Africa Media Review for April 16, 2018

Fighters Disguised as Peacekeepers Attack UN Base in Mali
At least one UN peacekeeper has been killed and a dozen others wounded in a twin suicide attack on a base in the northern Malian town of Timbuktu, the UN mission said. Fighters also fired dozens of rockets at the base and engaged troops in a gun battle on Saturday afternoon, MINUSMA said, adding that the situation is now under control. “MINUSMA confirms a significant complex attack on its camp in Timbuktu; mortars, exchange of fire, vehicle suicide bomb attack,” the mission tweeted. “One blue helmet was killed in the exchange of fire.” Malian government spokespersons said the attackers were disguised as UN peacekeepers. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Jazeera

Huge Crowds Turn out for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s Funeral
Tens of thousands of South Africans have filled a stadium in Soweto for the funeral service of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a heroine of the anti-apartheid struggle in but also one of its most controversial figures. Shouts of “Long live Comrade Winnie”, “the struggle continues” and “power to the people” rang out around the stadium on Saturday throughout a powerful and emotional service to the activist, politician and former wife of Nelson Mandela. A joyful and tearful crowd listened, sang and danced to prayers, tributes and the anthems that sustained those fighting for freedom in South Africa through decades of repression. President Cyril Ramaphosa, dignitaries from around the continent and many of South Africa’s most famous political and cultural figures joined rank and file members of the ruling African National Congress and well-wishers from around the country. The Guardian

US Presses Regional Bloc to Act on South Sudan Cease-Fire Violations
The U.S. government is calling on East African leaders to release five unpublished reports documenting violations of South Sudan’s failed December cease-fire and to punish those responsible for the violations, a senior White House official told VOA. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has overseen four years of unsuccessful peace efforts in South Sudan and warned it will use sanctions to hold to account commanders driving the country’s brutal civil war. But IGAD has yet to follow through on threats of sanctions, or make details of most violations public. The East Africa regional bloc mandated an international military monitoring mission, known by its acronym CTSAMM, to investigate alleged cease-fire violations. VOA

South Sudan’s Refugee Flow Is Often a Children’s Crisis
The flood of South Sudanese refugees from the country’s 5-year civil war has been called a children’s crisis. More than 60 percent of the well over one million refugees who have poured into neighboring Uganda are under the age of 18, government and United Nations officials say. More than two million people have fled South Sudan overall. Amid the fighting, over 75,000 children have found themselves on their own in Uganda and other neighboring countries, according to the U.N. refugee agency, separated from their families in the chaos or sent by their parents to relative safety. While many children have reunited with relatives after crossing the border, others are matched by aid workers with foster families in an effort to minimize the disruption in their lives. Without parents, some children are left vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, aid workers say. AP

Trump to Welcome President of Nigeria to White House
President Donald Trump will welcome the leader of Nigeria to the White House later this month. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says in a statement that Trump will welcome President Muhammadu Buhari on April 30. Sanders says the two will discuss economic reforms, fighting terrorism and ways to grow Nigeria’s “role as a democratic leader in the region.” She adds that the United States has a “deep and strong” relationship with Nigeria. Buhari recently declared plans to run for a second four-year term in 2019. The vote next year will be the ninth presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation since its independence from Britain in 1960. AP

Chibok Girls: Many Abductees Dead, Says Journalist
A Nigerian journalist with links to the Islamist group Boko Haram has claimed only 15 out of the 112 missing Chibok girls are still alive. The 276 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram exactly four years ago. Many have since been released. Ahmad Salkida said he had negotiated for the girls’ release on behalf of the government, but several opportunities to have them freed had been missed. The Nigerian government said there was no reason to think some may be dead. A spokesperson told the BBC the government was still in discussions with Boko Haram to secure the release of the 112 girls who remain missing. BBC

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Extremists Hamper Polio Eradication
Islamic extremists made Imana Alhaji Gana’s village in northeastern Nigeria too dangerous for health workers to vaccinate against polio. Now that she and her family have fled to a displacement camp, those workers want to catch her children in time. Here in the camps housing thousands of families seeking safety from the extremists, health teams are going from tent to tent, inoculating youngsters against the disease that withers limbs and disables children for life. At first, Gana is afraid to let the outreach workers vaccinate her baby. Eventually they persuade her that the three-week-old child is not too young for immunization, which can take place as early as the day of birth. AP

In ‘The Burning Shores,’ Libya Blossoms — Briefly — before Unraveling
In April 2016, former President Barack Obama singled out the “worst mistake” of his presidency: his administration’s lack of planning for the aftermath of the 2011 military intervention in Libya. When Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled, author Frederic Wehrey says, the country was initially seized by euphoria. “You had the blossoming of civil society; people were free to speak their own minds, they were able to organize themselves politically,” says Wehrey, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “And so it was quite easy to get swept up in that triumphal moment.” He witnessed the moment firsthand — and then watched as it fell apart. Tribes and militias turned on each other, and Libya descended into civil war. NPR

Ethiopia PM Pledges to Reform Security Sector and Revisit Repressive Laws
The Ethiopian prime minister has pledged to reform the security and intelligence forces of the country, saying his government will focus on establishing a system of accountability within these sectors. The army and security forces have often been accused of using brutal forces and committing human rights violations in operations to repress protests against the government. In a recent mishap, soldiers launched an attack that killed at least 12 civilians and wounded many in the southern border town of Moyale. Africa News

Bitter Rivals’ Embrace Shakes up Kenyan Politics
A surprise handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has stirred up Kenyan politics as the long-time rivals set their sights on the 2022 elections. Less than a year since Kenyatta was re-elected to a second and final term in a vote that Odinga called a farce, the two shook hands on March 9 after weeks of secret talks. A warm embrace at a golf tournament followed later. They said their rapprochement would mean an end to the violence, bitterness and political instability that followed last year’s elections. But observers say the handshake signalled that Kenyatta and Odinga, who is also in the sunset of his political career, want to join forces so they can influence what happens next. Reuters

Sudan Militia Demands EU Payment for Blocking African Migrants
A Sudanese government militia accused of human-rights abuses said it deserves European Union compensation for guarding the border with Libya to prevent African migrants from reaching the Mediterranean. The commander of the Rapid Support Forces, which has its roots in so-called “janjaweed” militias implicated in war crimes in Sudan’s western Darfur region, said thousands of its fighters are blocking migrants seeking a path to Europe. The EU has pledged over 100 million euros ($123 million) since 2016 for Sudan projects to address the cause of “irregular migration,” but says Sudan’s government doesn’t get any direct financial support nor does the RSF benefit. Bloomberg

As Congo Disputes Scale of Crisis, Donors Give $530 Million
An international conference to raise funds for a humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo that was boycotted by its government yielded less than a third of the money needed to help millions of people. The United Nations said the conference in Geneva drew about $530 million in pledges, below an estimated $1.7 billion needed to help more than 10 million people in the central African nation this year. $209 million had already been raised before the event on Friday, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The European Union, which co-hosted the conference, pledged $95 million in aid. “We are disappointed that too few countries sent a real message of hope to the millions of Congolese children, women and men in desperate need of assistance,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in an emailed statement. “The response is far from matching the spike in humanitarian needs in Congo.” Bloomberg

Guinea-Bissau’s Divided Ruling Party Picks New Prime Minister
Guinea-Bissau’s president agreed with a rival faction of his party on a prime ministerial candidate as regional African leaders intervened to help end a political crisis of almost three years in one of the world’s poorest countries. President Jose Mario Vaz will name Aristides Gomes as a “consensus” prime minister on April 17, the Economic Community of West African States said in a statement after a leaders’ summit in Togo’s capital, Lome, on Saturday. Gomes previously served in the role for about 18 months from 2005 to 2007.  Bloomberg

AU Senior Commanders Agree to Pacify Somalia amid Transition Plan
African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) senior commanders have resolved to place emphasis on tasks that will enable the force to achieve its agenda of complete pacification of Somalia with transition plan in force. The AU mission said in a statement issued on Sunday at the end of the meeting in Mogadishu that commanders agreed to re-examine and assess the progress made with the transition plan so far, to enable it to plan more effectively. “The AMISOM’s new mandate, requires it to facilitate a conditions based, gradual hand over of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces, without compromising gains already realized,” said Charles Tai Gituai, the Deputy Force Commander in-charge of Operations and Planning. Xinhua

Zimbabwe Invited to Commonwealth Summit in London
Zimbabwe has been invited to the Commonwealth Heads of State Summit that begins in London Monday and ends next Sunday, marking the latest sign of thawing of relations between Harare and London, state media reported Sunday. However, the country will only have observer status and will not participate in deliberations to take place. Former President Robert Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in 2003 following differences over governance issues. In an interview with The Sunday Mail, Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Trade Joey Bimha said the Commonwealth invitation was an indication of reciprocity to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts. He said foreign minister Sibusiso Moyo would attend the summit. Xinhua

‘They Eat Money’: How Mandela’s Political Heirs Grow Rich off Corruption
[…] Millions of dollars from state coffers, meant to uplift the poor, vanished in a web of bank accounts controlled by politically connected companies and individuals. […] In the generation since apartheid ended in 1994, tens of billions of dollars in public funds — intended to develop the economy and improve the lives of black South Africans — have been siphoned off by leaders of the A.N.C., the very organization that had promised them a new, equal and just nation. Corruption has enriched A.N.C. leaders and their business allies — black and white South Africans, as well as foreigners. But the supposed beneficiaries of many government projects, in whose names the money was spent, have been left with little but seething anger and deepening disillusionment with the state of post-apartheid South Africa. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones