Patrick Obia

last updated Mon, Sep 18, 2023 4:53 PM

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Cholera deaths hit 320 in Ethiopia; Congo flood kills 17; Other top African stories

By Patrick Obia
| Updated 16:53 18/09/2023
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Photo credit: Reuters

Nine people have died from a cholera outbreak in Ethiopia's north-western Benishangul-Gumuz Region, state television (ETV) reported on Sunday, citing health authorities.

A regional health official, Abdulmunhem Al-Beshir, said that "some 131 people have been infected in the outbreak while nine others died," ETV said.

Cases have been reported in three districts, according to the Benishangul-Gumuz Health Bureau.

Meanwhile, a cholera outbreak also killed nine Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia's north-western Amhara region.

Local media confirmed to BBC that the cholera outbreak has spread through 11 regions of Ethiopia in the past year, killing 320 people.

A two-year civil war and a drought have caused a severe humanitarian crisis in the region.

Floods kill 17 people in northern DR Congo

Seventeen people have been confirmed dead by a landslide in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disaster occurred overnight on Sunday near the banks of the Congo River in the northern city of Lisala, the capital of Mongala province.

Seven women, seven men and three children under five years died.

They were buried the same day due to lack of space to keep them at the local mortuary, Lisala official Désiré Koyo told the BBC.

The deaths followed days of torrential rain. Witnesses said several houses along the river had been submerged, and residents struggled to rescue people from the rubble.

The governor of Mongala, César Limbaya, has declared three days of mourning starting from Monday, during which flags will be flying at half-mast.

At least 20 mine staff die in South Africa road crash

At least 20 people have died in South Africa after a major road accident in the northern province of Limpopo.

The victims - believed to be miners - were on a bus which crashed head-on with a truck.

They were being transported to one of the biggest diamond mines in the country - Venetia - owned by the mining giant De Beers, reports BBC World Service.

Venetia, near the borders with Botswana and Zimbabwe, accounts for more than 40% of South Africa's annual diamond production.

Congo denies claims of attempted coup

The Congo-Brazzaville government has denied reports of a coup attempt against President Denis Nguesso, who has been in power for 39 years.

According to BBC World Service, it follows unconfirmed social media reports that the military was trying to oust the 79-year-old leader, who is currently in New York for the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

"The government denies this fake news," Information Minister Thierry Moungalla posted on Sunday on X (formerly Twitter).

"We reassure public opinion about the calm that reigns and invite people to go about their activities calmly."

The government's website also posted a statement denying the coup attempt reports.

There has been a wave of coups across Africa in recent months, with the most recent one in the neighbouring Gabon, where the military seized power in August.

Mr Nguesso rose to power in the oil-producing central African country in a military coup in 1979. He lost Congo's first multi-party elections in 1992 but regained control in 1997 after a civil war.

The Congolese leader is the third-longest serving president in Africa, after Equatoguinean Teodoro Obiang and Cameroonian Paul Biya.

Liberia's opposition leader opens bid to beat President Weah

Africanews reports that thousands gathered in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, on Sunday as opposition leader Joseph Boakai officially launched his campaign in anticipation of the upcoming October elections.

These elections are poised to serve as a litmus test for the popularity of President George Weah, the former football superstar, who is seeking re-election following a tumultuous first term. 

Supporters of the soft-spoken Boakai, aged 78, who finished as the runner-up to Weah in the 2017 elections, passionately braved the rain at a stadium. They danced, waved flags, and fervently called for change.

Among the attendees were some former Weah enthusiasts who have grown disillusioned with what they perceive as his inability to elevate living standards or eradicate corruption in Liberia. This impoverished West African nation has endured a series of challenges this century, including a civil war, a devastating Ebola outbreak, and commodity price fluctuations.

"We had hoped that President Weah would deliver on his promises of change, but alas, we've seen nothing of the sort," remarked businesswoman Martha Gould. "We yearn for a better future."

Weah ascended to power on a wave of optimism, with many believing that the former world soccer player of the year could bring about positive change despite his lack of political experience. However, a string of scandals has marred his administration.

Last year, the United States imposed sanctions on three officials, including Weah's chief of staff Nathaniel McGill, for corruption allegations, including the alleged misappropriation of state assets. Weah promptly dismissed these officials, who vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

In 2018, a Liberian court issued arrest warrants for over 30 former central bank officials concerning the disappearance of $104 million. An accounting error regarding fuel supplies in state-run tanks left Liberia facing a gasoline shortage in 2020, causing widespread panic at fuel stations.

Nonetheless, whether Joseph Boakai and his Unity Party can reverse the tide remains. President Weah continues to enjoy popularity across significant parts of the country, and the economy experienced nearly 5% growth last year, primarily driven by advances in agriculture and mining, as reported by the World Bank.

Military Leaders of 3 West African Countries Sign a Security Pact

The military leaders of three West African countries - Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have signed a mutual defence pact deal over the weekend, reports VOA news

The junta leaders signed the Liptako-Gourma Charter, establishing the Alliance of Sahel States. The pact is named after the region where the three country's borders meet.

Col. Assimi Goita, Mali's junta leader, said in a statement: "I signed today with the heads of state of Burkina Faso and Niger the Liptako-Gourma Charter, establishing the Alliance of Sahel States with the objective of establishing an architecture of collective defence and assistance mutual for the benefit of our populations."

The new pact calls for the three neighbouring countries to come to the defence of each other.

All three are facing threats from jihadists.

VOA news gathered that each of the countries has undergone coups since 2020.

Cholera in Ethiopia

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