21 January: Egypt keeps flawless Africa Cup record

By Branko Brkic 21 January 2010

Also today: Nigerian troops, police tighten control of embattled Jos; Kenyans want Somali MPs to register as refugees after riots over race-hate cleric; Zambian opposition leader chews out Asian miners.


Egypt keeps flawless Africa Cup record

Africa Cup of Nations – Angola

Egypt, six-times winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, beat Benin 2-0 in their final Group C game after earlier victories over Nigeria and Mozambique. Both goals were slotted in the first 23 minutes and only a series of great saves from Benin’s goalkeeper in the second half saved the Squirrels from a bigger scoreline.

World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria, only needed a draw against Mozambique to take them through to the last eight, but sent the Mambas out the Cup with a 3-0 win, hours after the Egyptians sent Benin packing. Forward Peter Odemwingie scored either side of halftime, with striker Obafemi Martins putting one away just before the final whistle, This put the Super Eagles in the quarter finals, along with Ghana, Angola, Algeria, Egypt and Ivory Coast.

Four African 2010 World Cup qualifiers are now in the last eight. The magic and pain of Africa’s premier soccer showpiece was again on display as Egypt set itself up for a record third successive title, while Mozambique exited the Cup without having recorded a single win, after their fifth appearance at the tournament.

Read more: Soccerway, BBC, Reuters, Guardian, Reuters


Nigerian troops, police tighten control of embattled Jos


The passions won’t have subsided, but the army now says it’s in control of the central Nigerian city of Jos. Muslims and Christians have been slugging it out in recent days, with reports of up to 460 people dead. The fighting has brought back memories of clashes in 2001 and 2008, in which more than a thousand died. The military says the city is calm, and under 24-hour curfew, but the BBC says rioting has now spread to Pankshin town, some 100km away. Jos is the capital of Nigeria’s Plateau state, so if the violence takes hold further afield, Nigeria’s government will find itself hard-pressed to contain it.

Read more: BBC, Reuters


Kenyans want Somali MPs to register as refugees after riots over race-hate cleric


Kenya fears that a single Muslim cleric it’s trying to deport for spreading race-hatred has brought the anarchy of neighbouring Somalia a bit closer to home. Security forces clamped down on rioting Muslims in Nairobi last week, who demanded that Kenya charge Jamaican-born preacher Abdullah al-Faisal, which led to numerous deaths and the arrest of about 300 ethnic Somalis. Some of the rioters waved flags of the radical Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab. The US says al-Shabaab is linked to al-Qaeda, which is fuelling paranoia among Nairobi officials. The Kenyans also detained and then released 12 Somali MPs and other government officials, saying they’re among maybe a hundred who are in the country at any one time, trying to escape the chaos across the border. The Kenyans charged 141 rioters with immigration offences and freed the rest. Now they’re thinking of making Somali politicians register as refugees. Al-Shabaab said last year that it would attack the capitals of Uganda and Burundi, after African Union peacekeepers based in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, targeted insurgents there, killing a number of civilians.

Read more: BBC, VOA, BBC


Zambian opposition leader chews out Asian miners


It’s the secret few dare name, especially as China is Africa’s biggest trading partner, but now an opposition leader in Zambia says the special tax and economic zones granted to foreign investors are a time-bomb waiting to explode. Patriotic Front leader Michael Sata says Chinese and other Asian mining firms in Zambia are creating a new regime of industrial slavery. The country is Africa’s premier copper producer, and China, in particular, has been investing widely in African nations as a means to gain access to mineral resources. It’s not the first time that Sata, nicknamed “King Cobra”, has been in the news. He made a bid for the presidency two years ago, campaigning against China’s involvement in the mining sector, and while he says that he just wants Asians to treat Zambians with respect, something deeper and more unsettling is at work here.

Read more: Reuters, National Public Radio


GlaxoSmithKline does pretty good impression of angel of mercy over malaria drugs


Global pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline hopes its experimental malaria vaccine will be flying off the shelves in poor countries by 2012, saying it only wants a nominal 5% return on its investment. It also says it will give away its stock of more than 13,000 potential malaria treatments for further testing and development, and won’t do anything to discourage other companies from entering the field. Huh, that doesn’t sound like the average corporate, especially as it also says any returns will be reinvested into medical research in poor countries. Malaria kills more than a million people each year, mostly children in Africa and Asia. GlaxoSmithKline will get lots of plaudits for its stance. Wouldn’t it be great if others come to the party too.

Read more: The Times, Reuters, Nature


Zimbabwe expects lousy maize crop, blames dry weather (and, shhh, lack of inputs)


Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Joseph Made says the country’s maize output is threatened by a dry spell, meaning the nation’s long-suffering people could be hit with even more food shortages and rising prices in coming months. Made says it been a disastrous season for the country’s farmers. Many will wonder whether that has anything to do with confiscating white farms en masse since 2000 onwards, destroying agricultural capacity and the ability to stock food surpluses. It appears that lack of rain has been coupled with a severe fertiliser shortage. Maybe Made should have admitted straight up that agriculture’s inputs are in perpetual chaos, and despite the best efforts of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe’s unity government won’t see a return to food self-sufficiency on the back of economic and political reforms this year, or next, or even the one thereafter. Perhaps, if President Robert Mugabe had sworn in MDC national treasurer Roy Bennett as deputy minister of agriculture, as he was supposed to have done, Zanu-PF’s lies and prevarication would be harder to sustain. Instead Bennett is on trial for his life in the city of Mutare, after Mugabe and his henchmen trumped up terrorism charges against him.

Read more: Reuters, The Zimbabwe Times


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