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Nigeria's military claimed Thursday that Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of an Islamic State-linked extremist group blamed for killing hundreds in the northeast, had died. There was no immediate confirmation from the militants.

At a news conference, Nigeria's chief of defense staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, told reporters: "I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead." He gave no further information, and it was not possible to independently corroborate the claim.

The announcement came only five months after al-Barnawi and his forces claimed responsibility for killing rival extremist leader Abubakar Shekau.

Some reports said al-Barnawi had been fatally wounded during clashes with yet another rival extremist faction, but the military gave no details about how it had confirmed his death.

Al-Barnawi was a teenager when his father, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed by Nigerian security forces in 2009. The death of the founding Boko Haram leader has fueled a more than decade-long insurgency against the Nigerian government, ultimately expanding to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Shekau took command of the group after Yusuf's death but clashed frequently over the years with al-Barnawi, who reportedly at one point was picked instead by the Islamic State organization to lead Boko Haram. Instead, a breakaway faction was formed in 2016 that became known as the Islamic State in West Africa Province, or ISWAP.

Unlike Shekau's group, which often violently targeted civilian populations, ISWAP under al-Barnawi targeted the Nigerian military and those who aided the soldiers. But it drew heightened global concern when it began targeting civilians working for international aid organizations in the northeast in a series of kidnappings and killings.

The faction still led by Shekau, meanwhile, weakened in recent years and his death was announced in May. ISWAP then sought to expand its reach, but al-Barnawi failed to win over thousands of Shekau's followers and many surrendered to the Nigerian military instead.

The conflict in northeast Nigeria has directly caused the death of 36,000 people, according to U.N. officials, with more than 2.3 million people displaced. VOA

Kenya's Agnes Tirop poses after winning the women's 1500m during the 2019 Diamond League at the Olympiastadion in Stockholm, Sweden, May 30, 2019. /CFP

Athletes, officials and other prominent figures in sports have paid tribute to Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop, who was found stabbed to death on Wednesday at her home in the western town of Iten, a training centre for top athletes. 

A two-time world championships bronze medalist, the 25-year-old promising star just smashed the women-only 10km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany last month and finished fourth in the 5,000m final during this summer's Tokyo Olympics. 

As a mark of respect following Tirop's death, Athletics Kenya announced on Thursday that all athletics competitions in the country would be suspended for two weeks. 

Global grief and loss 

"We just lost a great talent. She was such a strong woman and committed to what she was doing," Julius Yego, Kenya's former athletics team captain was quoted as saying by BBC on Thursday. 

"She was an amazing young girl who was really working hard to be one of the top athletes in the world. She wanted to be the best and it was only a few weeks ago that she broke the world record for the 10km. Her successful career was still being crafted but unfortunately, someone decided the whole story cannot be written," he added.

 

Kenya's Agnes Tirop (L) during the women's 5000m heats at the Tokyo Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, July 30, 2021. /CFP

Yego said Tirop's sudden death hadn't really sunk in yet. "We had a difficult day yesterday, it is still shocking," he said. "When you check on social media or TV, it is the sad news of Agnes. We are still collecting ourselves." 

The sentiment was echoed by Uganda's 800m world champion Halima Nakayi, who said on social media: "We are deeply shocked to hear the sudden death of our fellow athlete Tirop Agnes. I send my condolences to her family, friends and the Kenyan athletics community." 

"It's not easy to say goodbye to your ever-smiling face," added Agnes' friend and fellow middle distance runner Winnie Nanyondo of Uganda. "I can't believe that you're no more - such a friendly soul. It's so painful." 

Earlier in the day, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach hailed Tirop as an inspiration to all. "I'm deeply shocked by the tragic death of Agnes Tirop, a young and bright talent. Her performances at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 gave hope and inspiration to so many people," Bach said on Twitter.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe singled out Tirop as "one of the world's best female distance runners over the past six years." "Athletics has lost one of its brightest young stars in the most tragic circumstances," he said. "This is a terrible blow to the entire athletics community, but especially to her family, her friends and Athletics Kenya.

 

Agnes Tirop of Kenya celebrates winning bronze medal in the women's 10,000m final during the 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, September 28, 2019. /CFP

Tirop's husband arrested 

Kenyan police said on Thursday they had arrested Tirop's husband Emmanuel Rotich in the coastal city of Mombasa. Local newspapers revealed that the couple had been having marital problems. 

Kenya's National Police Service said on Wednesday that Tirop had been the victim of a "heinous crime" and promised "speedy and comprehensive investigations." 

"When police went to Tirop's house, they found her in bed with blood under the bed and a lot of it on the floor," Tom Makori, one of the police officers who involved in the case was quoted as saying by CNN. "When police looked at the body, it looked like she had been stabbed on the neck with what we suspect to be a knife." 

Makori also revealed that Rotich had made a call to Tirop's parents saying that he'd committed something wrong, "So we believe he knows what happened."CGTN

The Turkish president will leave on Sunday for a four-day diplomatic tour to three African countries, diplomatic sources have told Anadolu Agency.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has officially visited 28 African countries to date, and will now tour Angola, Nigeria and Togo.

The trip is significant as Turkey is hosting two important events in Istanbul: a two-day Turkey-Africa 3rd Economy and Business Summit on Oct. 21, and a two-day Turkey-Africa 3rd Partnership Summit on Dec. 17.

Turkey's African policy, which encompasses political, humanitarian, economic, and cultural spheres, is part of its multidimensional foreign policy.

Turkey aims to contribute to the economic and social development of the continent with peace and stability, as well as to develop bilateral relations on the basis of equal partnership and mutual benefit.

To this effect, the number of Turkish embassies in Africa has increased from just 12 in 2002 to 43 in 2021.

Turkey's trade with Africa was $5.4 billion at the end of 2003, which climbed to $25.3 billion by 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

According to sources, Erdogan is expected to meet his Angolan counterpart Joao Lourencho as well as attend a forum with businesspeople from both the countries.

Erdogan hosted Lourencho in July, and the two leaders inked agreements of cooperation on air transport, mutual promotion of investments, hydrocarbons and mining, renewable energy, and visa exemptions.

Sources said Erdogan will also meet Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and attend the Turkey-Nigeria Business Forum on his second visit to the West African country.

Steps will be taken to harness the true potential of the two countries' relations during the talks, which will include bilateral economic and regional developments. Three agreements in the fields of hydrocarbons, mining, and energy are also expected to be signed.

Nigeria is Turkey's top trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa with a trading volume of $754 million in 2020, which is expected to rise to more than $1 billion.

Fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, will also be discussed during the Turkish president's visit.

This will include a request to transfer FETO schools that continue to operate in several parts of Nigeria to the Turkish Maarif Foundation.

Togo will be President Erdogan's last stop, where he will discuss ways to improve bilateral relations and expansion of bilateral trade, which was $150 million in 2020. Source:Anadolu Agency

A teller serves a woman at Kacyiru SACCO in Kigali. / Photo: File.
 

More Rwandans have embraced the concept and importance of saving thanks to the Covid-19 circumstances that have proved that relying on day-to-day income is untenable, especially in times of crisis. 

According to the recent report of Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS), the saving rate as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 18.57 per cent from last year. 

This is despite the fact that the Economic and Corporate Governance pillar, an indicator that gauges the state of the country in terms of economy, has declined by 3.49 per cent making it the lowest-performing pillar in the RGS. 

Aimable Nkuranga, Executive Director of Association of Microfinance Institutions (AMIR), said people who managed to save before the pandemic coped better during lockdowns than those who didn’t. 

“We expected that during this pandemic that has shaken the economy, savings from people would be disrupted but contrary, people understood the need to save money in ways that appreciate over time,” he said. 

He explained that this also draws from the fact that some people who lost their jobs had to think and shift to other sources of income considering the responsibilities they carry.

This triggered the change in attitude towards the savings culture because they understood that any time, depending on circumstances, they might lose their jobs, he added.

Innocent Nkurunziza, a teacher at Groupe Scolaire Nyamugari in Nyamasheke District told The New Timers that during the period of lockdowns and other stringent measures, understandably there was no possibility of saving instead, heavy expenses with no revenue.

He, however, said, “when I discuss with my colleagues and friends in different fields, they resolved to have multiple sources of income and save part of the little they earn for any future crisis.”

According to the latest financial scope (2020) report from the central bank, 21 per cent of adult population save their money in banks, a rise from 13 per cent in 2016.

48 per cent of adult Rwandans have formal saving products in non-bank financial institutions such as credit and savings cooperatives and Mobile Money.

However, a large proportion of Rwandans, 64 per cent use informal saving mechanisms. By Alice Kagina, New Times

 

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured September 2021) is the first African leader invited to the White House under US President Joe Biden's administration

US President Joe Biden is slated to meet Thursday with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, the first African leader invited to the White House under the current administration.

The two leaders will discuss "the strong US-Kenyan bilateral relationship and the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems," the White House said ahead of the meeting.

The agenda was published shortly after the release of the Pandora Papers, a journalistic investigation that exposed secret offshore accounts linked to politicians and businesspeople all over the world.

In the investigation, Kenyatta -- who has stated his intent to fight corruption -- is said to own, together with six family members, a network of eleven offshore companies, one of which is valued at $30 million.

Asked about the revelations and how they might affect Biden's meeting with Kenyatta, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "The president has been quite vocal as you all know about the inequalities in the international financial system."

"That doesn't mean we don't meet with people you have disagreements on," she said. "We have a range of interests in working with Kenya and working with them on issues in Africa, in the region, and that will be the primary focus."

The two leaders will also talk about "efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth, and tackle climate change," according to the White House Statement.

Another issue on the agenda is trade.

Former president Donald Trump's administration had started discussions with Kenya on a free trade agreement but, according to Nairobi, Biden's team so far hasn't resumed the negotiations, causing much frustration.

"To our American friends, I would like to say that you know you cannot start and stop a discussion with partners on the basis of one administration after another," Kenyatta said earlier this week in New York. "Relationships are between countries and people, not between administrations."

Kenya is worried that a trade agreement that largely exempts its exports to the United States from customs duties will expire in 2025.

Washington, for its part, is concerned by the growing economic influence of major rival China in Africa.

But unlike Trump, who eagerly engaged in trade negotiations, Biden has so far shown restraint on that front.

For example, he gave no promises to Britain, which is also eager to sign a free trade agreement with the United States. Mail Online

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