West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Apr 25, 2015

Togo votes in delayed presidential election

LOME (Reuters) – Togo began voting on Saturday in an election expected to give President Faure Gnassingbe a third term in power, facing a divided opposition and controversy over how results are tallied and announced.

Gnassingbe has been president since 2005 when his father died after 38 years in charge. Campaigning has been largely peaceful and there are no signs of the tensions that led to violence in 2005, when hundreds died after the election.

Apr 23, 2015

Veteran Togo leader seen winning third term, extending family rule

LOME, April 23 (Reuters) – Togo’s President Faure
Gnassingbe, unshackled by term limits and facing a divided
opposition, looks set to win a third term in Saturday’s
election, extending his family’s leadership of the tiny West
African nation to more than half a century.

The opposition has lodged last-minute complaints over the
system of tallying results from the election, which was delayed
by 10 days to clean up voter lists, but tensions are well below
the levels of 2005 when hundreds died in post-election violence.

Mar 29, 2015

Insight – Hardline Mali rebel demands stall hopes for peace

DAKAR (Reuters) – Mediators in northern Mali’s conflict underestimated the radicalisation of a new generation at the heart of a separatist movement, a misstep that left the peace process in tatters after rebels refused to sign a proposed deal.

Gambling on pushing through an agreement, Algerian mediators organised only a handful of face-to-face meetings between the government and the Tuareg-led insurgents, participants said; too few to overcome the mutual mistrust accumulated by four rebellions in the desert north since independence in 1960.

Mar 29, 2015

Hardline Mali rebel demands stall hopes for peace

DAKAR (Reuters) – Mediators in northern Mali’s conflict underestimated the radicalization of a new generation at the heart of a separatist movement, a misstep that left the peace process in tatters after rebels refused to sign a proposed deal.

Gambling on pushing through an agreement, Algerian mediators organized only a handful of face-to-face meetings between the government and the Tuareg-led insurgents, participants said; too few to overcome the mutual mistrust accumulated by four rebellions in the desert north since independence in 1960.

Mar 12, 2015

Nigeria drafts in foreign mercenaries to take on Boko Haram

JOHANNESBURG/DAKAR (Reuters) – Nigeria has brought in hundreds of mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union to give its offensive against Boko Haram a shot in the arm before a March 28 election, according to regional security, defense and diplomatic sources.

Rumors about the use of foreign “soldiers of fortune” against the Islamist militant group gained substance this month when pictures surfaced on Twitter showing armored vehicles rumbling along a street in what was said to be Maiduguri, the regional capital of Nigeria’s Boko Haram-hit northeast.

Mar 5, 2015

Blackstone eyes opportunities in African power shortages

DAKAR (Reuters) – Private equity will play a key role in developing Africa given the massive needs for capital on the continent, says Blackstone Group (BX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which is focusing on infrastructure projects involving power generation and transmission.

CEO Steve Schwarzman said he would continue to seek partners like Aliko Dangote — Africa’s richest man, with whom Blackstone has a $5 billion joint venture — to ensure that Blackstone’s experience and deep pockets are matched by local nous and relationships.

Feb 22, 2015

‘Timbuktu’ director wants more cinema from West Africa

DAKAR, Feb 22 (Reuters) – The Oscar nomination of
“Timbuktu”, a film about the occupation of the Malian desert
town by al Qaeda-linked Islamists in 2012, should not mask the
lack of established cinema from West Africa, its director said.

Up for the Best Foreign Language Film at Sunday’s ceremony,
Abderrahmane Sissako’s film has already won two awards at this
year’s Cannes Film Festival and seven at the Cesar Award’s,
France’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Jan 20, 2015

Dutch UN attack helicopters strike Mali rebels in north

DAKAR (Reuters) – Dutch United Nations attack helicopters carried out air strikes on Tuareg rebel forces in northern Mali on Tuesday, the first such engagement by Dutch forces serving in the U.N. mission in Mali.

The U.N. mission, known as MINUSMA, said it was responding to heavy weapons fire directed at its peacekeepers in the town of Tabankort. It said the helicopters only destroyed a rebel vehicle after firing warning shots that were ignored.

Jan 15, 2015

African states must overcome distrust for Boko Haram force to work – U.N.

DAKAR, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The four African nations most
threatened by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram must put aside
mutual distrust and agree on a command structure and strategy
for a fledgling regional force if they want to defeat the
militants, a top U.N. official said.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, U.N. Special Representative for West
Africa, said the international community could only help Nigeria
and neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon once they clearly laid
out the assets they lacked to fight Boko Haram.

Jan 7, 2015

FBI questions U.S.-based Gambian civil society leader over coup plot

DAKAR/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Gambian civil society leader based in the United States said on Wednesday he had been questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over a failed coup plot allegedly planned on U.S. soil.

Federal prosecutors have already charged a Texas businessman and a former U.S. Army sergeant over the failed Dec. 30 plot to oust President Yahya Jammeh while he was away from the tiny West African nation.