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Gambia to stop using 'colonial relic' English: president

BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia will drop English as an official language soon because it is a colonial relic, President Yahya Jammeh has said, without indicating which language the tiny West African country would use in its place. Gambia's 1.9 million people speak several African languages including Mandingo, Fula and Wolof, the most widely spoken language of Senegal, its only direct neighbor. The country gained independence from Britain in 1965.

Islamic cleric plans to testify in own defense at New York trial

By Nate Raymond NEW YORK (Reuters) - Radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri plans to testify in his own defense at his trial on terrorism charges in New York in April, according to a letter to the judge overseeing his case. In a five-page hand-written letter made public on Thursday, al-Masri told U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest he was "surprised" no one had told her of his plans.

US ambassador to Russia to leave after two years

Michael McFaul, the outspoken US ambassador to Russia who has frequently clashed with the Kremlin, announced Tuesday that he would be leaving the country after just two years. His announcement that he would also leave the US administration comes amid a new spike in tensions between Moscow and Washington over a litany of issues ranging from arms to human rights to pro-Western protests in Ukraine. An embassy spokeswoman confirmed the diplomat was leaving Russia "early" but declined to comment further. McFaul said he was leaving for family reasons.

Nigeria's ruling party faces further defections

Eleven lawmakers from Nigeria's ruling party on Wednesday gave formal notice of their intention to defect to the main opposition, in a fresh blow to President Goodluck Jonathan. The members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) -- all of them senators in the upper chamber of parliament -- announced their decision in a letter to the Senate leader, David Mark.

Tension escalates in Nigeria over key oil state

Simmering tensions over a key oil-producing state in Nigeria mounted on Thursday, as the country's two main political parties traded threats and insults, stoking fears of violence in the run-up to elections. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of President Goodluck Jonathan accused the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) of issuing a "clear and direct call for anarchy" over its strongly worded comments about Rivers state.

Tory senators fighting back, blast NDP for advocating Senate abolition

OTTAWA - Some Conservative senators are fighting back, defending themselves and the reputation of their maligned institution after taking a year-long drubbing over the Senate expenses scandal. Sen. Jean-Guy Dagenais on Friday became the second senator this week to join the fray, directly challenging a New Democrat MP for advocating abolition of the upper house in a flyer sent to her constituents.

Strasser gets new trial in EU legislation bribe case

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's Supreme Court overturned the conviction of former Interior Minister and European lawmaker Ernst Strasser in a cash-for-laws case and sent the issue back on Tuesday to a lower court for retrial. A Vienna court had sentenced Strasser, who acknowledged making errors but denied committing any crime, to four years in jail for bribery in January. Strasser had been filmed offering to propose amendments to European legislation in exchange for 100,000 euros ($135,100) a year.

Senegal announces plan to televise Habre war crimes trial

Senegal and Chad plan to broadcast the proceedings of a tribunal set up to try dictator Hissene Habre for genocide during his brutal eight-year rule, the government in Dakar said Wednesday. The 70-year-old faces accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture in Chad between 1982 and 1990, when some 40,000 people were killed under his regime, according to rights groups. Arrested in early July after more than two decades in exile in Senegal, Habre was placed on remand in Dakar where he is to stand trial after years of delays by the Senegalese government.

AFP Africa News Agenda

What's happening in Africa on Wednesday: + France to rule on extraditing Rwandan genocide suspects + DR Congo peace talks falter PARIS: French appeals court to rule at 1300 GMT on an extradition request by Kigali of two Rwandans, Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana, for their alleged role in the 1994 genocide. (FRANCE-RWANDA-GENOCIDE-EXTRADITION)

AFP Africa News Agenda

What's happening in Africa on Wednesday: + France to rule on extraditing Rwandan genocide suspects + DR Congo peace talks falter PARIS: French appeals court to rule at 1300 GMT on an extradition request by Kigali of two Rwandans, Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana, for their alleged role in the 1994 genocide. (FRANCE-RWANDA-GENOCIDE-EXTRADITION)
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