Africa Media Review for April 11, 2018

Algerian Military Transport Plan Crashes Killing over a 100 People, Authorities Say
An Algerian military transport plane crashed Wednesday just after taking off from an air base south of the capital, Algiers, killing at least 105 people, according statement by civil defense carried by local media. The Russian-built Ilyushin Il-76 was headed to the southwestern city of Bechar when it crashed just outside the Boufarik military air base in a farm field, said a statement from Algeria’s Ministry of Defense. There was no immediate information about the cause of the crash. The military statement added that Gen. Gaid Salah, head of the army, had gone to the site and ordered an investigation into the crash. “There are more than 100 deaths. We can’t say exact how many at this point,” Mohammed Achour, chief spokesman for the civil protection agency, told the Associated Press. The Washington Post

African Nation of Chad Is Being Taken Off US Travel Ban List
The White House said Tuesday that citizens of Chad would be able to receive visas to the United States again because the African nation has been removed from the administration’s travel ban list. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had signed a proclamation announcing Chad had “improved its identity-management and information sharing practices” enough to be taken off the list. Chad was put on the list last September because of an office supply glitch that prevented it from supplying homeland security officials with recent samples of its passports. U.S. officials also said Chad was unable to adequately share public safety and terrorism-related information with U.S. officials who screen foreigners seeking to enter the country. AP

Sudan’s President Orders Release of All Political Prisoners
Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, has ordered the release of “all political detainees” held in the country, state media said, weeks after mass arrests in a crackdown on anti-government protests. Hundreds of opposition activists, leaders and protesters were arrested in January by security agents to curb demonstrations that erupted on the back of rising food prices, including bread. “President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday issued a decree to release all political detainees held across the country,” the official Suna news agency reported. “The decision aims to promote peace and harmony among all political parties in order to create a positive environment for achieving national goals,” it said. Bloomberg

Libya Warlord Khalifa Haftar Suffers Stroke
The commander of the self-styled army in eastern Libya, Khalifa Haftar, is said to have suffered a stroke and has been sent to Jordan for medical treatment. Local Libya Al-Ahrar TV Channel said that he had suffered the stroke and then sent to Jordan at first so he can be moved to Europe for better treatment and medical care. Meanwhile, another local media outlet, Alnabaa TV Channel, reported reliable sources as saying that Haftar has already been sent to France and he is now in a state of coma. Alnabaa TV Channel also indicated that the spokesman for the self-styled army of Khalifa Haftar, Ahmed Al-Mismari, had spoken to the channel and told it Haftar was fine and in good conditions, adding that Al-Mismri denied all reports about Haftar suffering a stroke or a heart attack. The Libya Observer

Armed Groups Control Libyan Prisons, Torture Rampant: U.N. Report
Armed groups in Libya are killing and torturing detainees in prisons, some nominally under government control, where thousands of civilians are being unlawfully held, the United Nations said on Tuesday. Successive governments in Tripoli have allowed the armed groups to arrest opponents, activists, journalists and politicians, while paying the fighters salaries and providing them with equipment and uniforms, it said. “As a result, armed groups’ power has grown unchecked and they have remained free of effective government oversight,” the U.N. human rights office and UNSMIL (U.N. Support Mission in Libya) said in a report. Reuters

‘Gaddafi Has Come Back to Haunt Him’: In Libya, All Eyes on the Sarkozy Affair
On March 2013, crowds flocked to Tripoli’s town hall to welcome Nicolas Sarkozy, “the saviour of Libya”, as he climbed the red-carpeted staircase. Officials, security personnel and customers from nearby cafes – everybody was hoping to touch him, to get a photo of their hero. The mayor at the time, Saddat al-Badri, was proud to have organised the visit marking the two-year anniversary of the French intervention in Libya. Five years later, the former French president is still the centre of attention, but this time of the less-than-enthusiastic French judiciary. After a five-year investigation into the presumed financing of his 2007 presidential bid by Gaddafi, Sarkozy was indicted late last month on charges of “passive corruption, illegal campaign financing, and concealment of Libyan public money”. Middle East Eye

Moroccan Army Summons Retired Military Officials, Maintains ‘High Alert’
The Moroccan army is on high alert and taking precautionary measures to respond to any further escalations east Morocco’s defense wall. The cabinet has summoned all recently retired Royal Armed Forces (FAR) and has called on all military members to stay on alert, urging them to not leave the country. According to Moroccan newspaper Al Massae,”all retired Royal Armed Forces (FAR) officers have been summoned,” while all military members remain on alert to maneuvers by Polisario Front in the region. The news source also reported that Morocco will be using its surveillance satellite, dubbed Mohammed VI-A, to monitor the area. Al Massae added that “several meetings were held in recent days under the leadership of Lieutenant General Abdelfattah Louarak to tackle the situation in the south of the country, where the state of alert has been raised to its maximum level.” Morocco World News

Canada Already Assisting Counterterror Force in Mali, Defence Minister Says
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan sidestepped a question Monday about Canadian peacekeepers supporting an African-led counterterror force in Mali, saying Canada has already helped what is known as the Group of Five Sahel. The United Nations Security Council in December authorized the peacekeeping mission in Mali to provide assistance to the group, a military force composed of troops from five African nations. That assistance includes medical evacuations for combat and non-combat injuries as well as the provision of fuel, water and rations — exactly what the six Canadian military helicopters due to arrive in Mali in August will be configured to do. The Toronto Star

The WhatsApp Rumours That Infused Sierra Leone’s Tight Election
In early March, a few days before Sierra Leoneans went to the polls, news emerged that UN peacekeepers were about to be deployed. As voters geared up for the first-round of what some feared would be fractious elections, this rumour, accompanied by some very out-dated photos, spread rapidly across Whatsapp, the dominant social media platform in the country. The story was completely false. But it continued to circulate, forcing the Inspector General of Police to issue a formal press release denying the presence of foreign peacekeepers on Sierra Leonean soil. African Arguments

Zimbabwe Invites West to Observe Vote for First Time since 2002
Zimbabwe will invite Western powers to monitor its national elections for the first time in more than 15 years, official papers showed on Tuesday, ending a ban imposed by veteran former leader Robert Mugabe. The vote, scheduled for July, is seen is a major test for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s democratic credentials since he came to power in November after a de facto army coup ousted 94-year-old Mugabe. Zimbabwe will invite the United States, the European Union’s Commission and parliament, Australia and the Commonwealth among 46 countries and 15 organisations, a list released by the foreign affairs ministry showed. The countries and groups on the list were all previously banned from watching elections in 2002 after Mugabe accused them of favouring his opponents. Reuters

Former South Sudanese Army Chief Says Pushed into Rebellion
South Sudan ex-army chief of staff, General Paul Malong Awan on Tuesday claimed he was pushed into rebellion after all attempts to reconcile him with President Salva Kiir and his entire administration failed. “Every attempt, both public and private to engage the Kiir’s regime towards peace has been flatly manipulated by regime apologists and those who spearhead the peace effort put on the hit list. Anyone who mentions the need for peaceful engagement is branded an enemy of the state and is targeted for extra-judicial assassination”, Malong said in a statement. On Monday, Malong announced the formation of the South Sudan United Front (SSUF), a new opposition party, which he claimed was the only means through which he would work with compatriots to “arrest the carnage” in the country. Sudan Tribune

UN Says 2 Local Humanitarian Workers Killed in South Sudan
The two aid workers have been killed in separate attacks over the weekend in civil war-torn South Sudan, the United Nations said Tuesday. A statement says armed men shot at a “clearly marked” aid vehicle near Bentiu town in Unity state, killing a local worker with the Hope Restoration organization. And a local worker with the UNIDO organization was killed near Leer town in Unity state. They are the first two aid workers to be killed this year in South Sudan, which is one of the world’s most dangerous places for aid workers. At least 98 have been killed since the fighting began in December 2013, most of them local workers. AP

Somalia, UAE Trade Barbs over Seized Money
Somalia and United Arab Emirates have exchanged barbs over the seizure of millions of dollars from a plane chartered by Emirati diplomats to transport the cash to Mogadishu. The Somali government seized three bags containing $9.6 million on Sunday and says it only took the action after the UAE ambassador refused to let the bags containing the cash be scanned. “If a ‘diplomatic bag’ is used to deliver illegal articles such as weapons, cash, then the bag is violable,” says a senior government official speaking with VOA Somali on condition of anonymity. But Tuesday, UAE’s Foreign Ministry condemned the seizure of the money, which it says was for the support of the Somali army. VOA

Namibian President Geingob Rejects Graft Claims in French Probe
Namibian President Hage Geingob rejected claims linking him to a French corruption probe related to the purchase by Orano SA of Canadian mining company UraMin Inc.’s Trekkopje uranium mine in the southern African country. Geingob didn’t participated in the transaction and is demanding a retraction from Radio France Internationale, which reported the allegations last week, spokesman Alfredo Hengari said in a statement. He was paid as a consultant before he joined the cabinet and for work unrelated to the purchase by Orano, formerly called Areva, of UraMin’s assets in 2007, according to the presidency. Bloomberg

U.S. Congress Slaps Ethiopian Govt with H. Res. 128, Activists Celebrate
The United States Congress on Tuesday passed a human rights-centered resolution against the Ethiopian government amongst others calling for the respect of human rights and inclusive governance. Despite a late pushback led by one Senator Inhofe – a known ally of the government, to get Congress to reject the resolution, the motion according to Congress records did not even need to be voted upon as it adopted by voice vote. Congressmen and women took turns to give brief comments about the importance of the resolution with each touching on the political crisis that has rocked the country. Others also pointed to the cost in terms of human lives and loss of properties as a result of government highhandedness and an ever-shrinking democratic space. Africa News

US Stages Annual Military Exercise as Questions Linger about Its African Role
Amid unresolved questions about the role of its military in Africa, the U.S. has kicked off a two-week exercise in Agadez, Niger, designed to strengthen security partnerships and train elite counterterrorism units in the volatile Sahel region. Flintlock, an annual military exercise directed by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, involves participants from eight African countries and 12 Western countries. The event helps regional partners learn to work together to patrol vast, ungoverned spaces where terrorist groups such as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine and Boko Haram operate. Major General J. Mark Hicks, the commander for Special Operations Command Africa, said the investment in training in the region is crucial because the terror groups control only patches of territory and can still be destroyed. VOA

You Now Have to Pay the Government over $900 a Year to Be a Blogger in Tanzania
The internet has long been lauded as a marketplace for the free exchange of ideas, but not in Tanzania, where it will now cost you $930 to license a blog. As part of new online regulations, the government will certify all bloggers in the country and charge them an annual fee before they start any operations online. The new provisions also encompass online radio and television streaming services and affect online forums and social media users. To be authorized as an online content provider, applicants are expected to fill a form detailing the estimated cost of investment, the number of directors and stakeholders in the platform, their share of capital, staff qualifications, expected dates of commencing operations, besides future growth plans. Quartz

 



Photo: Adam Jones