'Nice' Mauritius to vote and Kenyan superstar battles explosive doping claim: five quick African stories to end your week on

Investors also keep faith in Africa, South Sudan leaders under pressure as Boko Haram ups the ante for Nigerian government ahead of election.

We highlight five of the key stories of the day that capped a busy week for Africa, which is never a dull place:

1— YOU would have been forgiven for not knowing Mauritius is due to go to the polls, so well run is the Indian Ocean island that polls come and go with nary a fuss—an aberration unheard of in a region which prefers its balloting really noisy.

The picturesque island will hold general elections on December 10, the presidency announced Friday, a month after dissolving parliament.

The dissolution followed an election agreement between the Labour Party of Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam and the key opposition Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM) party.

The agreement sets down a deal that should they win, they will submit a bill to amend the constitution to provide for the direct election of the president.

Ramgoolam is expected to want to run for president—a position currently elected by parliament. The other key bloc is a newly formed coalition, the Alliance Lepep, led by former president Anerood Jugnauth.  

Now you know.

2— But not as quiet has been the doping allegations swirling around Kenyan marathon runner Rita Jeptoo, who has been implicated in illegal doping dating back more than three years, according to her estranged husband and legal documents.

The allegations of possible long-term EPO use come a week after it emerged that Jeptoo, aged 33 and seen as currently the world’s best female marathoner, had failed an out-of-competition drugs test carried out in September, weeks before her most recent victory in the Chicago marathon.

Jeptoo has denied being a cheat and has requested that her B sample now be tested according to procedure—although if it too is positive she faces a lengthy suspension and being stripped of her most recent titles.

Jeptoo, a three-time winner of the Boston marathon and a two-time champion in Chicago, is the biggest name in Kenyan athletics ever to have been tested positive and the news has stunned Kenya, whose naturally-gifted distance runners are an immense source of national pride.

But Jeptoo’s estranged husband, Noah Busienei, has produced written allegations of Jeptoo’s doping dating back to early last year, when the two were going through acrimonious legal proceedings following their separation.

In claims confirmed by his lawyer, Busienei sought a financial settlement in lieu of which he would release “the doping dossier”’.

Jeptoo has not spoken publicly about the claims. The organisers of the World Marathon Majors (WMM)—the series of marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, New York and Tokyo—also postponed the awarding of this year’s $500,000 prize to Jeptoo. She had been due to attend the New York marathon last weekend to collect the prize, the biggest payout in distance running. 

3— In Addis Ababa South Sudan’s president and the country’s rebel chief were locked in talks, under pressure from regional leaders to end their nearly 11-month-old civil war. 

President Salva Kiir and ousted vice president Riek Machar were meeting in Addis Ababa, with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalgen and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta leading the latest push for peace.

East African leaders have grown increasingly impatient with the warring sides, their slow-moving talks and repeated violations of several prior ceasefire deals, and have told them to “come to their senses”.

The UN Security Council also warned this week of possible sanctions over the fighting, which has left tens of thousands dead and forced almost two million from their homes.

4— In Nigeria, at least 10 people were killed in a bomb blast as they queued to withdraw money from a cash machine in northern Nigeria, residents told the BBC. 

They say the attacker approached the queue with a parcel before it exploded in Azare, Bauchi state.

He had been stopped by locals who said leaving parcels unaccompanied was prohibited following recent unrest in the area.

No group has said it carried out the attack but suspicion is likely to fall on Islamist militant group Boko Haram.

The group has killed thousands since 2009 in its campaign to set up an Islamic state in north-eastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram has in the past claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the north. The attack took place outside the branch of the First Bank in Azare, not far from a bus station where a bomb killed several people last month.

5— Away from the insurgency, Reuters news agency said that investors into Africa still saw a strong growth story, despite the challenges of Ebola, terrorism and political upheaval.

“The most consistent growth that we see across the globe seems to be coming from Africa,” Boston-based Asha Mehta, who manages Acadian Asset Management’s $380 million global equity frontier fund, told the wire agency in an interview. “And it’s likely to play out over the next five to 10 years.”  

The agency noted that merging markets at large have had a torrid couple of years, fearful of a cresting of China’s economic boom and higher US interest rates. 

The latest headline was the ouster of long-term Burkina Faso president Blaise Compaore, who fled to neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire after he was unseated by popular protest. 

Regional bloc Ecowas, which Friday discouraged sanctions on the country, is also struggling with Ebola, warning that lives had been blighted by the epidemic and said the needs of orphaned children and the economic impact of the crisis also needed to be addressed beyond immediate medical needs.

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