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Live Reporting

Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

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  1. Trump gave us ultimate endorsement - dancing pallbearer

    Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: Ghana's dancing pallbearers become Covid-19 meme

    Ghanaian Benjamin Aidoo, the leader of the troupe of dancing pallbearers who have become a global sensation because of a viral meme, is happy that US President Donald Trump has shared footage of the dancers.

    In a Facebook post, Mr Trump re-posted a video that had been doctored to show the pallbearers dancing with a coffin that had the words "Biden president" written on the side.

    Joe Biden is likely to be Mr Trump's challenger in November's election.

    Mr Aidoo told the BBC's Sulley Lansah that he saw the president's Facebook post as the "ultimate endorsement" of his work.

    He felt that the whole world will now see the post and it could open many doors for him.

    In 2017 the dancing pallbearers went viral following BBC Africa's coverage of their flamboyant coffin-carrying dances, garnering millions of views.

    Three years later and the group has experienced a second round of internet fame, with social media users adopting the troupe as a dark-humoured symbol of death in the time of Covid-19.

    Mr Aidoo said that he still cannot believe how popular his video has become and he keeps getting calls and granting interviews from all over the world.

  2. Zambia's president urged to apologise to ex-US envoy

    A Zambian opposition figure has urged President Edgar Lungu to apologise to a former US envoy after pardoning a gay couple.

    The Patriots for Economic Progress leader Sean Tembo wants the president to says sorry to the US' ex-ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote, for the victimisation he suffered for condemning the initial jailing of the couple last year..

    Mr Tembo, while speaking on local radio station Hot FM, said the pardoning of the couple vindicates the former envoy.

    He said it also contradicted the government's stance on homosexuality.

    President Lungu pardoned the two men, Japhet Chataba and Steven Samba, who were sentenced to 15 years for having sex with each other.

    They were listed among the names of nearly 3,000 prisoners to be fred to mark Africa Freedom Day, which fell on Monday.

    Their sentencing had caused a diplomatic row that ended in the recalling of Ambassador Foote.

    The ambassador had urged Zambia to review its laws on homosexuality.

    He faced a huge backlash and the US said it was dismayed by the treatment of the envoy.

    Ambassador Foote
  3. Amnesty warns of a 'lost Nigerian generation'

    Chris Ewokor

    BBC Africa, Abuja

    Rights group Amnesty International is warning that Nigeria must address more than 10 years of neglect of an entire generation of children in the country's north-east.

    The area has been severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

    In a 91-page report, the global watchdog said children living in Boko Haram-controlled areas were subjected to torture, floggings and sexual abuse.

    While mostly accusing the Islamist militant group of atrocities it also criticised the army.

    It said the security forces held "children in conditions amounting to torture in military detention".

    Amnesty International highlighted a flawed reintegration programme for alleged former fighters known as Safe Corridor.

    It receives funding from the European Union and other international donors.

    Amnesty says that those in the programme have no access to legal representation, and are often held for extended periods.

    The Nigeria military is yet to respond to allegations of torture and unlawful detention of children, in the report.

    The UN Children’s Agency, Unicef, says that between September 2017 and May 2019, it reported the release of more than 1,700 children after being cleared of links with jihadists.

    Video content

    Video caption: Boko Haram: A decade of terror explained
  4. Bishops question reliability of Burundi poll

    Samba Cyuzuzo

    BBC Great Lakes

    Agathon Rwasa, presidential candidate of the main opposition party the National Congress for Liberty (CNL)
    Image caption: Opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa has said he will challenge the results in court

    The council of Burundi's Catholic bishops says its observers noticed irregularities in last week's general election that put the reliability of the results into question.

    In an audio announcement, the council said its more than 2,700 observers deployed to polling stations around the country witnessed incidents of:

    • multiple voting
    • voting for dead people and refugees
    • voters being forced to choose certain candidates
    • unauthorised people involved in vote counting

    On Monday, the electoral commission announced that Evariste Ndayishimiye of the governing CNDD-FDD party won the presidential election.

    It said he took 68% of the vote, according to preliminary results.

    Opposition candidate Agathon Rwasa came second with 24%.

    "We deplore many irregularities against freedom, electoral transparency and equity in treatment of candidates and voters,” the bishops' council said through its leader Joachim Ntahondereye.

    “Vis-à-vis these irregularities and many more, we ask ourselves how reliable are the results to be proclaimed?”

    Burundi's electoral commission has said the poll was democratically conducted.

    Mr Rwasa, who rejected the poll results, has told the BBC he will file an election petition at the constitutional court before the deadline on Wednesday.

    Final results are expected to be announced on 4 June. The winner is set to become president on 20 August.

    The new president will replace Pierre Nkurunziza who has led the country since 2005.


  5. Tanzania says US spread 'false information' on Covid-19

    Tanzania summoned a US envoy in the country to clarify a recent warning about the risk of "exponential growth" of Covid-19 cases in the country.

    A fortnight ago, the US embassy said that hospitals in the main city, Dar es Salaam, were "overwhelmed" and that the chance of contracting the virus was "extremely high".

    At a time when official coronavirus updates were scarce in the country, the US embassy’s advisory triggered huge interest from the public, reports the BBC's Sammy Awami.

    It also stirred some controversy, as it did not provide evidence for its claims.

    In a meeting on Tuesday, the permanent secretary to the foreign affairs ministry, Wilbert Ibuge, told US diplomat Inmi Patterson, that the embassy’s advisory contained false information and risked causing panic among Tanzanians and visitors.

    Mr Ibuge also reminded the American about the importance of issuing verified information, a statement from the ministry in Swahili said.

    View more on twitter

    Tanzania does not have strict lockdown measures and President John Magufuli has repeatedly downplayed the risk of the pandemic. He announced last week that university students and final-year secondary students will return to class on 1 June.


  6. New locusts swarms 'threaten food security in East Africa'

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News, Addis Ababa

    uters FA man attempts to fend-off a swarm of desert locusts at a ranch near the town of Nanyuki in Laikipia county, Kenya
    Image caption: Flooding in the region has created breeding grounds for the locusts

    New swarms of locusts are increasing the risk of food insecurity for millions of people in East and Central Africa who are already reeling from the impact of Covid-19 and flooding, humanitarian agency Oxfam has said in a new report.

    Locust invasions in recent months are estimated to have destroyed thousands of hectares of crops in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

    Heavy rains that have led to flooding have also created favourable conditions for the breeding of locusts.

    The latest generation of swarms, feared to be as big as 400 times larger than the original swarms, are expected to hatch in June when crops are ready for harvest

    East Africa’s Desert Locust Control Organisation has told the BBC that the coronavirus pandemic has hindered efforts to control the invasion as importing pesticide to the region has become expensive.

    Last week the World Bank approved $160m (£130m) for Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda in the form of grants and low-interest loans to help farmers and herders impacted by the invasions.

    Read more:

  7. Tanzanian comedian in court after laughing at president

    Sammy Awami

    BBC News, Dar es Salaam

    Tanzanian comedian Idris Sultan has appeared at a magistrate's court this morning in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, eight days after he was arrested.

    Sultan was expected to be charged with cybercrimes offences, tampering with evidence and using a Sim card registered in someone else’s name, a police spokesperson told the BBC on Monday.

    But once in court, the charge sheet only mentioned the Sim card issue.

    He was arrested on Tuesday last week, after a video of the comedian laughing at an old photograph of President John Magufuli wearing an oversized suit went viral on social media.

    Police accused him of violating the Cybercrimes Act and bullying the president, according to his lawyer Bennedict Ishabakaki.

    Many social media users have re-shared the video with the hashtag #FreeIdrisSultan and set his photo as their profile picture in a show of solidarity.

    “We must promote & support artistic freedom and creation (innovation) as a part of participatory democracy,” tweeted digital rights advocate Maxence Melo.

    Last year, Sultan was held after sharing a face-swapped image of himself and the president.

    His detention has served as the latest reminder of digital regulation laws that rights activists have described as harsh and infringing on freedom of expression.

  8. Moroccan actor arrested for blasphemy

    BBC World Service

    Police in Morocco say they have detained a well-known actor for making what they call blasphemous comments on Islam.

    The Office of National Security says that Rafik Boubker posted a video in which - it says - he appeared in an abnormal state and insulted the sanctity of worship.

    Boubker has since posted another video on Instagram, apologising for what he called a mistake, saying he was not in his normal state and was just joking.

  9. How trafficked Nigerian women were rescued from Lebanon

    The head of Nigeria's anti-trafficking agency, Julie Okah-Donli, has been telling the BBC how 50 women were rescued after being trafficked into domestic slavery in Lebanon.

    They are now back in Nigeria and have been placed in quarantine.

    Ms Okah-Donli told the Focus on Africa radio programme that the women had contacted the Nigerian authorities for help who advised them to take themselves to the country's embassy in Lebanon.

    Quote Message: When these girls called us, we advised them to get themselves to the embassy, and so they started escaping from domestic slavery in Lebanon.
    Quote Message: The embassy kept them together in a hotel and started making arrangements to bring them back to Nigeria, then Covid-19 happened and everything went slow and they had to wait for the right time."

    Listen to the interview:

    Video content

    Video caption: The women have been brought back to Nigeria
  10. Coronavirus could impede Africa's malaria fight - WHO

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has raised concerns that Covid-19 might impact negatively on Africa's fight against malaria.

    WHO team leader for malaria Dr Akpaka Kalu told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that anyone exhibiting fever should seek medical care.

    He said that some patients are afraid of seeking treatment during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic yet fever is also a symptom for malaria.

    Quote Message: Malaria is a very dangerous disease. It is so common but it kills.
    Quote Message: If you have fever go and get tested, if it's positive you will be treated for malaria, the medicines are effective.
    Quote Message: It is an individual responsibility to ensure you don't become part of the statistics, part of the dead from malaria."

    Listen to the interview:

    Video content

    Video caption: Concerns have been raised that Covid-19 might hamper the fight against malaria
  11. Nigeria to continue with clinical trials of malaria drug for Covid-19

    A medical health worker marks a sample testing kit in Abuja
    Image caption: The WHO had suspended trials citing safety concerns

    Nigeria will continue with the planned clinical trials on malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on Covid-19 patients even after the World Health Organization (WHO) halted a similar effort because of safety fears.

    The director of Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac), Mojisola Adeyeye, told a local broadcaster that she does not dispute WHO's conclusions but they want to generate their own data.

    Quote Message: I do not know the data that they’re looking at, whether it’s from the Caucasian population or from the African population. If the data they’re looking at and the reason for suspending the trials is from Caucasian population, then it may be justified. But I don’t think we have data from the African population yet, because our genetic make up is different."
    View more on youtube

    Prof Adeyeye said the clinical trials will be concluded in three to four months.

    A recent medical study in medical journal The Lancet suggested the drug could increase the risk of patients dying from Covid-19.

    Hydroxychloroquine is safe for malaria, and conditions like lupus or arthritis, but no clinical trials have recommended its use for treating Covid-19.


  12. 'Tortured' Zimbabwe opposition members charged

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Joana Mamombe, a Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP, in hospital.
    Image caption: Opposition MP Joana Mamombe is one of the three women who allege they were tortured by state agents

    Three Zimbabwean opposition members, who say they were victims of state torture, have been charged.

    The three, member of parliament Joana Mamombe and two youth leaders, are accused of promoting public violence on 13 May and flouting coronavirus lockdown regulations after they organised a protest over the number of people going hungry during the lockdown.

    The charges have been laid while the three remain in hospital receiving treatment for their injuries.

    The opposition members say they were abducted after the protest and sexually assaulted by state agents. The government denies any responsibility and says the abductions were faked.

    Two journalists arrested last week for trying to interview the three were granted bail on Tuesday.

    The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused the government of using lockdown restrictions to clamp down on civil liberties.


  13. Senegal president's brother tests positive

    The brother of Senegal's president has announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

    Aliou Sall, who is the mayor for Guédiawaye, said he was being treated at Dalal Diam hospital in the capital, Dakar.

    His wife also tested positive for the virus and was being treated at the same hospital.

    Mr Sall thanked health workers at the hospital for their professionalism and asked for prayers from the public.

    A local news website Leral tweeted about the story:

    View more on twitter

    Senegal has so far recorded 3,161 cases of coronavirus.

    The country has been on a state of emergency that is due to end on 2 June. A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

    Last year, Aliou Sall was at the centre of a BBC investigation that revealed that he had allegedly benefited from lucrative dealings in the gas sector.

    Mr Sall denied the claims, which he said were "totally false".

  14. Thirty Tunisians hospitalised after Eid alcohol poisoning

    Rana Jawad

    BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

    Health workers disinfect banks in Tunis, Tunisia
    Image caption: Tunisia was one of the first African countries to introduce strict measures

    Six people have died and around 30 others hospitalised in Tunisia since Sunday after drinking tainted homemade alcohol.

    The alcohol was consumed across several towns and cities in the province of Kairouan.

    The cases first came to light on Sunday - the day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

    State news agency TAP reports that a man and a woman were arrested in the town of Hajeb Al Ayoun on suspicion of selling the tainted brew and 87 litres seized by police.

    Toxic levels of methanol that is sometimes contained in homemade alcohol can be fatal or lead to visual impairment.

    There have been several cases of methanol poisoning in Tunisia over the years. Consumption of illegally sold brew is common because it is cheaper and more accessible to the majority, particularly in poorer areas.

    The country has eased coronavirus containment measures but some restrictions still remain: large public events are banned, a permit is required for travel between regions and shopping malls, bars and restaurants remain closed.

  15. South Africa to reopen places of worship

    Muslim clerics praying
    Image caption: Worship places were closed in March at the start of a nationwide lockdown

    South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that places of worship will be reopened on 1 June with strict guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

    Churches, mosques, temples and other recognised places of worship will be required to ensure worshippers keep their distance.

    A maximum of 50 people will be allowed to attend depending on the size of the room or building.

    All worshippers will be required to wear masks and sanitise their hands.

    President Ramaphosa acknowledged the roles religious leaders play in the community, including counselling and prayers.

    He said the pandemic had taken a toll on the religious well-being of many people hence the need to reopen places of worship as the country moves to what the government has labelled level three of easing lockdown restrictions.

    The president announced a national prayer day to be held on 31 May.

    Places of worship closed in March when the country went into lockdown. Some religious leaders have been streaming services online.

    South Africa has so far recorded 24,264 cases of coronavirus - the highest number on the continent - and 524 people have sadly died as a result of having the virus.


  16. Wednesday's wise words

    Our African proverb of the day:

    Quote Message: When an animal runs badly, it gets a bad gunshot." from An Igbo proverb sent by Amara Samuel in Owerri, Nigeria.
    An Igbo proverb sent by Amara Samuel in Owerri, Nigeria.
    A drawing of a deer

    Click here and scroll to the bottom to send us your African proverbs.

  17. Video content

    Video caption: The artists and entertainers moving performances online

    Artists in Tanzania are using their time during the lockdown to create new work and put it online.

  18. Video content

    Video caption: How the internet is helping Ugandan businesses

    Ugandan firms discuss how their businesses are continuing to run despite the coronavirus lockdown.