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UN INSIDER

Photo: Nigerian President Buhari | Credit: The News Nigeria

NEW YORK (IDN | GIN) – Cancellation of the scheduled appointments of President Muhammadu Buhari and the arrangement of a 10 day trip to England for treatment of an ear infection have raised concerns that a serious health issue is afflicting the recently-elected leader.

Though it would not be the first time a Nigerian president claimed to be receiving treatment abroad but was actually at an advanced stage of a serious illness. In 2010, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was reportedly receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia for a long-standing kidney ailment when in fact he was near death and died quickly upon his return.

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: Mandela Statue

RAMALLAH, Palestine (IDN | GIN) – Now that the media circus has moved on, a bronze statue of Nelson Mandela is a curious icon standing impressively tall in the well-to-do city of Ramallah, the economic capital of Palestine.

Weighing two metric tons and rising almost 6 metres towards the sky, the bronze likeness of Mandela stands straight, with his right arm raised and hand in a fist. Created by South African artists Christina Salvodi, Lungisa Khala and Tanya Lee‚ the project was funded by the City of Johannesburg.

The statue took seven months to produce and has been placed on high land for "all the people of Palestine to see," according to Sowetan Live.