Africa Media Review for April 10, 2018

Six Park Rangers Killed in DRC’s Virunga Wildlife Sanctuary
Six rangers were killed on Monday in an ambush in the Virunga National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s famed haven for gorillas and other endangered species, the park said. “We have sadly lost six rangers,” park spokesperson Joel Malembe told AFP, adding that the team was ambushed while driving between the sectors of Lulimba and Ishasha, near the border with Uganda. A seventh ranger, the team’s leader, was wounded, he said. The park, established in 1925, describes itself as Africa’s oldest national park. One of the most important conservation sites in the world, it covers 7 800 square kilometres, or three times the size of Luxembourg, along a swathe of eastern DRC abutting the border with Uganda and Rwanda. AFP

South Sudan Ex-Army Chief Forms Rebel Group
South Sudan’s former army chief of staff has formed a rebel movement, underscoring mounting resistance to the rule of incumbent president Salva Kiir. General Paul Malong Awan announced on Monday formation of South Sudan United Front, declaring it as a means through which he would work with compatriots to establish strong institutions than strongmen. “Our movement is a just and urgent call to our compatriots and a struggle to first arrest the carnage that has befell our country and secondly to steer us towards democracy and development , which are the cornerstones of nationhood, an African nationhood of democracy , development, equal citizenry, justice and freedom”, Awan announced through a statement released to the public. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Govt Approves IGAD’s Decision to Lift Machar’s House Arrest
South Sudan’s government has approved a report on the regional bloc’s decision to relocate the exiled rebel leader Riek Machar from his house arrest in South Africa apartment to another country outside the region. The government’s decision was reached last week on Friday, in a cabinet meeting chaired by the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir. Two weeks ago, the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) announced that it had resolved to release Machar from house arrest in South Africa. Africa News

UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on S. Sudan Meets Wednesday
The 2206 United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee will meet with its Panel of Experts on 11 April to discuss its final report and recommendations on war-hit South Sudan. The committee will also be briefed by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba. In April, the 15-member Council expects to receive a briefing on the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) followed by consultations. Council members also expect to receive the monthly report from the Secretary-General on violations of the Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA) or obstructions to UNMISS, as requested in resolution 2406. The mandate of UN peacekeeping mission expires on 15 March 2019. Sudan Tribune

Nigeria’s President Buhari Vows to Run Again in 2019 Elections 
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will seek another term in elections in February 2019, his office said on Monday, ending months of speculation about his plans after bouts of ill health. The 75-year-old spent much of last year in Britain being treated for an undisclosed ailment, triggering accusations by opposition groups and other critics that he was unfit for office and that his administration was beset by inertia. Many Nigerians jokingly call him “Baba Go-Slow” – though his supporters have given him the credit for Nigeria’s exit from recession in the second quarter of last year. France 24

Politics and Oil: The Unseen Drivers of Violence in Congo’s Ituri Province
The roots of the violence are framed in media reports as ethnic, but analysts and local observers say powerful political and commercial interests are what is really driving and exploiting the inter-communal tensions. Between 1999 and 2004, some 50,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Ituri in fighting between different communities, sometimes backed by Uganda and Rwanda (see our In-Depth coverage). After more than a decade of relative peace, violence flared again in December and resumed in February on an even larger scale. More than 300,000 people have been displaced and thousands of homes torched in at least 70 villages, according to ACAPS, an independent humanitarian information service. While there is little direct evidence, experts, Ituri residents, and the powerful Catholic clergy have all suggested that unseen forces are driving the violence. Jason Stearns, of the Congo Research Group, noted that inter-communal tensions had been “relatively well managed” since 2007. IRIN

Sierra Leone President Sets Up Cross Party Committee to Address Post Election Violence
Efforts to reconcile the newly elected Sierra Leone president, Julius Maada Bio and losing candidate Samura Kamara intensified over the weekend, amidst reports of clashes between the two main political parties. On Saturday, members of the Kamara’s All People’s Congress Party (APC) including the presidential candidate, his running mate and the secretary general of the party paid a courtesy visit to president Bio at his Juba Residence in Freetown. At the end of the meeting which addressed political violence and intimidation, the office of the president released a statement saying Bio had initiated a cross party committee to address political violence. Africa News

Calm Returns to Bangui after Military Operation
Calm is gradually returning to Bangui’s PK 5 neighbourhood following a military operation against armed groups in Central African Republic’s capital. Heavy gunfire erupted in Bangui’s PK5 neighourhood as UN peacekeepers and domestic security forces moved in to dismantle militia bases. “In Bangui, the whole city is calm, apart from PK 5, – inhabited mostly by muslims – where there are hotbeds of tension.You have self-defense groups raiding traders, oppose to the authority of the state.They have closed the police station in the 3rd district.They are hostile to the return of state authority in this area.This pushed the government with the support of the MINUSCA to bring order in this neighborhood. “  Africa News

The Handshake That Left Millions of Kenyans Confused
In our series of letters from African journalists, Joseph Warungu reflects on the plight of supporters of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga following his reconciliation last month with his bitter rival, President Uhuru Kenyatta. One of the games I enjoyed a lot in my childhood was called “kauka” in Kiswahili, which roughly translates as “freeze”. The idea was, you would go about your normal business until your play partner shouted “freeze”. This command forced you to stop dead in the middle of whatever you were doing, and keep very still until your friend “unfroze” you. BBC

US Special Operations Troops Launch War Games in Niger with Partner Forces
U.S. special operations forces kicked off their largest exercise in Africa on Monday in Niger, a country that is at the center of a growing counterterrorism mission. The focus of the two-week Flintlock 2018, which involves eight African and 12 Western countries, is the day-to-day threats faced by local forces on the ground, the top U.S. commander of special operations troops in Africa told reporters before the exercise. “The scenarios will be based on real-world threats of the violent extremist organizations currently threatening our partner nations in the greater Sahel,” a belt of territory between the Sahara Desert and the Sudanian Savanna, said Maj. Gen. J. Marcus Hicks, head of Special Operations Command Africa. The emphasis has shifted from a focus on tactical proficiency of small units to the command and control of joint forces, he said. Stars and Stripes

The Struggle to Involve Women in the Peacekeeping Process
Hailed as a milestone by women’s’ rights activists at the time, United Nations (UN) resolution 1325 calls for women to take an equal role at all stages of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. This includes representation in peacekeeping operations or peace talks. At the same time, it also calls for the protection of women in conflict, who are often victims of sexual violence, rape or enslavement. But 18 years down the line, the initial enthusiasm that greeted the adoption of the text by the Security Council seems to have fizzled out. “Women can and must play an active role in the prevention of conflict, at negotiation tables, during the reconstruction period and during the reconciliation processes after conflicts have come to an end,” German foreign minister Heiko Maas told participants at a two-day conference at Berlin’s Foreign Office. Deutsche Welle

African Migrants in Limbo after Israel Zigzags on Deportation
About 40,000 Africans in Israel are facing an uncertain future as Israel resumes efforts to deport them. African migrants have been on a roller coaster ride since last week, when the Israeli government did an about-face. First, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel had reached a compromise with the U.N. Refugee Agency. Under the deal, some 16,000 Africans would be sent to Western countries, while more than 20,000 would be allowed to remain in Israel. The migrants were elated, but not for long. Netanyahu abruptly cancelled the agreement the next day, after his right-wing coalition partners demanded that all the Africans be deported. The government rejects claims the Africans are refugees, describing them as economic migrants and “infiltrators.”  VOA

Ethiopia Govt Faces Hard-Hitting U.S. Congress Resolution 128 Vote
The United States Congress will finally vote on a human rights resolution against the Ethiopian government today as announced by a Congressman deeply involved in the process. Rep. Mike Coffman who represents Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District tweeted last week that the House Resolution 128 will be on the floor of the House of Representatives on April 10. He had in March tweeted about how passing the resolution will mean: “The fight for respect of human rights & inclusive governance in Ethiopia continues.”  Africa News

The US Could Lift Sanctions on Zimbabwe — But Only If New President Mnangagwa Holds ‘Free and Fair’ Elections
Two U.S. senators have met with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa as part of an exploratory trip which could lead to the U.S. lifting sanctions on the once-pariah African state. U.S. Senators Christopher Coons and Jeff Flake’s visit to the Zimbabwean capital of Harare over the weekend was to “explore ways of strengthening the bilateral relationship,” said a tweet by the U.S. embassy there. The two politicians met with the new president, as well as members of the opposition and civil society. Coons and Flake, both on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are behind a proposed amendment to the U.S.’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA). The bill details the steps which Zimbabwe must take for U.S. sanctions to be lifted, namely the holding of free and fair elections. CNBC

Somali Speaker Resigns Ahead of Impeachment Bid: MPs
The speaker of Somalia’s parliament resigned on Monday after weeks of political turmoil over efforts by the executive to have him impeached, lawmakers said. Members of parliament told AFP that the speaker had quit ahead of a planned session to discuss the motion of impeachment, which came after around a hundred 100 MPs signed a motion of no-confidence against him in mid-March. “The deputy speaker read a statement and said that speaker Mohamed Sheik Osman Jawari has resigned. This has pleased the lawmakers because it ended the long-standing conflict,” said MP Dahir Amin Jesow, who backed the motion. “We thank him and appreciate that he has decided to eventually leave. Within two weeks, there should be an election for a new speaker under the constitution,” Dahir Amin Jesow, a lawmaker said during a press conference. AFP

Privacy at Stake as Uganda Targets Telecom Users in Bid to Stop Crime
In its efforts to stem nonstop crime in the country, the Ugandan government through the communications sector regulator, is putting pressure on telcos to obtain subscribers’ personal data, and also wants direct access to their private communications — a move widely seen as an infringement on citizens rights. The government through the Uganda Communications Commission is also pushing telcos, at their cost, to create links to the National Identification and Regulatory Authority (NIRA) — the body that maintains the National Identification Register. The government is hoping these actions will yield information that will enable it go after suspects involved in crimes such as kidnapping and murders which continue unabated across the country. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones