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Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for three decades before he was ousted amid the Arab Spring protests in 2011, died Tuesday at age 91. Next, Algeria reports first novel coronavirus case. Meanwhile Africans still stuck in Wuhan lack support from their governments. And finally the wonders of social media marketing is taking over some NigerRead More – Source

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Former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, who died Tuesday aged 91, ruled his North African nation with an iron fist for 30 years until his 2011 ouster from power. At the height of his power, he was dubbed the Pharaoh, but he leaves behind a mixed legacy.

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Born on May 4, 1928 in Kafr-El Meselha in northern Egypt, Muhammad Hosni El Sayed Mubarak spent his childhood years in relative poverty. His prospects changed when he joined Egypts Military Academy, graduating in 1949. He switched to the Air Force in the 1950s and gradually rose up the military ranks.

Undated picture of Hosni Mubarak as a young Royal Egyptian Air Force lieutenant, taken before the revolution that deposed King Farouk in 1952. © AFP

Mubarak became a national figure as commander of the Egyptian Air Force and deputy defense minister, when he played a decisive role in planning a surprise attack in the early stages of the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel.

His reward came two years later, when then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat appointed him vice president.

On October 6, 1981, Mubarak was at Sadats side when Islamist Egyptian soldiers opposed to their countrys 1979 peace deal with Israel shot and killed the president during a military parade commemorating the 1973 war. Mubarak was wounded in the attack, but lived. He would survive several more attempts, including a dramatic one in 1995, when militants fired at his motorcade during a visit to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Hosni Moubarak, then vice president of Egypt, with then President Anwar Sadat, a few minutes before the attack that killed Sadat on October 6 1981.
Hosni Moubarak, then vice president of Egypt, with then President Anwar Sadat, a few minutes before the attack that killed Sadat on October 6 1981. © AFP

Mubarak became president after Sadat's death, at a time when his populous, impoverished nation faced isolation following Egypt's ouster from the Arab League over the peace deal with Israel.

Mubarak started working his country's way back into the Arab world, by building a bilateral relationship with Iraqs Saddam Hussein. The tactic yielded results: Cairo was Baghdads ally during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, and two years after it ended, Egypt was accepted back into the Arab League at the initiative of Iraq and Yemen.

Meanwhile the countrys draconian emergency law, which remained in place throughout Mubaraks presidency, provided the backdrop for a security crackdown against the Islamist opposition, with brutal detention conditions in Egypts police stations and jails. Mubarak consistently defended his regimes human rights track record, as he did in a 1985 speech at the Cairo Police Academy, pictured below.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivers an address at the Police Academy in Cairo on January 24, 1985.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivers an address at the Police Academy in Cairo on January 24, 1985. © Reuters

In Sadat's days, Mubarak was long considered a loyal deputy lacking in leadership and charisma. In a report in the French daily Le Monde, the journalist Hicham Kassem wrote that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who met Mubarak in the 1970s when he was vice president, thought he had a minor staff job “because he was so low-profile.”

But as a head of state and government, Mubarak proved to be adept at leveraging the US-Egyptian relationship, maintaining his countrys controversial peace treaty with Israel and earning considerable US military and economic aid in the process.

On September 28, 1995, Mubarak, along with Jordans King Hussein, joined then US president Bill Clinton at the White House when then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat signed the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement.

But the deal did not bring peace, nor Palestinian liberation from Israeli occupation, and Mubarak was derided on the Arab street. Egypts peace deal with Israel, dependent on ties with the US, and Egyptian prison cells full of with tortured Islamist opposition figures earned Mubarak various monikers, including “Americas puppet” and “laughing cow” after the cheese brand.

US President Bill Clinton watches Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat sign a peace accord in the White House as Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein of Jordan look on in September 1995.
US President Bill Clinton watches Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat sign a peace accord in the White House as Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein of Jordan look on in September 1995. Luke Frazza, AFP

While poverty, rampant corruption and human rights abuses were widespread at home, foreign policy dominated Mubarak's presidency, and abroad he was considered a pillar of the Arab political establishment.

French President Jacques Chirac and Mubarak on October 16, 2002, in Alexandria, Egypt.
French President Jacques Chirac and Mubarak on October 16, 2002, in Alexandria, Egypt. © Patrick Kovarik, AFP

By the mid-2000s however, under US pressure, Mubarak began to ease his grip on political life. Protests – and an independent and critical media – were largely tolerated.

In early 2005, Mubarak called on parliament to amend Article 76 of the constitution to allow other candidates to run in elections, scheduled for later that year. But when the September elections were finally held, restrictions on opposition candidates ensured that only Mubaraks ruling party candidates won.

Mubarak also won the presidential election, as he had when he stood unopposed in referendums in 1987, 1993, and 1999. Critics said the 2005 poll was neither free nor fair, and when it was over, Mubarak's principal opponent, Ayman Nour, was jailed.

Campaign workers in Cairo add the finishing touches to a billboard ahead of the 2005 Egyptian elections.
Campaign workers in Cairo add the finishing touches to a billboard ahead of the 2005 Egyptian elections. © Cris Bouroncle, AFP

During his 30-year tenure, Mubarak worked with five US presidents, ending with Barack Obama, who was in office when protests against Mubaraks rule erupted in Egypt.

Mubarak meets US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 1, 2010.
Mubarak meets US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 1, 2010. © Jason Reed, Reuters

In the winter of 2011, an extraordinary protest movement shook the Arab world. Following the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in Cairo, turning Tahrir Square into a protest camp and a symbol of the Arab Spring. The movement would see the overthrowing of Mubarak, Libyas Muammar Gaddafi and Yemens Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi rests his arms on the shoulders of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in October 2010. A few months later, all three leaders were removed from power.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi rests his Read More – Source

Africa

Police had earlier said they wanted to charge the Prime Minister with the murder of his former wife, Lipolelo Thabane who was killed outside her home in the capital Maseru in 2017. His legal team, however, convinced magistrate Phethise Motanyane to refer the matter to the High Court (sitting as the Constitutional Court), because, as Prime Minister, Thabane may have immunity from prosecution. No date has been set for that hearing.High-level murder investigation grips tiny mountain kingdom of LesothoThe 80-year-old looked at the ground for much of the proceedings flanked by First Lady Maesiah Thabane and various senior members of his government.The Prime Minister was a no-show for a court date last Friday. His office later said that he had rushed to South Africa for medical treatment, insisting that he was not trying to avoid the charges against him.Lesotho Prime Minister fails to show up in court to face murder chargeMaesiah Thabane has already been charged with murder and attempted murder of the former first lady Lipolelo Thabane and a friend. She is out on bail and is Read More – Source

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The 18th-century crown, which has great religious significance, went missing from a church in Ethiopia 21 years ago, the Dutch government said in a statement.Sirak Asfaw, a Dutch national of Ethiopian origin who emigrated to the Netherlands in the late 1970s,said in a video recording that the crown "came into his hands" in 1998. Asfaw, a former refugee, told the AFP in an interview that he found the crown in a suitcase left behind by a guest to his apartment. However, he kept the priceless object hidden for 21 years. He said he was reluctant to return "looted heritage to the same regime as the one during which it was stolen…That is why I have waited for 21 years and have safeguarded it all those years," he said in a video posted when news of the crown emerged in October 2019. CNN was not able to reach Asfaw for comment before publishing.

Special handover ceremony

Asfaw added that he was also concerned that the Dutch authorities would offer to loan the crown to Ethiopia, as happened with a Nigerian Benin bronze which the British Museum had offered to return temporarily to its owners. However, last year Asfaw approached the DutchMinistry of Foreign Affairs to let them know he was in possession of the object. "Last year Asfaw got in touch through the mediation of art detective Arthur Brand, to discuss how to return this important cultural artefact to Ethiopia," the Ministry said in a statement. This kick-started a series of conversations that culminated in a special handover ceremony on Thursday where the Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed officially received the artifact. He thanked the Dutch government for bringing the "precious crown" home at an event that was also attended by Asfaw and Sigrid Kaag, Netherlands foreign trade and development cooperation minister.Kaag said the government was pleased to have expedited the "rightful return" of the artifact to Ethiopia."We're honoured and delighted to have been able to facilitate the rightful return. This is the crowning achievement of returning this heritage to its rightful place," Kaag said in aRead More – Source

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In tonights edition : South Sudan main rivals are once again uncomfortably sharing power, but analysts warn it will be a long and perilous path to peace. Togos President Faure Gnassingbe hailed a crushing election victory that gave him a fourth term in office, as his main rival insisted he had won and called on people to "defend" their votes. In DRC, the so-called « sheep-jump » overpasses are making headlines once again. The boss of Safricas, one of the construction companies invRead More – Source

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It is the worst desert locust outbreak in decades for many countries in East Africa. City-sized locust swarms are attacking crops and threatening the food supply for millions of people. Dominique Burgeon, Director of the Emergencies and Rehabilitation Division at FAO, joins us from the organizations headquarters in Rome. He points out that the governments of the region are unprepared to fight thiRead More – Source

Africa

South Sudan opened a new chapter in its fragile emergence from civil war Saturday as rival leaders formed a coalition government that many observers prayed would last this time around.

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A day after President Salva Kiir dissolved the previous government, opposition leader Riek Machar was sworn in as his deputy, an arrangement that twice collapsed in fighting during the conflict that killed nearly 400,000 people.

Kiir declared “the official end of the war, and we can now proclaim a new dawn.” Peace is "never to be shaken ever again,” the president said, adding that he had forgiven Machar and asking for Machar's forgiveness, to applause. He called on their respective Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups to do the same.

The worlds youngest nation slid into civil war in 2013, two years after winning a long-fought independence from Sudan, as supporters of Kiir and Machar clashed. Numerous attempts at peace failed, including a deal that saw Machar return as vice president in 2016 — only to flee the country on foot months later amid fresh gunfire.

Intense international pressure followed the most recent peace deal in 2018. Pope Francis in a dramatic gesture kissed the feet of Kiir and Machar last year to coax them into putting differences aside. Saturday's ceremony began with a presentation to them of that photo as a reminder.

Exasperation by the United States, South Sudans largest aid donor, and others grew as Kiir and Machar in the past year pushed back two deadlines to take the crucial step of forming the coalition government. But with less than a week before the latest deadline Saturday, each made a key concession.

Kiir announced a “painful” decision on the politically sensitive issue of the number of states, and Machar agreed to have Kiir take responsibility for his security. On Thursday, they announced they had agreed to form a government meant to lead to elections in three years time — the first vote since independence.

Hugs and applause

“Finally, peace is at our doorstep,” a reporter with the U.N.-backed Radio Miraya declared from Bor in long-suffering Jonglei state. In Yambio, youth with flags were reported in the streets. “I rejoice with the South Sudanese, especially the displaced, hungry and grieving who waited so long,” the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tweeted.

Hugs and applause followed Machar's swearing-in. He vowed to South Sudanese to work together “to end your suffering.”

And both he and Kiir thanked the pope for his gesture. “We are proud to report to him that we have also reconciled,” Kiir said. “We were greatly humbled and challenged” by him, Machar said.

Even as citizens breathed a careful sigh of relief, aid groups, analysts and diplomats warned of major challenges ahead. In a likely sign of caution, no heads of state aside from Sudans leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, attended the swearing-in.

“While much work remains to be done, this is an important milestone in the path to peace,” the U.S. Embassy said in a message of congratulations.

Tens of thousands of rival forces still must be knitted together into a single army, a process that the U.N. and others have called behind schedule and poorly provisioned.

And observers have stressed that this new government must be inclusive in a country where fighting has often occurred along ethnic lines and where several armed groups operate. Not all have signed on to the peace deal.

Kiir and Machar have said outstanding issues will be negotiated under the new government.

Other vice presidents named by Kiir on Friday include Taban Deng Gai, a former ally of Machar who switched to the government side and last month was sanctioned by the U.S. over involvement in serious human rights abuses. Another is Rebecca Garang, the widow of John Garang, who led a long fight for independence from Sudan.

Serious abuses continuRead More – Source

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A joint operation by Nigerien and French troops in southwest Niger killed 120 "terrorists" and seized bomb-making equipment and vehicles, the country's defence ministry said Friday.

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As of February 20 "120 terrorists have been neutralised" in the operation in the vast Tillaberi region near the border with Mali and Burkina Faso, the statement said, adding there had been no losses among Nigerien or French troops.

Niger's defence minister Issoufou Katambe praised the "cooperation… in the battle against terrorism," according to the statement.

Authorities in the restive Tillaberi region have ramped up security restrictions, closing markets and banning motorbike traffic after attacks by jihadist groups over December and January killed 174 Nigerien soldiers.

A state of emergency has been in place in the region for the past two years.

Since 2015, Niger has struggled against a wave oRead More – Source

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Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane was meant to face murder charges for the 2017 killing of his ex-wife Lipolelo Thabane… but he skipped trial, travelling instead to South Africa. The PM's office says he's there for medical reasons – but police have warned that if he attempts to flee justice, they'll issue an arrest warrant.

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Huge crowds in the Algerian capital are marking the first anniversary of the Hirak – the country's biggest protest movement in decades. It succeeded in the largely bloodless ouster of Abdelaziz Bouteflika's 20-year ruRead More – Source

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For several months, Rwanda and Uganda have been accusing each other of destabilisation efforts. But relations seem to be on the mend. Amid mediation efforts led by Angola and DR Congo, Kigali and Kampala have made some progress. Prisoners have been released on both sides. But now, trust needs to be restored between the two neighbours, especially as these diplomatic tensions have concrete economic consequences. Our correspondent reports.

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