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  1. UN chief lauds Ethiopia's effort to make peace

    Soldiers walk on the streets in northern Ethiopia
    Image caption: The UN has in the past called for peace in Ethiopia

    UN Secretary General António Guterres has said there is "demonstrable effort to make peace" in Ethiopia after more than a year of civil war.

    Mr Guterres spoke to the African Union (AU) chief envoy to the Horn of Africa Olusegun Obasanjo who briefed him on the peace efforts.

    Mr Obasanjo has been meeting officials in the federal government and from the rebel Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

    The UN chief said the AU envoy "expressed optimism that there is now a real opportunity for political and diplomatic resolution of the conflict".

    Federal troops have been fighting rebels in the north of the country for more than a year now, in a war that has ended thousands of lives.

    Clashes on the ground between the two sides had stopped but recently there have been reports of renewed fighting.

  2. Algeria closes schools amid rise in Covid cases

    A medical worker prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Algiers, Algeria, January 17, 2022.
    Image caption: Algeria has recorded more than 220,000 cases of coronavirus infections

    Algeria has closed schools for 10 days and enhanced screening at airports and other control measures following a rise in coronavirus cases.

    It has also encouraged people to get vaccinated to counter the spread of the virus.

    The decision by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to shut schools starting from Thursday followed an emergency meeting of ministers, top health and security officials.

    A statement from the presidency however said that it was up to the universities to determine whether to close or reschedule their classes.

    The country has recorded more than 220,000 coronavirus cases and over 6,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

  3. Ethiopians revel in Jesus baptism festival

    Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers at the compound of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia – 19 January 2022

    Ethiopian Orthodox Christians have been celebrating the festival of Timket, or Epiphany, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

    Ethiopian Orthodox priests stand next to the pool of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timkat, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia, on January 19, 2022

    Worshippers gathered on Wednesday at the Fasilides Bath, a sacred site just outside the city of Gondar.

    Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers at the compound of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia – 19 January 2022

    For the Timket festival the bath is filled with water so the baptism can be re-enacted.

    Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers at the compound of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia – 19 January 2022
    Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers at the compound of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia – 19 January 2022
    Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers at the compound of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia – 19 January 2022
    Ethiopian Orthodox worshippers at the compound of Fasilides Bath during the celebration of Timket, the Ethiopian Epiphany, in the city of Gondar, Ethiopia – 19 January 2022
  4. Gambia's President Barrow sworn in after court win

    Adama Barrow has been sworn in as The Gambia's president for a second term after the Supreme Court upheld his re-election for a second time.

    The Gambian presidency has posted footage on Facebook of the 56-year-old taking his oath of office.

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    The opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) had challenged the results of the 4 December election that saw Mr Barrow win with 53% of votes.

    The UDP had said the vote was marred by widespread irregularities.

    On Monday, the Supreme Court upheld its 28 December ruling, dismissing the opposition's petition.

    Mr Barrow is a successful property developer who once worked as a security guard in London. He sprung a major surprise by defeating Yahya Jammeh during the last presidential vote in 2017.

    Mr Jammeh's 22-year rule was marked by allegations of abuse, with witnesses telling a truth commission after he went into exile about state-backed execution squads and Aids patients being forced to take bogus cures.

  5. DR Congo prisoners sentenced for raping inmates

    Emery Makumeno

    BBC News, Kinshasa

    Ten male prisoners in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been found guilty of raping female inmates and trying to escape during a riot at a prison.

    The court in the city of Lubumbashi ordered them to serve an additional 15 years in prison and to pay $50,000 (£37,000) in compensation to the 19 victims who took the case to court.

    The riot took place in Kasapa prison in 2020.

    Although some were too frightened to give evidence, more than 30 women testified before a military prosecutor that they had been raped.

    At least seven of the victims became pregnant and some contracted sexually transmitted infections - including HIV.

    Most of the women are still serving prison sentences after being transferred to a different facility.

  6. Ethiopia frees fourth journalist from detention

    Kalkidan Yibeltal

    BBC News

    The authorities in Ethiopia have released Maaza Mohammed, a journalist who was detained more than a month ago under state of emergency laws.

    Ms Maaza - who co-founded YouTube news outlet Roha Media - had been critical of the government prior to her detention. She has not been charged with any offence.

    She is the fourth journalist to be released from detention recently.

    Tesfalem Tekle, a correspondent for the Kenyan-based Nation Media Group, was released earlier this week after 77 days in detention.

    He was granted bail by a court in early November but police had kept him in custody.

    Also freed in recent days have been Ermias Tesfaye, a journalist at the online Ethiopia Insight, and Abdusalam Hassen, formerly with the Oromo Media Network (OMN).

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) had accused the government of using the state of emergency to arrest reporters.

    Earlier this month, key opposition figures, including some from the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) - the group at war with the government for the last 14 months - were freed and charges against them withdrawn.

  7. Tanker drivers play football amid Uganda fuel crisis

    A video of lorry drivers playing football at the Uganda border has prompted hilarity and exasperation as the country experiences a fuel crisis.

    In the short clip, which is being widely shared online, fuel tankers can be seen queuing up along a road as drivers strip down to their vests to pass time kicking around a ball.

    It was first shared two days ago when tweeters said the footage was shot at the Malaba border between Uganda and Kenya.

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    Queues of trucks as long as 70km (40 miles) have been reported over the last few days.

    The delays have been attributed to the requirement that drivers be tested for Covid-19 at the border, regardless of whether they have a negative PCR test.

    Even though the requirement has since been suspended, it led to a build-up at the Malaba and Busia borders in the east of the country and has also led to an increase in fuel prices.

  8. Billionaire's Covid vaccine plant opens in South Africa

    Vumani Mkhize

    BBC News, Cape Town

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and founder of NantWorks Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong (R) chat during the inauguration of the NantSA Vaccine Production Facility in Cape Town, South Africa, 19 January 2022
    Image caption: The president (L) and biotech billionaire (R) together during the inauguration ceremony

    South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has opened a new manufacturing plant which will be the first in Africa to produce Covid-19 vaccines from start to finish.

    The Nant-SA facility in Cape Town was an initiative by the US-based, South African-born biotech billionaire Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong.

    It aims to start producing the vaccines within a year and to make a billion doses annually by 2025.

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) and founder of NantWorks Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong (R) cut a ribbon using giant scissors  during the inauguration of the Nant-SA Vaccine Production Facility in Cape Town, South Africa, 19 January 2022

    South Africa has two other facilities which produce vaccines from semi-finished batches.

    At the opening Mr Ramaphosa said the move showed that the African continent was moving towards self reliance.

    “Africa should no longer be the last in line to access vaccines during pandemics, we shouldn’t be going cap in hand begging for vaccines.”

  9. Poaching boss jailed for 30 years in Mozambique

    Jose Tembe

    BBC News, Maputo

    A rhino in Kruger Park, which borders Mozambique
    Image caption: Rhino horns are made of keratin - the same substance as fingernails

    A court in Mozambique has sentenced the leader of a poaching gang to 30 years in prison.

    Judges in Maputo Province found Admiro Chauque guilty of illegal possession of weapons, and numerous poaching offences in southern Mozambique, as well as in South Africa's Kruger National Park.

    He was arrested trying to poach rhinos in May last year.

    There is a strong demand for rhino horn in China and Vietnam.

    The court also gave a nine-year sentence to a man who was caught laying traps to catch animals in Maputo National Park.

    In recent years the judiciary in Mozambique has imposed heavy penalties on poachers and people transporting the protected animals.

  10. Ethiopia's iconic resistance singer Nuho Gobana dies

    Ameyu Etana

    BBC Afaan Oromoo

    Ethiopians are mourning pioneering musician Nuho Gobana, who has died aged 74 after a long career that saw him produce timeless classics, including many songs urging the Oromo people to find their strength and unite to demand change.

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    The Oromo ethnic group, despite being Ethiopia’s largest, was marginalised by successive Ethiopian rulers until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power a few years ago.

    Nuho had been ill for some time - and when his fans realised the seriousness of his situation a few months ago, they bought him a house in Adama, east of the capital, Addis Ababa, where he died on Tuesday night.

    During the Marxist military dictatorship of the 1980s, the musician left Ethiopia, living as a refugee in a number of countries including Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, and Canada.

    ''Back then, Nuho was doing songs to empower his people. His music was easily memorable,'' his long-time friend and notable musician Elemo Ali recalls of their life in Saudi Arabia.

    Another of his friends, Abdo Alisho, has spoken of how powerful his songs were: “They made you love your country. Nuho lived for his people.”

    He went on to influence younger Oromo singers like Hachalu Hundessa, who was killed in 2020 and whose songs had become anthems in a wave of protests that led to the downfall of Mr Abiy’s predecessor.

    Nuho didn’t just sing in Afaan Oromoo, writing lyrics in other Ethiopian languages and in Arabic when he was abroad.

    Speaking to the BBC from his hospital bed two years ago, the musician had the same message to his fans: ''Keep your unity strong.''

    One of his most famous songs was Tokkummaa, which means unity in Afaan Oromoo - and which was also the title of a popular Hachalu hit.

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