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Summary

  1. Fifa's ex-boss reveals 'football plan' to persuade Burundi's president to step down
  2. Budget of South Africa's powerful Zulu king 'cut by 15%'
  3. Zambia's president 'shamed' by attacks on foreigners
  4. Ethiopian troops 'encircle abducted children'
  5. Protesters 'charged' in The Gambia
  6. Army colonel 'killed' in Burundi
  7. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Thursday 21 April 2016

Live Reporting

By Lucy Fleming and Farouk Chothia

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Thursday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from BBC Africa Live today. Keep up-to-date with what's happening across the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast or checking the BBC News website.  

A reminder of today's wise words:

Talk to a person who can understand and cook for a person who can be satisfied."

A Luvale proverb sent from Zambia by Erick Malambo and Evergreen Sazeka.

Click here to send us your African proverbs

And the Kenya Rugby Union has posted this photo on its Facebook page of its meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta today after the Kenyan team beat Fiji on Sunday to win their first Sevens World Series title:

Kenya's rugby team hoisting up President Uhuru Kenyatta
Kenya Rugby Union

'Barbie' saving Africa

An Instagram account charting the African adventures of "Barbie Savior" was launched six weeks ago.

The tongue-in-cheek entries seem to take a dig at aid workers who travel to Africa.

"My bags are packed, my heart ready, and arms open to love on those sweet sweet orphans in the country of Africa. I hope they like me, because I already love them," the post announcing her departure says.

A later entry says: "The country of Africa has captured my heart, and now, my heart has captured Africa!"

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Here are some other of her "snaps":

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Kenya demands ICC witness cases

Anthony Irungu

BBC Africa, Nairobi

Kenya has demanded that three Kenyans accused of interfering with witnesses at the International Criminal Court (ICC) be tried in Kenya.

Kenya’s Attorney-General Githu Muigai said that Kenya's courts were able to prosecute “small cases”.

His comments follow the collapse of the main ICC cases of those accused of organising violence following Kenya's 2007 election.

He said that the process of Kenya withdrawing from the ICC would be dealt with at an African Union level and that the East African state has not yet started the process of withdrawing.

Among the people against whom the ICC cases collapsed included President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

A supporter of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (poster), celebrates in the streets of Nairobi following the International Criminal Court's ruling to drop crimes against humanity charges against him, at the ICC courts at the Hague, on December 5, 2014.
AFP
Mr Kenyatta's supporters celebrated after charges against him were dropped

Analysis: How big is IS in Libya?

Rana Jawad

BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

If Islamic State (IS) fighters have finally been pushed out of Derna, it will be a significant development and seen as evidence of the militant group’s faltering presence in Libya.

Despite the alarm bells ringing over IS expansion in the North African state in recent months, many observers believe it remains a minor player in the bigger picture of Libya’s armed groups. 

Libya’s rival armed groups are largely united on the need to fight IS – but are unlikely to unite together on the battlefield.

Today, IS only has full control of the central city of Sirte and a stretch of territory on its outskirts.

An image purported to show Islamic State militants in the Libyan town of Sirte - 18 February 2015
AFP
Sirte is the birthplace of killed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

  Read more: Guide to Libya's militias

Touring Drogba's Abidjan hospital

Last week Ivorian football legend Didier Drogba said he would launch legal action against the British Daily Mail newspaper, after it claimed his charity had used just 1% of £1.7m ($2.5m) raised in the UK on projects to help Ivorians.

Some of their allegations centred on a hospital that the foundation built in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan.

It was due to open last year but is still not operational. The BBC's Tamasin Ford went to find out what's going on:

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In a statement the Daily Mail said: "Any suggestion that we did not visit the hospital or speak to the mayor is utterly unfounded. 

"Our investigative team visited the clinic site a number of times including the day before publication and accurately reported it was neither equipped nor open. 

"A locally based freelance journalist interviewed the Mayor, Paulin Claude Danho. The interview was taped with his permission and independently translated. We have not been served with any legal proceedings."

Islamic State 'kicked out of Libyan town'

Insurgents from the militant Islamic State group, also known as Daesh, have left the outskirts of Derna, residents in the Libyan town have told the BBC.

“Daesh have all left Derna – they have no presence here anymore,” said Hafeth Al-Dabaa, a spokesman for an alliance of local jihadist groups opposed to IS.

The BBC’s North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad says pictures on Facebook circulating since yesterday show residents celebrating in the small town on the north-eastern coast, which is some 720km (450 miles) from the capital, Tripoli.

Meanwhile, local media is reporting that forces loyal to the eastern Libyan administration is carrying out air strikes against the fleeing IS fighters. 

Image published by IS that the group says shows a billboard instructing women how to dress in Sirte
_
An IS image showing a billboard instructing women how to dress in its territory in Libya

  Read more: Control and crucifixions: Life in Libya under IS

Diarrhoea deaths in Mozambique

Jose Tembe

BBC Africa, Maputo

Eighteen people have died of diarrhoea in central Mozambique's Sofala province after drinking water from a contaminated well, officials say. 

Mozambique’s national director of public health, Francisco Mbofana, said a team was on its way to investigate the deaths in Sofala's Mwanza district, amid allegations that the well was poisoned. 

Thirteen other people who drank water have been hospitalised, but are out of danger, said local district administrator Admira Filimone. 

Magic in the air in Ivory Coast

Tamasin Ford

BBC Africa, Abidjan

Children at the Femua festival in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
BBC

Femua, one of the biggest urban music festivals in Africa, has kicked off in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, this week.

Vieux Farka Toure from Mali, Charlotte Dipanda from Cameroon and Elida Almedia from Cape Verde are just a few of the artists appearing on stage.

While the main concerts begin tomorrow night, there's loads going on at the festival site in Anoumabo each day: Ivorian DJs, dance groups, comedians, face painters, fire eaters and bouncy castles.

Organised by the Ivorian Zouglou group Magic System, this year the event is all about children and, for the first time, they had a special kids’ day on Wednesday.

Hundreds of children turned up for a day of dancing and singing which ended with Magic System coming on stage to sing their international hit, Magic in the Air:

Ivory Coast's Magic System

Ethiopian children held in 'jungle' area

More than 100 children abducted from Ethiopia last Friday were being held in an area of South Sudan which was "full of jungle", South Sudan's acting foreign minister Peter Bashir Gbandi is quoted by Associated Press news agency as saying. 

South Sudan's army chief of staff Paul Malong would fly to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, on Friday, to co-ordinate operations to rescue the children, he added, it reports.

"Those [the abductors] are criminals," the foreign minister added. 

A picture taken on March 22, 2012 shows thatched huts in the town of Kir in Gambella, Ethiopi
AFP
The children were abducted from Ethiopia's Gambella region

An Ethiopian official said their troops had crossed into South Sudan, and had encircled the area where the children were being held (see 09:04 post). 

Ethiopia has blamed the abduction on South Sudan's Murle community, which has history of conflict with the Nuer group, which lives on both sides of the border. 

The Murle have previously been accused of carrying out cattle raids, and abducting children to raise as their own. 

Mixed reaction to rhino horn decision

Wildlife groups are divided over the South African government's decision not to bush for the lifting of the global ban on the rhino horn trade. 

Welcoming the decision, the World Wildlife Fund said: 

Legal trade under current conditions would have been counter-productive."

However, South Africa's Private Rhino Owners Association condemned the decision, AFP news agency reports. 

Its chairman Pelham Jones said: 

The poachers will certainly be celebrating this decision because it ensures only illegal trade will continue and all benefits going to the criminals."

The carcass of a poached and mutilated white rhino lies on the banks of a river as a South African Police Services forensic investigator works on the crime scene on September 12, 2014 at Kruger National Park
AFP
Rhino horn is sold in powdered form as a supposed cure for illnesses such as cancer in Vietnam and China

SA backs ban on rhino horn trade

South Africa will not push for the lifting of the global ban on rhino horn trading, the government has said Thursday - rejecting pressure from some campaigners who say the ban encourages fuels poaching. 

The government's decision comes ahead of a meeting in South Africa in September of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), where the global ban can be reviewed.

A male white rhinoceros shows off his territury to another male at a game farm in Malelane 30 September 2004
AFP
Nearly 1,200 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa last year

Rhino breeders want the demand for rhino horns in Asia to be met by horns sawn off anaesthetised live animals, arguing that a legal source of horn could end poaching deaths.  

Last November, a South African court lifted a ban on the domestic trade in rhino horns in a case brought by two game farm breeders.

The government has said it will challenge that ruling in the Supreme Court of Appeal.

South Africa has around 20,000 rhinos, some 80% of the worldwide population.

It has stepped up its campaign to protect rhinos, often killed by poachers for their horns which can be sold for up to $60,000 (£41,000) on the black-market in China and other Asian states where they are used in traditional medicines. 

Sudan's girl band 45 years on

The Nightingales performing in Sudan
AFP

Sudan's best-loved girl band still raise whoops and cheers from their fans, 45 years after their debut, reports the AFP news agency after interviewing the three sisters who make up The Nightingales.

Amal, Hadia and Hayat Talsam began their career in 1971 – and their stylish bobs, matching dresses and their soulful ballads caused a stir in socially conservative Sudan, it reports.

"The Nightingales changed the way people looked at female artists in Sudan," Hadia is quoted as saying.

Amal Talsam holds a picture of herself when the band started in the early 1970s in Sudan
AFP
Amal Talsam with a photo of herself taken in the early 1970s

They broke up when two of the sisters moved away from Sudan in 1988, a year before current President Omar al-Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup.

But after two of them performed at a festival of Sudanese music in New York, the sisters decided to reunite in 2008 – and continue to draw large crowds in Khartoum.

The trio are confident they can win fans abroad and are keen to travel. When asked how they compared to the Supremes, who were signed with the Motown label in the 1960s.

“Honey, we're better than the Supremes. We came to their country, but they never came here,” Amal reportedly replied.

An audience for the Nightingales in Khartoum, Sudan
AFP
The Nightingales have fans of all ages

New TV channel launched

Africanews, a 24-hour news TV station targeting viewers across the continent, has launched from studios in Congo-Brazzaville's port city of Pointe-Noire.

Veronica Narkwor Kwabla, deputy chief editor of new pan-African news channel Africanews, is pictured during an online press conference following the launch of the Africanews TV station in the channel"s studio in Pointe-Noire, Congo, on April 20, 2016
Getty Images

The station is a subsidiary of established France-based network Euronews and broadcasts via satellite, digital terrestrial TV and online.

It says it is carried by pay-TV providers across Africa, reaching 7.3 million homes in 33 countries.

Read the full BBC story here

Get Involved: Zambia anti-foreigner riots

A Zambian Policeman apprehends an alleged looter in the Zingalume Compound where residents have attacked broken and looted foreign-run shops in Lusaka on April 18, 2016
AFP
More than 250 people were detained over the riots

Opinion is divided among our Facebook readers on the xenophobic violence which hit Zambia's capital, Lusaka, on Monday and Tuesday, with some even taking issue with our coverage. 

The riots started after rumours that Rwandans were behind recent ritual killings in the city.  

Prince M Kajila comments: 

BBC Africa should be preaching peace, not this nonsense I have seen in the past couple of days. Only two people died during the riots and looting (not that I am playing down the lives lost) but how many of our brothers and sisters been killed through the ritual killings."

Ernest C Sinyinza says:

Zambia remains a peaceful nation, no foreigner has been killed. But a few Zambians have been brutally killed and their private parts, hearts and kidneys removed."

Josephat Okeke disagrees: 

Zambia are now second to South Africa on xenophobia. What a shameful thing this is."

Dead Nigerian asked to referee game

A dead referee has been appointed for a football match in Nigeria on Sunday, says BBC football reporter Oluwashina Okeleji. 

Wale Akinsanya was appointed to referee the match between Warri Wolves and Giwa FC in the southern city of Warri, Nigeria's Punch newspaper reports

This is despite the fact that he died on 22 January 2016 during a Fifa Cooper Test, which assesses the fitness of referees, in Ibadan in south-west Nigeria, it adds.   

The appointment was made by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) faction led by Chris Giwa. 

Ansar Dine 'holding Red Cross workers' captured in Mali

Ansar Dine militants in 2012 in Mali
AFP
Ansar Dine militants have kidnapped foreigners in the past

Militant Islamist group Ansar Dine has said it is holding three Red Cross workers captured in north-eastern Mali last weekend.

"We have three people who work for the Red Cross," Nourredine Ag Mohamed, a senior militant in the group, told the AFP news agency.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed that four of its workers were intercepted on Saturday 16 April, and that one has been freed, the agency reports.

The aid group has not released the names or nationalities of those being held.

The workers had been camped in an area where French anti-terror forces were carrying out operations.

Ansar Dine was part of the jihadist alliance that took over northern Mali in 2012. France intervened to oust the groups from major towns but the insurgents still operate in the vast desert region.

Burundi confirms Fifa plan to remove President Nkurunziza

President Pierre Nkurunziza heading a football
AFP
President Pierre Nkurunziza is a trained football coach

Burundi's presidential spokesman has confirmed to the BBC Great Lakes service that President Pierre Nkurunziza was indeed approached last year by ex-Fifa boss Sepp Blatter, who tried to convince him to step down from power (see 10:46 post).

But Willy Nyamitwe said the plan did not work:

Some who tried it through Fifa... didn’t know that it wasn’t Nkurunziza’s decision. He didn't want to run to cling on power, it was the will of the political party members and many Burundians who wanted him to run because they saw him as legitimate.

So those who thought it was his decision rushed to persuade him from not running. But they were wrong… They thought he might be someone materialistic and if they offered him certain things he’d give up his duty to serve Burundians."

Willy Nyamitwe

Mr Nkurunziza’s spokesman also said Mr Blatter was being used by powerful Western nations, including some in European Union.  

The football-loving president announced his plans to run for a controversial third term in April 2015, sparking unrest. He went on to win elections in July.

Burundi officer killed 'on motorbike'

Three men armed with rifles and grenades shot dead Burundian army Colonel Emmanuel Buzubona while he was on his way home on a motorbike, his neighbour has told AFP news agency. 

Army spokesman Colonel Gaspard Baratuza confirmed yesterday's shooting in a northern suburb of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, saying the attackers first fired at the officer and then hurled a grenade at him, AFP reports. 

"A police inquiry is under way to try to find the assassins," the spokesman is quoted as saying.

AFP says Col Buzubona's driver was also killed in the attack. 

Zulu king's budget cut

The budget of South Africa's powerful Zulu king has been slashed by more than 15% as part of the government's cost-cutting drive, the local Daily News newspaper reports

King Goodwill Zwelithini 's household will receive 48.8m rand ($3.5m) during the 2016/2017 financial year, down from the 54.2m rand and 57.6m rand in the two previous financial years, it adds. 

The decision of the Kwazulu-Natal provincial government, led by the African National Congress, was condemned by the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). 

“We can’t have the dignity of His Majesty being undermined in any way,” said IFP MP Blessed Gwala, the newspaper reports.

However, Kwazulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu said "adequate measures" were in place to continue giving financial help to King Zwelithini, who has six wives and close to 30 children. 

“In terms of respect [for the monarch], we will do our utmost to succeed on this one,” he is quoted as saying.    

King Zw elithini
AFP
Goodwill Zwelithini is the monarch of South Africa's biggest ethnic group

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo told the Daily News that King Zwelithini was likely to accept the cut as South Africa was going through tough times. 

“He has to stand with his subjects,” he added.

“We all know we are in a drought and it has affected our lifestyles.”

Zambia's 'shame' over xenophobic riots

Meluse Kapatamoyo

BBC Africa, Lusaka, Zambia

Zambian President Egar Lungu (L) with Catholic priest Fr Charles Chilinda (C) and UNHCR country representative Laura Locastro (R)
BBC
Zambian President Egar Lungu with representatives from St Ignatius Church and the UN

Zambia's president has spoken of the country’s collective shame over the attacks on some foreign nationals. 

Riots started in the capital, Lusaka, on Monday after rumours that Rwandans were behind recent ritual killings in the city spread. 

More than 250 people have been arrested after more than 60 Rwandan-owned shops were looted in two days of violence.

Addressing more than 300 refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo who are sheltering at St Ignatius Church in Lusaka, President Edgar Lungu said he was ashamed that some of his citizens had attacked foreigners.

"I take full responsibility on behalf of the Zambian people. I also assure you of full protection and security of your person and property." 

Refugees at St Ignatius Church in Lusaka, Zambia
BBC
Refugees at St Ignatius Church in Lusaka, Zambia
b

The president also emphasised that the senseless violence in some parts of Lusaka are acts of criminality rather than xenophobia. 

Mr Lungu said he would work with the UN and church to resolve the matter.   

Mozambique's five-star squatters

Grande Hotel in Beira, Mozambique
Fellipe Abreu

The Grande Hotel in Mozambique's coastal city of Beira opened in 1955 - and was one of Africa's most luxurious hotels.

Since then it has acted as a political prison and is now home to 3,500 squatters - some of whom fled fighting during the civil war.

Journalist Fellipe Abreu visited the building, once dubbed the "Pride of Africa":

Grande Hotel in Mozambique
Fellipe Abreu
Grande Hotel in Mozambique
Fellipe Abreu

See more of his stunning photos in this gallery: Squatters of Mozambique's Grande Hotel.   

Rwanda demands France extradite genocide accused

Rwanda is pressing for the extradition from France of a Catholic priest accused of inciting the 1994 genocide which killed some 800,000 people, Rwanda's New times newspaper reports

Officials raised their demand for the extradition of Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka in talks in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, yesterday with prosecutor Serge Brammertz, who is mopping up genocide cases investigated by a now-defunct UN tribunal. 

A picture taken on January 29, 2006 shows Rwandan priest Wenceslas Munyeshyaka (C, foreground) attending a mass in Evreux, western France
AFP
Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka is exiled in France

He promised to press France to extradite the pastor and another accused, who fled Rwanda after the genocide, the newspaper reports.

Judicial officials in France dropped charges against Father Munyeshyaka last year, saying there was a lack of evidence to prosecute him. 

The UN tribunal, which tried genocide suspects, failed to secure his extradition in 2007, with a French court ruling that the arrest warrant was invalid.

South Africans queue for a coffee hit

The hashtag #StarbucksSA has been trending in South Africa as the US coffee giant opened the door of its first coffee franchise in sub-Saharan Africa this morning.

A journalist tweeting from the upmarket Johannesburg shopping centre captured the sense of excitement for those wanting to taste their first cup of Starbucks coffee:

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View more on twitter

"We've been queuing for 12 hours, since 7:30 last night and we wanted to be the first customers at Starbucks, and we were," 19-year-old student Mohamed Mala told the AFP news agency.

Here's another happy customer:

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But not everyone was so impressed:

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View more on twitter

And a stand-up comic put it into perspective:

View more on twitter
People queuing to vote in South Africa in 1994
AFP
People queued for many hours to cast their ballot in South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994

SA arms deal probe 'exonerates' President Zuma

Nomsa Maseko

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

A judge-led commission of inquiry has exonerated South Africa's President Jacob Zuma from facing more than 700 charges of corruption and racketeering related to the biggest purchase of arms after apartheid ended in 1994. 

The commission - chaired by Justice Willie Seriti - found no evidence of bribery in the deal, after a four-year investigation.

South African president and African National Congress's president Jacob Zuma sings and dances during the Party official launch of the Municipal Elections manifesto on April 16, 2016 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
AFP
The president has been dogged by allegations of corruption for more than a decade

In 2005, Mr Zuma was sacked as deputy president after his financial adviser Schabir Shaik was found guilty of trying to solicit bribes for him from a French arms company.  

Mr Zuma always denied any wrongdoing, and criminal charges against him were dropped. 

After he became president in 2009, he appointed a commission to investigate the arms deal. 

At a press briefing earlier today, Mr Zuma said there was no credible evidence placed before the inquiry to prove the multi-billion dollar deal was dodgy. 

This is despite the fact that some crucial witnesses refused to testify at the commission, describing it as a whitewash.

US diplomat in Nigeria

The US ambassador to the UN is in Nigeria to show solidarity with the government in its efforts to defeat militant Islmaist group Boko Haram, the BBC Abuja bureau reports. 

Samantha Power was expected to attend a rally organised by the Bring Back Our Girls group, which is spearheading the campaign to secure the release of more than 200 girls abducted from a boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok last April. 

US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power speaks with Multinational Joint Task Force Commander Maj. Gen. Lamidi Adeosun, right, as she departs their headquarters in N"Djamena, Chad, Wednesday 20 April 2016
AP
Ms Power has been meeting regional troops and refugees who have fled conflict

Ms Power, accompanied by military officials, has already visited Cameroon and Chad, two other states targeted by Boko Haram.

The Associated Press news agency reports that the instability in Libya has also been discussed - with neighbouring Chad's President Idriss Deby ruling out helping the US install the new unity government in the North African state. 

'Football plan' to oust Burundi's leader

Burundi leader playing football
Reuters
Burundi's leader owns a football club

Fifa's ex-leader Sepp Blatter has described how Swiss government officials wanted him to help in efforts to get Burundi's football-loving President Pierre Nkuruziza to step down after protests against his rule broke out last year, the respected World Soccer magazine reports

The claim is set out in his autobiography Sepp Blatter: Mission & Passion, Fussball, co-authored with loyal script-writer Thomas Renggli and which has just been published in German in Switzerland.

Last May, Swiss Foreign Minister Yves Rossier asked Mr Blatter to offer Mr Nkurunziza an "ambassadorship"  of the world football governing body, the book as says, according to the magazine. 

Mr Rossier made the request after being prompted by the US, but the plan fell through because he had other issues on his plate, Mr Blatter is quoted as saying. 

Comedian Simon Brodkin (not pictured) throws dollar bills at FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during a press conference at the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters on July 20, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland
afp
Mr Blatter was forced to step down amid a corruption scandal - he denies any wrongdoing

Mass protests broke out in Burundi last April after Mr Nkuruniza announced that he would seek to extend his 10-year rule in elections which he subsequently won.

Mr Blatter, a Swiss national, officillaly stepped down as Fifa president in February after the US launched an investigation into corruption in world football. 

Read more: President Nkrunziza's football club is called Hallelujah FC.

SA arms deal: What you need to know

One of the Saab Gripen fighter jets bought by the South African Airforce as part of the country's controversial arms deal, in Cape Town, 23 September 200
AFP

  • In 1999, the South African government announced its largest-ever post-apartheid arms deal, signing contracts totalling 30bn rand ($5bn; £2.5bn) to modernise its national defence force
  •  The deal involved companies from Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, France and South Africa
  • But allegations of bribery over the deal dogged the governments of both President Jacob Zuma and one of his predecessors, Thabo Mbeki
  • Mr Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik was convicted in 2005 of corruption over the deal. He was found guilty of trying to solicit a bribe from Thint, the local subsidiary of French arms firm Thales, on behalf of Mr Zuma - then deputy president
  •  Shaik was released on parole after serving just over two years on health grounds.  
  •  Another official, Tony Yengeni, who was the chairman of parliament's defence committee at the time of the deal and the chief whip of the governing African National Congress (ANC), was convicted of fraud in 2003. He was also freed on parole after serving five months of a four-year sentence  
  • Mr Zuma was also charged but the case was dropped before he took office in 2009
  • The South African commission of inquiry into a multi-billion dollar deal started in 2013
  • President Zuma announces today that after the inquiry no further charges are to be brought (see 10.13 post).

South Sudan 'breakthrough'

Charlotte Attwood

BBC Africa

I have just received a call from the spokesman for Riek Machar, South Sudan's rebel leader.

Mabior Garang said a plane has taken off from Gambella in Ethiopia to South Sudan's capital, carrying some of their soldiers and Simon Gatwech, their chief of staff.

This has been seen as a key obstacle to Mr Machar's arrival in Juba (see 10:03 post) as the rebel leader has insisted he needs to travel with his security detail and crucially his chief of staff.

The spokesman said this was "a breakthrough" but also said that Mr Machar would not be travelling today. 

Riek Machar
AFP
Riek Machar is to take up the position of vice-president in a unity government to end more than two years of conflict

BreakingNo charges over South Africa arms deal

BBC reporter tweets:

View more on twitter

This relates to an investigation into corruption over a major arms deal that was negotiated by South Africa’s government in the late 1990s.

A waiting game in South Sudan

It’s still a waiting game for South Sudan as rebel leader Riek Machar is yet to arrive in the capital, Juba.

He was supposed to come on Monday to take up the post of vice-president in a unity government to end the civil war.

Both sides accuse the other of being to blame for the delay.

The alleged sticking point concerns the troops and heavy weapons travelling with Mr Machar’s chief of staff.

There are reports of part of Mr Machar’s civilian party boarding a plane for Juba this morning from Ethiopia as this journalist tweets:

View more on twitter

Victory for Nigerian footballers and 'blinding' laser beams

Tunisian football fans in Sousse
EPA
Tunisians celebrated winning the game 3-0 but then lost on penalties

It was an exciting African Champions League match in the Tunisian coastal city of Sousse last night between local side Etoile du Sahel and Nigeria's Enyimba.

The Tunisians won the game 3-0 but it went to penalties because of Enyimba's 3-0 first leg advantage.

The Nigerian side won the shoot-out 4-2, and go through to the group stage.  

One photographer captured a green laser beam – which can distract players on the pitch and even damage their eyes, but are ubiquitous in North African clubs. 

A laser beam being used by a Tunisian football fan in Sousse
EPA

For more on last night's other matches: Mazembe knocked out by Wydad

Gambia protesters charged

Nearly 40 people have been charged in The Gambia for arranging a protest last week to demand electoral reform, court officials have said, Reuters news agency reports. 

The High Court said that 18 of the 37 have been charged on Wednesday with assembling unlawfully, rioting, inciting violence and interfering with vehicles, it reports. 

At least 50 people were arrested after the demonstration on Thursday in the tiny West African state, according to the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP). 

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia attends the 44th summit of the 15-nation west African bloc ECOWAS at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Foundation in Yamoussoukro on March 28, 2014
AFP
The president's critics accuse him of being authoritarian

Three people, including senior party member Solo Sandeng, are feared dead, the opposition has said. 

Fifteen were released on Tuesday, but the rest remain in custody, UDP sources are quoted by Reuters as saying.

The Gambia is due to hold elections in December, with President Yahya Jammeh expected to run for office again. 

He first took power in a coup in 1994.

Ethiopia operation to free abducted children

Emmanuel Igunza

BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

Ethiopian soldiers (file photo, March 2012)
AFP
The military is under pressure to rescue the children

Ethiopian troops have surrounded an area in South Sudan where more than 125 children abducted by armed attackers last week are suspected to be held,  a regional official has told local media. 

Gatluak Tut, an administrator in Ethiopia's Gambella region, said the children would be rescued soon and reunited with their families, nearly a week after they were seized by South Sudanese men who carried out a cross-border raid.  

map
BBC

Ethiopian troops have been conducting a massive military operation against the Murle attackers, saying they have already killed 60 of them and arrested several others. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents took to the streets in Gambella town early this morning in a peaceful demonstration to urge the government to do everything it can to rescue the children and enhance their security. 

On Wednesday, flags across Ethiopia were flown at half mast as the country started two days of mourning for the 208 people killed in what was one of the deadliest attacks along the border of Ethiopia and South Sudan in recent times. 

Ethnic communities along the border have often clashed over land and cattle, but the scale of this attacked has shocked many people.  

Protesters in Gambella
Hadra Ahmed
Residents of Gambella have marched to demand the freedom of the children

Burundi colonel 'killed'

Police at Burundi demonstration
AFP
Burundi has been hit by unrest since April 2015

An army colonel has been shot dead by unknown attackers in Burundi's capital, Bujumbura, the local SOS Medias Burundi group has reported. 

Col Emmanuel Buzubona was killed, along with a motorcycle rider, yesterday in a northern neighbourhood of the city, it reports. 

He is the latest of several army officers killed in Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza survived a coup attempt and mass protests following his decision last year to extend his decade-long rule.  

Read more about Burundi's tit-for-tat killings

Today's wise words

 Our African proverb of the day:

Talk to a person who can understand and cook for a person who can be satisfied"

A Luvale proverb sent from Zambia by Erick Malambo and Evergreen Sazeka

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

Good morning

Welcome to the BBC Africa Live page where we will bring you up-to-date news from around the continent.