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Acronym of the Year




Photo: Haidar El Ali.

DAKAR (IDN | GIN) – Illegal timber smuggling is devastating the lush Casamance region of Senegal and could strip it completely within two years, predicts Senegalese environmentalist and former minister Haidar El Ali.

Casamance in southern Senegal contains the country's last remaining forests, an area of 74,000 acres that could be depleted by 2018 as smugglers feed the demand for rosewood furniture in China, said El Ali.

Exporting timber from Senegal is illegal, so traffickers smuggle it to neighbouring Gambia for shipping to China.

Photo: #ThisFlag

HARARE (IDN | GIN) – A “Million Men” march in support of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe that drew thousands in support of the aging leader failed to diminish the impact of an opposition rally last month that brought out thousands of citizens concerned with the country’s troubled economy.

Despite his advanced age, Mugabe has vowed to run for another term in office at the next election in 2018 when he will be 94.

At the “Million Men” march, Mrs Mugabe declared that her husband would rule Zimbabwe even from the grave.

The opposition, meanwhile, has been energized by a Twitter campaign called #ThisFlag, or what The Guardian newspaper called “an accidental movement for change”.

Ghana e-Waste

LONDON (IDN | GIN) – Digital dumping ground, world’s largest e-waste dump – whatever you call it, Agbogbloshie, a former wetland and suburb of Ghanaian capital Accra, is one the top ten “worst polluted” places on earth where tonnes of discarded electronics, refrigerators, microwaves and televisions, also known as e-waste, end up decomposing in a massive scrap heap.

"Mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic – these are the four most toxic substances [in the world], and they are found in e-waste residues in very large quantities," Atiemo Sampson, an environmental researcher at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, who has conducted several studies of the Agbogbloshie site, said in an interview with the BBC.

Exposure to these toxins is known to cause a whole range of illnesses from cancers to heart disease and respiratory illnesses.

Photo: Protest by Senegalese for Justice

DAKAR (IDN | GIN) – Former president of Chad, Hissène Habré, was sentenced May 30 to life behind bars, ending a long journey for justice by his victims and victims’ relatives who filled the court.

The specially convened African Union-backed court in Senegal convicted him of rape, sexual slavery and ordering killings during his rule from 1982 to 1990.

Victims and families of those killed cheered and embraced each other in the courtroom after the verdict was read.