Jul 23, 2018 Last Updated 1:53 PM, Jul 20, 2018


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The new law - passed on Sunday by two-thirds of MPs - placed popular accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms under the supervision of Egypt's media regulator, the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media.

The council was also given the power to block websites and file criminal complaints against platforms and individuals accused of offences such as "inciting people to violate laws" and "defamation against individuals and religions".

However, a provision that would have allowed pre-trial detentions of journalists was amended after pressure from the journalists' syndicate, AFP reported.

Earlier this month, Naija Bounaim of Amnesty International warned that the law would “legalize…mass censorship and step up the assault on the right to freedom of expression in Egypt, which is already one of the world's most oppressive environments for media and journalism".

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch criticized the government’s use of counterterrorism legislation to prosecute activists and journalists.

Laws passed in 2015 make it a crime to publish or promote any news about terrorist incidents that contradicts official statements.

The government has also blocked hundreds of websites since last summer, including those of news outlets, NGOs and human rights groups.

Reporters Without Borders ranks Egypt 161 out of 180 countries worldwide for press freedom, describing it as "one of the world's biggest prisons for journalists".

A Lebanese woman was recently sentenced to eight years in prison for allegedly insulting Egyptians, after she uploaded a video on Facebook in which she spoke about sexual harassment in Egypt and used derogatory terms about Egyptians.

Traditional hunters have killed 32 civilians in an isolated village in central Mali, a local group says.

The hunters, known locally as "Dozo", surrounded the village in the Mopti region and separated members of the Fula ethnic group from the other villagers before killing them.

Children were among the victims in Saturday's attack, an official said.

There has been increasing violence between Fula, who are traditionally herders, and other ethnic groups.

A further 10 people were missing from the village, near the town of Djenné, said Abel Aziz Diallo, president of Tabital Pulaaku, a Fulani association.

"They surrounded the village, separated the Fula people from the others and killed at least 32 civilians in cold blood," he told AFP news agency.

The Fula complain that they are being regularly targeted by traditional hunters in the name of the fight against jihadists. They accuse the Malian military of supporting such incidents.

The Malian army has also been accused by rights groups of carrying out extrajudicial killings in the central region. The army says these were operations against militants.

On Thursday the US asked Mali to investigate after 25 bodies were found in mass graves in the Mopti region. The Malian government admitted elements of the army were involved.

Ethiopian officials say two people have died and dozens more are injured, after an explosion at a huge political rally for the new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Mr Abiy described it as an "unsuccessful attempt by forces who do not want to see Ethiopia united".

He was whisked away immediately after the blast, thought to be from a grenade thrown amid thousands of people in Addis Ababa's Meskel Square.

The capital's deputy chief of police is in custody over security lapses.

A further eight policemen have been detained and are under investigation for failing to secure the site.

Ethiopia's health minister tweeted that two people had died. He said 44 people remained in hospital, five of them in a critical condition.

Mr Abiy only became prime minister after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn unexpectedly resigned in February.

He is also the country's first leader from the ethnic Oromo group, which has been at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests that have left hundreds of people dead.

Since taking office he has begun passing a series of reforms, including unblocking hundreds of websites and TV channels.

Parliament on Friday last week passed the MK1.4 trillion budget for the 2018-2019 financial year.

The deliberations on the budget have gone through hurdles as the budget discussions collided with the interests of the members of parliament who wanted their salaries and benefits raised.

The parliamentarians however pushed their wishes privately as they did not want to be publicly seen as self-seeking individuals.

Speaking after the budget was passed, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa expressed happiness that the budget was now passed after several adjournments and suspension of discussion due to pressure from the parliamentarians.

Nankhumwa highlighted that the government has met some of the conditions parliamentarians pressed for and that some issues were still under discussion as the parliamentarians wanted a waiver of duty from the cars they would want to be importing.

The 2018-2019 budget has also been slashed by about MK50 billion as a measure designed to cut down on domestic borrowing initially pegged at MK1.5 trillion.

It was described as a campaign tool owing to the number of development projects it has lined up for implementation as well as raising honoraria for local chiefs.

Two suicide bombers have attacked a town in north-eastern Nigeria only hours after the country's army chief urged displaced residents to return home because it was safe.

The blasts hit the town of Damboa in Borno state on Saturday evening and residents say at least 31 people died.

The explosions were followed up by rockets fired from outside the town.

Boko Haram militants are suspected. Army chief Lt Gen Tukur Buratai had said they were no longer a threat.

"Let me use this opportunity to call on the good people of northern Borno... to return to their communities which have long been liberated by our gallant troops," he said at an inauguration ceremony for gunboats earlier on Saturday.

A four-month military operation started on 1 May to expel Boko Haram insurgents from northern Borno and the Lake Chad region.

No group has said it carried out Saturday evening's attacks but a militia leader speaking to AFP, Babakura Kolo, said they bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, a jihadist group that wants to establish a caliphate in northern Nigeria.

Officials said at least 20 people died in the attacks but residents said they had counted the dead and an anonymous local official confirmed the toll.

"It has destroyed our houses. We have also counted 31 innocent people including children and elderly killed in the attack," local resident Modu Usman, son of a community leader, told Reuters news agency.

More than 40 people were injured in the attacks, which were aimed at people celebrating the Eid al-Fitr holiday in the Shuwari and Abachari districts of the town.

The rocket attacks appear to have caused most of the casualties, a local official said.

The UN says 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes due to the Boko Haram conflict, which is now in its ninth year.

Boko Haram uses suicide bombers, often young girls, to target civilians and soldiers.

In one of the most recent attacks, bombers killed dozens of people in and around a mosque in the town of Mubi.

Despite the ongoing threat of suicide bombings, the security situation in north-east Nigeria has improved, says BBC Africa Editor Will Ross.

But there will be some scepticism about calls to return home, our correspondent adds. Previous promises that it is safe because the jihadists have been defeated have proved to be premature.

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