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Cameroon's rival parties gear up for live TV debate

Killian Ngala

BBC News, Yaoundé

Maurice Kamto and Paul Biya
Getty Images
Opposition leader Maurice Kamto's party says if President Paul Biya sends a representative instead of appearing himself they will do the same

Cameroon's main opposition party has accepted a challenge to debate with the ruling RDPM/CPDM live on TV, days after it organised anti-government protests in several towns and cities that were met with a crackdown.

"Figures against figures, facts against facts, strategy against strategy, and vision against vision," pledged ruling party communication secretary Jacques Fame Ndongo in a press release.

"Debate is the strength of ideas and the strength of arguments. The street is provocation," he added.

The opposition MRC/CRM's leader Maurice Kamto is still under house arrest following Tuesday's protests.

One of his deputies, Barrister Christopher Ndong, has told the BBC they "welcome the debate" as a "fundamental democratic principle".

The main opposition party says 593 people were arrested as a result of the protests, and has said one person was killed and others were wounded. This has not been independently verified.

However reports indicate that several journalists covering the events were arrested. Some protesters in the economic hub of Douala were also shot at, and security forces used tear gas and water cannon.

The police has declined the BBC’s requests for comment.

Mr Kamto called for protests to force President Paul Biya, in power for 38 years, out of office.

Demonstrators were also demanding changes to the electoral code and the resolution of the Anglophone crisis.

Nigeria to build new railway to Niger

Ishaq Khalid

BBC News, Abuja

The Nigerian government has announced that it will build a major new rail line linking the country with its neighbour Niger.

President Muhammadu Buhari gave the approval to the nearly $2bn (£1.6bn) project, with construction expected to start before the end of this year, a government spokesperson told the BBC.

This rail project is ambitious – about 400km (250 miles) – passing through the desert from northern Nigeria's commercial hub Kano, up to Maradi – the economic hub of Niger.

Nigeria says it will boost economic activities between the two countries.

Nigeria's previous railway projects, which received significant loans from China, were awarded to Chinese companies.

But this time the contract has been awarded to the pan-African construction company Mota-Engil Africa.

There are concerns that the current wave of insecurity in northern Nigeria, with criminal gangs attacking communities and kidnapping people for ransom, could pose a challenge to the project.

The latest rail line is also expected to be an extension of a project linking southern Nigeria with the north of the country.

Sir Chris climbs a local Everest for Nepal charity

The Cumbrian mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington is taking part in a special fell walk today to mark the 45th anniversary of the day that two Britons climbed Mount Everest.

Mountaineering scene
BBC

Doug Scott (pictured right) and Dougal Haston were the first to ascend the south-west face in 1975, and the first Britons to make the summit, in an expedition led by Sir Chris (left).

Today's climb is taking place on Carrock Fell, near Keswick, in aid of Doug Scott's charity, Community Action Nepal, which builds health centres and schools for the Nepalese people who work with mountaineers.

It is currently raising money to rebuild those provided over previous decades, because they were destroyed by the earthquake in 2015.

Uganda denies selling conflict gold from DR Congo

Russell Padmore

Business correspondent, BBC News

A vendor in Dubai's gold souk
AFP
Gold accounted for about half of all Uganda's exports in July - and its biggest market is the UAE

A human rights group has accused Uganda of channelling gold mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo that funds conflict, but the authorities insist that refiners are not processing metal from illicit sources.

Ugandan gold exports have more than doubled in one year, fuelling the concerns. Its biggest market is the United Arab Emirates, having overtaken countries of the East African Community.

The campaign group Impact, which is based in Canada, says the authorities in Rwanda and Uganda need to clamp down on smuggling of Congolese gold across their borders.

It claims just a small fraction of the 15 to 22 tonnes mined in DR Congo every year is officially recorded and exported.

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