Buhari Owes Nigerians Explanation For N24trillion Debt, Says PDP

The leading opposition party called on the National Assembly to limit the Buhari administration’s ability to take loans for the country if explanations are not given for how previously borrowed funds were handled.

he Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says President Muhammadu Buhari has exhibited a culture of unexplained borrowings since he assumed power in 2015.

In a statement issued on Monday by Kola Ologbondiyan, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, the party called on the National Assembly to probe the rise in debt of the current administration.

The PDP said the country’s debt profile which used to be at N12.12trillion in 2015 has grown to N24.38 trillion due to the President’s culture of heavy borrowings and the lack of initiative to think up ideas that would make the economy productive. 

The leading opposition party called on the National Assembly to limit the Buhari administration’s ability to take loans for the country if explanations are not given for how previously borrowed funds were handled. 

The party said: “Since President Buhari assumed office in 2015, there has been a culture of unexplained borrowings leading to a steep rise in the debt stock from N17.5trillion in 2016 to N21.72trillion in 2017 and a huge N24.387trillion in 2018.

“It is shocking and completely insupportable that our nation’s debt had risen from N21.72trillion in December 2017, to N24.387trillion in December 2018, showing an accumulation of a whopping N2.66trillion in the space of one year.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, therefore, has a huge explanation to make to Nigerians for its borrowing spree, especially as it cannot point to any meaningful development project into which the borrowed funds were invested.

“This is particularly against the backdrop of allegations in the public space that the borrowed funds, which were taken as development funds, were diverted to 2019 general election campaign activities of the APC, a huge part of which ended in private pockets of corrupt APC leaders.

“This is, in addition, to direct frittering of public funds through the alleged N1.4trillion sleazy oil subsidy regime, the looted N9trillion detailed in the leaked NNPC memo, the alleged N33billion fraud in the handling of funds meant for the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East, among other sleazes.

“Nigerians cannot afford to continue to bear the burden of an incompetent and insensitive administration and that is why they eagerly await the retrieval of our stolen mandate at the Presidential election petition tribunal.”

No casualties were reported in the air strike

#Libya crisis: Air strike at Tripoli airport as thousands flee clashes

The UN has condemned an air strike that closed the only functioning airport in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Monday.

Flights at Mitiga International Airport were suspended and passengers were evacuated. No casualties were reported.

The UN blamed the air strike on forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, a commander from the east who is trying to seize the capital.

A spokesman for Gen Haftar’s forces said civilian planes had not been targeted, Reuters news agency reports.

Gen Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), declared an offensive to take control of Tripoli from Libya’s UN-backed government last week.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has accused him of attempting to carry out a coup.

At least 2,800 people have so far fled fighting around Tripoli, the UN says.

The UN also warns that those who remain risk being cut off from vital services because of the clashes.

A crew member stands outside the Mitiga International Airport
A crew member and passenger seen outside the international airport

Libya has been torn by violence, political instability and power struggles since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

International powers have started evacuating personnel from the country in recent days as the situation has deteriorated.

What is the latest on the clashes?

The UN’s Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, said Monday’s air strike violated humanitarian law which prohibited attacks against civilian infrastructure.

Mr Salame said the bombing marked an “escalation of violence on the ground”.

LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari was quoted by Reuters as saying “only a MiG [aircraft] parked at Mitiga airport” had been targeted.

The airport is also the base for a powerful militia, loosely under the control of the government’s ministry of interior, says the BBC’s North Africa correspondent, Rana Jawad.

An older, inactive airport, Tripoli International, has also been a focal point for clashes recent days.

Control map of Libya

The Libyan health ministry said at least 25 people had been killed and 80 wounded so far, including civilians and government fighters.

Gen Haftar’s forces said they had lost at least 19 fighters.

The UN appealed for a two-hour truce on Sunday to allow for the evacuations of casualties and civilians, but fighting continued.

Why is there fighting in Libya?

Libya has been a hotbed of unrest since Gaddafi was overthrown eight years ago.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) was created from peace talks in 2015, but has struggled to take control despite UN backing.

Gen Haftar is allied to a rival government in the eastern city of Tobruk which has refused to cede power to Tripoli.

Gen Haftar
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli

The general helped Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US.

He then returned when the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

His LNA troops have continued to make advances, seizing the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this year.

UN-backed talks between the rival governments had been scheduled for 14-16 April to discuss a roadmap for new elections, but it is now unclear if these will still take place.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be “stabbed in the back”.

What has the reaction been?

Much of the international community, including the US, have called for a ceasefire to hostilities.

“This unilateral military campaign against Tripoli is endangering civilians and undermining prospects for a better future for all Libyans,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

The US military is among those to withdraw its supporting forces based in the country, blaming the “complex and unpredictable” situation and “increased unrest” on the ground.

The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff.

A market in Tripoli.
A market in Tripoli. Residents are said to be stocking up on supplies

Residents of Tripoli have reportedly begun stocking up on food and fuel.

The BBC, Adekunle Best editor Sebastian Usher says some residents fear a long operation such as that which Gen Haftar mounted to take the eastern city of Benghazi from Islamist fighters in 2017.

The rogue general’s defiance suggests that, despite international condemnation of his recent moves, he believes he can only secure a place in Libya’s future political makeup through military means.

Diplomats are worried because the manner and timing of the attack mean he is unlikely to back down unless he is defeated.

Few thought he would go ahead and launch this operation – which he has long threatened to do – because they believed ongoing talks that saw him go from Paris to Palermo and the UAE for more than a year would buy time until a new political settlement was reached through negotiations and an eventual electoral process.

Today, Western nations have few cards to play to de-escalate the violence and once again find themselves in a position where they may need to start from scratch.

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#Sudan protest: Demonstrators continue sit-in despite crackdown

Heavy gunfire has been heard outside the army headquarters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum where thousands of protesters have been holding a sit-in for the third night in a row.

They are calling for the resignation of President Omar al-Bashir.

Witnesses reported seeing people running for cover after the shooting began. Earlier, tear-gas was fired.

It appears to be the latest attempt by government security agents to break up the protests.

One of the protesters, Ahmed Mahmoud, told the BBC that “tear-gas and live bullets were used” by National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) agents against protesters.

He added that army soldiers had provided sanctuary for protesters within their compound.

“It is pointless for Omar Bashir to continue using his thugs to get us off the streets as we are not going anywhere.”

At least two soldiers are reported to have died since the demonstrations outside the army HQ began on Saturday.

Previous attempts to break up the crowds have also led to reports of soldiers intervening to protect protesters from NISS agents.

There have been international calls urging the government to refrain from using force against civilians. President Bashir has called for talks to end the crisis.

The country’s interior minister said on Monday that seven protesters had been killed and 15 injured, while 42 members of the security forces had been injured. He added that almost 2,500 people had been arrested.

Why are they protesting?

Protests against Mr Bashir, who has governed Sudan since 1989, have been under way for several months.

The protests were originally sparked by a rise in the cost of living, but demonstrators are now calling for the president to resign.

Sudan protests: So what’s going on?

Over the weekend, a large group gathered outside the Khartoum headquarters of the army, defence ministry and the president.

The protesters want the armed forces to withdraw their support for the government. Representatives of the protesters say they are seeking talks with the army regarding the formation of a transitional government.

Omar el-Digeir, a senior protest member, told AFP news agency the group were seeking a path “that represents the wish of the revolution”.

Monday marked the third night of the sit-in, despite security force efforts to disperse the group.

The government has been criticised by rights groups for a heavy-handed response to the unrest.

What has the response been?

Dramatic video emerged on Monday showing soldiers firing at an unclear target as civilians took cover behind them. The protesters said the soldiers were responding to gunfire from NISS agents.

President Omar al-Bashir sitting on a green chair dressed in white at the National Dialogue Committee at his palace in Khartoum on April 5
President Bashir declared a state of national emergency in February

Other eyewitnesses have alleged the military fired warning shots while chasing the agents off.

Information Minister Hassan Ismail has contradicted the reports about the divide.

“The security apparatus are coherent together and working with positive energy and in harmony,” he said on Monday.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged all parties to “exercise utmost restraint and avoid violence”.

Map of Khartoum showing where protesters are gathered

Government officials now admit 38 people have died since the unrest began in December, but the pressure group Human Rights Watch says the number is higher.

Why is the president controversial?

Mr Bashir’s rule has been blighted by accusations of human rights abuses.

He is subject to an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant over accusations of of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The US imposed sanctions against the country more than 20 years ago, accusing Khartoum of sponsoring terror groups.

Last year the Sudanese pound fell rapidly in value and inflation rose. The government then announced the price of fuel and bread would rise, sparking protests.

In February, it looked as though the president might step down, but instead Mr Bashir declared a state of national emergency.

The latest protests mark the 34th anniversary of the coup that overthrew the regime of former President Jaafar Nimeiri.

Have you recently taken part in the demonstrations? Get in touch by emailing, haveyoursayonbbc@yahoo.com
Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned but many protesters want radical change

#Algeria protests: Police use water cannon to disperse demonstrators

Algerian police have used water cannon to disperse protesters demonstrating against Abdelkader Bensalah’s appointment as interim president.

Mr Bensalah, the speaker of parliament’s upper house, succeeds President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned last week following weeks of peaceful demonstrations.

But many want more radical change.

Mr Bensalah, who will be in power until a presidential election, pledged to work in the interests of the people.

“I need everyone during this period in our country to apply the constitution strictly, to work hard, faithfully and with dedication in order to return as soon as possible the word to the people,” he told members of parliament after he was appointed.

He is due to be in office for 90 days.

As soon as the appointment of Mr Bensalah was announced, protesters took to the streets of the capital, Algiers, demanding “Bensalah go”.

The 77-year-old is seen as being very close to the ailing former president, who had been in power for 20 years.

Protesters
Protesters have called for an end to the “system”

From the start of the protests in February, the demonstrators have not just been focusing on Mr Bouteflika, Algeria analyst James McDougall told the BBC.

Placards and online posts have been demanding an end to the “system”, or “Le Pouvoir”, meaning that all those around the former president should also go.

The allegation was that Mr Bouteflika was used as a front for a group of businessmen, politicians and military officials, who are said to really run the country.

The protests have been peaceful and the security forces have not used heavy-handed tactics to break them up.

Gen Haftar's forces prepare for Tripoli battle

Updates: #Libya crisis: Air strike at Tripoli airport as thousands flee clashes

The UN has condemned an air strike that closed the only functioning airport in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, on Monday.

Flights at Mitiga International Airport were suspended and passengers were evacuated. No casualties were reported.

The UN blamed the air strike on forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, a commander from the east who is trying to seize the capital.

A spokesman for Gen Haftar’s forces said civilian planes had not been targeted, Reuters news agency reports.

Gen Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), declared an offensive to take control of Tripoli from Libya’s UN-backed government last week.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has accused him of attempting to carry out a coup.

At least 2,800 people have so far fled fighting around Tripoli, the UN says.

The UN also warns that those who remain risk being cut off from vital services because of the clashes.

A crew member stands outside the Mitiga International Airport
A crew member and passenger seen outside the international airport

Libya has been torn by violence, political instability and power struggles since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

International powers have started evacuating personnel from the country in recent days as the situation has deteriorated.

What is the latest on the clashes?

The UN’s Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, said Monday’s air strike violated humanitarian law which prohibited attacks against civilian infrastructure.

Mr Salame said the bombing marked an “escalation of violence on the ground”.

LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari was quoted by Reuters as saying “only a MiG [aircraft] parked at Mitiga airport” had been targeted.

The airport is also the base for a powerful militia, loosely under the control of the government’s ministry of interior, says the BBC’s North Africa correspondent, Rana Jawad.

An older, inactive airport, Tripoli International, has also been a focal point for clashes recent days.

A Member of Misrata forces, under the protection of Tripoli's forces, prepares himself to go to the front line in Tripoli Libya April 8, 2019
Fighters from Misrata are helping defend Tripoli

The Libyan health ministry said at least 25 people had been killed and 80 wounded so far, including civilians and government fighters.

Gen Haftar’s forces said they had lost at least 19 fighters.

The UN appealed for a two-hour truce on Sunday to allow for the evacuations of casualties and civilians, but fighting continued.

Why is there fighting in Libya?

Libya has been a hotbed of unrest since Gaddafi was overthrown eight years ago.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) was created from peace talks in 2015, but has struggled to take control despite UN backing.

Gen Haftar is allied to a rival government in the eastern city of Tobruk which has refused to cede power to Tripoli.

Gen Haftar
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli

The general helped Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US.

He then returned when the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

His LNA troops have continued to make advances, seizing the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this year.

UN-backed talks between the rival governments had been scheduled for 14-16 April to discuss a roadmap for new elections, but it is now unclear if these will still take place.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be “stabbed in the back”.

What has the reaction been?

Much of the international community, including the US, have called for a ceasefire to hostilities.

“This unilateral military campaign against Tripoli is endangering civilians and undermining prospects for a better future for all Libyans,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.

The US military is among those to withdraw its supporting forces based in the country, blaming the “complex and unpredictable” situation and “increased unrest” on the ground.

The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff.

A market in Tripoli.
A market in Tripoli. Residents are said to be stocking up on supplies

Residents of Tripoli have reportedly begun stocking up on food and fuel.

The BBC Best editor Sebastian Usher says some residents fear a long operation such as that which Gen Haftar mounted to take the eastern city of Benghazi from Islamist fighters in 2017.

The rogue general’s defiance suggests that, despite international condemnation of his recent moves, he believes he can only secure a place in Libya’s future political makeup through military means.

Diplomats are worried because the manner and timing of the attack mean he is unlikely to back down unless he is defeated.

Few thought he would go ahead and launch this operation – which he has long threatened to do – because they believed ongoing talks that saw him go from Paris to Palermo and the UAE for more than a year would buy time until a new political settlement was reached through negotiations and an eventual electoral process.

Today, Western nations have few cards to play to de-escalate the violence and once again find themselves in a position where they may need to start from scratch.

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Gen Haftar's forces prepare for Tripoli battle

Update: #Libya crisis: Fighting near Tripoli leaves 21 dead

Libya’s UN-backed government says 21 people have been killed and 27 wounded in fighting near the capital, Tripoli.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for an immediate halt to the fighting and called for talks.

Rebel forces under Gen Khalifa Haftar have advanced from the east with the aim of taking Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj has accused him of attempting a coup and says rebels will be met with force.

Among the dead was a Red Crescent doctor killed on Saturday. Gen Haftar’s forces said they had lost 14 fighters.

Earlier the UN appealed for a two-hour truce so casualties and civilians could be evacuated, but fighting continued.

And in a statement, Secretary of State Pompeo said the US was “deeply concerned about fighting near Tripoli” and stressed the need for talks.

“This unilateral military campaign against Tripoli is endangering civilians and undermining prospects for a better future for all Libyans,” the statement said.

International powers have begun evacuating personnel from Libya amid the worsening security situation.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

What’s the situation on the ground?

Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) forces have been carrying out a multi-pronged attack from the south and west of the city since Thursday.

The UN said its call for a humanitarian truce had been ignored and emergency services said they had not been able to enter the areas where fighting was taking place.

However a UN spokesman told AFP that they were “still hoping for a positive response”.

On Sunday the LNA said it had carried out its first air strike, a day after the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) hit them with air strikes on Saturday.

Fighting has continued around the disused international airport south of the capital that Gen Haftar earlier said his forces had seized.

Forces loyal to the GNA have slowed the advance and on Sunday a GNA spokesman told Al-Jazeera TV that the GNA now intended to “cleanse” the whole of the country.

What evacuations have already taken place?

US Africa Command, responsible for US military operations and liaison in Africa, said that due to the “increased unrest” it had relocated a contingent of US forces temporarily, but gave no further details on numbers.

There were reports of a fast amphibious craft being used in the operation.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said its full contingent of 15 Central Reserve Police Force peacekeepers had been evacuated from Tripoli because the “situation in Libya has suddenly worsened”.

A market in Tripoli.
A market in Tripoli. Residents are said to be stocking up on supplies

The Italian multinational oil and gas company, Eni, decided to evacuate all its Italian personnel from the country.

The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff.

Residents of Tripoli have reportedly begun stocking up on food and fuel. But BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says many of those near the fighting are remaining in their homes for now, for fear of looting should they leave.

Some fear a long operation, which Gen Haftar mounted to take the eastern city of Benghazi from Islamist fighters.

Who are the opposing forces?

Libya has been wracked by unrest since the overthrow of Col Gaddafi. Dozens of militias operate in the country.

Gen Haftar
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli

Recently they have been allying either with the UN-backed GNA, based in Tripoli, or the LNA of Gen Haftar, a tough anti-Islamist who has the support of Egypt and the UAE and is strong in eastern Libya.

Gen Haftar helped Col Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

The unity government was created at talks in 2015 but has struggled to assert national control.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj delivered a TV address on Saturday, saying he would defend the capital.

Mr Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be “stabbed in the back”.

The rogue general’s defiance suggests that, despite international condemnation of his recent moves, he believes he can only secure a place in Libya’s future political makeup through militarily means.

Diplomats are worried, because the manner and timing of the attack means he is unlikely to back down unless he is defeated.

Few thought he would go ahead and launch this operation – which he has long threatened to do – because they believed ongoing talks that saw him go from Paris to Palermo and the UAE for more than a year would buy time until a new political settlement was reached through negotiations and an eventual electoral process.

Today, Western nations have few cards to play to de-escalate the violence and once again find themselves in a position where they may need to start from scratch.

Presentational grey line

Are peace talks planned?

UN-backed talks aimed at drawing up a road map for new elections have been scheduled for 14-16 April in the Libyan city of Ghadames.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame insisted the talks would go ahead, unless serious obstacles prevented it, saying “we won’t give up this political work quickly”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in Tripoli just last Thursday to discuss the situation.

But Gen Haftar has said his troops will not stop until they have defeated “terrorism”.

Update: #Libya crisis: Fighting near Tripoli leaves 21 dead

Sudan protest: Clashes among armed forces at Khartoum sit-in

Elements of Sudan’s military have acted to protect protesters in Khartoum after security forces fired tear gas to break up a mass sit-in, eyewitnesses say.

Soldiers tried to chase away pick-up trucks firing tear gas, on the second night of a sit-in protest calling for President Omar al-Bashir to resign.

Protesters sought shelter in a navy facility, a witness said, as divisions among the armed forces were laid bare.

Mr Bashir has so far refused demands to make way for a transitional government.

What happened overnight?

One protester told the BBC’s Newsday that a number of pick-up trucks arrived and began firing tear gas and live ammunition at the thousands of sit-in protesters in the Sudanese capital.

She said the military was at first neutral but then tried to chase the security forces away.

It is unclear who the security forces were but BBC Africa editor Best, says reports indicate they were from the national intelligence service and a state militia.

The eyewitness said the security forces returned for a second attack and people then ran towards a navy facility to seek shelter from the prolonged firing.

Ali Ibrahim, of the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which has organised the protest, told EFE news agency that military units had fired into the air to prevent security forces dispersing the sit-in.

There are unconfirmed reports of casualties from the scene. Video on social media showed protesters hiding behind walls as shots ran out.

One resident of a district 5km (3 miles) away told Reuters the tear gas could be felt there.

The sit-in is taking place outside the army HQ and Agence France-Presse quotes witnesses as saying the army has now deployed troops around the building and is erecting barricades in streets near the compound. The army’s intentions surrounding the protest remain unclear.

How did this protest begin?

It started on Friday when protesters descended on the zone outside the HQ to call for Mr Bashir’s removal.

President Omar al-Bashir sitting on a green chair dressed in white at the National Dialogue Committee at his palace in Khartoum on April 5
President Bashir declared a state of national emergency in February

It was the biggest protest against the president since unrest began in December and marked the 34th anniversary of the coup that overthrew the regime of former President Jaafar Nimeiri.

The demonstrators appear to be hoping for an internal coup, pleading with the army command to remove Mr Bashir, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, and open the way for a transitional government.

The police say only one person has died in the latest protests – in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city – but social media reports suggest at least five protesters have been killed.

Since the unrest began, Human Rights Watch says protest-related violence has killed 51 people, although officials put the figure at 32, AFP reports.

Why are people protesting?

The protests were originally sparked by a hike in the cost of living but demonstrators are now calling for the president to go.

Sudan’s economy has long been strained since the US imposed sanctions more than 20 years ago, accusing Khartoum of sponsoring terror groups.

Sudan protests: The second day of demonstrations in Khartoum

In December, the government announced the price of fuel and bread would rise. In the year leading up to this, inflation had risen while the Sudanese pound fell rapidly in value.

Mr Bashir’s rule has been blighted by accusations of human rights abuses. In 2009 and 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged him with counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

In February, it looked like he might give in to protests and step down, but instead Mr Bashir declared a state of national emergency.

He says the protesters have legitimate grievances but should only replace him through elections.

Who are the demonstrators?

The SPA – a collaboration of health workers and lawyers – has been organising the protests.

Sudan protest: Clashes among armed forces at Khartoum sit-in
Sudan protests: “No amount of beating will make us stop”

Doctors have emerged as a leading force and as a result are being targeted by the authorities.

It is estimated that up two thirds of the protesters are women, who say they are demonstrating against Sudan’s sexist and patriarchal society.

Forces from Misrata arrived in Tripoli to defend it from rebel troops

Update: #Libya crisis: Foreign powers evacuate as unrest worsens

International powers have begun evacuating personnel from Libya amid a worsening security situation.

US Africa Command said it had relocated an unspecified contingent of US forces, while India said it had evacuated peacekeepers to Tunisia.

Rebel forces under Gen Khalifa Haftar have advanced from the east with the aim of taking the capital, Tripoli.

The UN-backed prime minister has accused him of attempting a coup and says rebels will be met with force.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

Who is evacuating and why?

Gen Haftar began his offensive four days ago and fighting on the outskirts of the capital has led some international groups to react to the deteriorating security situation.

US Africa Command, responsible for US military operations and liaison in Africa, said that due to the “increased unrest” it had relocated a contingent of US forces temporarily, but gave no further details on numbers.

There were reports of a fast amphibious craft being used in the operation.

India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said its full contingent of 15 Central Reserve Police Force peacekeepers had been evacuated from Tripoli because the “situation in Libya has suddenly worsened”.

A market in Tripoli.
A market in Tripoli. Residents are said to be stocking up on supplies

The Italian multinational oil and gas company, Eni, decided to evacuate all its Italian personnel from the country.

The UN is also due to pull out non-essential staff.

Residents of Tripoli have reportedly begun stocking up on food and fuel. But BBC Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher says many of those near the fighting are remaining in their homes for now, for fear of looting should they leave.

Some fear a long operation, which Gen Haftar mounted to take the eastern city of Benghazi from Islamist fighters.

What’s happening with the fighting?

Fighting continued on Sunday around the disused international airport south of the capital that Gen Haftar earlier said his forces had seized.

Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) forces have been carrying out a multi-pronged attack from the south and west of the city.

However, forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have now slowed the advance.

“Intensive air strikes” were carried out by GNA aircraft 50km (30 miles) south of Tripoli on Saturday.

One militia from Misrata told AFP it had aligned with the GNA and had sent armed vehicles to Tajura, in the eastern suburbs, to counter the LNA.

Who are the opposing forces?

Libya has been wracked by unrest since the overthrow of Col Gaddafi. Dozens of militias operate in the country.

Gen Haftar
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli

Recently they have been allying either with the UN-backed GNA, based in Tripoli, or the LNA of Gen Haftar, a tough anti-Islamist who has the support of Egypt and the UAE and is strong in eastern Libya.

Gen Haftar helped Col Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

The unity government was created at talks in 2015 but has struggled to assert national control.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj delivered a TV address on Saturday, saying he would defend the capital.

Mr Serraj said he had offered concessions to Gen Haftar to avoid bloodshed, only to be “stabbed in the back”.

Back to square one?

Analysis by Best, BBC North Africa correspondent, in Tunis

The rogue general’s defiance suggests that, despite international condemnation of his recent moves, he believes he can only secure a place in Libya’s future political makeup through militarily means.

Diplomats are worried, because the manner and timing of the attack means he is unlikely to back down unless he is defeated.

Few thought he would go ahead and launch this operation – which he has long threatened to do – because they believed ongoing talks that saw him go from Paris to Palermo and the UAE for more than a year would buy time until a new political settlement was reached through negotiations and an eventual electoral process.

Today, Western nations have few cards to play to de-escalate the violence and once again find themselves in a position where they may need to start from scratch.

Presentational grey line

Are peace talks planned?

UN-backed talks aimed at drawing up a road map for new elections have been scheduled for 14-16 April in the Libyan city of Ghadames.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame insisted the talks would go ahead, unless serious obstacles prevented it, saying “we won’t give up this political work quickly”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in Tripoli just last Thursday to discuss the situation.

But Gen Haftar has said his troops will not stop until they have defeated “terrorism”.

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Thousands rally in the capital, Khartoum

Sudan: Protesters converge on army headquarters in Khartoum

Thousands of demonstrators across Sudan have taken part in what appears to be the biggest series of rallies against President Omar al-Bashir since protests began in December.

In Khartoum, demonstrators reached the army headquarters for the first time. The presidential compound is nearby.

Security forces used tear gas and made several arrests.

The rallies mark the 34th anniversary of the coup that overthrew the regime of former President Jaafar Nimeiri.

So far, the army has not intervened in the protests.

Demonstrators remained outside the compound in the evening after authorities pulled back, as organisers reportedly called on protesters to hold a sit-in to keep up the pressure.

Some reportedly vowed to stay until President Bashir resigned.

Sudan’s information minister meanwhile reaffirmed the government’s plan to resolve the crisis through talks and praised the security forces.

Police told the state news service Suna that one civilian – who protest organisers reportedly said was a medic – had died in Khartoum’s sister city Omdurman.

Civilians and officers were also reportedly wounded.

Why are people protesting?

Journalist Mohamed Ali Fazari, who was at the scene in Khartoum, said protesters were urging the army to side with the people against the government.

The crowd chanted “freedom, freedom, justice – one people one army”, he told BBC Focus on Africa radio.

The protests were originally sparked by a hike in the cost of living but are now calling for the president, who has been in power for nearly 30 years, to step down.

Sudan’s economy has long been strained since the US imposed sanctions more than 20 years ago, accusing Khartoum of sponsoring terror groups.

A young man covers his face to protect himself from tear gas during protests in Khartoum in February
Authorities have used tear gas to try to disperse the protesters

In December last year, the Sudanese government announced the price of fuel and bread would rise.

In the year leading up to this, inflation had risen while the Sudanese pound fell rapidly in value.

The announcement of the price rises triggered protests, which evolved into calls for President Bashir to step down.

His rule has been blighted with accusations of human rights abuses. In 2009 and 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged him with counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.

Who are the demonstrators?

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) – a collaboration of health workers and lawyers – has been organising the protests.

Doctors have emerged as a leading force and as a result are being targeted by the authorities.

It is estimated that up two thirds of the protesters are women, who say they are demonstrating against Sudan’s sexist and patriarchal society.

Sudan protests: ‘No amount of beating will make us stop’

How has the president responded?

In February, it looked like he might give in to protests and step down, but instead Mr Bashir declared a state of national emergency.

President Omar al-Bashir sitting on a green chair dressed in white at the National Dialogue Committee at his palace in Khartoum on April 5
President Bashir spoke to the National Dialogue Committee at his palace on 5 April

On the streets, security has been heavy, with tear gas used indiscriminately and reports of violence commonplace.

Sudan protests: People flee gunshots in deadly protest

Sudanese authorities have been accused of arresting prominent activists and targeting medics

which the National Intelligence Security Service has denied.

Authorities say 31 people have died in protest-related violence so far, but Human Rights Watch says the figure is more like 51.

The pressure group Physicians for Human Rights says it has evidence of killing, persecution and torture of peaceful protesters and the medics caring for them.

Pro-government militias from the city of Misrata have reportedly been moving to defend Tripoli

Libya crisis: Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj vows to defend Tripoli

Libya’s UN-backed prime minister has vowed to defend the capital Tripoli as forces loyal to a rival advance from the east.

In a televised address Fayez al-Serraj accused General Khalifa Haftar of launching a coup, saying his troops would be met with “strength and power”.

The rebels are on the outskirts of the capital and say they have seized Tripoli’s international airport.

Tripoli is the base of the UN-backed, internationally recognised government.

Rebel forces are advancing on Tripoli in a multi-pronged attack from the south and west of the city, although they have reportedly been slowed by pro-government fighters.

Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) troops seized the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this year.

Libya has been torn by violence and political instability since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

What’s happening in Libya?

Gen Haftar – who was appointed chief of the LNA under an earlier UN-backed administration – ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli on Thursday, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in the city to discuss the ongoing crisis.

Gen Haftar spoke to Mr Guterres in Benghazi on Friday, and reportedly told him that his operation would not stop until his troops had defeated “terrorism”.

Prime Minister al-Serraj said his government had “extended our hands towards peace” while Gen Haftar had declared a coup.

Forces have been ordered “to deal with the threat of those striving to destabilise and intimidate civilians”, he said, adding those responsible will be brought to justice.

Gen Haftar
Image captionGen Haftar has ordered his forces to march on Tripoli

Despite international demands to stop the advance, the LNA now says they have seized the disused international airport south of Tripoli and reportedly declared a no-fly zone over the west of the country, although the situation on the ground remains unclear.

The Libyan air force, which is nominally under government control, said it had targeted an area 50km (30 miles) south of the capital on Saturday morning with “intensive strikes”. The LNA vowed to retaliate.

Tripoli residents, concerned that major fighting could erupt, have begun stocking up on food and fuel, reports say.

What’s been the reaction?

The G7 group of major industrial nations has urged all parties “to immediately halt all military activity”. The UN Security council has issued a similar call.

Russia has also called on parties in the escalating conflict to find an agreement.

Speaking in Egypt, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov warned against what he called foreign meddling in Libya, while Egypt’s foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said Libya’s problems could not be solved by military means.

Both countries have provided support to Gen Haftar.

UN envoy Ghassan Salame said on Saturday that a conference planned for 14-16 April intended to pave the way for elections would still be held.

Who is Khalifa Haftar?

Born in 1943, the former army officer helped Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

In December Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed government at a conference but refused to attend official talks.

He visited Saudi Arabia last week, where he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks.

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Kogi Guber: #dino-melaye cries out over Bello’s move, warns CBN against granting governor loan

Dino Melaye, Senator representing Kogi West in the National Assembly, on Saturday raised the alarm over the latest move by the State Governor, Yahaya Bello, ahead of the state’s governorship election.

Melaye said Bello requested a N30bn loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.

In a tweet, the controversial lawmaker alleged that the loan was meant to prosecute the governor’s second term campaign.

He, however, cautioned the country’s apex bank against granting the loan to the governor, who he described as “squandermania.”

“Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State requesting N30bn from CBN. I have written the CBN Governor not to release the money to the squandermania, akotileta Gov.

“He is trying to raise money for the November election. #stopGYBmovement,” he tweeted.

Morocco court upholds Hirak movement protesters’ sentences

A Moroccan court has rejected an appeal against the prison sentences of activists who demonstrated against corruption and unemployment.

Dozens of people stood outside the Casablanca court demanding the prisoners’ immediate release ahead of the ruling.

The authorities have accused the activists of being separatists.

Protests rocked the North African country in 2016 and 2017 after the death of a local fishmonger.

Mohcine Fikri was crushed to death by a rubbish lorry in the city of Al-Hoceima as he tried to protect his fish, which had been confiscated by the police.

His death in October 2016 prompted a wave of anger, with thousands taking to the streets accusing authorities of abuse of power and corruption.

The so-called Hirak movement spread throughout the northern Rif region, and about 400 people were detained – drawing further demonstrations.

In June 2018, courts sentenced the leader of the movement, Nasser Zefzaki, to 20 years in prison, with the same term for activists Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid. Others were given sentences of up to 15 years behind bars.

Now, the courts have rejected an appeal against the sentences.

Relatives of those arrested reportedly chanted “corrupt state” and “long live the people” outside the court house once the decision was announced.

Mr Zefzaki was a finalist in 2018 for the Sakharov Prize, which honours people who fight for human rights.

A group of MEPs sent a letter to Morocco’s justice minister on Wednesday urging the country to immediately release Mr Zefzaki and the other detained protesters.

Forces loyal to the Tripoli government have reportedly come from Misrata to help defend the capital

Libya fighting prompts condemnation by G7 and UN

World powers and the United Nations have condemned fresh fighting in Libya as rebel forces from the east of the country march on the capital.

The G7 group of rich countries urged all parties “to immediately halt all military activity”. The UN Security council issued a similar call.

Khalifa Haftar, leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), has ordered the advance on Tripoli.

Reports suggest there is fighting near the international airport to the south.

Tripoli is the home of Libya’s internationally recognised government, which has the backing of the Security Council.

UN troops in the city have been placed on high alert. Violence and division have riven Libya since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

What’s happening on the ground?

The LNA’s leader Haftar ordered his forces to advance on Tripoli on Thursday, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was in the city to discuss the ongoing crisis.

Gen Haftar spoke to Mr Guterres in Benghazi on Friday, and reportedly told him that his operation would not stop until his troops had defeated “terrorism”.

Gen Haftar
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to march on Tripoli

On Thursday, LNA forces took the town of Gharyan 100km (62 miles) south of Tripoli.

There are now reports troops have taken the capital’s airport, which has been closed since 2014 – although these are disputed.

Residents of Misrata east of Tripoli told Reuters news agency that militias from their city had been sent to defend the capital.

Armed groups allied to the Tripoli government told the news agency on Friday that they had taken a number of LNA fighters prisoner.

LNA troops seized the south of Libya and its oil fields earlier this year.

What’s been the reaction?

In a tweet, Mr Guterres said he left Libya “with a heavy heart and deeply concerned”, saying he still hoped there was a way to avoid a battle around the capital.

The G7 later responded to the fighting with a statement urging an end to military operations.

“We strongly oppose any military action in Libya,” the statement read, reiterating their support for UN-led efforts to bring elections and calling on all countries to support the “sustainable stabilisation of Libya”.

The UN Security Council held a close-door meeting late on Friday. Afterwards the German UN ambassador Christoph Heusgen said members had “called on LNA forces to halt all military movements”.

“There can be no military solution to the conflict,” he said.

A Russian spokesman earlier told reporters the Kremlin does not support Gen Haftar’s advance and said it wants a solution by “peaceful political means”.

A conference was planned in Libya later this month for talks over ending the country’s long-running crisis.

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Hope dashed for a political resolution?

Khalifa Haftar’s forces have met with mixed fortunes.

To the south, they appear to have got close to the outskirts of the capital, at one point claiming to have taken the airport. But to the west, they appear to have been pushed back.

It’s still unclear how much this is a show of force to bolster Gen Haftar’s position or a genuine effort to seize Tripoli.

He returned during the revolution and he’s subsequently become the most powerful military leader in a country rife with militias, allied to a rival government in the east.

Despite the chorus of international concern over his actions, he has had support from powerful outside players, including the UAE and Egypt.

Efforts towards a political resolution for Libya have foundered time after time. The most recent hopes may once again have been dashed.

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Who is Khalifa Haftar?

A former army officer, he helped Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

In December Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed government at a conference but refused to attend official talks.

He visited Saudi Arabia last week, where he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks.

Algeria protesters demand end to regime after Bouteflika’s fall

Thousands have taken to the streets of the Algerian capital demanding a complete overhaul of the country’s political structure.

This is the seventh successive week of Friday protests and Tuesday’s resignation of long-serving President Abdelaziz Bouteflika does not appear to have satisfied the demonstrators.

According to the constitution, parliament’s speaker should take over.

But protesters want all those associated with Mr Bouteflika to go.

The president, who had been in power for 20 years, said this week that he was “proud” of his contributions but realised he had “failed in [his] duty”.

He added that he was “leaving the political stage with neither sadness nor fear” for Algeria’s future.

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‘We’ve had enough’

Algerians demonstrate

The youth are the main driving force behind these demonstrations, young men and women who have known no president other than Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

But they are not satisfied.

“We are tired of this regime, they have robbed us. We’ve had enough of that,” an emotional young woman tells me.

Nearly half of the population is under 30, many of whom are unemployed and having to live in poor conditions.

But I have also seen Algerians from older generations taking part in the protests.

Everybody here wants a change. They are sending a clear message: “a new phase with new faces”.

They tell me they don’t trust anyone associated with the Bouteflika era.

The mood is full of enthusiasm and energy but the people here take pride in the peaceful nature of the protests.

They have been emboldened by their success in unseating the president and now believe the same can happen with his entourage.

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Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is seen on a wheelchair as he casts his vote at a polling station in 2017
Mr Bouteflika’s departure has not satisfied the protesters

How did the protests come about?

Pressure had been building since February, when the first demonstrations were sparked by Mr Bouteflika’s announcement that he would be standing for a fifth term.

The octogenarian leader suffered a stroke six years ago and has rarely been in public since.

Tens of thousands protested across the country on 1 March. Mr Bouteflika’s promise not to serve out a fifth term if re-elected, along with a change of prime minister, failed to quell the discontent.

Leaders of the protests also rejected Mr Bouteflika’s offer this week that he would go by the end of his current term – 28 April – as not quick enough.

It seems the powerful military agreed. Its chief, Lt Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah, said on Tuesday: “There is no more room to waste time.”

Mr Bouteflika resigned on Tuesday but that was not enough for protesters.

Who is former President Bouteflika?

He is a veteran of Algeria’s war of independence who served as foreign minister for more than a decade before becoming president in 1999.

His primary task was to rebuild the country, and its economy – but first, he needed to end Algeria’s brutal civil war sparked by the military’s refusal to recognise the election victory of the Islamic Salvation Front in the early 1990s.

Despite guaranteeing stability in the oil-rich nation, his government has been accused of widespread corruption and state repression.

The man who once said he would not accept being “three-quarters a president” spent his last years in a wheelchair after a stroke in 2013, rarely appearing in public, and fuelling fierce debate over who was really in charge, the BBC’s North Africa correspondent, Best, says.

Who is officially running the country now?

A caretaker government is currently in place.

Algerian protestors

The president has resigned. What more do the protesters want?

The demonstrators are pushing for the removal of three people they dub the “3B”. That is Senate Speaker Abdelakder Bensalah, head of the constitutional council Tayeb Belaiz and Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

But they want much more than that – they want to dismantle the whole political system.

They say that the country is actually run by a group of businessmen, politicians and military officials who used Mr Bouteflika as a front.

People gesture and carry a mock hangman with the faces of Algerian businessman Ali Haddad, former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia, and Said Bouteflika, brother of former Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, during a protest to push for the removal of the current political structure, in Algiers, Algeria April 5, 2019.
Protesters call for everyone from the old regime to go – including Mr Bouteflika’s brother, Said (left puppet), former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia (centre) and businessman Ali Haddad

They want to take the power away from this group, known as Le Pouvoir.

Specifically, one of the leading voices of the protest movement, lawyer Mustapha Bouchachi, told AFP news agency that he doesn’t want the “symbols of the regime” to run the next election.

Who else has lost their position of power so far?

Earlier on Friday, the head of intelligence and close ally of Mr Bouteflika, Athmane Tartag, was reportedly sacked. He was a close ally of Mr Bouteflika.

Gen Haftar's forces were pictured in the southern town of Sebha last month

Libya crisis: General Haftar tells forces to take capital

The leader of forces in eastern Libya has ordered them to march on the capital Tripoli, the base of the internationally recognised government.

Khalifa Haftar’s order to the self-styled Libyan National Army came as UN chief Antonio Guterres was in Tripoli.

Armed groups from the western city of Misrata, which back the government, have vowed to stop any advance.

Libya has been riven by violence and division since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011.

What reaction has there been?

Mr Guterres, the US and European nations have all called for calm.

Speaking to reporters in Tripoli, Mr Guterres said he was making a “strong appeal to stop… the escalation”.

The UN Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss the situation following a request from the UK, reports said.

The US, UK, France, Italy and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued a joint statement appealing for calm.

“At this sensitive moment in Libya’s transition, military posturing and threats of unilateral action only risk propelling Libya back toward chaos,” the statement, issued by the US state department, said.

“We strongly believe that there is no military solution to the Libya conflict,” the governments added.

The UN had been planning to hold a conference in Libya later this month for talks over ending the country’s long-running crisis.

What is happening on the ground?

After Gen Haftar’s announcement, his forces moved towards the capital from several directions, one of his spokesmen said.

There were conflicting reports that Gen Haftar’s forces had entered the town of Gharyan, 100km (60 miles) south of Tripoli.

Gen Haftar
Gen Haftar has ordered his forces to march on Tripoli

The Libyan National Army (LNA) says it has secured Gharyan and moved on. However it said two of its soldiers had been wounded in clashes in a nearby area.

A Gharyan official told AFP that there were “ongoing efforts to avoid a confrontation” between rival fighters in the town.

The UN-backed government in Tripoli said it had put its forces on high alert.

Meanwhile residents in Misrata said armed groups from the city had begun moving towards the Libyan capital, Reuters reported.

The offensive comes after Gen Haftar’s forces seized parts of the south of the country earlier in the year.

Who is General Haftar?

A former army officer, he helped Colonel Gaddafi seize power in 1969 before falling out with him and going into exile in the US. He returned in 2011 after the uprising against Gaddafi began and became a rebel commander.

In December Gen Haftar met Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj from the UN-backed government at a conference but refused to attend official talks.

Gen Haftar has received backing from Egypt and the UAE, who see him as tough on Islamists.

He visited Saudi Arabia last week, where he met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for talks.

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Breaking: Again, Buhari jets out of Nigeria

Barely two days he visited Senegal, President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday jetted off for an economic forum in Jordan.

Buhari who promised to leave Nigeria better than he met it, stormed Amman to participate in the world economic forum in Jordan and investment summit in Dubai.

He was invited by King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan.

President Buhari will deliver an address at the opening of the plenary alongside King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, and join world economic leaders in an informal gathering at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre.

The Nigerian leader will also hold bilateral meetings with some world leaders on the sidelines of the Forum.

President Buhari will depart Amman Sunday for Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to participate in the ninth edition of the Annual Investment Meeting, April 8-10, 2019.

Invited by His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rachid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Nigerian President as Guest of Honour, will deliver the keynote address under the theme, “Mapping the Future of Foreign Direct Investment: Enriching World Economies through Digital Globalization.”

According to the organisers, the meeting is “the largest gathering of corporate leaders, policymakers, businessmen, regional and international investors, entrepreneurs, leading academics and experts showcasing up-to-date information, strategies and knowledge on attracting FDI.”

Buhari travels to Jordan
Buhari travels to Jordan

The meeting also seeks to explore investment opportunities in more than 140 countries, connect businesses and countries willing to engage in sustainable partnerships with investors.

President Buhari will be accompanied on both trips by Governors Abubakar Badaru, Abiola Ajimobi and Yahaya Bello of Jigawa, Oyo and Kogi States respectively.

Others on the entourage include the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno (rtd), and other top government officials.

General elections: President Buhari speaks on Nigeria’s democracy

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday said that Nigeria now ranked amongst the leading democracies in Africa and in the Commonwealth, 20 years after it began to experience uninterrupted democratic culture.

President Buhari was the visitor at the final day of the 50th Convocation Ceremonies of the University of Lagos.

The president was represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Rasheed Yakubu.

“With the 2019 general elections that had come and gone, we as a nation have once again reiterated our choice of democracy as the system of government by which we hope to imbibe an all-round development.

“Our administration is committed to ensuring that the sacredness of that choice is preserved. With this policy enunciated and every programme instituted, we shall ensure that our democratic culture takes firmer roots and legacies further consolidated.

“Let me reiterate that my administration will not waver in its commitment to following due process, preserving the sanctity of the rule of law, battling grand corruption, securing the lives and property of our people and rehabilitating or upgrading our critical infrastructure.

We will continue to be unrelenting in enthroning hard work, honesty and place the welfare of our citizens above everything else.

“We must all join hands to take Nigeria to the next level of progress,’’ President Buhari said.

According to him, his administration will continue to encourage Nigerian universities to build closer and better relationships with the industrial sector.

He said this would help to bridge the gap between theories and practicality with a view to addressing some of the most required needs of the nation.

He added that his administration believed in the imperative of sound educational system for national development.

“We recognise the place of our intellectuals to undertake cutting edge researches that will address the challenges of development and contribute to making lives better.

We acknowledge that our advancement as a nation will be driven by a robust human resource base.

“It should, therefore, be our collective determination to do our best to guarantee a peaceful and stable future for Nigerians through education.

“We shall continue to interface with the unions of universities in our bid to ensuring that we have a stable higher education sector that contributes to the nation’s global competiveness,’’ he said.

While congratulating the graduating students, President Buhari charged them to make their impacts felt in matters of national development.

“As you make your ways into the world beyond this ivory tower, let me assure you of our administration’s commitment to ensuring that the skills and knowledge you have acquired are put to use and be productively engaged.

“While many of you will be gainfully employed in the public and private sectors, some of you may choose to explore the entrepreneurial route by founding and co-founding small and medium scale businesses.

In a special way, the knowledge and competences you have developed in the course of acquiring Nigeria’s degrees, diplomas and certificates are to be applied to the noble course of national development,’’ he said.

Osun guber: Court orders Saraki, Melaye, Bruce to honour police invitation

The Federal High Court, Abuja has ordered the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Sen. Dino Melaye and Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce to honour the police invitation of Oct. 5, 2018 in connection with the protest staged by members of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP).

Justice Okon Abang gave the order on Thursday while delivering judgment in a fundamental human rights suit filed by the trio alleging intimidation, harassment and threat by the police, NAN reports.

“It is my view that the police invitation to the applicants is still valid and subsisting; The applicants shall respond or report to the police invitation without fail.

It is how the police treats them upon their having honoured the application that would determine whether their fundamental rights was violated not before they honour the invitation,” the judge said.

The judge held that even though the applicants were not on trial, where there were allegations against them, they had an obligation to report to the police upon been invited.

He insisted that the court could not restrain the police from discharging its duties as long as it was done within the confines of the law.

According to the judge, the suit of the applicants lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed with a cost of N50,000 awarded in favour of the police.

The trio had filed an application asking the court to nullify the Oct. 6 and 8, 2018 letters of invitation to them by the Police.

They claimed that the police invitation was an attempt to harass, intimidate and unlawfully detain them.

The senators also asked the court to declare that the act of dispersing their procession with tear gas was a violation of their fundamental rights, and asked the court to award N500 million to them as damages.

The three senators were part of the PDP leaders who led a protest on Oct. 5 2018, asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct free and fair elections.

The protest was sequel to the Osun governorship election which was declared to have been won by the All Progressives Congress.

They carried placards which read; “Police is an arm of APC, we demand free and fair elections amongst other inscriptions.”

They were on their way to the Force Headquarters when policemen dispersed them with teargas.

The police stated that the applicants and about 100 hoodlums riotously blocked Shehu Shagari way preventing motorists and other road users going about their lawful duties for several hours.

They further claimed that they forcefully attempted to enter into the Police Headquarters and became totally hostile.

They also said that they rushed violently in an attempt to force their way into the force headquarters to cause damage to police equipment and government property.

The police said they were warned to disperse but they refused and the police had to use the minimal force allowed by law to disperse them.

Algerians celebrate Bouteflika quitting

Abdelaziz Bouteflika: Algerian leader resigns amid protests

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has resigned after weeks of massive street protests.

Mr Bouteflika, who has been in power for 20 years, had already dropped plans to seek a fifth term as opposition to his rule grew.

The powerful Algerian army had called for the 82-year-old to be declared incapable of carrying out his duties.

Protesters have vowed to continue piling on pressure until the entire government is ousted.

The BBC’s adekunle best in Algiers says there were huge celebrations in the city, with people shouting, waving the national flag and honking their car horns all night.

He says the protesters do not only want Mr Bouteflika to go, but the whole system, in particular the government which was only appointed last weekend.

“This is just a little victory – the biggest is still to come,” one protester said.

Mr Bouteflika, who has been ill since he suffered a stroke six years ago, has avoided public events ever since.

However, he made a rare appearance on state TV to relinquish power hours after military chief Lt Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah called on him to leave office immediately.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika hands over power
State TV broadcast President Bouteflika handing in his resignation letter to the Constitutional Council’s President Tayeb Belaiz

One man, Selmaoui Seddik, told Reuters: “God willing, we will have a 100% democratic transition, this is very important. We need to remove the whole previous regime and that is the hardest thing.”

However, one protest leader, Mustapha Bouchachi, said before the announcement that any decision by Mr Bouteflika to quit would still change nothing and that the protests would continue.

People wave Algeria's national flags in Algiers. Photo: 2 April 2019
People sang as they celebrated in Algiers
A small child draped in Algeria's national flag celebrates in Algiers. Photo: 2 April 2019
Many Algerians took their children to mark a historic occasion

News of the resignation came in a statement carried on state news agency APS.

“The president of the republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has officially notified the president of the constitutional council of his decision to end his mandate as president of the republic,” it said.

State TV then reported that this would be with immediate effect.

According to the constitution, the Senate speaker should take over as interim head of state until fresh elections are held.

How did it come about?

Pressure had been building since February, when the first demonstrations were sparked by Mr Bouteflika’s announcement that he would be standing for a fifth term.

Tens of thousands protested across the country on 1 March. Mr Bouteflika’s promise not to serve out a fifth term if re-elected, along with a change of prime minister, failed to quell the discontent.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has led Algeria since 1999

Leaders of the protests also rejected Mr Bouteflika’s offer this week that he would go by the end of his current term – 28 April – as not quick enough.

It seems the powerful military agreed. Its chief, Lt Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah, said earlier on Tuesday: “There is no more room to waste time.”

What next?

The demonstrations have also called for the whole political system, in which the military plays a significant role, to be overhauled.

Many of the protesters are young and say they want a new system of government.

There were accusations that Mr Bouteflika was being used as a front by “le pouvoir” – a group of businessmen, politicians and military officials – to retain their power.

Mr Bensalah (l) during his recent visit to Tunisia for the Arab Summit
Mr Bensalah (l), who is expected to take over as caretaker president, has been representing the ailing leader at public events

Elections originally scheduled for 18 April were postponed and the governing National Liberation Front (FLN) vowed to organise a national conference on reforms.

The FLN has ruled Algeria since the country won independence from France in 1962 after seven years of conflict.

Mr Bouteflika, who came to power in 1999, strengthened his grip after a bloody civil war against Islamist insurgents which left 150,000 dead.

The chairman of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, is expected to become caretaker president for three months until elections.

Mr Bensalah has been in post since 2002 and has represented Mr Bouteflika at official visits and events.

He also shares a similar background with the president, growing up in neighbouring Morocco before returning to fight in the liberation war.

Who is Bouteflika?

He is a veteran of Algeria’s war of independence who served as foreign minister for more than a decade before becoming president in 1999.

His primary task was to rebuild the country, and its economy – but first, he needed to end Algeria’s brutal civil war sparked by the military’s refusal to recognise the election victory of the Islamic Salvation Front in the early 1990s.

Despite guaranteeing stability in the oil-rich nation, his government has been accused of widespread corruption and state repression.

The man who once said he would not accept being “three-quarters a president” spent his last years in a wheelchair after a stroke in 2013, rarely appearing in public, and fuelling fierce debate over who was really in charge, the BBC’s North Africa correspondent, Rana Jawad, says.

Revolutionaries praise him for welcoming Che Guevara to Algeria, and giving a young Nelson Mandela his first military training.

Steve Hanke’s report shows Nigeria is sinking under Buhari – PDP

ABUJA- The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has described Steve Hanke’s report which rated Nigeria as the 6th miserable country in the world,  as a vindication of its position “all this while,” saying the nation has sunk into a new low since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power in 2015.

Hanke, an economist at John Hopkins University, United States of America had in the publication rated Nigeria 6th on the ignoble list of world’s most miserable countries,  behind Venezuela (Ist), Argentina (2nd), Iran (3rd), Brazil (4th) and Turkey (5th), citing the high rate of unemployment in Africa’s biggest nation as the major contributor to her “misery. ”

Buhari

Reacting to the development,  the main opposition party,  through its spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan tasked the ruling All Progressives Congress,  APC,  to perish the thought of the planned increment in Value Added Tax,  VAT,  saying such would only make life more difficult for the “already traumatized Nigerians.”

In a chat with our correspondent, the publicity scribe said: “That report is a vindication of the position of the Peoples Democratic Party, all this while. The economy has virtually collapsed under President Buhari and the man is even mooting the idea of piling more pressure on Nigerians.

“Nigerians have never suffered like they are suffering today because those charged with the responsibility of managing the economy have failed completely. They have no idea of what it takes to manage an economy like ours.

“As an opposition party,  we call on the Presidency to take urgent steps to fine-tune the economy, create jobs for our teeming youths if only to justify that a government is in place.

“In the interim,  we advise them to stop their plan to increase VAT as that will only fetch millions of Nigerians additional pain and discomfort.”

While noting that democracy is essentially about the people,  Ologbindiyan expressed worry that rather improving on the living conditions of Nigerians,  “the  APC-led administration of President Buhari appears to be deriving pleasure from inflicting pains and misery.”

He added: “Nigerians can now see that indeed, the PDP don’t just do criticisms for the fun of it. We are talking of a report that searchlighted economies of countries in different continents of the world. Our beloved country is in shambles but there is no doubt we will reclaim it for the people at the appointed time.