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Summary

  1. Diplomats say Zanzibar election should not have been held
  2. Nigerian man accused of abducting a 13-year-old girl granted bail
  3. Zambian opposition leader arrested for defaming the president
  4. ICC says Bemba is guilty of war crimes
  5. Nigerian election officials kidnapped during the hotly contested state poll
  6. Benin's ex-PM concedes defeat in presidential election
  7. Get Involved: #BBCAfricaLive
  8. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Monday 21 March 2016

Live Reporting

By Naziru Mikailu and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Monday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

In the meantime, keep up-to-date with what is happening across the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast and checking the BBC News website.

A reminder of Today's proverb:

The dog eats faeces but it is the goat that gets rotten teeth."

Victor Chioma Onunka, Dallas, US

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this tweet from a BBC producer in South Africa showing an unusual trailer for a car on the streets of Soweto, Johannesburg:

View more on twitter

Bemba's verdict a 'lesson for DRC militiamen'

Maud Jullien

BBC Africa

Jean-Pierre Bemba
AFP
Mr Bemba led rebel MLC forces in DR Congo before signing a peace deal with the government

The fact that former Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba was convicted for sexual violence is significant.

His conviction was for crimes committed in the Central African Republic, but it will send the message to high-ranking soldiers and militiamen in the DR Congo, where sexual violence is rife, that they are responsible for preventing it.

But in Congo, despite his murky record, Jean-Pierre Bemba still enjoys significant popularity.

There was also hope, from part of the opposition, that he would be released in time to run in the next presidential election, which is scheduled for the end of this year. 

Opposition politicians from his party, the MLC, and others have questioned whether the ICC, by trying such a prominent opponent, may have - willfully or not - taken sides.

Trending this decade

We've been taking another look (see 11:57 entry) at some of the most significant trends on Twitter as the social media tool marks its 10th anniversary.

#OccupyNigeria had an impact when at the beginning of 2012 a group of young, well-educated Nigerians organised themselves using the hashtag and forced the government to restore some of the fuel subsidy it had withdrawn.

Nigerian protesters
AFP

The hasthag #feesmustfall was used to rally support for South African street protests in opposition to a proposed hike in fees for university students in 2015.

Top universities were closed down as the protests spread to 10 institutions across the country.

The government eventually froze the level of tuition fees.

View more on twitter

Read more about the Twitter trends that affected Africa from BBC News

Algerian trio banned worldwide by Fifa

BBC Sport

Algeria flag
Getty Images

Two Algerian players banned for four years for testing positive for cocaine have had their bans applied worldwide.

Football's world governing body said a third player, Kheireddine Merzougui, who tested positive for an illegal stimulant, also had his four-year ban extended globally.

Algeria international Youcef Belaili is banned until 19 September 2019 and Rafik Boussaid until a day later.

Merzougui of MC Alger is banned until 24 January 2020.

Nigeria teen alleged abductor granted bail

A court in southern Nigeria has granted $15,000 (£10,000)  bail to a young man accused of kidnapping and sexually exploiting a 13-year-old girl he allegedly married in the northern city of Kano.

Yunusa Dahiru pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier this month in front of a judge in southern Bayelsa state's capital, Yenagoa.

The family of the girl, named only as Ese, alleged that Mr Dahiru abducted her last August and forced her to convert to Islam before marrying her.  

Mr Dahiru has maintained that she entered into a relationship with him and converted from Christianity voluntarily.

Justice Nganjiwa has adjourned the case to 17 April.

Map of Nigeria
BBC

ICC prosecutor hails 'historic' verdict

Bemba in court
ICC
Jean-Pierre Bemba is now awaiting sentencing

The International Criminal Court's prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has described the conviction of the former Congolese Vice-President as historic, the AFP news agency is reporting.

Bemba was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for the actions of his militia, the MLC, in the Central African Republic from 2002 to 2003.

The ruling was unprecedented for two reasons:

  • First case to highlight sexual violence as a weapon of war
  • First case that gave a military commander overall responsibility for the atrocities his troops committed

View more on youtube

The other side of Ethiopia's building boom

That there's a construction boom in Ethiopia is not in doubt, but the question is at what cost does it come?

Bloomberg reports from the capital, Addis Ababa, that poor farmers who live on the edge of the city are seeing their land swallowed for comparatively little compensation.

It spoke to one farmer who received 17 birr ($0.80) per square metre, but developers have been getting bids of $16,000 per square metre in some areas.

Tensions over land and the expansion of Addis Ababa sparked a recent wave of protests in which rights groups say more than 200 people have died, a figure the government disputes.

Addis Ababa skyline
AFP
Ethiopia's capital is developing rapidly

Opposition describe Niger's election as a 'sham'

Niger's opposition coalition has described Sunday's presidential run-off vote as a "sham", saying voters had heeded its call for a boycott, the AFP news agency reports.

The opposition coalition Copa 2016 added that President Mahamadou Issoufou needed to learn lessons from the low turnout.

"The people of Niger have massively rejected this sham of an election," it said in a statement.

Turnout was a crucial issue in the election following the boycott call.

The National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) has five days to announce the winner.

Niger election officals
AFP
Niger's election commission are currently collating the results from Sunday's poll

What's behind the sacking of Kenya's top satirist?

The British Independent newspaper has been reflecting on the changes at Kenya's Daily Nation publication.

It highlights the recent sacking of the cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa, better known as Gado.

His biting satire has angered many in top positions.

Gado told the Independent about when the Daily Nation editor informed him that he's lost his job.

"He said, ‘They have decided not to renew your contract’. I said, ‘Who are they?’ He couldn't answer."

Gado suspects it was someone in the government - which has been denied.

His sacking came on the heels of a number of other staff members who had lost their jobs, with some believing it was because they had annoyed those in power.

Gado satirised his own situation in a cartoon last week:

View more on twitter

Photos capture stunning view in eastern Sudan

A Sudanese-based journalist has been tweeting some lovely pictures from eastern Sudan:

View more on twitter
The beautiful Khatmiya mosque and Taka Mountain in Kassala, east of Sudan. #SudanUnderSanction #hiddentourism

The beautiful Khatmiya mosque and Taka Mountain in Kassala, east of Sudan. #SudanUnderSanction #hiddentourism

China seizes large amount of smuggled ivory

China's state news agency says that Chinese police have seized a large amount of smuggled ivory, worth $2.7m (£1.9m). 

Xinhua says that Chinese police intercepted an unlicensed speed boat travelling from Hong Kong to Zhuhai, in the mainland. 

The police were acting on a tip-off, and were able to seize 221 pieces of illicit ivory on board. 

Xinhua reports that all of the boat's crew had escaped before the police arrived. 

China is the world's biggest market for poached ivory, much of it taken from Africa, but the Chinese authorities are trying to bring about change through a recent ban on all ivory imports. 

Soldier posing in front of ivory
AFP
Kenya is currently stockpiling seized ivory for a large public burning ceremony

Kenyan and Uganda in oil pipeline talks

Presidents of Kenya (L) and Uganda
Kenyan presidency

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta has held fruitful talks with visiting Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni over an East African oil pipeline, reports the BBC's Anne Soy in the capital, Nairobi. 

Landlocked Uganda needs to build a pipeline to transport oil, which it hopes to start pumping soon, to the coast. 

The two leaders heard from energy experts from the two countries on the possible routes of the pipeline, a joint statement signed by two countries said. 

The two presidents will meet again in two weeks time in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

Presidents of Kenya (R) and Uganda
Kenyan presidency

Recalling Namibia's independence struggle

Namibia is marking its 26th independence anniversary today with the celebrations in the capital, Windhoek.

The country - formerly the South African colony of South West Africa - became independent in March 1990. 

BBC World Service's Witness programme has been recalling Namibia's independence struggle with Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, was one of the founders of liberation group the South West African People's Organisation.

Western diplomats 'regret' Zanzibar election

Western diplomats - including from the US, EU, the UK, France and Germany - have said that they regretted that Zanzibar's electoral commission's decision to re-run's last year's poll on Sunday.

The October election - which the opposition on the island say it won - was annulled by the commission because of what it said were irregularities.

The opposition boycotted yesterday's poll which was won by the incumbent President Mohamed Ali Shein with more than 90% of the votes.

The diplomats said the vote should not go ahead without a "mutually acceptable and negotiated solution to the current political impasse".

"In order to be credible, electoral processes must be inclusive and truly representative of the will of the people," the diplomats added.

View more on twitter
Ali Mohamed Shein
AFP
President Shein took more than 90% of the vote in the poll that the opposition boycotted

Get involved: Your reaction to Twitter @10

#BBCAfricaLive

Some of you have been reacting to our Twitter post about the social media site's 10-year anniversary:

Twitter has turned ten today. What does Twitter mean to you?

Twitter has turned ten today. What does Twitter mean to you?

@BBCAfrica a digital space for popularity seekers & repository of bad & good news/writeups.

@BBCAfrica the means to stay up to speed about events around the world in real time

@BBCAfrica It's helping me search for my brother @Search4Chris - last seen in Mali in 2003... spreading the word #TwitterLove

@BBCAfrica Access to news in more advanced way

@BBCAfrica #Twitter10Year The power of this medium gets people jailed, killed and also freed and saved. Especially in Africa

Zambia opposition leader detained

The leader of a small opposition party in Zambia has been detained by police over comments he made about the president.

Eric Chanda, who's the leader of the Fourth Revolution Party, is said to have defamed President Edgar Lungu in comments he made last year about a holiday Mr Lungu took shortly after his inauguration.

Zambia's main opposition UPND has accused the government of becoming increasingly heavy handed in dealing with opponents.

A presidential election is due in August.

Who is Jean-Pierre Bemba?

Bemba in court
EPA

The former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. 

He was not convicted for events in his own country but in neighbouring Central African Republic.

The ICC found that the MLC militia, under his control, was responsible for a host of crimes from 2002 to 2003, when they were supporting the CAR's President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Here are some key facts from his political career:

  • Former assistant to Zaire President Mobutu Sese Seko
  • 1998: Helped by Uganda to form MLC rebel group
  • 2003: Becomes vice-president under peace deal
  • 2006: Loses run-off election to President Joseph Kabila but gets most votes in western DR Congo, including Kinshasa
  • 2007: Flees to Belgium after clashes in Kinshasa
  • 2008: Arrested in Brussels and handed over to ICC

For more on the life of Jean-Pierre Bemba click here.

Significance of the Bemba verdict

A human rights monitor has been tweeting the significance of the guilty verdict against the DR Congo's former Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba:

View more on twitter

Bemba becomes the most senior African political figure to have been convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He was tried for crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).

View more on twitter

Bemba will be able to appeal against the verdict.

BreakingBemba found guilty of war crimes in CAR

The ICC has found the ex-Vice-President of the DR Congo guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Opposition wins Cape Verde election

Cape Verde's main opposition Movement for Democracy (MpD) party has won parliamentary elections, taking back power after 15 years, provisional results showed, Reuters news agency reports.

With almost all votes counted from Sunday's poll, MpD had 53.7%, versus 37% for the former ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), it added.

A presidential election is due to be held later this year though the date has not been fixed. 

ICC says Bemba failed to prevent militia crimes

The judge at the ICC has said that the MLC militia committed war crimes in the Central African Republic from 2002 to 2003.

She says that the MLC was under Jean-Pierre Bemba's command and that he failed to take measures to prevent the committing of crimes.

You can watch the judgement here.

ICC outlining links between Bemba and militia in CAR

The ICC says that the MLC militia group committed war crimes in the CAR.

The question is over Jean-Pierre Bemba's connection to the Congolese group.

The judges says that:

  • The chamber found that Mr Bemba issued direct operational orders to the MLC militia
  • The chamber found that Mr Bemba had primary respobsibility over the MLC while it was in the Central African Republic
Trial chamber
ICC

Thank you for staying with us, Twitter says

The social networking site has tweeted a thank you message to its users as it marks its 10-year anniversary:

View more on twitter

ICC judge turns to Mr Bemba's responsibility

The ICC is now talking about whether the ex-DR Congo Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba had responsibility for the crimes carried out by the MLC militia in the Central African Republic.

The judge says:

  • Mr Bemba effectively acted as a military commander and had control over the MLC militia
  • The evidence shows that he was the primary authority covering the political and military spheres of the group

Opposition candidate confirmed winner of Benin run-off election

Patrice Talon
Getty Images
Patrice Talon is a successful businessman, known as the "king of cotton"

Benin's electoral commission has declared opposition candidate and businessman Patrice Talon winner of Sunday's presidential run-off, reports journalist Katerina Vittozzi from there.

He defeated outgoing Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou.

Mr Talon got 65% of the votes while Mr Zinsou secured 35%, 

Mr Zinsou had earlier said in a Facebook post that he had called Mr Talon to congratulate him "on his victory and wish him luck".

Congolese militia 'targeted civilians in CAR'

The judge in the trial of the former Vice-President of the DR Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba is continuing to read her summary of the judgement.

He is being tried for alleged crimes committed in the Central African Republic by the MLC militia linked to Mr Bemba.

The trial centres around whether the MLC was under Mr Bemba's command.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Bemba ICC judgement underway

The presiding judge in the trial of the Congolese former vice-president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, has started reading the summary of the judgment.

A campaign group has been tweeting from the trial chamber in The Hague:

View more on twitter

5,229 victims participated in the trial against #Bemba, the Chamber thanked them for their participation #ICC

ICC Bemba verdict starts

The judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has started delivering judgement in the trial of the Congolese former vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba.

A campaign group Open Society Justice Initiative has been tweeting:

Court has just convened for #Bemba judgment at the #ICC in The Hague.

#ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda introduces the prosecution team; defense team is introduced by lead #Bemba defense lawyer Peter Haynes

Judges first address outstanding defense requests to appeal earlier decisions to stay the proceedings and disclosure #ICC #Bemba

Both defense requests are rejected by trial chamber #ICC #Bemba

DR Congo's Bemba to know his fate shortly

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is due to deliver its verdict shortly in the trial of the Congolese former vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba. 

Mr Bemba is accused of failing to stop his then-rebel forces from killing and raping people in neighbouring Central African Republic in 2002, which he denied. 

The delivery of the verdict will start at 13:00 GMT and you can watch it by following link below:

View more on twitter

Nigeria moves to diversify economy amid falling oil price

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has urged banks to boost lending to the agriculture sector in an effort to kick-start a sluggish economy battered by global falling oil prices, Reuters news agency reports.

The move is part of Mr Buhari's drive to encourage diversification away from oil production in Africa's largest economy. 

"Our real wealth is in farming, livestock, hatcheries, fishery, horticulture and forestry," Mr Buhari told a gathering of the advisory National Economic Council (NEC) in the capital, Abuja. 

"Banks should be leaned upon to substantially increase their lending to the agricultural sector. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should bear part of the risk of such loans as a matter of national policy," he said, Reuters reports.

People buying petrol in Nigeria
Getty Images

Mr Buhari, who came to power in May, said his government planned to add 10,000 megawatts to the national grid in its remaining three years in office.

Falling crude oil revenue, which accounts for 70% of Nigeria's income, has caused the economy to grow by just 2.8% last year - its slowest pace in decades.

Read: Nigeria's supercar sellers hit by economic slow-down

Meet the lady fighting Nigeria's Boko Haram

Nigerian peace activist Hafsat Mohammed who survived a Boko Haram attack has been working to combat violent extremism in the country by engaging young people at the grassroots level. 

She brings Christian and Muslim communities together to find ways to stop young people joining radical groups.

Hafsat told the BBC's The Conversation programme that she was determined to carry on with her work of confronting extremism despite several attempts on her life: 

Listen to the full programme here where Hafsat discussed her work with Pakistan's anti-radicalisation campaigner Gulalai Ismail.

Zanzibar president supporters celebrate

The BBC's Tulanana Bohela, who's in the main town of the Zanzibar islands, snapped these pictures of supporters of President Mohamed Ali Shein, who's just won the re-rerun of the islands' presidential election.

Zanzibar president supporter
BBC
Zanzibar president supporter
BBC
The T-shirt slogan, in Swahili, says "Unity is Strength"

Mr Shein took more than 90% of the vote in a poll that was boycotted by the opposition.

Last October's election - which the main opposition party says it won - was annulled by the electoral commission because of irregularities.

Memorable Twitter trends affecting Africa

It's 10 years to the day since the founder of Twitter sent the first ever tweet:

View more on twitter

People have been using the anniversary to reflect on what they've been tweeting about over the last decade.

And we've been thinking about some of the big trends that have had an impact on the continent.

One of the biggest was #jan25 to mark the Egyptian uprising of 2011, which some described as a Twitter revolution:

View more on twitter

Hashtags have also been used for campaigning.

#Kony2012 was picked up in many parts of the world - but it did not lead to the capture of Ugandan militia leader Joseph Kony.

View more on twitter

And, of course, there has also been the Twitter campaign to get the Chibok girls, kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram in April 2014, returned.

View more on twitter

Huge growth for Ivory Coast's economy

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara says the country's economy grew by 10.3% in 2015, fulfilling one of his election promises to create double-digit growth, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr Ouattara also defended his figure which was well above an International Monetary Fund (IMF) figure of 8.6%.

"I received the mission of the IMF last week. I told them it has been four years that we have differences in our numbers and each time you come back and say that Ivory Coast is right," he told a business forum in the commercial capital Abidjan.

Senegal press call the referendum result for the yes side

People looking at headlines
BBC

The headlines in Senegal are dominated by news about Sunday's referendum on, among other things, shortening the length of future presidential terms from seven to five years.

The constitutional changes were put forward by President Macky Sall.

The BBC's Efrem Gebreab in the capital, Dakar, says that most newspapers are saying it was a narrow win for the yes campaign, though the official results are not out yet.

They're expected this afternoon.

Newspaper headline
BBC

The Observateur newspaper says "Yes President, but...", and then lists several issues with the poll including a low voter turnout.

Nigeria election officials 'killed'

Nigeria's electoral commission says some of its staff were killed during violence that marred Saturday's re-run election in southern Rivers state. 

"Several permanent and ad hoc staff have been attacked, again resulting in fatalities," the commission said in a statement. 

Several other people were reportedly killed during the vote. 

The election in the oil-rich state, which has been the epicentre of political violence in the country, has now been indefinitely suspended.

Read our 09:24 post for more details

ICC verdict expected on ex-DR Congo Vice-President Bemba

Peter Musembi

BBC Africa, The Hague

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to deliver its verdict at 13:00 GMT against former Congolese Vice-President Jean Pierre Bemba, who is facing charges of rape, murder and pillaging.

The atrocities were allegedly committed by a militia group under his command in the Central African Republic. 

It is the first case before the ICC to mainly focus on sexual violence and rape as weapons of war. 

Throughout the trial, prosecutors at the ICC have sought to demonstrate that as a military commander, Mr Bemba was in charge of his forces but did nothing to stop them from committing the atrocities in question. 

The militia group known as the Congolese Liberation Movement had gone to the neighbouring Central Africa Republic in 2002 to help President Ange Felix Patasse put down an attempted coup.

Mr Bemba's lawyers have argued that once the troops had crossed the border they were no longer under his command.

Read: Jean-Pierre Bemba in profile

Jean Pierre Bemba
afp
Mr Bemba's trial has lasted five years

England 'moves to stop Iwobi' from playing for Nigeria

Alex Iwobi
Getty Images
Iwobi scores in Arsenal's Saturday's victory over Everton

England is making a last minute attempt to stop Arsenal's young striker Alex Iwobi from committing his international future to Nigeria before Friday's Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt, the UK's Daily Mirror reports

The 19-year-old who has started three of Arsenal’s last four games has played for England Under-16, U17 and U18 sides before choosing to represent Nigeria - his country of birth.

Iwobi, a nephew of former Super Eagles legend Jay Jay Okocha, has played in two friendlies for Nigeria, but won’t be officially tied to them until he plays a competitive game.

The teenager has been named in Nigeria's squad for the games against Egypt on 26 and 29 March, but the England Football Association is making a desperate effort to persuade him to change his mind, the Daily Mirror added.

'Welcome to my country'

Official presidential Twitter accounts have been posting pictures of visiting heads of state being welcomed.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni is in Kenya, where it's thought he will be talking to President Uhuru Kenyatta about the route of an oil pipeline from Uganda to the Kenyan coast.

There is some controversy as Uganda has also been talking about a possible pipeline going through Tanzania.

View more on twitter

Meanwhile, Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is in Namibia as the country marks 26 years of independence.

View more on twitter

Four Britons fined over plane spotting in Kenya

Four British plane spotters in Kenya have been ordered to pay £1,400 ($2,000) or face a year in jail for trespassing at an airport in Nairobi.

The four men were caught taking pictures at Wilson Airport in the capital and have been in custody for more than a week.

They will remain in detention in the police cells at the main international airport until the fine is paid.

The men said Wilson airport officials had given them permission to film.

But they sparked a security alert after they were spotted from the airport bar.

Read the full story here

Binoculars
Getty Images