Today 20 December
Madagascans voted Friday in a presidential run-off aimed at pulling the Indian Ocean island out of the political and economic doldrums and restoring democracy. For the past five years it's been truly horrible," said Fanjatiana Ramanantsoa as she stood in line to vote at a primary school in the capital Antananarivo. Madagascar's main political rivals -- interim leader Andry Rajoelina and the man he ousted, Marc Ravalomanana -- were barred from running amid international pressure over fears of a return to violence. Robinson Jean Louis, 61, a doctor and former health minister, is seen as a slight favourite after winning 21.16 percent in the first round.
Tangiers (Morocco) (AFP) - In the poor Tangiers suburb of Boukhalef, cramped apartment blocks house hundreds of sub-Saharan migrants dreaming of reaching Europe, but tragedy has turned it into a flashpoint for racial tensions in Morocco. During a police raid earlier this month, a young Cameroonian called Cedric was chased onto the roof of one of the four-storey buildings and then fell to his death. It was the second such death in two months, after a Senegalese man fell from his fourth-floor flat in October during another police raid. After the second incident, angry fellow migrants carried the Cameroonian's body through Boukhalef's streets protesting police "crimes" against their ranks.
By Carl Odera and Andrew Green JUBA (Reuters) - South Sudanese government troops battled to regain control of a flashpoint town and sent forces to quell fighting in a vital oil producing area on Thursday, the fifth day of a conflict that has deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation. The conflict, which has so far killed up to 500 people, has alarmed South Sudan's neighbors. African mediators held talks with President Salva Kiir on Thursday to try to broker peace, and U.S. President Barak Obama urged the clashing factions to stop fighting. ...
BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO called on European Union leaders Thursday to improve their cooperation on defense in the face of dwindling military budgets or face American disengagement from Europe.
By Adrian Croft BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders agreed on Thursday to cooperate more closely on making falling defense budgets go further, while President Francois Hollande failed to win any promise of EU help to pay for French military operations in Africa. Austerity-hit EU countries have slashed spending in response to the financial crisis, scaling back on ships, tanks and fighter jets and undermining Europe's military strength, much to the concern of the United States, its most important ally. Cameron said Britain, one of Europe's most capable military powers but one that has also scaled back spending, would support cooperation but drew the line at a European army. "It isn't right for the European Union to have capabilities, armies, air forces and the rest of it.