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  1. Nigeria's powerful Muslim leader links polygamy to poverty and terrorism
  2. Kenyan court suspends bid to install surveillance devices on phones
  3. Guinean musician arrested after protest call
  4. Women in eastern Libya need 'male guardian' to go abroad
  5. Mobile snooping order in Kenya suspended
  6. Zimbabwe's president says 'America is for Americans'
  7. Parts of South Sudan hit by famine
  8. Tanzania deputy health minister condemns gay people
  9. US concern over DR Congo 'killing of civilians'
  10. Orlando Pirates appoint Swedish coach
  11. Email stories and comments to - Monday 20 February 2017

Live Reporting

By Hugo Williams and Farouk Chothia

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Monday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from us 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:

The grass is itchy when there is a lot of it."

A Luo proverb sent by Belkos Palenga, Gulu, Uganda

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this picture shared on the #EverydayAfrica hashtag, which shows watermelons piled up in a photocopying shop in Tanzania. Photographer Nicky Woo says when she asked the owner why his shop was filled with watermelons, he replied: "Why Not?"

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Museveni launches refinery for Uganda's 'mystery gold'

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has officially inaugurated a gold refinery, mainly owned by a Belgian investor, in the lakeside town of Entebbe, despite concerns about the origin of the precious metal, the AP news agency reports.

The value of gold exports from Uganda has risen in recent years despite the fact that little is mined locally.

At least some of Uganda's gold exports are likely to be from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, raising concerns about conflict minerals, AP quotes campaign group Global Witness as saying.    

Its representative, George Boden, added:   

Uganda's gold sector is shrouded in mystery. You have to ask who is really benefiting. The gold trade was worth $200 million to the Ugandan economy last year but there are no official figures on where the gold came from or where it is going."

Kenya court suspends government's 'mobile snooping order'


The Kenyan high court has suspended a government order which critics say would have amounted to tapping the mobile phones of millions of people. 

Mobile phone firms had been ordered to install surveillance devices on handsets that would allow authorities to monitor activity on their networks. 

Analysts say the backdoor access would have given the government the ability to listen to calls, read messages and view financial transactions of mobile phone users. 

The petition, brought by activist Okiya Omtatah, accused the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), which issued the directive, of "setting into motion a mechanism that will interfere with the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion”. 

The court suspended the directive until the case is heard next month and a ruling made.

Kenya's constitution guarantees privacy to its citizens, with the interception of people's communications only allowed with a court order. 

The CA has defended the order, saying it is not about mass surveillance and is necessary in its fight against counterfeit phones.

Such handsets cannot be tracked and are often used by criminals.

Read more about the government's plan and the backlash against it

Exiled Rwandan opposition leader forms 'rival government'

Prudent Nsengiyumva

BBC Great Lakes

Thomas Nahimana, Rwandan opposition leader in exile
Thomas Nahimana intended to run for president in August

An exiled leader of the Rwandan opposition, Thomas Nahimana, says he has formed a rival government to challenge incumbent President Paul Kagame. 

The France-based opposition politician was recently banned from boarding a plane to Rwanda where he intended to stand in the presidential polls, due in August.

His political party, Ishema - pride - is not officially registered in Rwanda.

Some of the people he named as members of his parallel cabinet are currently serving prison time in Rwanda for crimes including threat to state security and "belittling" the 1994 genocide.

Rwandan officials have said Mr Nahimana is welcome to return home.

Nigeria condemns xenophobic attacks in SA

The African Union should intervene urgently to end xenophobic attacks in South Africa on Nigerians and other Africans, a presidential adviser in Nigeria, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said. 

Her statement came after Nigerians in South Africa reported that five of their businesses and a church were set ablaze in the capital, Pretoria, on Saturday. 

Samson Sangojinmi, a Nigerian pastor injured by a vigilante mob, stands outside his church in Pretoria, South Africa February 18, 2017.
Nigerian pastor Samson Sangojinmi was wounded in the attack
Nigerian migrants throw stones at an angry mob outside a church in Pretoria, South Africa February 18, 2017.
One Nigerian migrant threw stones to try and deter the mob

Ms Dabiri-Erewa, an adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on affairs and the diaspora, said it seemed that the South African government had "no control over these attacks".  

"We have lost about 116 Nigerians [in attacks in South Africa] in the last two years. And in 2016 alone, about 20 were killed. This is unacceptable to the people and Government of Nigeria," she added. 

South African police said that six people had been arrested over Saturday's violence, and would appear in court soon. 

Local media reported that suspected prostitution and drug dens were targeted in the attacks. 

Read: South Africa's identity crisis

Is Libya turning into Saudi Arabia?

The decision by the authorities in eastern Libya to ban women from going abroad without a "male guardian" (see earlier entry) has led to sarcastic comparisons on Twitter with Saudi Arabia, which follows a strict interpretation of Islam and where a similar ban is in force. 

One tweeter wrote in Arabic that "next year, the hajj [the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia] will be here". 

She also posted a map, mockingly renaming Libya to Saudi Arabia 2.  

View more on twitter

One lawyer on Twitter has picked on the fact that the directive only applies to women under the age of 60, writing: “Libyan Women, freedom after the age of 60. Congratulations.”

View more on twitter

One picture doing the rounds on social media asks if people are “with or against women drinking water”, as tweeted below by this user:

View more on twitter

See earlier post for more details

South Sudan famine - in figures

A famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced in any part of the world in six years. 

The government and the United Nations report that some 100,000 people are facing starvation, with a million more on the brink of famine.  

UN children's agency Unicef has shared an infographic with some of the other key figures:

Infographic shows that 4.9 million people are severely food insecure

When is a famine declared?

Food shortages can lead to large numbers of people lacking nutrition, but only rarely do they amount to famine, according to UN humanitarian criteria.

Long periods of drought and other problems reducing the supply of food do not necessarily result in a famine.

A famine is declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met. They are:

  • at least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope
  • acute malnutrition rates exceed 30%
  • the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons

The declaration of a famine carries no binding obligations on the UN or member states, but serves to focus global attention on the problem.

Guinea reggae artist arrested over 'protest'

Elie Kamano says he does music to serve the poorest
The musician sees himself as a champion of the poor

Security forces in Guinea have arrested a reggae artist apparently for threatening to stage a protest.

Authorities have not given an official reason for Elie Kamano's arrest, but his wife suspects he was arrested for calling a "peaceful protest" at the weekend to pressure the government into resuming teaching at schools across the country.

Teachers have been on strike for months in Guinea. As a result, classrooms have remained closed. 

Despite the arrest, students on Monday took to the streets in the capital, Conakry, to vent their anger at the failure to end the strike.

The city has been paralysed by the protest, says BBC Afrique's Makeme Bamba in Conakry.

Benin 'custodian of a strong and powerful African magic'

Voodoo is estimated to be practised by more than 50 million followers across West Africa. 

The concept of fortune-telling, or fah, is a big part of voodoo spirituality. 

The BBC's Ed Davey travelled with Ghanaian biochemist Jafar Habib to the city of Cotonou in Benin to have their fortunes told in a fah reading. 

Ougasian, a voodoo priest, explains the roots of fah and its everyday importance for believers: 

Benin is celebrated as the cradle of voodoo.

Hear the full programme: Searching for the Spirit of Benin

Merkel visit cancelled over Algeria president's illness

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel's planned visit to Algeria today was cancelled because of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's ill health, according to the state news agency. 

The 79-year-old leader was "temporarily unavailable" because of "acute bronchitis", according to a statement from the presidency, the APS news agency reports. 

Mrs Merkel was expected to hold talks with the president focusing on security and migration. 

"The visit will be reprogrammed at a date that is suitable for the two parties," the presidency said.

Mr Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke in 2013, is now rarely seen in public. 

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

Emir moves to tackle Nigeria's marriage-related problems

Yusuf Yakasai

BBC Hausa, Abuja

The emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II speaks shortly after receiving staff of office during his coronation as the 57th emir of the ancient Kano emirate on February 7, 2015 at the newly built Coronation Hall near the Kano state governor's office.
The emir, a former banker, took office in February 2015

Nigeria's popular and powerful Muslim leader, Emir Sanusi II, has said his emirate is working with Islamic scholars and the respected Bayero University to draft a new law to address marriage-related problems among Muslims in the north. 

This will include a ban on forced marriages, and polygamous marriages in which a husband cannot see to the financial well-being of his wives. 

The law will also look at divorce, inheritance and the maintenance of children. 

In a speech, the emir said he was confident that the law would outline the real position of Islam on marriage-related related issues, including the criminality of domestic violence. 

The emir added that the law would state the conditions under which a man would be able to take a second wife. 

The draft law is expected be ready soon, and will be submitted to the state government in Kano for approval. 

It will be the first of its kind in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria.

* See earlier post for more details

Travel ban on women in eastern Libya

Rana Jawad

BBC North Africa correspondent

A controversial travel ban on women under the age of 60 has been imposed in eastern Libya by its military chief of staff, Abdul Razzaq Al-Naduri.  

The directive bans them from boarding international flights from the eastern Labraq airport without a male guardian. 

It came into force at the weekend and has triggered a wave of comments on social media by Libyans who are condemning and poking fun, including this song by Fuad Gritli, a Libyan entertainer based in Jordan:  

View more on youtube

Officials say the move is for "security reasons” and deny that it is driven by religious ideology.

They say that women representing civil society groups, who frequently travel abroad for work, are being used by foreign intelligence agencies.

Saudi Arabia bans women from going abroad without a male guardian, arguing that this is in line with Islamic teachings, although others disagree with its view.   

Libya is still run by two rival regional administrations, with an internationally backed government in Tripoli, and another one based in the eastern city of al-Beyda.

This latest travel restriction only affects Libyan women travelling from the east of the country.  

It highlights the growing political divide in Libya that has effectively split the country in two, with each side enforcing their own rules in the areas they control.

Gambian father of missing son: 'My hopes are dashed'

The new President of the Gambia Adama Barrow
New President Adama Barrow has vowed to investigate all cases of missing people

The father of a Gambian youngster, who disappeared under exiled former leader Yahya Jammeh, has been telling AFP news agency that he has lost hope of ever seeing his son again.

Sarjo Manneh rejoiced when Mr Jammeh finally relented under international pressure and gave up power last month.

However, unlike others who have been reunited with their loved ones, Mr Manneh has yet to receive any information on the the whereabouts of his son, Ebrima Manneh.

He was arrested in 2006 for unknown reasons at the headquarters of the Daily Observer newspaper where he worked.

His father is quoted by AFP as saying:

"My hopes are dashed. I want to bring Yahyah Jammeh to justice as well as those who are responsible for my son's disappearance."

New Gambian president Adama Barrow announced over the weekend that his government will set up a commission to investigate the disappearance of people who went missing after being picked up by secret service agents during Mr Jammeh's rule. 

Libyan PM's motorcade shot at

Rana Jawad

BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Serraj's motorcade has come under heavy fire in the capital, Tripoli, officials say.

Several other top officials were also in the convoy, including the commander of the Presidential Guard, Najmi Naku, and the head of the High State Council, Abdelrahman Swehli.

Two security guards were injured in the shooting along a highway, an official statement said. 

Mr Sarraj heads the internationally recognised government in Libya. He's been trying to restore some semblance of unity to the country, which has been wracked by years of unrest.   

Egypt court upholds death sentences over football riot

BBC World Service

Egyptian family members of victims of the Port Said massacre react outside the Court of Cassation following the court"s ruling in the case in Cairo, on February 20, 2017.
Relatives of the dead were outside court to hear the judgement

Egypt's highest court of appeal has upheld death sentences for 10 people over a football riot that left 74 people dead in 2012. 

The disaster, known to Egyptians as the massacre of Port Said, occurred at the end of a game between the two bitter rivals. 

Local fans of al-Masry attacked those of the visiting team, al Ahly, with many of the victims stabbed, beaten, kicked and crushed to death. 

The police were criticised for not doing enough to stop the violence, with some suggesting it had actually been orchestrated by officials in the unrest following the removal of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak from power. 

Read more: The darker side of Egyptian football

US 'concern' over DR Congo killing video

Thomas Fessy

BBC News, Dakar

The US State Department has voiced concern over video footage that appears to show soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo shooting dead a group of unarmed civilians. 

It said the killing, if confirmed, would constitute gross violations of human rights, and could provoke "widespread violence in an already fragile country". 

The video has not been independently verified. 

On Sunday, Pope Francis urged leaders of the DR Congo to resolve its political crisis and condemned to use of child soldiers. 

The seven-minute video, shared on social media, shows men dressed in army uniform opening fire on unarmed civilians, killing at least eight of them, including women and children. 

DR Congo  Human Rights Minister Marie-Ange Mushobekwa said a probe had been launched into the video. 

But the government spokesman, Lambert Mende, has dismissed the footage as a “montage” put together by opposition members.

Warning: If you do follow the link to the New York Times piece below, the video contains graphic content:

View more on twitter

Medical trials in SA to tackle pre-eclampsia

Pumza Fihlani

BBC News, Johannesburg

Nurse holds two newborn babies in pink swaddling
The condition endangers mothers and the babies they are carrying

A university in South Africa has begun trials on a medicine they hope can prevent pre-eclampsia, which is one of the most common causes of maternal death in Africa. 

Pre-eclampsia is when the placenta releases toxins in the body that can damage blood vessels and lead to organ failure in pregnant women, putting both the mother and baby at risk. 

University of Stellenbosch researcher Dr Cathy Cluver is giving a common drug, used for heartburn and indigestion, to pregnant women with pre-eclampsia to see if it stops it. 

More than 100 women pregnant for between 26 and 32 weeks have been chosen for the study with the aim of helping them to safely carry their babies until 34 weeks.

Cameroon and Afcon star Bassogog moves to China

Christian Bassogog
Getty Images

Cameroon midfielder Christian Bassogog has joined Chinese Super League side Henan Jianye from Aab Fodbold, the Danish club has confirmed.

Earlier this month, the 21-year-old was named player of the tournament as Cameroon won their fifth Africa Cup of Nations trophy in Gabon.

"AaB have sold Bassogog to Chinese club Henan Jianye FC for a record transfer for AaB," the club said in a statement.

Bassogog said the China offer was one he could not refuse.

The Cameroon international started all six games at this year's Nations Cup, scoring in the semi-final as the Indomitable Lions beat Ghana 2-0.

He now joins a growing list of African players moving to the Chinese Super League after Nigerian duo John Mikel Obi and Odion Ighalo joined Tianjin Teda and Changchun Yatai respectively last month.

Read the full BBC Sport story

Somalia reward for information on attacks

Bombed car
Witnesses spoke of carnage and chaos in the aftermath of the explosion

Somalia’s new president has announced a reward of $100,000 (£80,000) for information on anyone planning attacks on civilians.

Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed's announcement came after he visited survivors of the worst bomb attack in Somalia since he took office last week. 

At least 34 people were killed and about 50 injured when a car blew up in the capital Mogadishu's southern Madina district on Sunday. 

Militant Islamist group al-Shabab has waged an insurgency in Somalia for more than a decade and has vowed to target Mr Mohamed's supporters. 

Mr Mohamed pleaded with the public to share information on possible attacks with the security agencies. 

However, analysts say many Somalis do not trust the security agencies, which are accused of corruption, human rights abuses and factionalism. 

Mr Mohamed will have to address these concerns if he expects the public to cooperate, in significant numbers, with the security forces, they add.

Read: Somalia's rocky road to democracy

Orlando Pirates appoint new coach

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Kjell Jonevret during the Norwegian Tippeligaen match between Molde FK and Stabaek IF held on October 17, 2009 at the Aker Stadion, in Molde, Norwa
Some locals are trying to figure out how to pronounce Kjell Jonevret's name

South African Premier League side Orlando Pirates have appointed Swedish national Kjell Jonevret as their coach. 

The appointment follows a pitch invasion by Pirates fans earlier this month after they were thrashed 6-0 by African champions Mamelodi Sundowns. 

Club chairman Irvin Khoza explained that there were no quick fixes but expected the new coach to stabilise the team and bring back the confidence of the players.

At a press conference, he said: 

Coaching is not like when you suffer from a headache. You take a Panado tablet and then the headache is gone.”

Jonevret said it could be good for the players to "listen to a new voice".

When asked by local journalists how they should pronounce his first name (Kjell), The coach jokingly responded “It’s like the name of the oil company [Shell], except my name starts with Kj”.

Jonevret, 54, has previously been named coach of the year in Norway and has won the league in his home country. 

He replaces Mushin Ertugral, who resigned from Orlando Pirates in early November. 

Much will be expected of Jonevret, as he tries to revive the fortunes of the 1995 African champions and former Premier League winners. 

Emir of Kano to restrict polygamy

Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano
Lamido Sanusi wants the new law to protect women and children

Nigeria's influential Muslim leader - the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi - is planning to introduce a law which would stop men from taking more than one wife if they did not have the means to support them. 

In a speech on Sunday Mr Sanusi said that a connection had been established between polygamy, poverty and terrorism, Nigeria's widely read Punch newspaper reports

Local media quotes the powerful religious leader and former governor of the central bank saying: 

Those of us in the [mainly Muslim] north have all seen the economic consequences of men who are not capable of maintaining one wife, marrying four. They end up producing 20 children, not educating them, leaving them on the streets, and they end up as thugs and terrorists."

The emir discussed different areas to be covered by the wide-ranging family law, which he said would be passed by the Kano state government:

The law will address what Islam says on marriage, it will outlaw forced marriages, it will make domestic violence illegal, it will put in conditions that you need to fulfil before you can marry a second wife, it will spell out the responsibilities of a father beyond producing a child."

He added: 

It is a big law which covers a whole range of issues from consent to marriage, to maintenance to divorce, to maintenance of children and inheritance. It will be the first time in northern Nigeria that a Muslim law on personal status will be codified."

Read: Will the emir ruffle feathers?

Risk of thunderstorms in southern Africa

BBC Weather


Parts of central South Africa, Lesotho, southern Botswana and Swaziland are at risk of severe thunderstorms over the next few days from the remnants of Tropical Storm Dineo. 

There is a risk of flash flooding where these thunderstorms occur. 

Four people were killed when Dineo hit Mozambique last week. 

Tanzania deputy minister battles critics over anti-gay threats

Ugandans hold up a banner at a gay rally
Uganda's gay community has also faced government-led attacks

Tanzania's deputy health minister continues to take on his critics on Twitter, after threatening last week to publish a list of gay men whom he alleges are selling sex online.

Hamisi Kigwangalla, writing in a mixture of English and Swahili, has been taking on those critical of his anti-gay rhetoric, saying that homosexuality is unnatural: 

View more on twitter

The deputy minister has been condemned by some users on Twitter who say that his comments could encourage intolerance against the gay community in Tanzania:

View more on twitter

In one of his responses, the deputy minister, who is a medical doctor, suggested that homosexuality was simply an urban lifestyle, adding that in the village he is from in the west of the country, there were no gays at all. 

His comments follow the government's decision to ban 40 private health centres from providing HIV and AIDS-related services, accusing them of promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in the country. 

Gay sex between men is punishable by up to 30 years in prison in Tanzania.

Read more: Where is it illegal to be gay?

Famine declared in South Sudan

Women with children in South Sudan
Getty Images
Civil war and an economic collapse have been blamed for the situation in South Sudan

A famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced in any part of the world in six years.

The government and the United Nations report that 100,000 people are facing starvation, with a million more on the brink of famine.

A combination of civil war and an economic collapse have been blamed.

There have been warnings of famine in Yemen, Somalia and north-eastern Nigeria, but South Sudan is the first to declare one.

Last week, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) warned that more than 20 million people may face starvation in a series of famines over the next six months.

The WFP's chief economist, Arif Husain, said a combination of wars and drought meant that for the first time in recent years, aid workers were now talking about four simultaneous famines in separate parts of the world.

He added that despite record levels of international humanitarian aid distribution, there was not enough to look after all the people in need.

Mugabe backs Trump's nationalism

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe raises his fist on May 29, 2008 at a rally in Mvurwi some 100km from Harare. President Mugabe will never vacate his office for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai even if he loses a run-off election next month, the Zimbabwean leader's wife said on May 29
Mr Mugabe is the world's oldest leader

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he agrees with US President Donald Trump's "America for Americans" policy.

In his first comments on Mr Trump's presidency, Mr Mugabe said he was surprised by his election victory, but he did not "like Madam Clinton to win either", referring to defeated Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton.

"But anyway when it comes to Donald Trump talking of American nationalism... America for Americans - on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans," Mr Mugabe said, in excerpts of an interview published in the state-owned Herald newspaper.

He added that Mr Trump should be given a chance to prove himself. 

"I do not know. Give him time. Mr Trump may even re-look [at] sanctions on Zimbabwe," Mr Mugabe said. 

Mr Mugabe's full interview is to be broadcast on state television tonight to coincide with his 93rd birthday tomorrow.  

Mr Mugabe also said that he would continue to rule, as most people felt there was no acceptable replacement for him. 

He has been nominated by Zanu-PF as its candidate in next year's presidential election. 

Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. 

Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day: 

The grass is itchy when there is a lot of it. "

A Luo proverb sent by Belkos Palenga, Gulu, Uganda

Click here to send us your African proverbs

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