African briefs … United States, Nigeria hope to resolve visa row soon

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ABUJA – The United States and Nigeria expressed hope on Tuesday that the Trump administration would soon lift onerous visa restrictions slapped on Africa’s most populous country, which said it was “blindsided” by its ally.

On a previously scheduled visit to Washington, Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama said he sought more information on president Donald Trump’s latest immigration crackdown announced last week which targeted Nigeria and five other countries. Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, meeting Onyeama, said that Trump took action partly due to the “terrorism threat” in West Africa, where Nigeria has fought alongside the United States against Islamist extremists. Nigeria remains a “strategic partner” but Trump restricted visas as it has “room to grow in sharing important national security information.”

Tanzanian preacher granted

bail over deaths in stampede

MOSHI – Tanzania’s Boniface Mwamposa has been released on bail after he was arrested over a stampede that killed 20 people on Sunday during an outdoor religious service he was leading in the northern town of Moshi. Mwamposa, who refers to himself as ‘the apostle’, was arrested together with seven other suspects though the charges against him were not revealed. He was arrested in the coastal town of Dar es Salaam, about 540km away from Moshi, where he had gone to preach in another branch of his church. Kilimanjaro regional commissioner Anna Mghwira said the preacher had been released on bail. She said police officers have gathered preliminary information and investigation is ongoing. Twenty people, including five children, lost their lives following a rush to be anointed with “blessed oil”.

Guinea announces date

for controversial referendum

CONAKRY – Guinea’s president, Alpha Condé, has announced that a constitutional referendum that has sparked protests across the country will be held on 1 March. The referendum plan had been opposed on grounds that it could pave the way for president Condé to seek a third term in office. Several protesters have died in various anti-government demonstrations. Guinea’s opposition has said it will boycott the March referendum, according to AP news agency. “There will be no election or referendum,” said Sidya Touré, leader of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea party. Legislative elections that were scheduled for 16 February have also been postponed to 1 March. Presidential adviser Souleymane Keita has told AP that the vote will go ahead regardless of an opposition boycott.

– Nampa-AFP-BBC

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