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Libya’s Haftar-led forces claim airstrike on hospital2 minutes read

Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April to wrest Tripoli from forces backing the internationally-recognised GNA

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Libya's Haftar-led forces claim airstrike on hospital
A view of a Libyan L-39 Albatros warplane belonging to forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar. (Photo by Fathi NASRI / AFP)

Libyan military strongman Khalifa Haftar’s forces said Monday they carried out an air strike last week on a makeshift hospital near Tripoli that killed five medical personnel.

“We conducted an air raid targeting a field hospital south of Tripoli on Saturday, used as cover by terrorists to avoid being targeted,” said a spokesman for Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army.

Haftar’s forces launched an offensive in April to try to wrest Tripoli from forces backing the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord.

Pro-GNA armed groups have weathered the initial onslaught and fighting has since remained deadlocked on the southern outskirts of the city, with both sides resorting to air strikes.

READ: Health ministry confirms airstrikes kill 5 doctors in Libya

The GNA said the air strike on the field hospital south of Tripoli was carried out by “a Haftar warplane”.

“It was a direct hit against the hospital which was packed with medical teams,” health ministry spokesman Lamine al-Hashemi said.

But Haftar’s spokesman Ahmad al-Mesmari said those killed were “not doctors but medical students”, some of them linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Some were imprisoned in the past for terrorism,” he told a press conference.

Haftar, who controls much of eastern and southern Libya, has presented himself as a bulwark against Islamists.

He has received backing from Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, both of which are staunch opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

READ: Libya’s GNA suspect new military escalation by Haftar-led forces

The UN humanitarian coordinator in Libya on Monday condemned the hospital attack, which she called a “disgraceful shelling… depriving thousands of people from accessing basic services”.

Berangere Boell-Yousfi said that since the start of Haftar’s offensive, 37 attacks had been registered on health personnel and facilities, killing 11 people and wounding 33.

The fighting since April has left nearly 1,100 people dead and wounded more than 5,750, according to the World Health Organisation. 

More than 100,000 civilians have fled their homes.

READ: Global outrage trails Libya migrant centre airstrike

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Togo announces presidential election for February next year

Gnassingbe has been in power for nearly 15 years since succeeding his father Eyadema Gnassingbe

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Togo announces presidential election for February next year
Togo's incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP)

Togo will hold elections in February next year, when incumbent President Faure Gnassingbe is expected to seek a fourth term in office.

A government decree published late Thursday after a cabinet meeting said the presidential election will be held on February 22 with a second-round organised if no candidate gets a clear majority.

Gnassingbe has been in power for nearly 15 years since succeeding his father Eyadema Gnassingbe, who led the country with an iron fist for 38 years.

The decree said for the first time Togo citizens living abroad will be able to cast their votes at embassies in the countries where they are living.

Election campaigning will start on February 6 and end February 20.

Opposition parties and civil society leaders, including Togo’s bishops, last month called for the election to be suspended to allow for a reorganisation of the constitutional court, the electoral register and the national electoral commission.

In early May, the Togolese deputies voted a constitutional amendment allowing Gnassingbe to run again in 2020 and 2025, but also to benefit from immunity for life “for acts done during presidential terms”.

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Senator Orji Uzor Kalu bags 12 years imprisonment

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Senator Orji Uzor Kalu bags 12 years imprisonment
(file photo)

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday sentenced Senator Orji Uzor Kalu to 12 years in prison for fraud.

Orji Kalu, a serving senator representing Abia North and former governor of Abia State, was handed a 12-year jail sentence by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court Lagos for N7.65 billion fraud.

Kalu was tried alongside Slok Nigeria Limited, a company he chairs and Mr Udeh Udeogu who was Director of Finance and Accounts of the state house at the time Kalu was governor of Abia State.

The convicts were accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of conspiring to divert and diverting over N7billion state fund in an amended 39-count charge.

The EFCC alleged in one of the counts that Senator Kalu did procure a company solely owned by him and members of his family – Slok Nigeria Limited – to retain in its account, an aggregate sum of N7,197,871,208.7 on his behalf.

The prosecution had argued that the N7.1 billion formed part of the funds illegally derived from the treasury of the Abia State Government and which was laundered into several bank drafts before they were paid into Slok Nigeria’s account.

Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs SAN, further argued that such action was in violation of  Section 17(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and the defendant was liable to be punished under Section 16 of the same Act.

Kalu and the other defendants were also accused of receiving the sum of N460 million allegedly pilfered from the Abia State Government treasury between July and December 2002.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

While the matter lasted in court, the prosecution called a total of 19 witnesses and the defendants testified on their own behalf. 

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Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed to avoid questions at Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

Events kick off with meetings at the Nobel Institute and a large press conference with the Peace Prize winner

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Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed to avoid questions at Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is grappling with challenges just days before the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize arrives in Oslo.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made it clear he won’t attend any event where he could publicly be asked questions, either by the press or even children, and the committee finds that “highly problematic.”

Olav Njølstad, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and secretary for the committee that annually awards the Peace Prize, told Norwegian Broadcasting that the Nobel Institute and the Nobel Committee wishes Abiy Ahmed had said ‘yes’ to meeting Norwegian and international press.

READ: Zaid Aregawi says “we don’t see the peace” in query of Abiy’s Nobel prize win

Ahmed’s decision to avoid any events in which he’d need to answer questions has thus resulted in a highly amputated program for the “Nobel Peace Prize Days” that should begin in Oslo on Monday, December 9.

Events traditionally kick off with meetings at the Nobel Institute with committee members and a large press conference with the Peace Prize winner that’s broadcast live.

For the first time in many years, the Nobel press conference has been cancelled, as have traditional in-depth interviews usually conducted by NRK, the BBC and Al Jazeera.

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