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Summary

  1. Exiled Ethiopian accused of attending training camp in Eritrea
  2. Ugandan anthem composer's grave vandalised
  3. Mother and children killed by stray rocket in Libya
  4. Militant Islamists 'kill Kenyan police'
  5. Leadership battles 'destabilise' South Africa's governing party
  6. Tanzania opposition MP detained for 'insulting' president
  7. Rwanda's leader 'spoiled his ballot' at party congress
  8. Thieves steal computer hard drives from South African police
  9. Cameroonian government denies cleric was murdered
  10. Gardening 'culls' mosquito populations

Live Reporting

By Farouk Chothia and Dickens Olewe

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 on the continent by listening to the Africa Today podcast or checking the BBC News website.

A reminder of today's wise words:

Three things are disliked by all people – lies, begging and sickness."

A Somali proverb sent by Sahardid Hashi Ardale in Borama, Somaliland

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this photo from Instagram of a model getting her hair done backstage during the Dakar fashion week in Senegal.

View more on instagram

Uganda anthem composer's grave 'vandalised'

The widow of the composer of Uganda's national anthem, George Wilberforce Kakoma, has gone to court to obtain permission to dig his grave to check if his remains are still there, the privately owned Monitor newspaper has reported.

Maria Tereza instituted court action after the grave was vandalised at the family's burial grounds in Wakiso in Uganda's Central Region.

Burial site
Monitor Uganda
The family say there is a big hole at the burial site

A caretaker at the burial grounds William Kavulu was quoted by the Monitor as saying that he saw a big hole at the burial site:

I heard dogs barking at night but I did not take it seriously. However, when I was taking animals for grazing in the morning, I saw a big hole on the late Kakoma’s grave.”

Earlier, the state-linked New Vision newspaper reported that Mr Kakoma's body was missing.

His son, Paul Kakoma, was quoted by the Monitor as saying his father's body may have been stolen:

I have nothing to say but to pray that people who dig people’s graves stop the bad practice. Where shall we get our father’s body if they took it? But I ask God who brought our father on this earth to handle the situation we are going through.”

'Smugglers take' Eritrean asylum-seekers

James Copnall

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The United Nations refugee agency has voiced concern after 17 newly-arrived Eritrean asylum-seekers in eastern Sudan were taken by smugglers from a refugee camp.

The UNHCR denied reports that they had been kidnapped, saying they appeared to have had a prior arrangement with the smugglers. But the agency says it remains concerned for their welfare.

Sudan is a major transit point for people from the region who hope to migrate to Europe.

This week's Kenya Election Podcast

Dickens Olewe

BBC Africa

Over half of the 19 million eligible voters in the Kenya election in August are aged between 18 and 34, a key constituency for the politicians running for office.

On this week's podcast, I spoke to Nerima Wako from Siasa Place, a lobby group which is trying to get more Kenyan youth involved in politics.

And in our audience questions segment, I look at the state of Kenya's economy with Kwame Owino from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Plus I focus on the governing Jubilee Party's energy policy, outlined in its election manifesto.

Listen to the show here:

Kenya Election Watch 6

Biafra at 50: Nigeria's civil war explained

It's 50 years since the start of the Biafran war, one of Africa's bloodiest post-independence conflicts. What was the Nigerian conflict about and why does its legacy still matter today?

Video journalist: Roderick MaCleod, Reporter: Tomi Oladipo

Biafra at 50: Nigeria's civil war explained

Kenya's top candidates to boycott presidential debate

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The two main candidates competing for Kenya's presidency in the 8 August election have pulled out of a planned debate organised by the local media.

The first of three debates had been scheduled for 10 July.

An aide of President Uhuru Kenyatta was earlier today quoted as saying that "shouting matches" are beneath the president and that he has other avenues of engaging with voters.

David Murathe told the Star newspaper that the president's team was not aware of the rules of the debate.

"So let them do it without him [Mr Kenyatta]," he added.

A statement from opposition leader Raila Odinga's team also said that he would not take part in the debate unless the format was changed.

The Committee of Presidential Debates, the body formed by media organisations to organise the debates, said all the campaign teams had been fully briefed about the debate rules.

It added that it would continue to work with the teams to find a solution.

Eight candidates, all men, will be vying for the presidency.

Ethiopian exile on terror charges in UK

An Ethiopian political dissident who campaigns against his government from the UK has appeared in court in London charged with nine terrorism offences.

Tadesse Kersmo is accused of attending a training camp in Eritrea, and possessing information useful to terrorism, including texts on sniper training and urban guerrilla warfare.

Mr Kersmo works for Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7, which is banned in Ethiopia but not in the UK.

He was arrested after arriving at Heathrow Airport in January.

Appearing briefly at Westminster Magistrates Court, Mr Kersmo indicated he would plead not guilty to all the charges at his trial.

The case is the first terrorism charge in the UK in relation to a member of the opposition group which operates openly across Europe and the US.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot bailed Mr Kersmo subject to certain conditions, including a security of $32,000 (£25,000)

Mr Kersmo, who is also a management lecturer, was given political asylum in the UK after fleeing Ethiopia in 2009. He later became a British citizen.

Mr Kersmo has appeared from time to time in the media to argue for democratic changes in Ethiopia and has spoken before of being detained and beaten by government agents.

Three years ago, he and his supporters lobbied the UK's National Crime Agency to investigate whether the Ethiopian government had used novel surveillance techniques to install spying software on his computer.

He will next appear in the Central Criminal Court, commonly referred to as The Old Bailey, on 20 July.

The 'Lady of Justice', a 12 foot high, gold leaf statue is pictured on top of the dome of the Central Criminal Court, commonly referred to as The Old Bailey in central London on August 21, 2016.
AFP
The 'Lady of Justice' is on top of the dome of the The Old Bailey

Body of Uganda anthem composer 'missing'

The body of George Wilberforce Kakoma, the composer of Uganda's anthem, has gone missing from his grave, the state-linked New Vision newspaper has tweeted:

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He died five years ago.

The publication has not given further details of the incident.

Libyan family killed by stray rocket

Rana Jawad

BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

A family’s night out on a beach in Libya's capital, Tripoli, has ended tragically with the killing of the mother and her four children by a stray rocket.

At least 18 other people were injured when the rocket landed by the shore near Mitiga Airport on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said the rocket was fired during clashes between rival armed groups which control different parts of the city

Libyans have grown accustomed to carrying on with their normal activities when fighting breaks out. They often feel feel that the fighting is far away and that they are out of the firing range.

The stray rocket was reportedly fired from the other side of Tripoli, at least a ten-minute drive from the area it hit.

The clashes between rival militias rival militia started near the airport on Tuesday, and have sporadically continued today.

Flights from Tripoli have also been temporarily suspended.

Is DR Congo airport the most chaotic?

The BBC's Charlotte Attwood is in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a reporting trip and has shared some pictures with us from Mbandaka airport in the north-west.

She says the airport is one of the most chaotic and aggressive places she has ever visited.

A cleric, who was a fellow passenger, told her that "it's easier to get to heaven than it is through a Congolese airport".

Here are a few pictures that she snapped, including a piece of hand luggage which aroused her curiosity:

Caterpillars in a pale
BBC
A bucket full of caterpillars which is being taken in as hand luggage
Passengers gather to board the plane
BBC
Passengers gather to board the plane
Passengers at the waiting lounge
BBC
Passengers at the waiting lounge

Zuma warns of 'silent war' in ANC

Andrew Harding

BBC News, Johannesburg

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has warned of a "silent war" within the governing African National Congress (ANC), as the battle to succeed him heats up.

The party has been tearing itself apart, losing ground in elections, and is becoming increasingly corrupt.

South African President Jacob Zuma gestures as he gives his closing remarks during the closing session of the South African ruling party African National Congress policy conference in Johannesburg on July 5, 2017
AFP
Mr Zuma's critics say he is largely to blame for the crisis in the ANC

Mr Zuma called for unity at the end of the party's policy conference in the commercial capital, Johannesburg.

“There is a war that is silent, and that destabilises ANC. It can’t be right. You almost have two organisations existing in one,” he told delegates.

But Mr Zuma is, himself, the biggest source of division.

He is beset by allegations of corruption - that he and his allies have been “captured” by crooked businessmen. He strongly denies the allegation.

His opponents in the ANC want their man, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, to take over as party leader at its elective conference in December.

Mr Zuma has endorsed his former wife, Nkosasana Dlamini-Zuma, who returned to South Africa at the end of her stint as African Union commission chairwoman in January.

Some believe the wrong choice could mean the ANC gets voted out of power nationwide in 2019.

Today Mr Zuma suggested that the party might be healed if the runner-up at the December conference becomes deputy leader of the ANC. That may prove to be a hard sell.

Read: Jacob Zuma, the survivor

Cameroon bishop 'drowned - not murdered'

Randy Joe Sa'ah

BBC Africa, Bamenda

An investigation into the cause of death for Cameroonian Bishop Jean Bernard Balla, whose body was retrieved in June from the River Sanaga in the central province, has found that he drowned.

Cameroon Attorney General Jean Fils Ntamack said forensic experts from Interpol had reached that conclusion.

The council of Catholic bishops had alleged that their colleague was murdered and that his death was part of a pattern of persecution.

The bishops are yet to officially comment on the attorney general's statement.

'Policemen killed' in al-Shabab attack

We have been reporting about a dawn attack by Islamist militants al-Shabab in the Pandanguo area of Kenya's coastal county of Lamu.

The privately-owned Daily Nation newspaper is now reporting, quoting a local administrator, that at least two policemen have been killed and seven others are missing in the ongoing clashes with over 200 militants.

The report quotes the local administrator, who wanted to remain anonymous, saying that some villagers are also missing:

Unknown number of officers and villagers are missing. Some of the injured persons have been taken to Witu Hospital."

Two militants were also killed as they attempted to raze Pandanguo police post during a dawn attack, the report says.

The administrator said that fierce fighting had paralysed learning in six primary schools in the area.

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'Abuse of power' in Tanzania

Sammy Awami

BBC Africa, Dar es Salaam

John Magufuli
AFP
President Magufuli is nicknamed "The Bulldozer"

The arrest of Tanzania's opposition MP Halima Mdee for allegedly insulting President John Magufuli has been strongly condemned, with critics saying it is the latest sign that the government is abusing its power and trying to suppress freedom of expression.

Chadema spokesman Tumaini Makene told the BBC that the party was considering legal action against the district commissioner who ordered her arrest "and all other commissioners who are violating the law".

Ms Mdee is a member of Chadema, the main opposition party in the East African state.

She was accused by Ally Hapi - a district commissioner in the main city, Dar es Salaam - of insulting the president and inciting violence after she allegedly said that the president thinks his word is the law and one day he may order Tanzanians "to go topless".

The Alliance for Change and Transparency party leader Zitto Kabwe said her arrest was a "continuation of the misuse of power".

The law which gives a district commissioner the power to order an arrest "has nothing to do with what Mdee is accused of," he added.

Several people have previously been arrested for posting comments on social media that authorities deemed to be politically offensive.

The authorities believe they are acting within the law, and takings steps to ensure there are no "public disturbances" in Tanzania.

Mr Magufuli won presidential elections in 2015 and despite criticism from the opposition and rights groups, commands the support of many Tanzanians.

See earlier post for more details

SA's opposition alarmed by burglary at police HQ

South Africa main opposition party Democratic Alliance supporters hold signs as they attend a campaign rally on April 23, 2016 at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg, ahead of August municipal elections.
AFP
The opposition has played a vital role in exposing corruption in government

The main opposition party in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has called the burglary at the headquarters of the Hawks, an elite police unit which fights organised crime, as "politically motivated".

In a statement, it said the theft of computer hard drives, among other items, could be as a result of factional fights within the governing African National Congress (ANC):

The DA condemns in the strongest terms the break-in at the Hawks head office this morning, where several computers were reportedly stolen from the Human Resources, Finance and Supply Chain departments.

It is quite likely that this break-in was a politically-motivated act as part of ANC factional fighting that is playing out in a public sector arena that is meant to be insulated from politics."

The DA said the incident followed a series of suspicious attacks on those who "speak out or take a stand against corruption".

It listed several incidents, including last year's burglary at the office of the chief justice where computers with information about the country's judges were stolen.

Senior ANC leaders and government officials have been dogged by corruption allegations, and of colluding with businessmen to secure lucrative state tenders.

The Hawks unit has also become embroiled in factional battles, with critics accusing it of unfairly targeting rivals of the scandal-hit President Jacob Zuma.

Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza was fired in April after a court ruled that his appointment was unlawful.

Plea to strengthen CAR special court

Campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for greater support for a newly-established court in the Central African Republic (CAR) to end impunity for widespread abuses against civilians by several armed groups.

HRW says it has documented more than 560 civilian deaths in a two-and-a-half year period.

The campaign group says the Special Criminal Court, which has both local and international judges and prosecutors, needs greater financial and political support to be effective.

HRW also says civilians need greater protection from the United Nations peacekeeping force.

Fighting continues in the country despite several peace deals.

Kagame 'spoiled his ballot' at party nomination vote

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Rwanda's long-serving ruler Paul Kagame has revealed that he spoiled his ballot when his party unanimously chose him as its presidential candidate for the 4 August election.

Mr Kagame received 1,929 of the 1,930 votes cast by delegates at the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front's (RPF) congress last month.

Mr Kagame told a local TV station yesterday that the one spoiled ballot belonged to him. He wrote the party's name on it, rather than voting for himself.

He was elected unopposed as the RPF's candidate, and is expected to secure a third term in the 4 August poll.

Supporters of the Rwandan President Paul Kagame dance 23 August 2003 during his last public rally in the popular district of Nyiamirambo in the Rwandan capital Kigali
AFP
Mr Kagame's supporters say he has kept Rwanda stable

His decision to seek re-election was strongly criticised by opposition groups and his close Western allies.

The US and the European Union (EU) said Mr Kagame should step down to allow a new generation of leaders to emerge.

In 2015, Rwandans voted in a referendum, approving constitutional changes to allow him to run for three further terms and could potentially see him to stay in power until 2034.

His critics denounced the referendum as a sham.

Mr Kagame has dominated Rwandan politics since his rebel army ended the 1994 genocide.

Why people believe the myth of 'plastic rice'

Despite little evidence that it's a widespread problem, rumours of "plastic" rice being sold in Africa and elsewhere persist on social media - driven in particular by viral videos which show bouncing rice balls.

The rumours spread over the last few weeks in Senegal, Gambia and Ghana - and reached such a pitch that the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority decided to carry out an investigation.

They invited consumers and traders to submit samples of any rice brands they suspected of being made of plastic - and eventually concluded that there was no plastic rice being sold on the Ghanaian market.

Originating in China, rumours on social media have circulated since about 2010 of plastic rice being manufactured and mixed in with the real rice supply in order to trick consumers. The rumours were originally prompted by "fake rice" scandals, although they didn't involve food made entirely out of plastic.

Read the full article here

Video
YouTube

South Africa police headquarters burgled

BBC World Service

An elite police crime fighting unit in South Africa - The Hawks - has admitted that it was the victim of a burglary at its headquarters.

A spokesman for the Hawks said thieves made off with hard drives and other computer equipment during the break-in at the offices in the capital, Pretoria.

He said no case files were stolen, adding that it was too early to say who the thieves were.

South Africa police
Getty Images
South Africa's police force has been hit by factional battles and high levels of corruption

Kenyan security had 'tip-off about attack'

Wanyama wa Chebusiri

BBC Africa

A file photo taken on March 5, 2012 shows Al-Qaeda linked al-Shebab recruits walking down a street in the Deniile district of the Somalian capital, Mogadishu, following their graduation
Afp
Al-shabab fighters have reportedly destroyed a communication mast

Kenya's security forces responded quickly to the raid by militant Islamists on a rural area area in Lamu County as they had received a tip-off about a possible attack, a police officer has told me.

Policemen and soldiers are battling the al-Shabab fighters who managed to destroy a police post and attack a primary school in Pandanguo.

As the attack took place at dawn, the school was empty.

Residents escaped from their homesteads into the forest when they heard shots being fired, a Pandanguo village elder has told a local journalist.

A telephone mast in the area was disabled by the militants, severely affecting communication in the area, which is near the border with Somalia.

Details of casualties are still unknown.

Read: Who are al-Shabab?

ANC backs ICC withdrawal

Andrew Harding

BBC News, Johannesburg

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) has indicated that it still plans to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC is due to announce on Thursday whether South Africa broke the law in failing to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al Bashir during a visit to the country in 2015.

President Bashir is charged with genocide in connection with the conflict in Darfur.

udan's President Omar al-Bashir (C) waves to the crowd during a campaign rally for the upcoming presidential elections in El-Fasher, in North Darfur, on April 8, 2015.
AFP
Mr Bashir has dismissed the charges as politically motivated

South Africa’s government announced its plan to withdraw from the ICC two years ago.

It was part of a broader push by some African governments against an institution that they argued was unfairly targeting the continent and its leaders.

Since then, South Africa’s High Court has ruled that the government had gone about the withdrawal process unconstitutionally, having failed to consult parliament.

Now, the ANC has again indicated, at its policy conference, that it will not back down, and will continue developing plans to sever ties with the ICC.

'Record' migration levels in West and Central Africa

Martin Patience

BBC News, Nigeria correspondent

About 12 million people in West and Central Africa are on the move every year - more than half of them children, a new report by the UN children's agency, Unicef, says.

The report says the mass migration is caused by several factors including rapid population growth, conflict and climate change.

At no time in history, says Unicef, have so many people in the two regions been on the move. Seven million children are among those who cross borders every year.

Much of the movement in the region is legal, especially in West Africa where the regional body, Ecowas. facilitates regular migration.

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While Europe may be focused on Africans crossing the Mediterranean, this report highlights the fact the vast majority of migrants are staying within the continent itself.

But Unicef warns that the huge numbers are putting enormous pressure on already fragile government services - and that young children often fall through the cracks.

The report says the reasons for migration are complex but says climate change is one of the major factors.

It says severe flooding and droughts are making some forms of agriculture increasingly unsustainable.

Extreme gardening to help tackle malaria

Mosquitoes
tepic/Getty

Gardening could be a powerful weapon against malaria, culling mosquito populations by cutting off their food supply, say researchers.

A team tested their idea in nine villages in the arid Bandiagara district of Mali, West Africa.

Removing flowers from a common shrub appeared to kill off lots of the older, adult, female, biting insects that transmit malaria.

Without enough nectar the "granny" mosquitoes starve, experts believe.

Read more here

Al-Shabab attacks police post in Kenya

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Kenya's security forces are currently involved in a battle with al-Shabab fighters who attacked a police post and destroyed a communication mast in the coastal county of Lamu, local media reports.

Witnesses told the Standard newspaper that the militant Islamists had also attack a school during the dawn raid on the settlement of Pandanguo.

However, there is no confirmation of the attack on the school.

The Standard quotes the police boss of the coastal area, Philip Tuimur, as saying that the security forces are still engaged in a fight with the militants:

“The engagement is ongoing and we are waiting for more response from the ground,” he said.

The area has experienced multiple attacks from the militants, who are headquarted in neighbouring Somalia.

Last week, four pupils and four policemen were killed after the vehicle they were travelling in hit an explosive device in the small town of Kiunga, the Standard reports.

Today's attack comes days after a top government official from the area called for an intense security operation in Boni forest, where the militants are believed to be operating from.

Tanzanian MP arrested for calling Magufuli "ill-mannered"

John Magufuli
AFP

An opposition MP in Tanzania has been arrested by police for allegedly insulting President John Magufuli by saying he has become "ill-mannered" and will one day "order Tanzanians to go topless".

Halima Mdee was detained on Tuesday evening on the orders of a district commissioner in the main city, Dar es Salaam, after he accused her of making "unacceptable" comments at a meeting of her Chadema party on Monday.

Four policemen picked her up from her home in Dar es Salaam, local media reports.

Ms Mdee and Chadema have not yet commented.

Under the law, she has to be released or charged within 48 hours.

Her arrest comes just days after Mr Magufuli warned opposition leaders to be careful about what they say in public.

He told the authorities to take action against anyone who incites violence.

The youthful Ms Mdee is alleged to have insulted the president while criticising him for saying that girls who give birth should not be allowed to return to school.

At a rally last month, Mr Magufuli told schoolgirls: "After getting pregnant, you are done."

Today's wise words

Our African proverb of the day:

Three things are disliked by all people – lies, begging and sickness."

A Somali proverb sent by Sahardid Hashi Ardale in Borama, Somaliland

Click here to send us your African proverbs

Good morning

Welcome to BBC Africa Live where we will bring you the latest news from around the continent.