an escalating crackdown on opposition leaders, human rights defenders and activists in Cameroon". 

"The authorities must immediately and unconditionally release them, as well as peaceful protesters detained at the weekend simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," said Amnesty's West and Central Africa director Samira Daoud.

"Instead of taking steps towards improving the country's human rights record, we are witnessing the authorities becoming less and less tolerant of criticism. This must stop."

Kamto's Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon, denounced his detention as an "unjustified" political arrest and accused the government of trying to "decapitate" the party.

"(The party) strongly condemns these unjustified... political arrests whose hidden aim is to decapitate the MRC and Maurice Kamto's winning coalition," party vice president Emmanuel Simh said in a statement.

REDHAC, an NGO representing human rights defenders in Central Africa, also denounced Kamto's arrest as a "flagrant violation" of the law, demanding his "immediate and unconditional" release along with the others detained at the weekend.

President Paul Biya, who has ruled Cameroon for 36 years, won a seventh consecutive term in October's presidential election but Kamto has insisted he was the rightful winner.

Official results gave 85-year-old Biya 71% of the vote, compared with 14 percent for Kamto, and the party has since staged a series of sporadic protests. 0

Communications Minister Rene Emmanuel Sadi accusing Kamto and the MRC of trying to "destabilise" the government, and following Saturday's demonstrations, Paul Atanga Nji, minister for territorial administration, said the party had "crossed the red line".

-AFP

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