Nigeria – thousands flee as Boko Haram takes Mubi town

Reuters

Thousands flee as Boko Haram seizes northeast Nigerian town

MAIDUGURI/YOLA Nigeria (Reuters) – Islamist Boko Haram militants have seized control of the northeast Nigerian town of Mubi, killing dozens of people and forcing thousands to flee, witnesses said.

The insurgents stormed Mubi on Wednesday. Gunfire has been heard in the town ever since, witnesses told Reuters.

A security source on Thursday confirmed the town had fallen to the insurgents. Witnesses said they hoisted their black flag over the palace of the traditional ruler.

Witnesses said the insurgents robbed banks, burned down the main market and sacked the palace. One saw them kill a university lecturer and his entire family — Boko Haram, whose name means Western education is sinful, abhors secular learning.

Violence in Nigeria’s northeast has been on the rise since the government announced a ceasefire with the rebels nearly two weeks ago to pursue talks in neighbouring Chad aimed at freeing more than 200 girls kidnapped in April.

The government has blamed criminal networks for the violence, which has undermined public confidence in both the ceasefire and the talks. It has had no immediate comment on the situation in Mubi.

Boko Haram’s five-year-old campaign for an Islamic state, which has killed thousands, is seen as the main security threat to Africa’s biggest economy and leading oil producer.

Student Stephen Adaji said he had been hiding in the bush since mid-morning on Wednesday when the fighting began until a farmer helped him cross to a nearby village and he fled to the nearest city of Yola.

“We couldn’t sleep in the bush because of the fear Boko Haram may get us,” he said. “We were so scared, shooting was going on throughout the night and they often shouted Allah Akbar (God is greatest).”

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the northeast, Abdul Ibrahim, said the agency had sent extra personnel to help manage people fleeing to Yola, a relatively safe city that is home to the well-guarded American University of Nigeria.

He said an attack just prior on the nearby town of Uba had forced 4,000 people who were in a displaced persons camp to vacate the camp and head for Yola. Several hundred also fled across the border into Cameroon.

“I saw many dead bodies in the bush and many injured people were lying helpless especially children and women,” said James Audu, also a student. “They killed a lecturer and his entire family. I saw them get shot.”

Another survivor, a mobile phone trader called Abubakar Adamu, said the Emir Isa Ahmadu was away on pilgrimage to Mecca when his palace was looted. Boko Haram scorns traditional Islamic authorities in Nigeria as corrupt and self-serving.

 

South Sudan – rebels repulse government attack on Bentiu

Sudan Tribune

S. Sudanese rebels repulse government’s attempt to retake Bentiu: spokesperson


October 30, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – South Sudan’s rebel faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-in-Opposition) led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, said they repulsed a counter-attack by government troops loyal to president Salva Kiir in their attempt to retake Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, which the rebels claimed they captured on Wednesday.

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South Sudanese rebel troops loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar stand on guard in Unity state capital Bentiu on 12 January 2014 after recapturing the strategic town from government troops (Photo: Reuters)

The SPLM-in Opposition’s military spokesman, Brig Lul Ruai Koang in a press release he issued on Thursday, claimed government troops suffered heavy losses when “they tried to retake” the twin town of Rubkona, north of Bentiu on Thursday afternoon.

He said the fighting took place in a place called Maan-Kuai, north of Rubkotni town.

“Kiir’s tribal militias this afternoon launched unsuccessful counter attacks on our positions at Maan-Kuai north of Rupkoni (Rubkona) but were repulsed,” he wrote.

Government troops allegedly lost Bentiu and Rubkotni to the rebel forces in a fierce fighting which rebels claimed had killed 290 Juba soldiers including a senior officer.

“Meanwhile, confirmed reports from our field commander indicated that 290 government soldiers were killed in and round Bentiu town including one Brigadier General,” Koang said.

He added that among the war equipment captured by the rebels included one T-72 (tank) along with two Urol trucks each mounted with ZU 23 and 27 heavy machines and commander’s official car containing documents and laptops.

“Over 500 different weaponry were also captured,” he said.

Koang blamed the government for starting “a war they could not win.” He said the movement was committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement and other agreements signed but reserved the right to fight in self-defense when attacked.

South Sudan government has not yet confirmed the fall of both Bentiu and Rubkotni.

Government troops of division 4 maintained control of Bentiu for the last four months and amassed thousands of additional troops from various divisions 4 and 5 from Greater Bahr el Ghazal region in order to defend the oil-rich state capital.

Observers say the fall of these strategic towns to the rebels, if confirmed, will be a big blow to government.

US CONDEMNS REBEL ATTACKS

The United States has condemned in the “strongest” terms the latest attacks by SPLM/A – In-Opposition (SPLM/A – IO) in and around the strategic oil-rich town.

“Despite the parties’ recent acceptance of collective responsibility for the crisis, these current attacks demonstrate that the SPLM/A-IO has yet to abandon violence to achieve its goals,” said Jen Psaki, the spokesperson for the US state department.

“We call on both sides – both of whom have committed violations of the agreement that have delayed peace – to ensure their forces refrain from further actions that violate the January 23 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and undermine the peace process in South Sudan,” adds the statement.

The US government also warned the two warring parties against using these latest attacks as an excuse not to engage in the peace process or not to work in good faith to negotiate a sustainable political transition for sustainable peace and national unity.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and over a million displaced since the violence broke out in mid-December last year amidst warning of looming famine early next year.

(ST)

Nigeira – Jonathan picks nomination form and PDP governors get automatic candidacy

Punch

PDP govs get automatic tickets as Jonathan picks form

   

 President Goodluck Jonathan
 

President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday picked the Peoples Democratic Party nomination form to contest the 2015 presidential election on the PDP platform even as the party offered automatic second term tickets to all its incumbent governors.

The President, who spoke while picking his nomination form at the party’s national headquarters in Abuja, said he would still have bought the nomination form without the endorsement given to him by the national leadership of the PDP.

President Jonathan was endorsed as the sole presidential candidate of the party by the NEC and other organs of the party.

When two other presidential aspirants stormed the party with their supporters on Tuesday with their bank tellers and receipts from the party, the leadership of the ruling party refused to sell the nomination forms to them.

The two aspirants are, Dr. Abdul-Jhalil Tafawa-Balewa and Prof. Akasoba Duke-Abiola.

However, the President said that he remained grateful for the gesture, which he said, was the first in the history of the party.

President Jonathan said, “I could have still picked the form if they did not give me. But giving me the right of first refusal has attracted more people than ordinarily it would have had.

“Your Excellency, our chairman, thank you and extend our appreciation to other great members of our party, especially members of the NEC who unanimously endorsed that decision.”

He said he was also grateful to the governors, who he said provided N2m for the procurement of the expression of interest form and the N20m for the procurement of nomination form.

Others who donated to the campaign, according to him, included the Transformation Agenda of Nigeria, which he said, also provided N22m.

He promised to work with all Nigerians, just as he said it would be difficult for any president to perform without the support of the people.

He said, “What I can say is to reassure them that I will work with all Nigerians, and I will always maintain that no matter how strong a President is all over the world, the President is only one individual and he alone can’t do everything; he alone cannot change the society.

“For you to succeed, you work with people. So, if you are succeeding, that means we have a team that is working to transform this country. So, I will work with all Nigerians to make sure that we move our country to the next level.”

He said if Nigerians could work together, the country would be great, saying that the whole world was happy with the country with the way it fought the Ebola virus.

In his speech, the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, apparently referring to the adoption of the President by the party, wondered why people should be dabbling into the party’s affairs.

He told the gathering that the national leadership of the party had also decided that it would give automatic tickets to all its first-time governors.

He said, “We have decided that our governors and President running for a second term will be given the right of first refusal and all of us know that Mr. President has done so many things.”

Governors who are serving first term in office are those of Bayelsa, Gombe, Kaduna, Kogi and Kebbi states.

Earlier, the National Organising Secretary of the party, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, had after handing over the forms to the President described Jonathan as the most amiable and humble leader in the history of the party and the country.

He thanked Mu’azu for allowing the event to hold at the NEC hall, instead of the NOS office, which he said was too small to accommodate the crowd that followed the President.

While presenting the forms to the President, he said, “I wish you the best and may the God Almighty be with you.”

People clapped as the President received the forms.

After going through it for a few seconds, the President handed them over to his orderly.

Jonathan was accompanied to the party secretariat by his deputy, Namadi Sambo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Pius Anyim, ministers and other aides.

Among the governors that followed him were those of Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu, Ondo, Bayelsa, Katsina, Cross River and Ekiti states.

Meanwhile, the party has extended the sale of its nomination forms, which was supposed to end on Thursday, by one week.

Copyright PUNCH.

Burkina Faso – army dissolves government amid protests

DW/allAfrica

Burkina Faso Army Dissolves Government

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou on October 28 in opposition to plans by President Blaise Compaore to … ( Resource: Protesters Topple Statue of Burkina Faso President

The chief of Burkina Faso’s army has dissolved the government and said that a transitional government will be formed. The announcement came shortly after the president reportedly declared a state of emergency.

Burkina Faso’s government was forced to resign on Thursday following increasingly violent protests against the country’s president.

Several hours after opposition lawmakers and high-level military officials met, Burkina Faso army chief, General Honore Traore, told reporters in the capital that the government had been dissolved.

“A transitional body will be put in place in consultation with all parties,” Traore said.

The temporary governing body would hold power “no more than 12 months,” he added.

A curfew was also put into place for 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time.

Protests escalate

Mass protests broke out in the capital city Ouagadougou earlier this week over a planned amendment to the constitution which would extend President Blaise Compaore’s 27-year grip on power.

On Thursday, the demonstrations escalated, with thousands pouring onto the capital city’s streets and a group of protesters storming the parliament building. There, they set fire to the main chamber.

Burkina Faso’s public broadcasters also came under attack when groups of demonstrators forced their way into the buildings. State television and radio subsequently ceased broadcast operations during the day.

Other cities across the country reported blazes being set to properties belonging to politicians of the ruling political party Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP), including in the second-largest city Bobo-Dioulasso and in the central city of Koudougou.

At least one person was killed in the violence, according to security forces.

State of emergency report

Shortly before General Traore’s announcement, President Compaore reportedly declared a state of emergency.

An announcer from local radio station Radio Omega FM had read the statement from the office of the presidency, which also purported that the leader would seek talks with opposition leaders.

The long-time leader’s whereabouts remain unknown.

The explosive protests have raised concern in the international community, with the EU, the US and the UN calling for all sides to refrain from violence and seek a peaceful, political solution.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dispatched special envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas to the region to help restore calm.

President Compaore seized power in 1987, and his bid to keep his position has angered much of the public, including many young people, in a country where 60 percent of the population is under 25.

kms/sb (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa) allAfrica

Burkina Faso – Comapaore refuses to step down

BBC

Burkina Faso president defies calls to step down

Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore says he will stay in power for a year under a transitional government, following a day of violent protests demanding his resignation.

He said he was withdrawing a controversial law which would enable him to seek another term in office when his current term ends in 2015.

On Thursday, protesters angered by his bid to extend his 27-year rule torched parliament and government buildings.

They want him to resign immediately.

The creation of a transitional government was announced on Thursday by army chief General Honore Traore, who said it would “be put in place in consultation with all parties”.

He also declared the dissolution of parliament.

“A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months,” he added, but gave no further details.

In a TV address later on Thursday, Mr Compaore refused to step down but said he would hand over power once the transitional government had completed its 12-month term.

He also said he was lifting a “state of siege” he had declared earlier.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will fly to Burkina Faso on Friday to try to ease the crisis, the UN said.

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Analysis: Thomas Fessy, BBC West Africa correspondent

The president said he was ready to open a political dialogue to set the terms of a transitional government that he would lead until the next presidential election. His current term ends in November next year, so staying in power now would be legal.

But would he be legitimate?

Opposition leaders and protesters say no. They want him to step down now.

President Compaore appeared to want to calm things down but he spoke like a man who still wants to decide when he goes.

That could be the recipe for more unrest.

 

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Burkina Faso's parliament on fire (30 October 2014)Parliament was ransacked and set ablaze
A man stands in front of a burning car, near the Burkina Faso's Parliament where demonstrators set fire to parked cars - 30 October 2014, Ouagadougou, Burkina FasoCars were also set on fire
Burkina Faso troops try to disperse protesters in Ouagadougou on 30 October 2014 The defence forces have been trying to disperse the protesters

‘Patriotic action’

In a message broadcast by a local TV station after the general’s statement, Mr Compaore said he welcomed the military’s “patriotic action”.

He said he would hand over power to a democratically elected government after the transitional administration had completed its term.

Statement by army chief General Honore Traore: ”The national assembly is dissolved, the government is dissolved”

He had planned to seek re-election by pushing a constitutional amendment through parliament that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms.

But the move triggered demonstrations in the capital, Ouagadougou.

These protests are the most serious yet against Mr Compaore’s rule.

At least one person was killed in the protests, says BBC Afrique’s Yacouba Ouedraogo in the capital.

The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, said dozens of protesters had been killed across the country by the security forces in a “barbaric escalation of violence”.

The military fired live bullets to try to disperse protesters who had occupied parliament, our correspondent says.

Protesters also surged towards the presidential palace, and a government helicopter flying overhead fired tear gas at them, Reuters news agency reported.

Witnesses say dozens of soldiers joined the protest in Ouagadougou’s main square, including a former defence minister, Gen Kouame Lougue.

Protesters demanded his installation as president, our reporter says.

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Blaise Compaore

President Blaise Compaore spoke to the BBC earlier this week

  • Served under President Thomas Sankara as minister of state to the presidency
  • Took power after Sankara was killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers in 1987
  • First elected president in 1991 and again in 1998
  • A new constitution in 2000 limited presidents to two terms in office, and limited terms to five years
  • Won two further terms
  • Protests at attempts to amend the term limits began a year ago, fuelled by the high cost of living
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The city hall, the homes of MPs, and an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou were also set ablaze.

Similar protests hit the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso, and other towns in the poor West African state.

State television went off air after protesters ransacked its headquarters.

Map showing Burkina Faso

Mr Compaore first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.

A former soldier, he has faced outbreaks of violence on several occasions, including a military mutiny in 2011.

Correspondents say he has always managed to stay in power by using a combination of conciliation and moderate force.

But the current tensions have been building for several months, and it is not clear whether he can survive this time.

Mr Compaore is a staunch ally of the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militant Islamists in the Sahel region.

But the country is one of West Africa’s poorest, and is vulnerable to changes in world prices for cotton, the economic mainstay of many Burkinabes. BBC

Emergency rule declared in Burkina Faso

BBC

30 October 2014
Burkina Faso army announces emergency measures

As it happened: Burkina Faso unrest
Thomas Sankara’s legacy
Compaore: ‘What I’m doing is legal’ Watch
Burkina Faso’s military has announced emergency measures – including the formation of a transitional government – after a day of violent protests.

Demonstrators angered by President Blaise Compaore’s bid to extend his 27-year rule earlier set fire to parliament and government buildings.

Protesters in the capital, Ouagadougou, are calling for him to resign.

The emergency moves announced by army chief Gen Honore Traore did not say who would lead the interim administration.

At a press conference, he declared the imposition of an overnight curfew, as well as the dissolution of parliament.

Gen Traore announced that a “transitional body [would] be put in place in consultation with all parties”.

“A return to the constitutional order is expected in no more than 12 months,” he said.

Earlier, President Compaore issued a statement, declaring the emergency and saying that the head of the armed forces was in charge of implementing the decision.

The protests in the capital – the most serious yet against Mr Compaore’s rule – forced MPs to abandon a vote aimed at allowing the president to seek re-election in 2015.

The defence forces have been trying to disperse the protesters
The main opposition leader, Zephirin Diabre, told a local radio station the state of emergency was unacceptable.

“We are calling on the people to show that they are against it,” he was quoted as saying. “The resignation of President Blaise Compaore is the only thing that can bring peace to the country.”

At least one person has been killed in the protests, says BBC Afrique’s Yacouba Ouedraogo in the capital.

Mr Diabre said dozens of protesters had been killed across the country by the security forces.

It was a “barbaric escalation of violence”, he said.

The military fired live bullets to try and disperse protesters who had occupied parliament, our correspondent says.

Protesters also surged towards the presidential palace, and a government helicopter flying overhead fired tear gas at them, Reuters news agency reports.

The BBC’s Laeila Adjovi: “All around me there’s black smoke”
Witnesses say dozens of soldiers have joined the protest in Ouagadougou’s main square, including a former defence minister, Gen Kouame Lougue.

Protesters are demanding his installation as president, our reporter says.

‘TV off air’
The city hall, the homes of MPs, and an upmarket hotel in Ouagadougou were also set ablaze.

Similar protests hit the south-western city of Bobo Dioulasso, and other towns in the poor West African state.

Blaise Compaore

President Blaise Compaore spoke to the BBC earlier this week
Served under President Thomas Sankara as minister of state to the presidency
Took power after Sankara was killed in mysterious circumstances by a group of soldiers in 1987
First elected president in 1991 and again in 1998
A new constitution in 2000 limited presidents to two terms in office, and limited terms to five years
Won two further terms
Protests at attempts to amend the term limits began a year ago, fuelled by the high cost of living

State television went off air after protesters stormed the building housing it and ransacked it.

“A state of emergency is declared across the national territory,” the president’s statement said, as quoted by Reuters.

“The chief of the armed forces is in charge of implementing this decision which enters into effect today.

“I dissolve the government from today so as to create conditions for change. I’m calling on the leaders of the political opposition to put an end to the protests. I’m pledging from today to open talks with all the actors to end the crisis.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, will fly to Burkina Faso on Friday in an attempt to ease the crisis, the UN said in a statement.

Mr Compaore first took power in a coup in 1987, and has won four disputed elections since then.

The protests forced the government to suspend Thursday’s parliamentary vote on a constitutional amendment that would have lifted the limit on presidential terms so that Mr Compaore could run for office again in 2015.

Mr Compaore is a staunch ally of the US and France, which uses Burkina Faso as a base for military operations against militant Islamists in the Sahel region.

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Burkina Faso – protestors march on presidential palace

Reuters

Protesters march on Burkina presidency after burning parliament

OUAGADOUGOU Thu Oct 30, 2014

A soldier runs from anti-government protesters as they take over the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014.   REUTERS-Joe Penney
An anti-government protester throws a tear gas canister at riot police in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014.  REUTERS-Joe Penney
People march against Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore's plan to change the constitution to stay in power in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 29, 2014.    REUTERS-Joe Penney

A soldier runs from anti-government protesters as they take over the parliament building in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, October 30, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Penney

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters marched on Burkina Faso’s presidential palace after burning the parliament building and ransacking state television offices on Thursday, forcing President Blaise Compaore to scrap a plan to extend his 27-year rule.

Emergency services said at least three protesters were shot dead and several others wounded by security forces when the crowd tried to storm the home of Compaore’s brother. Security forces also fired live rounds and tear gas at protesters near the presidency in the Ouaga 2000 neighborhood.

Black smoke swirled in the air above parliament after demonstrators lit fires inside the building before looting computers and televisions screens and wheeling away police motor-bikes, a Reuters reporter said.

Lawmakers had been due to vote on Thursday on a government plan to change the constitution to allow Compaore – who took power in a coup in 1987 – to stand for re-election next year, when he was due to stand down.

Alain Edouard Traore, communications minister, later said the government had dropped the proposal to amend a two-term limit on the presidential mandate.

But protesters told Reuters they would not stop until Compaore was forced to step aside. Burkinabe officials said there were also large-scale protests in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina’s second biggest town, and Ouahigouya, to the north.

“We did this because Blaise was trying to stay too long. We are tired of him,” said Seydou Kabre, a protester in the crowd in Ouagadougou. “We want a change. He must go!”

Most deputies had not yet arrived for the vote when protesters, who had set up barricades outside parliament from early on Thursday, stormed the building. The crowd surged forward after police fired warning shots in the air.

A Reuters reporter saw nearby structures also on fire and vehicles outside the parliament being smashed.

State television was forced off the air after the building was taken. Soldiers deployed outside state radio with an armored personnel carrier to defend it from the crowd.

Opposition leader Zephirin Diabre said on his Twitter feed he was opposed to any coup in Burkina Faso just hours after he had urged armed forces to join the people in a speech broadcast live from his headquarters.

Local radio and a diplomatic source said opposition leaders held talks with an influential army General Kouame Lougue about a possible transition. The same diplomatic source said members of Compaore’s government had been arrested at the airport trying to leave the country.

A Reuters witness said protesters took one of the dead bodies from the streets and wrapped it in the national flag, while softly singing Burkina’s anthem. They then drove it to the central Place de la Nation, where more protesters had gathered.

INCREASING OPPOSITION

Compaore has ruled the cotton and gold-producing nation with a firm grip but, in recent years, he has faced increasing criticism, including from within his own camp and the military.

“If needs be we are going to march to the presidency. We want Blaise Compaore to leave, We want change,” said George Sawadogo, a 23-year-old student.

Opposition to Compaore’s plan have been mounting in recent days.

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Ouagadougou and other towns across the country on Tuesday in what the opposition said was the start of a campaign of civil disobedience over the proposed constitutional reform. The government has called for restraint.

“This seems to have moved us to a situation where Compaore will have to leave power before the end of his term next year,” said Gilles Yabi, an independent West Africa analyst. “It will depend on how the security forces react, but I can’t imagine that Blaise will be able to finish his term if there is serious violence today.”

France has called on Compaore to adhere to African Union rules preventing constitutional changes that allow leaders to stay in power. The U.S. government has said it is concerned.

“All bets are off now,” said one Western diplomat in Ouagadougou, who asked not to be identified.  Reuters