Africa Media Review for April 11, 2017

South Sudan Residents Say Army Carrying Out Ethnic Killings
Targeted ethnic killings and killings of civilians by government soldiers spread panic throughout the western town of Wau on Monday, residents told The Associated Press. A government spokesman could not confirm the violence but the U.N. mission confirmed killings in Wau. U.N. officials have repeatedly warned that South Sudan is at risk of genocide. Soldiers from South Sudan’s army on Monday morning singled out civilians of the Fertit and Luo ethnic groups in retaliation for a rebel attack on government forces, residents said. “They killed children, students going to school. When they find anyone in the road they kill them,” said one resident of Wau, who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisal. The government forces coordinated with cattle keepers of the Dinka tribe to go house to house in search of civilians of the other ethnic groups, attacking them with guns and machetes, he said. AP

Two South Sudan Army Generals Killed in Clashes with Rebels
Two senior South Sudan army (SPLA) officers were killed in renewed confrontations with the armed opposition forces (SPLA-IO) in the Western Bahr el Ghazal region on Monday, multiple military and local officials told Sudan Tribune Monday. The head of operations at the SPLA’s 5th division headquarters in the area, Brig. Gen. Peter Par and his counterpart for logistics were reportedly killed while returning from an operation. “It is unfortunate that comrade Abraham Bol Chut Dhuol has been killed along with Brigadier General Peter Par. You know Peter was chief of military operations and Bol was the head of our logistics here. They were killed when the convoy in which we were traveling came under attack,” a military officer said. Sudan Tribune

UN Agency Warns of Risk of Mass Starvation in Africa, Yemen
The U.N.’s refugee agency says the risk of mass deaths from starvation is growing in parts of east Africa, Yemen and Nigeria due to a combination of conflict, drought and a shortfall in humanitarian aid funding to help beleaguered populations cope. UNHCR says some 20 million people, more than one-fifth of them refugees, live in areas affected by drought. The agency is raising its projections for displacement from South Sudan and Somalia. Spokesman Adrian Edwards cited a “particularly pernicious combination” of factors in the areas, pointing to the “world’s biggest humanitarian crisis” in Yemen, conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia, and violence and instability caused by radical group Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Lake Chad basin. UNHCR said 7 million people in northern Nigeria are struggling with food insecurity. AP

Rage at Abandonment By the State as Egypt’s Christians Dig Graves after Bombing
Egyptian Christians wept with rage on Monday as they recovered the bodies of loved ones killed in twin church bombings, furious at a state they believe will no longer protect them from neighbours bent on their murder. Forty-four people were killed in the attacks on Palm Sunday, a joyous festival a week before Easter when Christians celebrate the triumphant arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. At Tanta University hospital morgue, desperate families were trying to get inside to search for loved ones. Security forces held them back to stop overcrowding, enraging the crowd. “Why are you preventing us from entering now? Where were you when all this happened?” shouted one women looking for a relative. Some appeared in total shock, their faces pale and unmoving. Others wept openly as women wailed in mourning. Reuters

Pope Still Plans Egypt Visit Despite Bombings
Pope Francis will visit Egypt as planned this month despite the weekend bombings of two Coptic Christian churches that killed 44 people, a Vatican official said. “There is no doubt the Holy Father will maintain his offer to go to Egypt” on April 28 and 29, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, the Holy See’s number three, said in an interview published in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Monday. “What happened caused disorder and tremendous suffering, but it cannot stop the pope’s mission of peace,” he added. Sunday’s bombings in churches in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and Tanta north of Cairo were the deadliest attacks on the Coptic Christian community in recent memory and were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group. News 24

At Least 10 Killed in Two Bomb Attacks in Somali Capital
A suicide bomber wearing army uniform killed at least nine soldiers at a camp in Somalia’s capital on Monday, authorities said, and a government official was killed by a bomb planted in his car. Al Qaeda-linked insurgent group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the military training camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu. “An armed suicide bomber with an explosive jacket entered the camp and blew up himself after firing at the soldiers,” police officer Nur Hussein said. A military colonel, asking not to be named, told Reuters: “The suicide bomber blew himself up minutes after the training. At least nine soldiers died and a dozen others were injured. Reuters

Trump to Sell Attack Planes to Nigeria for Boko Haram Fight
The Trump administration will move forward with the sale of high-tech aircraft to Nigeria for its campaign against Boko Haram Islamic extremists despite concerns over abuses committed by the African nation’s security forces, according to U.S. officials. Congress is expected to receive formal notification within weeks, setting in motion a deal with Nigeria that the Obama administration had planned to approve at the very end of Barack Obama’s presidency. The arrangement will call for Nigeria to purchase up to 12 Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft with sophisticated targeting gear for nearly $600 million, one of the officials said. The officials were not authorized to discuss the terms of the sale publicly and requested anonymity to speak about internal diplomatic conversations. AP

Nigeria’s Military Frees 593 People Cleared of Boko Haram Ties
Nigeria’s military on Monday released 593 people after clearing them of having ties with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, a spokesman said. The military has arrested thousands in its fight against the insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in the northeast, now in its eighth year, which has killed over 20,000 people and forced more than two million to flee their homes. The chief of army staff directed that those arrested be “released unconditionally if found not to have anything to do with insurgency or Boko Haram”, said Brigadier General Abdulraman Kuliya. He added that the 593 who were freed had been arrested in multiple locations, held for varying lengths of time up to three months and were comprised of elderly people, men, women and children. Reuters

Niger Security Forces Kill 57 Boko Haram Militants
Niger’s Ministry of Defense says security forces killed at least 57 Boko Haram Islamic extremists who had attacked a village in the eastern Diffa region overnight. The ministry said Monday that 15 soldiers and two civilians were wounded in fighting with the extremists in Gueskerou, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Diffa. It said Niger security forces also seized a significant amount of arms and ammunition left behind by the militants. Spokesman Col. Toure Abdoul Aziz said the Ministry of Defense, in the name of the president, congratulated security forces for gains against Nigerian-based Boko Haram extremists, whose seven-year insurgency has killed at least 20,000 people. AP

Niger’s Top University Shut Down by Authorities Amid Violent Clashes over Student Protest
The university campus of Niger’s capital Niamey was shut down “until further notice” on 10 April following violent clashes between students and security forces. Twenty students were reported hurt in the protests where security forces fired tear gas. Students demonstrations are now allowed in the country, but tens of thousands of students took to the streets to demand better living and studying conditions. The Union des scolaires nigériens (Niger Students Union, USN) encouraged some 23,000 students to join demonstrations both in Niamey and elsewhere in the country. In Niamey, pupils and students quickly occupied roads and paralysed traffic near the campus, erecting barricades with tree trunks and rocks and setting fire to tyres. International Business Times

Congo Protests Fall Flat as Opposition to Kabila Sputters
Opposition calls for mass protests against Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila fell flat on Monday when only a handful of people showed up, undermining efforts to oust him after his refusal to quit on expiry of his mandate last year. The sparse turnout in the capital Kinshasa and other major cities pointed to the opposition’s waning credibility and persistent difficulties convincing Congolese to risk frequently deadly crackdowns by security services. The normally hectic streets of Kinshasa, a city of more than 10 million people, were nearly deserted on Monday as the police patrolled heavily and fearful residents stayed home. VOA

DRC Opposition Protests Banned
DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa was empty on Monday after the government warned it would break up opposition rallies. The opposition is accusing President Joseph Kabila of not sticking to a power-sharing deal. The usually bustling streets of Kinshasa were relatively calm and many business premises remained closed following a government decision to ban opposition demonstrations. DR Congo’s largest opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), had called on supporters to carry out a nation-wide demonstration against President Joseph Kabila on Monday. Public transportation was also limited as private buses chose to stay away. The public-run buses were however operational. Scores of military and anti-riot police were deployed at one of the biggest intersections near Kinshasa University. Deutsch Welle

Muted Start to Election Campaigning in Algeria
Campaigning for Algeria’s May 4 parliamentary elections got off to a muted start on Sunday, with the public showing little interest in the poll despite government efforts to persuade voters to participate. It’s the first election since the legislature’s powers were boosted by amendments to the constitution last year. Over the next three weeks, 12,000 candidates will vie for 462 seats in the People’s National Assembly, with 23 million Algerians registered to vote. But in Algiers, few parties posted candidate lists on the boards reserved for them. Al Jazeera

Recording Puts Shell’s Nigerian Oil Deal Under a Harsh Light
Just hours after the Dutch police raided the offices of Royal Dutch Shell last year as part of an investigation into a controversial $1.3 billion Nigerian oil deal, Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of the oil giant, placed a worried call to its chief financial officer. The investigators were “quite forceful and brusque” and “rattled a few people,” Mr. van Beurden told the finance chief at the time, Simon Henry, when Mr. Henry returned his call. But Mr. van Beurden said he was also worried about something else: Shell’s own investigators had discovered internal emails that could cast the company in an even more negative light and widen the investigation by drawing in the United States law enforcement authorities. In what he called “loose chatter,” Mr. van Beurden told Mr. Henry — who had been on leave — that the emails among employees contained language like, “I wonder who gets a payoff here.” The New York Times

South Africa: Last Week’s Marches Were Racist, Says Embattled President
President Jacob Zuma on Monday described last week’s protests demanding that he resign as racist. Tens of thousands of demonstrators, angered by years of corruption scandals, record unemployment and slowing economic growth under Zuma’s rule, marched through cities on Friday. Zuma’s recent sacking of finance minister Pravin Gordhan unleashed a fresh bout of public frustration, as well as unprecedented criticism from senior ANC figures, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. The largely peaceful protests in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town attracted a diverse mix of South Africans, but Zuma railed against those who participated. Mail and Guardian

South Africa Pays the Price of State Capture
When former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas made the startling claim that President Jacob Zuma’s associates, the Guptas, had offered him the position of finance minister and R600 million, the term ‘state capture’ suddenly found its way into South African conversation. The public protector used the term in her 2016 State of Capture report into Jonas’ and others’ allegations regarding the influence of the Gupta family on the cabinet and tender processes. The report detailed instances of the Guptas’ interaction with then Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and others, like former ANC (African National Congress) member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor, who also blew the whistle on the Guptas. Political turbulence has been growing since Zuma ‘went rogue’ and fired the well-respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan as part of a cabinet reshuffle on 30 March. Zuma has provided conflicting and vague reasons for his decision and did not consult the ANC about it. ISS

Will Talk, Won’t talk: Inside the Secret Push for Dialogue Between Museveni, Besigye
The last private conversation between President Yoweri Museveni and Kizza Besigye, a telephone call in 1999, was terse and inconclusive. Besigye was awaiting his release from the Army where he was a colonel, but relations between the two men had already frayed. President Museveni wanted to know his former close ally and personal doctor’s future plans. Besigye said he was retiring to private business and farming. When the call ended President Museveni was convinced he had not been told the full story, aides he spoke to later said. He was right. Less than two years later, in 2001, the two men faced off in an election that, to this day, remains memorable for the violence and malpractices that came to define it. The East African

Migrants from West Africa Being ‘Sold in Libyan Slave Markets’
West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home. Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labour. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalised that people are being traded in public. “The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.” The Guardian

Sub-Saharans Shun Europe to Put Down Roots in Morocco
[…] Once merely a stepping stone for those desperately chasing their European dream, the north African country has now become the destination of choice for many migrants. The Moroccan government has implemented two legalisation programmes, in 2014 and again last year, encouraging sub-Saharans to apply for residency papers. The most recent initiative saw nearly 20,000 migrants apply. Niamke, who has been in Morocco for three years and now has legal status, is one of those who has benefited. “They’ve given us a present, they’ve given us papers and that’s good,” she says, comparing Morocco favourably to countries such as France, where she says it is more difficult to gain legal status and where racism is rife. The Irish Times

Thousands Displaced as Police Raze Lagos’ Otodo Gbame
Thousands of people in Nigeria’s Lagos state were left homeless on Sunday after police stormed an informal fishing settlement and set fire to their homes, according to rights groups and residents. Community members of the Otodo Gbame riverine community said armed police fired bullets and tear gas indiscriminately, forcing them onto canoes in the water as their houses were levelled. One man was shot in the neck and later died, residents and Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), a Lagos-based group working with the community, told Al Jazeera. The forceful eviction followed the destruction of the homes of more than 4,700 people in the settlement in mid-March for environmental and health reasons, according to local authorities. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones