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Heavy clashes break out for the duration of Central African Republic referendum

Planet | Sun Dec 13, 2015 eight:57am EST

BANGUI

BANGUI Heavy fighting broke out in a Muslim enclave of Central African Republic’s capital Bangui on Sunday as voters went to the polls to cast their ballots in a constitutional referendum noticed as crucial to restoring stability, witnesses said.

Gunfire and the explosions of rocket propelled grenades had been heard in the PK5 neighborhood soon after U.N. peace keepers moved in to protect poll workers and residents who had been prevented from voting.

(Reporting by Joe Bavier. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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UPDATE five-South African rand hits record low, bank stocks dive after minister’s sacking

JOHANNESBURG South Africa’s rand weakened to a record low on Friday, slumping far more than 3 % in the wake of this week’s sacking of the finance minister, whilst banks led stocks reduce.

President Jacob Zuma sacked Nhlanhla Nene late on Wednesday in favor of a reasonably unknown lawmaker, David van Rooyen, unnerving investors in an ailing economy whose investment grade status is already at threat.

The sacking of Nene, a veteran civil servant in the ministry who was keen to rein in government spending in Africa’s most industrialized economy, has also sparked a sell-off in bank stocks, which have dropped practically 20 % because Thursday.

“Government will not abandon the fiscal path that we have selected in the last couple of years,” Zuma mentioned in a statement. “Keeping a prudent fiscal position remains 1 of government’s top priorities.”

Zuma said Nene was removed from his role as finance minister beneath brief notice so that he could be nominated as the head of the African Regional Centre of the New Improvement Bank/BRICS Bank, to be based in Johannesburg.

“It’s a lame purpose. They are fishing for an excuse. They are attempting to locate a position that is senior adequate for Nene to give a valid cause for why he was sacked,” Dawie Roodt, the chief economist at monetary services firm Effective Group mentioned. “I’ve got extremely small doubt that markets will be skeptical also.”

In a separate statement, Zuma denied nearby media reports that a wider cabinet reshuffle was in the offing, in what analysts saw as an attempt to calm jittery markets.

Several economists have questioned van Rooyen’s ability to steady an economy hammered by falling costs for commodity exports that variety from coal to gold.

“Markets never like uncertainty,” Cratos Capital equity analyst Greg Davies. “You have taken a minister that had a lot of credibility with the market place … and put somebody in his spot that does not appear to have any sort of encounter like the prior minister.”

By 1700 GMT the rand had recovered slightly, trading 1.98 % reduce to the dollar at 15.78150 ZAR=D3, from the psychologically vital 16.00 level it hit earlier in the day.

The central bank told Reuters it would hold its monetary policy committee meeting in January as scheduled. It raised the benchmark lending price for the second time in 2015 last month to six.25 percent.

Analysts had speculated that the bank might get in touch with an earlier meeting to boost interest prices to defend the rand.

Yields on local and dollar-denominated debt soared as the likelihood of a downgrade to junk spooked investors. Demand levels in local bond auctions have been weak on the day, reflecting the subdued interest in local debt.

On the bourse, the banking index .JBANK dropped more than 10 percent in early bargains prior to recouping some of the losses to close five.eight % decrease as worries grew that pressure on South Africa’s sovereign credit ratings would hit profits and drive up bad debts among the nation’s banks.

Barclays Africa (BGAJ.J) plummeted as considerably as 12 %, ending 3 % reduce at 127,84 rand, whilst FirstRand (FSRJ.J) lost eight.three percent to 35.57 rand and Normal Bank (SBKJ.J) fell four.2 % to 101.39 rand.

The blue-chip JSE Leading-40 index .JTOPI dropped 1.24 % to 43,701 points, whilst the broader All-share index was off 1.56 percent at 48,219 points.

DOWNGRADE

“This nation would be far much better off without this man as our president, and I say that with a excellent deal of sadness,” former wellness minister and anti-apartheid activist Barbara Hogan told Talk Radio 702, referring to Zuma.

Credit ratings agency Fitch, which downgraded South Africa last Friday to just one particular notch above “junk” status, said Nene’s firing “raised far more unfavorable than constructive queries”.

Downgrades jack up South Africa’s borrowing fees and flow via to the banking method.

The yield on the benchmark government bond due in 2026 ZAR186= has added practically 200 basis points, or 2 %, in the last two days to levels last seen during the 2009 recession.

Overseas investors also shunned local dollar-denominated debt, with the typical yield premium to hold South African debt compared to U.S. Treasuries surging to six-1/two year highs.

(Writing by James Macharia and Tiisetso Motsoeneng Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Toure wins BBC African award 2015

Yaya Toure has been voted the BBC African Footballer of the Year 2015.

The 32-year-old Ivory Coast midfielder becomes only the third player, after Nigerians Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha, to get the honour twice.

Football fans voted for Manchester City’s Toure, who first won in 2013, ahead of Yacine Brahimi, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andre Ayew and Sadio Mane.

“I am really proud. To receive this dedication from the fans is unbelievable,” Toure told BBC Sport.

“Also I want to spend tribute to the other nominees. African football is increasing up, becoming significantly much better and we have great young players coming by way of now.”

Toure described all 5 nominees as “champions”.

He added: “I am delighted and quite satisfied. And as an African player, I want to lead all my younger brothers to be profitable in the future.

“When I was a kid I was usually dreaming of becoming an important player. I have sacrificed a lot.

“I will continue to attempt to win a trophy every single year, I will fight to win a personal trophy.”

Two of the beaten nominees have won the award prior to, Algeria’s Brahimi in 2014 and Ghanaian Ayew in 2011. Gabon’s Aubameyang was on the shortlist for the third year operating, while Senegalese Mane produced it for the initial time.

Toure has been nominated for the award seven instances and his second win guarantees his year ends with a trophy, just as it started when he led Ivory Coast to glory at the Africa Cup of Nations.

He captained the team in Equatorial Guinea and opened the scoring in the semi-final to put his side on course for a 3-1 victory more than Democratic Republic of Congo.

Toure was a important influence as his nation finish a 23-year wait for their second Nations Cup title, overcoming Ghana in a penalty shootout in the final.

It was Toure’s 1st trophy with the national group in his sixth Nations Cup tournament, and possessing lost in two finals – in 2006 and 2012.

There was less achievement for Toure with Manchester City, who failed to defend their English Premier League 2014 title and completed second to Chelsea.

But Toure remains a effective presence in the heart of the midfield and contributed seven ambitions for City in the calendar year.

Vera Kwakofi, Existing Affairs Editor, BBC Africa, mentioned: “Yaya Toure’s leadership for nation and club provides an example for several young footballers aspiring to emulate his profession.

“We are pleased that as the BBC we are right here to celebrate and share in this moment with his fans around the planet.”

Deposed former Central African Republic ruler Bozize barred from elections

BANGUI Central African Republic’s (Auto) former president Francois Bozize, forced into exile two years ago, was not on the list of eligible candidates for this month’s elections, getting said in August that he would return to stand.

The polls were set for Oct. 18 but postponed till Dec. 27 soon after violence in the capital Bangui that has killed about 100 individuals considering that September. A single particular person was killed on the outskirts of a Muslim enclave shortly soon after the Pope’s visit final month.

Automobile was mired in violence soon after Bozize fled to Cameroon in 2013 when Seleka fighters seized energy in the majority-Christian nation, sparking reprisals by “anti-balaka” Christian militias loyal to Bozize. He was accused of stoking the attacks.

The government that succeeded him issued an international arrest warrant against him in 2013 for crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide throughout his ten years in energy. He also faces U.N. travel and banking sanctions.

The president of the constitutional court, Zacharie Ndoumba, incorporated Bozize on the list of rejected candidates but state media stated he had not registered.

A spokesman for Bozize’s Kwa Na Kwa celebration said the court had told them Bozize had not furnished proof of enrollment for the electoral list.

“We deplore the deleterious climate in which the constitutional court has worked,” celebration spokesman, Christian Guenebem, mentioned. “This choice is the outcome of internal and external pressure.”

Of 42 submissions validated by the constitutional court, thirty candidates were authorized to stand, most as independents.

Human Rights Watch researcher, Lewis Mudge, stated: “(This saga) shouldn’t end with him becoming excluded from the list.”

“It need to end with an investigation completed for crimes he could have committed … and groups he may possibly have supported.”

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette Added reporting by Sebastien Lamba in Bangui Writing by Makini Brice Editing by Louise Ireland)

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South African court begins hearing Pistorius’ bail application after murder conviction

PRETORIA South African Olympic and Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorius appeared in court on Tuesday to apply for bail following his conviction for murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius, known as “Blade Runner” because of the carbon fiber prosthetic blades he used to race, faces a minimum 15-year jail sentence.

The Supreme Court final Thursday upgraded the 29-year-old athlete’s sentence to murder from “culpable homicide”, South Africa’s equivalent of manslaughter, for which he had received a five-year sentence.

Pistorius was released from jail on Oct. 19 and had been meant to serve the rest of that five-year sentence under home arrest at his uncle’s residence in a wealthy suburb of the capital Pretoria.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom Editing by James Macharia)

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Central African Republic dubs rebel leader enemy no. 1

BANGUI The Central African Republic government dubbed a Seleka rebel leader “enemy number one particular” on Sunday in a move probably to further complicate the possibilities of ending the existing wave of political turmoil.

The majority Christian nation has been embroiled in a violent crisis because early 2013 when primarily Muslim Seleka rebels seized energy in a coup just before ceding energy to a transitional government soon after sturdy international pressure.

The transitional government has been tasked with steering the landlocked nation to elections scheduled for Dec. 27. The initial poll date, Oct. 18, was pushed back due to an outbreak of violence that has killed around one hundred men and women in the capital because September.

“The government … calls on every single Central African to be vigilant in resolutely continuing to help the return to the constitutional order that will only be accomplished by the voice of the polls,” the statement reads.

But on Sunday it took objection to a statement by Nourredine Adam, a leader of a faction of Muslim Seleka rebels, who stated on private radio station Radio Ndeke Luka that underdevelopment in his base area had pushed him and his group to take up arms.

“If they send us physicians and teachers to heal and educate our households, they will be welcome,” he mentioned. “But the other government workers, we can’t accept them. The electoral method in the existing context is not attainable.”

The government stated in its statement that Adam’s threat to block elections amounted to an act of war given that he did not respect peace accords and ceasefires. It labeled Adam “enemy quantity one”.

It was not clear no matter whether the government will take further action.

In 2014 the United Nations leveled sanctions like a travel ban and asset freeze against Adam, a Christian anti-balaka leader and Francois Bozize, president until the coup.

Armed males killed eight civilians and one particular U.N. peacekeeper at a camp for displaced people just days soon after the Pope’s pay a visit to final month, the U.N. humanitarian office stated Friday.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette Writing by Makini Brice Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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South African authorities deny issuing arrest warrant for Pistorius

JOHANNESBURG South African authorities on Friday denied issuing an arrest warrant for Oscar Pistorius, who was convicted on appeal of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, rejecting an earlier report by a neighborhood tv station.

“It is not the case,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku told Reuters. “No such warrant has been issued.”

The Supreme Court on Thursday upgraded the 29-year-old athlete’s sentence to murder from “culpable homicide”, South Africa’s equivalent of manslaughter, for which he had received a five-year sentence. A murder conviction normally carries a minimum 15-year jail sentence.

ENCA tv had earlier reported that a warrant of arrest had been issued for the paralympic champion.

Pistorius had been meant to serve the rest of his sentence beneath residence arrest on his uncle’s property in a wealthy suburb of the capital Pretoria.

A new sentence will be handed down at a later date, Mfaku said.

(Reporting by James Macharia)

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More than one million kids want urgent help in the conflict-torn Central African Republic: U.N.

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Much more than a million young children in the Central African Republic are in urgent need to have of humanitarian aid while practically half of these below five are malnourished, the United Nations said on Friday ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the conflict-torn nation.

The majority Christian nation plunged into tumult when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power in a 2013 coup.

Sectarian violence has plagued the nation considering that and fresh fighting broke out in Bangui two months ago, the worst violence in the capital this year, when the murder of a Muslim man triggered reprisal attacks on a largely Christian neighborhood.

Some two million kids have been impacted by violence which first broke out in December 2012, and 1.two million now require urgent aid, stated the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF.

“The violence that has plagued this country has had a devastating effect on the lives of kids,” mentioned Mohamed Fall, UNICEF representative in the Central African Republic.

“The humanitarian wants are overwhelming, to meet them we need access and we want higher international assistance.”

The conflict has uprooted 400,000 individuals inside the nation and forced half a million to seek refuge in neighboring nations, while current insecurity and attacks on convoys have hindered help deliveries and lifesaving activities, UNICEF mentioned.

Clashes between primarily Christian anti-balaka militias and primarily Muslim Seleka factions initially cast doubt on the pope’s go to, and risk derailing internationally-backed elections now due on Dec. 27 following becoming postponed in October due to violence.

Pope Francis is due to arrive in the nation on Sunday, and Central Africans on each sides of the religious chasm, even the Seleka, have rallied behind the check out, minimizing the danger that his presence could add fuel to the fire of communal tensions.

“We are hopeful that … the Pope’s pay a visit to will promote reconciliation in a nation that is in desperate need to have of peace,” Fall added.

UNICEF has received $ 37 million of the $ 70.9 million it needs to offer urgent lifesaving interventions for the most vulnerable young children in the Central African Republic this year.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Katie Nguyen Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate modify. Pay a visit to www.trust.org)

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