BBC News with Jerry Smit.
The people of Zimbabwe have been voting in large numbers in elections pitting Africa’s oldest leader Robert Mugabe against his Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Many polling stations have closed although some booths are staying open for those who are still queuing to vote. Mark Lowen reports.
For now at least any fears of violence or major disruption seem not to have materialized. Zimbabwe’s election commission says the vote has been peaceful with few problems. There have though been complaints from Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change over flawed voter roll full of names of the elderly and deceased with younger voters omitted. It will be up to local observers to cast their verdict as western teams have been banned. Once polls close, it will take up to five days for the results of an election that could finally see a country plagued by division, unemployment and economic sanctions move towards stable democracy.
Egypt’s military backed government has ordered police to end sit-ins by supporters of the ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi at two sites in Cairo. The information minister Dorreya Sharaf el-Din made the announcement.
“To safeguard national security and the supreme interests of the country and to ensure civil peace and people’s safety, the cabinet has decided to take all necessary measures to counter these risks and put an end to the protests. So the ministry of interior has been assigned to take all necessary steps in this regard within the constitution and the law.”
In response, the United States urged Egypt to respect freedom of assembly including sit-ins and said the transitional government had a duty to restore democracy.
The United Nations says Syria has given UN inspectors permission to examine three sites where chemical weapons have allegedly been used. The UN said the inspectors were established if chemical weapons were involved, not who used them. Our UN correspondent Nick Bryant sends this report.
The UN says that three sites will be investigated by inspection teams. They include Khan al-Assal in Aleppo province where the Syrian and Russian governments claim that rebels killed at least 26 people including 16 government troops during a chemical weapon’s attack in March. It’s believed the other two sites are near Damascus and Homs where the British and French governments have accused President Assad’s forces of using chemical weapons.
The International Monetary Fund has warned that Greece is likely to need an extra 11 billion Euros in debt relief from Euro Zone countries next year. The IMF describes the Greek government as accident prone and says it will probably need further help in the longer term. The bailout is unpopular in parts of Europe. There are also reports from Washington that some Latin American countries led by Brazil are unhappy that the IMF is decided to pay the next installment of its loan to Greece with fears that the country will be unable to pay it back.
World News from the BBC.
A court in Libya has handed down a death sentence on a former minister in close aid of the deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi for his role in repressing the uprising two years ago. Ahmed Ibrahim was found guilty of undermining national security and plotting to kill civilians. Rana Jawad reports from Tripoli.
Mr. Ibrahim has been held in a jail in Libya’s third largest city Misrata since his detention after the war. Mr. Ibrahim is a distant relative of Colonel Gaddafi and served as minister of education and information in the 1980s. Libyans infamously know him as the man who banned the English language from school curriculum for a decade.
The Rwandan presidency has described as nonsense allegations by four Rwandans that they’ve been forced to fight for M23 rebels in eastern Congo. In a statement the president’s office said it was time to end what it called the psycho of rumors and get on with the business of building peace. The four Rwandans said they were seeking asylum in Uganda. One said around 90% of the rebels were Rwandan soldiers. Another said he’d treated more than 300 fellow recruits who’d been injured.
Shares in facebook, the world’s largest online social network have finally risen above the price which they were launched last year. The share price hit more than 38 dollars on Wednesday for the first time since Facebook joined the stock market. Correspondents say investors have been encouraged by a surge in revenue from advertising on mobile devices.
The US government has released declassified documents about its phone surveillance programme. Officials said they wanted to be more transparent about their intelligence gathering. However, a significant amount of information was blanked out of the documents which relate to the phone snooping activities revealed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
And that’s the BBC News.