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Nigeria starts national conference against union fears

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday opened a national conference, calling on delegates to tackle the country's burning issues head-on to build a stronger, more united nation. Nearly 500 delegates from the hundreds of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups that make up Africa's most populous nation have converged on Abuja for the conference that could last three months. How to tackle Islamist-linked violence, rampant corruption and share oil wealth more fairly are likely to be high on the agenda, as is the effectiveness of the country's political structure.

National unity the elephant in the room at Nigeria talks

A national conference criticised for its cost and scope opens in Nigeria's capital on Monday, with the country's future existence looming large over the talks. Nearly 500 delegates from the hundreds of ethnic, religious and linguistic groups that make up Africa's most populous nation have converged on Abuja for talks that could last three months. How to tackle Islamist-linked violence, rampant corruption and share oil wealth more fairly are likely to be high on the agenda, as is the effectiveness of the country's political structure.

100 killed in central Nigeria attacks: local officials

At least 100 people were killed in weekend attacks on three villages in central Nigeria, local officials said Sunday. Scores of residents were also injured when about 40 assailants armed with guns and machetes stormed the villages of Angwan Gata, Chenshyi and Angwan Sankwai, attacking locals in their sleep and torching their homes, said Yakubu Bitiyong, a lawmaker at the Kaduna state parliament. "We have at least 100 dead bodies from the three villages attacked by the gunmen" overnight Friday-Saturday, he told AFP.

Bissau court clears leading party candidate for April vote

BISSAU (Reuters) - Guinea-Bissau's highest court has cleared the way for the candidate of the West African nation's largest political party to contest next month's presidential election, quashing a legal appeal to block his candidacy. Guinea-Bissau's attorney general had asked the Supreme Court to stop Jose Mario Vaz, a former finance minister, from contesting April's vote because of his suspected involvement in the embezzlement of a $12.5 million budget grant from Angola.

No English please, we're Gambians

Gambia will drop English as its official language, President Yahya Jammeh said in his latest diatribe against former colonial power Britain. "We're going to speak our own language," he said, without specifying which of the poor west African country's indigenous tongues would replace English. The 48-year-old Gambian strongman is often pilloried for rights abuses and the muzzling of the press, and members of the diaspora have set up critical news outlets against Banjul.

Nigerian oil firm Seplat says will float in London, Lagos

Nigeria-focused oil and gas producer Seplat on Tuesday announced plans to issue shares on the London and Lagos stock markets, raising funds to fuel the young company's expansion. Founded in 2009, Seplat will become the first Nigerian company to dual list on both the London Stock Exchange and Nigerian Stock Exchange in its bid to raise at least $500 million (361 million euros), the company said in a statement. "The global offer proceeds will allow us to further implement our business strategy, which includes acquiring new assets," said Seplat chairman Bryant Orjiako.

Bissau's PAIGC names ex-minister as candidate for April vote

BISSAU (Reuters) - Thousands of drum-beating supporters accompanied former finance minister Jose Mario Vaz, candidate of Guinea-Bissau's main PAIGC party, to register for next month's presidential elections at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Vaz, a former mayor of the capital Bissau, saw off several challengers at a congress on Sunday to win the nod from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has dominated politics in Guinea-Bissau since independence from Portugal in 1974.

Guinea-Bissau's caretaker leader 'will not stand' in polls

Guinea-Bissau's acting president announced on Monday he would not be standing in next month's general election, ending persistent rumours that he was planning to put himself forward as permanent head of state. Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who has led a transitional regime since a coup destabilised the west African nation two years ago, came to power under the understanding that he would not seek to be elected when the country returned to democracy.

Guinea-Bissau's caretaker leader 'will not stand' in polls

Guinea-Bissau's acting president announced on Monday he would not be standing in next month's general election, ending persistent rumours that he was planning to put himself forward as permanent head of state. Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo, who has led a transitional regime since a coup destabilised the west African nation two years ago, came to power under the understanding that he would not seek to be elected when the country returned to democracy.

Grief-stricken Edmonton family gets message of sympathy from Guinea

EDMONTON - A family grieving the death of a husband and father who was stabbed during a rampage at an Edmonton grocery warehouse has received condolences from government officials in the West African country of Guinea. Thierno Bah, 41, was originally from Guinea and had only been in Alberta with his wife and four young children for a few months when he died along with Fitzroy Harris, 50, on Friday.
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