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Summary

  1. We are trying out a new format for our Africa coverage. This is a test page
  2. Guinea starts paying $10,000 to the families of those who died in "active service" against Ebola - mainly health workers
  3. Dozens of women and girls abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants in Nigeria, residents say. No official confirmation
  4. Rwanda's parliament passes a resolution condemning the BBC over a recent programme about the genocide

Live Reporting

By Farouk Chothia and Neil Arun

All times stated are UK

Thank you and good night

That's the end of our live coverage of Africa today. You can stay abreast of the latest developments on the

BBC News website's Africa page or download the latest
Africa Today podcast.

We leave you with this photo of a woman walking past campaign posters in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, as the country prepares to go to the polls on Sunday. The parliamentary elections will mark the end of a transition period that has followed the ousting of long-serving ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

A woman walks with election posters behind her in Tunisia (23 October 2014)
AP

Nigeria's militant negotiations

Will Ross

BBC News, Lagos

tweets: "'The talks have not resumed yet' says Nigeria's government spokesman Mike Omeri. On talks this week with Boko Haram to free Chibok girls"

WhatsApp Ebola service

Man reading on his mobile phone
BBC

Since the launch last week of the BBC's Ebola WhatsApp service, we have added 10,500 subscribers.

The purpose of the account is to send out public health information content to WhatsApp users in West Africa.

Users can subscribe by sending "JOIN" or "JOINDRE" as a message to this number via WhatsApp: + 44 7702 348651.

Zambia at 50

BBC Focus on Africa TV editor Stephane Mayoux

tweets: "Coming up in #BBC #FocusonAfrica from 1730GMT @nomsa_maseko is in Lusaka, #Zambia to assess the mood as the country marks #ZambiaAt50"

Malawi's 'cashgate' investigator arrested

Raphael Tenthani

BBC News, Blantyre

The ex-policeman who headed the investigation into the biggest corruption scandal in Malawi - known as "cashgate" - has been arrested.

Nelson Bophani has been charged with misuse of public office and conspiracy to defeat justice.

This is a significant development - he was privy to all investigation files into a scandal which saw $30m (£19m) allegedly skimmed from the government by politicians, businessmen and civil servants.

Blood of Ebola survivors as treatment?

Bag of blood
Science Photo Library

An international team of scientists has been set up to determine the effectiveness of using the blood of Ebola survivors as a treatment.

It is hoped the antibodies used by the immune system to fight Ebola can be transferred from a survivor to a patient.

The study will start in Guinea and is led by the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium.

Mary Harper

BBC News

BBC World Service Africa editor Mary Harper

tweets: "UN and others say at least 30 people have been killed in clashes this week in Central African Republic #CARcrisis"

What's on Focus on Africa?

Coming up in the next 20 minutes on BBC Focus on Africa radio:

A Sierra Leonean pastor on losing 19 members of his family to Ebola

An exclusive interview with Puntland's president - he denies links with pirates

And you can hear the deep and bluesy voice of Madagascar's music star Lala Njava

Grace Mugabe: 'I can be Zimbabwe's president'

Zimbabwe's First Lady Grace Mugabe says she qualifies to be the next president because she is a citizen of the country.

This has further raised speculation about her real intentions in addressing countrywide rallies ahead of the ruling Zanu-PF's elective congress in December, says the BBC's Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare.

Mrs Mugabe, 49, made her latest comment while addressing Zanu-PF war veterans. She again called on Vice-President Joyce Mujuru to resign.

Mrs Mujuru is seen as a strong contender to succeed the 90-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

Equatorial Guinea amnesty

Equatorial Guinea's long-serving ruler has granted a general amnesty to opposition leaders convicted of political crimes, state media reports.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema said the decision was intended to "wipe the slate clean" ahead of a national dialogue aimed at resolving differences, it reports.

Severo Moto (2005)
AFP

It is unclear whether opposition leader Severo Moto (pictured above), exiled in Spain, will now return home. In 2004, he was sentenced in absentia to 62 years in prison for plotting a coup.

North Korea holidays on hold because of Ebola

North Korean border guard
Getty Images

North Korea is banning foreign visitors because of the threat of Ebola, according to tour operators who organise trips to the isolated communist country.

The latest Ebola epidemic has killed nearly 5,000 people in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, prompting declarations of a health emergency. However, there have not been any cases of Ebola reported in North Korea.

The country's government announced on Thursday that it was stepping up measures to screen for the disease - but did not confirm the ban on foreign tourists.

However, tour operators interviewed by Reuters and the Associated Press news agencies say their partners in North Korea have informed them of the new curbs.

North Korea rarely features on international travellers' itineraries. But a handful of tour operators have been offering closely chaperoned holidays in the secretive state.

North Korea also closed its borders in 2003 during the scare over the Sars virus, although no cases were reported in the country.

Resource-ful Somalia

Russell Padmore

Business reporter, BBC World Service

The chief executive of Soma Oil and Gas, a private UK company that is pursuing opportunities in Somalia, tells me seismic surveys in the region are promising.

"They need to stimulate exploration, they need to stimulate the development of a hydrocarbon regime, because they are in a prospective area," he says. "The neighbourhood is very busy and they need to catch up."

You can hear the full interview on Business Update on the BBC World Service.

Neighbours turn rivals at women's football final

AFP
AFP

The Cameroonian and Nigerian women's football teams are into the finals of the African Women's Championship in Namibia. This also means the neighbouring countries' teams have

both qualified for next year's Women's World Cup in Canada.

BBC football expert Farayi Mungazi

tweets: "#Nigeria's Super Falcons have now qualified for every World Cup since the tournament was born in 1991. #respect"

Guinea compensation for Ebola deaths

More news on Ebola, this time from Guinea, where the government says it is giving financial compensation to families of people who have died in "active service" fighting the virus, reports the BBC's Alhassan Sillah from the capital, Conakry.

The head of the government's Ebola response team told our reporter that eight families have already received about $10,000 (£6,200) each.

In total, the families of 42 doctors, nurses, drivers and porters have been identified for compensation, according to the government.

Ebola survivor's tips

Will Ross

BBC News, Lagos

Experts say one of the keys to surviving Ebola is rehydrating early. This can start as soon as one suspects Ebola - in other words, at home.

I interviewed a survivor whose fiancee died of Ebola. He says she was keen on getting the experimental ZMapp drug and saw those as her only chance of survival. He cared for her and caught Ebola, and now puts his survival partly down to rehydration.

Nigeria's $1bn loan

Tomi Oladipo

BBC, Lagos

Nigeria's lawmakers have approved a $1bn (£623m) loan - requested by the president in July - to upgrade military equipment and train more units battling militant Islamist group Boko Haram in the north-east.

Security already costs the country close to $6bn, roughly a quarter of the federal budget.

Tanzania referendum set for April

Tanzania's government says a referendum on a new constitution will be held in April - but the opposition has protested against this, the AFP news agency reports.

The planned constitution gives women equal rights in land ownership and parliamentary representation. It also sets limits on how many ministers the president can appoint.

However, the opposition says the document does not meet their demand for a stronger federal system of government which limits presidential powers.

Botswana poll campaign nears climax

Ruling party activists with posters of Ian Khama
AFP

Final campaign rallies are being held in Botswana ahead of tomorrow's parliamentary and local elections.

President Ian Khama's governing Botswana Democratic Party is expected to win with a reduced majority. It has been in power in the diamond-rich country since independence in 1966.

The BBC's Letlhogile Lucas in Gaborone says campaigning has passed without incident so far.

Pistorius 'cried himself to sleep' in jail

The Times of South Africa

has a story about Oscar Pistorius's first night in jail. The report quotes an unnamed prison source as saying that the athlete began crying after he was left alone in his cell.

''You could hear him... He was torn up. Broken. The crying went on and on. We think he stopped when he fell asleep. It was really bad," the source was quoted as saying.

Pistorius

was sentenced this week to five years in jail for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He is serving time at Pretoria's Kgosi Mampuru prison.

'Boko Haram seizes' Nigerian girls

Dozens of women and girls from two villages in Nigeria's north-eastern Adamawa state have been abducted by suspected Islamist militants, residents say.

The abductions have not been confirmed by the authorities, but residents say they took place on Saturday - a day after the military announced it had agreed a ceasefire with the Boko Haram group. Boko Haram has not confirmed the truce.

The government hopes Boko Haram will free more than 200 girls seized in April as part of negotiations.

The

BBC News website has more.

Tulip Mazumdar

Global health reporter

tweets on her return to the UK from a trip to Sierra Leone: Just arrived back at H'row and was taken aside for #Ebola screening. Was asked some basic Q's and had temp checked

Ebola information sheet
BBC

Money talks

First cashpoint in Somalia
BBC

Blogger Horn Analyst has this

tweet - citing an
article in The Guardian - about Somalia's first cash machine: "#Mogadishu's new ATM has no Somali language instructions"

Somalia's Foreign Minister Abdirahman Beileh

tweets back: "ATM =Progress but the road to success is always under construction. Luckily most Somalis speak many languages. Somali next"

The BBC reported on the

installation of the cash machine earlier this month. It only dispenses dollars - the currency most trusted in war-wracked Somalia.

Zambia leader's health

Nomsa Maseko

BBC News, Lusaka

Mr Banda and the BBC's Nomsa Maseko
BBC

Just interviewed Zambia's former President Rupiah Banda at his residence in Lusaka. He says news surrounding President Michael Sata's health should have been handled differently. Mr Banda also says Zambia has come a long way in the last 50 years. The former president also hinted that a return to politics is on the cards.

Earlier this week, Mr Sata's office said

the leader had travelled abroad for a medical check. This was the first official statement on the matter following months of speculation that the 77-year-old president is seriously ill.

Zambia celebrates the 50th anniversary of its independence on Friday.

Rwanda MPs attack BBC genocide film

Rwanda's parliament has condemned the BBC for broadcasting a documentary which questioned official accounts of the 1994 genocide in the country.

It approved a resolution calling on the government to ban the BBC in Rwanda and to charge the documentary-makers with genocide denial.

At least 800,000 people died in the genocide.

The BBC has denied that any part of its film, Rwanda, The Untold Story, constitutes a "denial of the genocide against the Tutsi".

The

BBC News website has more.

Umaru Fofana

BBC Africa, Freetown

tweets: African Union boss, Dlamini-Zuma just touched down on #SierraLeone soil for a couple of hours visit. 1st since #Ebola in region 7 mnths ago

South Sudan talks 'encouraging'

Tom Burridge

BBC News, Nairobi

The spokesman for South Sudan's army (SPLA) has told the BBC that it was "encouraging" that President Salva Kiir met the main leader of rebel forces in the country's civil war, former Vice-President Riek Machar, for peace talks in Tanzania on Monday.

However, the SPLA spokesman Col Philip Aguer said there was "no link" between the talks and the reality on the ground.

Col Aguer said that rebel forces continue to attack government positions in Upper Nile State.

He said talks are expected to reconvene in Arusha, in Tanzania in two weeks, and there could be separate talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Monday.

He also said he was "not aware" of an outline agreement, quoted in media reports, in which Mr Machar could reportedly be made prime minister, with Mr Kiir remaining as president.

'She keeps screaming until we're finished'

Female genital mutilation is outlawed in most countries but the practice still survives in some parts of the world, often carried out in secret. On the

latest edition of Newsday, the BBC's
Orla Guerin has a rare interview with an Egyptian woman who performs the procedure. The woman describes her work and insists she has not harmed any patients, despite not having any formal medical training.

"Even if a girl dies, her mother is not sorry," she says. "The most important thing is that her daughter is cleansed. That's why she brings her to me."

The cost of burying Mandela

South Africa's government paid nearly 200m rand (£11m; $18m) for the funeral of Nelson Mandela, according to a

report in the Independent Online.

The figure is based on revised estimates for spending on the funeral, from a budget statement by Finance Minister Nhanhla Nene. It includes 23m rand spent by the Department of Communications on broadcasting the event, and 42m rand spent by the Department of Transport on moving goods and people.

South Africa's first black president died in December 2013. Heads of state from across the world attended his funeral.

US soldiers at war with Ebola - and the weather

US soldier has temperate taken on arrival in Monrovia
Getty Images

One of the top soldiers overseeing the US military deployment to fight Ebola says his soldiers are building treatment centres across Liberia - including a hospital that will exclusively treat medical workers. And, he says, the biggest challenge the soldiers have faced so far has been the weather - Liberia is just emerging from its rainy season.

Brigadier General Peter Corey, the Deputy Commanding General of the US military team in Monrovia,

was talking to BBC Newsday presenter
Nuala McGovern.

Today's African proverb

When a tortoise embarks on a journey, he does not ask for directions because he does not want his enemies to know where he is going.

Sent by Sylvester, Nigeria

Welcome

Good morning and welcome to this edition of Africa Today - our live coverage of the continent.

We'll be here until 17:00 GMT with all the latest news from across Africa.

You can stay in touch using #africatoday.