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  1. Alarm over suspicious laptop at Kenya tallying centrre

    Richard Kagoe

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Various political parties delegates and officials from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) meet at the IEBC National Tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya August 11, 2022
    Image caption: Party agents are watching officials verify the tally sheets sent in from around the country (picture from Thursday)

    There was a scare at the Kenya's national tallying centre in the capital, Nairobi, that briefly disrupted the ongoing vote verification exercise on Friday afternoon.

    Agents of presidential candidates and political parties were engaged in what appeared to be a confrontation in the area where verification is taking place prompting the intervention of electoral commission officials.

    Sources say the commotion was triggered when agents from one political coalition raised alarm over a suspicious laptop device that was being used to key in data by one of the presidential agents.

    Party agents are currently holed up in a meeting with electoral commissioners.

    The device has been confiscated by security officers as they await the verdict of the ongoing meeting.

    Tension was high at the centre as party delegates and observers tried to make sense of what was going on. The verification exercise has since resumed and situation is calm.

  2. Over 250 escaped DR Congo inmates recaptured

    Emery Makumeno

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    This photograph, taken on September 14, 2020 in Ituri province, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, shows the ruined prison in the town of Djugu.
    Image caption: Prisons in the country, like this one pictured in Ituri, are known for overcrowding

    More than 250 inmates of 822 who escaped from a prison in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have been captured by the security forces, the authorities say.

    Security officials on Thursday presented 166 of the inmates in addition to the 86 other fugitives who were said to have been captured earlier with the help of the public.

    The armed forces are still hunting for remaining inmates who had been detained at the Kakwangura central prison in Butembo, before it was stormed by armed men.

    An estimated 80 attackers overpowered the 15 police officers guarding the prison at 02:30 on Wednesday, army spokesman Capt Anthony Mwalushayi told the BBC.

    The army blames the ADF, an armed group with links to the Islamist State (IS) jihadist group for carrying out the attack. The IS group has admitted it was behind the attack.

    Two policemen were killed at the prison and later on local people burnt alive three fugitives believed to be ADF fighters, the authorities said.

    Meanwhile there is still a tense atmosphere over the many other escapees still at large - though many residents have continued with their daily activities with shops reopening.

    This is not the first time DR Congo has experienced a mass jailbreak.

    In 2017, more than 3,000 inmates escaped from the high-security prison of Makala, in the capital Kinshasa.

    Prison structures are old and overcrowding is common throughout the country.

    More on the ADF:

  3. Kenya's transition committee meets despite no result

    Mercy Juma

    BBC News, Nairobi

    A group of people behind a lectern

    The Kenyan committee that is supposed to ensure a smooth transition from one president to another has held its first meeting.

    Its members are getting ready for the electoral commission to announce the result from Tuesday's presidential election.

    Chairperson Joseph Kinyua says the committee will take care of the handing-over process from the outgoing to the new president, organise security, facilities and personnel.

    It will also co-ordinate the briefing of the president-elect, and prepare the programme and swearing in.

  4. Zimbabwe to launch cheaper gold coins

    Shingai Nyoka

    BBC News, Harare

    Zimbabwe's gold coin
    Image caption: The smaller denominations of coins will come out in November

    Zimbabwe's central bank is to introduce lower denominations of gold coins to allow ordinary people to purchase them, according to the state-owned newspaper The Herald.

    Last month, the country introduced gold coins priced at the international market rate for an ounce of gold plus 5% for production costs. An ounce of gold is currently worth about $1,795 (£1,500).

    Some 4,475 coins have been sold so far, according to the Herald.

    The coins were meant to ease the demand for the US dollar and maintain the value of the local currency after annual inflation topped 256% in July.

    The local Zimbabwean dollar exchanged at 108.66 to the US dollar at the beginning of the year, but has tumbled to 481.85 to the dollar in August.

    Zimbabwe uses two main currencies, the US and the Zimbabwe dollar, but most people prefer to exchange their local dollars for foreign currency to maintain value.

    It has caused a shortage of the US currency and driven exchange rates up.

    The central bank says that the smaller denominations of coins worth about $180 each will be released in November.

    The coins are available to buy at approved banks and are tradeable locally.

  5. Detainees over Zuma-linked riots due in court in SA

    Lebo Diseko

    BBC News, Johannesburg

    Burning building
    Image caption: Businesses were targeted during the riots last year

    Twenty people suspected of instigating the deadly riots that swept through parts of South Africa in July last year, will appear in court in the eastern city of Durban later on Friday.

    They will face a number of charges, including incitement to commit public violence and incitement to commit arson.

    More than 300 people were killed in the unrest that erupted after South Africa's former president, Jacob Zuma, was jailed for contempt of court.

    This is an initial appearance, dealing with matters such as whether the suspects will be granted bail and to set a date for the next time they will be in court.

    They were arrested during co-ordinated police raids in six provinces on Thursday, in an investigation which used extensive trawls of social media posts to pinpoint suspected agitators.

    While more than 5,000 people have already been arrested in connection with last year’s violence, authorities have been under pressure due to the low number of prosecutions.

    Last month the government said that around 50 cases had resulted in a guilty verdict, while thousands had been resolved through non-prosecution

    South Africa is still trying to recover from the economic damage - estimated at close to $4bn (£3.3bn). At the time South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the it as an “attempted insurrection” .

    Read more:

  6. Nigeria to keep away from senator's UK trial

    Ike Ekweremadu
    Image caption: Ike Ekweremadu has been a senator in Nigeria since 2003

    Nigeria's justice minister has said the government will not interfere in the trial of a prominent senator and his wife who are facing charges linked to an alleged organ harvesting plot.

    Ike Ekweremadu, 60, a district senator and lawyer, and his wife, Beatrice Nwanneka Ekweremadu, 55, are accused of bringing a 21-year-old man from Nigeria to the UK.

    Prosecutors claim they planned to have his kidney removed so it could be given to their daughter.

    They have not entered pleas in court.

    The case will be heard by a High Court judge in London in May 2023.

    "It has never been the tradition of Nigerian government to interfere on anything judicial, local or international. And that stands the position of the government," Justice Minister Abubakar Malami is quoted by local outlets as saying on Thursday at a media briefing.

    He added: "We have mutual legal assistance understanding with the UK, and whichever of the agencies, either the Senator as an accused or suspect or indeed the agencies in the UK, make any request for international support we will respond accordingly."

  7. BreakingKenyan MP-elect surrenders to police over shooting

    Kenya's newly re-elected lawmaker, Didmas Barasa, has surrendered to police after being on the run for three days over the shooting and killing of an opponent's aide.

    Police are treating Mr Barasa as a suspect in the incident that happened at a polling station on voting day.

    He is currently helping with investigations, police have said.

    Mr Barasa's Kimilili constituency is in western Kenya near the border with Uganda.

    His lawyer had on Thursday applied for bail pending his arrest.

  8. Cameroonian troops accused of rights abuses

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Cameroonian troops march during a parade in Yaounde on May 20, 2022.
    Image caption: Cameroonian troops have been engaging anglophone separatists since 2016

    Rights group Human Rights Watch has accused Cameroonian soldiers of "killings", "arbitrary detentions" as well as "looting" of villages and health centres in the North-West region.

    The report by HRW accused government soldiers of summarily killing at least 10 people and carrying out other abuses between 24 April and 12 June, during armed operations against separatists in the anglophone region.

    The troops also reportedly torched 12 homes, destroyed and looted health facilities, arbitrarily detained at least 26 people, and are presumed to have forcibly disappeared up to 17 others.

    Since 2016, Cameroonian troops have been engaging various factions of separatists waging a guerrilla war in the predominantly Anglophone North-West and South-West regions in a bid to establish a breakaway "Ambazonian" state.

    The separatists accuse the largely francophone administration of President Paul Biya of marginalising and discriminating against Cameroon's English-speaking minority.

  9. Kenya's elections vote count enters third day

    Richard Kagoe

    BBC News, Nairobi

    The IEBC National Tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi
    Image caption: Verification of results is being done in the national tallying centre, pictured

    Kenyans are still waiting for results of the presidential election following voting on Tuesday that was characterised by low turnout.

    The electoral commission is verifying results forms at the country’s national tallying centre in the capital, Nairobi

    The centre is a hive of activity as agents from across the country hand-deliver the actual results sheet for verification

    Provisional results show a tight race between the frontrunners, William Ruto and Raila Odinga.

    Observers have lauded the electoral commission for a smooth voting exercise.

    The electoral body has seven days after election day to declare the result.

    Read more:

  10. More than 100 vultures die in suspected SA poisoning

    Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) chasing vultures away from Cape buffalo carcass, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
    Image caption: Vultures face a risk of extinction due to poisoning

    More than 100 vultures and a hyena have died at South Africa’s Kruger National Park after feeding on a buffalo carcass suspected to have been poisoned, the authorities are quoted as saying.

    “Rangers on patrol discovered the carcass of a buffalo, which appeared to have been laced with poison. They also found over 100 dead vultures and a dead hyena likely to have fed off the carcass,” local media cite South African National Parks Authority (SanParks) as saying.

    Twenty more vultures were discovered at the poisoning scene in a bad condition and were taken to a rehabilitation centre for treatment.

    The matter has been referred to the police for investigations, SanParks said.

    Yolan Friedman, the chief executive of Endangered Wildlife Trust, told local media that poisonings at this scale put the species at increasing risk of extinction.

    Vultures often die from eating poisoned carcasses used to bait predators but are sometimes deliberately poisoned for their body parts used in traditional medicine.

  11. Sierra Leone protests are acts of terror - president

    BBC Focus on Africa radio

    Anti-government protest, in Freetown, Sierra Leone

    Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio has described anti-government protests in the country as acts of terrorism instigated by agitators living abroad.

    About 130 people have been arrested in the demonstrations in the capital, Freetown, and in the opposition's northern stronghold over the high cost of living, corruption and police brutality.

    President Bio, who had travelled out of the country, has returned and told BBC Focus on Africa that the protests had a political motive.

    "Of course what happened [on Wednesday] was definitely not a protest, it was terrorism at the highest. We have a few Sierra Leoneans who live in the diaspora who have threatened to unleash terror in Sierra Leone," he said.

    "There is politics underneath all that is happening and you can't take that away," he added.

    Calm has returned to Freetown, the president said, and security forces have been deployed to make sure that there is no further deterioration in the situation.

    He acknowledged that there were underlying concerns affecting citizens.

    "Definitely there is hardship, most of the youth are unemployed. We do sympathise with their situation and as a government we have done quite a lot to address that situation," he said.

  12. Buhari meets families of Nigeria train attack victims

    Chris Ewokor

    BBC News, Abuja

    President Muhammadu Buhari with families of hostages

    President Muhammadu Buhari has met families of passengers kidnapped during a train attack in late March in northern Nigeria.

    It was the first time such a meeting between government officials and families of the hostages has been held.

    Mr Buhari said rescue efforts were being complicated by the risk of collateral damage.

    "My primary concern is to get everyone released safe and unhurt," the president said.

    “We have received several suggestions about the deployment of lethal military force in extracting those still being held in captivity... However the condition to guarantee a successful outcome and minimise potential collateral damage could not be assured and therefore that course of action had to be reluctantly discarded.”

    Recently relatives of the hostages held protests in the capital, Abuja, to call on the government to rescue their loved ones.

    At least 31 passengers are still being held by their abductors, who have threatened to kill them if the government failed to meet their demands.

    The abductors have been releasing hostages in batches. On Wednesday, seven hostages were freed - including six members of the same family and an elderly woman.

    Those released spoke of horrific experiences and trauma under captivity.

  13. SA arrests 20 suspects in Zuma-linked riots

    Mark Pivac

    BBC World Service Newsroom

    A man fires a hand gun in the air to disperse a mob of alleged looters outside of the Chris Hani Mall in Vosloorus, on July 14, 2021.
    Image caption: Deadly unrest erupted after the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma last year

    South African police have arrested 20 people suspected of instigating the riots that swept parts of the country in July last year.

    About 350 people were killed in the unrest that erupted after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for contempt of court.

    Special co-ordinated police raids took place in six provinces, in an operation which relied on extensive trawls through social media posts to pinpoint suspected agitators.

    View more on twitter

    Those arrested are due to appear in a court in Durban on Friday.

    An inquiry earlier this year blamed the violence on faceless masterminds, but also heavily criticised the police response.

    Read more:

  14. Fourteen suspects now charged over SA gang rape

    Nomsa Maseko

    BBC News, Johannesburg

    Three of the survivors blurred for anonymity
    Image caption: Three of the survivors have spoken anonymously to the media

    A total of 14 suspects have now been charged for the gang rape of eight women who were assaulted while filming a music video at an abandoned mine in South Africa last month.

    The youngest suspect is 16, prosecutors say, and has been taken to a juvenile facility to be tried separately from his adult co-accused.

    The gang rape victims pointed out their alleged attackers during an identity parade earlier this week.

    The accused were initially charged for contravening South Africa’s immigration laws, but are now facing additional charges including multiple counts of rape and robbery with aggregated circumstances.

    The National Prosecuting Authority has said it has “established prospects of a successful prosecution against the fourteen suspects”.

    The trial has been postponed to 28 August for further investigations.

    News of the gang rape sent shock waves across the country and sparked violent protests, in which men suspected of being illegal miners were targeted in the west of Johannesburg.

    Some of their homes were set alight.

    Related stories:

  15. Arrests and calls for calm after Sierra Leone protests

    Thomas Naadi

    BBC News

    Protesters in Freetown on Wednesday.
    Image caption: Demonstrations began on Wednesday

    About 130 people have been arrested after anti-government protests in Sierra Leone, police say.

    Demonstrations against the rising cost of living and corruption that began on Wednesday turned into a violent confrontation between police and protesters.

    It is not yet clear how many civilians were killed - though Reuters news agency puts the number at 21. Meanwhile the police force says four of its officers died.

    President Julius Maada Bio who had travelled out of the country has returned, promising a full investigation into the incident.

    The West African regional bloc Ecowas has condemned the violence and called for calm.

    For now an eerie calm has returned to Freetown, but the sight of destroyed public and private property is a reminder of the violent scenes witnessed.