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Live Reporting

By Dickens Olewe and Lucy Fleming

All times stated are UK

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  1. Scroll down for Wednesday's stories

    We'll be back tomorrow

    That's all from the BBC Africa Live page today. 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 wise words:

    Quote Message: When your in-laws are lizards you should be ready for occasional emergencies." from An Igbo proverb sent by Matyk in Sterling, Virginia, US
    An Igbo proverb sent by Matyk in Sterling, Virginia, US

    Click here to send us your African proverbs

    And we leave you with this photo of Egyptian cyclist's tricky balancing act from the @somewhereincairo Instagram account

    View more on instagram
  2. Freed Nigerian ex-governor Ibori 'to go home within days'

    Convicted fraudster and former Nigerian state governor James Ibori has told the BBC he plans to go home to Nigeria within days and is going to appeal his conviction, even though he pleaded guilty: 

    View more on twitter

    Ibori was jailed for fraud totalling nearly £50m in April 2012.  

    He evaded capture in Nigeria after a mob of supporters attacked police but was arrested in Dubai in 2010 and extradited to the UK - where he was prosecuted based on evidence from the Metropolitan Police.  

    It was revealed in December that the government did not want to deport Ibori when he was due to be released from jail after serving half of his 13-year sentence until he handed over £89m of "proceeds of crime".

    But a High Court judge ruled that such attempts to detain him were "quite extraordinary" and he was freed.

  3. Recriminations to follow Gauteng health scandal

    Milton Nkosi

    BBC Africa, Johannesburg

    There are bound to be further recriminations over one of the biggest health scandals in South Africa since the African National Congress (ANC) took power in 1994.

    The country's health ombudsman revealed today that nearly 100 mentally ill patients died of starvation, dehydration and diarrhoea at care centres in the Gauteng province last year (see earlier entry).

    The ANC's youth wing has threatened to lay murder charges against Qedani Mahlangu, a fellow ANC member.

    She has resigned as Gauteng health minister, in a rare case of a South African politician taking responsibility for what happened under their watch.

    Families of the deceased are hoping for some sort of closure and getting financial reparations. 

    Will the government agree? And will there be prosecutions?

    A lot will still be heard about this dark episode which took place under a government that had promised a better life for its citizens when it took office at the end of minority rule.

  4. Voter registration begins ahead of crucial Liberia poll

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh

    BBC Africa, Monrovia

    A photo about voter registration in Liberia

    Voter registration has started today in Liberia ahead of crucial elections in October.

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who came to power in 2006 as Africa’s first democratically elected female president, will be stepping down.

    Her deputy Joseph Boakai and ex-footballer-turned politician George Weah are two of the main contenders.

    More than two dozen political parties have registered for the poll.

    The acting director of communications at the electoral commission, Joseph Nyesuah, told the BBC that 2.5 million of the country’s 4 million people have been targeted to register for the poll.

    Eager to be among the first to obtain their cards, people started showing up at some of the 2,080 centres in the early hours of the day whilst election workers were still setting up.

    This will be the first vote conducted with only Liberians in charge since the end of the civil war in 2003.

    Last July, the UN peacekeeping mission also handed over national security responsibilities to the government.

  5. Zimbabwe pastor charged with subversion

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC Africa, Harare

    Zimbabwean Pastor Evan Mawarire, who was arrested earlier today after arriving back to the country (see earlier entries), has been charged with subverting a constitutional government. 

    The charge stems from his calls last year for anti-government demonstrations.  

    Mr Mawarire is still in police custody. 

    His lawyers are not sure whether he will appear in court tomorrow but the constitution says he has to appear within 48 hours.  

    A video posted online shows him in handcuffs alongside his lawyer. He says that he has not done anything wrong. 

    View more on twitter
  6. Petition opposes export of South African lion skeletons

    A petition has been launched to oppose a plan by South Africa's government to impose an export quota to Asia of 800 lion skeletons a year.

    According to the Bloomberg agency, lion bones can be used as a substitute for tiger bones in Asian medicinal remedies said to treat a wide range of ailments from insomnia to osteoporosis.

    The quota relates to farm-bred lions, it reports.

    The petition, which closes tomorrow, seeks to collect signatures to ask the environment ministry to drop the plan, which it says will feed lion trophy hunting. 

    Organisers ask supporters to say in their submission that they believe that the move will negatively impact the already declining wild lion population. 

    According to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), lions are not part of endangered species but are placed in a category that cautions they could be endangered without strict trade controls. 

    Lion
    Image caption: The quota relates to farm-bred lions
  7. Ex-prisoner sworn into Gambian cabinet

    Yahya Jammeh
    Image caption: Yahya Jammeh only agreed to go into exile after West African leaders sent in troops

    A newly released prisoner has just been made The Gambia’s finance minister.

    Just 72 hours ago Amadou Sanneh was still in jail for being an opponent of former President Yahya Jammeh, who went into exile about 10 days ago, the Associated Press news agency reports.

    Among other the cabinet members sworn in today was a long-time opponent of Mr Jammeh’s Ousainou Darboe, who has also spent time in jail as a political prisoner.

    According to the AFP news agency, he has been made foreign minister.

    Mr Jammeh, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1994, lost elections in December to Adama Barrow, who was backed by a coalition of opposition parties.

    At first he accepted defeat, but then tried to get the results annulled.

    West African leaders sent troops into The Gambia on the day Mr Jammeh was officially supposed to hand over power – and mediated his exit to Equatorial Guinea.

    Read more: West African leaders stand up for democracy

  8. Zimbabwean pastor 'plans to join politics'

    Pastor Evans Mawarire
    Image caption: Evan Mawarire says he plans run for political office in 2018

    Zimbabwean Pastor Evans Mawarire told South Africa's Daily Maverick newspaper that he was nervous about returning home - and his fears were justified as he was arrested as soon as he landed at the Harare International airport this afternoon.

    But before he got on the plane to Zimbabwe, he told the paper he had resolved to leave his MC job and join active politics. 

    He said he would run as an independent in next year's election, without specifying for what office.

    He also spoke about why he left Zimbabwe last July, saying he was anxious and worried about his safety especially after President Robert Mugabe referred to him as a regime change agent and said publicly that he was not welcomed back: 

    Quote Message: The president of Zimbabwe made comments to the effect that I was not welcome in Zimbabwe, but he doesn’t get to make that decision for me. I have not committed a crime, I’m not a fugitive, I’m a citizen, and an upstanding citizen for that matter
    Quote Message: You can never be 100% safe. But I think the amount of work that’s been done over the last couple of months, the different recognition from different platforms and the galvanising of many Zimbabweans that has taken place, for me is a very important constituent for safety.”

    He said that he was attracted to active politics because there was only so much one would achieve campaigning for causes on the sidelines:

    Quote Message: The more I think about the options, the steps going forward, I realise you can only shout about potholes for so long. You start to realise where change comes from. So at some point we have to start saying that for those that have the ability, the passion, or the buy-in from the people, it may be time to throw your hat in.”
  9. Egypt's goalie could set 10-hour goal-free record

    Essam El Hadary, Egypt's 44-year-old goalkeeper, could be about to set a new record tonight if Burkina Faso fail to score in first 20 minutes of the semi-final, tweets a BBC reporter at the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon: 

    View more on twitter

    Piers has also been making friends with some fans of the Stallions, who hope their team Burkina Faso will beat the Pharaohs to progress to the finals.   

    Read the full match preview here

    View more on twitter
  10. Legacy of Black Hawk Down battle

    The sight of dead US soldiers being dragged through the streets of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, was a turning point in one of the US' most high-profile interventions in Africa. The images, broadcast around the world, outraged many.

    In October 1993, elite US troops launched the disastrous raid - their aim was to capture key allies of the powerful Somali warlord, Gen Mohamed Farah Aideed. 

    But US forces met fierce resistance from Aideed's militia. Two US Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. In the ensuing battle, hundreds of Somalis were estimated to have died. Some 18 Americans and two UN soldiers were killed.

    At the time, the US was leading a UN mission to end the civil war and famine in Somalia. Within six months, the US had withdrawn its forces from Somalia. The perceived failure of the Somali mission made the US wary of intervening in African crises.

    Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim, who was working with the UN in Somalia at the time and lived in a house 700 yards away from the site of the first helicopter crash, told BBC Witness about the battle:

    Video content

    Video caption: In 1993, elite US forces launched a disastrous raid in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
  11. Meet the best mascot at Africa Cup of Nations

    Mamadou Sore, of Burkina Faso, has been chosen by officials at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) as the tournament's top mascot. 

    His elaborate outfit even extends to a motorbike done up as a stallion, reflecting the team's nickname The Stallions. 

    Burkina Faso have made the semi-finals and face Egypt tonight at 19:00 GMT.  

    Video content

    Video caption: Meet the best mascot at Africa Cup of Nations
  12. #ThisFlag Zimbabwe pastor escorted by police

    Evan Mawarire
    Image caption: Pastor Evan Mawarire has been out of the country since July last year

    The BBC’s Shingai Nyoka in Zimbabwe says Evan Mawarire, the pastor detained at Harare airport this afternoon, is being escorted into town in the company of the police.

    The Zimbabwean preacher has been at the heart of a social media campaign known by the hashtag #ThisFlag that has denounced the government's management of the economy.

    He backed a stay-at-home strike in July, one of the largest anti-government protests in years.

    Later that month a court ordered he be freed from custody after he was accused of attempting to overthrow the government.

    His lawyers successfully argued that the charge of subversion, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 year, had been added at the last minute, denying him a fair trial.

    Mr Mawarire was first charged with inciting public violence despite the fact that he has called on Zimbabweans to take a peaceful stand against unemployment and corruption and avoided directly criticising the president.

    He left Zimbabwe, first for South African then the US, after the case, and this is his first trip back since then.

    Read more: From preacher to 'Captain Zimbabwe'

  13. Nigeria impounds smuggled rifles

    Guns

    Nigeria's authorities are still looking for two senior custom officials suspected of being involved in importing a cache of arms that was seized in a truck at Lagos's port on Monday. 

    Custom officers arrested three people when the truck was intercepted. 

    Hameed Ibrahim Ali, the chief custom's officer, said 49 boxes containing 661 pieces of pump action rifles had been concealed in the truck.

    He said in a statement that the type of rifles seized are illegal in Nigeria. 

    "Such deadly contravention of the law is even more unacceptable considering the fragile security situation in some parts of the country," he said. 

    Customs officials
    Guns
  14. BreakingZimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire arrested

    Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire, who left the country in fear for his life after criticising the country's leadership, has been detained at Harare International Airport.

    A lawyer confirmed to the BBC that Mr Mawarire, who arrived today, is still detained at the airport.

  15. Afcon semi-finals preview: Egypt v Burkina Faso

    The first of the semi-final matches of the African Cup of Nations kicks off in a few hours. 

    Burkina Faso and Egypt go head-to-head with unbeaten records and a place in the Africa Cup of Nations final at stake.

    Neither team have tasted defeat in Gabon - and seven-time champions Egypt have yet to concede a goal.

    Having played their semi-final 24 hours earlier than Egypt, the Burkinabe team may benefit from extra rest and preparation time.

    "It is not an ideal situation, but we have no choice but to adapt," said Egypt coach Hector Cuper.

    "The players will be given time to rehabilitate and hopefully they will be ready come Wednesday night."

    Read full story

    Burkina Faso players
  16. Neighbouring nations 'interfering in Somali polls'

    Farhan Jimale

    BBC Somali service

    Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke
    Image caption: Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke fears foreign interference

    Somalia’s outgoing Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, has accused the neighbouring countries of intervening in the country’s presidential elections.

    MPs are due to elect the president later next week.

    Mr Sharmarke, who’s also standing as a candidate, said at a press conference in the capital, Mogadishu, that Somalis “should be left to decide their own destiny independently”.

    When asked by the BBC, he refused to name which countries he was talking about.

    But analysts say that he is worried about Ethiopia’s political influence and military presence in the country and its support for incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

    Ethiopia contributes soldiers to the 22,000-strong African Union force (Amisom) in the country. Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya are among other contributors.

    Mr Sharmarke, who is said to have support from Kenya in his political efforts, said the Somali parliament did not need any help when it came to choosing its leaders.

    Quote Message: It’s a fact that Somalia is dependent on Amisom in terms of security and I hope we will soon have our own national army, but it’s unfair that they take advantage of the security support they are giving us with a political agenda and supporting a particular candidate."

    Somali politics is also the deeply divided along clan lines – with President Mohamud representing the Hawiye clan and Mr Sharmarke the Darod clan.

    So the PM may also be unhappy about a warning from an Ethiopian think tank last month that said Somalia was likely to be destabilised further if a non-Hawiye took over the presidency.

    It is not something Somalia’s five clans agree about.

  17. Mugabe: 'African leaders lack revolutionary experience'

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC Africa, Harare

    Robert Mugabe in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - January 2017
    Image caption: Robert Mugabe was a key figure in the fight against white minority-rule in the 1970s

    Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says the vote to readmit Morocco to the African Union (AU) shows a lack of ideology by some African leaders.

    Speaking to state media on his return home from the AU Summit in Ethiopia, Mr Mugabe said the lure of Morocco’s money had won over principle:

    Quote Message: Morocco has been working for quite a long time, building mosques here, giving money at times."

    According to state-run Herald newspaper, he said the decision was “quite a blow” for some AU members.

    Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Algeria believe that Morocco should have only been readmitted to the AU on condition it gives up its claim to the disputed Western Sahara territory. 

    President Mugabe said southern Africa would continue to fight to ensure full independence for a territory the UN has referred to as “Africa’s last colony”.

    Quote Message: We believe in rules, in the principles and we have wanted to see Morocco declare at least, that yes, we have given up the claim of occupation.
    Quote Message: I think its lack of ideology. They [the African leaders who backed Morocco] have not had the same revolutionary experience as all of us and there is too much reliance on their erstwhile colonisers."

    Morocco left the Organisation of African Unity, the AU’s predecessor, more than 30 years ago - in protest over the decision to grant full rights membership to the Polisario Front, which is demanding independence for Western Sahara.

  18. Free pads for SA schoolgirls with periods

    Pumza Fihlani

    BBC News, South Africa

    Sanitary pads to be distributed by South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Education Department

    Girls in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province are going to get free sanitary pads when they get their periods in an effort to reduce school dropout rates.

    Research has found that millions of South African girls, especially from poor backgrounds, miss school because they are not able to afford pads.

    The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department say it will provide the pads to pupils in close to 3,000 schools in the province.

    They will be distributed either by the school principal or an official at the school every month and the girls will be required to sign for them.

    The department’s Kwazi Mthethwa said:

    Quote Message: We don’t want aunties and other women to use these sanitary pads because they are there to help our female learners and to ensure that they don’t have to miss classes because they cannot afford these pads."

    It is estimated that some girls aged between 13 and 19 in South Africa miss one week of school every month while menstruating because of not being able to afford sanitary pads.  

  19. Job advert in Kenya with a twist

    Kenyans are sharing a screengrab on social media of a job advert in one of the newspapers that has an interesting requirement for applicants. 

    The company has listed that applicants for the 50 security officers positions should have at least a D+ grade in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE), which is issued to school leavers who  sit a minimum of eight subjects. But the advert stipulates that the D+ grade refers to "Matiangi's".

    This refers to Kenya's Education Minister, Fred Matiang'i, who has been credited with overseeing last year's national examinations, which surprisingly recorded no incident of cheating for the first time. 

    View more on twitter

    Read more: What school cheating tells us about trust in Kenya

  20. SA psychiatric patients 'died of dehydration and starvation'

    Milton Nkosi

    BBC Africa, Johannesburg

    Qedani Mahlangu, a regional health minister in South Africa, has resigned following a scathing report on the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients in Gauteng province last year.

    The report by the country’s health ombudsman says most of the patients, whose care is paid for by the Gauteng province, died of diarrhoea, dehydration and starvation.

    In his report Malegapuru Makgoba said the deaths occurred between March and December last year when 1,900 patients were transferred by the health department from a licensed mental institution, Life Esidimeni, to 27 non-governmental organisations which had “invalid licences” to look after mentally ill people.

    Dr Makgoba said that Gauteng’s health department was negligent and reckless when it hurriedly moved patients with the intention of saving money:

    Quote Message: Therefore the patients died unlawfully."

    The Gauteng health department has always maintained the number of those who died was 36.

    Dr Makgoba said when Ms Mahlangu publicly announced the figure of 36 in the Gauteng legislature last September, 77 patients had already died.

    The report - 94 Silent Deaths and Counting - said only one person died from mental illness.

    The report recommended that law enforcement agencies investigate further.

    The ombudsman’s probe was prompted by complaints from families who were desperately searching for their loved ones.

    Dr Makgoba was visibly angry when he delivered the findings of his report live on television today.

    Quoting from Indian independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable, he said:

    Quote Message: We would fail that test of Mahatma Gandhi in the way we treated our most vulnerable."