African dancers and a 21-gun salute welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping in Dar es Salaam at the start of an African tour that underlines the continent's strategic importance for China both for its resources and as a marketplace.
Visiting Tanzania, South Africa and Republic of Congo on his first trip abroad as president, Mr Xi will aim to build on expanding economic relations that many Africans see as a healthy counterbalance to the influence of the West.
He might also address concerns in Africa that the continent is exporting raw materials while spending heavily to import finished consumer goods from the Asian economic powerhouse.
"He will be looking to tone down the feeling that China is just here to exploit resources. I think that is going to be his main job," James Shikwati, director of the Nairobi-based Inter Regional Economic Network thinktank, told Reuters.
Mr Xi is due to hold trade talks with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete before a state banquet. Mr Xi will deliver his first policy speech on Africa today.
He will then head to South Africa for a summit of leaders of the world's major emerging economies, known as the BRICS, tomorrow and Wednesday, and could endorse plans to create a joint foreign exchange reserves pool and an infrastructure.
The proposal underscores frustrations among emerging markets at having to rely on the World Bank and IMF, which are seen as reflecting the interests of the United States and other industrialised nations.
China has built roads, railways, and landmark buildings across Africa to win access to its oil and minerals like copper and uranium.
"China is what we call an all-weather friend," said teacher Mwajuma Swai before Mr Xi's arrival. "They don't flip-flop like the West and they don't give us a string of conditions for aid and trade."
Soldiers in Ivory Coast killed three gunmen, part of a group that raided a village near the border with Liberia early on Saturday, senior army officials said.
The attack on the village of Petit Guiglo was the third raid in the past 10 days on a village in the top cocoa producer's volatile west, a region fractured by ethnic divisions and long-standing conflicts over land ownership.
"This morning there was an attack in Petit Guiglo at around 4 o'clock. We were forced to launch a counter-attack," said a senior Ivorian army officer, who asked not to be named.
"Three of the attackers were killed, and two of our soldiers were wounded," he said, adding that clean-up operations in the areas were continuing.
Ivory Coast is emerging from a decade of political crisis that ended with a brief civil war in 2011.
Sporadic armed violence has continued, blamed generally on President Alassane Ouattara's exiled foes.
But an attack on a nearby village on March 13 in which seven people died was carried out by men dressed as "dozos", a group of mystical hunters who fought on Ouattara's behalf during the 2011 conflict, according to an army report of the incident.
The military officials said it remained unclear who was behind Saturday's violence.
The western cocoa heartland saw some of the worst bloodshed during the 2011 conflict, which erupted after Laurent Gbagbo, then president, rejected Ouattara's election victory in late 2010. Both sides carried out mass killings in the area.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s government said on Friday that it had thwarted a plot involving a Belgian member of parliament that aimed to assassinate President Joseph Kabila and overthrow his government.
Two suspects – a Belgian doctor of Congolese origin named Jean-Pierre Kanku Mukendi and Isidore Madimba Mongombe, a former policeman – were arrested earlier this month in the capital Kinshasa, Interior Minister Richard Muyej told journalists.
Muyej said the two men, who were in possession of a small quantity of weapons at the time of their arrest, confessed to the plot.
“[Mukendi] admitted that this plan to attack the city of Kinshasa and physically eliminate the head of state was adopted at a large meeting presided by himself on Jan. 20 in Kinshasa,” he said.
Muyej claimed Mukendi had, while living in Belgium, founded a group called Mouvement Debout Congolais, or the Arise Congolese Movement, with the assistance of a member of Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives.
“With the help of the Belgian member of parliament Laurent Louis, he increased his meetings with Congolese compatriots ... in the aim of preparing and finalizing their project to overthrow [Congo’s] institutions,” he said.
Louis, an independent MP, told Reuters that while he opposed Kabila’s rule, he was not involved in any plot to overthrow the Congolese government by force.
“I am opposed to violence ... What’s more, these meetings were totally public. There weren’t any secret meetings to plot this or that,” he said by telephone.
Joseph Kabila became president of the vast mineral-rich but chronically unstable Congo in 2001 following the assassination of his father, President Laurent Kabila.
While he won the country’s first democratic poll in nearly five decades in 2006 in a vote endorsed by observers as free and fair, Kabila’s re-election five years later was tarnished by widespread irregularities.
Twenty men suspected of belonging to another insurgent group were arrested in South Africa last month and charged with plotting to overthrow Kabila after they travelled to the country to seek military training and buy arms.
Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL) Times Media Group, the oldest print media house in Malawi, has banned all its female employees from wearing trousers or mini-skirts while at work.
BNL are publishers of the Malawi News, Daily Times, Weekend Times and Sunday Times newspaper titles.
According to the order by the company’s managing director Leonard Chikadya, all female employees are no longer allowed to wear miniskirts or tight trousers while on duty.
Chikadya told the female employees to “dress properly” like Mama Cecilia Kadzamira, the former official hostess to the country’s first president, the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda.
He said skirts must be of “reasonable” length and also told male workers to ensure they are dressed appropriately like Kamuzu Banda.
Banda, who owned the media giant used to dress in British attire, thus three-piece suit and a Wilson hat.
The directive has angered female workers at the company who say it violates the country’s constitution which allows freedom of dress to women and men.
The employees, especially journalists, in random interviews described the directive as draconian and making the environment not conducive to work.
“Mr Chikadya has run out of ideas. He takes us for granted. This is too much. He runs this company as a personal farm. We are tired of his style of administration. I wonder why the board approves of this stupid directive,” said one employee.
Journalists and other commentators have reacted angrily to the directive on social media and media forums.
Blogger and news analyst Jimmy Kainja wrote on his Facebook Timeline: “People, I hear female journalist BNL Times media group have been barred from wearing trousers? Why are the bosses bothering themselves with misogynies instead of product quality?”
A former employee and editor at the newspaper company, Idriss Ali Nasser wrote on journalists’ Internet discussion forum, Misa-Malawi: “BNL ban female employees from wearing trousers/miniskirts? For those who might be confused by this: NO, the order did NOT come from Hastings Kamuzu Banda!”
A journalist now working with UNICEF, Kusali Kubwalo wrote: “Interesting. A pair of slacks actually offers more cover than a skirt. Slacks are more conducive to a field environment than a skirt. We have taken one step forward and three backwards.”
Another journalist Yvonne Sundu of rival Nation Publication Limited wrote: “The way I love miniskirts and trousers. I can definitely need a wardrobe make over!”
The directive is expected to receive opposition and criticism from human rights activists.
BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- China will continue its role as a staunch supporter of Africa's development, President Xi Jinping said Tuesday.
"No matter how international landscape may change, China will continue to support and promote Africa's efforts to achieve peace, stability, prosperity and development, seek strength through unity and participate in international affairs on a basis of equality," Xi said.
Xi made the pledge in a joint interview with Xinhua and media outlets from the other four BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, ahead of his first overseas visits since he took office.
Both China and Africa are of the developing world and share broad common interests. The two sides enjoy all-around and mutually beneficial cooperation, Xi said.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced Monday that Xi will visit Russia, Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo on March 22-30 and attend the fifth BRICS summit on March 26-27 in Durban, South Africa.