Africa Media Review for April 10, 2017

Q&A: Lessons in Preventing Genocide in Africa since Rwanda
Each April, the international community commemorates the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, reflecting on the vow to “never again” allow such an atrocity to occur. However, mass violence has been on the rise in Africa. The African Union and United Nations have both warned about the onset of genocide in Burundi and South Sudan. Mass atrocities were also documented in the Central African Republic in 2015 and have recently flared in the Democratic Republic of Congo. What explains this resurgence in violence? And what are some key lessons that might be applied in addressing them—and in preventing future ones? Genocide scholar Samantha Lakin reflects on these questions and current efforts to prevent genocide on the continent. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Preventing Genocide: Africa’s Evolving Normative and Institutional Framework
This week, the world commemorates the 23rd anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, during which between 800,000 and 1 million ethnic Tutsis were killed in 100 days. Each year, we remember those that perished and reflect on how to prevent a similar tragedy repeating itself, to uphold the simple yet weighty call of “never again!” The commemoration is particularly poignant this year as the continent faces unfolding crises in South Sudan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic that portend a return of genocide. Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on Genocide Adama Dieng recently called the world’s attention to the growing risk of genocide in South Sudan, and the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan underscored the call for action. In Burundi, both the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination and the UN Secretary General have expressed concern and condemned reported ethnic profiling in the civil service and increasing cases of hate speech, incitement to ethnic violence, and the systematic use of rape as a tool of intimidation. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Palm Sunday Bombs Rock Egyptian Churches, as State of Emergency is Declared
Moments after the explosion rocked her church Sunday morning, Mona Faiez’s phone rang. It was her sister, checking to see if she was alive. She was unhurt; she wasn’t at the church, where 27 now lay dead and scores more were injured. But alerted by the call, she rushed toward it. These were her fellow parishioners, her closest friends. “What kind of human could do this,” she asked, “and why?” Less than three hours later, a suicide bomber detonated himself at the entrance of Saint Mark’s Cathedral in the northern city of Alexandria, killing 16 and injuring many more. The dead included three police officers who stopped the bomber from entering the site. The head of Egypt’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, was presiding over the Palm Sunday mass at the church, also packed with worshipers, but he was unharmed. The Washington Post

Egypt: Isis Claims Responsibility for Coptic Church Bombings
Isis has claimed responsibility for two bomb blasts that struck Coptic churches in Egypt, killing at least 47 people as members of the country’s largest religious minority celebrated Palm Sunday. An explosion in the city of Tanta, about 56 miles (90km) north of Cairo killed 29 and injured 71 as they prayed at the Mar Girgis church according to the Egyptian health ministry. A second blast struck the Egyptian port city of Alexandria three hours later, killing 18 and wounding 35. The bombings were the latest in a series of attacks on Egypt’s Christian minority, who account for about 10% of the population and have been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists. The attacks come weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit Egypt. The Guardian

Attacks on Christians in Egypt Undercut Sisi’s Promise of Security
Rattling a country already wrestling with a faltering economy and deepening political malaise, two suicide bombings that killed 44 people at Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday raised the specter of increased sectarian bloodshed led by Islamic State militants. The attacks constituted one of the deadliest days of violence against Christians in Egypt in decades and presented a challenge to the authority of the country’s leader, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who promptly declared a three-month state of emergency. Security is the central promise of Mr. Sisi, a strongman leader who returned on Friday from a triumphant visit to the United States, where President Trump hailed him as a bulwark against Islamist violence. Mr. Trump made it clear that he was willing to overlook the record of mass detention, torture and extrajudicial killings during Mr. Sisi’s rule in favor of his ability to combat the Islamic State and defend minority Christians.  The New York Times

Alarming Rise in Attacks on South Sudan Civilians, UN Says
Civilians and aid workers in South Sudan have seen an alarming rise in attacks and harassment in the past week, the United Nations said Saturday, as the East African country faces both civil war and famine. The top UN humanitarian official in South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, said in a statement that both government and opposition forces in Upper Nile region beat aid workers in separate incidents. “Humanitarians are in this country to save lives. It is beyond reckoning that they continue to be killed, harassed and abused despite our repeated calls for action,” Owusu said. He also called an attack by government forces on the southern town of Pajok that killed several dozen people “reprehensible.” The attack sent thousands of people fleeing into neighboring Uganda, worsening what has become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. News 24

South Sudan – The World’s Newest Nation in Trouble. Interview with Kate Almquist Knopf
Not long after South Sudan’s long fought for independence, everything started to go wrong. Parts of the country are now in famine and there is also talk of possible genocide. Just this week hundreds of South Sudanese refugees have been fleeing across the border into Uganda saying they’ve been attacked by their own government forces, with many others killed. So how can we fix things now? Australian Broadcasting Company

UN Images: 18,000 Destroyed Structures in South Sudan Region
United Nations satellite images obtained by The Associated Press show at least 18,000 structures have been destroyed in the Yei area of South Sudan. It is one of the most significant caches of evidence of widespread destruction in the country’s civil war. The Yei region has become an epicenter of fighting between government and rebels after a peace deal collapsed in July. The U.N. has highlighted the area for its risk of genocide, and an AP reporter late last year during a visit to Yei saw charred bodies with their arms bound. The U.N. satellite images taken last month show how population centers like Yei, Morobo and Bazi have been mostly devastated, while the damage reaches deep into the countryside. In parts of Kaya and Morobo towns, nearly every building is in ruins. The Washington Post

South Sudan Insists Protection Forces Should be Only from the Region
South Sudanese government has reiterated its objection to the participation of peacekeepers from outside the region in the Regional Protection Force (RPF), claiming it goes against the resolution of the United Nations Security Council. Presidential Adviser on Security Affairs Tut Kew Gatluak told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that troops participating in the additional force should be only decided last August. “The resolution of the Security Council is clear. It calls for deployment of regional protection force. This simply means the force to be deployed should come from countries in the region,” said Presidential Adviser on Security Affairs Tut Kew Gatluak. “If you bring troops from countries outside the region, then it means something else, and the language has to be revised and this will be another process,” he further. Sudan Tribune

Somalia’s New Military Chief Survives Bombing that Kills 15
Somalia’s new military leader survived an assassination attempt that killed at least 15 people Sunday in Mogadishu, the nation’s capital, police said. Police Capt. Osman Mohamed said to CNN the attack was directed against Ahmed Mohamed Irfid, who was appointed three days ago in a major security shake-up. The leader was unharmed when the bomber attempted to drive into the convey of military leaders but missed and instead rammed into a minibus on a busy street between the military academy and the Ministry of Defense headquarters. “When we arrived at the scene, we counted bodies of 15 people, most of them were severed,” Mire Aden, a local police chief, said to Al Jazeera. “A number of soldiers are among the dead.” UPI

Three Killed in Mogadishu Army Camp Attack: Military
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Mogadishu army camp Monday, killing at least three soldiers a day after the army chief escaped an attack on his convoy, military sources said. “The suicide bomber was stopped at the main entrance and he blew himself up. Three soldiers died and several others were wounded,” said soldier Abdukadir Farah, who was inside the camp at the time of the attack. Farah said there had been a meeting of military officials underway at the camp. But it was not clear if army chief Ahmed Mohamed Jimale was among them, he said. Military official Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Abdirahman told AFP the attacker had been “disguised as a member of the military” to gain access to the training camp.

US Expected to Return 4,000 Somali Migrants to Their Homeland
Somalia’s U.S. ambassador says his embassy has learned that U.S. immigration agents are planning to deport about 4,000 Somali nationals now living in the United States. “We learned through immigration sources that the total number of the Somalis that are in the books of [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to be removed are close to 4,000,” Ahmed Isse Awad told VOA’s Somali service Saturday. “Most of them are not in detention centers.” Since Somalia’s embassy in Washington reopened in November 2015, the ambassador said, about 170 Somali immigrants who either ran afoul of U.S. law or had their asylum applications rejected have been deported to Mogadishu, the Somali capital. VOA

DR Congo: Bruno Tshibala Appointed New Prime Minister
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has appointed Bruno Tshibala as the new prime minister of the power-sharing government. Mr Tshibala will be leader until presidential elections later this year. He was expelled from Congo’s largest opposition party, the UDPS, last month after contesting the designation of successors to veteran leader Etienne Tshisekedi who died in February. Mr Tshibala’s appointment is likely to further divide Mr Kabila’s opponents. Talks to negotiate his exit from power broke down last week. BBC

Priests in Congo ‘Flee to the Forest’ Amid Wave of Violence Against the Church
Congo’s bishops have said Catholics are facing a new wave of violence following the collapse of a Church mediation plan, and in some places Church leaders have fled to the forest. In late March, the bishops abandoned attempts to arrange a government-opposition power-sharing settlement and, within days, violence erupted in eastern Congo. “The militias are continuing their macabre operations – each passing day sees new killings and burning of religious buildings,” said a statement on the bishops’ conference website. “The worst affected is the Diocese of Luebo, where the bishop’s house, library, sisters’ convent and vehicles have been burned, and priests and religious have fled to the forest with other inhabitants. The situation is harsh and unbearable.” Catholic Herald

Tens of Thousands March Against Jacob Zuma in South Africa
South Africa’s political crisis has intensified as tens of thousands of people joined demonstrations across the country calling for Jacob Zuma to step down, police fired rubber bullets in scattered clashes and a second ratings agency downgraded the country to “junk” status. Thousands marched through the rainy centre of Johannesburg, the commercial capital, on Friday amid a heavy police presence. A large protest also took place in front of parliament in Cape Town. Smaller crowds of a few hundred people protested on suburban street corners and bridges in the main cities and towns. The Guardian

Mali, France Rule Out Talks with Jihadists after Attacks
France and Mali on Friday ruled out any talks with jihadist groups responsible for repeated attacks on Malian and foreign forces, rejecting calls to bring them to the negotiating table. A peace conference in Mali last Sunday called for talks with the leaders of two violent Islamist groups. Militants linked to Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghali have claimed dozens of attacks on Malian, United Nations and French troops operating in Mali’s desert north. “They are terrorists,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters. “How do you negotiate with terrorists? This is a fight with no ambiguity.” Abdramane Sylla, Mali’s minister for the diaspora and migration who stood in for the absent Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, was equally adamant. Reuters

Mali President Announces New Prime Minister
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced Saturday that his brother, Prime Minister Modibo Keita, has been replaced by Abdoulaye Idrissa Maiga by way of presidential decree. Maiga was serving as defense minister of Mali. The decree stated that the previous prime minister, Modibo Keita, had offered his resignation on Friday. Keita had served as prime minister since January 2015. Maiga is a close ally of President Keita and held his defense minister position since September 2016. Mali has suffered from political instability since a coup d’etat in March 2012 overthrew its longtime president, Amadou Toumani Touré. Deutsche Welle

The Gambia: Barrow’s Party Wins Most Seats in Parliamentary Poll
The party of President Adama Barrow has won a majority in The Gambia’s parliament, in the first free and fair election since long-time leader Yahya Jammeh left power. Al Jazeera

US and West Africa Join Forces on Maritime Security
‘This year’s US-led Obangame Express, a military exercise designed to help countries along the western coast of Africa counter illicit sea-based activity, ended last week with a symposium in Abidjan. Ivorian Navy captain Yeman Sran Achille said the annual training event, which dates back to 2011, showed the United States (US) Navy’s commitment in the Gulf of Guinea. But what do both parties gain through foreign military presence in this part of Africa? As its name suggests (‘Obangame’ means ‘to be together’ in Fang, a language spoken in south Cameroon and other parts of Central Africa), the exercise focuses on cooperation and collaboration among the various maritime security actors. Countries in West and Central Africa benefit from the US’s expertise and sponsorship of training for navy staff in the fight against maritime threats. The Obangame Express also evaluates the implementation of the common maritime strategy set up in 2013 in Cameroon when the Yaounde Code of Conduct was adopted. ISS

Benin President Abandons Plan to Reduce Number of Presidential Terms
Benin President Patrice Talon said he has abandoned plans to reduce the presidential mandate from two terms to one, after parliament rejected a draft bill to change the constitution. Talon, who came to power in a peaceful election one year ago, promised to reduce presidential terms from two five-year terms to one six-year term, in a bid to reduce what he called presidential “complacency” in the tiny West African country. But parliament on Tuesday voted down a bill for a referendum to reform the constitution, which included the provision to reduce presidential terms. “The revision of the constitution is finished,” Talon told reporters on Saturday. “The single mandate is over.” Reuters

Uganda Arrests Academic Stella Nyanzi for Criticising President’s Wife
Uganda has arrested a prominent academic for criticising the wife of President Yoweri Museveni on social media, police said Saturday. Stella Nyanzi criticised Janet Museveni, who is education minister, on Facebook after the government reneged on a campaign pledge to supply free sanitary pads to schoolgirls struggling to afford hygiene products. Police spokesman Emilian Kayima confirmed that Nyanzi was taken into custody Friday and would appear in court Monday in Kampala on charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication under a 2011 law governing computer misuse. The Standard

Thousands Protest in Senegal Against President Sall
Thousands of people took to the streets of the Senegalese capital Dakar on Friday to protest against President Macky Sall and call for the release of political opponents. The protesters, many dressed in black, demanded the release of Dakar Mayor Khalifa Sall, who had been seen as a presidential candidate for the Socialist Party. He has been held in preventive detention since March 7, facing charges of fraud, misappropriation of public funds, criminal conspiracy and money laundering. As police stood by to maintain order, the crowd chanted slogans calling for those charges to be dropped. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones