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Court nullifies secret loans taken by Mozambique government

Mozambique has arrested several senior former officials linked to the scandal

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Court nullifies secret loans taken by Mozambique government

Mozambique’s constitutional court declared on Tuesday that hundreds of millions of dollars in secret government loans were void, signalling that they did not need to be repaid in a ruling hailed by civil society campaigners.

The court ruling focused on one of the secret loans – which combined totalled around $2 billion – taken out by the government between 2013 and 2015 for supposed financing for a tuna-fishing fleet and a maritime surveillance project.

Mozambique has arrested several senior former officials linked to the scandal, which has been described as a vast fraud and money laundering scheme.  

Civil society groups say the loans from international banks were illegal and that Mozambicans must not be burdened with years of hefty repayments.

The constitutional court declared “the nullity of the acts inherent to the loan” – voiding an $850 million debt contracted by the state tuna-fishing company Ematum.

“This decision represents a great victory for the Mozambican citizen,” said Denise Namburete of the Budget Monitoring Forum, an organisation that brought the case.

“It means that any action by the government regarding this debt will be a violation of the country’s highest lawmaking body.”

An independent audit found that $500 million of the loans, which were deliberately hidden from the country’s parliament as well as international donors, was diverted and remains unaccounted for.

When the debt was revealed, Mozambique was plunged into the worst financial crisis in its history.

The international bodies allege that at least $200 million was spent on bribes and kickbacks, including $12 million for former finance minister Manuel Chang.

Mozambique defaulted on the debt, and repayments could swallow up future revenue from natural gas deposits discovered in the north of the country.

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Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb

Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb.

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Two UN personnel killed in Benghazi by car bomb
Libyan firefighters extinguish a fire at the site of a car bomb attack in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on August 10, 2019. - "Two members of the UN mission, one them a foreigner, were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb" in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said. (Photo by - / AFP)

A car bombing in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi killed two United Nations staff on Saturday, a security official said.

“Two members of the UN mission were killed and at least eight others wounded including a child, by a car bomb” in a shopping area of the Al-Hawari district, the official said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which happened as a UN convoy was passing through the area.

Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the cradle of the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was hit by years of violence targeting diplomatic offices and security forces after his fall.

An attack on the US consulate on September 11, 2012, killed US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

In 2017, military strongman Khalifa Haftar drove hardline Islamists and jihadists out of Benghazi after a three-year battle.

Haftar, who backs an eastern-based administration that opposes the Tripoli-based unity government, went on to seize Derna, the last city in eastern Libya outside his control.

But bombings and kidnappings have continued.

A May 2018 attack left seven people dead and last month, a car bombing at the funeral of an ex-army commander killed at least four people and wounded more than 30 others.

A Libyan lawmaker is also feared to have been abducted by an armed group in the eastern city, the UN and lawmakers said in July.

Haftar controls most of eastern Libya, and early this year he ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army to purge the south of what he called “terrorist groups and criminals”. 

On the heels of that campaign, his LNA launched in April an offensive to take the Libyan capital from the UN-recognised Government of National Accord. 

The LNA on Saturday announced a truce around Tripoli for the three-day Muslim festival of Eid Al-Adha, after the unity government conditionally accepted a ceasefire called for by the UN.

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Jihadists release video of ‘kidnapped aid worker’ and 5 colleagues in Nigeria

The hostages are believed to be held in the ISWAP enclave on the shores of Lake Chad

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Jihadists release video of 'kidnapped aid worker' and 5 colleagues in Nigeria
(File photo)

Jihadists aligned with the Islamic State group released a video Thursday purporting to show a female aid worker and five male colleagues kidnapped in an attack in northeast Nigeria.

Aid group, Action Against Hunger (AAH) said earlier that one of its staff members along with three health workers and two drivers were missing after their convoy was attacked last Thursday near the border with Niger.

In the three-minute video, a woman wearing a bright blue hijab who says she is the abducted aid worker addresses the camera in English while seated in front of five men she describes as her colleagues.

The footage seen by reporters was released through the same channels as previous videos from the IS-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). 

An employee at another NGO confirmed the identity of the missing aid worker. 

READ: Suspected Boko Haram jihadists raid military base, town in Nigeria

Villagers see captives –

The hostages are believed to be held in the ISWAP enclave on the shores of Lake Chad. 

Villagers told reporters the kidnapped aid workers were seen with their armed captors passing through the villages of Chamba and Gatafo on the day of their abduction. 

ISWAP is a splinter group of Boko Haram that swore allegiance in 2016 to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It has repeatedly attacked military bases and previously targeted aid workers in northeast Nigeria. 

READ: Jihadists kill pastor, four worshippers in Burkina Faso church attack

Two female aid workers with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were murdered by ISWAP last year and an aid worker with the UN children’s agency UNICEF is still being held by the group.

Since 2009, more than 27,000 people have been killed and some two million forced from their homes by the Boko Haram conflict.

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Prime Minister under Muammar Gaddafi’s rule freed in Libya

Mahmoudi was arrested in September 2011 as he tried to flee across the border to Tunisia, and was extradited to Libya

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Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, Libya’s last prime minister under ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has been released from jail for health reasons four years after being sentenced to death, Tripoli’s justice ministry said Saturday.

Mahmoudi, in his 70s, was premier when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled and killed Gaddafi.

He was handed the death sentence in July 2014 along with eight other Gaddafi-era officials including the leader’s son Seif al-Islam, over their alleged role in a bloody crackdown on protesters.

The justice ministry said Mahmoudi was released “for health reasons” at the recommendation of a medical commission “so that he could be treated at specialised medical centres”.

It gave no further details on the nature of his illness or when he was liberated.

Mahmoudi was arrested in September 2011 as he tried to flee across the border to Tunisia, and was extradited to Libya the following year.

During his detention in Tunisia, he claimed that Libya had financed the 2007 election campaign of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, according to his lawyers.

The French ex-president vehemently denied the allegations, initially made by Seif al-Islam.

But Sarkozy was charged in March 2018 over accusations he accepted millions of euros from Gaddafi.

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