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Summary

  1. Nigeria's president denies picking on Jonathan in anti-graft fight
  2. Nine Liberians have died from an unknown disease
  3. Ebola is ruled out as the cause
  4. Nigeria's president misses second cabinet meeting in a row
  5. US troops pull out of effort to find LRA leader Kony
  6. Puntland authorities in Somalia thwart suicide attack
  7. South Africa court finds nuclear plant deal unlawful
  8. Amnesty criticises the way Zambia's opposition leader Hichilema is being treated
  9. Zambian court rejects attempt to get Hichilema charges dropped
  10. Email stories and comments to africalive@bbc.co.uk - Wednesday 26 April 2017

Live Reporting

By Dickens Olewe and Damian Zane

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Scroll down for Wednesday'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:

If you want to see an old person's teeth, give them sour palm wine."

An Igbo proverb sent by Don Pallisy, Anambra, Nigeria

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

And we leave you with a picture that has been gaining a lot of attention on Instagram today from the Africa Creative Cities account of a decorated pedestrian bridge in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa:

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Nigeria's president 'is okay'

We've been reporting about the absence of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari from a second cabinet meeting in a row (see earlier entry).

The country's information minister said that the president allowed the vice-president to chair the meeting as he wanted to rest.

This has led to some speculation that the president's health problems have resurfaced.

So how is he?

A presidential assistant has a short answer to that question:

View more on twitter

Burundi accused by WFP of blocking a convoy

The UN's World Food Programme has said Burundi has blocked an 10-truck aid convoy coming in from Rwanda, the Reuters news agency reports.

Burundi has fallen out with Rwanda and accused it of backing rebels in the country.

A government spokesman quoted by Reuters says the convoy was stopped on security grounds.

The WFP has rejected the claims saying "it was a regular shipment".

Buhari denies targeting Jonathan in corruption fight

Nigeria's presidency has defended President Muhammadu Buhari over allegations that his anti-corruption fight is targeting former President Goodluck Jonathan and his family. 

A statement said that Mr Buhari was just allowing the law to take its course. 

It was a reacting to a story that appeared on ThisDay newspaper headlined: Buhari's Gvt Harassing My Family, Says Jonathan. 

The paper said former the former president made the allegation in a new book Against The Run of Play, written by the Chairman of ThisDay Editorial Board, Olusegun Adeniyi.  

The statement defends Mr Buhari saying that those who are not guilty should not fear his war on corruption. 

Anybody without a skeleton in his or her cupboard, has nothing to fear about the bared fangs of the anti-corruption initiative. Fear belongs only to those who have abused trust while in office."

It criticises Mr Jonathan's anti-corruption fight saying that "time will give the verdict on whose style of fighting corruption ultimately yielded the most dividends".

It ends that "he [Mr Buhari] firmly believes that national interest must always be placed above personal interest, no matter who is involved".

Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan
Getty Images
Mr Buhari (right) has denied that his war on corruption is targeting the former president (left)

Zambia president 'not involved in opposition leader woes'

Zambia's presidential spokesman Amos Chanda has denied allegations that President Edgar Lungu is influencing the case against opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. 

He has been charged with treason and accused of trying to overthrow the government. He was arrested after his convoy allegedly blocked the presidential motorcade.

Rights group Amnesty International and church leaders have condemned the arrest and continued detention of Mr Hichilema. 

Mr Chanda told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that it would be against the law for President Lungu to interfere in an ongoing trial. 

He added that it was the police who had interpreted the traffic incident as a treasonable offence.

Hakainde Hichilema
Reuters
Mr Hichilema has been in custody for more than a fortnight

Down but not yet out for South Africa's President Zuma

South Africa is in for a rough ride as the ruling African National Congress prepares to choose President Jacob Zuma's successor.

His critics want him to resign or be dismissed well before the next election in 2019, either through a vote of no confidence in parliament, or with ANC action.

But the party of struggle is protecting a president who is clinging on, despite corruption scandals, criticism from the constitutional court and street protests demanding he must fall.

He has survived calls for him to go and the man nicknamed the Teflon Don is likely to stick around for a while longer.

On the immediate horizon is the vote of no confidence.

But this will be the fifth time Mr Zuma will face such a vote and it would take a big revolt within the ruling party for him to be sacked.

Read more about the future of Mr Zuma from BBC News Online.

Jacob Zuma
Reuters
Not yet goodbye for President Jacob Zuma

Woman accused of insulting Uganda president denied bail

Ugandan Stella Nyanzi, who has been charged with cyber harassment for referring to President Yoweri Museveni as "a pair of buttocks", has been denied bail.

She has been held for more than two weeks and she is due back in court on 10 May.

View more on twitter

Her case has become a cause celebre for people testing the freedom of speech in Uganda.

Ebola ruled out in Liberia as cause of mystery deaths

The Liberian authorities have ruled out Ebola as the cause of the deaths of nine people from a mystery illness in the south-east of the country (see earlier story).

Liberia's chief medical officer Dr Francis Kateh told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that the tests on blood samples from the bodies of the deceased showed that the authorities are not dealing with Ebola.

The nine deaths happened in a short space of time in Sinoe county.

The question of course remains about what was the cause of death.

Dr Kateh said further investigations are being carried out and, he told the BBC, "we are worried... we are all having sleepless nights to make sure we find what is causing the deaths".

The Ebola outbreak in Liberia in 2015 killed more than 5,000 people.

A man walks past an ebola campaign banner with the new slogan 'Ebola Must GO'
AFP
The authorities in Liberia are saying that people should take precautions similar to those during the Ebola outbreak

Why cartoonist showed South Africa being raped

South Africa's top cartoonist Zapiro was widely criticised recently for rehashing a caricature of a rape scene featuring President Jacob Zuma. 

His recent work had Mr Zuma egging on one of the brothers from the controversial Gupta family to rape South Africa depicted as lady justice in the drawing. 

Zapiro, or Jonathan Shapiro, told the BBC that he felt compelled to "go in strong" after Mr Zuma fired widely-respected Finace Minister Pravin Gordhan. 

He says that South Africa is in crisis and he sees his work as fighting to save it from Mr Zuma and "his cabal". 

Nigeria's president misses second cabinet meeting in a row

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has missed his second cabinet meeting in a row, the Premium Times newspaper reports.

It says that Information Minister Lai Mohammed told reporters that the president was absent because he wanted to rest.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo chaired the meeting instead.

Mr Buhari returned to Nigeria last month after being in London on sick leave for nearly two months.

On his return he said that further medical checks would be needed, but he did not disclose the nature of his illness.

President Buhari's absence from today's meeting has fuelled speculation about his state of health, the BBC's Chris Ewokor reports.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari addresses members of his cabinet upon his arrival at the presidency in Abuja, on March 10, 2017
AFP
President Buhari returned from London on 10 March

Pictures from Kenya's party primaries

Kenyans have been taking part in the ongoing party primaries to elect leaders in various positions for the general elections in August. 

The BBC's Bashkas Jugsodaay has snapped pictures at some of the polling stations: 

Woman voting
BBC
Voting ballots
BBC
Voters queing
BBC
.
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The exercise has been marred by violence in some regions leaving at least two people dead and many more with injuries. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking a second term and he is set to face a candidate backed by a unified opposition, who will be unveiled at a rally planned for tomorrow. 

Listen: Why Kenya's political party primaries are highly contested

Paul Tergat to lead Kenya Olympics Committee

By Sammy Maina

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

Former marathon world record hold Paul Tergat is set to become the next chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock)  after the incumbent, Kenyan athletics legend Kipchoge Keino, withdrew from the race.

Keino failed to pick up and submit his nomination papers ahead of the 5 May elections, Capital FM news website reported.

Tergat, 47, is a two-time 10,000m Olympic silver medallist. 

He also held both the full and half-marathon world records during his running career, which ended in 2009. 

Tergat is expected to introduce administrative reforms in the organisation, tainted by claims of mismanagement of the team which went to the Rio Olympics, not to mention athletics doping scandals.

Paul Tergat
Getty Images

Uganda MPs 'protest Museveni adding more advisers'

Yoweri Museveni
Getty Images
Mr Museveni has made a request to add 18 advisers, taking their number to 163

Uganda MPs have criticised plans by President Yoweri Museveni to add more personal advisers, saying the money could be better spent in buying resources in hospitals and improving remuneration of medical staff, the Observer reports

Mr Museveni has made a request to add 18 advisers, taking their number to 163. 

The paper reports that it has become a tradition for Mr Museveni to add advisers after a presidential election or after making a cabinet reshuffle. 

According to the 2017/18 ministerial policy statement for the presidency, the appointment of the 18 presidential advisers will push the wage budget for the advisers up by to $7.6m ( £6bn). 

The Observer quotes MP Mathias Mpuuga accusing the president of abusing the budget.

There are essentially two issues relating to this matter; one is the blatant abuse of the budget by the presidency because the presidency is one of the entities with a bloated budget yet it is one of the known unproductive entities but rather consumptive.”

On average, each of the advisers earns a gross monthly salary of $ 631 in addition to a driver who is paid $53. 

Champions League draw made with new format

The Confederation of African Football has completed the draw for the group stages of the Champions League.

It is the first time that there will be four groups of four teams as up to now there have been just two groups of four teams.

One of the surprises this year is the presence of Zimbabwe's Caps United. They went into the draw after defeating the much-fancied TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

BBC Africa's Nick Cavell says they have a tough group with three difficult games in North Africa to manage.

The draw has also thrown up a Sudanese derby with the country's two top teams - Hilal and Merrikh - drawn in the same group.

The CAF graphic of the draw
CAF

Liberia mystery deaths: People urged to take precautions

Akwasi Sarpong

BBC Africa

We've been reporting on the mystery illness that is being investigated in Liberia (see earlier entry).

Liberia's Chief Medical Officer Dr Francis Kateh has toldthe BBC's Focus on Africa radio programme that nine people have died so far and eight others are in isolation.

Earlier we heard that eight had died.

Dr Kateh said that results from tests on blood specimens taken from the patients are expected by close of business today.

The tests are to rule out that the patients had Ebola.

Dr Kateh, meanwhile, said Liberians should observe the precautions rolled out during the Ebola outbreak, including hand hygiene.

He also said that members of the public should send anyone showing the symptoms of weakness and vomiting to the hospital.

People also have to boil water before use if unsure of its source.

A man washes his hands as part of hygiene measures
AFP
People were encouraged to wash their hands during the Ebola outbreak to prevent its spread

Hichilema cheered as he leaves Zambia court

The party of the Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, who is accused of treason, has tweeted a video of his supporters cheering as he left court for the prison today.

View more on twitter

The attempt by his lawyers to get the charges dropped failed earlier today (see earlier entry).

Draw for Caf Champions League

The draw for the group stages of the African Champions League is currently taking place.

This year the format is being expanded to four groups of four instead of two groups of four.

You can follow the draw from a Periscope link on the Twitter feed of the Confederation of African Football:

View more on twitter

The Nigeria Football Federation gets financial boost

The cash-strapped Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has received a financial boost from an energy company worth around $9.2m over the next five years.

The deal with the Aiteo Group will commence on 1 May.

"This will make it easier for us to plan adequately for our national teams," NFF boss Amaju Pinnick said.

"It is important to note that this will also take care of the national team coach's salary."

Pinnick hopes that this means no repeats of problems paying national team coaches that has troubled the NFF in the past.

"There will be no owing of coaches for the next five years," he added.

Read more on BBC Sport Online.

Nigeria football crest
BBC

Riots paralyse Guinea bauxite town

BBC World Service

Riots have paralysed a major mining town in Guinea, with protesters destroying property, vehicles and equipment. 

People in Boke, north-west Guinea, say they can no longer tolerate power cuts and high levels of pollution. 

Operations at the bauxite mines have been disrupted and several rioters arrested. 

The BBC's Alhassan Sillah in Guinea says demosntrators tried to kidnap a senior general sent to help resolve the crisis. 

About a third of the world's bauxite reserves are in Guinea, but poverty remains high. 

Much of the world's aluminium comes from bauxite.

UK city changes name of concert hall linked to slave trader

BBC World Service

Colston Hall exterior
BBC

A famous concert hall in Britain is to be renamed, to remove its association with a notorious slave trader. 

It follows a campaign to rebrand Colston Hall in Bristol, the south-western English port city that was once at the heart of the country's slave trade. 

Edward Colston, who was born in Bristol, made his fortune from the slave trade in the 17th and 18th Centuries transporting people from West Africa to British colonies in America and the Caribbean.

The trust that runs the venue says the name has become toxic and does not reflect its progressive values. 

A new name will be announced by the time it re-opens after renovation, in 2020.

Louise Mitchell, chief executive of Bristol Music Trust, said: "We want to look to the future and ensure the whole city is proud of its transformed concert hall."

Four suicide bombers target Nigerian city of Maiduguri

Martin Patience

BBC News, Nigeria correspondent

North-east Nigeria has been hit by its third suicide attack in as many days. 

In the latest incident Nigerian officials say four suicide bombers blew themselves up in the city of Maiduguri killing one person and injuring 11 others. 

While the Nigerian government says the war against Boko Haram has been won, the Islamist militants, who are believed to be behind the attacks, appear to be ramping up their use of suicide bombers. 

Targets often include the sprawling camps where civilians are sheltering from the violence. 

A recent Unicef report said more than 100 children had been used by the militants as bombers since 2014. 

Most of the children were girls targeting military checkpoints or public places.

Rescuers work at the scene of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast at Gomboru market in Maiduguri, Borno State
AFP
Maiduguri has in the past been the scene of many attacks, but the city has been quieter in recent months

Puntland seizes car filled with explosives

Security forces from the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland have intercepted a vehicle filled with explosives and arrested the five people in it, a local news outlet Radio Kulmiye reports.

It quotes Puntland's presidential adviser Abdirashid Abdullahi as saying the men were planning a suicide attack on the administration's headquarters in Bosaso.

Mr Abdullahi said the vehicle was carrying three barrels filled with explosives and the men were supposed to carry out the attack.

Puntland police have issued a photo of the seized explosives.

Photograph showing barrels of explosives
Puntland police

A journalist has also been sharing images:

View more on twitter

US 'snubs AU chief'

African Union chief Moussa Faki was snubbed by the US during a recent visit to the capital, Washington DC, the Foreign Policy (FP) magazine reports.

Mr Faki had been invited to the city Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the week of 17 April but Mr Tillerson's office did not confirm the meeting and only got in touch as Mr Faki was departing to New York. 

The State Department offered a meeting with a lower-level official, but Mr Faki cancelled his Washington visit entirely, FP reports. 

Reuben Brigety, a former US ambassador to the AU interviwed for the piece said either the Trump administration was making "rookie mistakes" or they did not see a relationship with Africa as a priority: 

This is ridiculous, particularly at a time when Africans are increasingly becoming more and more aware of their choices in partners around the world.”

He added that it was not the first time the administration has spurned African officials. 

In March, Rwandan President Paul Kagame visited Washington and no one at either the White House or State Department would meet with him, the report says. 

Moussa Faki
AF
Moussa Faki was elected AU Chairperson in January

US troops pull out of effort to find Kony

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

American special forces have started to withdraw from the Central African Republic where they have been helping an African Union-led force fight the notorious Ugandan rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). 

LRA leader Joseph Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity and remains at large. 

The US military said the five-year operation against the LRA had rendered the group irrelevant and its leader ineffective. 

Last week, Uganda, which provides the vast majority of troops, started to withdraw. It said the LRA had only 100 men left. 

It is likely that nobody really knows how many fighters remain or exactly what they do. 

Although significantly diminished, they remain active across the region, poaching elephants and kidnapping hundreds of people a year. 

At its height the LRA spread terror across northern Uganda. 

Its hallmark was mutilating civilians but now it appears to be a largely a criminal outfit.

Joseph Kony pictured in 2006
AFP
LRA leader Jospeh Kony is still at large despite the troop pull out

Liberia deaths: More details in UN memo

An internal memo to all UN staff in Liberia gives some more details about the spate of deaths from an unknown illness in the south-east of the country (see earlier entry).

The Liberian government said that tests are being carried out on the blood of the eight people who have died.

The UN memo says that seven of those died between 2am and 11am local time on Tuesday morning.

These deaths are linked to a case on Sunday of an 11-year-old girl who had symptoms of "diarrhoea, vomiting and mental confusion". 

The memo adds that the victims appear to have attended the same funeral.

There is a lot of sensitivity in Liberia around clusters of deaths as nearly 5,000 people died from the 105 Ebola outbreak. There is no suggestion that the unknown illness is Ebola.

This picture taken on December 7, 2016 shows a nurse holding a vial containing blood
AFP
The blood is being tested in Monrovia to see what the illness is

Ghana MPs accused of UK visa fraud

The British High Commission in Ghana has accused three current Ghanaian MPs and a former MP of allegedly perpetrating visa fraud using their diplomatic passports, My Joy Online reports. 

A letter from the High Commission alleges that the four individuals have used their passports to apply for visas for people who travelled to the UK and did not return as stipulated in their visas. 

It said that it considered the MPs actions to be "completely unacceptable... and in some cases these behaviours may arguably be criminal in nature,” the report says. 

It added that it will only process visas made through the parliamentary protocol office, "who should verify that there is an official, parliamentary reason for the proposed visit".

Early human remains found in SA lived 'much more recently' than previously thought

A primitive type of human, once thought to be up to three million years old, actually lived much more recently, a study suggests.

The remains of 15 partial skeletons belonging to the species Homo naledi were described in 2015.

They were found deep in a cave system in South Africa by a team led by Lee Berger from Wits University.

In an interview, he now says the remains are probably just 200,000 to 300,000 years old.

Skeleton laid out on a table
John Hawks
Homo naledi has much in common with early forms of the genus Homo

Although its anatomy shares some similarities with modern people, other anatomical features of Homo naledi hark back to humans that lived in much earlier times - some two million years ago or more.

"These look like a primitive form of our own genus - Homo. It looks like it might be connected to early Homo erectus, or Homo habilisHomo rudolfensis," said Prof Berger's colleague, John Hawks, from the University of Wisconsin.

Read more on BBC News Online

Offence taken over lack of proper greeting in Nigeria

Nigerians on Twitter are reacting to a video showing a chief from the Yoruba ethnic group ignoring a greeting from a monarch.

The Oba of Lagos Rilwan Aremu Akiolu, 73, refused to offer a hand of greeting to the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan, 42, at a function, the Punch news website reports.

The video shows the Oba of Ife arriving with his entourage and proceeds to greet the Oba of Lagos who refuses to offer a hand of greeting but acknowledges him by waving his hand. 

View more on twitter

Among the Yoruba, the Ooni of Ife is seen as the king of kings and is superior to the Oba of Lagos.   

People on Twitter has been widely critical of the Oba of Lagos:

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

Celebrations outside Nigeria court after separatist leader freed on bail

Sahara Reporters has shared some videos this morning of the scenes outside an Abuja court where the Biafran leader Nnamdi Kanu was released on bail on Tuesday.

Mr Kanu was being held on charges of criminal conspiracy.

He has been released on health grounds under strict bail conditions:

  • He must give up his British and Nigerian passports
  • He must not grant any interviews
  • Three people have to provide $330,000 each to guarantee that he won't abscond

View more on twitter
View more on twitter

One interesting thing to note is that you can see Mr Kanu wearing some traditional Jewish items including a yarmulke or skull cap.

One of the three people who needs to put up the money for his bail is supposed to be a respected Jewish leader as Mr Kanu has converted to Judaism, the Cable website reports.

South Africa court rules nuclear procurement process unlawful

A South African court has ruled that the government's nuclear procurement process was unlawful.

It said that the problem was a pre-agreement that had been made with Russia, Reuters is reporting.

The Fin 24 website has described the ruling as a "bloody nose" for the government and that it will have to go "back to the drawing board".  

The attempt to buy additional nuclear plants to boost the country's electricity supply has been controversial as some have argued that South Africa cannot afford it.

Ratings agency Fitch cited the affordability of the nuclear power plants in its decision to downgrade South Africa ratings to junk status.

Zambian court rejects attempt to drop Hichilema treason charge

A Zambian court has rejected a bid by lawyers for detained opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema to have treason charges against him dropped. 

"The charge of treason is only try-able in the High Court. The law does not place power in the subordinate court to quash the indictment. The motion to quash the treason charge is untenable," magistrate Greenwell Malumani told a packed court room in the capital, Lusaka, Reuters news agency reports. 

Journalist Simon Allison has shared a picture of the charge sheet on Twitter, in it, Mr Hichilema is accused with others of an "act that was likely to cause death or grievous to the president of the Republic of Zambia, in order to usurp the executive order of the state". 

View more on twitter

The opposition leader was arrested two weeks ago after a police raid on his home and has been in custody since then.

Why Kenya's political party primaries are highly contested

Kenya’s political parties have been holding their primaries to select candidates who will represent them in the general election in August.

The highly contested exercise has been marred by violence in some instances following clashes between rival political groups. 

Kenyan political analyst Christine Mungai told the BBC that securing a nomination in a region where a party enjoys wide support means that the candidate is almost guaranteed to win the seat. 

She also says that the perks that come with winning a political seat have become attractive to many. For example, there are at least 12,700 candidates hoping to run for one of the 1,450 county assembly seats available. 

A member of a county assembly gets a basic salary of $2,400 (£1,800), without counting sitting allowances, foreign trips and other benefits. They could take home somewhere in the region of $4,800, many times larger than the average income.

Ms Mungai spoke to the BBC's Dickens Olewe:

Amnesty accuses Zambia's state of 'persecution'

Karen Allen

BBC southern Africa correspondent, Johannesburg

Amnesty International has added its voice to those calling for treason charges against Zambia's opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others to be dropped. 

It has condemned what it says is a campaign of persecution against members of the United Party for National Development (UPND) following disputed presidential elections last year. 

Mr Hichilema was arrested two weeks ago after failing to give way when the president's motorcade passed by. 

The police said that his actions endangered the President Edgar Lungu's life. The treason charges were then changed to say that he had been plotting to overthrow the government.

Mr Hichilema is still being held in custody. 

His defence team said they had been given permission by the authorities to pass the president's motorcade as they were attending a religious ceremony.  

A spokesman for Amnesty described the incident as "a traffic control issue conflated with treason".   

The UPND has been tweeting about his court appearance this morning: 

View more on twitter

Liberia tests mystery disease swabs

Liberia's health ministry says it is testing the blood samples taken from eight people who have died from an unidentified disease in Sinoe county, 350km (217 miles) south-east of the capital, Monrovia.

Health ministry spokesperson Sorbor George said that efforts to resuscitate those who died unfortunately failed, the BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh reports.

Mr George added that five others, showing similar symptoms of adbominal or stomach pains, have been admitted to hospital for treatment.

State radio has described the illness the victims died of as a "strange disease".

Nearly 5,000 people died in Liberia from the 2015 Ebola outbreak when the authorities were criticised for not acting fast enough in the face of the deadly virus.

But there is no suggestion that the victims have died of Ebola and reports from the area of what happened prior to their deaths indicate that they did not experience Ebola-like symptoms.

Researcher with a vial of blood
AFP

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