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.
Bangui, Central African Republic
By Joe Penney
On Thursday, the volatile Central African Republic was host to a bloodbath. Hours of fighting between the former “Seleka” rebels that took power in a March coup d’etat and local militia and fighters loyal to the deposed president, Francois Bozize, killed over a hundred. As the situation continues to deteriorate, France is set to take a bigger role in its former colony’s security, sending hundreds of troops in the coming days.
Yet while security is what is grabbing the headlines at the moment, CAR’s problems lie much deeper. Already an unstable state in the run-up to the coup, the Central African government is now in tatters and just going through the motions. During the coup, most ministry buildings were looted for cash, computers and anything hungry rebels could get their hands on. Little has since been replaced.
BANGUI (Reuters) – Central African Republic transitional leader Michel Djotodia on Saturday denied European assertions that his country was on the brink of genocide and all-out inter-religious war.
The impoverished but mineral-rich nation of 4.6 million has descended into chaos since Djotodia led Seleka rebels, many of them from neighboring Chad and Sudan, to the riverside capital in March, ousting President Francois Bozize.