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5 must-reads from around Africa

By Faith Karimi, CNN
January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1022 GMT (1822 HKT)
Motocyclists fly French flags alongside their nation's in Markala, Mali.
Motocyclists fly French flags alongside their nation's in Markala, Mali.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gambia kicks off a four-day work week next month
  • Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, imprisoned for war crimes, wants $25K a year
  • Reports: Eritrea had a coup attempt this week
  • Clash of the titans in the African Cup of Nations

Editor's note: Did we miss anything? We'd like to hear from you. Keep the conversation going by posting comments below, tweeting Faith Karimi at @faithcnn or posting on her Facebook page.

(CNN) -- While the French-led operation to flush out militants in Mali has dominated coverage recently, news from across the continent certainly hasn't stopped.

Here are five interesting stories you may have missed this week:

Imprisoned Charles Taylor wants $25K a year

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was convicted of war crimes last year, but he still wants his former government to show him the money.

Understanding Charles Taylor's sentence

Taylor, once one of West Africa's most powerful figures, is serving a 50-year sentence.

He wrote to the Liberian Senate, demanding an annual state pension of $25,000, according to media reports.

In the letter, he says he is entitled to the money as a former head of state, and threatened to sue if the government does not address his concerns, according to AllAfrica.com.

CNN attempts to reach the Liberian Senate were unsuccessful.

Taylor made history last year when he became the first former head of state to be convicted of war crimes since World War II.

An international tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, found him guilty of funding militants fighting a brutal civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone, which ended in 2002.

He has appealed his conviction; a judge heard oral arguments Tuesday and Wednesday.

Four-day work week in the Gambia

If you've always wanted a four-day work week, then the Gambia is the country for you.

The nation's president declared Friday a day of rest for public sector officials. The bonus day off, effective February 1, is in addition to the weekend.

"This new arrangement will allow Gambians to devote more time to prayers, social activities and agriculture -- going back to the land to grow what we eat and eat what we grow for a healthy and wealthy nation," the president said in a statement.

Gambia, a tiny nation of about 2 million, has a majority Muslim population.

Coup attempt in Eritrea?

Rebel soldiers raided the government information ministry and took over the airwaves in an apparent coup attempt in Eritrea , The New York Times reported.

The Horn of Africa nation is one of the most secretive in the world. Scant reports of the mutiny attempt circulated worldwide Tuesday, sparking confusion and uncertainty.

After a brief upheaval, it appeared the government had quashed the coup attempt.

"Eritrea is often called the North Korea of Africa because it is so isolated and authoritarian, with few friends and thousands of defectors in recent years," the Times said.

President Isaias Afewerki has led the nation for 20 years. He is notorious for dooming journalists to years in prison, a factor in the lack of information after the coup attempt in the capital of Asmara.

Eritrea has not had an independent press for over a decade, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Colonial past aside, Malians flying French flags

Broken limbs, broken lives in Mali

France is back to its former colony of Mali, and the streets are aflutter with flags of both nations alongside one another.

French troops intervened in the nation this month to help their African counterparts battle Islamist militants overrunning the north.

As a show of appreciation, Malians are flying French flags in cities nationwide, so much so that they are selling out, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

They are wearing them on their shoulders and waving them on the streets. They are perching them atop cars and motorbikes rolling down the streets.

Although African nations attained independence decades ago, colonial powers still wield a lot of influence.

"Africa may have achieved independence, but the old colonial ties are still important as France's decision to send troops to Mali to fight Islamist extremists shows," Richard Johnson said in an editorial on the National Post.

Europeans are strategic when it comes to determining what colonial ties to keep, according to the editorial.

"So it was shedding the direct authoritarian power at the barrel of a gun and replacing that with independence, but an independence that was, and is still to some extent, extremely dependent on the political and economic will of the former colonial masters," David McDonald, professor of the Global Development Studies at Queen's University, says in the Post editorial.

Heavyweights clash in African Cup of Nations

Nigeria takes on defending champions Zambia in Friday's Group C match, one of the most anticipated games in the African Cup of Nations.

In another battle of the heavyweights on the same day, Ethiopia will clash with Burkina Faso, a game that's sure to draw raucous crowds.

Ethiopia's football federation was fined this week after fans hurled objects onto the pitch to protest a red card given to their goalkeeper. That game with Zambia ended in a 1-1 draw.

Zambia won the Cup last year after a thrilling penalty shootout that ended in tears for star-studded Ivory Coast.

The win was sentimental because it occurred in Gabon, the same country where a tragic crash killed Zambian team players in 1993.

The Cup continues in South Africa until February 10.

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