Sudan army chief says soldiers ‘will not attack protesters’

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan said he would be willing to give up power in days
Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan said he would be willing to give up power in days

The head of Sudan’s military transitional council has told the BBC the army will not use force against protesters who want it to leave power.

Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan spoke as African leaders extended their ultimatum for the military to organise a return to civilian rule.

The army had warned it would remove protesters camped outside its headquarters in the capital, Khartoum.

President Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power on 11 April after 30 years.

Protesters accuse the military of being “remnants” of the ousted long-time ruler.

Leaders of the protest movement have suspended transition talks and co-operation with the military because they doubt its sincerity to hand over power.

A mass sit-in outside the military HQ has been taking place since 6 April. Five days later Mr Bashir was overthrown and replaced by a military council that promised it would relinquish power to civilians within two years, a proposal rejected by protesters.

Lt-Gen Burhan told the BBC HARDTalk programme that the military had taken control to ensure security in the country.

“Protesters have a right to demonstrate anywhere, and we want to reach an agreement [to hand over power], we are not here to stay. The army will go back to the barracks,” he said.

He added that he was willing to hand over power within days if a consensus can be reached with civilian groups.

The protesters are digging in but it’s unclear how they can persuade the army to hand over power

Meanwhile, African leaders meeting in Egypt have agreed to extend the African Union’s (AU) 15-day deadline, for the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to give power to civilians, to three months.

“We agreed on the need to give more time to Sudanese authorities and Sudanese parties to implement these measures,” said Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who chaired the meeting.

Failure to meet the AU’s deadline could see Sudan suspended from the continental body – a situation that would complicate its political and economic crisis.

How did it all begin?

In December 2018, the government tried to stave off economic collapse by imposing emergency austerity measures and a sharp currency devaluation.

Cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked, demonstrations in the east over living standards but the anger soon spread to Khartoum.

Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the military after months of protests

The protests quickly widened into demands for the removal of President Bashir, in charge for nearly 30 years and his government.

The Sudanese military toppled Mr Bashir on 11 April but demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is a move to civilian rule.

Who are the protesters?

The economic problems brought Sudanese from all walks of life on to the streets but the organisation of demonstrations was taken on by the SPA a collaboration of doctors, health workers and lawyers.

A large proportion of the protesters have been women and the demonstrators are mostly young.

Innovative child malaria vaccine to be tested in Malawi

A large-scale pilot of what has been called the world’s first malaria vaccine to give partial protection to children has begun in Malawi.

The RTS,S vaccine trains the immune system to attack the malaria parasite, which is spread by mosquito bites.

Earlier, smaller trials showed that nearly 40% of the 5-to-17-month-olds who received it were protected.

Malaria cases appear to be on the rise again after a decade of success in combating the deadly disease.

“This is a landmark moment for immunisations, malaria control, and public health,” Dr Kate O’Brien, Director of Immunisation and Vaccines at the World Health Organization, told the BBC.

According to the most recent annual figures, global malaria cases are no longer falling, sparking concerns about its resurgence.

 Anopheles mosquito.

SPLMalaria in 2017

  • 435,000died of malaria worldwide
  • 219m infectedAfrica saw more than 90% of cases and deaths

Source: WHO

Malawi is the first of three countries chosen for the pilot to roll out the vaccine. It aims to immunise 120,000 children aged two years and below. The other two countries, Ghana and Kenya, will introduce the vaccine in the coming weeks.

The three countries were picked because they already run large programmes to tackle malaria, including the use of bed nets, yet still have high numbers of cases.

How big a problem is malaria?

Malaria kills some 435,000 people around the world each year, the majority of them children. Most of these deaths are in Africa, where more than 250,000 children die every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr O’Brien said that malaria is “a really difficult disease to develop a vaccine against”.

An early trial of the vaccine began in 2009.

“There were seven countries participating in a large trial where over 15,000 children participated,” Dr David Schellenberg, who has been working on the development of the vaccine with the WHO, told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

“[The trial] showed pretty clearly that this vaccine is safe and it is efficacious in terms of its ability to prevent clinical malaria episodes and also severe malaria episodes,” he said.

What difference will the vaccine make?

RTS,S has been more than three decades in the making, with scientists from drugs company GSK creating it in 1987.

Years of testing supported by a host of organisations, including the Path Malaria Vaccine Initiative, and costing an estimated $1bn (£770m), have led to this point.

People protesting in Nigeria about amalria deaths
Campaigners have long been calling for an effective way to deal with malaria

The nearly 40% efficacy is not high in comparison with vaccines for other diseases, but Dr Schellenberg says RTS,S will add to the preventative measures, such as bed nets and insecticides, already being used.

“Nobody is suggesting that this is a magic bullet,” Dr Schellenberg said.

“It may not sound like much but we’re talking about 40% reduction in severe malaria which unfortunately still has high mortality even when you have good access to good treatment,” he added.

Dr O’Brien said the vaccine lasted for at least for seven years and would target infants because they are most at risk.

The vaccine needs to be given four times – once a month for three months and then a fourth dose 18 months later.

Dr Schellenberg accepted that it might be a challenge for mothers in some areas to take their children to clinics for all four doses.

This stage of the trial is expected to be completed by 2023, according to Path.

Morocco protests: Thousands demand release of activists

Earlier this month, jail sentences were upheld for political activists

Thousands of people have protested in Morocco’s capital Rabat, demanding the release of 42 activists who had rallied against corruption and unemployment.

Sunday’s “march of the Moroccan people” was organised by political and civil rights groups, as well as the families of detainees.

It comes weeks after, a court upheld prison sentences for the activists, who held protests in 2016 and 2017.

Protesters have been pictured with flags, banners and pictures of the jailed activists, who are members of Hirak Rif – or the “Rif Movement”.

Moroccan protesters hold photos of detainees and shout slogans

The demonstrations also called for the release of journalist Hamid El Mahdaoui, who is serving a three-year sentence for covering the protests in Morocco’s northern Rif region.

Why were the activists imprisoned?

In June 2018, a court sentenced Nasser Zefzaki, the leader of Hirak Rif, to 20 years in prison.

The same term was given to activists Ouassim El Boustati and Samir Ghid, while others were given sentences of up to 15 years.

The Hirak Rif organised protests in 2016 and 2017 after the death of a fishmonger in Al-Hoceima, a town in Rif.

Fishmonger Mohcine Fikri was crushed to death by a rubbish lorry whilst trying to recover his fish which had been confiscated by local police.

The incident prompted a wave of anger and thousands took to the streets, accusing authorities of corruption and an abuse of power.

A Moroccan protester holds a banner reading in Arabic "20-year sentence = 20-years injustice"
Moroccan protesters hold photos of detainees and shout slogans

Sudan crisis: Protesters cut ties with military council

Sudan protesters
Sudanese protesters gathered for a mass protest in front of the defence ministry

Protest leaders in Sudan have said they have broken off contact with the ruling military council that replaced ousted leader Omar al-Bashir.

They accused it of being composed of “remnants” of Mr Bashir’s regime.

Thousands of protesters have gathered outside army HQ in Khartoum for a meeting to announce a civilian council they now want to take power.

The military says it is committed to handing over power and will consider a joint military-civilian council.

Protesters have continued to stage a sit-in in central Khartoum
Protesters have continued to stage a sit-in in central Khartoum

However, protest movement spokesman Mohamed al-Amin said they now considered the military council an “extension of the regime” and vowed to escalate the protests.

The crowds are still large and the cheering is still emphatic. But after more than a fortnight of protests the broad front of groups that makes up the Sudanese opposition finds itself confronted with one of the most fundamental quandaries to face a peaceful protest movement: what to do when those you seek to overthrow refuse to accede?

The protest leaders had been expected to announce their candidates for a civilian council to rule Sudan through a transition to full democracy. But last night – after days of expectation – they failed to do that.

This has prompted speculation about divisions as different groups argue about policy and positions. Instead the opposition said it was suspending negotiations with the ruling military council and called for escalating protests.

For now the generals on the ruling military council seem to have regained some cohesion. They have also been given strong backing – including more than $3bn (£2.3bn) in aid – from the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates. There is widespread scepticism among the opposition about any military willingness to hand over power to a civilian-dominated transitional council.

Presentational grey line

What are protest leaders planning?

The campaign to remove Mr Bashir has been spearheaded by the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) and it was behind the announcement of the civilian council.

Sudan protesters
Sudanese protesters wave national flags and shout slogans

The SPA held talks with the military on Saturday.

A senior SPA member, Ahmed al-Rabia, initially indicated this might delay the naming of the council but on Sunday he confirmed the announcement would go ahead at the Khartoum protest site.

The protesters want their new council to form a transitional government, leading to elections.

What will the military do?

On Sunday it said it would respond to the call for civilian rule within a week, and indicated it might favour a joint council.

It has, however, released political prisoners and on Saturday arrested a number of top members of Mr Bashir’s former ruling party.

While the military has promised not to remove protesters from their sit-in, it also called on them to “let normal life resume”.

How did it all begin?

In December 2018, the government tried to stave off economic collapse by imposing, emergency austerity measures and a sharp currency devaluation

Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the military after months of protests

Cuts to bread and fuel subsidies sparked, demonstrations in the east over living standards, but the anger soon spread to Khartoum.

The Sudanese military toppled Mr Bashir on 11 April but demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is a move to civilian rule.

Who are the protesters?

The economic problems brought Sudanese from all walks of life on to the streets but the organisation of demonstrations was taken on by the SPA, a collaboration of doctors, health workers and lawyers, and his government.

A large proportion of the protesters have been women and the demonstrators are mostly young.

British woman killed by gunmen at Nigerian holiday resort

Faye Mooney had been working in Nigeria for a non-governmental organisation

A British woman was one of two people shot dead by gunmen who stormed a holiday resort in Nigeria.

The British High Commission confirmed the death of the woman, who was named by her employers as Faye Mooney.

A Mercy Corps statement said Ms Mooney, who was working in Nigeria, was “tragically killed” by gunmen while on holiday in the northern city of Kaduna.

Local police said a Nigerian man was also killed, and three others were kidnapped during the attack on Friday.

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians frequently targeted.

Ms Mooney was employed in Nigeria as a communication specialist for the non-governmental organisation Mercy Corps, which said it was “utterly heartbroken”.

Neal Keny-Guyer, Mercy Corps chief executive, said she had worked with the company for almost two years “leading efforts to counter hate speech and violence” in Nigeria.

He said the graduate of University College London and the London School of Economics, who had previously worked in Iraq and Kosovo, was “an inspiration to us all”.

Police said there had been no claim of responsibility for the incident and the kidnappers were yet to be identified.

A spokesman said a group armed with dangerous weapons had gained entry to Kajuru Castle and began shooting sporadically, killing two people and kidnapping three others.

Libya crisis: Clashes erupt south of capital Tripoli

Libya’s UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Heavy fighting has erupted south of Tripoli after Libya’s UN-backed government announced a counter-offensive against insurgent forces.

It comes after days of limited advances by either side, in clashes which have killed 220 people.

Soldiers loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar launched an attack earlier this month with the aim of taking Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serra has condemned the “silence” of his international allies amid the fighting.

Details of progress by both sides was not immediately clear.

Mr Serra’s Government of National Accord says it has carried out seven air strikes on areas held by Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

The group has been advancing on the city from multiple directions, and says it has taken Tripoli’s international airport.

The UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Haftar’s forces.

Libyan fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) run as they fire their guns during clashes
Soldiers loyal to the Tripoli government have been defending the capital since Gen Haftar began an assault on 4 April

Gen Haftar, a former army officer, was appointed chief of the LNA in 2015 under an earlier, internationally recognised government based in Tobruk..

He has support from Egypt, Russia and the UAE.

The White House says President Trump has spoken to Gen Haftar suggesting the US may also endorse a new government under his command.

General Khalifa Haftar
Gen Haftar is fighting to unseat the UN-backed government

Both America and Russia have refused to support a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

An LNA spokesperson told AFP news agency: “We have won the political battle and we have convinced the world that the armed forces are fighting terrorism.”

Gen Haftar has support from several foreign powers, who see him as a potentially stabilising force in the chaos of post-revolution Libya, BBC Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher reports.

Some Libyans feel the same way, but others see him as just another warlord bent on winning power by force, our editor.

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

Libya crisis: Clashes erupt south of capital Tripoli


A Libyan fighter loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) fires a truck-mounted gun during clashes
Libya’s UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

Heavy fighting has erupted south of Tripoli after Libya’s UN-backed government announced a counter-offensive against insurgent forces.

It comes after days of limited advances by either side, in clashes which have killed 220 people.

Soldiers loyal to Gen Khalifa Haftar launched an attack earlier this month with the aim of taking Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fayez al-Serra has condemned the “silence” of his international allies amid the fighting.

Details of progress by both sides was not immediately clear.

Mr Serra’s Government of National Accord says it has carried out seven air strikes on areas held by Gen Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

The group has been advancing on the city from multiple directions, and says it has taken Tripoli’s international airport.

The UN-backed government says it has launched a counter-offensive against Gen Haftar’s forces.

Libyan fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) run as they fire their guns during clashes
Soldiers loyal to the Tripoli government have been defending the capital since Gen Haftar began an assault on 4 April

Gen Haftar, a former army officer, was appointed chief of the LNA in 2015 under an earlier, internationally recognised government based in Tobruk..

He has support from Egypt, Russia and the UAE.

The White House says President Trump has spoken to Gen Haftar  , suggesting the US may also endorse a new government under his command.

General Khalifa Haftar
Gen Haftar is fighting to unseat the UN-backed government

Both America and Russia have refused to support a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

An LNA spokesperson told AFP news agency: “We have won the political battle and we have convinced the world that the armed forces are fighting terrorism.”

Gen Haftar has support from several foreign powers, who see him as a potentially stabilising force in the chaos of post-revolution Libya, BBC Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher reports.

Some Libyans feel the same way, but others see him as just another warlord bent on winning power by force, our editor.

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

In pictures: Wearing fancy dress for big yams in Nigeria

It has been one big party this week in the town of Arondizuogu in southern Nigeria, with feasting and parades to give thanks for the last harvest and to usher in the new planting season.

A man in a fake beard and video camera in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

The Ikeji Festival, which last for seven days, brings together many thousands of ethnic Igbo people, from far and wide, to the town in Imo state.

Man in a traditional masquerade costume along with a bell ringer in the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

During the festivities, some men are authorised by secret cultural Igbo societies to dress up as ancestral spirits in what is called a masquerade.

They are accompanied by a bell bearer, who explains to the crowds the messages the spirit world wishes to pass on – usually blessings for a bountiful harvest to come.

A man in a masquerade costume performing in the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

The masked figures perform for the crowds as they go down the streets – and as part of the rituals, chickens and goats are sacrificed to the ancestors to encourage them to grant their blessings.

A man carrying a "magic" wooden box on his head through the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Wooden or metal boxes, which are believed to contain “juju” (magical powers), are paraded on some men’s heads through the 20 villages that make up Arondizuogu, as another way of communicating with the spirit world.

Men covered in purple paint walking next to a car in a street parade in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

The festival is an annual event – the dates are decided by the village monarchs and elders. Some years it coincides with Easter celebrations, though they are not linked. Body painting is part of the fun…

A man with a face painted with charcoal in a street of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Some parade participants use powdered dye, palm oil and charcoal to cover their bodies.

Two women in headwraps with a little boy in a street of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

It is a time for everyone to dress up – although women do not traditionally take part in any of the parades. They watch from the sidelines and some prepare special feasts for the party goers.

Man selling chicken in a street of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

And it’s certainly not a celebration without food. Business is brisk for the vendors who sell barbeque chicken and beef to visitors.

Man being washed as part of rituals in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Part of the festival’s rituals include the cleansing of bodies to wash away the previous farming season and prepare for the next.

A masquerade group parading through the streets of Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Popular local staples like yam and cassava, as well as various vegetables, will be planted in the coming season.

Man with a read woollen hat pulled over his eyes in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

One man poses with his “okpu agoro”, a red, black and white woollen bobble hat worn by men from the Igbo community of south-eastern Nigeria.

Man in a masquerade costume in Arondizuogu during the Ikeji Festival in Nigeria

Each masquerade group is accompanied by musicians using instruments such as gongs and drums – and the celebrations tend to last until late in the evening each day.

Sudan crisis: Cash hoard found at al-Bashir’s home

Omar al-Bashir
Omar al-Bashir was deposed by the military after months of protests

A large hoard of cash has been found at the home of Sudan’s ousted president Omar al-Bashir and he is now being investigated for money laundering, prosecutors say.

Security services found euros, dollars and Sudanese pounds totalling more than $130m (£100m).

The ex-leader was placed under house arrest after months of protests led to his removal.

Reports say Mr Bashir is now being held at the Kobar high-security prison.

A source in Sudan’s judiciary told Reuters news agency that suitcases loaded with more than $351,000, €6m ($6.7m; £5.2m) and five billion Sudanese pounds ($105m) were found at Mr Bashir’s home.

The source also confirmed Mr Bashir was under investigation, telling Reuters prosecutors would “question the former president in Kobar prison”.

A picture carried by the Netherlands-based media outlet Radio Dabanga shows men in army uniforms standing over what appears to be several sacks full of cash.

The money, which Radio Dabanga says was shown to reporters, was stuffed in bags designed to contain 50kg (110lbs) of grain.

But despite moves to hold Mr Bashir to account, Sudan’s army does not appear to have the confidence of protesters demanding civilian rule, 

Sudanese protesters flash the victory sign ahead of a friday prayer outside the army headquarters in the capital Khartoum on April 19, 2019. -
Protesters fear that the military will continue to pull the strings

Protesters want civilian rule’

The mass sit-in continues in the centre of Khartoum, amid a lack of trust that the military council is committed to handing over power to a civilian transitional authority.

Each day concessions are announced, but there’s little proof that what’s been promised has been delivered.

There have been no images of the former president in prison, nor any response from the generals over a demand they give up power to a civilian administration.

The general public prosecutor’s announcement that Mr Bashir is being investigated for money laundering after cash was found at his home is news the demonstrators would like to hear.

Presentational grey line

The Sudanese military toppled Mr Bashir on 11 April but demonstrators, led by The Sudanese Professionals Association, have vowed to stay on the streets until there is a move to civilian rule.

Mr Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes in the country’s Darfur region.

Sudan’s military, however, says it will not extradite him and will try him in the country instead.

‘Protesters won’t move until they get real change’

Uganda would consider offering the deposed leader asylum if he applied, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Oryem Okello told Reuters.

Until this week, Mr Bashir’s whereabouts since his removal were unknown.

The coup leader at the time, Awad Ibn Auf, said Mr Bashir was being detained in a “safe place”.

He himself stood down soon afterwards, with Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan named as head of the transitional military council.

Libya crisis: Trump speaks to insurgent General Haftar

Libyans in Tripoli demonstrate against Haftar
On Friday Tripoli residents demonstrated against Gen Haftar’s offensive

The White House says President Trump has spoken to Libyan eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are attacking the capital Tripoli.

During Monday’s call, Mr Trump recognised Gen Haftar’s efforts to combat terrorism and secure Libya’s oil and they discussed Libya’s future.

Tripoli is the seat of Libya’s UN-backed and internationally recognised government.

Mr Trump’s call suggests he endorses Gen Haftar, unlike some of his allies.

More than 200 people have been killed since the fighting began three weeks ago.

On Thursday the UN-backed Prime Minister, Fayez al-Serraj condemned the “silence” of his international allies, amid the assault by Gen Haftar’s forces.

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

The latest crisis started three weeks ago, when Gen Haftar’s eastern forces descended on the capital in what Mr Serraj has described as an attempted coup.

Gen Haftar’s troops are advancing from various directions on the outskirts of the city and say they have seized Tripoli’s international airport.

Does this mean Trump backs Haftar?

During Mr Trump’s conversation with Gen Haftar, the pair “discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system”, the White House says.

The BBC’s Middle East Regional Editor Alan Johnston says the call seems to signal that Washington is swinging its weight behind Gen Haftar and may see him as being capable of restoring unity and order to the country.

But Gen Haftar’s opponents say he would rule the country in a highly autocratic style, our correspondent adds.

pro-government forces south of Tripoli
Pro-government forces are fighting Gen Haftar’s forces to the south of Tripoli

The US, along with Russia, has also refused to support a UK-drafted UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Libya.

Russia objected to wording blaming Gen Haftar for the violence while the US did not give a reason, Reuters reported.

Gen Haftar has had backing from the UAE and Egypt and visited Saudi Arabia shortly before announcing his attack on Tripoli.

The UN-backed government in Tripoli has also accused France of supporting Gen Haftar. France has denied this.

Reuters quoted Jalel Harchaoui from the Clingendael Institute in The Hague as saying that Mr Trump’s call was tantamount to supporting Gen Haftar’s campaign and made a military intervention by an outside state such as Egypt more likely.

Who supports the Tripoli government?

Former colonial power Italy backs the internationally-recognised government.

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has also said there is “no justification” for Gen Haftar’s move on Tripoli.

On Friday Mr Hunt spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the two agreed to “continue diplomatic efforts to achieve a freeze on the ground and a return to the political process”, according to the state department.

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.

After Gaddafi’s fall he was appointed chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) under an earlier UN-backed administration

Mali violence: PM and entire government resigns

Women at a protest on April 5 gesturing to rally against the government and international forces' failure to tackle rising violence in Mali
Protests took place this month against the government and international forces’ failure to tackle rising violence in Mali

The prime minister of Mali and his entire government have resigned, following an upsurge of violence in the country.

On Wednesday, a motion of no confidence was submitted as MPs blamed Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga for failing to handle the unrest.

Last month, scores of herders were killed by a rival ethnic group.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said in a statement that he accepted Mr Maiga and his ministers’ resignation.

A prime minister will be named very soon and a new government will be put in place after consultations with all political forces,” the statement said.

Mali has been struggling to control violence since Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist extremists gripped the desert north of the country in 2012.

Despite an ongoing military drive and a 2015 peace agreement, jihadists still dominate areas huge areas of the country, having migrated from the north to the more heavily populated centre of the country.

The government has come under increasing pressure over its inability to restore stability, particularly after the massacre of 160 Fulani herders in the Mopti region.

Armed with guns and machetes, the attackers appeared to be members of the Dogon ethnic group, which has a long history of tension with the nomadic Fulani people.

The country was shocked by the killings and tens of thousands of people protested on the streets of the capital Bamako on April 5.

The president said in a televised address on Tuesday that he had “heard the anger”.

A map showing the location of Mali and Mopti, where the killings took place

Nigeria’s top judge Walter Onnoghen found guilty

Nigeria’s Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen has been convicted of falsely declaring his assets.

His suspension over the charges by President Muhammadu Buhari in January, weeks before the presidential election, caused a political storm.

Mr Buhari was accused of meddling with the judiciary in case the outcome of the election was challenged in court.

Justice Onnoghen was found guilty of hiding the extent of his wealth and has been banned from office for 10 years.

The case was heard by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which was set up to tackle corruption allegedly committed by public officials.

The law requires senior civil servants and government officials to declare their assets before taking office as a way to monitor corruption.

Unprecedented ruling

Mr Onnoghen has not commented on the tribunal’s ruling.

His conviction is unprecedented as he was the first serving chief justice to be put on trial and found guilty, the BBC’s Best, reports from Nigeria..

In January, Atiku Abubakar – the president’s main challenger in the election – called Justice Onnoghen’s suspension “an act of dictatorship”.

At the time of his suspension, Mr Buhari’s spokesman said that trying to link it the elections was “illogical”.

The president has pledged to fight corruption and was re-elected in February.

Mr Abubakar has gone to court to challenge the result of the election.

Giant lion’ fossil found in Kenya museum drawer

A new species of giant mammal has been identified after researchers investigated bones that had been kept for decades in a Kenyan museum drawer.

The species, dubbed “Simbakubwa kutokaafrika” meaning “big African lion” in Swahili, roamed east Africa about 20 millions years ago.

But the huge creature was part of a now extinct group of mammals called hyaenodonts.

The discovery could help explain what happened to the group.

Hyaenodonts – so called because their teeth resemble those of a modern hyena – were dominant carnivores more than 20 million years ago, National Geographic reports.

But they are not related to hyenas.

“Based on its massive teeth, Simbakubwa was a specialised hyper-carnivore that was significantly larger than the modern lion and possibly larger than a polar bear,” researcher Matthew Borths is quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

In 2013 he was doing research at the Nairobi National Museum when he asked to look at the contents of a collection labelled “hyenas”, National Geographic says.

The creature’s jaw and other bones and teeth had been put there after being found at a dig in western Kenya in the late 1970s.

Mr Borths teamed up with another researcher, Nancy Stevens, and in 2017 they began analysing the unusual fossil specimens.

Their findings were reported in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology this week.

Six killed in Libya capital as UN debates ceasefire demand

Rocket fire on the Libyan capital Tripoli, which the UN-recognised government blamed on military strongman Khalifa Haftar, killed six people ahead of a Security Council meeting on Wednesday over a ceasefire.

Diplomats have long complained that Libyan peace efforts have been stymied by major powers backing the rival sides, with Haftar ally Russia quibbling over the proposed wording of the ceasefire demand even as the bombardment of Tripoli intensifies.

Three of the six killed in the rocket fire on the south Tripoli neighbourhoods of Abu Salim and Al-Antisar late on Tuesday were women, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

Abu Salim mayor Abdelrahman al-Hamdi confirmed the death toll and said 35 other people were wounded.

AFP journalists heard seven loud explosions as rockets also hit the city centre, the first since Haftar’s Libyan National Army militia launched an offensive on April 4 to capture the capital from the government and its militia allies.

The LNA blamed the rocket fire on the “terrorist militias” whose grip on the capital it says it is fighting to end.

The bombardment came as diplomats at the UN Security Council began negotiations on a British-drafted resolution that would demand an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

The proposed text seen by AFP warns that the offensive by Haftar’s LNA “threatens the stability of Libya and prospects for a United Nations-facilitated political dialogue and a comprehensive political solution to the crisis.”

– No Haftar criticism –

After Britain circulated the text late Monday, a first round of negotiations was held during which Russia raised objections to references criticising Haftar, diplomats said.

“They were very clear. No reference anywhere,” a council diplomat said.

During a tour of the Tripoli neighbourhoods worst hit by the rocket fire on Tuesday night, unity government head Fayez al-Sarraj said the Security Council must hold Haftar to account for his forces’ “savagery and barbarism”.

“It’s the legal and humanitarian responsiblity of the Security Council and the international community to hold this criminal responsible for his actions,” Sarraj said in footage of the tour released by his office.

He said his government would seek Haftar’s prosecution for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“We are going to hand all the documentation to the ICC tomorrow (Wednesday) for a prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he said.

At least 189 people have been killed, 816 wounded and more than 18,000 displaced since Haftar ordered his forces to march on Tripoli, according to the World Health Organization.

Britain was hoping to bring the ceasefire resolution to a vote at the Security Council before Friday, but diplomats pointed to Russia’s objections as a hurdle.

The proposed measure echoed a call by UN chief Antonio Guterres, who was in Libya to advance prospects for a political solution when Haftar launched his offensive.

– Proxy war –

Haftar, seen by his allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as a bulwark against Islamists, has declared he wants to seize the capital.

He backs a rival administration based in eastern Libya that is refusing to recognise the authority of the Tripoli government.

The draft resolution calls on all sides in Libya “immediately to recommit” to UN peace efforts and urges all member states “to use their influence over the parties” to see that the resolution is respected.

Resolutions adopted by the council are legally binding.

Diplomats have long complained that foreign powers backing rival sides in Libya threatened to turn the conflict into a proxy war.

Saudi Arabia is also seen as a key Haftar supporter, while Qatar — which has tense relations with Riyadh and Abu Dhabi — has called for stronger enforcement of the UN arms embargo to keep weapons out of Haftar’s hands.

Russia and France, two veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council, have praised Haftar’s battlefield successes in defeating Libyan militias aligned with the Islamic State group in the south of the country.

Haftar’s offensive on the capital forced the United Nations to postpone a national conference that was to draw up a roadmap to elections, meant to turn the page on years of chaos since the 2011 ouster of Moamer Kadhafi.

Guterres has said serious negotiations on Libya’s future cannot resume without a ceasefire.

How I made fathers in Senegal carry babies on their backs’

Marta Moreiras and the subjects of her portraits – fathers carrying babies on their backs – were surprised by the attention they attracted as she took their photographs on the streets of Senegal’s capital Dakar.

People were clapping – sometimes it was a bit hard to take the picture because we were having such a large audience,” the Spanish photographer told the BBC.

“All the women were like: ‘Hey, give me five, I’m going to call my husband – we don’t see this every day.”

And that is exactly why Moreiras started her project, which has been shortlisted for the portraiture category of this year’s Sony World Photography Awards Professional competition.

The idea came to her when she was looking through her photo archive, which for Senegal goes back to 2008.

“I realised that I had tonnes of pictures of mummies with babies on their back, but I just wondered why I didn’t have any of men.”

Kumba and Binta in Senegal
Kumba and her baby Binta – from Marta Moreiras’s archive

When she began phoning up some of her male Senegalese friends who had babies, most said that they would carry children on their backs if they were at home – but never outside.

“There’s a big division here between public spaces and private spaces… and it’s very important what others think of you,” says Moreiras.

Demba and Ely in Virage, an neighbourhood by the ocean on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal
Demba, a financial consultant, with his baby Ely

Yet her research and interviews revealed that men do play a significant child-caring role, not least because Dakar is expensive and couples often both have to work.

“That will force them to start dividing tasks.

“And when I asked the men if they actually participated in the education of their children and if they helped at home they were like: ‘Well, yes I’m forced to, my wife, she works as well – she can’t just take on all the different tasks.’

“But whenever you see a picture of a baby you never see a dad with them or playing with them or taking them to school or washing them,” she said.

Cheikh and Zoe in Point E, a central neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal
Cheikh, a freelance videographer, and his baby Zoe

This is how she first coaxed her interviewees into having their portraits taken.

“I’d say: ‘All right, so to make it more visible – this role of the dad – I want to take a photo of you with your child.'”

Jules and Jade in Zone B, a central neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal
Jules, a computer specialist, and his baby Jade

When they agreed to that, she’d say she would like the baby to be on their backs instead of in their arms – this too they happily agreed to, hesitation only setting in when she asked them to move outside to give the portrait “a more interesting setting”.

“We don’t do that, we don’t take children to the street on our backs,” was the general response – but Moreiras’s persistence paid off.

“The whole reaction on streets was very cool, so the guy I was photographing began to feel more comfortable about it.”

Moulaye, Hassan and Malick in Mermoz, a residential neighbourhood of Dakar, Senegal
Moulaye, a music producer, and his children Hassan and Malick

The portraits she shot over a two- to three-month period were exhibited last May at Dak’Art, the African Contemporary Art Biennale, when the whole of Dakar becomes an art gallery.

And they certainly became a subject of debate – given the inspired decision to stage her exhibition at les parcours sportifs – a big open space on the main seafront thronged by those in pursuit of the body beautiful as it is full of gym equipment.

Mouhammed and Zakaria in Liberte 4, a popular neighbourhood in Dakar, Senegal
Mouhammed, a photographer, and his son Zakaria

“Ninety-nine per cent of people who go there are men, showing their masculine, macho side,” she said.

But they were also of an age when they were becoming fathers – the perfect target audience, says Moreiras.

One photo in particular had a great impact as it was of a popular rapper, Badou, known for his machismo.

Badou and Mouhammed in Medina in Dakar, Senegal
Badou, a rapper, with his baby Mouhammed

“He has a public image, and everyone recognises him. It’s important in this project that some recognisable people are included to be role models and open the debate to realise there is nothing wrong with it,” the photographer said.

There were some public figures who turned her down when she approached them as they were concerned about public attitudes.

For Moreiras, who has eight of her portraits from the series in the World Photography Awards, it will be a “never-ending project”.

“I’m still working on it – I’m happy to have as many daddies as possible because I believe that to destroy this stereotype of mums with babies, that we have seen forever, we need to do at least the same amount of images with men.”

Scorpion and Africa in Mermoz, a residential neighbourhood of Dakar, Senegal
Scorpion, a wood designer, and his baby Africa

Winners of the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Professional competition will be announced on 17 April 2019. All shortlisted series will be exhibited at Somerset House in London from 18 April until 6 May 2019.

The man behind Somalia’s only free ambulance service

Somalia’s capital city – where there are frequent and deadly bomb blasts – only has one free ambulance service, which was founded by Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan 13 years ago.

When he returned from Pakistan, where he had been studying dentistry, to Mogadishu as a fresh graduate he was struck by the lack of ambulances on the busy streets – and people using wheelbarrows to ferry the sick to hospital.

The very few ambulances that did exist and respond to calls came from private hospitals and patients had to pay for their collection.

So not long after his return, Dr Adan decided to start an ambulance service.

“I bought a minibus, revamped it and made it accessible for wheelchair users too,” he told the BBC.

Ambulance driving in Mogadishu
Aamin now has a fleet of 20 ambulances

He started to operate the minibus, carrying the wounded, injured and the heavily pregnant to the hospital.

Such was the demand for the service that he realised it needed to expand and he began frequenting the city’s open-air markets and corner shops, looking for potential donors.

“I managed to convince a group of local entrepreneurs to chip in and buy us another minibus,” he says.

At the time Dr Adan was a part-time tutor at a couple of universities in the city.

“I asked my students if they wanted to save a life and if they did, to donate a $1 (£0.75) a month to help save our brothers and sisters,” he says.

Soon everywhere he went, he began to ask people to contribute a $1 a month to help run Aamin Ambulance.

‘No government funding’

“Aamin” means “trust” in Somali – and most residents of the city feel it has lived up to its name in a society failed by its politicians.

Ambulance in Mogadishu

GettyAamin Ambulance

  • Up to 42calls a day

  • 20ambulances
  • 35members of staff

Source: Aamin Ambulance

Today Aamin Ambulance, which survives on donations, has a staff of 35 people. Many of them are volunteers and students, Dr Adan says.

The volunteers are not paid a salary but some of their expenses, such as transportation, are covered.

The service has a fleet of 20 ambulances and a driver for each vehicle.

Scene of a massive explosion is seen in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia - 14 October 2017
Aamin Ambulance helped in the wake of the October 2017 attack in which more than 580 people died

“We operate on donations. We don’t receive any funding or help from the government.

“A while ago, we asked the Mogadishu mayor’s office if they could assist us with 10 litres of petrol a day but we are still waiting to hear about that.”

‘Somalis are very generous people’

But Dr Adan has been able to attract some backing from the United Nations.

“WHO [the World Health Organization] bought us two cars. UNDP donated some walkie-talkies,” the 45-year-old says.

“We bought second-hand ambulances from Dubai and had them delivered here. Recently, the British embassy in Mogadishu organised a half-marathon to raise funds for our service.

Raising money can be hard work, as is dealing with the city authorities which recently banned Aamin Ambulance from attending blast scenes.

The crux of the problem seemed to be the government’s sensitivity about casualty figures from bombings carried out by Islamist militants – Aamin Ambulance often keeps journalists up-to-date about what its paramedics have witnessed using social media.

The ban infuriated some when it was reported last week on the BBC Somali Service’s Facebook page, who deplored the government for “stopping aid”.

But Dr Adan tried to play down the friction.

Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan

The most valuable thing for me is human life. That is my driving force”Abdulkadir Abdirahman Adan
Aamin Ambulance founder

“I spoke to the police commissioner, who rescinded the ban but he told us to let them know when we are attending to an emergency. We are not allowed to talk to the media or talk about the body count.”

While a spokesman for the regional authority, Salah Hassan Omar, told the BBC it had all been a misunderstanding and was more about “how to best work together”.

For Dr Adan, such headaches can be overcome as he is heartened by the generosity he has experienced since starting the ambulance service.

“Every person in this life has a purpose and the most valuable thing for me is human life. That is my driving force,” he says.

Aamin operator in Somalia on the telephone
Operators are on hand 18 hours a day to take calls and despatch the ambulances

“Somalis are very generous people, even when they have nothing. Our country has been in turmoil for 30 years and it is only active because of money sent from abroad.

“Our country has been running on the generosity and goodwill of Somalis in the diaspora for decades.

“Aamin is almost a joint community effort – we have had to take the reins for the well-being of our fellow Somalis.”

‘We’re not political’

Although Mogadishu has been in the news for bombings carried out by the militant group al-Shabab, Aamin Ambulance service is not solely borne out of the need to attend to these types of attacks.

Mr Adan says the ambulances go where they are needed, whether it is to attend to a small child, a woman going into labour or an old person in need of assistance.

“Anything really and anyone who needs our help – we have paramedics and nurses ready,” he says.

For the future, Dr Adan envisions a Somalia where nobody needs to die because they are unable to get help in time.

Presentational grey line

Control map of Somalia

He would like to see Aamin Ambulance expand to cover the whole country.

It may seem like an unlikely vision as al-Shabab still controls most rural areas – but Dr Adan is nothing if not determined.

And al-Shabab, known for demanding protection money from many Somali businesses – even in Mogadishu from where it was expelled in 2011, does not seem to hassle Aamin Ambulance.

“We’re not a business, we’re not making a profit and we’re not political. I can’t possibly see what al-Shabab would want with us,” says Dr Adan.

Sudan crisis: Military council arrests former government members

Sudan’s transitional military council has arrested members of the former government and promised not to disperse protesters.

A spokesman also urged the opposition to pick the next prime minister and vowed to implement their choice.

Months of protests in Sudan led to the ousting and arrest of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir on Thursday.

Demonstrators have vowed to stay on the streets until there is an immediate move to civilian rule.

A sit-in is continuing outside the defence ministry in the capital Khartoum.

What did the military council say?

In a press conference on Sunday, spokesman Maj Gen Shams Ad-din Shanto said the military council was “ready to implement” whatever civilian government the opposition parties agreed.

“We won’t appoint a PM. They’ll choose one,” he said, referring to opposition and protest groups.

He also said the army would not remove protesters from their sit-in by force, but called on protesters “to let normal life resume” and stop unauthorised roadblocks.

“Taking up arms will not be tolerated,” he added.

The military council also announced a raft of decisions, including:

  • New heads of the army and the police
  • A new head of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS)
  • Committees to fight corruption, and to investigate the former ruling party
  • The lifting of all media restrictions and censorship
  • The release of police and security officers detained for supporting protesters
  • A review of diplomatic missions, and the dismissal of Sudan’s ambassadors to the US and to the UN in Geneva

Demonstrators in Khartoum paint a mural reading "Freedom", 14 April 2019
After months of protests, long-serving leader Omar al-Bashir was ousted and detained by the military

What’s been happening in Sudan?

Protests against a rise in the cost of living began in December but soon developed into a wider call for the removal of Mr Bashir and his government.

On Thursday the military removed and detained the veteran leader, after nearly 30 years in power.

The coup leader, Defence Minister Awad Ibn Auf, announced the military would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections and imposed a three-month state of emergency.

But demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets regardless, demanding an immediate switch to civilian government.

Mr Ibn Auf himself stood down the next day, as did the feared security chief Gen Salah Gosh.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan was then named as head of the transitional military council, to become Sudan’s third leader in as many days.

Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan
Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan became head of the transitional military council after the coup leader stepped aside

In a televised address on Saturday, Gen Burhan vowed to “uproot the regime”, pledging to respect human rights, end a night curfew, release political prisoners immediately, dissolve all provincial governments, try those who had killed demonstrators and tackle corruption.

But the Sudan Professionals Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the demonstrations, said the council’s response “did not achieve any of the demands of the people” and urged protests to continue.

Among its demands are the restructuring of state security, the arrest of “corrupt leaders” and the dissolution of militias that operated under former President Bashir.

The whereabouts of Sudan’s former leader is currently unknown, but the coup leaders said he was in a secure place.

Mr Bashir has been indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court.

But the military council has said it will not extradite him, although he could well be put on trial in Sudan.

Mr Bashir’s National Congress Party on Saturday called his overthrow unconstitutional, and demanded that the military council release the party’s imprisoned members.

Maj-Gen Shanto said that the former ruling party would have no part in the civilian transitional government but could field candidates in the next elections.

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Are you protesting? Share your experiences by emailing, haveyoursayonbbc@yahoo.com

Seychelles president delivers speech in Indian Ocean calling for better protection for world’s seas

The Seychelles president has gone below the surface of the Indian Ocean to call for better protection for the world’s seas.

Danny Faure said that a healthy ocean was “crucial for the survival of humanity” in a broadcast made 124m (406ft) below sea level.

He had joined a British-led expedition exploring the ocean’s depths.

Last year, the Seychelles created protected areas of the ocean that were “the size of Great Britain”.

During the live broadcast Mr Faure could be seen in the submersible wearing a Seychelles T-shirt.

He told viewers that the ocean was “the beating blue heart of our planet” and said that it was “under threat like never before.”

“We have managed to seriously impact this environment through climate change. I can see the incredible wildlife that needs protection. Over the years we have created these problems, we must solve them and we must solve them together.”

The broadcast was part of an expedition by Nekton Mission. The mission will explore deep sections of the waters surrounding the Seychelles.

The goal is to gain public support for the country to protect 30% of its national waters by 2020.

It will then explore other areas of the Indian Ocean ahead of a summit in Oxford in 2022.

In February 2018 the Seychelles protected 210,000 sq km (81,000 sq miles) of ocean in exchange for getting some of its national debt paid off.

Waves break on the beach of an island in the Seychelles
The island nation plans to protect 30% of its seas by 2020

The reserves limit tourism and fishing activities in the country to halt further damage to aquatic life. It was the first debt swap designed to protect ocean areas in the world.

According to the UN, only 16% of marine waters under national jurisdiction are covered by protected areas.

The Seychelles aims to protect 30% of its ocean space by next year.

Oceans are one of the seven main themes of this year’s UN climate summit in Chile in December.

Small island nations like the Seychelles are among the most vulnerable to the rise in sea levels caused by climate change.

Ivanka Trump in Ethiopia to ‘promote women’

President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, is in Ethiopia to promote a US government initiative aimed at advancing women’s participation in the workplace.

The initiative aims to benefit 50 million women in developing countries by 2025.

Ms Trump toured a female-run textile facility in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The US policy in Africa under President Trump has prioritised the war on terror and checking the influence of China.

When his administration’s long-delayed policy on Africa was finally unveiled at the close of 2018, many observers of the continent were quick to point out that it did not include the favoured American staples: promotion of democracy, free and fair elections, political and civil rights.

The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP), which was launched in February, coincides with President Trump’s proposed cuts to foreign aid, and a ban on US aid to health groups that promote or provide abortions.

The W-GDP initiative aims to train women worldwide to help them get well-paying jobs.

Ms Trump visited Muya Ethiopia, a clothes manufacturing company.

The 16-year-old company, which exports clothes to the local and international markets, was founded by Sara Abera, who gave Ms Trump a tour.

AMENSISA NEGERA

According to the W-GDP’s website, low participation of women in the formal labour markets impedes economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries.

The project is financed by a $50m (£38m) fund within the US international development aid agency (USAid).

AMENSISA NEGERA

Fundamentally we believe that investing in women is a smart development policy and it’s smart business. It is also in our security interests because women when they are empowered they foster peace and stability and we have seen this play out time and time again,” Ms Trump said as she met women working in the coffee industry.

US EMBASSY IN ETHIOPIA

Ms Trump, who serves as an adviser to her father, will also attend a World Bank policy summit while in Ethiopia.

She will visit Ivory Coast later in the week and is set to visit a cocoa farm, as well as participate in a meeting on economic opportunities for women in West Africa.

She tweeted ahead of the trip that she was “excited”.

The Trump administration’s policy in Africa has focused on the war on terror and trying to manage the growing political and economic influence of China and Russia on the continent.

It has, however, backed democratic reforms in countries like Ethiopia where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has implemented a series of progressive changes including the normalisation of relations with Eritrea after a bitter border standoff going back two decades.

The US also recently backed pro-democratic protests in Algeria and Sudan.

Mr Trump, however, upset many in the continent last year after, he reportedly used the word “shithole” to describe African nations

Why I have no house outside Nigeria – Dangote

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, has declared that he has no personal house outside Nigeria.

The business mogul said this at the 2019 Mo Ibrahim Forum.

Dangote hinted that he avoids luxury things “because they distract and take time”.

Dangote said: “I don’t have any holiday home anywhere. I don’t have a house anywhere but I know people who are working for me…they have houses in London.”

“But you see, a lot of people, even the younger ones, we need to be very careful because one of biggest issues with us as Africans is that we spend our projected incomes.

“Once you start doing business [and] it starts doing well, but rather than for you to invest more in the business, you start spending thinking that profit will continue to come.

“There are ups and downs in business so you need to be very focused.”

Asked of his opinion on areas young entrepreneurs should invest in, Dangote replied: “The sectors to focus on now are ICT and agriculture. These are the 2 promising sectors.”