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Summary

  1. SA politician to be investigated after saying colonialism was "not only negative"
  2. Delight as Ahmad becomes new Caf chief after beating Hayatou in vote
  3. Ghana defends high number of ministers
  4. Huge diamond found in Sierra Leone
  5. US funding for development and aid faces huge cuts under Trump's draft budget
  6. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Thursday 16 March 2017

Live Reporting

By Tom Spender and Hugo Williams

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Thursday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from the  BBC Africa Live  page 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 our proverb of the day:

An elder's advice will stay late in the bush but will not pass the night there."

A Wolof proverb sent by Semega Janneh, Banjul, The Gambia, and Sally Jallow, Bristol, UK

Click here and scroll to the bottom to send us your African proverbs

And we leave you with this photo of a Kenyan student looking through a "travelling telescope". Watch the full video about astronomer Susan Murabana's project here .

Students looks through giant telescope alongside
BBC

Sufi leader dies in Senegal

Sammy Maina

BBC Monitoring

Tivaouane
Getty Images
Mr Sy was buried in Tivaouane

The head of one of Senegal's influential Sufi Muslim orders - who spent his life promoting an open and tolerant interpretation of the religion - has died aged 91, local media reports.

Serigne Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Sy headed the Tijaniyya, the largest of four Sufi brotherhoods that dominate religious life in Senegal, AFP reports.

He believed that Islam had to evolve with society as it changed, which is in stark contrast to the austere and intolerant interpretation favoured by Islamist militant groups in the region.

Mr Sy was buried on Wednesday night in Tivaouane near the capital, Dakar.

He will be succeeded by Serigne Abdoul Aziz Sy "Al-Amine", formerly the group's spokesman, Walfadjiri reported.

Sufism is an offshoot of mainstream Islam which focuses on meditation, inner purity and finding a mystical pathway towards God. 

Malawian Airlines all-female flight land in Dar es Salaam

Malawian Airlines' all-female crew pictured on the runway
Munira Hussein

A Malawian Airlines flight exclusively operated and supported by women has landed in Tanzania's commercial capital Dar es Salaam from Blantyre, as shown in these shots taken by a BBC Swahili colleague Munira Hussein. 

Women were in charge of every single aspect of the flight operation, from cockpit to cabin, check-in to customer care, and air traffic control to ground handling. 


          Malawian pilot Captain Yolanda Kaunda and her co-pilot in the cockpit
Munira Hussein
Captain Yolanda Kaunda (L) and co-pilot Mwenifumbo Lusekelo (R)

The aim of the flight, the first of its kind for the for the national carrier, was to encourage young girls and women who aspire to pursue careers in aviation but are under the impression that it is a male-dominated industry. 

Malawian Airlines is owned by the Malawi Government (51%) and Ethiopian Airlines (49%).  


          All female crew of Malawian airlines pose for a photograph outside the aircraft on the runway
Munira Hussein

Meanwhile in other East Africa aviation news, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was snapped by the BBC's Emmanuel Igunza getting to grips with an Ethiopian Airlines flight simulator on a visit to Addis Ababa:

Boris Johnson in a cockpit of a flight simulator
BBC

Guinea massacre suspect charged

Alhassan Sillah

BBC Africa, Conakry

Toumba
AFP/Getty
Diakite was extradited from Senegal earlier this month

State media has announced that formal charges have been brought against Commander Aboubacar Diakite, alias Toumba, over his alleged role in the 2009 massacre of 157 protesters and the rape of women at Conakry’s main football stadium.

The state broadcaster, quoting a communique from the justice ministry, stated that the former aide-de-camp to ex military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara has been charged with murder, rape, disappearances and torture, among other offences.

Diakite, who was extradited from neighbouring Senegal on Sunday following seven years on the run, was remanded in custody at the main prison in Conakry after the charges were read out to him.

One of his lawyers, Yomba Kourouma, criticised the decision to detain his client, arguing that others who have also been indicted over the massacre remain free and are continuing their jobs in top positions in the Alpha Conde regime.

'Blended pepper assault' suspect granted bail in Accra

A Lebanese restaurant worker who allegedly punished an employee by rubbing her face into a bowl of freshly blended pepper has been bailed by a magistrate court in the Ghanaian capital Accra, local media report.

Jihad Chaaban has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, offensive conduct and causing harm. 

The case has sparked a public outcry, with more than 2,500 people signing a petition to boycott the Marwako fast food chain. 

The case has been adjourned until 20 March.

Comic book festival opens at Ivory Coast attack town

The Cocobulles festival of comics and illustration has opened in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast, after a 10-year absence.

Founder Lassane Zohore told RFI that the festival had chosen the seaside town - where 19 people were killed by Islamist militants a year ago - to send a message of defiance.

We are sending a strong signal against terrorism. Some of our colleagues lost their lives. We have to be able to talk about all subjects. It's like the conquest of freedom. It happens very softly."

comic
EPA
comic
EPA
comic
EPA

Read more: How I survived the Ivory Coast beach attack

Zuma: 'No crisis' over welfare payments

Zuma
EPA
Zuma defended his colleague Bathabile Dlamini

South African President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday there was no "crisis" amid uncertainty over whether welfare payments would be made to 17m people next month because of a dispute with the company contracted to handle the payments.

The welfare system - which includes more than 11m child support grants - is a lifeline for the country's poor.

Mr Zuma told parliament his government was "doing everything possible" to ensure welfare payments are distributed.

He also defended Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who has criticised by South Africa's Constitutional Court over the crisis, amid calls for her to be sacked.

It comes after a 2014 decision that the contract between the government and service provider Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) was unlawful.

The government had until the beginning of April this year to take over responsibility for social service payments or find a new provider - but it has done neither.

CPS has said the issue must be resolved by the end of today or April's welfare payments may not be made on time.

Read more: What happens if SA benefits are not paid?

Deadly attack on South Sudan aid convoy

BBC World Service


          Nyebol Joul Nhial prepares the land for maize cultivation in Ngop in South Sudan"s Unity State on March 10, 2017
AFP
Famine has been officially declared in some parts of South Sudan

Gunmen in South Sudan have attacked an aid convoy in the centre of the country, killing two people. 

Three others were wounded, including a health officer working for the International Organization for Migration. 

The aid workers had been treating a cholera outbreak in the town of Yirol, 200km north of the capital, Juba

The head of the IOM, William Lacy Swing, condemned the attack which he said happened in an area of the country in dire need of assistance.

Parts of South Sudan have been declared to be in famine after three years of civil war and a severe drought.

Read more: Emerging from the swamp in South Sudan

SA politician to be investigated over colonialism tweets


          Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Helen Zille gestures after casting her ballot for the general elections on May 7, 2014 at a polling station in Cape Town.
AFP
Helen Zille (R) pictured in 2014, is known for making controversial comments

South Africa's former main opposition leader Helen Zille will face a disciplinary process from her own Democratic Alliance (DA) party after posting tweets suggesting that the legacy of colonialism was not all negative (see previous entries).

In an interview with Talk Radio 702, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said:

It has been referred to a disciplinary process. I have come out as a South African and condemned it. The wording is indefensible."

On his own Twitter profile, he made his views on the comments from his party's former leader plain, while not addressing calls for her to stand down:

View more on twitter

The radical opposition EFF party rejected Ms Zille's apology for her comments and called for her to be removed from her post as leader of Western Cape province, launching a scathing attack on her character:

It is a fact that many racist white people sit on dinner tables when black people are not there and express their cold-hearted racism; this is what Helen Zille truly is; a cold-hearted racist who believes that colonialism, which was crime against the humanity of black people, is not a bad thing."

A Western Cape branch of the governing ANC party has also called on the outspoken former opposition leader to stand down over the comments, which have sparked outrage on social media. 

BBC correspondent: My diamond find paid for my university fees

Umaru Fofana

BBC Africa, Freetown

panning for gold
Getty Images

As a huge diamond is found in Sierra Leone, the BBC's Umaru Fofana recounts his own experience of searching for precious gems.

Growing up in eastern Sierra Leone, becoming an artisanal miner was the natural thing to do.

I dug the river beds for gravel and extracted the muddy earth looking for the bounty.

The diamond deposits were sometimes so close to the surface that it was common for people to pick up tiny gemstones that had been loosened by a heavy downpour. I did that once or twice myself.

After writing my school-leaving exams I took to full-scale mining to help pay for university.

There were three of us in our gang, as a group of miners is known. We worked illegally, so we did it in a hurry before security men could catch us.

One day, as I shook the sieve under the water to wash the mud off the stones, I saw a sparkling object.

I lifted up the sieve and spotted what we had all been looking for. We then fled.

My share of the two-carat diamond paid my university fees.

Read the full story here

State dept chief Tillerson defends proposed aid cuts

us aid
AFP
USAID faces a potential funding cut of 28%

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has defended swingeing budget cuts to his own department proposed by President Donald Trump.

Speaking in Japan, he said the level of state department spending in the past had been "simply not sustainable" and he willingly accepted the "challenge".

If Congress backs the budget, and that is far from a done deal, the state department and USAID face cuts of 28%.

Will the budget ever be passed anyway?

The budget is submitted to Congress as a series of bills - the "annual appropriations bills". In order for each to succeed, it has to get 60 votes in the Senate, where the Republicans have 52 seats to 48 for the Democrats.

At least eight Democrats would have to vote for the cuts or at least refuse to obstruct it. Given the level of Democratic animosity towards Mr Trump, those possibilities look slim.

Meanwhile, several Republicans have publicly opposed moves to slash funding for diplomacy and foreign aid.

Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate subcommittee responsible for the budgets, said last month: "It's dead on arrival - it's not going to happen. It would be a disaster... If you take soft power off the table then you're never going to win the war."

Read the full story here

These are the world's five largest diamonds


          The Star of Sierra Leone, the world's fourth biggest discovery, was found in 1972
AFP
The Star of Sierra Leone, the world's fourth biggest discovery, was found in 1972

A Christian pastor has discovered one of the world's largest uncut diamonds in Sierra Leone's Kono district.

The diamond, weighing 709 carats, is now locked up in Sierra Leone's central bank in Freetown. It is one of the 20 largest diamonds ever found.

Here are the top five:

1. Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905, weighed 3,107 carats

2. Lesedi La Rona, found in Botswana in 2015, weighed 1,111 carats

3. Excelsior Diamond, found in South Africa in 1893, weighed 995 carats

4. Star of Sierra Leone, found in Sierra Leone in 1972, weighed 969 carats

5. Incomparable Diamond, found in DR Congo in 1984, weighed 890 carats

Source: Mathew Nyaungwa, Rough and Polished

Read the full story here

African FA heads react to Ahmad's election

The leaders of various African nations' football associations have been reacting to the shock election of a new president for the continent's football governing body CAF.

Ahmad, until now head of Madagascar's FA, will take over from Issa Hayatou, who has held the post for the past 29 years. 

I'm happy, elated, it is great. This is the change we were talking about, it is good for African football.

Isha Johansen, president of Sierra Leone's football association

          Isha Johansen is the only female president of a football association in Africa
.
Isha Johansen is the only female president of a football association in Africa

She went on:

I want people to understand that this was not a campaign against personalities, this was about changing the face and image of the African continent through football - and changing African football for the better.

I always felt that Ahmad would get the ticket. Celebrations will happen but then he needs to start working, there is a lot to be done but we are all here to support him."

Musa Bility has led the Liberia FA since 2010
Zoom Dosso
Musa Bility has led the Liberia FA since 2010

Africa has made a decision, we are moving forward with football and we have chosen change over the last leadership.

Musa Bility, president of the Liberian FA

Ahmad is crying for all of us. I have been though struggle - I have been suspended. Today I am very proud of the effort and I want to thank all of my colleagues for making this possible.

We have proved to the world that we are ready for the change that is blowing in football across the world.

We believed, we are human, we have seen changes in Europe and in Fifa... everywhere in football in the last 18 months there have been changes. We could not allow ourselves to be left behind. We want to be on that train of change."

Read the full story here

No cut to Aids funding in Trump budget

budget
Reuters

US President Donald Trump's draft budget would not cut funding for Aids programmes, documents show.

The draft budget would "maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment" under PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which is the world's largest provider of Aids medication, Reuters reports. 

The programme has been credited with saving millions of lives, many of them in sub-Saharan Africa - which could be reversed were funding to be cut - and enjoys bipartisan support. 

The budget would also meet US commitments to the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the documents said. 

If passed by Congress, Mr Trump's proposed 28% budget cut for US diplomacy and foreign aid next year would reduce funding for the UN and climate change.

How internet access is changing school life

Investment in computer technology said to be reaping benefits
The Trom Basic School in Koforidua, Ghana, is seeing the benefit of being connected to the internet. It has 420 pupils aged 4 to 18 and computers that are linked to the web is a relatively new initiative. Elsewhere in the country access to the internet is patchy -  and often very expensive. Julian Keane found out what the children make of their connection to a world of information. 



(Photo: Information Technology teacher Francis Agyare Appah with pupils at Trom School)

Al-Shabab 'distributing famine aid'

Tomi Oladipo

BBC Monitoring's Africa security correspondent

shabab
Getty Images
Al-Shabab has previously attacked aid agencies and stopped aid from getting through

As aid agencies call for urgent assistance for victims of a drought in Somalia, the Islamist militant group al-Shabab says it has been distributing food aid to those in need. 

The UN says Somalia is on the brink of famine with 6m people - more than half of the country - requiring aid. 

Al-Shabab has largely opposed the work of aid agencies in Somalia, even those relating to the ongoing drought. The group accuses these organisations of providing food "full of chemicals that cause diseases".

On its online and radio platforms, it is now saying that its militants have been providing water, wheat flour, rice, sugar and cooking oil for drought-stricken Somalis.

It's not clear where al-Shabab gets its food. It claims it buys some produce from local markets but militants are known to illegally tax local communities - even looting villages where residents have put up any resistance.

The group has criticised the international response to the crisis, claiming the UN agencies are not effective despite their huge funding.

During the famine of 2011, militants blocked the delivery of relief material and attacked aid workers.

Al-Shabab is attempting to position itself as a governing authority in the parts of Somalia it controls - enforcing its own judicial, tax and even educational systems. It is actively trying to win over the support of local communities and turn them against the internationally-backed government of Somalia.

Read more: Who are Somalia's al-Shabab?

map
BBC

Why transgender Africans turned against Chimamanda Adichie

Miss Sahhara beauty queen
Miss Sahhara
Miss Sahhara says transgender women in Nigeria rely on online communities for support

A leading African writer has transfixed the internet with her comments on gender - but fellow Nigerians say they feel hurt.

Transgender women in Africa have benefited from "male privilege" because they grew up as men. With this argument, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie kicked off a vexed discussion, trending everywhere from Facebook to  Teen Vogue .

But a less noticed discussion has been the pained one among gay and transgender Nigerians. BBC Trending has been speaking to the leading voices.

It all began last weekend when Adichie, a best-selling Nigerian novelist and outspoken feminist, was asked in an interview with  Channel 4 News  whether a transgender woman was "any less of a real woman."

She replied: "trans women are trans women."

I think if you've lived in the world as a man with the privileges the world accords to men, and then switched gender, it's difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman, and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are."

Read the full story here

Why is Ghana's 'supersized' government being criticised?

Akwasi Sarpong

BBC Africa


          President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo (C) during Ghana Independence Day celebrations in Accra, Ghana, 06 March 2017.
EPA
Nana Akufo-Addo pictured at celebrations for Ghana's 60th independence anniversary this month

The government in Ghana is on the back foot after President Nana Akufo-Addo nominated 110 ministers and deputies, prompting an outcry from the opposition and others about the size of the new administration.

The disapproval being expressed by many Ghanaians on social media shows a growing level of public dissent over the move. 

Voters rejected the previous government of President John Mahama, angry at the poor management of public funds, perceived corruption and unfulfilled hopes over the promise of oil wealth. 

With the government hit by a decline in revenue due to a sluggish economy, there is little public appetite for spending even more money funding salaries, allowances and perks for those in public office. 

UN appeals for $166m to tackle N Kenya drought

pastoralists
AFP

The UN is asking for $166m (£135m) to address the consequences of drought on communities in northern Kenya.

Three years of unreliable rains have caused thirst and hunger after destroying livestock and leading to the spread of disease, the UN says.

The number of severely food insecure Kenyans has doubled to 2.6m in less than a year. 

More than 357,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers are acutely malnourished, the UN says.

Conditions are likely to deteriorate further if the next rain season fails as predicted.

Last month Kenya declared the drought, which has affected as much as half the country, a national disaster.

Read more: Are Kenya ranch invasions driven by drought or politics?

African football's new boss Ahmad: My election was first step

New Caf president Ahmad is held aloft
ZACHARIAS ABUBKER
Ahmad is held aloft after being elected Caf president

The newly elected head of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has been speaking to the BBC after his shock win, defeating incumbent Issa Hayatou after 29 years as president (see previous entries).

Madagascar FA chief, Ahmad, who will now run African football's governing body, was visibly emotional as he spoke to the BBC's Piers Edwards after the result in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa:

I can't talk at this time. Only one thing - I thank God, I thanked my team. We worked hard but we won.

That was the first step. The second step is to develop African football. Some days I thought I would win - today I didn't.

Read the full BBC Sport story 

Cuts to US aid 'could cause millions of deaths'

Aids drugs Malawi
AFP
The number of people on Aids drugs would fall if the US cut support

The Economist magazine says that while cutting money for aid plays well in US domestic politics, it may be harder to achieve than Mr Trump may think.

Cuts to funding for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), for example, "could cause millions of deaths", the magazine says.

The analysis says:

Fighting HIV accounts for about $7bn of America's $34bn foreign economic assistance budget. America is responsible for about two-thirds of the global funding of international assistance for HIV, which flows mostly to sub-Saharan Africa.

And 80% of funding for HIV programmes there comes from donors. In countries including Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Namibia and Tanzania all publicly financed antiretroviral treatments are funded by donors.

It is not plausible that a dramatic cut in American funding would be made up by other donors or by recipient countries - and that suggests that the number of people on antiretrovirals would fall."

Deaths would follow quickly, the magazine says.

Watch: Five things about Aids in Africa

Hundreds queue for TV anchor jobs in Kenya

Queue snakes round the corner outside Kenyan media building
BBC

Hundreds of hopeful graduates have turned up to the offices of a Kenyan TV news channel in the capital, Nairobi, after it advertised vacancies for news anchors. 

It is not clear how many positions it is looking to fill, though one source told a BBC colleague in Nairobi that there were three presentation jobs up for grabs.

People have been sharing video showing the long queue snaking round the side of the building and all the way down the road:  

View more on twitter

Moroccan king replaces PM

BBC World Service

King Mohammed VI
AP
King Mohammed VI wields huge influence in Moroccan politics

King Mohammed VI of Morocco has announced that he's replacing the country's prime minister, following a failure to form a coalition government. 

A statement from the royal palace said that in order to break the current political deadlock, the king would appoint another member of the leading party - the PJD - as prime minister, replacing Abdelilah Benkirane. 

The PJD won the most seats in parliamentary elections in October 2016. 

It has failed to form a coalition despite five months of negotiations - the longest time Morocco has been without a government in recent history.

What does Hayatou's defeat mean for African football?

Piers Edwards

BBC Africa Sport, Addis Ababa

Ahmad
AFP
Ahmad is the new chief of African football's governing body CAF

This is huge - the end of an era.

It could a shift from what critics say was a closed shop to one which is now expected to be far more open. 

We can expect changes in governance, financial transparency and grass roots football under the new leadership of Madagascar's Ahmad.

Ahmad, who few had heard of before January, was very emotional afterwards.

He could hardly find the words to speak. 

He has managed to do what no one has ever done - beat Issa Hayatou, the man described by his critics as a football autocrat - in an election. 

The wind of change has blown very strongly today.

Humanitarian work 'to take a beating' under US cuts

Humanitarian-focused news website IRIN has been looking at the potential impact of big cuts in US funding to the United Nations .

Its analysis says the US provides about $10.4bn (£8.5bn) to international organisations, of which $8.8bn goes to the UN.

Countries' spending on the UN is divided into assessed funding - which is obligatory - and voluntary funding.

Voluntary funding covers most emergency and humanitarian work and IRIN says that cuts to funding for the World Food Programme, the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) and the children's fund Unicef appear almost inevitable if Mr Trump's budget is approved.

View more on twitter

Puntland forces in firefight with pirates on hijacked tanker

BBC World Service

Somali pirate walks along a beach
Getty Images
The latest hijacking off the Somali coast could mark the return of a lucrative business

Naval forces from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in Somalia have exchanged gunfire with pirates who've hijacked an oil tanker, holding eight Sri Lankan crew hostage.

The director general of the maritime forcem Abdirahman Mohamud Hassan, said they tried to intercept a boat that was carrying food supplies to the hijackers, but the pirates on board the tanker fired at the naval forces and the supply boat escaped. 

The Aris-13 tanker is anchored near the coastal town of Alula. 

The ship sent out a distress signal on Monday, saying it was being approached by high-speed boats.

Read more: Is piracy coming back to Somalia?

'Football earthquake' as CAF veteran leader Hayatou defeated


          A combination photo made on March 14, 2017 shows Malagasy Football Federation president Ahmad Ahmad (L) in Antananarivo on February 13, 2017 and Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou in Zurich on January 11, 2016.
AFP
Ahmad (L) will replace Issa Hayatou (R) after nearly three decades

It's official. Issa Hayatou has lost the Cofederation of African Football (CAF) election. 

The new head of African football will be Madagascar's Ahmad:

View more on twitter

BBC Africa's Farayi Mungazi has been around for decades himself, but even he thinks this is a landmark moment:

View more on twitter

White SA ex-opposition leader apologises for colonialism tweets

Zille
AFP

The former leader of South Africa's main opposition party, Helen Zille, has apologised for comments she made on Twitter urging people not to focus only on the negative legacy of colonialism. 

Here are the initial posts which quickly led to her name trending on Twitter across the country:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Less than 90 minutes later, the former Democratic Alliance leader and current head of the country's Western Cape province had apologised "unreservedly" for her comments:

View more on twitter

Some South Africans online have condemned her for ignoring the scale of human suffering caused by colonialism:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Does hijacking herald new wave of Somali piracy?

Frank Gardner

BBC Security Correspondent


          The EU Naval Force patrols off the coast of Mogadishu to thwart any potential pirate attacks in the region, 5 September 2013
Getty Images
The EU anti-piracy naval force off the coast of Mogadishu in 2013

The hijacking of a merchant fuel tanker by pirates off the Somali coast this week has sent shockwaves through parts of the shipping industry.

It is the first successful hijacking of a major commercial vessel in the Somali Basin since 2012 and is prompting debate over whether shipping companies have become complacent about the risk of maritime piracy. 

So will this latest hijacking be a wake-up call that prompts more precautions being taken at sea or will it signal the start of a new wave of piracy? 

Worryingly, the factors that drove many Somali coastal fishermen to become pirates nearly a decade ago are still there. 

Somalia is currently in the grip of a famine and poverty is widespread; there are few employment options for young people. 

Read the full piece


          Radar on board the protection team's vessel monitors suspect vessels
Frank Gardner/BBC
Radar on board the protection team's vessel monitors suspect vessels

Issa Hayatou calls for 'unity'

Hayatou
Khalid Desouki
Hayatou is desperate to cling to power

Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou has called on the body to be united "whatever may be your decision" in the election.

Hayatou, who is attempting to win an eighth term in office, and Madagascar Football Association chief Ahmad are the two candidates for the presidency.

Many African federations have refused to say who they will back.

"Issa has never faced a challenge like this and he has had to call in some favours," one Caf executive member said.

Read the full story here

Voting underway in CAF leadership election

Delegates are choosing between Cameroon's Issa Hayatou, who has been in charge of Africa football for nearly three decades, and Ahmad from Madagascar, who has campaigned on a platform of administrative reform, financial transparency and a potential reorganisation of Caf competitions.

BBC Sport's Piers Edwards is at the congress in Addis Ababa: 

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Read more:Battle at the top of African football

Sierra Leone pastor finds huge diamond


          Artisanal, or freelance, miners are a common site in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich Kono district
Olivia Acland
Artisanal, or freelance, miners are a common site in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich Kono district

A Christian pastor has discovered one of the world's largest uncut diamonds in Sierra Leone's Kono district.

The diamond, weighing 709 carats, is now locked up in Sierra Leone's central bank in Freetown. 

It is one of the 20 largest diamonds ever found.

Freelance, or artisanal, miners are common in Sierra Leone's diamond-rich areas, reports the BBC's Umaru Fofana.

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

But there are questions over whether the community will benefit from the discovery, he adds.

The diamond, which has not yet been valued, is the biggest to be discovered in Sierra Leone since 1972, when the 969-carat Star of Sierra Leone was dug up.

Sierra Leone is well known for its diamond industry but it has had a chequered history.

Diamond sales partly fuelled the country's decade-long civil war when rebel groups exchanged them for weapons.

Row over Ghana's 'elephant-sized' government

President Nana Akufo-Addo
AFP
President Nana Akufo-Addo was inaugurated in January

The Ghanaian government has defended itself against accusations of running an "elephant-sized" government, after new appointments announced on Wednesday brought the number of ministers and deputy minsters to 110. 

The ministries of Information, Energy, Agriculture and Local Government will each have three deputy ministers, if the appointments from newly-elected President Nana Akufo-Addo are passed. 

Opposition politician Haruna Iddrisu criticised the size of the government, telling local media that it would "feed" off the public purse.   

"We never promised a lean government," Information Minister Mustapha Hamid told media in response to the criticism. 

The size of the government was necessary to assist the president's ambitious development agenda, he added. 

Mr Akufo-Addo, from the New Patriotic Party, was elected on his third attempt to reach the post, after a campaign dominated by the country's faltering economy.   

Kenya's galaxy explorer

Susan Murabana did not have an easy time following her passion for the planets growing up in Nairobi, Kenya. 

The country had no planetarium, few astronomers and access to a telescope was impossible. 

But now with her Travelling Telescope initiative she wants to inspire a new generation.

Kenya's Susan Murabana explores the stars

Trump proposes massive aid cuts

Trump
AP
Mr Trump wants to cut aid funding and close aid agencies

US funding for international aid and development through the UN and its own agencies could be slashed to boost funding for the US military and plans to build a wall between the US and Mexico under President Trump's first budget proposals.

If approved by Congress, the proposals would see State Department funding cut by $10.9bn (£8.9bn) or 28% and Environmental Protection Agency funding cut by $2.6bn or 31%.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the "core functions" of those agencies would be preserved - so the cuts would target foreign aid, grants to multilateral development agencies like the World Bank and climate change programs at the UN.

Some foreign military grants would be shifted to loans.

Cuts to other departments would also end foreign assistance programmes. Plans to cut funding to the Health Department specifically call for the end of a division that focuses on global health.

Meanwhile a 21% cut to the budget of the Agriculture Department would end a popular programme that helps US farmers donate crops for overseas food aid.

Mr Trump also wants to close a raft of independent agencies funded by tax dollars.

They including the US Institute of Peace - which works to prevent, mitigate and resolve violent conflict around the world - and the African Development Foundation  (USADF), which provides seed money and other support to African-owned and led enterprises in poor and vulnerable communities in about 20 African countries.

The USADF says it has committed $53.5m into 325 grants ranging from core agriculture sustainability and market programmes to work with young entrepreneurs, vulnerable populations and promoting off-grid electricity.

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