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The Africa Report: 20 August

EWN’s Africa correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish reports on the day’s top African news

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP.

US MAINTAINS SANCTIONS AGAINST ZIMBABWE

The United States of America have rejected calls from southern African leaders to lift imposed sanctions on re-elected Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, calling the recent election flawed.

The US State Department released a statement on Monday, defying the calls from the likes of the African Union, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the Southern African Development Community, who have all ruled the July elections "free and fair".

Zimbabwe did not allow observer missions from the west, thus, it is expected that the European Union and Britain will make similar rulings to that of the US.

Included in the US's reasons for the continuation of sanctions against Zimbabwe is the lack of the availability of voters roll for the opposition - this was only made available a day before the elections - and the disenfranchisement of urban voters, many of which were Morgan Tsvangirai supporters.

Meanwhile, the veteran President Mugabe is set to be sworn in again by the end of the week, extending his 33-year rule for another five years.

_

KENYANS FEAR IMPACT OF UK BAN ON KHAT

In early July, the British government announced its plans to criminalise the use of the mild narcotic, khat, and have since moved to ban the native African and Asian plant, joining much of the rest of Europe and North America.

The move has caused fear in Kenya, were thousands of people rely on the farming and trading of the plant for their livelihood.

Before the ban, Britain imported a third of Kenya's $23 million khat crop and prior to the ban by the likes of the Netherlands and North America, the trade hereof was allegedly more profitable than Kenya's two major exports, coffee and tea.

The chewing of khat - which was declared by the World Health Organisation to be a form of drug abuse in 1980 - will now be on par with cannabis, affecting a large population of Somalis, Ethiopians, and Yemenis in Britain.

The plant, which must be served damp and fresh, is known to make its users indolent and causes major tooth decay due to the amount of sugar used, which is needed to counter its bitter taste.

_

A FREE MUBARAK INCREASES FEAR OF EXTENDED VIOLENCE

As the death toll rises to 1000 in Egypt since the security force's crackdown on protestors on Wednesday, an Egyptian Court has sparked fear that violence will further escalate having ruled that the country's former leader, Hosni Mubarak, could be released within days.

Mubarak, who was ousted during the 2011 Arab Spring, was backed by the powerful military are embroiled in the worst showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood in recent times.

On Monday, Brotherhood supporters killed 25 police officers, attacking them whilst off-duty.

On the same day, spiritual leader to Mohamed Morsi, the most recent overthrown leader, Mohamed Badie, was arrested by security forces, adding yet another Brotherhood leader to the growing number of Morsi backers in military custody.

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