Morning Digest: U.S. appoints Pham as envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region

1.U.S. appoints Pham as envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of Peter Pham on Friday as the U.S. special envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes Region, the State Department said in a statement.

Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council think tank, will coordinate U.S. policy in the region, with an emphasis on strengthening democratic institutions and the safe return of refugees and displaced persons, the department said in a statement.

2. Nigeria names fifth commander in under 2 years to lead fight against Boko Haram

Nigeria has named its fifth commander in less than 2 years to lead the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency, the army said on Saturday, a move military sources say was related to continued attacks by Islamists.

The attacks could hurt President Muhammadu Buhari’s chances of re-election in Feb. 2019. He campaigned in 2015 vowing to end the insurgency but the conflict is entering its 10th year with attacks by Boko Haram and a group that splintered from it, the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA).

3. Ali Bongo: Gabon leader ‘seriously ill but recovering

Gabonese President Ali Bongo is seriously ill but on the mend, his spokesman says, ending weeks of official silence on his condition.

Speculation has mounted on the health of President Bongo, 59, with some reports saying he suffered a stroke.

He is being treated in Saudi Arabia, with the initial announcement last month saying he was suffering fatigue.

His spokesman Ike Ngouoni said Mr Bongo was “recovering all of his physical abilities”.

No mention was made of a stroke but the president had suffered “bleeding which required medical care”, Mr Ngouoni said.

Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo as president in 2009, who governed the western African nation for more than 40 years.

4. DR Congo Ebola outbreak ‘worst’ in country’s history

The latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the worst in the country’s history, the health ministry says.

Almost 200 people have died since August, officials say, with more than 300 confirmed or probable cases.

A vaccination programme has so far inoculated about 25,000 people.

DR Congo has suffered long years of instability and efforts to relieve the disease have been hampered by attacks on medical workers.

“At this point, 319 cases and 198 deaths have been registered,” health minister Oly Ilunga said.

“In view of these figures, my thoughts and my prayers go to the hundreds of families grieving, to the hundreds of orphans and the families which have been wiped out.”

About half the victims were from Beni, a city of 800,000 in the North Kivu region, the national health authority said.

5. Bobi Wine: Uganda pop star returns to stage after 

The Ugandan pop star turned opposition MP Bobi Wine has performed for the first time since being charged and jailed for treason.

There was a heavy police presence for the show, which was only allowed because it was a non-political event.

Bobi Wine has alleged he was tortured and beaten while in custody in August, something denied by the authorities.

His popularity among Uganda’s youth is seen as a challenge to veteran President Yoweri Museveni.


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