A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has acquitted dozens of soldiers who were facing rape charges after it was alleged that that they had sexually assaulted women in Minova, in the east of the country. But the court sentenced the accused to long jail sentences for looting and wasting ammunition. Holly Dranginis, a researcher with the Enough Project, an anti-genocide group based in Washington DC, comments.
Although the world celebrated freedom of the press at the weekend, many African governments cast a baleful eye on journalists. Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta cautioned that press freedom is not absolute, urging reporters to be more responsible. In Zambia, Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda warned that the government is considering arresting reporters who harbour political motives. And in Somalia, journalists remain targets in what is the most dangerous country for reporters in Africa. The Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists, Omar Faruk Osman, says death threats come with the job.
A high-level delegation representing Christian churches arrived in Juba, In South Sudan, on Friday. The group includes leaders of ACT Alliance, an umbrella group of religious NGOs who give aid, the World Council of Churches, the All-Africa Conference of Churches and the World YWCA. Isaiah Kipyegon, a church leader, comments.
US Navy Seals have boarded and taken control of an oil tanker that had loaded crude at a Libyan port held by militias in the east of the country and escaped to sea. No one was hurt in the operation, which came at the request of both Libya and Cyprus. The oil tanker is now expected to be taken to a government-controlled port in Libya. Anas El Gomati, a Libyan analyst of the Sadeq Institute, comments about the relations between Washington and Tripoli.
In South Sudan the trial of four men for treason is slated to return to court on Wednesday. Pagan Amum, the former head negotiator for the government, Majak D'Agoot, the former deputy minister for defense, Oyai Deng Ajak, ex-National Security minister and Ezekiel Gatkuoth, former ambassador to the US have been held since December 17. One group of human rights campaigners called Justice4Juba4 have called for the men to be released due to a flawed legal system. Jason McCue from Justice4Juba4, comments on why they believe the men won't get a fair trial.
A group of former top military officers from Gambia have formed a new political party, called the National Resistance Movement of the Gambia (NMRG). The group says that it gets its funding from the Gambian people. Alhajie Kanteh, one of the founding members, says that they created their movement to get rid of Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh.
Pope Francis became head of the Roman Catholic Church a year ago. He has sought to bring about a renaissance of the Church after years of corruption and sex scandals. He has reached out to non-Catholics and insisted that he wants a Church "for the poor". What does that mean ? RFI asked South African bishop Kevin Dowling, whose diocese has been grappling with the strike in the platinum mines – now in its seventh week.
A new study is due to be released today on how the social media platform Twitter is being used across the African continent. The in-depth research, will reveal which African cities tweet the most and what subjects are the most hotly discussed. RFI spoke to Matthew Gould, one of the team who undertook the study at Portland Communications, about the impact of Twitter in Africa.
The United States has accused the Sudanese government of supporting mercenaries in the Darfur region, and has urged Khartoum to prevent further violence there. The State Department singled out a militia group called the Rapid Support Forces, believed to be behind recent attacks including violence against civilians and the burning of villages.
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan shuffled his cabinet this week after a number of defections from his People's Democratic Party (PDP). General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, a former military intelligence officer, has been appointed defence minister, as alleged Boko Haram attacks in Borno state escalate. Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, a Nigeria expert, comments.
Women have made great strides in gaining seats in parliaments throughout Africa, according the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). Rwanda tops the list and Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea are close behind but US-based rights assessor Freedom considers those countries "not free". Kareen Jabre, the gender partnership manager of IPU, discusses whether female representation makes a difference when it comes to "genuine democracy".
After eleven years of conflict, the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan shows no signs of abating. In the past few days an escalation in the clashes in South Darfur has led to the displacement of thousands of civilians. The peacekeeping force, Unamid, says it is unable to prevent these attacks, and humanitarian organisations are stretched beyond capacity. To find out more, RFI spoke to Eric Reeves, a Darfur specialist and researcher.
A new report on a government-sanctioned land grab in Senegal shows a new deal that threatens thousands of Peul pastoralists in the rural Ndiel area. RFI spoke to Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director of the agricultural policy think tank, the Oakland Institute, who says Senhuile-Senéthanol, a multinational corporation, has leased 20,000 hectares of prime pasture in Senegal, pushing herders off their land.
The Ugandan president has signed a controversial anti-homosexuality bill into law. Under the act, gays could be jailed for life. Homophobia is widespread in Uganda where non-African evangelical churches are on the rise. RFI talked to Pepe Julian Onziema who is with SMUG, Sexual Minorities Uganda, in Kampala.
Rwanda will continue to observe the trial of Pascal Simbikangwa, as it enter its fourth consecutive week today in Paris. Simbikangwa is accused of crimes against humanity and complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. RFI speaks to Phil Clark, a Rwanda expert from SOAS in London, about why today is likely to be a key moment in the trial.
Civil society groups in Niger are holding a public discussion in the capital Niamey about the country's future contracts with French nuclear energy firm Areva. Niger and Areva are still in closed-door negotiations on mining contracts that expired in December. Areva wants to continue to pay a five percent tax rate to mine uranium instead of the market rate of 12 percent. RFI spoke to Ibrahima Aidara, the Economic Governance Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, about how the negotiations are faring.
Nigerian markets have plummeted following President Goodluck Jonathan's suspension of Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi, accusing him of financial recklessness and inconsistencies. Sanusi is an outspoken critic of the government and claims the state oil company NNPC failed to pay 20 billion dollars in crude oil revenues to federal coffers. Yemi Adamolekun, a good governance and accountability advocate in Abuja, explains how the government has treated this case.
Sudan's foreign ministry is meeting with its French counterparts in Paris on Monday to discuss bilateral relations, including debt relief and humanitarian work. Sudan has a debt of over 34 billion euros and is considered a parIah by its creditors. Khartoum-based analyst Abdalbasit Saeed says that this is an opportunity to bring up the humanitarian situation in Blue Nile State and South Kordofan.
South Africa's Film and Publication Board has ruled that a website showing graphic photos of botched circumcisions can remain on the internet. The decision came after tribal elders in the Eastern Cape called for the site to be taken down, calling it 'pornographic'. Around 43 boys died last year in South Africa after undergoing botched traditional circumcisions. RFI spoke to Dingeman Rijken, the doctor who exposed this on his website, Ulwaluko.
A confidential UN monitors' report says Somali officials have diverted weapons to al Shebab, the radical Islamist rebels. The report recommends tightening up the arms embargo of Somalia. Mogadishu has been seeking an extension of the partial lifting of an embargo that has been in force for decades. Analyst Tres Thomas in Nairobi comments.
Violence marred South Africa's election campaign on Wednesday. Johannesburg police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to separate supporters of the ANC, South Africa's ruling party, and supporters of the Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party. ANC militants threw molotov cocktails and bricks at members of the Democratic Alliance who were holding a march near ANC headquarters. RFI talked to political analyst Ebrahim Fakir in Johannesburg.
In Somali "wadahadal" means "coming together to talk". But women are often excluded from this important stage of the political process. In the self-proclaimed autonomous state of Somaliland women face few restrictions but politics is still out of reach, says Suad Abdi, country manager of the NGO Progressio.
Uganda's long-standing President Yoweri Museveni has been endorsed by the country's ruling NRM party to stand for reelection in the 2016 elections after 26 years in power. Twelve civil society groups are calling for a cap on presidential terms and a reform of the electoral commission. Bishop Zach Niringye, a retired assistant bishop and prominent activist for social justice, explains the campaign's objectives.
Negotiators attempting to secure the release of the South African hostage Pierre Korkie, who is being held in Yemen by Al Qaeda, say they have no proof that he is either alive or dead. Korkie was due to be executed by his captors on Saturday, unless they received a three million dollar ransom. Imtiaz Sooliman, the chairperson of the Charity Organization "Gift of the Givers", who negotiated the release of Korkie's wife Yolande a few weeks ago says all communication with the kidnappers has been lost.
Last Sunday Kenyan police fought running battles with Muslim youths in the northern city of Mombasa, leaving casualties among the police and the youth. Why are many Muslims becoming radicalised in a country that had never experienced it until a few years ago? David Bwakali posed this question and many others to Muslim youths in Nairobi and to the Director General of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims.
Niger is calling for Western intervention to eradicate a growing threat from radical Islamist fighters in Libya. Interior Minister Massoudou Hassoumi says the countries that overthrew Kadhafi must provide an "after-sales service". He told RFI that it would be legitimate for Nato countries to eradicate a "terrorist threat" in the south of Libya. Mark Schroeder, a security analyst at Stratfor, says that option is being debated in Western capitals.
The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims has accused the police of profaning a mosque in Mombasa at the weekend and wants an inquiry in the police raid that triggered two days of deadly riots. More than 100 people have been arrested and charged in connection with the violence. The council's secretary general, Adan Wachu, says the police invaded the mosque at prayer time.
In Addis Ababa, the African Union declared 2014 the Year of Agriculture for Africa. It launched a new campaign calling for African governments to commit to spend at least 10 per cent of national budgets on effective agriculture investments. So far, only eight countries kept their promise. D'Banj, a nigerian musician campaigning for agriculture in Africa, comments on how it can help lift more than 85 million Africans out of poverty.
There have been many champions of Africa. But one Irishman stands out for his activism, especially his efforts against poverty. The singer-songwriter Bob Geldof is probably best known for Band Aid which raised money for famine relief in Ethiopia in 30 years ago. Now Geldof is supporting an initiative pushing African governments to spend 10 per cent of their budgets on agriculture. At present only eight African countries hit this target.
In Somalia, the US military carried out a missile strike on Sunday against a suspected militant leader with ties to the al-Shebab group. The hardline Shebab have been weakened in recent years following operations by African Union forces, Amisom. Meanwhile, there have been numerous political developments in the country – a new cabinet has been approved in recent days and last month a new prime minister was appointed – the second in just over a year. So what does the UN make of this, as it tries to help the government rebuild the country after years of civil war? RFI speaks to Nicholas Kay, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
Art is often controversial. The South African government has ordered the removal of a tiny rabbit that was inserted into a statue of Nelson Mandela in Pretoria. The artists who built the nine-metre bronze statue added a rabbit into the ear of the statue - without asking for anyone's permission. Another sculpture, a statue of a god called Ngene, is at the heart of a new book by Nigerian novelist Okey Ndibe. Its title is Foreign Gods, incorporated, the name of a New York city gallery that sells statues of African deities. RFI spoke to Okey Ndibe, the author in Hartford, Connecticut.
We often hear about the plight of illegal migrants, in particular Africans making the journey to the Italian island of Lampedusa. But we don't know much about the criminals who run "the most ruthless travel agency on the planet". A book published in Italy meets the men who make big money smuggling tens of thousands of desperate people into Europe. Giampaolo Musumeci is one of the authors of Confessions of a People Smuggler.
South Sudan's neighbours are trying to broker a ceasefire amid fears that it may be too late to stop an all-out civil war in the country. But at least one, Uganda, has already been drawn into the conflict. President Yoweri Museveni has flown to the rescue of South Sudan's President, Salva Kiir, and Kampala even claims that its forces recaptured the strategic town of Bor at the weekend. Jair van der Linj, at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, comments.
Canada has cancelled a state visit by the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan citing its disapproval of Nigeria's decision to enact a Same Sex Marriage Prohibition law last week. President Jonathan had been due to meet his Canadian counterpart, Stephen Harper, in his first official visit to the country next month. Nigeria is Canada's largest trading partner in Africa. UN Secretary General, Ban ki Moon was among several world leaders to express concern over the law that human rights defenders say is inhumane and draconian. The law also bans gay clubs, associations and the promotion of homosexuality. Those who break the law could face up to 14 years in prison. But the presidential spokesman Reuben Abati told reporters last week that the law has the overwhelming support of the Nigerian people. Frank Mba, Public Relations Officer of the Nigerian Police Force accused human rights defenders of making unfounded allegations against the Nigerian Police Force in relation to the new law.
Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed his military service chiefs on Thursday. Jonathan sacked the chiefs of the country's army, navy and air force, who have been waging the battle against the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the north of the country. Elizabeth Donnelly, an expert in Nigerian politics and current affairs, explains the reasons behind the decision and its political implications.
Liberia's supreme court has barred the justice minister from practising law because she briefly released a jailed journalist on compassionate grounds last year. The court ruled that Christiana Tah was guilty of contempt of court when she allowed Rodney Sieh to go home for a month because he had malaria. Sieh then returned to jail before being definitely released.
The Intergovernmental Authority Development's (IGAD) mediation team to South Sudan concluded its two day mission to Juba on Wednesday, during which they met with South Sudanese president Salva Kiir Mayardit. During the visit, President Kiir reaffirmed his full support for a political solution in the country and his government's commitment to unconditional negotiations on the cessation of hostilities to bring an end to the violence in his country. The IGAD envoys also met 11 detained politicians arrested when violence broke out last month in the South Sudanese capital of Juba. The detainees expressed their support for the talks and said that their status as detainees should not be an impediment to reaching an agreement on and end to the violence. Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development's Executive Secretary, comments.
African leaders met in Chad on Thursday to discuss the future of Central African Republic (CAR). The summit was called by Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno and will bring together the 10 countries that make up the Economic Community of Central African States. A Unicef official warned on Wednesday that the CAR is heading for a humanitarian disaster, calling for urgent action to prevent deadly diseases from spreading in overcrowded refugee camps. Gregory Barrow of the World Food Programme comments.
No arrests have been made so far in connection with the killing of Patrick Karegeya, the former Rwandan spy, in South Africa last week. According to The Mail and Guardian, his alleged murderer entered the country on a fake South African passport. Karegeya founded an opposition party, the Rwandan National Congress, which has accused the Rwandan President of masterminding Karegeya's assassination. The killing has led critics to revisit other serious allegations against Paul Kagame. Judi Rever, an investigative journalist, has been documenting crimes that are being blamed on Kagame and his party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
In South Sudan fresh fighting has broken out between government forces and rebels as regional peace brokers failed to get ceasefire talks off the ground in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Rebels in South Sudan say they have killed an army general during fighting near the town of Bor, a claim immediately denied by the government. This comes amid diplomatic efforts for peace talks - Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir is expected in the South Sudanese capital Juba today for talks with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir. Nearly two-hundred thousand people have already been displaced by the three-week conflict and there are fears that the crisis could lead to the disintegration of the world's youngest nation. One man who helped campaign for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which led to the creation of South Sudan, is Eric Reeves, a researcher at Smith College, who has been watching the crisis unfold.
Italy's navy has rescued 233 migrants from a boat off the island of Lampedusa. As is often the case they include a number of Eritrean youths. Eritreans have been fleeing their country to avoid the so-called National Service under which they live and work in dire conditions for years. Meron Estefanos, an Eritrean-born Swedish broadcaster and researcher, has interviewed many migrants whom she calls "hostages." She comments on their long trek to Europe via Egypt's Sinai desert.
Youth groups across Europe have launched a campaign to "Stop National Service Slavery in Eritrea". Every year, thousands of Eritreans are required to work in dire conditions for unspecified periods, which can sometimes run into decades. Campaigners say the National Service is why so many Eritreans put their lives at risk trying to reach Europe via the Sinai desert. Political scientist Mirjam van Reisen says the European Union should take action against a country which she describes as a "failed state."
Israel's parliament has approved a law under which illegal migrants from Africa can be detained for up to a year without trial, the latest in a series of measures aimed at reducing the numbers of Africans entering the country. Today we hear from a young Eritrean who asked that his name not be used. After crossing the Egyptian border, he was kidnapped and tortured by smugglers until his relatives and friends paid a huge ransom for his release. He was then abandonned at the border between Egypt and Israel. RFI caught up with him at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Twenty-five thousand armed men from the Nuer tribe in South Sudan marched recently towards Bor, the capital of Jonglei State. They are called the "White Army" and come from a traditional cattle-raising tribe called the Lou. The army's name originates from the ashes they smear on their skin to deter insects. RFI spoke to Paan Luel Wel, a South Sudanese blogger, about who this group is, where they come from, and how they are involved in the mounting ethnic tension in the country.
The International Criminal Court has postponed the trial of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta for alleged crimes against humanity. On Thursday, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, said there was not enough evidence for the trial to open in February as originally planned. Kenyatta is accused of masterminding ethnic violence after the 2007 presidential elections which left more than 1,000 people dead. RFI spoke to Fergal Gaynor, a lawyer representing 20,000 victims who don't want to see the case dropped.
Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa delivered his first budget speech on Thursday, forecasting that Zimbabwe's economy will grow by more than six per cent next year. Chinamasa hailed a future of political and economic stability. Harare-based economist John Robertson says that there will not be much to cheer about in 2014.
Thursday's European Union Summit in Brussels will focus on, among other issues, the Central African Republic. So what's likely to come out of the talks? a question RFI put to Patrick Lambrechts, the Deputy Head of Unit for Central Africa, at the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department.
South Sudan's deposed vice-president Riek Machar is reported to have gone into hiding after a flareup which President Salva Kiir said was a coup attempt. Machar leads a dissident group within the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and is seen as the main challenger to Kiir. SPLM spokesperson Suzanne Jambo confirms reports party members were among people arrested Tuesday.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir says he has defeated an attempted coup, closing borders and imposing a dusk-to-dawn curfew until further notice. Kiir blamed the fighting that broke out at a barracks in the capital on Riek Machar, his former vice-president. Earlier this discusses what happened on the streets of Juba.
Egypt's interim president Adly Mansour has announced the holding of a referendum on the 14th and 15th January on a new draft constitution. The new constitution will be the first step towards democratic rule and it will replace the controversial one approved by referendum in 2012, seven months before the military ousted former President Mohammed Morsi, in July. According to the transitional road map established by the military interim government, the constitutional referendum will be followed by both parliamentary and presidential elections by the middle of next year. Adel El-Adawy, an Egypt specialist from the Washington Institute, comments about the draft constitution and the pending political transition.
Islamic insurgents have claimed responsibility for coordinated attacks on military targets in Maiduguri. A large number of weapons were seized. During a recent visit to Paris Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan talked to RFI about security in Africa, starting what role Europe can play.
Thamsanqa Jantjie the sign-language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial ceremony claimed he signed nonsense during the service because he was suffering a schizophrenic episode and hallucinating. Jabulani Blose, the head of a South African organisation for deaf people, says the government needs to take action on this issue.
French Defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says that pacifying the Central African Republic will be more difficult than France's intervention in Mali because identifying the enemy will not be nearly as simple. Aline Leboeuf, an Africa analyst at Paris thinktank Ifri, believes France may be in the Central African Republic for the long haul.
The UN is urging Ghana to eradicate modern-day slavery. Gulnara Shahinian, UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, says Accra should do more to combat child labour. Boys as young as four are working as fishermen in some coastal towns, she says.
A United Nations report has called for investigations into rights abuses committed by traditional hunters in Côte d'Ivoire. These hunters, called Dozos, are said to have killed more than 200 people in the past 5 years. Dozos are also being blamed for hundreds of cases of looting, arson and extortion. The report was prepared by the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Melissa Labonté, a Côte d'Ivoire expert from Fordham University in New York, says Dozos are a de facto militia.
Worldwide commemorations took place over the weekend for the life of the former South African president Nelson Mandela, including in Scotland, where he was awarded the keys to the city of Glasgow in 1981. Mandela had a special relationship with Scotland. It was there that he picked up the key to the city and to a number of English cities in one joint ceremony after he was released from prison. Brian Filling, a prominent Scottish anti-Apartheid activist, comments on how at one time supporting Mandela wasn't common.
One of the main themes of this week's Africa-France summit in Paris is peace and security in Africa. Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama explains why his country is a haven of stability while many other African states are wracked by strife.
As French troops gear up for a mission in the Central African Republic, President François Hollande welcomes 40 African heads of state at a summit on peace and security. He wants to change France's gendarme of Africa image, although the CAR intervention follows this year's mission to Mali. We spoke to a foreign policy expert on how African leaders can reconcile post-colonial politics with accepting French military support.
Although the Dutch are once again celebrating the arrival of Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas today, a controversy has been raging over the portrayal of his servant, Black Pete.
Some in the Netherlands argue that this child's tale perpetuates a negative stereotype of Africans and people of African descent, and the debate has even attracted the attention of the United Nations.
Geor Hintzen, a Dutch researcher of the Hague University, comments.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International has published its annual survey, showing Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia as the world's most corrupt countries. Denmark and New Zealand are almost squeaky-clean. The corruption index uses 13 data sources from organisations such as the World Bank and Economist Intelligence Unit. Researcher Marie-Ange Kalenga looks at successes and the failures in Africa's fight against corruption.
In Abidjan, the annual meeting of the African Securities Exchanges Association is taking place, with policy-makers, central bank governors and financiers all trying to decide the future of African stock markets. The theme of the three-day event is: From promises to achievements, the key role of capital markets. More than twenty African stock exchanges are members of the African Securities Exchanges Association and there's an increasing appetite for African stocks amongst investors worldwide. So what's right and what's wrong with African financial markets? And how will they change in the future? RFI spoke to Aly-Khan Satchu, trader and founder of the rich.co.ke financial website.
Elephant poaching is on the rise. New figures show that the illegal trade in ivory could wipe out 20 percent of Africa's elephants in the next ten years. Conservationists from around the world have gathered in Gabarone, Botswana for the start of the African Elephant Summit today. RFI spoke to Simon Stuart, a representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on why elephant poaching has increased in Africa.
French troops have started to deploy in the Central African Republic, airlifting men and equipment to the capital Bangui, in preparation for an intervention to restore order. This comes after French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced plans earlier this week that France was sending one-thousand troops to help stop increasing violence. The situation in the country has become increasing precarious following the ousting of former president Francois Bozize by the Seleka rebel coalition in March this year. Its thought that some four-hundred-thousand people across the country have been displaced, many of them living in the bush, with little access to clean water or humanitarian relief. RFI speaks to Christian Mulamba, Country Director of International Medical Corps, a humanitarian organisation that is trying to provide medical care.
South Africa's top appeals court says the authorities have a duty to investigate allegations of torture in neighbouring Zimbabwe. The court ruling could spell trouble for 17 Zimbabwean officials accused of torture, should they seek to travel to South Africa. South African prosecutors had refused to investigate the allegations, citing political concerns. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe had previously asked the ruling African National Congress to block any investigation. RFI spoke to Nicole Fritz the leader of one of the groups who filed the case.
Three survivors of a tragedy that caused the deaths of 63 migrants in the Mediterranean are taking the Belgian army to court for failing to rescue them. They say the Belgian military present in the area two years ago failed to respond to their repeated distress signals. Katherine Booth of the International Federation for Human Rights explain why her organisation has joined NGOs backing the case.
A high-ranking UN official says the human rights situation in Eritrea is so dire that hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country. Sheila Keetharuth, the UN Special Rapporteur on Eritrea, has been prevented from traveling to Asmara. So in order to document the situation there she told RFI's Michel Arseneault that she had to interview refugees.
A UN official says he is deeply concerned about overcrowding in prisons in Ghana. Juan Méndez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, visited one jail that was filled to five times its maximum capacity. He says that in some jails, prisoners are living in "sub-human" conditions.
A report by NGOs Oxfam and Publish What You Pay calls on the French government and mining firm Areva to commit to paying taxes on its uranium mining concerns in Niger. Areva should not benefit from tax exemptions, says one of the report's authors, Anne-Sophie Simpere.
Liberian newspaper editor Rodney Sieh tells RFI that he's emerged from a jail term a stronger man and better journalist. Sieh was taken into custody in August after refusing to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that his paper should pay 1.2 million euros for libelling former agriculture minister Chris Toe. He was released last Thursday and all charges against him dropped. After going on hunger strike, he spent much of his sentence in hospital following a decline in his health.
After weeks of escalating tension between the movements involved in Mozambique's 1980s civil war, voters are casting their ballots in municipal elections Wednesday. Former rebel group Renamo, now the main opposition party, is boycotting the vote and has resumed the armed struggle. Clashes with government forceshave left several people dead and dozens injured in the centre of the country. Historian Eric Morier-Genoud discusses what is at stake in the polls.
An engineer held hostage for 11 months by armed Islamists in Nigeria has returned to France, accompanied by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. The kidnapping was claimed by Ansaru, a split-off from the Boko Haram movment. Marc-Antoine Perouse de Montclos, the author of a forthcoming book titled Boko Haram: Islamism, Politics, Security, and the State in Nigeria, comments.
Although a million tourists visit the east African country of Tanzania every year, the government has said it is keen to more than double the number. Efforts are underway to attract visitors from China, the world's most populous country and its second largest economy. But some local people are unhappy that they are prevented from living or growing crops in the country's vast game reserves. RFI spoke to an official of the Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry about some of these issues during a recent visit to Paris.
Today marks 100 days since Robert Mugabe was reelected president for his seventh consecutive term since he came to power in 1980. Although Mugabe's campaign centred on creating jobs, analysts say the unemployment rate is still in the region of 80 to 90 per cent throughout the country. Vince Musewe, an independent economist in Harare, says that economic prospects for the average Zimbabwean are fairly bleak.
Human rights activists are urging the UN Security Council to vote no to a Rwandan proposal to defer of the International Criminal Court trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for a year. The ICC has already granted Deputy President William Ruto a postponement of his trial. Activists believe that the vote provides for political meddling in the legal process, legal expert Tawanda Hondora explains.
The US State Department has formally added two Nigerian Islamist groups, Boko Haram and Ansaru, to its list of "foreign terrorist organisations". This designation makes it a crime to provide "material support" to the two groupsand US law enforcement agencies must now block business and financial transactions with Boko Haram and Ansaru, explains Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (Trac) in the US.
Music lovers in South Korea are to have a rare treat tonight. A Congolese maestro will be conducting the Korean Symphony Orchestra at the Seoul Arts Centre. Armand Diangienda is the founder of the Kinshasa Symphony Orchestra, the only one of its kind in central Africa. The musicians and singers are run-of-the-mill Congolese who are passionate about classical music. Some have even built their own instruments. German film-maker Martin Baer has made a documentary on this extraordinary group of people.
The case against the nine South African police officers accused of killing a taxi driver, was postponed due to funding issues yesterday. The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union had paid for the bail of the accused, but cannot pay for the legal fees in a criminal case. Video footage taken of the incident that took place on the 26th of February this year, shows the taxi driver Mido Macia handcuffed behind a police vehicle and being dragged down a street. Macio, who was a Mozambiqan national, was allegedly confronted by the police because his taxi was blocking the traffic. He later succumbed to his injuries in police custody. The video footage made international news, causing an outcry against police brutality. To discuss the issue of police brutality in South Africa and how such court cases are funded, RFI spoke to Dr Johan Burger, senoir researcher at the Institute for Security Studies.
A new crowdsourcing project is aiming to do what US special forces couldn't do - find the notorious leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, Joseph Kony. The Expedition Kony project is trying to raise 400,000 euros, by soliciting donations on its website so that they can track him down. Kony has evaded capture for years. He's wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity. And the US has deployed 100 military advisors to work with armies in the region to intensify the search. To discuss the Expedition Kony's chances of success and whether it is a good idea, RFI spoke to Ross Fenter, filmmaker and a member of the team.
Malawi police say former justice minister Ralph Kasambala has been arrested on charges of attempting to assassinate Paul Mphwiyo, an anti-corruption treasury official. Kasambala is one of 11 high-profile figures arrested in relation to the "cashgate" scandal, in which officials are accused of embezzling more than 20 million euros in foriegn aid, Alexander Baum, EU ambassador to Malawi, explains.
The African Media Leaders' Forum is meeting this week in Addis Ababa. Press rights groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, are calling on participants to raise the issue of press freedom in Ethiopia. The CPJ says several Ethiopian journalists are in jail on terrorism charges. Zakes Mda, a South African novelist, poet and playwright, says that Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws remind him of apartheid-era statutes.
The army in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has defeated the M23 rebels, says it is planning an offensive against other armed groups in the east of the country. Lieutenant Colonel Olivier Amuli said operations are being planned, but they cannot yet be announced. Earlier this week, Congolese government spokesperson Lambert Mende said the M23 was at the top of the list, followed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the FDLR. RFI spoke to Jason Stearns, an analyst with the Rift Valley Institute on the line from Kinshasa.
Somali pirates have taken up to 300 million euros in ransoms over the past seven years.The Pirate Trails report, published last week, tries to trace where the money goes and what it's spent on. The report, by the World Bank and UN Office on Drugs and Crime, says much of the cash is invested into further criminal activities. How do you go about tracing pirate ransom money? Clement Gorrisen, one of the report's researchers, explains.
A coalition of NGOs are calling on European governments to take legal action against companies that are suspected of having looted gold in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The NGOs, including TRIAL, the Open Society Justice Initiative, and the Conflict Awareness Project, argue that looting gold during times of conflict is a war crime. They say Swiss and British companies mined gold illegally during the conflict in Ituri region a decade ago. RFI spoke to Kathi Lynn Austin, a Conflict Awareness Project researcher who believes that the loot allowed warring parties to wage war and to commit human rights violations.
Kenya's President says he will review a press bill that has sparked controversy. Uhuru Kenyatta says Kenya does not want to "gag" journalists. Under the bill, which has been passed by Parliament, journalists who violate a media code of conduct will have to pay huge fines. But Kenyatta has yet to sign the bill into law. RFI spoke to Moses Kuria, a political analyst who believes that this law, if signed, would be a good idea.
A man is currently in police custody in Morocco's commercial capital, Casablanca, after tearing down the Algerian flag from its embassy in the city. The man was protesting against comments made on behalf of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in relation to Western Sahara. Bouteflika reportedly said that Morocco had committed human rights violations against the people of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. Morocco illegally occupied Western Sahara in 1975. It is the largest disputed land mass in the world. RFI spoke to expert Jacob Mundy on Morocco's reaction to withdrawing its ambassador.
Nigerian police on Wednesday raided a "baby factory" where girls as young as 14 were being forced to have babies for sale. Teenage pregnancy is widespread across west Africa. UN expert Benoit Kalasa taks about the Motherhood in Childhood report. Every year almost eight million adolescents have children across the world - with a serious impact on their education, health and employment, he says.
Kenyan police say they are holding five people in connection with last month's attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall. A Norwegian citizen of Somali origin is suspected of being one of the attackers and two soldiers are to be prosecuted for looting stores during the massacre. Wainaina Ndungu, a Kenyan rigthts activist, has been monitoring the situation.
The United States is calling for an end to clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The army, backed by UN forces, has seized control of three rebel positions. A high-ranking official has described the situation in the eastern DRC as a "tinderbox" that could degenerate into a regional war. Russ Feingold, the US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, said there were "enormous risks" if clashes between the Congolese army and M23 rebels continue. He told RFI that military action sis not Congolese President Joseph Kabila's "first choice".
International election observers have hailed Madagascar's presidential election as credible, free and transparent. It is seen as an important step in restoring democracy after five years of crisis, prompted by the ousting of former president Marc Ravalomanana by Andry Rajoelina, the current president of the transitional government. Denis Kadima, the leader of one African observers' team, comments.
In Kenya, the Daily Nation newspaper reported Thursday that Rose Oyungu, a mortuary worker, was charged with stealing from two people who had died during the Westgate Mall siege in September. Some 67 people were killed by al-Qaeda-linked gunmen during the four-day siege. In the wake of the attack the Kenyan government has threatened journalists with jail if they report on the alleged looting by the Kenyan army in the aftermath of the siege. RFI spoke to Adam Hussein Adam, one member of civil society, who says that the government needs to be more forthcoming with information.
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa is calling for an end to violence targeting homosexuals. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba tells RFI that ordinary Africans, and theologians, should be more accepting of sexual minorities. His statement came as the trial of a man accused of raping and killing a 26-year-old lesbian woman opened in Johannesburg.
Relations between Khartoum and Juba have been tense since the independence of South Sudan two years ago. And no issue is more prickly that the status of Abyei, a region that sits on their common border. A proposal to hold a referendum to decide if the oil-rich region should remain in Sudan or breakaway to join South Sudan have run into difficulties. John Young, the author of The Fate of Sudan, who says the issue of Abyei could turn ugly.
Fourteen Caribbean countries have hired a London law form to win reparations for the slave trade. They have targeted France, Britain and The Netherlands as the main beneficiaries of slavery. Martyn Day, a senior partner at Leigh Day, says the case could one day be heard at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
South Sudan insists a controversial referendum on Abyei must be held this month. But observers say the vote is unlikely to go ahead. South Sudan has failed to reach a deal with neighbouring Sudan over who should be eligible to vote, despite efforts by African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki. The dispute focuses on Misseriya nomads. Khartoum believes these herders should be allowed to vote but Juba disagrees. Misseriya tribal leader Sadig Babo Nimir comments.
South Sudan has asked the African Union to hold an extraordinary summit on Abyei region. Abyei residents are supposed to vote this month on whether to stay in Sudan or to join South Sudan. But voter registration has barely started. Khartoum and Juba have failed to agree on who should be eligible to vote. Two groups live there: the Misseriyah who are mainly herders and the Ngoc Dinka who are mostly farmers. Zachariah Bol Deng a prominent Ngoc Dinka who lives in exile in Britain comments.
Kenyan business and government representatives are gathered in Nairobi for a conference aiming to attract more investment to the mining sector. In recent years most of Africa's new mines have opened in the west of the continent and east Africans want to attract more attention to their largely unexplored mineral deposits. Kenya has begun to redraft its colonial-era mining legislation to bring it up to date with modern investment practices. Cliff Otega, a Kenyan consultant who advises mining companies, is taking part in this week's Mining Business and Investment conference.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President Joseph Kabila has given the green light to the the creation of a new constitutional court - on the cards since the country adopted a new constitution seven years ago. This new body is set to play a leading political role. It is designed to oversee the electoral process. It will also play a key role if Kabila seeks to run for a third term in office. How independent will it be? Jason Stearns, the research director of The Rift Valley Institute's Usalama Project, gives his thoughts.
Today is international World Food Day. A report published by Action Against Hunger calls on countries to increase the quality of food production, not only the quantity. Hunger and malnutrition remain global problems. Some countries, including the three mentioned in the report, are beginning to have national policies that focus on the nutritional quality of their agricultural sector. Nutrition expert Etienne du Vachat says international organisations and donors must now work with governments to put good policies into action.
In the wake of the African Union's decision on Saturday to seek a postponement in the trial of Kenya's president and vice-president before the International Criminal Court, all eyes are now turning to the UN Security Council, which has the authority to grant the request. The trial of vice-president William Ruto started last month and that of President Uhuru Kenyatta is due to open on 12 November. The two leaders are indicted for their alleged involvement in post-electoral violence in Kenya at the end of 2007. But African heads of state argue that cases involving serving political leaders should be deferred to leave them free to run their countries until the end of their term, citing security concerns after the recent deadly terrorist attack on a Nairobi shopping centre. RFI discussed the next steps in the process with Francis Dako, the Benin-based lawyer who coordinates the African activities of the Coalition for the ICC, a global group of NGOs supporting the court.