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Mauritanians have voted to abolish the upper house of their parliament, the Senate, in a controversial referendum that was boycotted by the opposition.

The result is seen as a victory for President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is accused by his rivals of trying to extend his mandate, which he denies.

He called the referendum after the Senate rejected his proposals to change the constitution.

A special counsel investigating claims of Russian meddling in the US election has reportedly empanelled a grand jury. The US media reports suggest Robert Mueller's inquiry has taken the first step towards possible criminal charges.

According to Reuters news agency, the jury has issued subpoenas over a June 2016 meeting between President Donald Trump's son and a Russian lawyer.

The president has poured scorn on any suggestion his team colluded with the Kremlin to beat Hillary Clinton.

A large fire has ripped through a residential skyscraper in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates - for the second time in two years.

Footage posted on social media showed flames spreading up the Torch Tower, and burning debris falling down.

The authorities later said that civil defence workers "successfully evacuated" the building and the blaze was brought under control.

A massive Buddha statue weighing about half a tonne has been stolen from a temple in the Botswana capital, Gaborone, police say. The Buddhist community in the city say they are devastated by the loss and have appealed for help to retrieve it.

The bronze statue was donated by Thailand in 1996 and is 1.5m (5ft) tall and 1.2m wide. It would require at least eight people to carry it.

Local people say the thieves may have thought the statue was made from gold.

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