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Africa 54 – November 23, 2020

You are watching Africa 54, your daily news and feature magazine-style program, from the Voice of America. Host Esther Githui-Ewart and a team of correspondents zero in on the big stories making news on the continent and around the world with context and analysis.

Top Stories:

The United Nations urged Ethiopia on Monday to ensure the protection of civilians, a day after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave Tigrayan forces 72 hours to surrender before a military offensive on the regional capital of Mekelle. Hundreds, possibly thousands, have been killed in fighting that erupted on November 4 between Ethiopian federal forces and Tigray’s regional army. Dozens of refugees fleeing the Tigray region continued to cross the border into Sudan on Sunday. People were seen carrying heavy quilts, bicycles and even small suitcases off a river boat. More than 30 thousand refugees have fled to Sudan, according to the united nations. Rockets have been fired by rebels into neighboring Amhara region and across the border into the nation of Eritrea. Last week the U.N. said that they were making plans for as many as 200-thousand refugees.

In west Africa, polls closed in Burkina Faso on Sunday after a presidential and parliamentary election were dominated by the threat of Islamist violence. The electoral commission said the election went smoothly in the capital and there were no reports of large-scale violence elsewhere during the vote. But some polling stations in insecure eastern areas had to be closed because of threats. Counting began immediately after polling stations closed. Analysts expect the results to be close, with the possibility of a second round if none of the candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote. President Roch Kabore is seeking a second five-year term. He faces stiff opposition from former finance minister and 2015 runner-up Zephirin Diabre as well as Eddie Komboigo, head of Blaise Compaore’s party. Compaore was president for 27 years until a 2014 revolution. Overall, provisional results from the first round are expected by the middle of the week.

Liberia will hold a referendum next month on constitutional changes to reduce the length of the president’s term and allow for dual citizenship, according to the electoral commission. The proposed constitutional changes include reducing the length of terms for the president and national representatives to five years from six, and for senators to seven years from nine—and allowing dual citizenship, which was banned in 1973. On November 18th, the supreme court said the December 8th vote would have to be canceled after it found the ballots violated the law, by presenting multiple referendum questions on the same sheet of paper. In response, the election commission has said it can resolve the issue by printing the questions on separate sheets of paper, allowing the vote to take place as planned.

More than 15 million people in Europe have been infected with coronavirus, making it the worst-hit region in the world. Authorities hope new lockdowns will get the situation under control

The coronavirus pandemic has forced an estimated 40 percent of America’s black-owned businesses to close since February. But help may be on the way.

Following a hand recount of ballots, officials in Georgia certified U.S. presidential election results in the state, confirming that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump. Yet the president shows no signs of conceding.

With U.S. President Donald Trump still disputing results of the November 3rd election, there is little communication between the trump administration and the incoming Biden team–including on the nation’s response to COVID-19.

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