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Summary

  1. No charges for Tanzania's pregnant schoolgirls
  2. Anti-Grace Mugabe heckler dies
  3. Ghana immigration agency bars women with stretch marks
  4. Cameroon separatist leader 'arrested in Nigeria'
  5. Sudanese student killed in bread protests
  6. Gay Ghanaians 'second-class citizens'
  7. Kidnapped Nigerian Catholic sisters released
  8. Angola's President holds first press conference
  9. Curfew in Zambia's cholera-hit capital

Live Reporting

By Natasha Booty and Dickens Olewe

All times stated are UK

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Scroll down for Monday's stories

We'll be back tomorrow

That's all from BBC Africa Live 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 the water has life the fish have life."

An Igbo proverb from Nigeria sent by Nnamdi Chukwu in London, UK

Click here to send us your African proverbs.

And we leave you with this image taken in Lamu, Kenya and shared by Tastemakers Africa on Instagram:

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Sudan bread protests continue

BBC World Service

A Sudanese man works at a bakery in the capital Khartoum on January 5, 2018.
AFP
Bread prices in Sudan have shot up after the government scrapped flour subsidies

Police in Sudan have fired tear gas at students who were protesting against a recent doubling of the price of bread.

They blocked hundreds of students from leaving the campus of the University of Khartoum.

This is the fourth day of protests against the government's decision to remove subsidies.

The authorities say violent protests will be met with force.

The decision to increase the price of bread is part of the government's response to IMF recommendations on how to improve the ailing economy.

Violent protests in Tunisia over economic woes

Rana Jawad

BBC North Africa correspondent, Tunis

Map showing location of the towns Thala and Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia.
BBC

Anger over new austerity measures and rising living costs has triggered violent protests in at least two Tunisian towns.

State news said police used tear gas to disperse a demonstration in the province of Kasserine earlier today, after protesters reportedly burned tires on the streets of the town of Thala.

Around 300 people also reportedly took to the streets in the central city of Sidi Bouzid.

Inflation and increased taxes on imports like cars have triggered the latest protests. It comes as Tunisia's currency hit a new record low against the euro today.

The economy has been struggling since 2011, when former ruler Zine El Abdine Ben Ali was ousted from power.

Two deadly terror attacks in 2015 targeting its vital tourism industry made it more difficult to recover.

Demonstrators say they are fed up of high unemployment rates, and what they see as a lack of development in their cities and towns.

Tunisia is reliant on foreign aid, and donor conditions for accessing the funds have included tough austerity measures for the new financial year.

'Why I returned to The Gambia'

A still of Killa Ace from one of his music videos
YouTube
Killa Ace aka Ali Cham says he fled The Gambia in 2015 after receiving death threats

Gambian rapper Killa Ace has recently returned to his home country from exile in Senegal.

He told BBC Focus on Africa that, apart from his daughter and his fans, he didn't miss anything about The Gambia:

Who would want to come to a country where there's no electricity? Who would want to come back to a country where there's oppression?"

After performing at an open mic festival in the capital Banjul, he told Sasha Gankin how it feels now to be back home:

Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai hints he will resign

Shingai Nyoka

BBC Africa, Harare

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, has hinted that he will retire as head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

In a new year statement released today, he says he is "looking at the imminent prospects of us as the older generation leaving the levers of leadership to allow the younger generation to take forward this huge task".

It's not quite a resignation statement, but it is the strongest indication yet that he could step down.

Mr Tsvangirai, who has been dogged by colon cancer, founded the MDC 18 years ago and it is seen as the strongest challenger to the ruling Zanu-PF party’s 38-year rule.

The 65-year-old also refers to his ongoing illness in the statement, and calls for "new hands... to take this struggle and this country forward”.

But he sets no timelines.

Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections by August, and Mr Tsvangirai has already been named as the leader of a broad coalition. Many believe without him that arrangement would crumble.

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa (R) shakes hands with the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the country's main opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai (L), who has been battling cancer, during a visit at his home in Harare on January 5, 2018.
AFP
Mr Tsvangirai appeared frail during a home visit from President Mngangagwa last week

Ghanaian women with 'bleached skin' and 'stretch marks' locked out of jobs

Favour Nunoo

BBC Pidgin, Accra

Ghana's Immigration Service will automatically disqualify women with bleached skin, stretch marks and surgery cuts from its ongoing recruitment process, the agency's spokesman told BBC Pidgin.

Michael Amoako-Attah said the selection criteria was necessary to ensure the staff's safety and wellbeing:

If you have bleached skin or surgical marks on your body during training exercises you may incur some bleeding and that wouldn't help or augur well for the safety of the applicant, because we have seen it before and as much as possible we should avoid re-occurrence.”

Men sporting dreadlocks will also be excluded.

The government body says it had received 84,637 applications to fill 500 posts.

It says 47,477 have been shortlisted for the second stage.

Applicants had to pay 50 Ghanaian Cedi ($11; £8) which earned the agency $880,000.

A Twitter user has called it extortion and appealed for President Nana Akufo-Addo to intervene:

View more on twitter

This is not the first time a state agency has discriminated against women based on their appearance. Other security agencies, such as the armed forces, have disqualified women for having what they considered to be big breasts and buttocks.

Some MPs in Ghana have urged disqualified applicants to take their complaints to court.

A woman shows scars on her arm at a hospital in Dakar caused by using skin lightening creams on May 20, 2009.
AFP
A woman in hospital shows scars on her arm caused by skin lightening creams

Cameroon separatist leader 'arrested in Nigeria'

Stephanie Hegarty

BBC Africa, Lagos

The leader of a Cameroonian separatist movement was taken from a hotel in Nigeria by a group of armed men, an eyewitness has told the BBC.

Officially Nigeria’s domestic intelligence agency, the DSS, has denied arresting Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine of his colleagues.

But a source within the agency told the BBC that it was involved in the operation, alongside operatives from Cameroon.

Mr Ayuk Tabe's separatist group, the Governing Council of Ambazonia (GCA), has released a statement demanding his release.

A map showing the location of Abuja, Nigeria, relative to Cameroon.
BBC

According to the eyewitness, at least 15 people in military clothing came to the hotel in Abuja at 7pm on Friday evening and apprehended the group who were holding a meeting there.

The eyewitness said it wasn’t clear where those co-ordinating the arrest were from, though some were Nigerians.

The GCA was a fringe political group until recently when Anglophone protests against Cameroon's predominantly French-speaking government were violently suppressed. Mr Ayuk Tabe had been based in Nigeria.

It is seen as one of the biggest political challenges to the 35-year rule of Cameroon's President Paul Biya, and it comes as Nigeria is also dealing with its own Biafran separatists in the south-east of the country.

Somaliland passes landmark anti-rape law

Anne Soy

BBC Africa, Nairobi

The self-declared republic of Somaliland has passed a law against rape for the first time.

In the past, rapists would be asked to marry their victims, but now they stand to face at least 30 years in prison.

Somaliland’s Speaker of Parliament, Bashe Mohamed Farah, told the BBC that cases of rape have been rising but he hoped the new law would help stop the trend.

Rape will now be treated as a crime rather than a cultural problem.

Traditional mechanisms of resolving such cases, which often favour the perpetrator, have now been banned.

Often the victim would be forced to marry the rapist and the families would support such a resolution to hide the shame attached to rape.

Most victims had no say, until now.

Young women take part in an art lesson at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Mogadishu on March 24, 2015, where survivors of sexual violence can find refuge, medical care and support. Sexual violence is widespread in Somalia and rarely prosecuted.
AFP
Survivors of sexual violence take part in an art lesson at a refuge in Somalia's capital Mogadishu

The new law comes after years of lobbying by children and women’s rights advocates.

Faisa Ali Yusuf of the Women’s Agenda Forum told the BBC they have been waiting for such legislation for a very long time.

Somaliland is also keen to be seen internationally as a viable democracy with working systems.

But implementing such a groundbreaking law in a deeply cultural society is going to require a lot more than political will.

There is no law against rape in Somalia.

Lourenco marks 100 days in office

President Joao Lourenco
Getty Images
Joao Lourenco took over from Jose Eduardo dos Santos after 38 years in power

We now have some remarks from Angola’s President Joao Lourenco who was speaking to reporters to mark 100 days since coming into office.

He told reporters that he may change the leadership of the country’s $5bn (£3.75bn) sovereign wealth fund within days, depending on the results of an external inquiry into its performance.

The fund was in the spotlight late last year after documents surfaced through the Paradise Papers data leaks revealing that an entrepreneur charged with managing Angola's oil wealth was paid more than $41m in just 20 months.

The fund is run by Jose Filomeno dos Santos, son of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who was succeeded by Mr Lourenco last year.

If Mr Lourenco dismisses his predecessor's son, it will be the second dismissal of a member of the former first family.

He fired Isabel dos Santos in November as the head of the state-oil firm Sonangol.

The Angolan leader also told reporters that his administration would implement austerity measures, saying that civil servants' salaries will be capped:

“When the economy is a little better, it’s only right that it should move the national salary, but now it would not be very advisable.”

Senegalese rebels blame illegal logging for killings

A rebel group in Senegal's southern Casamance region has condemned the killing of 13 people over the weekend, blaming it on a feud over illegal teak logging.

The Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC) said on its website that it "firmly condemns" the killings, which it said would undermine efforts to restore peace in the region, the AFP news agency reports.

According to a survivor, the 13 young men were murdered in an execution-style killing deep in Borofaye forest.

The government said 10 were shot dead, two were stabbed to death and one was burned. Half a dozen more were wounded, AFP reports.

The MFDC said that the authorities should "focus their inquiries" on local military and governmental officials "who are at the head of a vast network of illegal logging and selling of teak".

Teak is a high-value tropical hardwood whose resilience makes it prized for use in boat decking and outdoor furniture.

Local media suggested the youths were attacked by a group hostile to the MFDC while collecting wood.

Once home to a thriving tourist industry, Casamance is separated from the Senegalese capital, Dakar, by The Gambia.

Map of Senegal
BBC

The region has experienced a secessionist campaign for more than 35 years.

It is home to numerous ethnic groups, including many Christians, while northern areas are dominated by three, largely Muslim communities.

Violence has mostly waned since a 2014 ceasefire agreed between the government and rebels.

Somaliland journalists jailed 'for publishing propaganda'

Farah Yussuf

BBC Monitoring

A court in the breakaway republic of Somaliland has sentenced two journalists to two years in prison each for “publishing propaganda”, a local rights group says.

Mohamed Abdullahi Dabshid of London-based Kalsan TV and Ahmed Diriye, a manager at the Somali Broadcasting Corporation, were accused of publishing “subversive and anti-national propaganda”, the Somaliland-based Human Rights Centre (HRC) said.

The charges against the journalists are linked to a story claiming Ethiopian militiamen were being trained in Somaliland.

HRC'S head, Guleid Ahmed Jama, condemned the sentencing of the journalists, adding that “journalism is not a crime”.

A lawyer for the journalists said he will appeal against the convictions.

Somaliland possesses a vibrant and diverse range of news media, but human rights organisations say its media laws are restrictive.

Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but it has yet to achieve any formal international recognition as a sovereign state.

Why African millennials can't get enough of Bitcoin

Catherine Byaruhanga

BBC Africa, Kampala

Bitcoin
Getty Images

Bitcoin's eye-watering price surge over the past year is proving too tempting to resist despite fears that cryptocurrencies are a bubble floating towards an inevitable burst.

The Nigerian, Kenyan and Ugandan central banks have issued warnings about getting involved in the new and unregulated market.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya went as far as saying digital currencies are a type of Ponzi scheme because of the way their value often fluctuates.

However the allure of trading cryptocurrency holds a particular appeal to African millennials.

Read more: Why African millennials can't get enough of Bitcoin

'No charges' for Tanzania's pregnant schoolgirls

Tulanana Bohela

BBC Africa, Dar es Salaam

The authorities in Tanzania will not charge five pregnant schoolgirls who had reportedly been arrested over the weekend on the orders of a local government administrator.

Speaking to the BBC, Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byankwa said that no charges were made against the girls or their parents, and therefore no-one was to be taken to court.

He added that they were looking for whoever impregnated the girls:

The solution is the get the parents themselves and interview them and find out, dig up the roots to how far this problem goes in the community and find a sustainable solution."

Kate McAlpine, director of the Arusha-based Community for Children Rights, told the BBC that there is nothing under Tanzanian law to allow schoolgirls to be arrested for being pregnant, adding: “The 1998 Sexual Offences Provsions Act does not criminalise underage sex.”

Ms McAlpine says that child younger than 18 who engage in sex would be considered victims under the law.

More than 15,000 pregnant girls drop out out school every year in Tanzania, according to Human Rights Watch.

Tanzania's Health and Demographic Survey reports that 27% of adolescent women aged between 15 and 19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

Last year, President John Magufuli said his administration would not allow teenage mothers back to school after giving birth.

Child rights campaigner Kate McAlpine believes that the commissioner responsible for arresting the five schoolgirls is “currying favour with the president by mimicking his stance”.

Anti-Grace Mugabe heckler dies

A man who led a group of youth to boo Zimbabwe's former First Lady Grace Mugabe during a political rally in November, has died in a car accident, New Zimbabwe.com reports.

The news-site says Magura Charumbira died on Monday in a road accident after his car crashed into a stationary lorry along the Harare-Bulawayo road near Norton, 40 km (24 miles) outside the capital.

The booing incident angered then-president Robert Mugabe who accused his then deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa of organising and sponsoring the hecklers.

He fired Mr Mnangagwa two days later, a move that led to a dramatic military intervention which culminated with his resignation on 21 November, ending his 37 years in power.

A Twitter user linked to the ruling Zanu-PF confirmed the news of Charumbira's death:

View more on twitter

'Cholera forces partial curfew in Zambian capital'

Map of Zambia showing Lusaka's location
BBC

Zambia has declared a curfew in a poor neighbourhood of the capital Lusaka to combat the spread of cholera, Reuters news agency reports.

It quotes the government as saying that Kanyama in Lusaka is one of the areas worst hit by a cholera outbreak which it says has so far killed 58 people nationwide since September.

The deadly bacterial infection is caused by consuming contaminated food or water.

The night-time curfew begins at 18:00 and ends at 06:00 local time, Reuters quotes Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya as saying.

Reuters says the township has a population of 370,000 people.

It follows the mass demolition of street vendors's stalls last week, which state-owned media said was ordered to "rid the city of cholera".

Sacked primary teachers threaten strike in Kaduna

Teachers threatening strike action over job losses in Nigeria's Kaduna state have been issued a stern warning.

"The government is not available to be blackmailed into knowingly retaining unqualified teachers," said Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai in a Facebook post.

A total of 21,780 primary school teachers were sacked recently, after failing the exams they set for their six-year-old pupils.

Mr El-Rufai said they accounted for two-thirds of primary school teachers in Kaduna State.

Children sit in a classroom
Getty Images
State Governor has called the proposed strike action "illegal"

Angola's president holds first press conference

Angola's new President Joao Lourenco is holding his first press conference since taking over from long-time ruler, Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, a former BBC journalist has tweeted:

View more on twitter

Mr Dos Santos ruled the country for 38 years and resigned in August last year.

President Lourenco, who now leads the ruling MPLA party, has confounded many by pushing for reform which has targeted his predecessor's family.

He fired Isabel Dos Santos, who was the head of the country's state oil company Sonangol, in November.

We will be monitoring the press conference. Stay with us for updates.

Read: Joao Lourenco: Can 'Angola's JLo' fill Dos Santos' shoes?

Kidnapped Nigerian Catholic sisters 'freed'

Six people including three Catholic sisters who were kidnapped in November last year in Nigeria's southern Edo state have been released, the Vanguard newspaper reports.

It quotes Sister Agatha Osarekhoe, the head sister at the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent, confirming the release.

She said: “They are fine. They are receiving [a] medical check-up in a hospital.”

The kidnappers had asked for a $54,000 (£40,000) ransom which Sister Osarekhoe said was not paid to secure the release:

“No ransom was paid. Well, we know that they [police] did their best because they are aware. They had to do their work. The most important thing is that our sisters are out.”

Commissioner of Police, Johnson Kokumo, is quoted as saying that that the women were released during an operation by security officers. He added that the "daredevil kidnappers" fled when the officers saw them.

'Gay Ghanaians are second-class citizens' - HRW

Same-sex activity is criminalised in Ghana under a colonial-era law
BBC

A rights group says Ghanaians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) are effectively "second-class citizens" because they are criminalised and not protected from violence and discrimination.

In its report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) quotes an unnamed 40-year-old lesbian from Cape Coast, who says:

The government should recognise that we are human beings, with dignity, not treat us as outcasts in our own society. We want to be free, so we can stand tall in public and not deal with obstacles and harassment daily."

Same-sex activity is illegal in Ghana under a colonial-era law.

HRW says that although Ghana has not stiffened penalties against consensual same-sex in recent years, “homophobic statements by local and national government officials, traditional elders, and senior religious leaders foment discrimination and in some cases, incite violence.”

The rights group is campaigning for this law to be repealed.

'Pregnant schoolgirls arrested in Tanzania'

Child rights activists in Tanzania have criticised the arrest of five pregnant schoolgirls and their parents over the weekend, according to The Citizen.

The teenagers were arrested in Tandahimba, southern Tanzania, on the orders of a local district commissioner and later released on bail, the news site adds.

Gender and child rights campaigners are quoted by The Citizen news site as saying the authorities should have arrested the men who caused the pregnancy rather than the victims.

Local authorities are looking for the men who impregnated the girls, according to Mohamed Azizi, a district official quoted by the news site.

Mr Azizi is also reported as saying that the arrest is part of wider efforts to end student pregnancies in the area, where 55 schoolgirls have reportedly become pregnant over the past two years.

Teenage pregnancy has become a focus for politicians of late.

Last year, Tanzania's President John Magufuli was condemned for comments that girls who give birth should not be allowed to return to school.

A pregnant student poses on July 29, 2013 in Pretoria at the Pretoria Hospital School specialised in teenage pregnancy. The Pretoria Hospital School, a Public School opened in 1950 and originally dedicated to sick children, is the only school of its kind in South Africa.
AFP

Where to sail for migrant rescue missions?

This weekend saw the first casualties of 2018 in the Mediterranean, as a dinghy carrying migrants to Europe sank off the coast of Libya.

Johannes Bayer is head of mission for Sea-Watch 3, a boat which is part of an NGO which operates rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

He tells BBC Newsday how they decide where to sail:

The boat operates for an NGO which searches the Mediterranean

Student killed in Sudan bread protests

BBC World Service

Protests in Sudan over a sharp increase in the price of bread following the removal of government subsidies yesterday spread to the capital, Khartoum.

Police used tear gas against protesters who threw stones, burned tyres and blocked roads. In West Darfur, a student demonstrator was killed.

A junior interior minister warned that destructive protests would be dealt with forcefully.

The authorities have seized all copies of a number of newspapers which criticised the price rises.

Unrest over a cut in fuel subsidies in Sudan in 2013 led to weeks of disturbances in which the government acknowledged that more than 80 people were killed.

A Sudanese man works at a bakery in the capital Khartoum on January 5, 2018.
AFP
Bread prices in Sudan have doubled after the government scrapped flour subsidies

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