African briefs … Sirleaf's son arrested after probe


MONROVIA — Two senior figures at Liberia’s Central Bank, one of whom is the son of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, have been arrested following a probe into reports of missing banknotes, police said on Friday.

They were detained just hours after independent US investigators dismissed rumours that a haul of newly-printed cash that should have been put in the national reserves had gone missing. But the firm, Kroll Associates, raised concerns “regarding the overall accuracy and completeness” of the bank’s internal records, and found evidence of “systemic and procedural weaknesses”. “Charles Sirleaf, former deputy bank governor, and Dorbor Hagba, director of banking at the Central Bank of Liberia, were arrested on Thursday night in connection with reports released on the new bank notes saga”, police spokesman Moses Carter said on national radio.

Tshisekedi pledges to free political prisoners

KINSHASA — The new president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, says he wants to free all political prisoners within the next 10 days. In a speech, he said he would ask the justice minister to release all those held in jail for their political views. Tshisekedi assumed office in January, taking over from Joseph Kabila, who had been in power for 18 years. But the result was disputed, and Kabila remains politically powerful. Tshisekedi made the announcement as he unveiled his “emergency programme for the first 100 days”.

Lowassa quits opposition, rejoins ruling party

DAR ES SALAAM — Former Tanzanian prime minister Edward Lowassa on Friday quit the country’s leading opposition party, and rejoined the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in a move that tilted the east African nation’s political landscape. Lowassa (65) rejoined CCM at an event witnessed by CCM national chairman, president John Magufuli, at the party’s sub-headquarters in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam. “Lowassa has made a decision to return home, and we are ready to welcome him,” said CCM secretary general Ally Bashiru. Lowassa quit the CCM in July 2015, and joined opposition Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), vowing to fight poverty should he get the opportunity to become president under the opposition ticket.

Somali forces end day-long Mogadishu siege

MOGADISHU — Somalia’s special forces have killed all three gunmen who had taken over a building in central Mogadishu, using civilians as human shields, officials say. The attack, which killed 20 people, began late on Thursday when al Shabaab militants stormed an area lined with hotels, shops and restaurants. They then seized a nearby building. This was the longest siege by the militant group since it was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011. The last gunman was killed on Friday evening, about 22 hours after the initial attack.

– Nampa-AFP-Xinhua-BBC News

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