By Joe Penney
Last year Lamido Sanusi wore pin stripe suits and a colorful array of bow ties to work, and his job consisted mostly of managing interest rates and keeping inflation under control.
Today, he sports long flowing gowns and a white veil over his face, while his daily activities include reciting the Quran and blessing visitors who bow before his feathered slippers.
NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) – Mauritanians voted on Saturday in an election certain to return President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to office for another five years, but he struggled to secure a turnout high enough to give him a convincing mandate amid a poll boycott.
The bulk of the opposition boycotted last year’s parliamentary elections – saying the organisers were biased and the process flawed – and talks to try to persuade them to take part in Saturday’s vote broke down in April.
NOUAKCHOTT, June 21 (Reuters) – Voters trickled into polling
centres in Mauritania on Saturday in an election where incumbent
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was counting on a high turnout
to see off an opposition boycott and boost his authority.
Abdel Aziz – an ally of Western powers in the fight against
al Qaeda-linked Islamists in West Africa – is sure to win the
poll in the desert nation straddling black and Arab Africa.
NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) – Small groups of voters trickled into polling centers in Mauritania early on Saturday in an election where incumbent President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was counting on a high turnout to see off an opposition boycott and boost his authority.
Abdel Aziz – a Western ally in the fight against al Qaeda-linked Islamists in West Africa – is sure to win the poll in the nation straddling black and Arab Africa.
BAMAKO (Reuters) – Four United Nations peacekeepers were killed and others wounded in a suicide attack on their base in the town of Aguelhoc in Mali’s restless desert north on Wednesday, the country’s U.N. mission said.
The blast came as the U.N. and Mali’s international partners scrambled to salvage a foundering northern peace process following a spate of renewed clashes between government forces and Tuareg rebels last month.
BAMAKO (Reuters) – The international community is underestimating the threat posed by Islamist fighters sheltering in areas of Mali’s far north controlled by Tuareg separatist rebels, Prime Minister Moussa Mara said.
When Mara traveled to the Tuareg stronghold of Kidal last month, clashes broke out between rebel groups there and troops.
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Suspected Islamist Boko Haram gunmen rampaged through three villages in northern Nigeria, killing 28 people and burning houses to the ground in a pattern of violence that has become almost a daily occurrence, according to police and witnesses.
All three attacks happened on Thursday in remote parts of Borno state, the epicenter of Boko Haram’s increasingly bloody struggle for an Islamic kingdom in religiously mixed Nigeria.
ABUJA/MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, facing a mounting Islamist insurgency at home, will fly to South Africa to discuss ways of tackling militancy across the continent with African heads of state, his spokesman said.
The meeting follows warnings from Nigeria and its neighbors that Boko Haram – which has killed thousands of Nigerians during its five-year-old insurgency, and last month kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls – now threatens the security of the region.
By Joe Penney
If you drive through the Mistra neighborhood of Bissau – the charming, ramshackle capital of Guinea-Bissau – signs of peoples’ love for American hip-hop are everywhere.
The local football pitch is named “California” after Tupac’s song “California Love.” Clothes reading “50 Cent” or “Thug Life” are commonplace, and Rihanna’s latest hits blare out from rusty radios beneath the mango trees.
By Joe Penney
Every Friday afternoon, Julie Ndjessa, 28, invites the teenage girls in her neighborhood in Douala over to her house on a dirt road where she lives with her mother, father and cousin. Giggling, they play clapping games and chat loudly with each other about the week’s escapades. Then Julie got down to business: educating the young women in her community about the many dangers they face before reaching adulthood.
Over the past few years, one of the main topics she discusses is called “breast-ironing,” a practice used by some mothers in Cameroon to flatten their pubescent daughters’ growing breasts. Done with the goal of protecting young women from early pregnancy by making them less attractive to men, breast ironing is extremely painful and has dangerous long-term health consequences.