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Bus explosion in Nigeria leaves nine dead1 minute read

The ill-fated bus was conveying 17 adults and two children before the incident.

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Officials of the Federal Road Safety Commission inspecting an accident scene after a road crash in Nigeria./AFP

At least nine people were killed and three others injured in a bus combustion accident along a busy highway in Ogun state, southwest Nigeria, the road police confirmed on Friday.

Sector commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Clement Oladele who confirmed the incident to Xinhua news agency said the Thursday evening accident involved a Toyota Hiace bus at Ijebu-Ife along the Sagamu-Benin highway.

He said the ill-fated bus was conveying 17 adults and two children before the incident.

The FRSC official said 10 other passengers were rescued with three of them sustaining serious injuries.

Preliminary investigation showed that the bus, heading toward Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub, was sufferering malfunction while conveying the passengers with some inflammable chemical products, Oladele added.

“The vehicle had to stop intermittently at several times to repair faulty fuel pump and fuel tank which they kept on managing by tying ropes to support the malfunctioned fuel tank,” he said.

While the driver managed the vehicle to Lagos, there was sudden spark and explosion, which engulfed the vehicle in fire while on motion, according to Oladele.

“After the fire was extinguished by the Nigeria Fire Service, a total of nine persons, consisting of seven adults and two children were confirmed dead,” he said.

Oladele advised motorists to adhere strictly with the road safety rules to prevent this type of avoidable incident.

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Guinea referendum, legislative polls must be ‘transparent’: UN rights chief

Months of protests against the referendum have resulted in “dozens of deaths,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

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Guinean President Alpha Conde on a campaign. The referendum on constitutional changes is seen by critics as a ploy by President Conde, 81, to stay in power for a third term, after a decade in power./AFP

The United Nations on Thursday called on Guinean authorities to ensure that this weekend’s referendum and legislative votes are transparent and inclusive, warning that any escalation in the country’s crisis would be “profoundly harmful”.

Guinea, a country with a long tradition of political turmoil, is to vote on Sunday in a referendum and in a legislative election.

The referendum on constitutional changes is seen by critics as a ploy by President Alpha Conde, 81, to stay in power for a third term, after a decade in power, an AFP report said.

Months of protests against the referendum have resulted in “dozens of deaths,” Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.

“Reports also indicate that ethnic divisions are deepening, with increasing incitement to hatred and violence on social media and at political rallies,” she said.

“Any further escalation of this crisis could be profoundly harmful.”

Bachelet highlighted a warning about  “serious irregularities in the voters’ register” from the international association of French-speaking countries, OIF, earlier this week.

“I urge the authorities to avert greater turmoil and ensure that the electoral process is transparent and inclusive,” she said.

Guinea has suffered serious unrest over the plans for constitutional reform. At least 30 people and a gendarme, have lost their lives, according to an AFP tally.

Jailed under previous hardline regimes, Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010.

He was returned to office by voters in 2015 for his second and final five-year term under the current constitution, but critics say he has become authoritarian.

Earlier this month he left the door open to running for a third term, saying there was “nothing more democratic” than the referendum on constitutional change.

The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) has called for a boycott of the vote.

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‘Africa will not succumb to gay rights pressure’, AU chairman tells European Union

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights.”

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African leaders ready to sign AfCTA
Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat. /AFP

Chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat on Thursday told the European Union leaders that the continent will not succumb to pressure for the recognition of gay rights in various countries.

Mahamat at a press conference kicking off a meeting between AU and EU leaders highlighted “differences” over topics like international justice and gay rights at a meeting with the European Union intended to deepen the partnership between their continents.

“Certainly, we have our differences. International criminal justice, sexual orientation and identity, the death penalty, the centrality of the African Union in certain crises, etcetera,” Mahamat said.

Calling these differences “normal”, Faki said they could be overcome only with “recognition and acceptance”, an AFP report quoted him as saying.

Thursday’s talks mark the second visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to AU headquarters in less than three months. 

In December she chose to visit the AU on her first trip outside Europe after taking her post, a decision she said at the time was intended to send a “strong political message” about Europe’s partnership with Africa.

Von der Leyen is in the process of preparing a new “Africa Strategy” for the EU, due to be unveiled in early March. 

In her own remarks Thursday, she said the two continents were “natural partners” and stressed areas of cooperation like trade and the fight against climate change.

Later at a press conference she said she believed the two blocs could work through the disagreements Faki had pointed out.

“This is what the essence of a good partnership and a good friendship is. You build on a solid foundation with common projects you can work on, and you’re able to mark very clearly where differences are,” she said. “We try to convince but we acknowledge that there are different positions.”

“We should not follow the notion of expecting the African Union to adapt to the European Union,” she added. 

The majority of African countries criminalise same-sex sexual acts.

Various African countries have resisted efforts to try African leaders at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In 2017, Burundi became the first country to pull out of the court altogether. 

Europe will try to use Thursday’s talks to promote trade and economic cooperation in response to “the flood of Chinese investment in the continent”, said Mikaela Gavas, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, an international non-profit foundation.

But the question of human rights remains a major potential barrier to deeper cooperation, Gavas said.

“African countries will not want to be lectured on governance and human rights,” she said. 

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North Africa Politics

Mubarak given state funeral, Egypt declares 3-day national mourning

Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal, joined by soldiers, walked next to their father’s coffin at a huge mosque built by the army in a Cairo suburb where the funeral took place.

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Guards carry the coffin of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as they arrive at Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi Mosque, during his funeral east of Cairo, Egypt February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Egypt on Wednesday held a military funeral in Cairo to bury its former president and strongman ruler, Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years until he was ousted in a 2011 popular uprising against corruption as part of the Arab Spring.

Egypt’s presidency and armed forces mourned the former air force officer as a hero for his role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. The presidency also declared three days of national mourning.

Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal, joined by soldiers, walked next to their father’s coffin at a huge mosque built by the army in a Cairo suburb where the funeral took place, a Reuters report said.

Mubarak died on Tuesday in intensive care weeks after undergoing surgery, leaving Egyptians divided over his legacy presiding over an era of stagnation and repression, which some nevertheless recall as more stable than the chaos that followed.

He was swept out of power as an early victim of the “Arab Spring” revolutions that swept the region in 2011. He spent many of the subsequent years in jail and military hospitals before being freed in 2017.

Egypt’s top military officials were expected to attend the funeral. Mubarak’s coffin was to be airlifted from the Field Marshall Tantawi mosque to the family burial grounds, state television reported.

Dozens of Mubarak supporters, some from his home village Kafr al-Meselha in the Nile Delta, gathered outside the mosque, where the military funeral will take place.

“I am happy that his pride was restored” after his removal, “and for the state’s appreciation for him after his death,” said Zeenat Touhami, a 35-year old woman from Cairo. “This is the history of 30 years, the farewell of 30 years”.

Mohamed Zaree, a human rights activist, said the present era of autocracy and economic hardship was worse than Mubarak’s.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power after leading the overthrow of Mubarak’s Islamist successor, Mohamed Mursi, has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent, which rights groups say is the most severe in recent memory.

“Mubarak’s era was painful (but) this era is much more difficult and painful in terms of freedoms and economic conditions,” Zaree said.

Many of the activists who helped organize mass protests which ousted Mubarak are now behind bars or live in exile abroad. Sisi’s supporters say a crackdown was needed to stabilize the country after the turmoil that followed 2011.

Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt in 2011, but was freed in 2017 after being cleared of those charges.

He was also convicted in 2015 along with his two sons of diverting public funds to upgrade family properties. They were sentenced to three years in jail.

Egyptian state and private newspapers ran front page pictures of Mubarak, while state TV showed excerpts of previous speeches.

This was a stark contrast to the treatment of his successor, Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, who lasted only a year in office before the army toppled him. Mursi died last year after collapsing in court while on trial on espionage charges. Egyptian media, which are tightly controlled, paid little attention to his death.

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