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Live Reporting

By Clare Spencer, Farouk Chothia and Hugo Williams

All times stated are UK

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  1. Scroll down for today's stories

    That's all from the BBCAfrica Live page for this year. We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    We'll be back after the festive break on 3 January so please join us then. 

    In the meantime, you can keep up-to-date with what's happening across the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast or checking the BBC News website.

    A reminder of today's African proverb: 

    Quote Message: The eye is not a guest." from A Nuer proverb sent by Deng Nhial Chioh, Juba, South Sudan, John Youhanes Magok, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Kam Lony, Malaysia
    A Nuer proverb sent by Deng Nhial Chioh, Juba, South Sudan, John Youhanes Magok, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Kam Lony, Malaysia

    And we leave you with this photo of two workers, dressed in festive outfits, swimming in a fish tank during a show at a marine theme park in South Africa's Durban city:  

    two workers, dressed as Santa Claus, swimming in a fish tank during a show at a marine theme park in South Africa's Durban city
  2. Basketball for Somali women 'always popular'

    Rage Hassan

    BBC Africa

    Somalia’s first national women’s basketball tournament in 25 years is into its second day despite a religious edict declaring it “unIslamic”.  

    Female basketball players in Garowe, Somalia

    The influential Somali Religious Council has said the competition is not in keeping with Somali culture.

    Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salat told the BBC Somali service it was mainly to do with the players' clothing as although they cover up in tracksuits and headscarves, he considered such sportswear inappropriate.

    But the autonomous north-eastern Puntland region, which is hosting the tournament in Garowe, dismissed the criticism as “uncalled for”, saying the games would go on as planned.

    The tournament has drawn teams from four states and Mogadishu, the capital:

    Teams sitting at the Somali national women's basketball competition

    At one time, hardline Islamists who took power banned women from sport, but as a UN-backed administration has begun to reassert its authority over the last few years, women and girls are increasingly returning to the court.

    “Before the civil war, we used to play basketball. After the country went into ruins, so too did women’s most popular sport, basketball,” says Suad Abdulahi Galoow, a former basketball player who has returned from the US to help basketball reclaim it lost glory.

    “From 2006 and especially when extremist ideology started to spread here, women and girls were banned from sports.”

    But she says women's basketball is now thriving in Mogadishu where there are several different local leagues.

    Suad Abdulahi Galoow
    Image caption: Former basketballer Suad Abdulahi Galoow says the game was always popular with Somali women
  3. Hijacked plane passengers questioned

    Maltese authorities are questioning the more than 100 passengers freed from the hijacked Libyan plane and and are doing security checks in case a hijacker is among them, Libya's Transport Minister Milad Matouq is quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying. 

    Back in Libya, friends and relatives have been waiting anxiously to hear from the passengers, who will be flown back to Libya once investigations end: 

    Men wait for their relatives who were abroad an airliner that was hijacked and forced to land in Malta, at Mitiga International Airport, east of Tripoli, Libya, December 23, 2016
  4. Video shows Libyan hijacker arrested in Malta

    Here's some of the arrest of Libyan plane hijacker by Malta's security forces: 

    Video content

    Video caption: Video shows Libyan hijacker arrested in Malta
  5. UN fails to impose arms embargo on South Sudan

    The UN Security Council has rejected a US-sponsored resolution to impose an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan, despite warnings of a possible genocide in the country. 

    The resolution garnered seven votes of the 15-member council, falling short of the nine required for approval. 

    Eight countries - including Russia, China and Japan - abstained.  

    Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers stand on a pick up truck on their way to the river side to ride on a boat on the Nile, as they head to Alole, northern South Sudan, on October 16, 2016.
    Image caption: South Sudan has been hit by conflict since 2013

    Fighting between forces loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar broke out in December 2013, plunging the country into civil conflict that is still ongoing. 

  6. Writers and artists on hijacked plane

    The head of Libya's state-run culture agency says a total of 25 artists, writers, and intellectuals from southern Libya were among the 111 passengers on the hijacked plane, the Associated Press news agency reports

    They were heading to the capital, Tripoli, to take part in a cultural forum when the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 was hijacked by two men and diverted to Malta. 

    Maltese special forces soldiers approach the hijacked Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Malta International Airport, December 23, 2016.
    Image caption: Maltese special forces soldiers approach the hijacked plane Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Malta International Airport, December 23, 2016.
  7. Libya minister defends airport security

    Libya's transportation minister has been defending security at airports in the North African state after a plane was hijacked and diverted to Malta. 

    Milad Matouq said security breaches happen everywhere and Libya was no exception, the AP news agency quotes him as saying. 

    He added that this is the first such incident since the 2011 uprising, which led to the overthrow of long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi.   

  8. Daniel Amokachi in Nigeria cash-to-play claims

    Oluwashina Okeleji

    BBC Sport

    Daniel Amokachi

    We'll bring you more details on the plane hijacking as they come in but for now let's turn our attention to football.... Former Nigeria captain Daniel Amokachi has said the practice of local coaches being bribed to invite players onto the country's national teams is endemic.

    Despite no one being found guilty of the accusation, there have long been suspicions it happens in Nigeria.

    "Agents always come to give money for their players to be invited to camp," said Amokachi. "Does it have to be so?"

    The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has asked Amokachi to produce evidence to support his claims.

    The 43-year-old, who won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player in 1994, says it is time people spoke up about an issue that he says has long bedevilled the Nigerian game.

    "We know this thing has been going on for a while but we have to voice it," the current manager of Finnish second tier side JS Hercules told BBC Sport.

    Read the full BBC Sport story

  9. Libyan airport security 'lax and chaotic'

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    A picture taken on August 26, 2014, shows bullet casing and damaged airplanes on the tarmac at Tripoli international airport in the Libyan capital after fighters from the Fajr Libya (Libyan Dawn) coalition captured the airport from Zintan force, allies of rogue general Khalifa Haftar.
    Image caption: The main airport in Libya's capital Tripoli has been hit by fighting

    Airport security in Libya is as lax and chaotic as the country's politics. 

    Various armed groups who do not have any particular allegiance to any Libyan administration control them all.

    Over the years there have been several incidents that passengers have become accustomed to, which often go unreported. 

    Rival armed groups can delay planes by driving on the runway or even temporarily boarding the aircraft if they have a particular demand or a personal axe to grind.

    The capital Tripoli's main airport was burned down during the 2014 rival militia clashes to control it.

    Libyans already have trouble flying out of their own country and cannot travel directly to any European country. 

    European airspace has been closed to all flights from Libya for over two years. 

    The latest incident will undoubtedly dash any hopes that a change in that reality will take place any time soon.

  10. Hijackers gave up 'peacefully'

    The two young Libyan who hijacked a passenger plane surrendered peacefully without making any conditions after the Maltese government insisted that all passengers had to be released, Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said at a press conference. 

    Female crew members leave the hijacked Afriqiyah Airways A320 airplane at the Malta International Airport in Luqa, Malta, 23 December 2016
    Image caption: Female crew members leave the hijacked Afriqiyah Airways A320

    The plane was hijacked while flying from the oasis city of Sebha to the capital, Trip, a trip which usually takes just over two hours. 

    It was diverted to Malta, some 500 km (300 miles) north of the Libyan coast.

  11. Maltese PM: Hijackers were armed

    Maltese prime minister stands at lectern
    Image caption: The Maltese prime minister said the passengers would be sent back to Libya

    Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has told a press conference that the two hijackers were "probably of Libyan nationality".

    He said that they were told that no negotiations would be entertained until all passengers had been released. 

    He added:

    Quote Message: They were asked to surrender any weapons in their possession. They were found to be in possession of a hand grenade and a pistol. Nevertheless the armed forces of Malta are currently conducting a full search of the aircraft and a second pistol has been found so far. The search is ongoing.
    Quote Message: The two hijackers have been detained in custody and interrogations are ongoing.
    Quote Message: The rest of the crew ad passengers are also being questioned to ascertain events."

    The passengers and crew would be flown back to Libya on another Afriqiyah aircraft after questioning was finished, he added.

  12. 'Nobody injured' during hijacking

    Malta's government has confirmed that the hijackers did not harm any of the 118 passengers or crew of the Airbus A320 which was seized earlier today after taking off from the Libyan oasis city of Sebha:

    View more on twitter
  13. Hijacker 'born in Libya in 1989'

    An independent journalist has tweeted details of one of the young Libyan men who hijacked a passenger plane after take-off in the oasis city of Sebha (spelt Sabha below) and diverted it to Malta:  

    View more on twitter

    All the 118 passengers and crew were freed, apparently unharmed, ending a stand-off of almost four hours. 

  14. Maltese PM to address media after plane hijack

    Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat will be addressing the media shortly, according to his communications chief:

    View more on twitter

    It hasn't started yet, but when it does you can follow a live video stream of the press conference below:

    View more on facebook
  15. Congo deal drawn up

    BBC World Service

    In other news... Negotiators in the Democratic Republic of Congo have drawn up an agreement to try and ensure a smooth transition of power. 

    The talks - brokered by the Catholic Church - follow the refusal of President Joseph Kabila to step down after two terms in office. 

    Under the deal, President Kabila will stay in power until elections at the end of next year. 

    A new prime minister will be chosen from the opposition and the deal will be overseen by the veteran opposition leader, Etienne Tshisekedi. 

    A government spokesman said the proposal would be presented to the full delegation at the talks later today. 

    Mr Kabila's refusal to step down and the postponement of elections have sparked violent street protests. 

    A man is arrested by a member of the military police after people attempted to block the road with rocks, in the neighbourhood of Majengo in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 19 December, 2016
    Image caption: Security forces have been accused of using excessive force to end protests
  16. Photos of hijackers

    Here are some dramatic photos of the two men who hijacked the Libyan passenger plane with 118 people on  it: 

    Two hijackers of a Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 surrender to Maltese military on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016
    wo hijackers of a Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 surrender to Maltese military on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016.
    Two hijackers of a Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 surrender to Maltese military on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016.
  17. Hijackers 'initially wanted to go to Italy'

    The pilot of the Libyan Airbus A320 says the hijackers first asked him to fly to Rome, before he landed in Malta,  the Libya Channel TV network is reporting. 

    Pilot Ali Milad named the two hijackers as Libyan nationals Moussa Shaha and Ahmed Ali.

    The men were seeking political asylum and said they wanted to form "the New Fateh".  

    Fateh is a reference to former Libyan ruler Mummaar Gaddafi, who led what was known as the Fateh revolution after he staged a coup in 1969.

    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi arrives at Ciampino airport on August 29, 2010 in Rome, Italy.
    Image caption: Col Gaddafi was killed in 2011