News in brief

South Africa: Nelson Mandela diagnosed with lung infection

Former president Nelson Mandela is being treated in hospital for a lung infection, the South African government has confirmed.

Mr Mandela, 94, was taken to hospital at the weekend and tests have confirmed a “recurrence of a previous lung infection” says a presidential spokesperson, who added that Mr Mandela was responding to treatment. Mr Mandela has previously received treatment for early stage tuberculosis.

Mr Mandela’s illness has caused widespread anxiety in South Africa, where the former president and anti-apartheid leader is revered.

Mali: PM Cheick Modibo Diarra resigns

The Malian prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, has resigned on state television after being arrested by soldiers earlier on Monday.

Mr Diarra had been detained at his Bamako home by the soldiers, who were operating under the orders of Captain Amadou Sanogo, who led Mali’s military coup in March. Mr Diarra was made interim prime minister following the coup, where he had formed part of an uneasy triumvirate of power alongside Capt Sanogo and interim president Dioncounda Traore.

According to reports there have been mounting tensions between Mr Diarra and the military for a number of weeks, with the latter accusing the former prime minister of jeopardising the transition to full democracy.

In his resignation speech Mr Diarra said: “Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation, you are hoping for peace. It’s for this reason that I, Cheick Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government.” He did not give any further reason for his resignation.

The resignation will reportedly do little to quell rising unease in Mali, where vast swathes of northern territotries are controlled by hardline Islamist and Touareg rebels.

The United Nations recently warned that Mali is now “one of the potentially most explosive corners of the world”.

Egypt: President Mursi scraps controversial decree, but protests continue

President Mohammed Mursi has rescinded the highly contentious legislation that would have seen him given increased powers. The decree, which would have seen some challenges to his decisions banned, has caused huge upheaval in Egypt, with numerous protests in the Cairo and other major cities.

As the protests continue, Mr Mursi has asked the military to step in to provide security for a state constitutional referendum due to take place on Saturday, while Egypt has also asked the IMF to delay a crucial loan due to the ongoing disruption.

The BBC has reported that four separate groups of protestors were marching on the presidential palace on Tuesday. The opposition wants the government to scrap the referendum, saying that it does not safeguard human and women’s rights, while supporters of President Mursi have been marching in support of the referendum.

Several people have already died, and there is widespread fear of further violence if the various groups of protestors should meet.

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