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Live Reporting

By Tom Spender and Clare Spencer

All times stated are UK

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  1. Scroll down for Friday's stories

    We'll be back next week

    That's all from us 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:

    Quote Message: A long wait may harm the stomach.

    Click here to send us your African proverbs.

    And we leave you with this picture of South Sudanese model Nykhor Paul,at New York Fashion week, it's part of our top shots of the week:

    South Sudanese model Nykhor Paul
  2. Ivorian cocoa farmers call off strike

    Alex Duval Smith

    BBC News, Abidjan

    Ivorian cocoa farmers have agreed to call off their strike to allow for talks with the Coffee and Cocoa Council. 

    Stockpiles of cocoa have built up over the past few months in Ivorian ports as exporters have defaulted on orders. 

    Meanwhile the farmers say they have not been paid for their crops since December.

    Image caption: On Thursday striking growers brandished documents showing buyers have not paid them
  3. Zambia newspaper editor criticises home raid

    Image caption: Mr M'membe described the raid on his home as "cowardly"

    Zambian authorities are seeking to arrest the managing editor of the country's leading opposition newspaper, which was closed down last year ahead of presidential elections, AFP reported.

    They have already arrested his wife Mutinta after turning up at his house while he was on holiday. She was detained in custody for two days before being released on bail and charged with allegedly obstructing the police.

    Fred M'membe faces contempt of court charges in a long-running legal battle over tax payments and alleged unpaid salaries since The Post newspaper was shut and its publishing company wound up. 

    The closure of The Post - a vocal critic of President Edgar Lungu - was severely criticised by election observers, with the EU saying that campaigning was "marred by systematic bias in state media". Mr Lungu won the election but his opponent said it was rigged.

    Mr M'membe has in the past accused the government of closing his newspaper to stifle independent media.

    In a statement, he criticised the Zambian authorities for Wednesday's raid on his home:

    Quote Message: I learnt of the arrest of my wife Mutinta and harassment of my lawyer Nchima Nchito with deep sadness. This was inhuman, unacceptable and done in bad faith. The invasion of my home in my absence was and is a cowardly and desperate act.
    Quote Message: The liquidation of The Post is supposed to be a civil issue. The use of the police, intelligence officers and the entire state machinery, including State House, is unwarranted. It is impunity of the highest order.
    Quote Message: My children, wife and relatives residing at my home have to be left alone. The policemen and state agents should vacate my home. It is me President Edgar Lungu is after. He should have the patience to wait for a few more days."
  4. UN demands to know fate of South Sudanese abducted in Kenya

    The UN has asked the Kenyan and South Sudanese governments to reveal the whereabouts of two South Sudanese men who were abducted in Kenya last month. 

    They say the two were reportedly abducted with the involvement of security personnel from both Kenya and South Sudan. 

    Dong Samuel Luak, a human rights activist from South Sudan who had been given refugee status in Kenya, was on his way to board a bus in Nairobi when he was snatched on 23 January, the UN says in a statement.

    The statement goes on to say Aggrey Idri Ezibon, chair of the rebel SPLM-IO’s Humanitarian Affairs Committee, was last seen the next day in the Kilimani neighbourhood of Nairobi.

    “The ongoing hearings and recent arrest warrant issued for a suspect linked to these disappearances are positive steps in the right direction,” said a United Nations expert group on enforced disappearances. 

    “However, efforts must be stepped up so as to ensure credible investigations, including into the alleged role of Kenya security agents, and promptly establish the whereabouts of the two men,” the group added.

  5. Even camels are not surviving devastating drought

    Emmanuel Igunza

    BBC Africa, Addis Ababa

    Image caption: There is scarce water for camels and some are not surviving

    Thousands of Somali refugees are crossing into neighboring Ethiopia as a devastating drought bites in their country.   

    When I met one farmer he told me that even his camels had died:

    Quote Message: In my life, I have not witnessed drought as terrible as this one. I had 50 camels and 200 goats. They are all gone now. All I have left are my children."
    Hussein Ali Farah
    Image caption: Hussein Ali Farah said he only knows life as a farmer

    Hussein Ali Farah, 56, went on to tell me that he hoped he could quickly get assistance to re-stock his animals animals. 

    I met him in the Weder area in south east Ethiopia, where some people had taken their camels in search for water:

    Camel and man
    Water containers
    Camels and boy

    Ethiopia itself is in the grip of a new drought in its southern and southeastern regions and the government is appealing for nearly $1bn for urgent of food aid.

    The UN has warned that this drought affecting the Horn and Eastern Africa "has all the signs of the drought in 2011" when a quarter of a million people died.  

    Watch more about the looming famine:

    Video content

    Video caption: Somalia faces 'catastrophic' famine if drought continues
  6. Uganda 'not about to expel Burundi refugees'

    Sammy Maina

    BBC Monitoring

    Burundi refugees in Tanzania

    The head of Uganda's refugee department has denied media reports that Kampala is seeking to expel Burundian refugees from the country at the behest of Bujumbura.

    Commissioner of Refugees David Apollo Kazungu said the government would "continue to provide asylum to the Burundian refugees till such a time when it is safe for them to return".

    Deutsche Welle had reported that Uganda planned to send home at least 46,000 refugees from Burundi following a request from its government. 

    DW said Ugandan Minister of Refugees Hillary Onek as saying: "You are given a visa to stay here for three months and if your visa is expired, we shall not do it like Trump but we shall advise them quietly to go back".

    Burundi has been hit by unrest since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term in April 2015. Several hundred people have died since the violence started and at least 240,000 have fled to Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Uganda.

  7. Can Ghana build its way out of trouble?

    With the election of a new president in January 2017 and the start of a new year, most Ghanaians are hoping for a new dawn. 

    The West African nation has suffered a few economic shocks - affecting its currency, jobs and local investments - and has raised its levels of public debt and borrowing. 

    However, despite its economic woes, property developers say there is everything to play for. 

    The BBC’s Lerato Mbele finds out more:

    Video content

    Video caption: Can Ghana build its way out of trouble?
  8. Kenya denies mass mobile phone surveillance plan

    Kenya has more than 30 million mobile phone subscribers
    Image caption: Kenya has more than 30 million mobile phone subscribers

    The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has denied it wants to carry out mass surveillance amid criticism of its plan to monitor mobile phone use.

    The CA has ordered mobile phone firms to install equipment to allow the telecommunications regulator to monitor activity on their networks.

    It means the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) would have the ability to listen to calls, read messages and view financial transactions.

    But the body says the move is not about mass surveillance and is necessary in its fight against counterfeit phones.

    Such handsets cannot be tracked and are often used by criminals.

    The country's biggest telecoms operator, Safaricom, says it has "strong reservations" about the move.

    Read the full story here

  9. What next for Libya?

    Six years ago this week the brutal repression of a protest in Libya's second city of Benghazi inspired a revolution that led to the fall of Col Muammar Gaddafi. 

    Today the country is preyed on by more than 1,500 militias. Different governments rule in the west around Tripoli and in the east from Tobruk.

    Now some international powers are considering abandoning the ineffectual UN-led attempts to find political solutions and instead are turning once again to a Libyan military leader to seize control. 

    General Khalifa Haftar, commander of a powerful militia, the Libyan National Army, is seen by his supporters as the only man to restore stability to the country. 

    But his critics argue that the last thing Libya needs is a return to the rule of a strongman.

    The BBC's Rana Jawad explained on Newshour the complex situation:

    Video content

    This content is currently not available

  10. Maiduguri bombers 'only succeeded in blowing themselves up'

    Forensics cover a dead body and clear the scene of a blast in Maiduguri on February 17, 2017.
    Image caption: Ltest reports suggest only the bombers themselves died

    We reported earlier that a firefight between Nigerian security forces and suspected Boko Haram militants took place last night in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri.

    Now Mohammed Kanar, from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has told AFP press agency says as many as seven suicide bombers were involved. 

    He said six were women:

    Quote Message: None of the six female bombers succeeded in their attacks. They ended up being killed in the explosions. A man who dropped them off in his car then tried to ram a military checkpoint was also unsuccessful.

    He added that the bombers only succeeded in blowing themselves up, contrary to earlier reports.

  11. Hundreds of migrants sent back to Senegal from Libya

    Leone Ouedraogo

    BBC Africa, Dakar

    Migrants detained in Tripoli
    Image caption: The migrants were detained in Tripoli

    At least 174 Senegalese migrants have returned from Libya where they were detained whilst attempting to cross the Mediterranean. 

    Abdoulaye Niass, one of the peoplewho returned today, told me his situation in Libya was dire:  

    Quote Message: We were in prison. I spend almost 4 months there. We went there because we wanted to reach Europe. But they caught us at sea. Over there [in Libya], we didn't have food. We couldn’t sleep well. They were beating us.

    The operation was organised by Senegalese authorities under the supervision of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  

    In 2016, IOM has supported at least 1,500 migrants to voluntarily return to their countries of origin.

  12. Sudan's 'forgotten' pyramids

    More than 200km (124 miles) from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, the remains of an ancient city stand in the desert.

    The Nubian pyramids in Meroe are smaller than the more famous ones in Egypt but there are many more of them.

    BBC Travel Show's Ben Zand joined some guides making a trek to the site and found it unguarded and deserted of tourists.

    Find out more @bbctravelshow

    Video content

    Video caption: The 'forgotten' pyramids of Sudan
  13. South Sudan minister defects to rebels

    View more on twitter

    A South Sudanese minister has resigned from the country's unity government to rejoin the rebel movement led by the former Vice-President Riek Machar. 

    The minister, Gabriel Duop Lam, was appointed last year as part of a peace deal. 

    He initially did not join Mr Machar when he fled the country following days of fighting in the capital, Juba, last July, but has now changed his mind. 

    The defection follows the recent resignation of a senior general, Thomas Cirillo Swaka. 

    South Sudan
    Image caption: South Sudan's three-year old civil war has displaced more than 3.5 million people
  14. Kissing the ground in Ceuta

    We are getting images of the moments after immigrants stormed through fence this morning to enter Ceuta, the Spanish enclave in North Africa.

    Kissing ground

    AFP reports that one person shouted: "I love you Mamma, long live Spain!"   

    A migrant holding a European Union flag sits on the ground with others after storming a fence to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, Spain, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. An emergency team in Ceuta is assisting more than 300 migrants who crossed the fence surrounding Spain"s enclave in North Africa early Friday, a spokesman for the local Red Cross said.

    An emergency team in Ceuta is assisting more than 300 migrants, a spokesman for the local Red Cross told AFP.

  15. Abidjan's accidental entrepreneur

    Evelyne Masumbuko is the wife of an expat worker who found herself moving to Abidjan in Ivory Coast to join her husband in 2015. 

    Anxious to make the move seamless and interesting for her family, she gathered all the information she could find about the new country and collected it into one portal. 

    That information became a website for other expats and then grew into an entertainment channel, linking local Ivorian celebrities with visitors and fans. 

    Evelyne tells the BBC how she become an entrepreneur, running a business that she accidentally created.

    Video content

    Video caption: Ivory Coast's accidental ex-pat network entrepreneur
  16. Kenyan Uber story goes viral

    A short story about a Nairobi Uber driver has been shared online thousands of times after being posted on Facebook by law student Charles Muchori last week. 

    View more on facebook

    Mr Chanchori regularly posts stories on his page, but wasn't prepared for the response to this one, which has now attracted the interest of film-makers.  

    He spoke to the BBC World Service:

    Video content

    Video caption: A short story about a Nairobi Uber driver has been shared online thousands of times
  17. Mali region bans motorbike use

    Alex Duval Smith

    BBC News, Abidjan

    bikes in Mali
    Image caption: Motorcycles are the main form of transport in Mali

    In Mali the chief of army staff has banned the use of motorcycles for moving between villages in the Segou region. 

    The ban - that seems centred on areas where the Islamist Macina Liberation Front is active - comes into effect at midnight on Sunday and specifically states that motorised two-wheelers are linked to terrorism. 

    It's an extraordinary decision for Mali where motorbikes are the number one form of transport.

    The decision comes in the wake of a clampdown in central Mali on ethnic Fulanis - who some Malian believe are linked to the Macina militants. 

    Human rights groups have criticised a Malian military operation which led to dozens of arrests and a number of deaths in the past week.

    Mali order
    Image caption: The order says motorcycles are banned in the Segou region
  18. UK government investigating Charles Taylor 'contact with allies' from prison

    Esther Webber

    BBC News

    Charles Taylor

    The UK government has confirmed it is looking into reports that war criminal Charles Taylor phoned his political allies from prison in the north of England.

    A spokeswoman for the UK Foreign Office told the BBC: "The UK has discussed this at the highest levels with the Liberian government and we are investigating.”

    Earlier this week Liberian information minister Eugene Nagbe, speaking to the BBC World Service, said he was "very concerned" at the alleged phone call. 

    A British MP who chairs an all-party group on Africa, Labour's Chi Onwurah, has also spoken out, warning that Taylor's influence "has the potential to threaten peace in Liberia," especially in light of the forthcoming election. 

    On a visit to Monrovia on Wednesday, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson emphasised the importance of UK's relationship with Liberia. 

  19. 'We will field Robert Mugabe's corpse for election'

    Grace Mugabe

    Grace Mugabe has been giving a speech at a campaign rally as she continues to position herself as her husband’s potential successor as leader.

    She has reportedly offered to field 92-year-old Robert Mugabe's corpse as an election candidate to demonstrate Zimbabweans' affection for him. 

    View more on twitter
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