Africa 54 – September 24, 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 leader of a delegation representing the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States is hoping that crippling sanctions against Mali will be lifted following Friday’s inauguration of an interim president just one month after a military coup. Former Nigerian former president, Goodluck Jonathan, an envoy for ECOWAS, praised the junta’s leadership on his arrival in Mali Wednesday – but stopped short of giving an ECOWAS endorsement to Colonel Bah Ndaw, the former defense minister who leads the junta that seized power after deposing President Boubacar Ibrahim Keita. Colonel Assimi Goita is set to become Mali‘s next vice president. Jonathan says Mali doesn’t need sanctions which are not beneficial for the region and the rest of the world.

Protests calling for an end to Paul Biya’s near 40-year-rule were broken up by police using tear gas and water cannon, with the main opposition party saying its leader’s home is now surrounded by tanks and heavily armed law enforcement officers.

In a statement released via Twitter on Wednesday, Tibor Nagy, U.S. assistant secretary, Bureau of Africa Affairs said, “I am disappointed to hear of the arrests and mistreatment of some peaceful protesters and journalists yesterday in Cameroon. Our countries are stronger when citizens peacefully make their voices heard and elected leaders engage with those who disagree with them.”

At least 28 people were killed Wednesday when a gas tanker exploded in the central Nigerian state of Kogi and started a blaze, according to a road safety official. Black smoke and flames were seen rising into the sky as crowds of people watched on. Bisi Kazeem, spokesman for The Federal Road Safety Corporation says nine children were involved in the accident, which happened opposite a gas station along the Lokoja-Zariagi highway. Traffic accidents are common in Nigeria, where the roads are bad and safety standards poor.

Political newcomer Mohamed Hussein Roble is Somalia’s new prime minister after getting unanimous approval from lawmakers on Wednesday. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was in attendance when all 215 members of parliament cast their votes in favor of his appointee. Roble is promising to create an effective government that addresses some of the key issues facing the country, including having fair presidential and parliamentary elections.

Britain is the latest European country to impose restrictions on socializing following a sharp rise in the coronavirus transmission rates. The number of new cases is doubling every week – and the chief medical officer warns of 50,000 new infections daily if the pattern continues. Britain has suffered the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Europe, with over 41,000 fatalities.

A South African father-daughter singing duo that gained attention in Britain for their singing talents has gone viral in Colombia after being mistakenly identified as relatives of a famous Italian opera singer.

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