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  1. Uganda confirms armyworm outbreak in 20 districts
  2. Tanzania's president warns media to "be careful" in their coverage
  3. Uganda confirms outbreak of crop-eating pest
  4. Egypt's ex-President Mubarak 'allowed to go free'
  5. Gambia pledges truth and reconciliation commission
  6. DR Congo's Katanga to compensate his victims
  7. Tanzania to investigate incident when gun was pointed at sacked minister
  8. Email stories and comments to - Friday 24 March 2017

Live Reporting

By Hugo Williams and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Friday'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 today's wise words:

Mere strength does not denote chieftainship, otherwise the hornbill would be king of the birds."

Sent by Julian Dzikunu, Accra, Ghana

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

And we leave you with this image from our selection of top shots from the week in Africa.

It shows a contestants performing during the annual Ingoma traditional Zulu dance competition in Durban, South Africa.  

Dancer raising her leg above her head

Russian involvement in Libya 'undeniable' - US

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The head of US military operations in Africa, asked about the presence of the Russian military in Libya, has said that there are "Russian troops in the area", Reuters news agency reports. 

It follows reports , denied by Russia, that it had deployed special forces to a military base in Egypt near to the border with Libya.

Gen Thomas Waldhauser said that the link between Russia and Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who opposes the country's UN-backed government, was "undeniable".

Gen Haftar is allied to a rival administration based in the eastern city of Tobruk, which rejects the authority of the government in the capital Tripoli.

Libya remains regionally split with two centres of power that politically oppose each other, and a myriad of rival armed groups that the country's two governments cannot control.

Extremist groups, including so-called Islamic State (IS), gained a foothold in Libya after Nato-backed forces ousted veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.   

He also briefed the media on US operations against Islamist militant group al-Shabab in Somalia:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Ivory Coast beat Russia away

Ivory Coast have beaten Russia 2-0 away in a friendly match.

Jonathan Kodjia scored a cracking first goal for the Elephants in the 30th minute and Wilfried Zaha doubled the lead in the 70th minute.

Wilfried Zaha (right)
Wilfried Zaha scored with a shot from inside the penalty box into the top left hand corner of the goal

Benin debates one-year presidential term

Leone Ouedraogo

BBC Africa

Benin's National Assembly has been debating changes to the constitution including limiting the president to just one six-year term.

Currently the president can serve two five-year terms.

But the proposal is facing controversy. 

An opposition movement organised a sit-in in front of the parliament saying that the people should have had a chance to debate the changes first.

In Benin, any constitutional amendment can be approved either by referendum or by a four-fifths majority vote in parliament.

Patrice Talon
President Patrice Talon said he would try to change the constitution during his election campaign last year

Algerian couscous art

One tweeter has shared a photo of an innovative artwork at the Tate Modern gallery in London:

View more on twitter

Ivory Coast double lead against Russia

Ivory Coast's Wilfred Zaha has scored his team's second goal to go 2-0 up in an away friendly match against Russia.

ESPN reports that it was a "left footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner".

There are now 14 minutes until the end of the match.

Fundraising for Africa: Time to end the stereotypes

Black British MP David Lammy has written a stinging critique of Red Nose Day - the biennial British fundraising event where a lot of the money goes to charities in Africa.

To help raise funds, British celebrities are filmed on the continent visiting orphanages and clinics and imploring people to donate to help the people they meet. The films are broadcast on the BBC during a fundraising evening.

Writing in the Guardian , Mr Lammy says he is worried about what impression this makes:

Comic Relief has tattooed images of poverty in the African continent to the point where few of us can escape the guilt of not donating. The result: a tidal wave of donations, but little to challenge the... interpretation of an Africa 'where nothing ever grows'."

When the MP asked his son, who is mixed race, why he thought people should donate to Red Nose Day, he said:

But we have to help the poor people in Africa, daddy."

In response he wants a less patronising approach:

We must have voices debating debt and dictatorship, trade agreements and climate change, education and entrepreneurship – not just appeals for people to phone in and pledge a few pounds."

Musician Ed Sheeran is one of the celebrities who recently travelled to the continent.

He went to Liberia and visited a school in Monrovia where he met some children who had been abandoned.

Ed Sheeran in Liberia
Cherry Seaborn

You can read more about what Ed Sheeran saw here.

Uganda to host biggest ever global sports event

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The World Cross-Country championships are taking place in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Sunday, the biggest global sports event the country has ever hosted.

The tourism ministry has been promoting the event (see above), as Uganda becomes only the fourth African country to host the prestigious long-distance championships.

Kenya and Ethiopia have dominated the World Cross-Country Championships since 1981 and all eyes will be on the two East African rivals when the 2017 edition takes place in Kampala on Sunday morning.

Kampala also marks the first time that senior women will race the distance of 10km (6 miles). 

Defending champion Agnes Jebet Tirop, from Kenya, is one of 117 athletes from 34 countries competing.

View more on twitter

'No arrests' in South Africa taxi rape gang case

Earlier we reported that South African police had made four arrests in connection with several rape cases where the perpetrators were acting as minibus taxi drivers.

We were quoting a provincial police minister, but now the police have denied the reports, the BBC's Milton Nkosi says.

A police spokesperson told him that the suspects are still at large.

Rights abusers urged to come forward for Gambia truth commission

The aim of Gambia's truth and reconciliation commission will be to "foster social cohesion", Gambia's Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told the BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme.

The plan to set one up to look into alleged abuses during the Yahya Jammeh years was announced earlier today and it is hoped that it will be up and running within a year.

Mr Tambadou said it was important that people felt able to come forward without fear of being prosecuted:

If we want to encourage an open discussion about the past years in the country we need to make sure that those who are willing to share their experiences and their involvement in some of these unfortunate incidents come out with full and frank disclosure."

The justice minister said that he was studying truth commissions from across the continent - including South Africa, Sierra Leone and Tunisia - to see what lessons can be learnt.

In January, President Adama Barrow said he planned to set up a truth commission

Comoros make positive start towards Afcon 2019 campaign

          Comoros team poses for a photo before the game against Mauritius
The Comoros team is drawn from a population of just 750,000 people

Comoros have taken a big step towards playing in the group stages of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying by beating Mauritius 2-0 on Friday.

The island nation will defend their advantage in the second leg in Mauritius on Tuesday, with the aggregate winner progressing to play in Group B for a place at the Cameroon finals.

Mauritius were dealt an early blow in Friday's first-leg match when Emmanuel Vincent was sent off after only 12 minutes for elbowing Comoros' Ben El Fardou.

Morocco, Malawi and reigning champions Cameroon will also play in Group B but the Indomitable Lions' matches will not count towards the final table as they qualify automatically as hosts.

Only the pool winners earn a place at the tournament.

Read the full BBC Sport story 

Analysis: Mubarak release 'end to Arab Spring dreams'

Alan Johnston

BBC Middle East analyst

The release of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will be bitter news for those who found the courage to rise up against him on the streets of Cairo six years ago.

While thousands of their fellow political activists languish in jail under Egypt's current, authoritarian government, the old autocrat has been allowed to go free. 

He is now settling into the comfort of his home in an up-market suburb of the capital. 

For the revolutionaries of the Arab Spring, all this may mark a kind of formal end to their dreams of a better Egypt. 

There are however some of their fellow citizens who regard Mubarak's rule with a degree of nostalgia. 

For all its stagnation, corruption and abuses, it was a time of calm before the upheavals of the revolution and its aftermath. 

But it's probably fair to say that most Egyptians have simply consigned Mubarak to the past. 

For them he's yesterday's man, a figure with no relevance to the present, and their daily struggle to cope with increasingly dire economic problems.

Activists in Tahrir Square
Mubarak was overthrown following pro-democracy protests in Tahrir Square

All eyes on Tanzania's new information minister

Many people in Tanzania are waiting to see how the country's new Information Minister Harrison Mwakyembe (pictured in the blue suit) will deal with the media, the BBC's Sammy Awami reports from Dar es Salaam.

Man shaking hands with officials
Government Information Agency

His appointment comes following the sacking of his predecessor after he ordered an investigation into why a government official stormed a popular radio station last week ( see earlier story ).

President John Magufuli asked the new minister to "do what his predecessors failed to do". 

Mr Mwakyembe is a lawyer by profession and has headed the international law department at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Trump to 'have his first meeting with an African leader next month'

President Donald Trump is set to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Washington next month, the AP news agency is reporting.

The meeting has not yet been officially confirmed and AP is quoting an anonymous official.

The Egyptian president would become the first African leader to meet Mr Trump.

Mr Sisi was one of the first heads of state to congratulate the US president after his election.

Egypt is seen as a close ally of the US and is a major recipient of US aid and military support.

Donald Trump

Sixty years of broadcasting in Hausa

The BBC Hausa service is marking 60 years of broadcasting. 

In that time it has grown from a service that translated material from the English-language newsroom to developing its own network of correspondents across West Africa and beyond. 

It has pioneered using mobile phones for disseminating news and the radio service is one of the most listened to of the BBC World Service language outlets. 

Hausa is spoken across northern Nigeria and Niger, and in several other countries in the region.  

Watch more about the anniversary here:

Sixty years of broadcasting in Hausa

Five possible cases in Gambia that could be investigated

We reported earlier that The Gambia is planning to set up a truth and reconciliation process to help deal with the alleged human rights abuses under the former leader Yahya Jammeh.

People would be encouraged to confess to crimes and victims would be offered compensation, he said.

The former regime was accused of widespread torture and enforced disappearances during its 22-year rule.

Here are five cases that could be investigated:

  • Opposition member Solo Sandeng allegedly beaten to death in detention in April 2016
  • Journalist Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay allegedly forced to drink cooking oil and beaten unconsciousness in detention in July 2015
  • Ex-army chief of staff Ndure Cham allegedly ordered to dig his grave and shot dead in 2013 for plotting coup
  • Journalist Ebrima Manneh missing since he left his newsroom on 11 July 2006
  • Newspaper editor Deyda Hydara shot dead in his car in December 2004
Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh first seized power in a coup in 1994

Profile: Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh - BBC News

SA woman fulfils life wish to meet Jacob Zuma

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South African media have been reporting on the meeting of President Jacob Zuma and a young South African woman who suffers from Progeria, a rare genetic disorder that causes premature ageing.

Ontlametse Phalatse turns 18 this weekend, despite being told by doctors growing up that she would not live beyond the age of 14.

One of her life wishes was to meet the president before she turned 18. 

She fulfilled her ambition to meet the head of state on Wednesday in the capital, Pretoria, with two days to spare before her birthday. 

Mr Zuma's office has been sharing photos of the pair's meeting:

Jacob Zuma puts his arm around Ontlametse Phalatse

Ms Phalatse cut her early birthday cake with the president...

Jacob Zuma cuts a birthday cake with Ontlametse Phalatse

... who also presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

Jacob Zuma gives flowers to Ontlametse Phalatse

The president told Ms Phalatse that he would help her realise her next dream of her mother owning a home, with the help of his foundation.

Uganda confirms outbreak of crop-eating pest

Patience Atuhaire

BBC Africa, Kampala

fall armyworm
Fall armyworms can destroy entire fields

Uganda has confirmed an outbreak of fall armyworm, a hungry pest that has been devastating crops across southern Africa. 

Agriculture Minister Vincent Sempijja said the caterpillar had been confirmed in 20 districts across the country. 

Up to 40% of maize crops have been destroyed in the areas where the fall armyworm has spread.

In the first three areas armyworm spread to, more than 40% of maize crops have been destroyed, he added.

He says about one billion Ugandan shillings ($300,000; £240,000) has been set aside for an emergency response to the outbreak.

Woman tends to corn strung up to dry
South African maize farmers have also been hit by the fall armyworm

What is the fall armyworm?

The name is a bit misleading. It is not actually a worm, but a hungry caterpillar that eats crops before turning into a moth.

It is a new pest, not to be confused with the similarly named "African armyworm", which has been present in the region for many years.

Read more: Why are armyworms attacking Africa's crops?

Zimbabwe's cash-strapped tobacco farms

The start of the tobacco marketing and selling season has brought some much needed hard currency into the Zimbabwean economy. 

The leaf is the country's second biggest export after gold and almost all of the annual crop goes to China, South Africa and Germany.

But small-scale farmers are not achieving high enough prices for their crop and - like everyone else in Zimbabwe - continue to battle with the shortage of cash in the country.

Watch the full report from the BBC's Shingai Nyoka in the capital Harare:

Zimbabwe's cash-strapped tobacco farms

Somali pirates 'seize mothership for use in future attacks'

Somali pirates have seized a boat that they intend to use as a base for attacking larger ships, according to Somali police quoted by the Reuters news agency.

It reports that the 10-man Yemeni crew were left on the shore after their vessel was taken

This news comes just over a week after a ship carrying fuel was hijacked off the coast of Somalia, the first such hijacking in the region in five years.  

European naval boats on the sea
The European Union Naval Force has been running operations off Somalia since 2008 to combat piracy

Warlord victims to get $1m compensation

The BBC's Anna Holligan in The Hague has more details on the compensation judgement at the International Criminal Court (ICC) relating to the victims of Congolese warlord Germain Katanga.

The ICC in The Hague has delivered its first ever order for financial reparations to victims of war crimes. 

The order of $1m will apply collectively to the 297 victims of an attack in 2003 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, conducted by Katanga. 

Lawyers for the victims set out a detailed list of losses, including the destruction of houses, furniture, the killing of cattle and hens, plus the psychological harm caused by the loss of loved ones. 

In addition to the collective damages, each victim was given a symbolic amount of $250 in compensation. 

Germain Katanga is serving 12 years for war crimes. The court hearing was streamed live into his prison cell in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, where he is serving his sentence. 

As Katanga does not have the money, the independent Trust Fund for Victims will try to cover it using voluntary donations from ICC member states. 

Germain Katanga
Katanga is serving his sentence in DR Congo

Futuristic African art

We came across this stunning image from New York-based artist Manzel Bowman. 

If you like his Afro-futurist digital collages, there's plenty more on his Instagram feed .

View more on instagram

Arrests in South Africa taxi rape gang case

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

A photo of a minibus taxi station in Johannesburg

Police have arrested four people this morning in connection with several rapes by a group posing as minibus taxi drivers .

Two of the men have been directly linked to the case, while the other two were found at the same address as the two suspects, officials say.

“We are now waiting for an identity parade to be organised and the suspects will appear in court next week,” said Gauteng provincial police minister Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.

A gang of up to four men, operating around Soweto, a township south of Johannesburg, have been picking up unsuspecting women, robbing and then raping them.

One woman told local news station 702 on Thursday that she was raped while her 10-year-old son was held at gunpoint inside the same car. 

She said they ordered the young boy to lie face down throughout the ordeal, which lasted for four hours.

Seven other women have now come forward with their stories to the police since the reports emerged this week.

The police have warned female passengers to be wary and to travel in groups. 

The case has sparked anger in South Africa with many calling for swift action from the police.

Later in the day the police denied the reports of the arrest and said the suspects were still at large.

Ex-Egypt President Mubarak back at home in Cairo

More details are coming in following the release of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, six years after he was overthrown.

Mr Mubarak left a military hospital in southern Cairo and went to his home in the northern suburb of Heliopolis, his lawyer said.

He was ordered freed earlier this month after Egypt's top appeals court cleared him over the deaths of protesters in the 2011 uprising.  

In all, more than 800 people are believed to have been killed as security forces clashed with protesters in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities around Egypt during the 18-day uprising that forced Mr Mubarak to resign.  

Hosni Mubarak
Mubarak was tried, convicted and cleared on various charges several times

Read the full BBC News story 

Trevor Noah is NOT coming to Uganda

There was understandable excitement in Uganda after a paper there tweeted that South African comedian Trevor Noah was going to visit the country:

View more on twitter

But Noah himself stepped in to quash the story:

Undeterred, Ugandans decided to come up with reasons why he should grace the country with his presence and #TrevorNoahVisitsUganda has been trending:

View more on twitter

Some are already making preparations:

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Tanzania president warns media who 'think they have freedom'

Sammy Awami

BBC Africa, Dar es Salaam

          Tanzania Citizen frontpage with headline "Nape's parting shot" and photo of sacked info minister addressing crowd from his car
The dramatic sacking and fallout dominate today's papers in Tanzania

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has warned media owners in Tanzania that they don’t have as much freedom as they think, accusing them of exaggeration over an incident in which a sacked minister was threatened with a gun by a security officer ( see earlier entry ).

Headlines and the pictures of the incident have dominate today’s newspaper front pages.

Mr Magufuli said:

All the headlines and photos is about that story... It was just one person doing it, but it has been portrayed as if it was the government doing it or supporting it.”

He warned that such treatment of stories might incite violence among the public:

Media owners be careful. You think you have freedom, but you don’t have it to that extent."

Woman walks past Magufuli poster on the wall
Mr Magufuli has been accused of curbing freedom of speech

Read more: Magufuli's first year in office

War crimes victims to get $250 'symbolic compensation'

The International Criminal Court has awarded the 297 victims of warlord Germain Katanga $250 (£200) each in what it calls "symbolic compensation".

This is the court's first ruling on compensation for victims of someone it has found guilty ( see earlier entry ). 

According to a tweet from the court the victims will also get housing and other support, but as Katanga has no money the ICC is relying on a fund set up by its member states.

View more on twitter

More Kenyans have TB than previously thought - study

Anne Soy

BBC Africa health correspondent

A survey of the burden of tuberculosis in Kenya, the first of its kind since independence, has revealed that more people are infected than previously estimated. 

The research showed that one in every 200 people is infected with TB. 

It is billed as the most accurate picture of the burden of the disease. 

For a long time Kenya has relied on data from the hospital records of TB patients. 

But the information was thought to be skewed as it captured statistics from people who actually sought medical attention.

Young men between the age of 25 and 34, people living in cities and women over 65 were found to be more likely to be infected. 

Kenya is among 22 countries in the world with the highest burden of tuberculosis.

Meanwhile, on World TB day, British scientists have announced a breakthrough in the diagnosis of tuberculosis.

Researchers say they can isolate different strains of the disease using a process called genome sequencing.

It means patients who may have waited months to get the right drugs can now be diagnosed in just a few days, giving them a greater chance of recovery.

Read more on BBC News Online

          A laboratory technician logs samples in viles from tuberculosis (TB) patients to be tested for TB strains at a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-run clinic in Nairob
Researchers now have a better picture of how to tackle TB in Kenya

Cricket 'brings Rwandans together' after genocide

Audifax Byiringiro, a Rwandan cricketer, explains how the sport has helped him and others to heal and come together after the horrific events of 1994: 

BreakingEgypt's Mubarak 'freed from prison'

Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak is reported to have been allowed to go free after years in detention that followed his fall from power in the country's revolution in 2011. 

Mr Mubarak was being held in a military hospital in Cairo, but his lawyer told the BBC that he's now been permitted to return to his home in the city. 

ICC to deliver first reparation ruling over DR Congo crimes

BBC World Service

The International Criminal Court in The Hague is due to deliver its first order for financial reparations to victims of war crimes. 

The order will apply to more than 300 victims of an attack in 2003 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Former warlord Germain Katanga was sentenced to 12 years for crimes against humanity and war crimes during the attack on the village of Bogoro. 

He is now being kept in prison in DR Congo. 

The judges can decide to award collective reparations as well as individual damages. If Katanga cannot pay, the Trust Fund for Victims would try to pay from voluntary contributions from member states. 

          Congolese national and former millitia chief Germain Katanga looks on during the closing statements in his and fellow former millitia chief Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui's trial, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on May 15, 2012
Katanga was convicted in 2014 and is now serving his sentence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Investigation ordered after gun pointed at ex-Tanzania minister

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Tanzania's home affairs minister has ordered an investigation after a gun was pointed yesterday at the sacked information minister to stop him from addressing the media (see video above).

A plain clothes security officer pointed a gun at Nape Nnaye, who had earlier been sacked by President John Magafuli. 

On his official Facebook page, Home Affairs Minister Nchemba said the inspector general of police should use the footage circulating online to identify the officer involved.

He said:

Nape Mosses Nnauye is not a thug, he is a Tanzanian member of parliament with no criminal record.

Pointing a gun at him is not an act of professionalism, not Tanzanian and not Godly. And if this man was able to do that in front of cameras I can't imagine what he could have done [elsewhere]."

The information minister's sacking followed his decision to launch an investigation into a powerful regional commissioner, who was filmed storming into the offices of a private media outlet in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam to complain over its coverage of a story. 

          Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Paul Makonda (L) viewed on cctv camera footage
Regional commissioner Paul Makonda (L) was accused of storming the offices of Clouds Media Group

Gambia to set up truth commission

Gambia is to set up a truth and reconciliation commission and offer compensation to victims of human rights violations under former President Yahya Jammeh, Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou has said.

A search is already on to find people who could work as commissioners, he said, according to a report on the Fatou News Network .

The Reuters news agency quotes the minister as saying that they could meet within six months and public hearings could start within a year.

He added that a publicity campaign would start to let people know about the commission.

Rights groups have accused President Jammeh, who left power in January after governing for more than 20 years, of abuses, including killing, torturing and imprisoning opponents.

He lost an election in December to President Adama Barrow, but only agreed to step down after protracted diplomatic pressure.

He is now living in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

President Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh initially refused to accept the election result.

Good morning

Welcome to the  BBC Africa Live  page where we'll be keeping you up-to-date with news stories on the continent.