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  1. Votes being counted after Uganda's presidential election
  2. Voting extended after delays at some polling stations
  3. Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye briefly detained, his party says
  4. Access to social media and chat apps blocked for many on election day
  5. Bus crash in Ghana kills 71 people
  6. Email stories and comments to - Thursday 18 February 2016

Live Reporting

By Hugo Williams and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Thursday's election coverage

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from our coverage of Uganda's presidential and parliamentary elections for today.

The long delay in getting the vote going in some places was criticised by the leader of the Commonwealth observer mission, ex-Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, as "absolutely inexcusable".

There was also a lot of criticism after access to some social media sites was blocked while the voting was going on. President Yoweri Museveni said this was for security reasons.

And at the end of the day, we had the story of opposition candidate Kizza Beisgye's brief detention - the second time this has happened to him within a week.

But there was also a lot of excitement from Ugandans about the vote, many of whom proudly posted photos of their inked thumbs on social media.

The authorities have until Saturday to announce the results.

And we leave you with this photo of people in Kampala still queuing at a polling station at sunset.

voters in Kampala vote late in the day

Vote counting in Uganda

The polling stations where voting was extended in Uganda have now closed and vote counting is well under way in many parts of the country.

Some media organisations are announcing provisional results as they're being tallied at the polling stations.

Reuters news agency has sent these pictures of the counting process in one place in the capital, Kampala.

Vote counting
Vote counting
Vote counting

Nigeria's Obafemi Martins to go to China

Former Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins has become the latest high-profile signing to join the Chinese Super League.

Martins, 31, has left Major League Soccer side the Seattle Sounders to join Shanghai Greenland Shenhua.

"For me it's now time for a new challenge [in China]," Martins said after announcing the move.

"I've grown to appreciate the feeling I get when entering environments where I'm not a proven footballer."

Neither side has confirmed the move, but the Nigeria striker announced his departure from Seattle on his Twitter page:

View more on twitter

Uganda's Besigye 'driven home'

Uganda's main opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye has been taken home, a police spokesperson has told the BBC.

Earlier, he was picked up by police as he was demanding access to a property where he alleged vote rigging had been taking place, Mr Besigye's party said.

US: Blocking social media in Uganda 'sends wrong message'

The US Ambassador in Uganda has criticised the blocking of access to social media on election day:

View more on twitter

President Yoweri Museveni said earlier it was necessary for security reasons.

Besigye was complaining about vote rigging when detained

A spokesman for Uganda's opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has told the BBC that his party's presidential candidate was arrested by police at a house where the opposition claims vote rigging was taking place. 

FDC members demanded to search the house and access was denied. 

Mr Besigye was then arrested and removed from the scene in a police vehicle, his party says.

Opposition leader 'being held' at police station

Some local media are reporting that Kizza Besigye is being held at Kasangati police station just north of the capital Kampala, though this has not been confirmed.

Kizza Besigye currently held at Kasangati police station, Erias Lukwago released. They were earlier arrested in Naguru #UgandaDecides

Killers of Ivory Coast's ex-military leader sentenced

Tamasin Ford

BBC Africa, Abidjan

Three men in Ivory Coast gave been found guilty and given life sentences for the 2002 murder of former military ruler Gen Robert Guei, his wife and their body guards.

Two of the three were army officers:

  • General Dogbo Be - former commander of the Republican guard
  • Anselme Seka Yapo - ex-head of former first lady Simone Gbagbo’s bodyguards

Six others were sentenced to 10 years in prison, while 13 were acquitted.

Gen Guei ruled Ivory Coast from 1999 to 2000, and was killed as the civil was broke out.

Robert Guei
Robert Guei came to power in a coup in December 1999

Kizza Besigye arrest confirmed by opposition party

FDC party tweets:

Breaking News: @kizzabesigye1 has been arrested and we do not know where he is.

Reports: Opposition candidate Besigye 'arrested'

There are unconfirmed reports that Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye has been arrested in the capital, Kampala.

A journalist for Al Jazeera at the scene has posted a series of tweets indicating that the arrest was made after Mr Besigye and his supporters argued with police over access to a house in which they alleged vote rigging was taking place: 

Besigye and supporters allege this house has a vote rigging operation inside. Demanding access. #UgandaDecides

Besigye and supporters allege this house has a vote rigging operation inside. Demanding access. #UgandaDecides

Standoff as Besigye and supporters demand police open the house #UgandaDecides

Standoff as Besigye and supporters demand police open the house #UgandaDecides

The independent Daily Monitor newspaper has also tweeted the story, although the BBC cannot independently confirm the arrest.

@kizzabesigye1 has been arrested by Joint Police in Naguru @abubakerlubowa #UgandaDecides

@kizzabesigye1 has been arrested by Joint Police in Naguru @abubakerlubowa #UgandaDecides

Votes being counted in Uganda

While voting has been extended in some parts of Uganda because of delays in delivering the ballot papers, votes are actually being counted elsewhere.

Ugandan TV stations, including NBS, are broadcasting live updates of the count from around the country, including from Rushere, President Yoweri Museveni's home area.

Screen grab from television

Uganda delays 'absolutely inexcusable': Obasanjo

Nigeria's former president and Commonwealth election observer Olusegun Obasanjo has said the delays in delivering ballot papers in Uganda to polling stations were "absolutely inexcusable", the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Obasanjo said the delays "do not inspire trust and confidence in the system and the process".

At some polling stations voters were waiting for five hours before election materials arrived.

Queue of voters

Kenya ban would be a 'big blow'

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Athletics Kenya (AK), which governs the sport in the country, says any ban on Kenyan athletes participating in the 2016 Rio Olympics over a doping scandal will be a big blow.

Sebastian Coe, head of athletics' world governing body, the IAAF, said Kenya’s entire track and field team could be barred from the games, if AK is found not to be complying with World Anti-doping Agency (Wada) requirements. 

But Barnabas Kipkorir, an executive member of AK, says they are taking the threats seriously and are doing all they can to comply with Wada regulations.  

Kenya has already missed a crucial deadline when it was meant to prove to Wada that it is doing enough to tackle cheating in athletics. 

There are 15 Kenyans currently banned for doping by the IAAF, including three-time Boston Marathon winner Rita Jeptoo. 

Newspaper headlines
Kenya topped the medals table at last year's world athletics chanpionships

Jonny singer Yemi Alade on her love for African languages

Nigerian Afro-pop singer Yemi Alade, whose hit song Jonny dominated charts across Africa two years ago, won MTV's best female African artist for 2015.

One of the songs on her new album, Mama Africa, is a Swahili version of the track Na Gode, which means thank you in Hausa and had lyrics in a mixture of Nigerian languages.

She spoke to BBC Africa's Sophie Ikenye:

Amharic, Shona and Xhosa now available on Google translate

Google has announced that three new African languages can now be translated in its Google Translate web application.

Amharic, Shona and Xhosa have been added to the roster of languages available, which includes Afrikaans, Hausa, Somali and Swahili.

Screen grab from Google

Ghana bus crash death toll now 71

Sammy Darko

BBC Africa, Accra

Medical Director of Ghana's Kintampo government hospital Bismark Owusu Fosu has said the death toll from Wednesday night's bus crash has now risen to 71.

Fifty-eight were dead on arrival at the hospital, 10 died after admission and three died in a a nearby hospital.

Investigators say that the bus, which crashed into a lorry transporting tomatoes, was overloaded with more than 70 passengers - it should have had a maximum of 63.

A transport official has told me that the driver picked up other passengers on the way home from work because their vehicle had been involved in an accident.

Bus crash site
Albert Azongo

Coe prepared to ban Kenyan athletes from Olympics

Lord Coe is ready to ban Kenya's track and field team from the Olympics if the country's athletics federation is declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) code.

Kenya missed a deadline last week to prove to Wada it was tackling cheating.

It comes after a spate of positive drugs tests among some of the country's athletes and allegations of corruption.

"We have to be much more proactive," said Coe, president of the sport's world governing body the IAAF.

Lord Coe said he would impose serious sanctions on any nation guilty of attempting to cover up drug-taking.

Sebastian Coe

Read more here.

Vote counting under way in some areas

Meanwhile, polls have closed and vote counting has begun in several parts of the country, including the districts of Kibale, Ibanda and Luweero, local media report. 

Counting has also started in some areas of the capital Kampala, as one BBC producer tweets:

Back where we started the day at the National Theatre. Voting has finished here & counting has begun. #UgandaDecides

Back where we started the day at the National Theatre. Voting has finished here & counting has begun. #UgandaDecides

Voting extended in parts of Kampala

The Ugandan government has tweeted to confirm that voting will be extended for three hours until 19:00 local (16:00 GMT) in some polling stations. 

Kiggundu: Election time has been extended to 7pm, to only those polling stations that have not voted #UgandaDecides

Kiggundu: Election time has been extended to 7pm, to only those polling stations that have not voted #UgandaDecides

A BBC reporter on the ground says this extension will only apply to certain areas of the capital Kampala and surrounding Wakiso district:

Voting extended to 7pm in some polling stations in Kampala and Wakiso Districts, says @UgandaEc Chairman Badru Kiggundu. #UgandaDecides

Voting time extended for some polling stations

Uganda Electoral Commission tweets:

Voting has been extended to 7pm at polling stations that have had delays

That's 16:00 GMT, but it's not yet clear which polling stations will be granted the additional time. 

Museveni: Social media shutdown 'to stop people creating trouble'


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been speaking to local media about the controversy over a block on social media platforms, chat apps and mobile banking services, which has affected many voters on polling day:

"There must be steps taken for security to stop so many creating trouble. It's temporary. It will go away. Because some people misuse those pathways. You know how they misuse them, telling lies. If you want a right then use it properly."

Watch the full interview here.

Zambia opposition complains of breakdown in law and order

Meluse Kapatamoyo

BBC Africa, Lusaka, Zambia

Zambia's opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema, has complained about the partial application of the Public Order Act under the Patriotic Front government. 

Mr Hichilema said if left unchecked, the abuse of the act, especially the clauses referring to the freedom of movement and association, will result in an unprecedented breakdown of law and order. 

Opposition political parties have frequently expressed concerns that the government is not applying the act fairly. 

It requires people to alert the police of the intention to hold a public rally seven days in advance of Public Order Act, and there are complaints that this enables them to block opposition demonstrations.

Patriotic Front deputy spokesperson Frank Bwalya responded saying that those who valued order should support the current act.

Hakainde Hichilema
Hakainde Hichilema has unsuccessfully run for president three times

Voting cancelled at one polling station in Kampala after clashes

BBC reporter tweets:

Heavy deployment in Ggaba Kampala after clashes between voters and police. Voting cancelled at this polling station.

Heavy deployment in Ggaba Kampala after clashes between voters and police. Voting cancelled at this polling station.

A freelance journalist has been posting videos from the scene on Twitter: 

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Uganda's president votes

Uganda's NTV channel is reporting that President Yoweri Museveni has now voted.

Earlier, it tweeted a screen grab of him joining the queue of voters:

View more on twitter

Mr Museveni has governed for 30 years and is running for a fifth term in office.

He's facing seven challengers.

Facebook discussion on post-natal depression

As part of the BBC’s mental health series, BBC Africa is holding a live Facebook Q&A on maternal mental health. 

Dr Simone Honikman, founder of the Perinatal Mental Health Project, is joining us from South Africa to answer your questions. 

Join us now on the BBC Africa Facebook page  to ask your questions on everything from post-natal depression to anxiety.

Experts answering questions on Facebook

Zimbabwe war veterans teargassed

Brian Hungwe

BBC Africa, Harare

Zimbabwe riot police have fired teargas to disperse several hundred war veterans who gathered for a rally in the capital, Harare. 

They were hoping to get together to discuss the state of the nation and the divisions within the governing Zanu-PF party.

The veterans ran for cover, regrouped and started singing defiant songs directed at the police.

Demonstrators complaining

Ghana crash death toll 'reaches 53'

The number of people killed in last night's bus crash in northern Ghana has now reached 53, the AFP news agency reports, quoting a police spokesman.

There are 23 survivors, Christopher Tawiah told AFP.

Journalist Albert Azongo took pictures of the scene following the collision of the bus with a truck carrying a cargo of tomatoes.

Scene of bus accident
Albert Azongo
Scene of bus accident
Albert Azongo

Ugandans mock attempts to censor online activity

picture of uganda elections trending on social media

Despite an apparent block on mobile networks in Uganda, preventing access to social media networks, chat apps and mobile money services, #UgandaDecides is still trending on Twitter across the country. 

Many people have found ways to get around the block, by using internet proxies known as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). 

Earlier, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), told local media that it had been instructed to block the services after instructions from the electoral commission (EC), but the EC says it's "not aware" of any directive. 

However, Uganda's leading mobile operator MTN, which has 10 million users, confirmed that it had received an order to shut down social media services in a post on its Twitter profile:

View more on twitter

Many Ugandans have been mocking the authorities for what they see as a failed attempt to restrict freedom of information:

Is it the mandate of a media regulator @UCC_Official to indiscriminately revoke Ugandans right to free speech? #UgandaDecides

Dear @UCC_Official our IT friends have made you look like fools.#UgandaDecides @UgandaEc we can access Social Media

So this is what freedom of speech & expression looks like, shutting down social networks, mobile & airtel money services #UgandaDecides :-S

UCC do you know we can sue you?? UN said it is our right to have internet

Gagging Ugandans from expressing themselves on social media is= to denial of freedom of speech #UgandaDecides

Shut down social media in such a tense election creates info vacuum&makes propaganda rife with little feedback possibilities #UgandaDecides

Al-Shabab denies death of intelligence chief

The Somali militant Islamist group al-Shabab has dismissed a Kenyan statement that its intelligence chief Mohammed Karatey had been killed in an air strike.

The Kenyans said that Mr Karatey and 10 other al-Shabab commanders were killed in a strike in southern Somalia on 8 February.

'Strong turnout' for Uganda poll

The BBC reporter in Nansana, just outside the capital Kampala says that from what she has seen and heard from elsewhere, the numbers of those voting in the polls are up from the last election in 2011:

View more on twitter

Uganda electoral commission 'unaware' of social media shutdown

We reported earlier on comments by the Ugandan Communications Commission that the electoral commission asked for a shutdown of social media and mobile money services (see 10:07 entry).

But in an interview with the NTV channel, electoral commission spokesman Jotham Taremwa said that he did not know of such an order:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Mbabazi jets in to vote

We posted a picture earlier of one of the presidential candidates, Amama Mbabazi, casting his vote.

But we didn't realise how he arrived at the polling station in western Uganda.

Ugandan TV channel NTV has posted pictures of him flying in:

View more on twitter

Ugandans make their mark

Despite the delays in voting in some parts of the country, Ugandans have been casting their ballots in the presidential and parliamentary elections and have been tweeting pictures to prove it.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Attack on camp for displaced persons in South Sudan

Gunmen in the town of Malakal in South Sudan have opened fire on a camp which is home to tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict there.

Reports from the camp which is inside a United Nations base say that they attacked overnight with assault rifles and machine guns. 

One resident said at least seven people were killed. The UN has confirmed that there was an incident but would not give details.

It is not clear who the gunmen are but Malakal has changed hands several times during the conflict which began in late 2013. The town is currently held by the South Sudan government but rebels are still known to be active in the area.  

Many children who fled Malakal are now living in a nearby camp

Malakal: The city that vanished in South Sudan

Kenya 'kills al-Shabab intelligence chief'

A Kenyan air strike has killed the intelligence chief of Somalia's militant Islamist group al-Shabab, an army statement has said.

Mohammed Karatey and 10 other al-Shabab commanders were killed in the strike in southern Somalia on 8 February, it added.

He played a key role in last month's deadly attack on a Kenyan military base in Somalia, the army said.

Al-Shabab has not yet commented on the claim that Mr Karatey has been killed.

Read more in the BBC News Online story.

Air force plane
Kenyan warplanes have targeted al-Shabab positions in Somalia on numerous occasions since 2011

Presidential candidate Mbabazi 'does his civic duty'

One of President Yoweri Museveni's seven challengers, Amama Mbabazi, has tweeted pictures of himself casting his vote: 

View more on twitter

Mr Mbabazi, a former prime minister, is seen as one of the main contenders trying to unseat the president.

Voting starts after five-hour delay at polling station near Kampala

A BBC reporter tweets from Nansana near the capital:

Uganda social media shutdown 'ordered by electoral commission'

Social media and mobile money services have been shut down on election day in Uganda "for security reasons", according to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). 

UCC head Godfrey Mutabazi told local media the block was introduced after a request from the Ugandan electoral commission. 

NTV Uganda has been tweeting the reasons given for the unexpected shutdown:

Social media was also being used to campaign and campaigns were closed on Tuesday. EC asked us to shut down - Mutabazi @UCC_Official

View more on twitter

He said they were awaiting instructions from the electoral commission before turning the services back on. 

There has been a furious response from many Ugandans on social media, who have been forced to use workarounds to access the services. 

Uganda's electoral commission calls for calm and tolerance

Uganda's electoral commission has acknowledged that there have been delays in the voting process in some parts of the country.

But it said in a statement that "polling materials have now been delivered to all these places [where there have been delays] and polling has commenced in most of the places".

It also called on everyone to be "calm and tolerant... during the polling process".

Uganda election statement
Queue of voters
Some in the capital, Kampala, had to wait five hours for voting to start

Ghana crash kills at least 50 people

Sammy Darko

BBC Africa, Accra

At least 50 people have died in one of the worst road accidents in Ghana in many years. 

A coach full of passengers travelling on a major highway in the north of the country is said to have collided with a truck loaded with tomatoes on Wednesday evening. 

Ghana’s President John Mahama has described the accident as “sad news” on Twitter and has said the emergency services are dealing with the situation:

View more on twitter

Some survivors have told police that the brakes failed on the coach, but the cause of the crash is being investigated.

But there is anger and condemnation on social media as horrific pictures of the aftermath have been shared by some people.