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Massive Beirut explosion kills more than 70, hurts thousands (Wed, 05 Aug 2020)
The blast struck Beirut's port and surrounding area with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake.  The authorities say a warehouse storing Amonium Nitrate caught fire - its a substance which can be used as a fertilizer and as an explosive. The blast comes at a sensitive time for Lebanon the economy is in collapse and sectarian tensions are on the rise again - what triggered the fire is a matter of speculation. Shocked and bloodied residents staggered into the streets, thousands of people have been injured and scores are dead. The Prime minister has declared a day of mourning. Hassan Diab, Lebanese Prime Minister says those responsible for this catastrophe will pay the price. Hospitals are said to be overwhelmed as they already have to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. International help and condolences have been offered and an investigation launched into why such a dangerous substance was stored close to the city. 
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Côte d'Ivoire: More than 900,000 new voters enlisted (Wed, 05 Aug 2020)
More than 900,000 eligible voters were enrolled, taking the numbers to 7.5 million before the presidential race. The Electoral Commission revised the 2018 list, estimating that five million Ivorians were not registered. Controversies linger about the absence of Laurent Gbagbo, Guillaume Soro and Charles Blé Goudé, who are currently facing prosecutions. "...for them to bring this situation which they consider unlawful to the attention of the Independent Electoral Commission. And in the framework of that revision, with supporting evidence, we will verify whether they do indeed meet the conditions prescribed by law, and in so doing we will grant their request. If this is not the case, they will be struck off the electoral register in accordance with the law,"   says Ibrahime Coulibaly-Kuibiert, Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission. The FPI, having lost former president Gbagbo as its leader, will be headed by Affi Nguessan. However, the situation remains the same for the PDCI represented by Henri Konan Bedié, . Speculations of the incumbent president, Alassane Ouattara, running for a third term, will be confirmed on September 1 at the closing of nominations. 
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Tanzania: Lissu named main opposition candidate (Wed, 05 Aug 2020)
Tundu Lissu named as the main opposition candidate for presidential votes. Tanzania's main opposition, Chadema party on Tuesday unanimously approved Tundu Lissu 's candidacy for the October 28 general election after he won a party vote. Heavyweight Lissu, a former MP and Chadema's deputy chairman, was shot 16 times in a 2017 assassination attempt. He returned to the East African country from exile last month and described Magufuli's handling of the coronavirus pandemic as "a national embarrassment". Tanzania has not released official coronavirus figures since late April, and unlike most African countries, it has taken no specific measures against the pandemic. Magufuli has repeatedly asserted that Tanzania has no coronavirus patients. The country's opposition fears the general election will take place in a climate of violence and intimidation, and has called for the formation of an independent electoral commission.
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Guinean opposition alleges largescale corruption by President Alpha Condé (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
A Guinean opposition group is alleging widescale corruption on the part of President Alpha Condé and his administration.  The Collective for the Transition in Guinea (CTG) filed a complaint on the eve of the nomination of the ruling party's candidate for the upcoming presidential election. The complaint was filed at the National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF) in Paris.  Bauxite consortium concerns  Jean-Baptiste Soufron, the CTG's solicitor, told a press conference that the concerns date back nearly a decade:  "The complaint targets a set of activities that have taken place since 2012-2013 - partly in Paris, partly in Guinea - and which raise concerns about acts of corruption committed to the advantage of Alpha Condé, his son Mohamed Condé, but also the Minister of Defence Mohamed Diané" The CTG is in particular critical of perceived links between the current regime and an international consortium which bought bauxite mining rights near the city of Boké in west Guinea. "Pure slander"  A presidential official has rejected the claims, describing them as "pure slander" and added that the allegations had been timed because of the approaching presidential election. President Condé’s ruling party, Rally of the Guinean People, is due to choose its presidential candidate for October’s election at a convention on August 5th and 6th. The 82 year old president has already served two terms, beginning in 2010.   Opposition demonstrations  The opposition has been organising demonstrations against a potential candidacy for a third term by President Condé since last year.  Ibrahim Sorel Keita, spokesperson of the CTG, said it was important to communicate their claims to the public:   "This is the best time to hope that the populations wake up and discover the reality of the financial practices of this regime."
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Nigerian airline layoff employees amid COVID-19 crisis (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
Nigeria's main airline, Air Peace has been affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Faced with "the devastating effects on its operations and financial health", the management of Air Peace said in a statement that it had to take "a painful but legal decision" of dismissing some of its pilots and reducing "the salaries of all staff. Airpeace employs nearly 3,000 employees. Many airlines around the world have had to take similar measures for their survival, as air traffic has been deeply affected by the effects of the covid-19 pandemic. Nigeria has recently relaxed restrictive measures in an attempt to curb the pandemic, but the recovery in economic activity remains partial. Since its first case in February, Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with 200 million people, has had more than 44,000 cases of coronavirus, including 896 deaths, according to the latest official figures.
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Niger celebrates 60 years of independence (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
Niger, a former French colony, celebrates its sixtieth independence anniversary on Monday.  France mainstains a certain degree of influence in the country. On military grounds; Operation Barkhane is still very much present, although the security situation has deteriorated in recent years. On the economic level, the country is said to enjoy growth through its agriculture, but 40% of its population lives in extreme poverty according to the World Bank. France remains Niger's leading partner. It is therefore a relative independence according to Amadou Bounty Diallo, Nigerien political analyst. Indeed independence has allowed our countries to gain access to international sovereignty, but these are of little significance, since these countries  are still dependent in thindustrial sector.You know that the two leading companies that employ that the higest number of Nigeriens are French companies,"he said. France has somewhat become dependent on the country's uranium resources. In 2010, 30% of the supply of French nuclear power plants came from Niger.
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New commander takes over AU mission in Somalia (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
The African Union Mission troop in Somalia ushers a new force commander in Mogadishu. Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya who arrived on sunday would lead a force mainly from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The countries have been enforcing order in Somalia for over a decade now. The commander who is no stranger to the country, will have to confront the unending Al shaab attacks and the frequent claims of the presence of non-AMISOM troops in Somalia. With a career spanning 38 years, General Ndegeya, 57, previously served in Somalia from 2007 to 2009, as a member of the Burundi National Defence Forces - AMISOM's pre-deployment team in-charge of supervising and training. In 2012, he was part of a reconnaissance mission to the Bay and Bakool regions of Somalia ahead of AMISOM troop deployment there.    He has also worked as a senior advisor to Burundi's defence minister and published a number of research papers on peacekeeping missions in Africa and professionalisation of the Burundi National Defence Forces, among others.  
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US SpaceX astronauts return (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
Two American astronauts have splashed down as the first commercial crewed mission to the International Space Station came back to Earth. The capsule came down in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast - carefully avoiding the tropical storm battering Florida's eastern sea border. They'd been up in the International Space station for two months and their ride home was fast and hot, at least on the outside with searing temperatures on re-entry to Earth's atmosphere. President Trump who had watched the initial launch back in May sent his congratulations at the safe return of the two men. The aim of the mission had been to test the so-called "astronaut taxi service" the company, owned by tech entrepreneur , will be selling to Nasa from now on. For SpaceX it'll be launching the next crew around the end of September.
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COVID-19: 6 nations account for 78% cases in Africa (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in Africa according to the World Health Organization. Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its latest update issued on Monday, said that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the continent roseto 957,035 as of Monday. It also revealed the number of deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic rose to 20,288 deaths on Monday. The agency stressed that some 611,957 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered across the continent so far. South Africa has recorded more than a half a million cases of COVID-19, the highest in Africa, with the number of infections continuing to rise rapidly. South Africa has 516,862 confirmed cases and 8,539 deaths, followed by Egypt with 94,483 cases and Nigeria with 43,841 cases according to Africa CDC. Confirmed cases in South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria and Morocco account for about 78 percent of the continent's total. Amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the African continent, the Africa CDC on Tuesday said 34 African countries are under "full border closure" in an effort to stop the spread.
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Virtual tours bring tourists to Rwanda amid COVID-19 (Tue, 04 Aug 2020)
A young Rwadan is offering tourists the chance to visit his country via virtual tourism amid the coronavirus pandemic. Patrick Karangwa is the founder of Kigali 360, a company that creates virtual tours of some of Rwanda's most impressive sights. "I realised that Rwanda as a country and in general also Africa were under-represented on Google Maps, on digital maps, this is where the idea came from, I realised that this technology we could do it our self and it was affordable" Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the tourism industry has collapsed across all African countries. Most African tourism organizations have come up with the concept of providing the continent's digital experiences to casual travelers during the pandemic. Virtual tourism is on the rise. However, Patrick believes traditional tourism will pick up. "This will never replace traditional tourism because nothing really will replace the fact that people can be at places, at locations and see the things with their own eyes. So this is more a different layer of information," he said. Last year, tourism brought more than $490 million in revenues to Rwanda, according to the Rwanda Development Board. This year the pandemic has cost Rwanda $45 million, due to dwindling tourist numbers and after 45 international meetings scheduled to be held in Kingali were postponed or cancelled.
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