Africa Media Review for April 14, 2017

Constitutional Term Limits for African Leaders
African leaders’ adherence to term limits is a key component of institutionalizing predictable norms of democratic succession. Progress toward establishing this norm has been mixed, however. While a number of African countries have succeeded in upholding term limits over the past two decades, leaders in more than 20 countries effectively do not face restrictions on their time in power. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Migrant Crisis: ‘Nearly 100 Missing after Libya Boat Sinks’
At least 97 African migrants, including women and children, are missing after their boat sank off the Libyan coast, a coastguard spokesman has said. A total of 23 male survivors were rescued while clinging to a floating device, Ayoub Kassem added. Rescue operations are continuing, but the chances of finding more survivors are slim, reports say. Libya is a major transit point for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. At least 590 of them have died or have gone missing along the Libyan coast so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

VOA Exclusive: Dozens More US Troops Deployed to Somalia
Dozens of American soldiers have deployed to Mogadishu to train and equip Somali and AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) forces fighting extremism in Somalia, U.S. military officials told VOA. The troops’ arrival marks the first presence of American military forces in Somalia, other than a small unit of counterterrorism advisers, since March 1994 when the U.S. pulled out of the U.N. intervention operation in the war-torn state, five months after 18 U.S. special forces personnel were killed in a battle with Somali militiamen that inspired the movie Black Hawk Down. “United States Africa Command will conduct various security cooperation and/or security force assistance events in Somalia in order to assist our allies and partners,” U.S. Africa Command spokesman Pat Barnes told VOA on Thursday. VOA

Somalia Cholera Outbreak Spreading Quickly
The World Health Organisation says a cholera outbreak in Somalia has grown to more than 25 000 cases this year alone and is expected to double by the end of June. WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said on Thursday that the outbreak has killed 524 people so far this year. Cholera is spreading quickly as a drought worsens in the Horn of Africa country. At least 25 424 cases have been recorded, with 50 000 cases projected by summer. UN Development Programme country director David Akopyan says 13 of the country’s 18 regions have reported cholera cases. Akopyan calls Somalia the world’s most fragile country and says WHO is trying to prevent the cholera outbreak “from spiralling out of control.” He also says the worsening drought could erode efforts at state-building in the long-chaotic nation. News24

Egypt Says Second Church Bomber Identified after Sisi Pledge
The authorities in Egypt said on Thursday they had identified the second of two jihadist bombers who targeted Coptic Christian Palm Sunday services last week. … On Wednesday, the interior ministry identified the perpetrator of the Alexandria attack as Mahmud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah, born in the southern province of Qena in 1986. On Thursday, it said it had now also identified the bomber who blew himself up in the Tanta church. “DNA tests carried out on the family of a fugitive member and the remains of the suicide bomber… made it possible to identify him as Mamduh Amin Mohammed Baghdadi, born in 1977 in Qena province, where he lived,” it said. The ministry said he was a member of a “terrorist” cell, and also announced the arrest of three other members of the group. … The Coptic Church said on Wednesday it would cut back Easter celebrations to a single mass after the bombings. The violence came ahead of Catholic Pope Francis’s first visit to Egypt, which a Vatican official said will go ahead as planned on April 28 and 29 despite the attacks. News24

East Sudan Police Arrests Human Traffickers
Sudanese police Thursday has managed to arrest a number of human traffickers in Eastern Sudan after a raid on a site where there were a number of migrants from a neighbouring country. New Halfa police chief Abdallah al-Sayegh said a joint police force from Kassala, New Halfa and Sahl Albutana countries in Kassala state ambushed the site on the early hours of Thursday and arrested seven smugglers and 21 foreigners from a neighbouring country including ten men, eight women aged between 18 and 30 years, and three children. He further said they seized three vehicles the traffickers used to transport the illegal immigrants. Kassala state, which borders Eritrea, is a transit point for illegal immigrants from Eritrea who seek to reach Europe through Egypt and Libya. Sudan Tribune

Uganda AG Assures MPs That Threats to Pull Out of the ICC Have No Basis
Uganda’s Attorney General on April 4 assured proponents of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the government will not live up to its threats to pull out of the court, despite President Yoweri Museveni’s consistent tongue lashing of the court. William Byaruhanga, in a statement short on detail and clarity, assured parliament that the Executive had not yet made up its mind on pulling out from the ICC, which has been chastised by African leaders in a chorus led by among others, President Museveni as “a fascist tool targeting African leaders” while abetting war crimes by the West. Mr Byaruhanga told legislators, “I wish to restate that Uganda has not yet decided to withdraw from ICC and continues to co-operate with it. Accordingly the apprehension that we are withdrawing from the Rome Statute both within and abroad is purely based on conjecture.” The East African

UN Envoy: Cameroon Should Release Detainees, Restore Internet, Open Dialogue to End Strike
The U.N. special envoy for Central Africa visited Cameroon this week to seek an end to the months-long stalemate on the strike and unrest in English-speaking parts of the country. Francois Lonseny Fall, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general and head of the U.N. Regional Office for Central Africa, called on the government of Cameroon to take two steps to facilitate the reopening of dialogue with strikers in the English-speaking regions. The United Nations cannot be indifferent when there are issues that could threaten the peace and stability of a sovereign state, he said, recommending that all detainees be liberated. He said the U.N. believes that if detainees are freed, peace will quickly return to Cameroon. He also reiterated the U.N.’s call that the internet be reinstated in the northwest and the southwest. He called the internet blackout a violation of the freedom to access information. VOA

Burundi: Government Has Suspended MSD Party for Six Months
Three main allegations made against the Movement for Democracy and Solidarity-MSD party are the violation of the Burundi Constitution, breaking the rules of political parties and a plan to form an armed group to fight against the government. Following these accusations, Pascal Barandagiye, Minister of Home Affairs decided on 4 April to suspend the activities and close all MSD party’s offices for six months. … Epitace Nshimirimana, Spokesperson for MSD party, says they are not surprised by the decision. “We were aware that the Ministry of Home Affairs was planning to suspend completely our political party and divide its members”, he says. Nshimirimana says nothing should go beyond the detention and forcing their members to flee the country rather than suspending the party and closing its offices. “We are accused of fighting the current government but we could not close our eyes in front of the human rights violations”, he says. Iwacu

Zambian Opposition Demands Release of Arrested Leader
The Zambian opposition UPND party called on Thursday for the immediate release of its leader Hakainde Hichilema, who is due to appear in court next week on treason charges. The treason charges relate to Hichilema’s convoy allegedly refusing to give way to President Lungu’s motorcade on a main road in the west of the country at the weekend. Hichilema’s arrest has fanned political tensions in Zambia, where the United Party for National Development (UPND) refuses to accept last year’s election result when President Edgar Lungu retained power. Hichilema, known as “HH”, has been denied access to lawyers, his party said, calling for supporters to protest outside court at the hearing due on Tuesday. News24

Congo President’s Adviser Received Payments from Gulf Companies
In June 2015, the Belgian company Semlex signed a deal to supply biometric passports to the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to documents reviewed by Reuters. A few weeks later two companies based in the United Arab Emirates made payments totalling $700,000 to private bank accounts held in the name of Emmanuel Adrupiako, a Kabila adviser who helped handle the passport deal, according to bank documents and emails reviewed by Reuters. The two UAE-based companies have connections to Semlex, but it isn’t clear whether the payments were related to the passport deal. Adrupiako did not respond to requests for comment. Reuters

Kenya: Auditor Vows to Clean Up Voter Register on Time
The independent auditor of Kenya’s voter register promises to deliver within the legal timelines for conducting the exercise. KPMG is required to audit each of the 19.4 million registered voters and hand over its findings to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on April 29. KPMG chief executive Josephat Mwaura said that the firm had engaged experts to check whether the voter register complied with the constitution and election laws, as well as the level of expertise of those recruited to register voters in all the 290 constituencies. KPMG is also auditing the accuracy of voter details as provided in the register. The firm will check whether such details are at par with information held at the registrar of persons including death records and details contained in passports. The East African

Chibok Girls, 3 Years Later: Anguished Parents Still Wait
For three grueling years Pogu and Yana Galang have waited, desperate for their daughters to return home. The three girls were among nearly 300 female students kidnapped on April 15, 2014, when members of Boko Haram stormed their boarding school in the village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria during the week of final exams. The Galangs have parsed numerous rumors and government statements about the captive girls’ well-being. They spotted one daughter, Saratu Ayuba, in images of the hostages that have trickled out from the militants’ faraway hide-outs. When one of the girls from Chibok was found roaming in the forest last year, and a few weeks later, in October, when another group of 21 girls was released, the Galangs listened intently for fresh word of their own daughters’ fate. The girls freed in October told the anxious parents that when they left their camp, Ms. Ayuba and her sisters Rifkatu Galang and Margaret Yamma were healthy. NY Times

The Latest Cash Haul Find by Nigeria’s Anti-corruption Agency is Shocking Even to Nigerians
A new discovery by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-graft agency hints at the scale of the country’s corruption problem. On Wednesday (Apr. 12), an EFCC raid on an empty apartment in Ikoyi, a highbrow Lagos neighborhood, turned up bundles of cash in dollar, pound sterling and naira currencies totaling $43.4 million, at current Central Bank of Nigeria rates. While the agency is yet to identify the owner of the apartment, a Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered a temporary forfeiture of the money. The discovery, thanks to a tip under Nigeria’s whistle blowing policy, has shocked many Nigerians who, given the many cases of corruption that come up in the country, are not easily taken aback by discoveries of this type. Quartz

“The Right Side of History” – Gambians Seek Justice after Jammeh’s Fall
A year ago, opposition activist Solo Sandeng led the first march in over decade to call for free elections in Gambia. Although the demonstration was a catalyst for the ouster of autocrat Yahya Jammeh, it cost Sandeng his life. The court case into his death has now become the first prosecution trial under Gambia’s new elected government for the human rights violations perpetrated during Jammeh’s 22-year reign. “The Sandeng case is not only politically the match that lit the fire, it really brought home the injustices of the regime,” said Aziz Bensouda of the Gambia Bar Association. “It’s one of the cases where we have a lot more detail than in the past, and it will really set the tone [of future human rights cases].” IRIN



Photo: Adam Jones