Articles by "Africa"

South African President Jacob Zuma (photo by AFP)
South Africa's president fired his respected finance minister early Friday in a move that spooked investors this week and has sent the country's currency tumbling.
President Jacob Zuma's replacement of Pravin Gordhan comes as part of a cabinet shuffle that changes 10 of the country's 35 ministers.
The new ministers will be sworn in later Friday.
Pressure has been growing on Zuma to step down after he recalled Gordhan, who has a strong reputation as a bulwark against corruption, from a trade trip in London earlier this week.
The recall caused South Africa's rand to lose nearly five percent, another blow to Africa's most industrialized economy that grew just 0.5 percent last year.
Many South Africans had viewed Gordhan as a responsible steward of an economy facing possible credit rating downgrades.
Gordhan has been replaced by Malusi Gigaba, a former home affairs minister, a statement from the president's office said.
South Africa's two main opposition parties took aim at the president on Thursday, with one appealing to the highest court to order impeachment proceedings and the other announcing it will launch a vote of no confidence.
On Wednesday, Gordhan inspired a standing ovation at the funeral of one of South Africa's leading anti-apartheid activists as longtime leaders of the ruling African National Congress, the country's former liberation movement, called for Zuma to step down.
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan attends the funeral of late South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 29, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The new cabinet changes are "to improve efficiency and effectiveness," the statement from Zuma's office said.
But even allies of the ruling party had warned against replacing Gordhan.
The scandal-ridden Zuma in November last year survived an attempt by senior party members to oust him as president.
Earlier last year, South Africa's highest court found that Zuma had violated his oath of office by refusing to abide by an order to pay back some of the millions of dollars in public money spent on upgrading his rural home.

This file photo, taken on June 30, 2016, shows Ivory Coast’s former first lady Simone Gbagbo looking on as she attends a trial at the appeals court in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. (By AFP)
A court in Ivory Coast has acquitted former first lady Simone Gbagbo of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges linked to her role in a 2011 civil war, which killed about 3,000 people, state television announced on Tuesday.
The trial, the West African nation’s first for crimes against humanity, was held in an Ivorian court after the government rejected her extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Gbagbo, who has often been absent from the trial on complaints of poor health, was not present for the verdict, either.
Her husband, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, is standing trial before the ICC on similar charges connected to the brief conflict, which was triggered by his refusal to accept defeat to Alassane Ouattara in a 2010 presidential runoff election.
Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo
“We are happy. Since the start of the trial we proclaimed her innocence. The prosecution’s case against her was empty,” Simone Gbagbo’s lawyer Mathurin Dirabou told Reuters after the verdict was announced.
But Human Rights Watch said the judgment left “unanswered serious questions about her alleged role in brutal crimes.”
“The acquittal... reflects the many irregularities in the process against her,” Param-Preet Singh, the associate director in Human Rights Watch’s International Justice Program, said. “The poor quality of the investigation and weak evidence presented in her trial underscore the importance of the ICC’s outstanding case against her for similar crimes.”
Simone Gbagbo had already been tried and convicted in March 2015 of offenses against the state and sentenced to 20 years in prison, a jail term that was upheld on appeal this month.
Prosecutors in her war crimes trial alleged she was part of a small group of party officials from Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), which planned violence against the supporters of Ouattara, who is now president, to stop him taking power.
“We regret this decision when we think of the many victims,” Soungaola Coulibaly, a lawyer for the victims, told Reuters by telephone.
“If Simone Gbagbo is declared not guilty of these acts, then who was?... The victims do not understand this decision.”
(Source: Reuters)

The undated photo shows Egyptian Coast Guard officials and rescue workers in the port city of Rosetta.
An Egyptian court sentenced 56 people to prison terms of up to 14 years on Sunday over the capsizing of a boat that killed over 200 people, one of the deadliest disasters in the dangerous Mediterranean crossings of migrants to Europe.
The boat capsized off the Egyptian coast on September 21, 2016. Rescue workers and fishermen rescued at least 169 people, but at least 202 died.
Fifty-seven people faced charges including causing the accidental death of 202 passengers, not using sufficient rescue equipment, endangering lives, receiving money from the victims, hiding suspects from authorities and using a vessel without a license. One woman was acquitted.
The boat sank in the Mediterranean off Burg Rashid, a village in Egypt's northern Beheira province where the sea and the Nile meet. It had been carrying Egyptian, Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali migrants and was believed to be heading for Italy.
One month after the boat sank Egypt's parliament passed legislation setting prison terms and fines for those found guilty of smuggling migrants, acting as brokers or facilitating migrants' journeys.
The file photo shows a refugee boat off the Egyptian coast.
A record 5,000 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean last year, aid agencies have said. In the worst known incident, around 500 African migrants and their children died when a fishing boat capsized off Egypt's coast in April.
Since Turkey and the European Union reached an agreement a year ago to curb the flow of migrants and refugees sailing from Turkish shores to Greece, most migrant journeys have taken the more dangerous route from North Africa to Italy.
In Libya, people traffickers have operated with relative ease, but many migrants and refugees also set off from Egypt.

Morocco's new Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani (C) gives a press conference in Rabat, on March 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani says he has agreed to form a coalition government with five other parties, breaking nearly six months of post-election deadlock.
Othmani, from the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), was appointed as premier last week by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. He replaced PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane, whose efforts to form a government following October's elections had been frustrated.
“The next steps will be deciding on government structure and ministerial appointments,” Othmani told reporters on Saturday, surrounded by the leaders of the five other parties. “We need to move beyond previous obstacles.”
Othmani said the government’s priorities would include reinforcing stability, justice reform, education, rural development and energy. Before Othmani’s appointment, negotiations had stalled largely over the insistence by the National Rally of Independents (RNI) party on including the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) in a coalition.
Both parties are among those now expected to form a new government. The other parties are the Popular Movement (MP), the Party of Progress and Socialism (PPS), and the Constitutional Union (UC).
The inclusion of four smaller parties alongside the RNI is seen as weakening the PJD’s position, which analysts said was why Benkirane had resisted such an outcome.
Morocco's Secretary General of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD) and former prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, arrives for a meeting of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) in Salé on March 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The PJD came to power in 2011, when King Mohammed ceded some powers to ease “Arab Spring” protests. Morocco has since presented itself as a model for economic stability and gradual reform in a region troubled by conflict and political turmoil.
Last year’s election campaign was marked by tensions between the PJD and a resurgent royal establishment, though the PJD retained its position as the largest party, increasing its number of seats to 125.
But Benkirane’s efforts to form a coalition met with opposition from other parties that critics say are too close to the palace. The RNI, which has 37 seats in parliament, is led by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Aziz Akhannouch, a close friend of the king.
The deadlock led to concerns that public spending was being put at risk, and delays to economic reform. After the king’s replacement of Benkirane, a charismatic figure popular with the PJD base, the party’s potential partners quickly expressed optimism that a coalition could be formed.
Under Morocco’s election law no party can win an outright majority in the 395-seat parliament, making coalition governments necessary in a system where the king holds ultimate power.
The Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM), the second largest in parliament, has said publicly that it intends to remain in opposition. The conservative Istiqlal party, which was in coalition with the PJD from 2012-2013 before relations soured over economic reform, is also expected to be in opposition.

Guinea-Bissau's President Jose Mario Vaz (File photo)
Thousands of protesters in Guinea Bissau's capital on Saturday demanded President Jose Mario Vaz step down to resolve a political crisis that has paralyzed the coup-prone West African country.
Protesters marched through Bissau's streets lined with hedges and palm trees singing and shouting "Jomav out!", using an abbreviation for the president's name. The protest followed a smaller one two weeks ago also demanding that Vaz quit.
The former Portuguese colony has not convened parliament for more than a year and public anger is growing at the failure of regionally-mediated talks to resolve deep rivalries within the political elite.
"Today people have had enough," said Armindo Gomes, one of the activists behind the protest. "We are heading right up to Jose Mario Vaz's bed to make him leave by force."
Vaz has yet to react to the protests, but he has defended his record in government and says he has cracked down on graft.
In August 2015 Vaz sacked Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira, who was popular with Western donors and locals, triggering a crisis that the nomination of several prime ministers since has failed to resolve.
Diplomats fear the current crisis could be exploited by drug traffickers in a highly unstable country that has been a major transport hub for Latin American cocaine. The nation's main legal export is cashew nuts.
Guinea Bissau has witnessed nine coups or attempted coups since 1980.

Egyptian soldiers stand guard at a strategic site in Egypt's Sinai. (File photo)
Four Egyptian soldiers were killed in an explosion that hit their armored vehicle on Saturday in the northern Sinai Peninsula, where the government is battling a Daesh-led insurgency, security sources said.
The incident occurred about 20 km (12 miles) south of the Mediterranean town of al-Arish.
An insurgency in Egypt's rugged Sinai region has gained pace since the army toppled President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests against his rule in mid-2013.
The revolt, mounted by Daesh’s Egyptian branch, has killed hundreds of soldiers and police. Militants have also started to attack Western targets within the country.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the former military chief who led Morsi's overthrow, describes militancy as an existential threat to Egypt, an ally of the United States.
On Thursday, 10 soldiers were killed in the Sinai Peninsula when their vehicles were hit by two improvised bombs during an operation in which 15 suspected militants were also killed, the army said. Two policemen were killed near al-Arish in a separate incident, the interior ministry said.

The file photo shows militiamen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Militia fighters decapitated about 40 police officers after an ambush in central Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials said on Saturday, the deadliest attack on security forces since an insurgency erupted in the region last year.
The Kamuina Nsapu militants struck on Friday as the police convoy drove from the city of Tshikapa in Kasai province to Kananga, the capital of Kasai-Central province, said Francois Madila Kalamba, speaker of the Kasai provincial assembly.
"They were apprehended by the militia members and they decapitated about 40," Kalamba told Reuters. He added that witnesses said the fighters spared the lives of six police officers because they spoke the local Tshiluba language.
The militia fighters, who are often armed with machetes but rarely carry firearms, made off with arms and vehicles during the raid, Kalamba added.
Corneil Mbombo, president of the Civil Society of Kasai, a provincial activist group, also said about 40 officers had been decapitated following the ambush. The provincial governor and national police spokesman could not be reached for comment.
The insurgency, which has spread to five provinces, poses the most serious threat yet to the rule of President Joseph Kabila, whose failure to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December was followed by a wave of killings and lawlessness across the vast central African nation.
Friday's attack follows government reports of a wave of surrenders by fighters in neighbouring Kasai-Central province in recent days. The Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 400 fighters had surrendered this week in the province.
But as the insurgency has spread, the fighters operating under the name Kamuina Nsapu appear to operate increasingly independently and without a clear leadership structure. Some recent violence appears to be ethnic score-settling.
More than 400 people have been killed in the violence, according to the United Nations, and the government said on Tuesday that 67 police officers and many soldiers had died in the clashes.
Many of the dead have been dumped in mass graves. The United Nations said this week that it had identified 10 alleged mass grave sites and was investigating seven others.
The military's top prosecutor announced last week that seven soldiers had been charged in connection with a video that appears to show soldiers massacring suspected militia members, including for murder and mutilation.
Two UN officials, one U.S. citizen and the other of Swedish nationality, and four Congolese accompanying them were also kidnapped last week by unknown assailants in Kasai-Central. They have yet to be located.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak looks on, behind bars on his bed, in a cage inside the court room at the police academy during his trial in Cairo, June 2, 2012.
Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak has walked free for the first time in six years, his lawyer says.  
Mubarak on Friday left a military hospital where he had spent much of his six-year detention over a series of charges, including killing protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his 30 year rule in 2011.
His lawyer Farid al-Deeb was quoted as saying that the former Egyptian dictator was heading to his home in Heliopolis.
A top appeals court cleared Mubarak earlier this month of charges of killing protesters. He was accused of inciting the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt, in which about 850 people were killed.
The release came a day after an Egyptian court ordered a renewed corruption probe into Mubarak over allegations that he, his wife, two sons and their wives received gifts from the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper valued at about $1 million.
In January 2016, the appeals court upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons on corruption charges. But the sentence took into account time served. Both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were freed.
Mubarak was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt but an appeals court ordered a retrial that culminated in 2014 in the case against him and his senior officials being dropped. 
The court also rejected demands by lawyers of the victims to reopen civil suits. That left no remaining option for appeal or retrial, according to a judicial source.
Lawyers of the victims have condemned the verdicts clearing Mubarak and his officials as politically motivated. 
Many Egyptians who lived through Mubarak's rule view it as a period of autocracy and crony capitalism. His overthrow led to Egypt's first free election, which brought in President Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi only lasted a year in office and was overthrown by then army chief General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who went on to win a presidential election in 2014.
Sisi has since launched a crackdown on Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. By contrast, Mubarak-era figures have been cleared of charges and a series of laws limiting political freedoms has raised fears among activists that the old regime is back.

An Egypt court decides to reopen a corruption probe into ousted president Hosni Mubarak, his wife and two sons. (Photo by AFP)
An Egyptian court ordered on Thursday a renewed corruption probe into ousted president Hosni Mubarak, who has been cleared for release after almost six years in detention, judicial officials said.
The court ruling to reopen the investigation after it had been dropped would not affect a prosecution decision to release Mubarak after his acquittal in another case, the officials said.
Mubarak, 88, remains in a Cairo military hospital.
The new investigation centers around allegations that he, his wife, two sons and their wives received gifts from the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper valued at about $1 million.
An investigative judge had agreed in 2013 to drop the probe after they paid back the amount, but the prosecution appealed.
He is also being investigated separately for illicit gain, but has not been referred to trial.
On March 2, Egypt's top appeals court had acquitted Mubarak of involvement in the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolt that toppled him, ending the final trial for the strongman who had ruled for 30 years.
He was accused of inciting the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt, in which about 850 people were killed as police clashed with demonstrators.
In January 2016, the appeals court upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons on corruption charges.
But the sentence took into account time served. Both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were freed.

South African President Jacob Zuma. Photo / AP
Nelson Mandela's eldest granddaughter has said she will no longer vote for South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), claiming the party no longer holds the values for which her grandfather fought.
Ndileka Mandela, 52, a nurse who runs a Mandela family foundation to help the rural poor, said she had been left despondent by the ANC-led Government, which she said was squandering public money and neglecting the impoverished.
"This is not a decision that has been made out of anger," said Mandela, who is the first in the family to reject the ANC. "I've been thinking about it for a while. It's been a build up."
She said worthwhile projects in rural areas were always held up by a lack of funding, yet the Government, led by President Jacob Zuma, was wasting billions of rand.
The ANC's callousness after a government blunder caused the deaths of 96 state psychiatric patients in Gauteng province last year was the tipping point in her decision, she added.

Many of the bodies of the patients were founds to have head injuries and unexplained bruises. At the opening of Parliament in February, the ANC-elected speaker refused a request from MPs to hold a moment of silence for the patients.The patients were part of a group of 1300 who were transferred from a private hospital to 27 charitable organisations as a way of saving money.
"For me it's a problem of accountability," she told the News24 site. "It's one scandal after the next and there's no accountability. And our people suffer for it."
Mandela, whose father died in a car accident in 1969, said her grandfather would never have supported blind loyalty.
She does not yet know who she will vote for, but said she is looking for a party that will lift rural areas. "I will not be voting for something that does not resonate with me any more, and does not resonate for what granddad and his comrades fought for," she said.


The ANC has been beset with corruption scandals since Zuma, 74, was elected to office in 2009. Last year the country's highest court found that he had violated his oath of office by refusing to abide by a state watchdog's report on paying back public money spent on upgrading his rural home.
In September last year, Zuma paid back 7.8-million rand for the upgrades, which included a swimming pool and state of the art chicken coup.
He also faces the reinstatement of 783 corruption charges linked to multi-billion-pound arms deals nearly 20 years ago.
The party, which has won every election since 1994 with more than 60 per cent of the vote, suffered its worst ever result last August by losing the key municipalities of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth to the opposition Democratic Alliance party.
Mandela, who died in 2013, was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994 after spending decades in prison for fighting against white rule.

The security situation in Mali “remains worrying” despite recent troop deployments and some progress on the country’s peace accord, the head of the United Nations (UN)’s peacekeeping force said Saturday in Bamako.
“The overall security situation remains worrying. We are all too frequently attacked by armed groups,” Herve Ladsous said at a press conference.
Deployed since July 2013, the UN’s 13,000-strong peacekeeping mission — the MINUSMA —has suffered one of the highest fatality rates of peacekeeping missions since the UN deployed to Somalia in 1993, with more than 70 Blue Helmets killed.
Ladsous further said, “The [peace] process is far from being achieved” despite the peace accord of June 2015 signed between Bamako and the groups that support it and the former Tuareg rebels in the north.
The Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defense Group (GATIA), which supports the central government in Bamako, signed the peace deal with state authorities and members of the country’s former rebel alliance.
Since the peace deal was signed, the GATIA has been accused of multiple ceasefire violations, and in September last year, US Ambassador Paul Folmsbee told the government it should “sever all ties” with the group.
This file photo shows United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous.
Ladsous is due to be replaced as head of the peacekeeping force in April by another Frenchman, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.
The peace accord signed by the Malian government and the rebels ended years of fighting in the north, but its implementation has been piecemeal.
Mali regained control of the north after a French-led military intervention in January 2013 drove out militants, but insurgents remain active across large parts of the region.

The file photo shows a Libyan MiG-21 fighter jet.
A warplane of Libya's internationally recognized government has been shot down while carrying out airstrikes against militant positions in the port city of Benghazi.
Mohammad Ghunem, the spokesman for the government's forces, said on Saturday that “a MiG-21 was shot down by a heat-seeking missile” as it was carrying out airstrikes against positions held by Takfiri terrorists in Libya's second city.
He added that the aircraft, which had been hit by the projectile fired by “terrorist groups”, crashed in Suq al-Hut district of the coastal city, after it successfully conducted an aerial raid against the last bastion of “extremists” in Benghazi’s Mediterranean seafront district of al-Saberi.
Ghunem said the pilot, named as Adel Abdullah Bushisha, survived the crash.
Benghazi, which fell to militant groups in 2014, has ever since witnessed fierce battles between pro-government troops led by General Khalifa Haftar and armed militants, including Takfiri groups such as Daesh and the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia.
Haftar and a faction of loyalist army personnel have taken it upon themselves to fight extremist militants in Libya’s second city. Haftar's self-declared Libyan National Army (LNA) has managed to recapture a large part of Benghazi, but according to LNA, terrorists are still present in the central districts of al-Saberi and Suq al-Hut.
Libya has been dominated by violence since a NATO military intervention followed the 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow and death of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Rival governments were set up in Tripoli and eastern Libya back in 2014.
In December 2015, however, the two administrations agreed on forming the Government of National Accord (GNA) after months of UN-brokered talks. The presidential council of the GNA arrived in Tripoli in March last year in a bid to restore order to the oil-rich North African country.
Haftar, however, has refused to profess allegiance to the GNA, but his forces have been fighting militants in Benghazi over the past three years. The opponents of Haftar say he is essentially involved in a struggle for power and is undermining the country.

A nutrition officer measures the arm of a child with acute malnutrition in a stabilization center in Ganyiel, Panyijiar County, in South Sudan on March 4, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
South Sudan's government is mainly to blame for famine in parts of the war-torn country, yet President Salva Kiir is still boosting his forces using millions of dollars from oil sales, according to a confidential United Nations report.
UN sanctions monitors said 97 percent of South Sudan's known revenue comes from oil sales, a significant portion of which is now forward oil sales, and that at least half of the budget - "likely substantially more" - is devoted to security.
"Revenue from forward oil sales totaled approximately $243 million between late March and late October 2016," the panel of UN monitors said in the report to the UN Security Council, seen by Reuters on Thursday.
"Despite the scale and scope of the political, humanitarian, and economic crises, the panel continues to uncover evidence of the ongoing procurement of weapons by the ... Government for the SPLA (South Sudanese army), the National Security Service, and other associated forces and militias," the report said.

President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir greets ministers outside the national palace of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on February 24, 2017, after a press conference during a state visit by the South Sudanese government. (Photo by AFP)
The United Nations has declared a famine in some parts of the world's youngest country, where nearly half its population - some 5.5 million people - face food shortages. A civil war erupted in 2013 when Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, a Nuer, who has fled and is now in South Africa.
The United Nations says at least one quarter of South Sudanese have been displaced since 2013.
South Sudan's government rejected the report on Friday.
The annual report of the sanctions monitors to the 15-member Security Council comes ahead of a ministerial meeting of the body on South Sudan next Thursday, which is due to be chaired by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
In December, the Security Council failed to adopt a US-drafted resolution to impose an arms embargo and further sanctions on South Sudan despite warnings by UN officials of a possible genocide. The UN monitors again recommended in their report that the council impose an arms embargo on South Sudan.
UN peacekeepers have been in South Sudan since 2011.

Libya’s unity government and rival armed groups in Tripoli have signed a ceasefire deal, ending fierce fighting for the control of the capital.
The deal, signed by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), local mayors and powerful militias from Tripoli and Misrata provides for an "immediate ceasefire."
The agreement calls for armed groups that do not recognize the GNA to leave Tripoli within 30 days. 
According to GNA’s Defense Ministry, the deal also demands the release of people arrested since fresh battle triggered on Monday.
The Thursday deal cements the UN-backed government’s control over large parts of the capital. It also charges GNA forces with securing areas controlled by rival groups. 
The city has been paralyzed amid exchanges of rocket and artillery fire between pro-unity government forces and rival militias, whose members are mainly from Misrata, the hometown of former prime minister Khalifa Ghweil.
The fresh battle saw pro-GNA forces expand their clout in the capital. The forces have taken several districts from rival militias, including groups allied with Ghweil.
This photo taken on January 08, 2016 shows smoke billowing from a petroleum storage tank after a fire was extinguished at al-Sidra oil terminal, near Ras Lanuf in eastern Libya. (Photo by AFP)
On Wednesday night, violent clashes rocked the capital's southern Salaheddine district.
However, the city and its surroundings were quiet on Thursday morning following the overnight deal.
An inter-Libyan political deal, backed by the UN and signed in December 2015, gave rise to the GNA and called for armed groups to leave Tripoli and other Libyan towns. 
The capital is home to dozens of militias. Since taking office, the GNA has secured the backing of several, but many parts of Tripoli remain out of its control. 
The unity government wants to see heavy weapons withdrawn from the capital to allow its security forces to operate effectively.
On Tuesday, heavy fighting rocked eastern Libya, where forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, the military commander of Libya’s eastern government, regained control of two major oil ports of Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra from a rival faction that had seized them earlier this month. 
Haftar's forces do not recognize the UN-backed government. Haftar was an ally of Libya’s former long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi but joined the Libyan revolution against the dictator in 2011. 
Libya has been rocked by violence since NATO military intervention that followed the 2011 uprising and led to the overthrow and death of Gaddafi. Rival governments were set up in Tripoli and eastern Libya in 2014.

This image shows black women and children sitting in line waiting for humanitarian aid. (File photo)
Armed men have attacked an aid convoy of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), killing two people and injuring three others in South Sudan, where an ongoing civil war has led to famine.
The IOM said on Thursday the convoy was attacked two days ago while returning from the central town of Yirol where staff and health workers were assisting communities affected by a deadly cholera outbreak.
An IOM health officer is among the injured, the organization said in a statement. It was not immediately clear who the other victims were.
IOM Director General William Lacy Swing condemned the attack as "appalling", saying it came during a lifesaving humanitarian mission. 
"In a country overwhelmed by the huge lack of basic necessities due to conflict, famine and health epidemics, these types of attacks undoubtedly harm the ability of humanitarian partners to provide assistance to millions in need of lifesaving aid," Swing said.
Director General of the International Organization for Migration William Lacy Swing (File photo)
Some 100,000 people are suffering from a man-made famine in South Sudan.
Another one million people could be hit by famine if there is insufficient rain in the coming months and a total of nearly five million will be going hungry.
Drought has forced many to drink from unreliable water sources, resulting in diseases such as cholera which has affected 300 people and left 10 dead in Yirol.
The three-year civil war in South Sudan has made it difficult for aid workers to reach affected areas.

This image shows German soldiers loading skulls and bones of massacred Herero people into a casket for shipping to Germany.

Descendants of two Namibian tribes who suffered one of the most horrific genocides under Germany’s colonial rule more than a century ago have now lodged a complaint against Berlin in a New York court.
Lawyers representing Namibia’s Herero and Nama tribes and an American non-profit association on genocide were to appear in the court on Thursday as part of a class-action lawsuit, which seeks reparations from Germany for the mass killing of tens of thousands of people and other crimes by German settlers and troops from 1904 to 1908.
Germany has admitted that genocide took place but it has yet to make an official declaration.
Berlin also refuses to pay direct reparations, saying it has generously supported Namibia’s development programs since the country’s independence from South Africa in 1990 through paying hundreds of millions of euro.
The original lawsuit was brought against Germany in January under the Alien Tort Statute that allows investigations of international law violations against non-US citizens by American courts.
Besides seeking reparations, the plaintiffs also demand that they be represented in negotiations between Germany and Namibia on the genocide. They say their exclusion from the talks is a violation of the UN declaration on the indigenous people.   
The lawsuit claims that German colonial authorities explicitly consented to settlers’ seizure of a quarter of Herero and Nama lands -- about thousands of square miles -- from 1885 to 1903.
Historic documents suggest that around 65,000 Herero people were massacred in the bloody Battle of Waterberg in August 1904. Around 10,000 people from the Nama tribe were also killed after they sought to rebel against the Germans during the conflict.
Germany and Namibia have been in talks over the massacres but Berlin is yet to release any details of the deal being negotiated.

The Aris 13 oil tanker is seen from a helicopter in the harbor of Gladstone, Australia, in 2014. Pirates have hijacked the Aris 13 oil tanker off the coast of Somalia. Photo / AP file
In 2010 and 2011, groups of armed Somali men were hijacking merchant vessels off Somalia's coast at an almost daily pace.
Thousands of hostages of myriad nationalities were taken, and billions of dollars were lost on ransoms, damages and delayed shipments.
The crisis was so severe that a naval task force with more than two dozen vessels from European Union countries, the United States, China, Russia, India and Japan banded together to restore order to one of the world's busiest shipping routes.
They largely succeeded.
In 2015, there were 17 pirate attacks near Somalia, down from 151 in 2011. Many of those attacks were on smaller fishing boats from nearby countries, mostly by disgruntled Somali fishermen, but not commercial ships.

Somali officials acknowledged that the Aris 13, an oil tanker, had been escorted to the Somali coast by at least eight, and perhaps as many as dozens of armed men on two small skiffs. Reports from organisations that monitor piracy could not conclusively identify which flag the ship was flying nor where it was owned, but Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry confirmed that eight of its nationals were on board as crew. The ship was on its way south to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital.Until today.
The attack originated in the Puntland region, which is semi-autonomous. "The vessel's captain reported to the company they were approached by two skiffs and that one of them could see armed personnel on board," an unidentified Middle East-based official told AP. "The ship changed course quite soon after that report and is now anchored."
The US Navy's 5th fleet oversees anti-piracy efforts along Somalia's coast. Concerns about piracy's reemergence in the region have been growing in concurrence with greater exploitation of Somalia's waters by illegal fishing done by foreigners. Deprived of a livelihood, some fisherman have turned back to hijacking to get by.
Salad Nur, described as a "local elder" by AP, said that the men involved with today's hijacking had been searching for a commercial vessel for days on the open water. "Foreign fishermen destroyed their livelihoods and deprived them of proper fishing," said Nur.
Piracy is also on the rise on the other side of Africa. Armed groups based along Nigeria's coast have made that region the most dangerous for seafarers. That coast is also a major oil shipping route. Now that oil prices have dropped, pirates there have taken to kidnapping crew members for ransom rather than siphoning off oil, as it has proved more lucrative.
Masked and armed Somali pirate Hassan stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel washed ashore after the pirates were paid a ransom and the crew were released in 2012. Photo / AP file

Forces loyal to Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) man a checkpoint in Hay al-Andalus neighborhood of Tripoli, March 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Forces loyal to Libya's unity government have overrun the headquarters of a rival militia following three days of fierce fighting in the capital, Tripoli.
Local residents and witnesses said on Wednesday that the forces from the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) overran the headquarters belonging to the militia, whose members are mainly from Misrata, the hometown of the former prime minister, Khalifa Ghweil.
"It's over. Ghweil's forces have pulled out and GNA forces have taken control of the area," media outlets quoted a witness as saying.
A security source also confirmed the militia's withdrawal.
The unity government forces launched an assault on the headquarters in Guest Palace, a complex of luxury villas in the city center, three days ago. They overran it after heavy fighting and artillery exchanges overnight.
Ghweil, whose administration was replaced by the GNA last year, has stepped up a campaign against the UN-backed authority.
A medic said a rocket hit Khadhra Hospital without causing any casualties.
Gunmen also stormed the headquarters of the privately owned Nabaa television, known for its Islamic leanings. The channel remained off the air on Wednesday.
The ongoing fierce fighting has brought life in the capital to a standstill with schools and shops closed.
The fresh wave of violence comes despite an appeal by Martin Kobler, the UN's Libya envoy, on Tuesday for an "immediate ceasefire."
"Civilians at grave risk in ongoing clashes," Kobler said on Twitter.
A series of violent clashes also erupted in the neighborhoods of Hay al-Andalus and Gargaresh on Monday evening. The fighting  prompted the unity government to deploy tanks in the violence-hit areas. 
On Tuesday, heavy fighting rocked eastern Libya, where forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar regained control of two major oil ports of Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra from a rival faction that seized them earlier this month.
Haftar's forces do not recognize the UN-backed government. They mounted a day-long assault by land, sea and air to seize the oil terminals.
Haftar was an ally of Libya’s former long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi but joined the Libyan revolution against Gaddafi in 2011.
Libya has been rocked by violence since a NATO military intervention that followed the 2011 uprising and led to the overthrow and death of Gaddafi. Rival governments were set up in Tripoli and eastern Libya in 2014.

A picture taken on December 1, 2016 shows military standing in front of the palace of Rwenzururu Kingdom that has been cordoned off by police after fighting, in Kasese, Uganda. (Photo by AFP)
Human Rights Watch has said 155 people, including 15 children, were killed in fierce fighting that erupted late last year in western Uganda between security forces and a tribal king's palace guards.
The death toll was "far higher than the Ugandan authorities claimed at the time", the US-based watchdog said in a Wednesday statement.
But the report was dismissed by the Ugandan government, which said it contained "inconsistencies" and challenged the allegation that children were among the dead, putting the death toll at just over 100.
HRW calculated its toll based on interviews with 95 relatives of victims, as well as with religious, security and administrative officials.
The clashes erupted in the western town of Kasese on November 26 and ended a day later when police stormed the palace of Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere, who has been accused of commanding a militia with separatist ambitions.
Police said the violence started when a joint patrol of police and troops was attacked by the royal guards.
Military personnel patrol on November 29, 2016 in Kasese, as Ugandan prosecutors charged a tribal king with murder. (Photo by AFP)
But HRW said it began when troops forced their way into a local administrative office, killing eight guards and sparking a wave of retaliatory violence, during which the palace guards used machetes to defend their turf.
It said the palace guards "often carry agricultural tools, such as machetes, but are not formally armed... and would not constitute an armed force or group under international humanitarian law."
HRW said at least 55 people, including 14 police officers, were killed on November 26, while more than 100 others, among them 15 children, died the next day.
But government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the report lacked "depth" and contained "several inconsistencies ... that do not represent the true facts."
"It deliberately misses out incidents that led to the near-breakdown of law and order," he said in a statement, accusing the rights group of ignoring the wider context of years of violence by the militia.
He put the death toll at 103, among them 12 women and 40 men as well as 51 bodies which remained unclaimed.
And he challenged the allegation that children were among the dead. "As opposed to the HRW report that 16 children (sic) were killed during the operation, there is no evidence."
The report also "promotes violence in the region, referring to machetes as agricultural tools as opposed to Uganda penal code act defines them as lethal weapons," he said.
HRW has called for an independent inquiry into the incident.
"People in Kasese are still looking for their family members, including children, and they deserve answers and justice for these gruesome killings," said Maria Burnett, associate Africa director at HRW.
In December, the tribal king was charged with treason, but released on bail in February.
The traditional kingdom in western Uganda has a history of separatist leanings dating back to independence. The region where it is based is an opposition stronghold that has long complained of marginalization from Kampala.

Members of the Libyan National Army (LNA) fire a tank during fighting against militia members in Qanfudah, on the southern outskirts of Benghazi, Libya, January 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
East Libyan forces have regained control of two major oil ports of Ras Lanuf and al-Sidra from a rival faction that seized them earlier this month.
Military spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) was pursuing fighters from the Benghazi Defence Brigades (BDB) toward the town of Ben Jawad, located about 30 kilometer west of al-Sidra.
Akram Buhaliqa, an LNA commander in the nearby city of Ajdabiya, also said BDB fighters were retreating toward Ben Jawad. The claims could not be independently verified.
Earlier, troops commanded by Libyan General Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive to seize the oil terminals.
Khalifa al-Abidi, a spokesman, said orders had been issued for the assault early Tuesday.
"Ground, sea and air forces launched joint attacks to liberate Ras Lanuf from terrorist groups," media outlets quoted the spokesman as saying. The offensive is also targeting the nearby al-Sidra oil terminal, he added.
The two main groups fighting for control of Libya's oil terminals are the BDB and the LNA, led by Haftar.
Both sites were seized by the rival militia earlier this month.
In September last year, pro-Haftar forces captured Ras Lanuf, al-Sidra and two other eastern oil ports in a blow to the UN-supported authority of the Government of National Accord (GNA). Haftar has refused to cede power to the GNA since its installation last year in the capital, Tripoli.
In a separate development on Tuesday, authorities said fresh fighting erupted between rival armed groups in Tripoli. Witnesses said explosions and gunfire could be heard in two neighborhoods west of the city center.
The fighting has left many trapped in their homes as several key thoroughfares were blocked across the city.
It was not immediately clear who was involved in the latest fierce clashes.
UN reports executions, torture in eastern Libya
The United Nations said on Tuesday that rivals battling in Libya's eastern oil-rich region had reportedly conducted summary executions, torture and other violations.
The UN human rights office said in a statement that there were "serious allegations" that the Benghazi group executed two LNA fighters in the Ras Lanouf medical center on March 3.
The world body has also received reports of LNA fighters raiding the homes of presumed supporters of the rival group in the region, arresting and detaining children and taking hostages.
"We have received reports that those detained have been subjected to torture," the statement said.
This file photo taken on January 8, 2016 shows smoke billowing from a petroleum storage tank after a fire was extinguished at al-Sidra oil terminal, near Ras Lanuf in eastern Libya. (Photo by AFP)
Haftar was an ally of Libya’s former long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi but joined the Libyan revolution against Gaddafi in 2011.
Libya has been rocked by violence since a NATO military intervention that followed the 2011 uprising and led to the overthrow and death of Gaddafi. Rival governments were set up in Tripoli and eastern Libya in 2014.
General Haftar is linked to the government based in the eastern port city of Tobruk.
His forces have also been fighting militias loyal to the Tripoli government since 2014.

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