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Angola: Government misplaces $32 billion

The IMF and Human Rights Watch challenge the government to explain the missing money.
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A giant portrait of Angolan President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos is seen in the center of Luanda on January 30, 2010. The Angolan capital is undergoing since 2002 a massive reconstruction following 27 years of civil war. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — You know how it is. End of year accounts, some of the figures don't add up, they're a few dollars out. That's a discrepancy. A few dollars. But $32 billion?


Nigeria: Escape of Boko Haram bombmaker causes outrage

Boko Haram's Kabiru Sokoto, a suspect of Nigeria Christmas bombing, was arrested on Saturday.
People stand in front of the partially destroyed St. Theresa Catholic Church after a bomb blast in the Madala Zuba district of Nigeria's capital Abuja on Dec. 25, 2011. Two explosions near churches during Christmas Day services in Nigeria, including one outside the country's capital, killed at least 28 people amid spiralling violence blamed on an Islamist group. The suspected attacks stoked fear and anger in Africa's most populous nation, which has been hit by scores of bombings and shootings attributed to Islamist group Boko Haram, with authorities seemingly unable to stop them. (Sunday Aghaeze/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kabiru Sokoto, an alleged Boko Haram bombmaker suspected of masterminding a Christmas Day attack that killed 44 people outside the capital Abuja, was arrested on Saturday and escaped the very next day while in police custody.

Read more on GlobalPost: Christmas church bombs kill dozens in Nigeria

Sokoto's escape has caused outrage in Nigeria and led to the suspension of the country's police commissioner for negligence but the circumstances both of Sokoto's arrest and escape remain murky.

He was arrested while at a lodge owned by the Governor of Borno State, Boko Haram's heartland and one of a dozen northern states where sharia law has been implemented.

The governor said Sokoto's presence was a "security breach". His escape the next day came as police escorted Sokoto to his home where they planned to search the premises. Instead Sokoto somehow got away.

Read more on GlobalPost: Our five-part series, Nigeria on the Brink

So is this incompetence or complicity?

Either is equally likely but recent comments from President Goodluck Jonathan (made before Sokoto's arrest and escape) shed some light on where the answer may lie as he warned that sympathisers of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram could be found amongst Nigeria's politicians, judges, soldiers and police.

Read more on GlobalPost: Nigerian president says Boko Haram has gov't support


Somalia: Oxfam, Save the Children admit responsibility in famine

Aid agencies release a report trying to explain why they moved so slowly to counter Somalia's famine.
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Aid agencies like Oxfam and Save the Children have tried to explain why they have moved slowly in response to famine in the Horn of Africa. Here, a dusty-faced young Somali boy waits with other Somali refugees lining-up at a registration centre on August 2, 2011 at Dagahaley refugee site within the Dadaab complex to be registered to receive aid after having been displaced from their homes in southern Somalia by a famine that is ravaging the horn of Africa region. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images)

West Africa: Clinton ends tour in Togo

Hillary Clinton finishes her West African tour at Togo. At where?
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (l) arrives on her jet under the watch of an Air Force Security Forces member after arriving in Lome, Togo on Jan. 17, 2012. (Larry Downing/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Hillary Clinton has just finished a whistle-stop mini-tour of West Africa.

Read more on GlobalPost: Clinton attends Johnson-Sirleaf inauguration

She started in Liberia (known for: spectacularly nasty civil war, ex-president Charles Taylor, Nobel peace prize winning incumbent, great surf).

Then she went to Ivory Coast (known for: chocolate/slavery, nasty civil war, bad elections, Didier Drogba).

Her final stop was Cape Verde (known for: not really being in Africa, being the donors' darling, being an island).

And then there was Togo (known for: ...).

To be fair Togo does have some distinguishing features.

It is incredibly skinny: squeezed between Ghana and Benin you can cross it by car in an hour. It is home to perhaps the world's unluckiest footballers as well as former Arsenal striker Emmanuel Adebayor. And it is the newest member of the United Nations Security Council.

No prizes for guessing which of these was the decisive factor in Togo's inclusion on Clinton's itinerary.

Read more on GlobalPost: Togo’s unlucky soccer players


Ethiopia: Tourists killed in remote Afar region

Five tourists were killed by gunmen in the Afar region of Ethiopia.
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Camels carry salt in Ethiopia's Afar Region where tourists were kidnapped. (Jose Cendom/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Five foreign tourists have been killed, two wounded and another two kidnapped by gunmen in the remote Afar region of northern Ethiopia.

This is, of course, bad news for Ethiopia's fledgling tourist industry though it is not the first time that armed groups in the Afar region have targeted foreigners.

In March 2007 five employees of the British embassy were held for a fortnight after being kidnapped by a separatist group called the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Front in a similar area, close to the Erta Ale volcano.

Read more on GlobalPost: Ethiopians forced off land for foreign investors

It is also bad news for already barely-existent relations between Ethiopia and its enemy/neighbor Eritrea which officials in Addis Ababa were quick to blame for the attack.

Eritrea denied the accusation calling it "pathetic, an absolute lie."

Tens of thousands of people died when Ethiopia and Eritrea — whose respective ex-rebel leaders were once allies — fought a brutal border war in 1998-2000, a conflict that still simmers today.

Read more on GlobalPost: Tourists kidnapped after five killed in attack near Eritrea


Base jumper Jeb Corliss crashes into Table Mountain in Cape Town (VIDEO)

Base jumper Jeb Corliss crashed into Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa while filming HBO special.
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A video posted on YouTube shows base jumper Jeb Corliss crashing while attempting a jump off Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. (Screengrab/YouTube)

As far as iconic faces of base jumping go, Jeb Corliss is it. 

Corliss has become the face of the extreme sport. He is best known for jumping off landmarks around the world including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the Seattle Space Needle and he has even attempted to jump off the Empire State Building. That attempt ended in his arrest and subsequent lifetime ban from the building. 


Author Chimamanda Adichie calls out Nigerian government

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, an award-winning novelist, describes frustrations toward Nigerian government in a NYT article.
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An ambulance drives past a soldier standing away from protesters at Ojota district in Lagos on Jan. 16, 2012. Soldiers have been deployed in some parts of Lagos at main protest sites. (Pius Utomi Ekpei /AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Further to our new series "Nigeria on the Brink" there is an excellent opinion piece in today's New York Times by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus.

Adichie, a celebrated Nigerian novelist, describes the frustrations of the Nigerian people toward their government.

Read more on GlobalPost: Nigeria fuel strike ends after Goodluck Jonathan cuts gas prices (VIDEO)

In the opinion piece she writes: "Like many Nigerians, I am infuriated — and puzzled — by the actions of a government that appears to be indifferent to if not contemptuous of its people."

She continues:

"Nigeria, one of the world’s biggest exporters of crude oil, does not have adequate refineries and so it imports most of its petrol. The government claims that it pays a subsidy to importers to keep the prices low, and that these companies defraud the government by inflating their costs. Perhaps that is true, but it is a strange reason for raising prices, as though the government is incapable of policing fraud. Politicians have long discussed ending the subsidy, but no one expected it to happen when and how it did. There was something frightening about the abruptness of such a dramatic change, a sense of lurching, a violent uncertainty that captured the general mood in Nigeria."

President Goodluck Jonathan seems to have succeeded in defusing the protests by reinstating a portion of the fuel subsidy and the strikes have been called off, but people have got a taste of rebellion and this may not be the end of the challenge to the government.

Read more on GlobalPost: Fuel protests and Islamic violence challenge President Goodluck Jonathan

Here is a video of Adichie's TED talk in July 2009:


South Sudan violence spirals out of control

The violence in South Sudan spirals out of control, as the UN continues its humanitarian effort.
The UN attempts to mitigate the South Sudan crisis by providing food from the UN's World Food Program on January 12, 2012. (HANNAH MCNEISH/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — It started years, even generations ago. The tit-for-tat cattle raiding that kills hundreds of people in South Sudan every year, is getting out of hand.

It was the massacre of dozens, hundreds or even thousands (reports remain unclear) of Murle people by their Lou Nuer rivals in and around the town of Pibor in Jonglei state over New Year, that grabbed the world's attention.

The horror of that slaughter seems only to have fed the warriors' blood lust.

More from GlobalPost: UN troops step in to prevent ethnic violence in South Sudan

Every day this week it seems there is a new report of a fresh attack that leaves dozens dead. These attacks are regarded as being mostly revenge attacks by Murle on Lou Nuer.

The UN mission in South Sudan has tried to ease tensions however, it is not well enough manned, equipped or funded to police a territory the size of France while the fledgling government remains incapable.

More From GlobalPost: UN starts massive humanitarian effort in South Sudan

It is hard to see how the vengeful and deadly raiding can be halted, and every new death is a further blow to the fragile stability of the world's newest nation.


Ethiopia News: "Villagization," collectivization for the 21st century?

Forced relocation in Ethiopia Gambella region draws comparisons to brutal collectivization during the Derg regime.
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A woman and children walk through the Hilaweyn refugee camp in Dolo Ado, Ethiopia, on December 15, 2011. (William Davies/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — During the dark days of the Derg — a murderous regime run by Mengistu Haile Mariam that ruled Ethiopia from the 1970s and 1980s — there were a lot of terrible policies that made already difficult lives scarcely tenable.

Among them was the forced movement of the rural population as part of a Stalinist inspired program of "collectivization," which failed in its intent to boost agricultural production.

More from GlobalPost: Is resettlement the best response to drought and famine? 

According to a new report from Human Rights Watch, the government of Meles Zenawi is little different. The report titled "Waiting Here for Death" details the forced movement of thousands of people, particularly in the Gambella region, into new settlement as part of a program dubbed "villagization."

Such population transfers are not new. Ethiopia has a long and brutal history of failed attempts at resettling millions of people in collectivized villages, particularly under the Derg regime, in power until 1991, but also under the current government of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The villagization concept has now been reborn in Gambella under the guise of “socioeconomic and cultural transformation."

More from GlobalPost: Tens of thousands forced off land for foreign investors, HRW says

The idea, according to the government, is that it can provide better basic services to its people if they live in new villages. Any movement is supposed to be voluntary and things like education, healthcare and sanitation should be provided in the new villages. Jan Egeland, Europe director at Human Rights Watch, said this is not what's happening.

The Ethiopian government’s villagization program is not improving access to services for Gambella’s indigenous people, but is instead undermining their livelihoods and food security. The government should suspend the program until it can ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place and that people have been properly consulted and compensated for the loss of their land.

The advocacy organization also implicated donor governments such as those of the United States and the United Kingdom for, "providing support for forced relocations" by funding the basic services that are the motivation for the relocations, but which are mostly not provided.

Unsurprisingly, the Ethiopian government rejects the report and its findings, the BBC reports.

But perhaps most nefarious of all is the way in which the Ethiopian government is selling-off the forcibly vacated land to foreign investors, as reported by GlobalPost back in 2010, in deals that activists say do not benefit the local people.

More from GlobalPost: Ethiopia's human rights record scrutinized 


Libya News: Tuaregs resurgent after Gaddafi

Returning Tuareg fighters are threatening to further destabilize the region.
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A Touareg tribesman parades during a welcome ceremony for the African Union delegation at Tripoli's airport on April 10, 2011. (Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBI, Kenya — Not that it should come as a big surprise (at least not not if you read GlobalPost) but Muammar Gaddafi's demise and the return of thousands of his loyal Tuareg fighters is threatening to further destabilize a fragile region.

More from GlobalPost: West and Central Africa a "powder keg" after Gaddafi

Attacks launched on Monday around the town of Meneka, northern Mali, were claimed by a new rebel group calling itself the National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad.

More from GlobalPost: Ex-Gaddafi Tuareg fighters start a new battle

It is a worrying sign of a return of rebel activity by Tuareg fighters who feel marginalized and neglected by governments in faraway capitals who nevertheless claim to rule over them. Combined with the apparently growing strength of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the desert fringes of the Sahara are becoming an increasingly dangerous place.

More from GlobalPost: 5 Things You Need to Know About Tuaregs