Sunday, 14th August 2022

West Africa

Articles related to West Africa

A nationwide curfew has been declared in Sierra Leone, following massive protests in parts of Freetown and other areas in the Northern part of the country.

Two police officers were killed Wednesday when protesters descended into clashes between security forces and youth demanding the president resign, because of  "economic hardship".

Women who had gathered in the city centre Wednesday morning, holding placards, later fled the scene as tensions rose. 

Dozens of protestors had been arrested, police said. A health worker at a hospital in Freetown said dozens of people had been injured.

In the Kissy neighbourhood in the east end of the city, demonstrators threw rocks and sticks at security forces, who fired tear gas in their direction, an AFP reporter saw.

Several protestors told AFP the security forces had also fired live bullets.

Protestors were heard chanting "Bio must go", referring to President Julius Maada Bio, who is currently in the United Kingdom on a private visit.

The internet was temporarily blocked in Freetown on Wednesday afternoon, according to NetBlocks, a web monitoring group. 

The suspected gunmen who killed dozens of worshippers during a church service in southwestern Nigeria in June have been arrested, Nigeria's top military officer said on Tuesday (August 9).

This comes two months after the attack which shocked many in the West African nation.

"We have arrested those behind the dastardly act in Owo," General Leo Irabor, Nigeria's Chief of Defense Staff, said in a meeting with local media, reported by Abuja-based Daily Trust newspapers. 

Neither Irabor nor the police who confirmed the arrest to The Associated Press provided further details into the development. The Nigerian general however said investigations are still ongoing and "in due course, the world will see them and others who are behind other daring attacks in the country."

The gunmen stormed the St. Francis Catholic Church in Ondo state just as the worshippers gathered on Pentecost Sunday and killed at least 40 of them, authorities said.

The incident shocked many in Ondo which is one of Nigeria's most peaceful states and had been largely spared the violent attacks across the West African nation, particularly in the troubled north where Islamic extremist rebels of Boko Haram and other armed groups operate. 

The church attack in Owo had "the imprints" of the Islamic State of West African Province, an offshoot of Boko Haram, Nigerian officials said after the attack. Security analysts have since last year warned that the Islamic rebels in Nigeria's north are now spreading to other parts of the country.

Bishop Jude Arogundade of the Ondo Catholic Diocese told AP that residents in Ondo and the church in Nigeria are already "getting frustrated that after two months, people came to kill 40 people and we do not have any information about it."

He said the Catholic church has not been informed yet of the arrests and continues to wait to hear "the motive because we are a peaceful organization, we don't get into politics or into controversial issues."

-Africa News

A baby has died of Marburg in Ghana as health authorities clarify the figures of those killed by the virus that is from the same family as Ebola.

This brings to two the total number of people who have died in Ghana in the current outbreak.

The 14-month-old's father was the first person to have died in the country,

The baby's mother, meanwhile, has tested positive for the virus but is "alive and well" according to a BBC news report sourced from the Ghana government which says the mother is receiving care in an isolation centre to prevent further spread of the illness.

Another patient thought to have died of Marburg was later confirmed negative, after post-mortem tests revealed the 51-year-old man did not in fact have the disease, the report further stated.

The Marburg virus is highly infectious and similar to Ebola - causing fever, muscle pains, diarrhoea, vomiting and, in some cases, death through extreme blood loss.

This is the second time that Marburg has been identified in West Africa. There was one confirmed case in Guinea last year, but that outbreak was declared over in September, five weeks after the case was discovered.

previous outbreaks and sporadic cases have also been reported in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda, the WHO says.

According to the WHO, the virus killed more than 200 people in Angola in 2005, the deadliest outbreak on record according to the global health body.

-Africa News

President of the Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, has pardoned his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, who was facing a 20-year jail sentence for political unrest.

In a statement on Saturday to mark the 62nd anniversary of the country's independence, Ouattara said the move was in the interests of reinforcing social cohesion.

Ouattara also asked for Gbagbo's bank accounts be unfrozen and for his life annuity to be paid

Gbagbo became president of the Ivory Coast in 2000 but was was arrested in 2011 after refusing to concede defeat in the election.

Civil conflict between Gbagbo's forces and supporters of Ouattara led to the deaths of around 3,000 people.

Gbagbo was acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes committed during the conflict

But in 2018, he was handed a 20-year jail sentence for the robbery of funds from the Abidjan central bank after the election. He has always denied the charges.

Ouattara also agreed to release two of Gbagbo's closest associates who were convicted for their role in the post-election unrest.

In 2021, after his acquittal by the ICC, Gbagbo returned from exile to the Ivory Coast and has kept a low profile since.

Ouattara stood for a third term in the 2020 election; a move which critics said was unconstitutional.

He has insisted he will not exit politics until Gbagbo and his predecessor Henri Konan Bédié agree to do the same.

-Africa News

The presidential camp and the opposition each stood firm on Monday in claiming to have won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Senegal, as the vote count continued.

"What is undeniable is that we are the ones who won this election," said Khalifa Sall, one of the opposition leaders, during a press conference of his coalition. "We won and we will not accept that they steal our victory," he continued.

"The Senegalese have decided on a cohabitation at the level of the National Assembly," also said Déthié Fall, another leader of the movement, after listing a series of acquired constituencies. 

"We reject any possibility of cohabitation and (...) reassure our supporters that we remain the majority after this election, despite an advance of the opposition," said Aminata Touré, head of the presidential coalition's list, on Monday evening.

These legislative elections, the last before the presidential election of 2024, are a test after the local elections of January, won by the opposition in major cities of this West African country known for its stability, such as Dakar, Ziguinchor (south) and Thies (west).

On Sunday night, Aminata Toure, had assured to have won 30 departments, out of 46 that Senegal has and constituencies abroad, while acknowledging the defeat in Dakar, the capital. "This undoubtedly gives us a majority in the National Assembly," she said.

This statement was followed by a statement from the main opposition coalition, which also claimed victory, speaking of a "comfortable majority" for the Yewwi/Wallu intercoalition.

"We wish to warn national and international opinion against any attempt to manipulate the results (...) and we also call on all Senegalese to stand up for the security of the people's victory," the statement added.

- Alliance -

"Yewwi Askan Wi" (Liberate the People in Wolof), the main opposition coalition, formed around Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the 2019 presidential election, has allied itself with the "Wallu Senegal" coalition (Save Senegal in Wolof), led by former President Abdoulaye Wade.

"The provisional results of the legislative elections show that the President of the Republic Macky Sall has lost the elections (...) and that he will not have a majority in the National Assembly," said Monday Wallu.

The single-round elections are aimed at renewing the 165 seats of the unicameral parliament, largely controlled by the presidential camp, for five years.

Macky Sall has promised to appoint a prime minister - a post he abolished and then reinstated in December 2021 - from the winning party.

Overall provisional results will be announced by the National Commission for the Census of Votes (CNRV) no later than Friday, but local media and the main political movements have been reporting partial results since Sunday evening.

Early media reports indicate a close election and victories for the Yewwi/Wallu inter-coalition in several urban centers.

- Quiet vote -

Voting took place on Sunday in a calm atmosphere without major incidents, with a turnout of 47 percent, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

The Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Cena), which is overseeing the vote, deployed some 22,000 observers. Experts from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and La Francophonie were also present.

MPs are elected by a combination of proportional representation with national lists for 53 MPs and majority voting in the departments for 97 others. The diaspora has 15 deputies.

The election is taking place against a backdrop of rising prices as a result of the war in Ukraine, an argument used by the opposition against the government, which is highlighting its subsidies for petroleum products and foodstuffs as well as its infrastructure construction program.

The opposition also wants to force Mr. Sall to give up any hope of running in 2024. President Sall, elected in 2012 for seven years and re-elected in 2019 for five years, is keeping his intentions vague with 19 months to go before the presidential election.

The pre-campaign had been marked by violent demonstrations that had left at least three people dead because of the Constitutional Council's invalidation of the national list of the coalition led by Mr. Sonko, who were forced to give up participating in the elections.

-Africa News

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