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Egyptian TV presenter sentenced over pregnancy remarks

Egyptian TV presenter sentenced over pregnancy remarks

Image copyright Al Nahar TV Image caption Doaa Salah dressed to appear pregnant when she addressed single motherhood on her show

An Egyptian TV presenter has been sentenced to three years in jail after she discussed ways of becoming pregnant outside a conventional marriage.

Doaa Salah, a presenter on Al-Nahar TV, asked if her viewers had considered having sex before marriage, and also suggested a woman could marry briefly to have children before divorcing.

She was charged and convicted with outraging public decency.

Ms Salah was also ordered to pay 10,000 Egyptian pounds (£430) in compensation.

The authorities said the ideas in the programme "threatened the fabric of Egyptian life", the EFE news agency reports.

Sex before marriage is widely regarded as unacceptable in socially conservative Egypt.

Ms Salah suggested that a potential husband could be paid for taking part in a short-lived marriage, and also spoke about how sperm donation is an accepted method in Western countries - but not in Egypt.

She was suspended from her presenting job for three months in the aftermath of the broadcast, before legal action was taken against her.

The three-year sentence follows an initial verdict which is open to an appeal.

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Liberia presidential vote halted by country’s Supreme Court

Image copyright Reuters/ EPA Image caption Former football star George Weah (left) and Vice-President Joseph Boakai are due to face each other in the second round

Liberia's Supreme Court has ordered preparations for Tuesday's presidential run-off to be halted amid allegations of fraud in the first round.

Ex-football star George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai are due to go head-to-head in the 7 November vote.

But the Liberty Party's Charles Brumskine, who came third in the first round, has challenged the result.

Last month's election was the country's first independently run vote following the end of civil war in 2003.

Africa Live: More on this and other updates Is Charles Taylor pulling election strings from UK prison?

Following the announcement, riot police were deployed to guard the court and electoral commission.

Later, a delegation arrived in the capital, among them the heads of the regional grouping Ecowas, and the Africa Union. They are meeting the heads of all the political parties.

Who does the president support?

Mr Brumskine and the Liberty Party said the first round was "characterised by massive systematic irregularities and fraud", including polling stations opening late and therefore preventing people from voting.

The election is to be postponed until his accusations are properly investigated, the court says.

But even if his case is thrown out, observers say it is likely to delay next week's vote as the commission will have lost valuable preparation time.

The Liberty Party is not alone in its allegations. The accusation of irregularities is backed by two other political parties - including Mr Boakai's Unity Party, which on Sunday alleged that its own president had interfered in the process.

In a statement, it said Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female elected president and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, had attempted to influence the outcome of the poll.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is accused of not supporting her deputy's presidential bid

Relations between Mrs Sirleaf and her deputy are not warm, with some ruling party officials saying the vice-president was not her choice to succeed her, the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh reports from the capital Monrovia.

Mrs Sirleaf, 79, has however said more than twice that she supports Mr Boakai, who won 28.8% of the vote compared to Mr Weah's 38.4% in the first round.

Who is Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf?

Mr Weah's Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) responded to the accusations by noting it was "sad for a ruling party that has been in power for 12 years [to] be crying".

Mrs Sirleaf, meanwhile, has urged those taking part in the election to ensure the process "remains peaceful" so it can be completed successfully.

International observers, including the European Union, had not raised major concerns about the first round of voting, although some irregularities were observed, AFP news agency reports.

The court has instructed the Liberty Party and the electoral commission to present their cases by Thursday.

Election commission spokesman Henry Flomo told the BBC it would abide by any ruling the Supreme Court made.

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Cameroon jails President Biya critic for 25 years

Cameroon jails President Biya critic for 25 years

Image copyright AFP Image caption Paul Biya has been in power for more than three decades

Amnesty International has condemned the decision of a military court in Cameroon to sentence an opposition leader to 25 years in prison.

Aboubakar Siddiki was arrested in 2014, accused of plotting to destabilise President Paul Biya's government.

He is "the latest victim of the Cameroonian authorities' strangling of opposition voices", the UK-based human rights group said.

No credible evidence was presented to the court to convict him, it added.

Mr Biya, 84, has been in power since 1982, and his critics accuse him of being authoritarian.

Africa Live: More on this and other stories

Mr Siddiki is the leader of Cameroon's Patriotic Salvation Movement - a small opposition party in the country's northernmost region.

He was convicted of hostility against the homeland, trying to instigate a revolution and contempt of the president.

"We are going to appeal this decision, which does not seem to us to be at all just," Reuters news agency reports Mr Siddiki's lawyer, Emmanuel Simh, as saying.

Mr Siddiki was arrested along with lawyer Abdoulaye Harissou - and they have both been in detention since August 2014.

The military tribunal sentenced Mr Harissou to three years in prison for failing to disclose information that could harm national security.

But charges were dropped against three journalists - Félix Cyriaque Ebolé Bola, Baba Wamé and Rodrigue Tongué - also arrested in connection with the same case.

There has been a strong military presence in Cameroon's Far North region in recent years as the security forces secure the area against fighters from the Islamist group Boko Haram, who have crossed the border from Nigeria to carry out attacks.

In the last year, there has also been crackdown on protests in English-speaking regions in the west of the country, where people are complaining of marginalisation in mainly French-speaking Cameroon.

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Mogadishu bombings: Daytime ban on trucks to stop attacks

Mogadishu bombings: Daytime ban on trucks to stop attacks

Image copyright Reuters Image caption A truck packed with explosives killed at least 358 people in Mogadishu

Trucks and tankers will be banned from entering Mogadishu during the day in the wake of two deadly attacks on the Somali capital in just two weeks.

It is hoped the ban will improve security at a time when the effectiveness of its current measures is under the spotlight.

Two top security officials were fired following the most recent attack on 28 October which left at least 27 dead.

Another attack two weeks earlier killed more than 350 people.

Africa Live updates Who are Somalia's al-Shabab?

The 14 October attack - the deadliest in Somalia's history - was carried out using a truck packed with explosives.

The capital's mayor, Thabit Abdi, announced that trucks and tankers cannot pass through the city from 07:00-20:00. Those flouting the ban risk a fine of $1,000 (£750).

The Somali government blames militant Islamic group al-Shabab for the 14 October bombing, which took place at a busy junction.

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Media captionThe aftermath of the latest bomb blast in Mogadishu

The group has denied it was behind the bombing. However, it has said it was behind the 28 October attack, which involved two car bombs being detonated in quick succession, followed by a 12-hour siege in the Nasahablod Two hotel.

The militants, who have links to al-Qaeda, say they targeted the hotel on Saturday because it was frequented by security officials and politicians.

The al-Shabab gunmen were dressed as members of the security forces - apparently helping them enter the hotel unchallenged - but Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman has disputed allegations they had official IDs.

A senior intelligence officer, Col Ahmed Yare, had told the UK Guardian newspaper: "They had ID cards which had clear information such as names, ranks and photos so no police officer could stop them."

But Mr Osman denied this, telling the Reuters news agency: "They had the uniforms of security forces, even though they did not have ID cards."

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Kenya election: Kenyatta re-elected in disputed poll

Image copyright EPA Image caption Mr Kenyatta is the son of the country's first president, Jomo Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been declared winner of a controversial re-run of the presidential election.

He won 98% of the vote with turnout at just under 39% - less than half that recorded in August's vote, according to the election commission.

The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, pulled out of the re-run and urged his supporters to boycott it.

Mr Kenyatta was also declared the winner in the August vote, which was annulled because of "irregularities".

The unprecedented decision from the Supreme Court cancelling the result did not attribute any blame to President Kenyatta's party or campaign.

Updates from our Africa Live page Kenya's 'digital president' Raila Odinga - Love him or loathe him

The re-run was suspended in 25 constituencies which are all opposition strongholds amid security fears. The election commission said those results would not affect the final outcome so it could proceed with its announcement.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Minor skirmishes between the opposition and police took place in Nairobi on Monday

Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati described the latest vote as "free, fair and credible".

Last week, before the election re-run, Mr Chebukati had cast doubt on the credibility of the poll. He was speaking after one of the election commissioners fled the country, saying she feared for her life.

Kenya's opposition now has seven days to mount a legal challenge, and Mr Odinga says he will make an announcement on Tuesday.

Mr Odinga boycotted the re-run because he said that no reforms had been made to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) after the Supreme Court found irregularities and illegalities in the original poll.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Opposition leader Raila Odinga called on his supporters to boycott the ballot

Mr Kenyatta, who is now set to serve a second term, said if the new results were challenged in the courts he would accept the outcome.

"Those who are going to ask me: 'Are you going to engage in dialogue?'...Let them [the opposition] first and foremost exhaust all their constitutional options," he said.

Appealing for calm he said "your neighbour will remain your neighbour despite the political outcomes".

About 50 people are reported to have died in violence since Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of August's election.

News of his victory in the re-run triggered minor skirmishes on Monday between police and a handful of Mr Odinga's supporters in opposition strongholds.

Mr Odinga had wanted the repeat ballot to be held at a later date, but a bid to delay the election re-run fell apart after only two of seven Supreme Court judges attended a hearing last week.


It's not over yet

By Alastair Leithead, BBC News, Nairobi

There was a sense of relief, as well as déjà vu, at the national tallying centre, when the chairman of the electoral commission said Uhuru Kenyatta had won the presidential election - this time with a little over 98% of votes.

Kenyans are tired of political wrangling, legal challenges, and repeated elections, but it's unlikely this will be the end of the matter.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who called on his supporters to boycott the ballot, is expected to reject the result - given the low turnout and continuing legal challenges.

The Supreme Court still has to consider a petition questioning the legitimacy of the poll, and given the ambiguities over electoral law and the way the constitution is interpreted, further legal arguments are expected.

There have been violent clashes between opposition supporters and police in parts of Nairobi and western Kenya and how Raila Odinga takes this defeat will determine Kenya's path over the coming days and weeks.


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DR Congo’s Kasai conflict: ‘Millions face starvation without aid’

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Hundreds of thousands of malnourished children risk starvation, the WFP says

The head of the UN food agency has appealed for aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the conflict-wracked DR Congo province of Kasai.

David Beasley told the BBC that more than three million people were now at risk of starvation.

He warned that hundreds of thousands of children could die in the coming months if aid was not delivered.

Violence flared in August 2016 after the death of a local leader during clashes with security forces.

It has forced 1.5 million million people from their homes, most of them children.

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Mr Beasley described the situation in Kasai as a "disaster".

"Our teams are out in the field, we saw burned huts, burned homes, seriously malnourished children that had been stunted, obviously many children have died already," the head of the World Food programme (WFP) said.

"We're talking about several hundred thousand children there that will die in the next few months, if we don't get first funds and then second food, and then third access in the right locations," he added.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Most of those displaced by fighting are children, the UN says

He said the WFP currently only had 1% of the funding it needed to help people in Kasai and warned that the coming rainy season would soon make already poor roads impassable.

But delivering aid by air would see costs escalate, he said.

"If we wait another few more weeks before we receive funds, to pre-position food, I can't imagine how horrible the situation is going to be," he said.

"We need help, and we need it right now," he added.

The conflict began when the government refused to recognise a traditional chief who went by the title Kamuina Nsapu.

He set up a militia but was killed in clashes. Since his death a number of Kamuina Nsapu militia factions have emerged, all fighting for different causes, but with authorities their common target.

More and more people have joined the fighting, which has spread to five provinces. Both security forces and the militias have been accused of gross human rights violations.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and the UN has discovered dozens of mass graves in the area.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption More than 3,000 people have been killed in the fighting

Survivors have described seeing their family members killed with machetes or drowned and say the continuing ethnic conflict means they cannot go home.

In March, militias ambushed and killed 40 police officers in Kasai, cutting off all of their heads.

The same month two UN workers, a Swede and an American, were abducted and killed in the same region, having gone to investigate the abuses.

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Drones are being used to protect elephants and rhinos from poachers

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Drones are being used to protect elephants and rhinos from poachers

An aerial drone company believes it can deter poachers from killing endangered wildlife.

A film by Nick Holland for BBC World Hacks. Like, Share, Engage.

25 Oct 2017

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Kenya election: Police battle protesters in Kisumu

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Kenya election: Police battle protesters in Kisumu

Police in the Kenyan city of Kisumu have fired tear gas at opposition protesters.

Opposition candidate Raila Odinga has called on his supporters to join him in boycotting Thursday's repeat election.

25 Oct 2017

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Kenya election: Last-minute court bid to block poll

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Uhuru Kenyatta won the August poll with 54% of the vote to Mr Odinga's 45%

Kenya's Supreme Court will hold a last-minute hearing to decide whether the re-run of the presidential election can go ahead.

The court will hear an urgent petition by human rights activists arguing Kenya is not ready for the vote.

The election is due to take place the following day, on Thursday.

The Supreme Court in September took the unprecedented decision to annul the presidential election and demand a re-run.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the 8 August election had not been "conducted in accordance with the constitution" and declared it "invalid, null and void".

Africa Live: BBC news updates The brave judge who made Kenyan history Full election coverage

This was the first time in Africa that an opposition court challenge against a presidential election had succeeded.

However, the main opposition candidate Raila Odinga is boycotting the vote.

He told the BBC's Newsday programme on Tuesday that it was a "sham" election "which will not represent the will of the people".

Mr Odinga says nothing has changed since the original poll and has called for "massive" demonstrations on election day.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Opposition supporters have been staging daily protests against the election

On Monday, 20 western diplomats said "growing insecurity", including inflammatory rhetoric and attacks on the election commission, made it more difficult to hold a legitimate poll.

Last week a senior official at the electoral commission fled to the US, telling the BBC she had received death threats.

Amid the growing tension, the bodyguard of Kenya's deputy chief justice was shot and wounded on Tuesday, police say.

They said the motive was not clear.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the last-minute petition, which questions whether the electoral commission and its chairman will be able to conduct a free and fair election on Thursday.

It is asking for an entirely new election which could extend the process by months.

President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is seeking a second term, has said the ballot must go ahead.

Difficult questions

Alastair Leithead, BBC News, Nairobi

There is ambiguity between electoral law, the constitution and how the courts have interpreted it.

The petitioners are asking the court to clarify its 2013 interpretation of the constitution - that if a candidate drops out, the whole months-long process should begin again, rather than simply holding a re-run.

That's the case Raila Odinga's lawyers cite in connection with his decision to boycott the poll.

According to the constitution the vote must be held before 1 November.

But last week electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati said "it's difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election". This leads to the question: Can the court allow the re-run to go ahead?

Another question is around how a potential constitutional crisis would be handled if the election is not held within the timeframe.

Wednesday has been unexpectedly declared a public holiday, but the Supreme Court says that will not affect its business.

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Kenya election re-run marred by insecurity – diplomats

Image copyright AFP Image caption The opposition says its demands for a free and fair poll have not been met

Western diplomats have warned of "growing insecurity" in Kenya ahead of Thursday's presidential election re-run, boycotted by the main opposition.

Inflammatory rhetoric and attacks on the election commission made it more difficult to hold a legitimate poll, the 20 envoys said.

Kenyan prosecutors said opposition leader Raila Odinga's sister would be charged with inciting violence.

Mr Odinga has vowed to disrupt Thursday's poll with a mass protest.

He says the vote cannot be held before key reforms, including the sacking of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials, are implemented.

About 70 people have been killed in violence since the IEBC declared President Uhuru Kenyatta the winner of elections on 8 August.

The Supreme Court of Appeal annulled his victory, saying the poll was marred by irregularities and illegalities.

And Mr Odinga says nothing has changed since.

Africa Live: More updates on this and other stories The brave judge who made Kenyan history Full election coverage

The foreign envoys said they were concerned about the "deteriorating political environment" in East Africa's biggest economy.

"It is easier to tear down than to build up. But it is dangerous, and it must stop," US ambassador Bob Godec said in a statement on behalf of the 20 diplomats, including those of France, Germany and the UK.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Ruth Odinga is accused of damaging property

Last week, a senior member of the IEBC fled to the US amid death threats.

Roselyn Akombe said the commission was under political "siege", unable to reach consensus or take any decisions.

Many uncertainties

Alastair Leithead, BBC News, Nairobi

Image copyright EPA

The fresh ballot papers are ready for distribution and the technology is apparently all set for a re-run, but there are still doubts about whether it will go ahead - and if it does, whether it will be seen as legitimate.

The opposition reaffirmed that Mr Odinga will not take part in the poll. The governing Jubilee Party has said the election will go ahead and is calling on Kenyans to come out and vote.

According to the constitution a re-run must be held before 1 November, but a flurry of court challenges, the resignation of an electoral commissioner and threat of a controversial new electoral bill being signed into law leave many uncertainties.

After meeting IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on Monday, Mr Kenyatta said he expected Thursday's poll to go ahead.

"We have made funds available for the IEBC to do its job. Now they really should deliver," he added in a statement.

Kenya's prosecuting authority said Mr Odinga's sister, Ruth Odinga, would be charged with entering an election centre without permission, and causing malicious damage to property during a training session for election officials in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu in western Kenya.

Opposition lawmaker Fred Outa would be charged with Ms Odinga, it added.

She is a former deputy governor of Kisumu State.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Uhuru Kenyatta is on the campaign trial, despite his main challenger pulling out

Mr Godec called for an end to attacks on IEBC staff, adding that "no-one is obliged to stand for office, or to vote if they do not wish to".

The IEBC has said that Mr Odinga's name will remain on the ballot paper, along with that of six minor candidates who obtained about 1% of the vote between them in the August poll.

The electoral commission said Mr Kenyatta had won the August vote by a margin of 1.4 million votes - or 54% of the total, compared to Mr Odinga's 45%.

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Robert Mugabe’s WHO appointment condemned as ‘an insult’

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Critics say health services have collapsed under Mr Mugabe's rule

The choice of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a World Health Organization (WHO) goodwill ambassador has been criticised by several organisations including the British government.

It described his selection as "surprising and disappointing" given his country's rights record, and warned it could overshadow the WHO's work.

The opposition in Zimbabwe and campaign groups also criticised the move.

The WHO head said he was "rethinking his approach in light of WHO values".

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had previously praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health.

He said it was a country that "places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all".

Profile: Robert Mugabe Africa's 'medical tourist' presidents

Mr Mugabe's appointment as a "goodwill ambassador" to help tackle non-communicable diseases has attracted a chorus of criticism.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Critics have long argued that Zimbabwe's health service is not meeting the needs of patients

The British government said it was all the more surprising given US and EU sanctions against him.

"We have registered our concerns" with the director general, a spokesman said.

"Although Mugabe will not have an executive role, his appointment risks overshadowing the work undertaken globally by the WHO on non-communicable diseases."

Zimbabwe's leader has been frequently taken to task over human rights abuses by the European Union and the US.

Critics say Zimbabwe's health care system has collapsed, with staff often going without pay while medicines are in short supply.

Dr Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO. He was elected in May with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.

'Basic necessities lacking'

US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mr Mugabe, because his "utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services".

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Critics of the president say that Zimbabwe's health care system is in a shambolic state

HRW's Kenneth Roth said Mr Mugabe's appointment was a cause for concern because the president and some of his officials travel abroad for treatment.

"When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities," he said.

Zimbabwe's main MDC opposition party also denounced the WHO move.

"The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult," spokesman Obert Gutu told AFP.

"Mugabe trashed our health delivery system... he allowed our public hospitals to collapse."

Other groups who have criticised Mr Mugabe's appointment include the Wellcome Trust, the NCD Alliance, UN Watch, the World Heart Federation and Action Against Smoking.

President Mugabe heard about his appointment while attending a conference held by the WHO, a UN agency, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Montevideo, Uruguay.

He told delegates his country had adopted several strategies to combat the challenges presented by such diseases, which the WHO says kill about 40 million people a year and include cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

"Zimbabwe has developed a national NCD policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a cervical cancer prevention and control strategy," Mr Mugabe was reported by the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper as saying.

But the president admitted that Zimbabwe was similar to other developing countries in that it was "hamstrung by a lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people".

Image copyright AFP Image caption Medicine is often in short supply at Zimbabwe's hospitals, critics say

Stardust lacking

Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Geneva

The UN has a bit of thing for goodwill ambassadors, especially famous ones.

Angelina Jolie, as ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, was regularly pictured comforting displaced families in over-crowded camps.

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer visits aid projects in Africa for Unicef and plays charity matches to raise money.

Further back in time, film star and Unicef goodwill ambassador Audrey Hepburn visited disaster zones and graced gala dinners where her glittering presence was an encouragement to donors.

The publicity does attract support for relief efforts.

But it is hard to imagine 93-year-old Robert Mugabe fulfilling a similar remit.

Will he provide comfort in WHO field clinics in conflict zones? Would one of his suit jackets fetch a high price at auction? Would the presence of a man who is widely accused of human rights abuses encourage more $10,000-a-plate attendees at a gala ball?

Somehow it just does not seem likely, which begs the question, what exactly is Mr Mugabe going to do in his new role? The World Health Organization has not made this at all clear.


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Malawi cracks down on ‘vampire’ lynch mobs

Image copyright Frank Kandu Image caption Several people have come out in public and said they were attacked by vampires.

Police in the south-east African state of Malawi say they have arrested 140 members of lynch mobs who attacked people suspected of being vampires.

At least eight people are believed to have been killed, including two men on Thursday in the second city, Blantyre.

One was set on fire and the other stoned, according to police.

Two others were arrested for threatening to suck people's blood but police say they have no medical reports of any actual bloodsucking.

Vigilante killings started on 16 September when three people suspected of being blood suckers were killed by a mob.

Traditional leaders in southern Malawi believe the vampire rumours started across the border in Mozambique where rumours of blood sucking have led to violence this week.

In Mozambique, protesters have targeted police because they believe they are protecting the supposed vampires, leading a northern town's administrator to flee the city.

The villagers in these areas believe human blood sucking is a ritual practised by some to become rich. They also believe they are failing to catch the blood suckers because they use magical powers.

If these communities believe in "mysterious magical explanations for things, then people will tend to attribute their difficulty on what they call blood suckers," Dr Chioza Bandawe, a clinical psychologist at the University of Malawi, said.

For some that represents "the life of the hope being sucked out of them," he said.

But this has been "expressed on innocent people or on people who are different".

Malawi country profile Malawi curfew over 'vampire' killings Can the curfew prevent more 'vampire' murders?

James Kaledzera, Malawi's national police spokesperson, told the BBC that police patrols had been stepped up in areas affected.

He also said they would "arrest anybody who is deemed to have taken part in the killings".

A curfew has been imposed in parts of the south, and earlier this month, the UN instructed staff to move to safer areas.

President Peter Mutharika, who has been visiting the areas concerned, has vowed to investigate the killings.

Many aid agencies and non-governmental organisations work in Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries.

Educational standards are low, with belief in witchcraft widespread. Vigilante violence linked to vampire rumours also erupted there in 2002.

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South Africa: The poor of Blinkbonnie Road – Aljazeera.com

africa news – Google News – Aljazeera.com South Africa: The poor of Blinkbonnie RoadAljazeera.comDurban, South Africa – Eighteen-year-old Mlungisi Mokoena should be in school, but here he is, on a weekday, guarding his one-room wooden shack roofed with steel sheets. He belongs to one of 50 families living in a …

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Militants kidnap four Britons – Nigerian police

Militants kidnap four Britons - Nigerian police

Image copyright AFP Image caption The kidnapping allegedly happened in the oil-rich Niger Delta area of Nigeria

Four people, believed to be British, have been kidnapped in Nigeria's southern Delta state, police in the country have said.

The four were reportedly taken at about 02:00 local time on Friday when suspected militants stormed a rural community they were living in.

The Foreign Office has not commented.

Andrew Aniamaka, a police spokesman in Nigeria, said officers had identified a militant group, calling themselves the Karowei, as the main suspects.

No ransom demand had yet been made, he added.

BBC reporter Stephanie Hegarty, based in the Nigerian commercial capital Lagos, said police believe the reported kidnapping could be a response to a recent surge in efforts to tackle militancy in the region.

She said kidnapping for ransom is common in the oil-rich Niger Delta area.

The UK Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to parts of southern Nigeria, saying there is "a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria".

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Kenya election official Roselyn Akombe flees to US

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Roselyn Akombe says it would be "suicidal" for her to think she would be safe

A senior member of Kenya's electoral commission (IEBC) has fled to the US amid death threats ahead of next week's presidential election re-run.

Roselyn Akombe said the IEBC was under political "siege", unable to reach consensus or take any decisions.

The IEBC said it regretted her decision to quit, while its chairman conceded that he could not guarantee that the poll would be credible.

Last week, opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the vote.

The Supreme Court annulled the result of the original 8 August poll, when current President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner, after finding irregularities and illegalities.

Africa Live: Updates and reactions Odinga - the man Kenyans either love or loathe Kenya heading for constitutional crisis The brave judge who made Kenyan history

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said he regretted Ms Akombe's decision to quit and warned Kenya's political leaders not to "interfere with the process".

Image copyright Reuters Image caption President Kenyatta has called on the nation to pray for peace

Speaking to BBC Newsday interview from New York, Ms Akombe recalled the murder of the election commission's IT head, Chris Msando, before the August poll.

"You'll be suicidal to think that nothing will happen to you," she said.

"I have never felt the kind of fear that I felt in my own country," Ms Akombe told the BBC.

Can the election proceed?

In a statement, Ms Akombe said she had agonised over the decision to leave the IEBC because "the commission in its current state can surely not guarantee a credible election".

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Media captionRoselyn Akombe: 'It would be suicidal to stay'

"There is a very high likelihood that the mistakes that some of the presiding officers made during the last election will be repeated," she told the BBC.

She said IEBC members had been voting along partisan lines, without discussing different issues on merit.

Commissioners and other IEBC personnel were facing intimidation by political actors and protesters, Ms Akombe said.

She added that the death threats were anonymous threats, and she had been put under pressure to resign.

She said she did not "feel safe enough to be able to go home" in the foreseeable future.

Where does this leave the commission's reputation?

Dickens Olewe, BBC Kenya analyst

It is a big blow for the beleaguered commission, whose credibility had already taken a big hit after the Supreme Court annulled the 8 August election.

Ms Akombe's revelation that the commission is beset by internal wrangles and is pliable to partisan interests dispels any illusion that it is an independent body.

She also questioned the commission's leadership, saying Mr Chebukati was ineffectual.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Chebukati says he has given the politicians the "yellow card"

Mr Chebukati has given credence to this view.

"I've made several attempts to make critical changes but all my motions have been defeated by a majority of the commissioners," AFP news agency has quoted him as saying. "Under such conditions, it's difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election."

It is hard to imagine that the commission will recover from its problems to organise a credible election.

When it settled on 26 October as the date for the repeat election, President Kenyatta's supporters were quick to point out that it was also his birthday.

It seems right now that the only thing that is certain is that Mr Kenyatta will turn 56.

What does the president say?

He has not yet commented on Ms Akombe's resignation or Mr Chebukati's criticisms.

Instead, he has called on the nation to spend the weekend in an "extended period of prayer and reconciliation".

"We walk towards the declared date of the 26th of October both as a God-fearing leadership and government," Mr Kenyatta said in a televised speech.

He has been criss-crossing the country as part of his election campaign, insisting that the poll will go ahead.

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Media captionRaila Odinga: "The election (on 26 October) will be worse than the previous"

The IEBC has said that Mr Odinga's name will remain on the ballot paper, arguing that he has not filled in a legally required form to inform it of his decision to pull out.

Mr Odinga insists that he does not need to fill in the form, and has organised mass protests to demand electoral reforms before a re-run is held.

The IEBC also says that the names of five minor candidates - who obtained about 1% of the vote between them in the August poll - would appear on the ballot paper. A sixth minor candidate has been declared bankrupt since the August poll, disqualifying him from running again.

The electoral commission said Mr Kenyatta had won the August vote by a margin of 1.4 million votes - or 54% of the total, compared to Mr Odinga's 45%.

Could there be unrest?

Human rights groups say about 70 people have been killed in protests since the August poll, and police were "directly implicated" in 33 of the deaths in the capital, Nairobi.

The violence is nowhere near that seen in Kenya after disputed polls in 2007, when at least 1,200 people were killed.

In parts of western Kenya which back Mr Odinga, election officials have been intimidated, raising fears of more trouble on election day.

"Demonstrations will continue. October 26 will be the biggest demonstration of them all," Mr Odinga told thousands of supporters in Nairobi on Wednesday.

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Nigeria boat sinking leaves 33 dead – emergency services

Nigeria boat sinking leaves 33 dead - emergency services

The bodies of at least 33 people, some children, have been recovered after a crowded boat capsized in the Niger River in north-western Nigeria.

Emergency officials say they managed to rescue 84 people on board, but another 30 of the total 150 passengers remained unaccounted for.

They blamed the accident on overloading of the boat, which had been travelling from neighbouring Niger.

Nigeria has seen many boats capsize due to poorly maintained overcrowded boats.

The accident happened on Wednesday morning in the remote area of Lolo village, in Nigeria's Kebbi state, but details only first started emerging on Friday.

The boat had been carrying traders across the border from Gaya, in the Dosso region of Niger. They were planning to attend a village market in Nigeria.

A co-ordinator for Nigeria's National Emergency Management (NEMA), Suleiman Mohammed Karim, told AFP news agency that the boat had a capacity of 70 passengers but survivors said 150 people plus their goods were on board.

Referring to the remaining missing, he said: "Having spent two days on the water, we presume they are all dead."

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South Africa student fights to keep thesis in robbery

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South Africa student fights to keep thesis in robbery

Security camera footage from South Africa shows the moment a student fought off robbers to hold on to a bag containing a hard drive with the only copy of her thesis.

"It wasn't very smart but I guess it worked," Noxolo Ntusi, 26, told the BBC.

Footage courtesy of Intelligence Bureau SA

13 Sep 2017

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Sampha wins Mercury Prize for his debut album, Process

Image caption Sampha has previously worked with the likes of Drake, Frank Ocean and Solange

Soul singer Sampha has won the 2017 Mercury Music Prize for his mournful and intimate album, Process.

Written and recorded after his mother, Binty, died of cancer, the album is best exemplified by the ballad (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano.

The song talks about the piano in his childhood home, which his mother taught him to play as a child.

"At the time... it was quite important for me to write music," Sampha told the BBC. "It helped me through everything.

"So it's this weird kind of document but it's nice, I guess, because I'll have it for the rest of my life."

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Media captionSampha discusses the recording of his album Process

Speaking at the Hammersmith Apollo, the singer dedicated his Mercury Prize to both his parents.

Bite-sized guide to the shortlist (BBC Music) Meet the nominees (BBC Two)

Born in London to Sierra Leonean parents, Sampha Sissay has been part of the music industry for more than a decade, working with the likes of Drake, Frank Ocean and Solange.

However, Process is his debut album - and one that poured, fully-formed, out of his heart.

"It was never my intention to write an album," he said. "But one day I woke up and I had that selfish desire."

Process beat the likes of Ed Sheeran, The xx and Stormzy to win the £25,000 Mercury Prize, which recognises the best British or Irish album of the year.

The full list of nominees was:

Mercury nominees (source: Music Week / OCC)Artist Title Peak chart position Sales to date Monthly Spotify listeners Alt-J Relaxer 6 33,908 4,870,045 Blossoms Blossoms 1 117,309 624,739 Dinosaur Together, As One n/a 1,607 4,824 Ed Sheeran ÷ (Divide) 1 2,185,458 40,742,938 Glass Animals How To Be A Human Being 23 27,824 2,975,746 J Hus Common Sense 6 81,598 2,660,173 Kate Tempest Let Them Eat Chaos 28 15,325 102,446 Loyle Carner Yesterday's Gone 14 24,737 443,141 Sampha Process 7 25,652 2,105,999 Stormzy Gang Signs and Prayer 1 209,442 3,458,562 The Big Moon Love in the 4th Dimension 66 4,485 168,615 The xx I See You 1 87,896 4,453,168

The winner was chosen by a panel of judges that included Marcus Mumford, Jessie Ware, Ella Eyre, Radio 1's Clara Amfo and jazz musician Jamie Cullum.

They said the deliberation was the prize's "longest ever".

The ceremony was broadcast on BBC Four and BBC 6 Music - and you can relive all the action, from the red carpet to the winner's press conference, on BBC Music News LIVE.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

BBC Music homepage BBC Music News LIVE

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South Africa’s Motlanthe: ‘Good if ANC loses power’ – BBC News – BBC News

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Media captionKgalema Motlanthe: It will require courage to renew the ANC

It will be good for South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) to lose the 2019 election, ex-President Kgalema Motlanthe has said.

The party has become "associated" with corruption, and it has to lose for the "penny to drop", he told the BBC.

Mr Motlanthe is a senior ANC member whose comments show growing disillusionment with the party.

The party has won each general election with more than 60% of the vote since white minority rule ended in 1994.

However, it lost some of South Africa's main cities - including the commercial capital, Johannesburg - in local elections in 2014.

Africa Live: More updates on this and other storiesRamaphosa: The man who wants to make South Africa great againZuma's ex-wife bids for power

Voters were seen to have punished the party because of worsening corruption within its ranks.

Its leader, President Jacob Zuma, has survived eight no-confidence votes in parliament.

He has been accused by the opposition and his ANC critics of being at the centre of a corrupt network in government, an allegation he denies.

In the interview with BBC Hardtalk, Mr Motlanthe said the electorate will vote out the ANC for as long as it is "associated with corruption and failure".

"It would be good for the ANC itself and let me tell you why - because those elements who are in it for the largesse will quit it, will desert it and only then would the possibility arise for salvaging whatever is left of it," Mr Motlanthe added.

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Media captionThe Zuma presidency: Scandals and successes

He said the ANC could renew itself, but it would require "lots of courage and failing that it has to hit rock bottom".

"It has to lose elections for the penny to drop," Mr Motlanthe told Hardtalk.

Mr Motlanthe served as South Africa's president between 2008 and 2009.

He was closely allied with Mr Zuma, but later fell out with him.

Mr Zuma is due to step down as ANC leader in December and as president in 2019.

He is backing his ex-wife and former African Union commission chairwoman, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to succeed him.

Her main challenger is Mr Zuma's deputy and former business tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa.


Zuma's scandals:

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption President Jacob Zuma is due to step down in December - but could now be ousted sooner 2005: Charged with corruption over a multi-billion dollar 1999 arms deal - charges dropped shortly before he becomes president in 2009. 2005: Charged with raping a family friend - acquitted in 2006 2016: a court ordered he should be charged with 786 counts of corruption over the arms deal - he has appealed 2016: Court rules he breached his oath of office by using government money to upgrade private home in Nkandla - he has repaid the money 2017: Public protector calls for a judge-led inquiry into allegations he profiteered from relationship with wealthy Gupta family - he denies allegations, as have the Guptas No inquiry appointed yet

The Guptas and their links to Zuma

South Africa's anti-corruption crusader

How Zuma's Nkandla home has grown


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Bell Pottinger collapses after South African scandal

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Bell Pottinger is based in Holborn, central London

Bell Pottinger has collapsed into administration in the UK after running a racially charged PR campaign in South Africa.

The troubled public relations firm put itself up for sale last week, but could not find a buyer.

The administrators BDO said the firm had been "heavily financially impacted" by the scandal.

The level of its losses and the inability to win new clients left the firm with no other option, BDO said.

Bell Pottinger was ejected from the UK's industry body last week for a PR campaign that emphasised the power of white-owned businesses in South Africa.

A string of clients, including HSBC, Investec and luxury goods company Richemont, cut ties with the firm over its work on the campaign.

Job losses

Bell Pottinger filed plans to appoint three BDO administrators on Friday, and the appointment became effective on Tuesday.

A BDO spokesman said: "Following an immediate assessment of the financial position, the administrators have made a number of redundancies.

"The administrators are now working with the remaining partners and employees to seek an orderly transfer of Bell Pottinger's clients to other firms in order to protect and realise value for creditors."

Bell Pottinger's Middle East and Asian units had already announced plans to separate from the UK parent company.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption South Africa's opposition party filed a complaint over the campaign

The PR firm worked on the controversial campaign for Oakbay, a company owned by the wealthy Guptas family in South Africa.

The work was criticised for presenting opponents of President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas as agents of "white monopoly capital".

Clientele

Bell Pottinger and its co-founder, Lord Bell, had a reputation for taking risks. Lord Bell, who was a PR adviser to Margaret Thatcher, resigned from the firm last year.

The company represented Oscar Pistorius, the South African Olympic athlete, after he was charged with murder.

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has used the firm's services, as well as Syria's first lady Asma al-Assad.

In the late 1990s the PR firm worked on a campaign to release former Chilean dictator General Pinochet after his arrest in London on a Spanish extradition warrant on murder charges.

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