5 important, but maybe not so sexy, Africa stories you need to read

Palestine's Abbas visits; Algeria kills beheader of French tourist; DR Congo doctor wins top prize; Burkina revolution toll in; and Ebola up in Mali

PALESTINIAN leader Mahmud Abbas is on a state to South Africa.

Israel is defying the world by “undermining” prospects for a two state solution through its settlements policy, South African President Jacob Zuma said Wednesday as he welcomed Abbas.

“The reality is that the overwhelming majority in the world agrees with the position of two states living side by side in peace, but we have a problem of a country that is defying all of that,” said Zuma.

“We reiterate our call for the total cessation of all settlement activities,” Zuma told a joint news conference with Abbas.

Criticising the way the United Nations works, he added: “I don’t think the system should allow that one country can defy the world.”

“We are the last nation in the world that is still living under occupation,” he said.

Zuma’s ruling African National Congress is a firm supporter of the Palestinian cause, with politicians regularly comparing Israel to the former racist apartheid state in South Africa.

The white minority government had cooperative relations with Israel, but when Nelson Mandela was elected first democratic president in 1994, he pledged to support Palestine, saying: “South Africa’s freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Abbas was greeted with a 21-gun salute at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital.

He has visited South Africa before—last year he attended Mandela’s funeral—but officials said this is his first state visit.


ALGERIAN Justice Minister Tayeb Louh said on Wednesday that the army last month killed a jihadist suspected of taking part in the beheading of Frenchman Herve Gourdel.

“One of the suspects was eliminated in October by the army during an anti-terrorist operation,” Louh told reporters, citing a probe into the murder of Gourdel.

The hiker was kidnapped in September and later beheaded by Jund al-Khilifa, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate,” a militant organisation which has pledged allegiance to the jihadist Islamic State group.


DOCTOR Denis Mukwege received the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov human rights prize on Wednesday for his work in helping thousands of gang rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

European Parliament president Martin Schulz, who presented the 59-year-old with the award at a ceremony in Strasbourg, said Mukwege “fought for the dignity of women, justice and peace in his country”.

“You have eased the pain of countless women and girls and offered them a helping hand so that their injured bodies and broken bodies may be healed,” said Schulz.

A Congolese delegation sang for joy and waved flags from the parliamentary gallery as Schulz handed Mukwege a plaque to mark the award, named after Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Mukwege has previously been tipped as a possible Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The Sakharov prize in 2013 was won by Pakistani education campaigner Malala Yousafzai, while previous winners since the award was founded in 1988 include late South African rights icon Nelson Mandela and Myanmar activist Aung San Suu Kyi.


TWENTY four people were killed and 625 people were wounded in the popular uprising that toppled longtime president Blaise Compaore in October, a committee appointed by Prime Minister Isaac Zida said Wednesday.

Among causes of the fatalities were gunshot wounds, serious burns or suffocation, said Clarisse Merindol-Ouoba, who heads the committee probing the violence.

Compaore, who had been power for 27 years, was forced to step down during two days of violent protests that saw demonstrators storm parliament and other buildings, ransacking offices and setting fire to cars.

The opposition had initially reported a death toll of 30, while diplomatic sources had said 15 were killed.

Merindol-Ouoba also highlighted heavy damage of property during the revolt, including 14 public buildings which were destroyed, while shops were pillaged.

A new interim government comprising army officials and civilian representatives was named on Sunday to lead the country’s 12-month transition.


THE UN emergency mission to fight Ebola opened an office in Mali on Wednesday, where nearly 300 people are being monitored and two new cases have emerged.

The office of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) is headed by Dr Ibrahima Soce Fall, the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative in Mali.

Seven people have died in the west African nation. The first fatality was a two-year-old girl, who was brought from neighbouring Guinea to stay with relatives.

Three days after the girl died, an Islamic cleric, also from Guinea, perished in the capital Bamako, transmitting the virus, directly or indirectly, to at least five people, all of whom have now also died.

Mali’s health ministry said on Wednesday that two new cases had surfaced.

Ebola has killed nearly 5,500 people and infected 15,351, mainly in west Africa, according to the latest figures from the WHO.

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