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Africa’s Liverpool star Keita makes AFCON 2019 squad for Guinea

“I am not yet fully fit to play,” admitted the 24-year-old star to Guinean TV after Belgian coach Paul Put named his 23-man squad

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Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, who makes the AFCON 2018 squad for Guinea bites his Winner's Medal

Guinea has chosen Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita for the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt this month despite concerns about his thigh injury.  “I am not yet fully fit to play,” admitted the 24-year-old star to Guinean TV after Belgian coach Paul Put named his 23-man squad for the biennial African football showpiece.

“After training with the ball at Liverpool, I have arrived at the Guinean training camp in Morocco and am ready to train with the team. “I want to reassure Guinean supporters, the coaches and the rest of the squad that I believe I will be ready for our first match.”

Guinea, who have lost warm-up matches against the Gambia and Benin, launch their Group B campaign in Egypt against Madagascar on June 22, one day after the tournament kicks off. Keita. who makes the AFCON 2019 squad for Guinea was injured playing for Liverpool against Barcelona in a UEFA Champions League semi-final last month and manager Jurgen Klopp said he would be sidelined for two months.

Liverpool's Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, who makes the AFCON 2018 squad for Guinea walks off the pitch after being injured
Liverpool’s Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, who makes the AFCON 2018 squad for Guinea walks off the pitch after being injured during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Barcelona and Liverpool at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona on May 1, 2019. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Related: Injured Liverpool star selected for AFCON tournament

Guinea and three-time champions Nigeria are favoured to qualify for the knockout second round from a group completed by debutants Burundi and Madagascar. Winners and runners-up from the six groups advance along with the best four third-place finishers in a competition expanded to 24 nations for the first time.

Unlike Keita, Aboubakar omitted in the Cameroon AFCON 2019 Squad

The Guineans came closest to winning the Cup of Nations in 1976 when they finished runners-up to Morocco after the only edition decided by a mini-league. Meanwhile, Vincent Aboubakar, the forward who scored the goal that won 2017 final for Cameroon, will not be going to Egypt amid doubts about his fitness.

He resumed training last month with Porto after a lengthy absence caused by a knee injury and Indomitable Lions coach Clarence Seedorf is not convinced he is match fit.  In his absence, Cameroon will look to the likes of in-form Villarreal forward Karl Toko Ekambi for goals as they seek back-to-back titles for a second time.

Porto's Cameroonian forward Vincent Aboubakar, who misses out on the AFCON 2019 squad for Cameroon reacts during a Premier league match
Porto’s Cameroonian forward Vincent Aboubakar, who misses out on the AFCON 2019 squad for Cameroon reacts during the Premier League 2018/19 match between FC Porto and Vitoria SC, at Dragao Stadium in Porto on August 25, 2018. (Photo by Paulo Oliveira / DPI / NurPhoto)

Related: Kenya announces preliminary squad for Africa Cup of Nations

Aboubakar scored two minutes from time in Libreville two years ago to seal a 2-1 come-from-behind final triumph over record seven-time champions Egypt.  They should not experience too much difficulty qualifying from Group F, where they meet four-time champions Ghana and less formidable Benin and Guinea-Bissau.

Former Dutch star Seedorf has included 10 of the squad that emerged as shock 2017 champions, including Ekambi. He also recalled 35-year-old Fenerbahce goalkeeper Idriss Carlos Kameni, who was not chosen for the last tournament.

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East Africa News

International election observers flag concerns over Mozambique’s polls

The country voted in general polls on Tuesday after a campaign marked by violence and claims of electoral fraud

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International election observers flag concerns over Mozambique polls

International observers on Thursday said Mozambique’s election was conducted in an “orderly manner”, but expressed concerns about voter registration irregularities and “an unlevel playing field”.

The country voted in presidential, parliamentary and provincial polls on Tuesday after a campaign marked by violence and claims of electoral fraud.

President Filipe Nyusi’s Frelimo party — which has ruled Mozambique since independence in 1975 — is widely expected to again beat its civil war foe, Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party.

Election day was seen as largely peaceful, but tensions have risen with uncertainty over when the results will be released.

The final results must be published within 15 days of the vote, but the electoral commission has indicated a provisional tally — which had been expected on Thursday — would not be issued.

Ignacio Sanchez Amor, leader of the European Union’s OSCE observer mission, said “voting procedures were well-implemented” on election day.

However, he said the fact that there were no observers in almost half of the country’s polling stations “did not contribute to the transparency of the process”.

Amor added that “an unlevel playing field was evident throughout the campaign”.

READ: Mozambique votes in tense election after violent campaign

“The ruling party dominated the campaign in all provinces and benefited from the advantages of incumbency, including use of state resources.”

The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) said it was regrettable that irregularities in voter registration had not been addressed before the vote.

Local non-profit observer groups had reported the presence of 300,000 “ghost voters” — names not aligned with real voters — on the electoral roll in the southern Gaza province.

“Key aspects of the process such as the security challenges, voter registration, the campaign and selective accreditation of citizen observers posed challenges to the integrity of the elections,” said EISA Mozambique head and former Ghana President John Dramani Mahama. 

Former Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka said the Commonwealth’s observer mission “remained concerned about the impact” of the suspected ghost voters on the election.

However, observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) had no such concerns.

READ: Mozambique’s Renamo party says members attacked after peace deal

“The pre-election and the voting phases of the 2019 electoral processes were generally peaceful and conducted in an orderly manner,” said Zimbabwean Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, the SADC observer head.

The election has been seen as a key test of the peace deal sealed in August between Frelimo and Renamo, which fought a brutal 1975-1992 civil war.

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East Africa News

Landslide kills 22 in southern Ethiopia

Officials say the landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains

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Landslide kills 22 in southern Ethiopia
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Rescue workers on Tuesday used excavators to dig out bodies after a landslide in southern Ethiopia washed away homes and killed more than 20 people, a local official said. 

The landslide in the district of Konta occurred Sunday following 10 hours of heavy rains, said the official, Takele Tesfu.

“There are 22 people dead and we have only been able to dig up 17 using manpower and machine power,” Takele told reporters.

“So far, we cannot get the others, so tomorrow we will continue to dig.”  

He said the victims included nine women and six children.

While the district — located in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region — sees landslides with some regularity, Takele said this was the deadliest he could remember. 

“The area where this occurred is very mountainous, and this means the landslide was very dangerous,” he said. 

Ethiopia is nearing the end of its rainy season, but security forces are nonetheless relocating some families for fear that more rain in the coming days could lead to similar disasters, Takele said.

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