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When most African countries gained independence from European colonial powers in the 1950s and 1960s, Africa’s founding fathers wanted the entire continent to become one economy as a way of achieving self-reliance and better negotiating power in international markets.

The East African Community’s one set of regulations, called the Common Market Protocol, officially came into effect Thursday, but each country still has to change a wide range of national laws including labor, taxation and immigration to conform to the protocol.


Sect leader threatens retaliation

LAGOS | A leader of a radical Muslim sect that started a rampage that left 700 people dead in Nigeria is said to have issued a videotaped threat calling for new violence as the one-year anniversary of their attack nears.

Imam Abubakar Shekau, a sect deputy whom police claimed to have killed during the July 2009 violence, told a Nigerian journalist that he had taken over as leader of the Boko Haram sect. Mr. Shekau told the reporter that he suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh during the fighting, but had been rescued by “fellow believers and protected by Allah.”

“I have the intention to retaliate,” Mr. Shekau said in the local Hausa language.

The Associated Press could not immediately verify the authenticity of the recording seen by Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper Thursday. Borno state police commander Ibrahim Abdu dismissed the videotape, but said security officials would take precautions as the anniversary of last year’s violence draws near.


New tobacco tax aims to curb smoking

CAIRO | Egyptian smokers saw prices surge Thursday by as much as 100 percent as the government slapped new taxes on tobacco products in a bid to curb smoking and raise money for public health programs in the Arab world’s most populous nation.

As part of a new law passed in May, but only being implemented now, the taxes raise the price of cigarettes by as much as 40 percent, while the tobacco used in Egypt’s ubquitous water pipes, known locally as shisha, now costs twice as much.

The law is part of government efforts to curb smoking, which many Egyptians maintain is one of the few remaining affordable pleasures in a country where rising prices have sparked protests over the past few months.