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In Tanzania, getting impregnated also means getting expelled from school

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MARY (not her real name) was 16 when she became pregnant. The father sold chips by the road near her home in northern Tanzania. She felt special when he gave her money. But when her belly swelled, he ran off. At school she was caned in front of teachers, pupils and her own shamefaced parents. Then she was expelled. “I would not have had sex”, she says, “if I knew you could get pregnant after doing it once.” A quarter of Tanzanian girls aged 15-19 are pregnant or have given birth. The government’s response is to kick them out of school for good. Official statistics record that between 2003 and 2011, more than 55,000 girls dropped out because of pregnancy. This is surely a vast underestimate; cases are often recorded as simple truancy. The main way back into education is through vocationa

Congo’s Kabila chases an unconstitutional, unpopular re-election

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A veteran of two types of campaign LAST month residents of Binza Delvaux, a neighbourhood of Kinshasa, the lively capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, awoke to discover a huge poster in the local market. It showed Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, with the caption “Our Candidate”. Around the same time, crude advertisements started appearing on television stations praising the “indispensable” Mr Kabila. In cities across the country, T-shirts bearing the president’s face have been handed out at free concerts put on by his party, the People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD). Congo, a dysfunctional, vast country of perhaps 80m people, is catching election fever. This is odd. According to Congo’s constitution Mr Kabila, who has been president since the murder of his fat

The battle begins for Hodeida, Yemen’s lifeline

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THE war in Yemen has entered what may be a decisive phase. Early on June 13th convoys of Yemeni fighters, backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), advanced north along the coast towards Hodeida. The city is held by the Houthis, Shia rebels who seized the capital, Sana’a, in 2015. Emirati jets and warships supported the attackers. One aid-worker counted more than 30 air strikes in the first half-hour of fighting. Hodeida is Yemen’s main port. It handles the humanitarian aid on which four out of five Yemenis depend. Prolonged fighting could leave millions at risk of starvation. The Saudi-led coalition promises to keep the port operational, but it could be damaged either in combat or by sabotage (the Houthis reportedly placed landmines around the city). Saudi Arabia says

Burnt votes and an election recount might plunge Iraq into crisis

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Voters’ wishes to ashes WHAT would politicians the world over like to do when they lose an election? Annul the results and burn the ballots, of course. In Iraq such dreams come true. On June 6th outgoing MPs voted to hold a recount of Iraq’s election and sack the head of the electoral commission. They were furious that a populist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, won the poll, held in May. Then, on June 10th, a warehouse in Baghdad containing a million ballots went up in flames. Firefighters claim to have saved most of them, but the equipment for counting the votes was destroyed. Weary of the democratic process, Mr Sadr and his rivals are again readying their militias. An arms cache that exploded under a mosque in Mr Sadr’s Baghdad stronghold killed about 20 residents and brought his militi

Why Arab states have lots of expensive villas

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THE billboards almost seem to taunt motorists crawling through traffic below. They hawk luxurious town houses and villas with sumptuous pools in compounds that sound like Californian suburbs: Palm Hills, Eastown, Allegria. “Welcome to the greener side of life,” oozes one sign. But this is not California. It is Cairo, Egypt’s chaotic and crowded capital. The road is lined with endless rows of ramshackle redbrick buildings. Most are unfinished, their innards exposed, steel bars poking from the rooftops. The greener side of life is many kilometres away. The drive along Cairo’s ring road is one sign of a paradoxical problem. Egypt has both a building boom and a housing shortage. At the high end, business is roaring. Developers are building tens of thousands of homes in upscale compounds, dr