Morning Digest: Morocco inaugurates Africa’s fastest train; Obama artist to open studio in Lagos

1. Morocco inaugurates Africa’s fastest train

Morocco inaugurated Africa’s fastest train today – which will halve travelling time between the commercial and industrial hubs of Casablanca and Tangier.

King Mohammed VI and French President Emmanuel Macron boarded the train for the inaugural trip from Tangier to the capital Rabat.

2. Obama artist to open studio in Lagos

The artist who depicted former US President Barack Obama, Kehinde Wiley, is opening a studio in Lagos, Nigeria, he has told the BBC.

Wiley’s painting of Barack Obama is the first official US presidential portrait by a black artist.

The painting, which was unveiled in February 2018, hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

The artist tells BBC Africa he can’t wait to “join the conversation” in Lagos:

3. Gabon amends constitution for ill president

Gabon’s constitutional court has intervened to avert a political crisis brought about by the ill health of President Ali Bongo.

There have been no government meetings since he was taken to hospital in Saudi Arabia last month.

The court has amended the constitution to allow the vice-president or prime minister to run cabinet meetings if the president is temporarily unavailable – a move the opposition says is illegal.

Amid speculation that the president had suffered a stroke and some even questioning whether he was still alive, Mr Bongo’s office finally admitted on Sunday that he was recovering from surgery.

In 2009 Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo who had been president for more than 40 years.

4. Rights group denounces Angola’s expulsion of ‘400,000 Congolese

A global rights watchdog has called on Angola to halt mass deportations of mostly Congolese people.

More than 400,000 people were “forcibly returned” to the Democratic Republic of Congo or fled Angola last month following an operation targeting suspected diamond smuggling, says Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Angola should stop forcing people to leave the country until it can provide individual assessment and due process guarantees to distinguish irregular migrants from refugees and registered migrant workers,” said Dewa Mavhinga Southern Africa director at HRW.

The Angolan government has vehemently denied that its security forces committed abuses during the operation against diamond smuggling, reports AFP news agency.

5. Nigerian governors ‘reject minimum wage deal

Nigerian governors have rejected a deal to raise the minimum wage to 30,000 naira ($82; £64) from 18,000 naira a month, reports the AFP news agency.

Earlier this month union representatives agreed this pay rise with the private sector and government officials, averting a nationwide strike.

But state governors say they cannot afford to pay $82 a month, AFP reports.

Governor Abdulaziz Yari, from northern Zamfara State, is quoted as saying that 27 of the 36 states cannot even afford to pay the current minimum wage.

“We will be bankrupt,” he warned.

He added that a committee would be formed by the governors to meet President Muhammadu Buhari resolve the row.

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