Burundi’s government has asked its people to donate money to help with controversial elections scheduled for June. The appeal for funds were made on the government’s official Facebook page. It comes after the European Union said it will withhold more than $2m (£1.3m) of funding for the elections. There have been weeks of violent protests and a failed coup against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term. The plea asks for money “from patriotic citizens to reinforce a culture of democracy based on the choice of the people”. It then gives details of a bank account to put the money directly into.
Money to carry out the the elections was already running low as the former colonial power Belgium has also suspended a similar amount to the EU. The EU said it will withhold the money unless “conditions for a free, peaceful and credible election are secured”. In addition, a French diplomat told AFP news agency that France has suspended its security co-operation with the country. The parliamentary elections were due to be held on Tuesday but have been delayed by 10 days. Mr Nkurunziza’s critics say the third term contravenes the constitution, which requires him to step down after two terms. Burundi’s Constitutional Court says that Mr Nkurunziza’s first term does not count because he was elected by parliament and not voters.
In the last month, more than 100,000 people have left the land-locked African state of Burundi. They fear that a failed coup and protests against the president could send the country back into a civil war. The protestors say the current situation is due to political differences, and not to do with the ethnic conflict 10 years ago which saw hundreds of thousands of people killed.
The UN children’s agency says there has been an “alarming” increase in the number of suicide attacks in northern Nigeria, with many of them involving women and children.
There had been 27 attacks so far this year, compared with 26 for the whole of last year, Unicef said in a statement. Three-quarters of the attacks were carried out by female bombers, some as young as seven, it added. Militant Islamist group Boko Haram is waging an insurgency in Nigeria. BBC Nigeria analyst Naziru Mikailu says Boko Haram may be increasingly resorting to suicide attacks, following its loss of territory to regional forces.
Nigeria’s army said in March that it had recaptured all cities and towns from the group, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State militants fighting for a global caliphate. Unicef said it did not believe that the girls carried out the bombings willingly. “Children are not instigating these suicide attacks; they are used intentionally by adults in the most horrific way,” it said. “They are first and foremost victims – not perpetrators.” Some of the girls had been abducted and were being exploited by militants who knew that they were less likely to be checked when entering target areas such as busy markets or bus stations, the statement added.
Our correspondent says there is suspicion that some girls are duped into being bombers, thinking they are carrying parcels when they are, in fact, explosives. More than 15,500 people have been killed during the six-year insurgency. About 1.5 million people have been displaced and hundreds more abducted by Boko Haram. Earlier this month, the military rescued nearly 300 women and children who were being held by the group in its forest hideout in north-eastern Nigeria. Among those still being held captive are 219 girls who were taken from their boarding school in Chibok town in April 2014, sparking global outrage.
Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni says he has survived an assassination attempt by gunmen who attacked his car in the city of Tobruk.
“Thank God, we managed to escape,” Mr al-Thinni told TV news channel al-Arabiya after bullets hit his car as it left a parliament session in the city. A government spokesman said the prime minister escaped unharmed but one of his bodyguards was wounded. Libya has been in turmoil since Muammar Gaddafi was ousted from power in 2011. Mr al-Thinni is trying to run the country from Tobruk after being expelled from the capital, Tripoli, by militias in 2014. His power has been challenged by the establishment of another body in Tripoli that claims to be the legitimate government. Lawmakers in Tobruk told the Reuters news agency that crowds had gathered outside the parliament building on Tuesday to protest against Mr al-Thinni’s rule.
The protesters were said to have set fire to a car outside the building and Mr al-Thinni was reportedly told by parliamentary speaker Aqila Saleh to leave for his own safety. Prime Minister al-Thinni has struggled to stamp his authority on the fragmented country since coming to power in March 2014. His government had originally planned to set up parliament in the eastern city of Benghazi but was forced to relocate to Tobruk after heavy fighting between government forces and Islamist militias.
Those militias have established a strong presence in the country over the last two years and some militants have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State militant group.