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Summary

  1. Ivory Coast's ex-President Laurent Gbagbo trial opens at the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  2. Mr Gbagbo is the first former head of state to be tried by the global tribunal
  3. He and his co-accused, militia leader Charles Ble Goude, both pleaded not guilty
  4. Morocco agrees to accept its failed asylum-seekers back from Germany
  5. Senegal hails 'massive offshore gas discovery'
  6. Somalis protest against al-Shabab at scene of beach attack
  7. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Thursday 28 January 2016

Live Reporting

By Hugo Williams and Lucy Fleming

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Thursday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all for today from the BBC Africa Live page. Listen to the Africa Today podcast and keep up-to-date with developments across the continent on the BBC News website.  

A reminder of today’s wise words - chosen weeks ago without an eye on the timing of Laurent Gbagbo's trial at the ICC:

No man rules forever on the throne of time

Sent by Raymond Adjei Opoku in Accra, Ghana.

We leave you with this photo of the novel names Nigerians have come up with to sell rat poison.

Rat poison for sale in Nigeria
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

And you can read Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani's piece for more on why rat poison is such big business at the moment. 

Eritrea polygamy hoax: Your comments

Our story debunking the hoax story about Eritrea that had falsely claimed that the government had ordered men there to marry at least two wives has taken the BBC Africa Facebook page by storm, with thousands of you sharing and commenting. Here are a few of your reactions: 

Chifundo Kandani says: "It's a case of good marketing there's nothing like bad publicity ... Now the world knows where Eritrea is genius"

Dymon Gondwe says: "I knew it was false. When I googled the source of the story as it was breaking, no major news source of the likes of the BBC was reporting it. So slanderous! Long Live Eritrea. Long Live Africa!"

Degol Beyene, anEritrean, says: "This is not our tradition, those who say like that are our enemiess, they want to blame the people of Eritrea. I am very disappointed with this speculation or conjecture."

Not all of the comments were suitable for the Africa Live Page, but suffice to say, many of our readers in different parts of the continent were disappointed that the story turned out to be false, having suddenly taken a keen interest in visiting Eritrea. 

Kenya and Nigeria agree visa deal to boost enterprise

Abdinoor Aden

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Kenya and Nigeria have agreed a visa deal to encourage more business between the two countries. 

Nigeria’s presidential media adviser Femi Adesina told the BBC that in future there would be free entry for visiting Nigerian and Kenyan businessmen and women, with a visa being granted on arrival without restrictions.

Usually visitors from each country have to pay a visa fee when they arrive.

The agreement came after trade talks between Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya.

At today’s meeting, both countries admitted corruption and insecurity were the major threats to their investment progress - but both wanted to push ahead on tourism, oil and mineral, agriculture and textile ventures.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari (L) and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta (R)
BBC
President Buhari (L) is on a three-day visit to Kenya

Five ways to help solve the crisis in Burundi

Burundi has been reelected to the African Union's Peace and Security council, despite allegations of serious human rights abuses by the government in recent months. 

The vote of confidence from the AU comes in the same week as a delegation from the UN Security Council visited Burundi, concerned over the deteriorating security situation there. 

The head of that delegation, the US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power (pictured below), recently warned that Burundi was "going to hell", with "no contingency planning, no UN presence, no dialogue” in place to end the crisis. 

 The Royal Africa Society's blog has been considering a few things that might help: 

#Burundi: There are no easy solutions, but here are 5 things that could be done to help africanarguments.org/2016/01/27/bur…

#Burundi: There are no easy solutions, but here are 5 things that could be done to help africanarguments.org/2016/01/27/bur…

Zanzibar opposition to boycott March poll

Tulanana Bohela

BBC Africa, Dar es Salaam

Controversy in Zanzibar over the annulled elections looks set to continue with the main opposition now saying it will boycott a re-run of the presidential poll scheduled to take place on 20 March.

The archipelago is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania – and has its own parliament and president.

The chief of Zanzibar's electoral commission cited fraud when he cancelled the October vote.

Talks to resolve the situation between the opposition CUF, which says its candidate won, and the ruling CCM Zanzibar party have been fractious.

Cuf leader Maalim Seif Sherrif had warned that a repeat election could lead to chaos and called for the chairman of the electoral commission to step down.

Opposition supporters gesture as they chant slogans outside the headquarters of the Civic United Front in Zanzibar on 30 October 2015
AFP
Cuf supporters were angered by the annulment of the election

ICC: 'Both Ivorian sides will be investigated'

Fadi El-Abdallah and Helene Alex
BBC

The first day of the trial of Ivory Coast’s former President Laurent Gbagbo and ex-militia leader Charles Ble Goude has come to an end – and BBC Afrique’s Helene Alex at The Hague has managed to grab an interview with the spokesman for the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Fadi El-Abdallah said Mr Gbagbo's supporters, who have been watching outside the court in Netherlands may have been disappointed not to hear more from the former leader – but he said he was likely to get more involved in the next few days.

It’s good that the Ivorian people could follow the day but they shouldn't forget that we are covering other cases in Ivory Coast and the prosecutor is determined to make sure both sides are being investigated

ICC spokesman Fadi El-Abdallah

He added that it was also an important day for the ICC as the trial is taking place in its new building – which meant the court was “here to stay”.

Watch African Nations Championship highlights

The Confederation of African Football has posted video highlights of yesterday's matches from the African Nations Championships in Rwanda , featuring: 

Zambia v Mali (0-0)

Uganda v Zimbabwe (1-1)

The first two quarter-finals of Chan, a tournament for locally-based players representing their countries, will be on Friday, with Rwanda v DR Congo and Cameroon v Ivory Coast. 

Sunday's quarter-finals will see Tunisia take on Mali and Zambia play Guinea. 

View more on youtube

Follow live scores and fixtures here

Is this the world's most dangerous school?

In one of Benghazi's poorest neighbourhoods, right on the front line of Libya's fight against the so-called Islamic State, a brave head teacher is keeping her school open. She is determined that shelling and sniper fire will not get in the way of her pupils' education.  

teaching a class
BBC

Her name is Fauzia Mukhtar Abeid and she's been telling the BBC about the experience of running a school less than a kilometre away from heavy fighting between militants belonging to IS and other groups:

"I am afraid that we'll get shelled, because the mosque next to our school was hit not long ago. They fired at it while some students were on their way to Koran lessons

Fauzia Mukhtar Abeid
BBC

She remembers some of the toughest moments from the past two years:

The first shell landed near one boy and another boy ran over to help. Then a second shell came in and blew his leg off. The first child also lost a leg. It was absolutely terrifying

... and reflects on why she felt she had no choice but to keep the school running:

"I couldn't say no to them, to their children. I felt it was a national duty to teach these children. My conscience demanded it, even if conditions are very dangerous

Read more about Fauzia's story

Failed Moroccan asylum-seekers 'to return home'

Morocco says it has agreed for its citizens who've failed to get refugee status in Germany to be repatriated.

A statement from Morocco's Royal Palace said King Mohammed VI held discussions over the phone with the German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. 

The statement said the two countries agreed to review the cases of those illegally staying in Germany and that they would be repatriated to Morocco without delay. 

Just under 4% of Moroccans who applied for asylum in Germany last year were found eligible for protection.

Thousands of migrants and refugees from North Africa have tried to enter Europe in recent years.

Moroccans at the macedonia serbia border
Getty Images
Many Moroccans made the long and arduous journey through Eastern Europe to reach Germany

New Cameroon stadium 'to be approved' by Caf

The Cameroon Football Federation (Fecafoot) has said the Confederation of African Football will approve the new Limbe Omnisport Stadium to host an Africa Cup of Nations Cup qualifier in March.

However, Fecafaoot president Tombi A Roko Sidiki revealed Caf has some reservations because of outstanding construction work.

"The stadium is not fenced and the access road not completed," he said.

Cameroon are set to host South Africa at the 20,234-capacity stadium on 25 March.  

Limbe Omnisport Stadium
other

  Read the full BBC Sport story  

Villagers watch Gbagbo trial

Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast’s former president, comes from the western village of Mama where people have been closing watching the opening of his trial at the ICC today:

Ivorians watching the ICC trial
Reuters

Including Josef Goli Obou, the chief of the village:  

A chief at Mama village watching the ICC trial
Reuters

In the main city of Abidjan, Mr Gbagbo’s son Michel (L) joined people at a centre set up for those wanting to watch the live broadcast. See 13.22 post for his views on the trial.   

Michel Gbagbo and other Ivorians watching ICC trial
AFP

And if you'd like to catch up with the trial updates in French, check out the BBC Afrique live page

Senegal welcomes gas discovery 'game changer'

A significant gas discovery in Senegal has been hailed as a game changer by the energy minister, the AFP news agency reports.

Gas reserves estimated at 450bn cubic metres have been found between Senegal and Mauritania at an offshore exploration well of US firm Kosmos .

"This is the best news possible for our country," Energy Minister Alassane Thierno Sall is quoted as saying on state television.

It would allow Senegal "to be self-sufficient in energy and also export gas to the rest of the world”, he reportedly said. 

Ivory Coast's 'spin doctor' chuckles in court

An ICC prosecutor is continuing with an opening statement about their case against Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude, a youth and militia leader who had ambitions to be like a spin doctor of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

A BBC correspondent at the court in the Netherlands tweets:

View more on twitter

ICC resumes but technical hitches continue

The ICC session has resumed but there are still a few technical hitches, as reported earlier.

 During the lunch break a BBC correspondent was outside The Hague courtroom watching supporters of Ivory Coast's former President Laurent Gbagbo:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

'Valentine's Day vote' for the Central African Republic

Voters in the Central African Republic (CAR) will go to the polls to cast their ballots for a new president on Valentine's Day, the AFP news agency is reporting.

The run-off was due to be held this Sunday.

They will be deciding between two former prime ministers: Anicet Georges Dologuele and Faustin Touadera.

Parliamentary elections that were held on the same day as the first presidential round were annulled because of irregularities.

A rerun of these will now also be on 14 February, the agency reports.

Voters in CAR on 30 December
AFP

Somalis 'share grief and sorrow' over al-Shabab attack

Hundreds of people in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, have turned out to demonstrate against al-Shabab at the scene of the deadly attack on Lido beach last Friday. 

A local government official has been speaking to the BBC Somali service:

Somali people and their leaders have gathered today here at Lido beach... in defiance. They have strongly condemned what happened here last week - they wanted to share their grievances and show their sorrow over the attack

Abdifitah Omar Halane

A BBC Somali service journalist has tweeted a photo of the demonstration: 

Hundreds of Somalis have gathered at the scene of an attack on a local beach Liido to demonstrate against #AlShabaab

Hundreds of Somalis have gathered at the scene of an attack on a local beach Liido to demonstrate against #AlShabaab

Cameroon suicide attack 'targeted market'

We're getting more information about the bombing in Kerawa, which is in northern Cameroon along the border with Nigeria.

The town actually straddles the border, and the school - which was in the Cameroonian sector - has been closed for a year because of the security situation.

A resident told the BBC's Hausa service that the site is now used as a weekly market attended by shoppers from both sides of the town.

A female bomber triggered her explosives on the edge of the market, killing two people, he said.

The other suicide attacker was stopped by vigilantes where she blew herself up.

Like in Nigeria, local militia in Cameroon aid the military when it comes to policing public areas in an attempt to stop suicide attacks by the Islamist Boko Haram group.

Map
BBC

Son of Laurent Gbagbo questions ICC's credibility

Michel Gbagbo
BBC

The BBC’s Tamasin Ford in the Ivorian city of Abidjan has just interviewed one of Laurent Gbagbo’s sons about the ICC trial.

Michel Gbagbo said he expected the truth to be heard and his father to be freed, but he has serious reservations about the process.  

It’s not a question of innocence or not - my question is about the credibility of this kind of justice because one side is persecuted

We’re not sure this high court is very credible and can deliver justice, real justice

The 46-year-old university lecturer himself stood trial in Ivory Coast after his father’s arrest, accused of stealing ballot boxes during the disputed 2010 election.

He was given a five-year sentence last March, but not sent to jail as he’d already spent two years inside before bail was granted.  

Sunderland boss denies Ayew rumours

UK Premier League side Sunderland's Sam Allardyce has denied trying to sign Andre Ayew, despite reports that Swansea had rejected a $14m (£10m) bid for the Ghanaian footballer. 

"I'm not certain Swansea would want to sell him" - Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce denies making an offer for Swans forward Andre Ayew

Crop failures threaten southern Africa

Southern Africa is facing the threat of extensive crop failures due to severe droughts which have left 29 million people in the region without reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food, humanitarian news service Irin reports.  

The worst affected country is South Africa, where 14 million people, or three-quarters of the country's rural population, are "food insecure" (they lack access to food that's sufficient to lead healthy and active lives), Irin adds.

See the infographic below for more details: 

29 million already hungry, worse to come. #SouthernAfrica’s #food crisis in numbers irinnews.org/report/102391/… #ElNino

29 million already hungry, worse to come. #SouthernAfrica’s #food crisis in numbers irinnews.org/report/102391/… #ElNino