“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

S.Africa admits paying $10 mn but denies FIFA bribe

Yahoo – AFP, Agnes Pedrero, 31 May 2015

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on May 30, 2015 in Zurich after being 
re-elected (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva (AFP) - South Africa admitted Sunday that it paid $10 million in 2008 but denied it was in any way a bribe to FIFA for the 2010 World Cup, in the latest twist to the massive corruption scandal engulfing world football's governing body.

Two separate investigations are being carried out by American and Swiss authorities for alleged rampant and long-running corruption within FIFA, with several top officials arrested and accused by US investigators of taking tens of millions of dollars in bribes.

Several top football officials have been questioned by Swiss investigators, Bern said, and FIFA's president Sepp Blatter too could be quizzed "in the future if needed", according to Swiss prosecutors.

The biggest scandal to rock world football erupted Wednesday when seven FIFA officials were arrested in their Zurich hotel as part of the US probe.

They and seven others were charged for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies that ran from 1991 to present day, and accused of taking or conspiring to solicit for $150 million in bribes.

An example cited in US papers was the 2004 selection process for the 2010 World Cup, with investigators claiming that South African officials paid $10 million to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner -- one of the 14 indicted -- in order to secure the bid.

South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan, pictured on
 May 28, 2015, confirmed that the World Cup organising committee paid 
$10 million in 2008, after South Africa won the bid in May 2004 but
insisted this was not a bribe (AFP Photo)

South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan confirmed on Sunday that the organising committee made a payment of $10 million in 2008 but insisted this was not a bribe.

"I haven't paid a bribe or taken a bribe from anybody in my life. We don't know who is mentioned there (in the indictment)," Jordaan told the Sunday Independent.

"How could we have paid a bribe for votes four years after we had won the bid?" Jordaan said, adding that the payment was South Africa's contribution towards Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football's (CONCACAF) football development fund.

Warner was then also president of CONCACAF.

'Out of touch'

Swiss authorities were meanwhile running a parallel probe into allegations of bribery in the process over the controversial awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

The Swiss justice spokesman said the top football officials were interviewed as "people who could provide information", without giving further details.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA President
 Michel Platini after being re-elected, in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Michael Buholzer)

He added that Blatter "will not be questioned at this stage. If necessary, he will be in the future".

Seven senior FIFA officials are believed to be among those heard by investigators -- Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), Angel Miguel Villar Llona (Spain), Michel D'Hooge (Belgium), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus), Hany Abo Rida (Egypt) and Vitaly Mutko (Russia).

Two other current members of the Executive Committee who voted in 2010 for Qatar and Russia live in Switzerland -- Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini.

Swiss investigators were believed to be prioritising those living abroad as they were in town for a FIFA meeting on Saturday.

Blatter, who was re-elected to a fifth term as FIFA president on Friday despite the worst scandal to hit the organisation, has accused US investigators of using the arrests as an attempt "interfere with the congress" that returned him to power.

The 79-year-old Swiss has argued that while many hold him "ultimately responsible for actions and reputation of the global football community", he "cannot monitor everyone all of the time".

In an interview published Sunday by Swiss tabloid SonntagsBlick, Blatter said he "has been treated with zero respect" in the last few days.

He also said he was "very disappointed" by Platini, who has openly asked him to step down from the top job.

Platini has said UEFA will review relations with FIFA on June 6 while English Football Association chief Greg Dyke indicated England could be ready to back a European boycott of the World Cup.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier insisted FIFA must make a new start following Blatter's re-election and said football's governing body was out of touch with the sport it serves.

"I have serious doubts that FIFA will be able to handle this massive task without making a serious new start," he told German daily Die Welt on Sunday.

"The gap between the machinations of their officials and the many players, coaches, parents, referees and fans around the world, who with a lot of passion, ensure every week that football lives, could not be greater."

Barclays has launched an internal review into whether its accounts were used 
for corrupt payments by FIFA officials, a banking source told AFP on May 31,
2015 (AFP Photo/Carl Court)

In underlining the far-reaching nature of the scandal, British bank Barclays announced it had launched an internal review into whether its accounts were used for corrupt payments by FIFA officials, a banking source told AFP.

Barclays was among three banks with British headquarters named in the US indictment, which outlined how tens of millions of dollars were hidden in offshore accounts.

Another, Standard Chartered, said Friday that it was looking into two payments cleared by the bank that were mentioned in the indictment.

The third named bank, HSBC, has so far declined to comment.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office said Friday that it "continues actively to assess material in its possession and has made plain that it stands ready to assist ongoing international criminal investigations".

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nigeria's Akinwumi Adesina voted new Africa bank chief

Yahoo – AFP, 28 May 2015

The new president of the African Development Bank Akinwumi Adesina delivers
 a speech on May 28, 2015 in Abidjan following his election at the AfDB
annual meetings (AFP Photo/Sia Kambou)

Abidjan (AFP) - Nigeria's outgoing agriculture minister Akinwumi Adesina won the vote Thursday to become the new president of the African Development Bank, official results showed.

Adesina, 55, will succeed Rwandan Donald Kaberuka, chief for two consecutive terms since 2005, at a time when the institution is trying to diversify from its traditional role as a development bank.

He was elected with 58.10 percent after six rounds of voting, beating the finance ministers of Chad and Cape Verde to the role.

A total of 80 AfDB shareholders -- 54 African states and 26 non-African countries -- took part in the election in Abidjan, in which eight candidates were vying for the presidency.

Adesina inherits a financially sound institution, which was awarded a prestigious AAA rating by US ratings agency Fitch in 2013 -- a year in which it lent a total of $6.8 billion for 317 operations.

The Nigerian was voted African of the year in 2013 by Forbes magazine for his agricultural reforms, and he represents a country considered to be the new economic powerhouse of Africa.

His appointment breaks the unwritten rule that the top job should go to someone from a small or medium-sized country -- Nigeria is the leading oil producer and most populous country in the continent.

Despite multiple conflicts, health crises such as Ebola, and staggering poverty, Africa is today seen as "a new frontier in world economic growth", Amethis investment fund founder Luc Rigouzzo told AFP ahead of the election.

Adesina will now have the job of managing the continent's financial attractiveness -- without losing sight of the need to fight poverty and develop infrastructure.

Chad's Finance Minister Bedoumra Kordje came second in the election with 31.62 percent of votes, and third was Cape Verde's Finance Minister Cristina Duarte with 10.27 percent.

She would have been the first woman and the first Portuguese speaker in the job.

The United States -- the AfDB's second-biggest shareholder after Nigeria -- had a central role in the vote, as did Japan and China. France had been hoping for a champion of Francophone Africa.

After a failed coup in Ivory Coast in 2002 that threw the country into crisis, the bank's headquarters was relocated to Tunis in 2003. It returned last year to the Ivorian economic capital.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dutch government earmarks €50m to help Africans stay at home

DutchNews.nl, May 26, 2015

The Dutch government is to invest €50m in the economic development of north Africa in order to encourage asylum seekers not to take a boat to Europe, development minister Lilianne Ploumen said on Tuesday.

‘We must do everything we can to prevent young Africans from getting into rickety boats,’ she says in an opinion piece in the Volkskrant. ‘It is better if the courage and ambition they show in undertaking the journey is used to build up their own country.’ 

Ploumen writes that just tracking down and destroying the boats used by people smugglers to get migrants to Europe is not enough to solve the problem. 

The money will go to the Dutch Good Growth Fund, an investment fund that ties development aid to trade. The fund supports Dutch entrepreneurs who are willing to invest in Africa. Some of the money will also go towards economic development in countries such as Tunisia, Senegal and Ghana. 

The minister says she realises €50m will not solve the problem but sees it as a signal to her European colleagues. ‘The current European plan is not concrete enough,’ she says.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Obama gives non-NATO ally status to Tunisia

The US has designated Tunisia a major non-NATO ally, promising enhanced military cooperation. Tunisia, the starting point for the Arab Spring, faces growing security threats - especially from a destabilized Libya.

Deutsche Welle, 21 May 2015

President Barack Obama on Tuesday said Washington intended to confer the special status to Tunisia because of the country's efforts at a transformation to democracy.

Obama said the move should take place "in recognition of our shared values, Tunisia's democratic gains, and our growing security and counterterrorism cooperation."

Tunisia is often cited as being starting point for the 2011 Arab Spring, after a disaffected fruit seller set himself alight.

The North African country has held elections, and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi in December became the first democratically elected leader in Tunisia's 60-year history.

Risk of power vacuum

However, the country faces rising security threats, and in March suffered an attack - claimed by "Islamic State" (IS) - on the Bardo National Museum that killed 21 tourists.

The US president stressed the importance of stabilizing neighboring Libya "so that we don't have a failed state and a power vacuum that ends up infecting the situation in Tunisia as well," Obama said.

The US president, playing host to Essebsi at the White House Oval Office, said the US would offer short-term aid so Tunisia could complete economic reforms.

"At this critical time in world history, we think it's very important for us to continue to expand the economic assistance that we're providing so that ordinary Tunisians can feel the concrete benefits of a change to a more open and competitive economy," Obama told reporters.

'Long path ahead'

Essebsi told reporters that his country had "a long way ahead" to transform its economy and said that it needed US support. "The democratic process is always vulnerable and threatened by chaos, by parties that do not believe in democracy," Essebsi said, via a translator.

While major non-NATO ally status would also mean a greater sharing of military technology and possible ease of restrictions on weapons exports, it would not guarantee US assistance if Tunisia were to be attacked from outside.

Other countries with the designation include Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Korea.

rc/bw (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Zambia lifts ban on hunting of big cats

Yahoo – AFP, 20 May 2015

Zambia has lifted a ban on the hunting of big cats (AFP Photo/Joe Klamar)

Lusaka (AFP) - Zambia has lifted a ban on the hunting of big cats that was imposed over allegations of corruption in the awarding of government hunting concessions, officials said Wednesday.

The decision removes the last remaining restriction of a total hunting ban introduced in January 2013 and gradually lifted since last August, after the government said it was losing too much revenue.

"The hunting of lions will start during the 2016 to 2017 hunting season and this will be done very cautiously," Tourism Minister Jean Kapata told AFP, adding that leopard hunting would resume this year.

"We made sure there were no complaints of corruption and only people that met the required standards were given the concessions."

She said the government was now satisfied with population sizes, with around 4,000 lions and 8,000 leopards in the southern African country.

But conservationists condemned the move, and said the government's figures were wrong.

"The decision is not good at all and frankly we have a crisis," James Chungu, of the the Lusengwa Conservation Trust, told AFP.

"The Zambia Wildlife Authority and the minister are saying we have 4,000 lions but our findings show that we have only 1,500.

"I hope she will reverse this decision."

Government-licensed hunting is common across the region, with tourists paying to shoot a small number of selected animals.

The practice is controversial but many wildlife experts accept that hunting can aid long-term conservation.

In neighbouring Botswana, a group of lawmakers is seeking to end a ban on elephant hunting, saying the animals have multiplied in some areas to unmanageable levels.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Egypt hangs six after controversial military court trial

Six men with alleged ties to a terrorist group were hanged in Egypt after being sentenced in a military tribunal. Three of the men, however, were arrested before the crimes they were charged with were committed.

Deutsche Welle, 17 May 2015

Egypt hanged the six men for alleged ties to the Sinai-based militant group, formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis which has pledged allegiance to the "Islamic State" in 2014, the state-run news outlet Al-Ahram reported on Sunday.

The men were found guilty of planning terrorist operations, targeting security forces, and being members of a terrorist-designated organization. The military court said they involved in an attack on a military checkpoint that left six Egyptian soldiers dead and another on Cairo's security directorate in 2014.

'Abandoned due process'

Police arrested the men during a raid on an alleged terrorist cell in March 2014, which left two police officers dead. Six militants were killed while eight others were arrested following a firefight.

However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said it obtained copies of telegrams sent to prosecutors in December 2013 by family members of two of the convicted men demanding their whereabouts.

"Three of the men now facing execution could not have participated in any of the attacks for which they were sentenced to death because authorities arrested them months earlier and were still holding them in detention at the time, said their relatives and Ahmed Helmy, their lawyer," HRW said in a statement released in April.

Helmy added that three of the men had been arrested in November 2013.

"Egypt's courts have routinely abandoned due process, but if these executions go ahead it will represent an egregious new low. Civilians should never face trial before military courts or face execution as a result," Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle and North Africa director, said in a statement before the executions.

The military court also handed down a death sentence in absentia while two other men were given lifetime sentences.

Islamist crackdown

The hanging comes a day after former President Mohamed Morsi was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court.

Egypt's largest crackdown on Islamists came on the heels of Morsi's ouster in June 2013 by a military coup headed by former defense chief President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi.

The militant group formerly known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has allegedly carried out numerous terrorist attacks against Egyptian security personnel in North Sinai.

However, little is known about the Sinai conflict except for uncorroborated statements by Egyptian defense officials due to limited access to the area.

ls/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Africa: 'the next China' for contemporary art

Yahoo – AFP, Cecile de Comarmond, 17 May 2015

A piece by late Nigerian sculptor Ben Enwonwu is displayed during an exhibition
of African art by Bonhams in Lagos on April 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Lagos (AFP) - Giles Peppiatt, from Bonhams in London, had good reason to make the trip to Nigeria's financial capital, Lagos, for the auction house's next sale of African art -- a glut of potential buyers.

On a recent visit, he described Africa as "one of our hottest properties on the art block".

"In some ways, Africa is the new China when it comes to art," he added. "We are investing time, money and people to maintain our presence in this market."

A man looks at a poster featuring part of a
 piece by late South African painter Irma
 Stern during an exhibition of African art by
 Bonhams in Lagos on April 22, 2015 (AFP
Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)
Bonhams has blazed a trail in the sector, having organised its first "Africa Now" sale of modern and contemporary African art in 2007, which has since become an annual event.

Among its most expensive sales was "Arab Priest" (1945) by South African painter Irma Stern, which was bought by the Qatar Museums Authority for just over three million pounds (4.2 million euros, $4.7 million) in 2011.

"New World Map" (2009) -- one of Ghanaian artist El Anatsui's tapestries embroidered from crushed aluminium bottle tops and copper wire -- went for nearly 550,000 pounds the following year.

A series of seven wooden sculptures by Nigeria's Ben Enwonwu fetched 361.250 pounds -- triple the estimate price.

Increasing interest

Leading African artists were virtually absent from art sales just a decade ago but now contemporary works feature strongly in sales at several international auction houses.

Another El Anatsui tapestry sold for $1.4 million at Sotheby's.

"When institutions such as the Tate (in London) and the Smithsonian (in Washington DC) start to acquire contemporary African art, one then knows something wonderful has occurred," said Peppiatt.

On the back of successful sales in recent years, Bonhams is specialising even more this year, with a selection of modern art going under the hammer this month and contemporary art in October.

In Africa, the Zinsou foundation's museum of contemporary African art in Ouidah, Benin, and and the forthcoming opening of the huge Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art in Cape Town, South Africa, are clear signs of the increasing interest of collectors.

Most of the buyers at Bonhams' "Africa Now" sales are African, explained Peppiatt.

"A lot of collectors are very wealthy Nigerian businessmen," he added.

Director of African Art at Bonhams in London, Giles Peppiatt, speaks during
 an exhibition of African art by Bonhams in Lagos on April 22, 2015 (AFP 
Photo/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

Culture and heritage

"Nigerian art collectors want a piece of their own culture and heritage and are prepared to invest in that," added Bonhams' representative in Lagos, Neil Coventry.

"What's fascinating is that these pieces are being found all over the world. In some cases they are coming back to Nigeria where they are valued and appreciated the most."

Coventry, whose living room walls at his house overlooking the Lagos lagoon are covered with major Nigerian works of art, cites the example of Enwonwu.

The painter and sculptor, who died in 1994, was once as famous a name in Nigeria as Britain, where he was notably the first black African artist commissioned to make a sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.

But his name was forgotten and only rediscovered in recent years.

"He was an international artist and Africa's premier modern artist," said Coventry.

"Collectors who bought pieces by Enwonwu early in his career are now getting older and those who have inherited works may have no idea of the value of what they have.

"This rediscovery of Ben Enwonwu's works is amazing."

Positive image

A piece by late Nigerian sculptor Ben 
Enwonwu is displayed during an 
exhibition of African art by Bonhams in
 Lagos on April 22, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Pius Utomi Ekpei)
Ten years ago, Enwonwu's works sold for several hundred dollars but are now fetching hundreds of thousands at auction.

Nevertheless, said Coventry, his work "is still massively under-valued, which is quite unique for an artist who was so accomplished during his own lifetime".

Femi Lijadu is one of several art collectors who will make the trip from Lagos to London for the auction on May 20 and has already pinpointed Nigerian works "at affordable prices".

He will be in the British capital because he is proud of the image the major artists portray of his country.

Lijadu, a corporate lawyer, has some 500 pieces in his collection and remembers the time he began earning a living in the 1980s and buying pictures by the "Grand Masters" of Nigeria.

"At the time we dreamt of the day where the world would finally start to take notice of Nigerian and African art in general," he remembered with a smile.

Judging by the scale of the auction, that day has arrived.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Egypt's Morsi: from election triumph to death sentence

Yahoo – AFP, 16 May 2015

Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi gives a press conference
in Berlin in January 2013 (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

Cairo (AFP) - Mohamed Morsi, who was sentenced to death on Saturday, was Egypt's first democratically elected president until the army overthrew him after a year of tumultuous rule sparked mass street protests.

An Egyptian court issued the sentence to the bearded 64-year-old and more than 100 co-defendants over jail breaks during the 2011 uprising that ousted his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi, sitting in a caged dock and wearing the blue uniform of convicts, raised his fists in defiance when the judge pronounced the verdict.

Nicknamed "The Spare Tyre" after he emerged as the Muslim Brotherhood's compromise candidate to run in Egypt's first democratic presidential election, Morsi nonetheless had a long history of activism with the Islamist movement.

Taking office in June 2012 after the overthrow of longtime ruler Mubarak, Morsi was president for a year that was marked by deep divisions in Egyptian society, unrest and a crippling economic crisis.

Egypt's deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi behind the defendant's
 cage as the judge reads out his verdict sentencing him and more than 100 other
 defendants to death at the police academy in Cairo on May 16, 2015 (AFP
 Photo/Khaled Desouki)

Since being ousted by then-army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013, the Islamist leader has been languishing in detention as he faces a series of trials.

In the first verdict against him in April, a Cairo court convicted Morsi of inciting violence against protesters during clashes in December 2012 when he was president, but acquitted him of charges of incitement to murder for which he could have faced the death penalty.

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail in that case.

A Brotherhood figurehead

Political graffiti painted on a
wall along a road leading to
Cairo's Tahrir Square in Dec.
2011 (AFP Photo/Filippo 
Morsi, the son of a farmer, was not the Brotherhood's initial choice for president.

Hailing from the Brotherhood's political wing -- the Freedom and Justice Party -- he was put forward after one of the movement's powerful financiers, Khairat al-Shater, was disqualified on technical grounds.

On Saturday, Shater was sentenced to death in another trial.

Morsi won the presidential election in 2012 by a narrow margin, with many choosing him in a protest vote against his rival Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

But Morsi quickly grew to be disliked by millions, accused of failing to represent all Egyptians and trampling the ideals of the anti-Mubarak uprising.

The veteran Islamist with a cropped beard and spectacles was hardly charismatic and was seen by many as lacking the will to truly lead.

"He was a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood," said Cairo University political professor Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid.

"He appointed Brotherhood members in key administrative posts and that really irritated the bureaucracy and the people."

Mohamed Morsi (left) took office as
 Egyptian president in June 2012
(AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)
Since being ousted amid mass protests, Morsi has steadfastly rejected the authority of Egypt's courts to try him.

Often seen in a soundproof glass cage in the dock, Morsi has accused military chiefs of violating the constitution and carrying out a coup.

Morsi was born in the village of El-Adwah in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya in 1951, and had been the spokesman of the Brotherhood from 2010.

He graduated with an engineering degree from Cairo University in 1975 and received a doctorate from the University of Southern California, where he was also an assistant professor in the early 1980s.

Married with five children and three grandchildren, Morsi first entered the political arena in 2000 when he was elected to parliament as an independent, given the Mubarak-era ban on the Brotherhood.

Friday, May 15, 2015

US warns Burundi leader against seeking new term

Yahoo – AFP, 15 May 2015

The United States warned Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza against running
 for a third term in office, saying it would "exacerbate" the country's instability (AFP
Photo/Alain Jocard)

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Friday issued Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza a stern warning against running for a third term, saying it would "exacerbate" the country's instability and threaten international aid.

Washington was deeply concerned about the"potential for further violence" after Nkurunziza returned to the country, said Jeff Rathke, a State Department spokesman.

General Godefroid Niyombare, who launched the coup in the central African nation earlier in the week, told AFP by telephone that he wanted to give himself up.

Coup leaders have been arrested and others have been forced on the run by loyalist troops.

The dramatic end to the coup attempt ended 48 hours of uncertainty over who controlled the small, landlocked and impoverished nation, which has been gripped by a political crisis over Nkurunziza's controversial bid to run again for the presidency.

"The US position is that President Nkurunziza... should not stand for a third term," Rathke told reporters.

The president's decision to run "has and will continue to exacerbate instability... in the country," Rathke warned, only a day after he had stressed Washington still regarded Nkurunziza as the legitimate president.

People line the streets as they celebrate the return of the Burundian president
 after a failed coup attempt in the Kamenge quarter of Bujumbura, on May 15, 
2015 (AFP Photo/Jennifer Huxta)

"This threatens the viability of the Burundian government, and it increases the risk of violence and instability that can threaten donor support."

Rathke renewed calls on all sides to exercise restraint, after the State Department late Thursday ordered the families of all US government staff to leave the country.

Amid continuing uncertainty, the US embassy was closed on Friday.

Rathke warned anyone thinking of any revenge attacks that "the world is watching and that they should be held accountable."

Washington could slap visa bans on anyone seen as responsible for such violence.

Related Article:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rebel groups release hundreds of child soldiers in Central African Republic

Armed groups in the Central African Republic have released hundreds of child soldiers as part of a deal with UNICEF. The agency estimates that up to 10,000 children are working for fighters in the African nation.

Deutsche Welle, 14 May 2015

A young Seleka coalition rebel poses on March 25, 2013 near the presidential
palace in Bangui.

More than 300 children, some who were under 12 years old, were set free under a United Nations-brokered deal on Thursday.

Under the deal, the leaders of 10 armed groups operating in the region agreed to discharge all children under their control, and to not recruit any others.

It's the biggest single release of child soldiers since violence broke out in 2012.

Three separate ceremonies were held to mark the occasion near the town of Bambari, with children freed from the ranks of Christian militia and Muslim rebel groups.

A representative from the UN's children's agency, UNICEF, Mohamed Malick Fall, said the event was encouraging.

"After two years of heavy fighting, the release of children by these groups – on the same day – is a real step towards peace," he said.

"Violence and suffering can now give way to a brighter future for children."

The deal to free the 357 children was finalized earlier this month at a reconciliation forum in the nation's capital, Bangui.

UNICEF says it will reunite some of the children with relatives, while others will be put with foster families while they try to locate relatives.

They have already been medically screened, and will be provided with psychosocial support as they return to normal life.

The latest round of conflict broke out in 2013, when the largely Muslim Seleka rebel alliance ousted President Francois Bozize.

In retaliation, Christians formed vigilante groups targeting Muslim civilians accused of helping support the dominant Muslim regime.

Tens of thousands of citizens fled into neighboring countries to escape the bloodshed, with roughly 25 percent of its population displaced since December 2013.

UNICEF says it believes there are still between 6,000 and 10,000 children working among the fighters in jobs such as cooks and messengers. They are also concerned over the numbers of girls and young women who have been forced into sexual relationships with fighters.

The agency has called for more funding to help with reintegrating the children, saying as of April 30 this year it had only received $17 million (14.9 million euros) out of the $73.9 million (65 million euros) it needed.

The Central African Republic is also in the middle of a child sex scandal, in which several French peacekeeping soldiers are accused of abusing young children during the crisis.

an/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

S. Africa opposition elects first black leader

Yahoo – AFP, Sibongile Khumalo, 10 May 2015

South Africa main opposition party Democratic Alliance newly elected Leader 
Musi Maimane (C) raises his fist as he celebrates his victory, on May 10, 2015 in
Port Elizabeth, South Africa (AFP Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)

Port Elizabeth (South Africa) (AFP) - South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, on Sunday elected its first black leader, a major step in its bid to present itself as an alternative to the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The DA, which has been widely seen as a party of middle-class whites, won 22 percent of the ballot in last year's general election and is looking to broaden its appeal among black voters, two decades after the end of the apartheid regime.

South Africa main opposition party
Democratic Alliance newly elected Leader
 Musi Maimane (L) raises his fist as he
 celebrates his victory, on May 10, 2015
 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (AFP
Photo/Gianluigi Guercia)
Mmusi Maimane, aged just 34, joined the DA in 2009 and was fast-tracked through the ranks by Helen Zille, who stood down as party leader after eight years in office.

Zille did not publicly endorse Maimane, but he was the clear favourite to win the secret ballot.

"I don't agree with those who say that they don't see colour -- because if you don't see that I am black then you don't see me at all," Maimane told cheering delegates in his victory speech.

"Many young black South Africans continue to be denied access to opportunities, just as their parents were during apartheid -- this is what we must change if we are going to succeed as a nation."

At the end of his speech he paid tribute to his white wife Natalie, who joined him on stage as he received a standing ovation.

Sunday's vote marked "a milestone for the DA and South African politics", according to an editorial in the Sunday Times.

"For much of the past two decades, our political contest has been a black-versus-white affair, with the ANC seen as the party of the previously oppressed and the DA as a party of white interests."

Zuma accused

Raised in Soweto, the heartland of anti-apartheid resistance, Maimane broke away from his family's ANC roots to join the Democratic Alliance.

Last year he was elected the party's leader in parliament, where he has often locked horns with ANC lawmakers and President Jacob Zuma.

The DA has been pushing for legal action against Zuma over corruption allegations, and Maimane vowed to succeed in this pursuit.

"Make no mistake Mr President, you will have your day in court," he told the racially mixed audience.

"Nobody is above the law. And, equally so, no political party has the divine right to rule this country."

The ANC, which has ruled since 1994 when anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela became president, and remains the dominant force in politics, faces tricky local elections next year when the DA hopes to benefit from the government's poor economic record and high unemployment.

South Africa main opposition party Democratic Alliance outgoing leader Hellen
 Zille (C) announces the victory of Mmusi Maimane at the end of the vote for her 
succession, on May 10, 2015 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa (AFP Photo/
Gianluigi Guercia)

But the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party is also on the rise, seeking to gather votes from working-class blacks frustrated with a lack of progress under the ANC.

In her farewell speech on Saturday, Zille said the selection of a new party leader would be "a turning point, not only for the DA but also for South Africa".

Zille, 64, announced last month that she would be stepping down.

"Her resolute commitment to diversify the party's leadership, membership and support base was one of the reasons we were able to double our votes in her eight years as leader," Maimane told the party's annual conference in Port Elizabeth.

The DA prides itself on liberalism and equal opportunity -- as opposed to the affirmative action policies advocated by the ANC to overcome the legacy of the racist apartheid era.

The party has its roots in the now defunct Progressive Party, co-founded by the late anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman in 1959.