Africa Media Review for April 16, 2019

Dozens Dead in Fighting Between Chad Soldiers, Jihadists: Army
Fighting between Chad soldiers and Boko Haram jihadists killed dozens, including 63 “terrorists”, in an overnight attack on a military base, an army spokesman said Monday. Seven soldiers were killed and 15 wounded when “the terrorists attacked our forces at midnight in Bouhama… in the Lake Chad region,” Colonel Azem Bermandoa told AFP. He added “63 terrorists were killed” and the search for other attackers continued. Chad’s Defence Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim and army chief of staff Taher Erda were on their way to the scene of the fighting Monday to “evaluate the situation,” said Azem. VOA

Fourteen Killed in Darfur Camp Clashes: Sudanese Media
Fourteen people have been killed during clashes in a camp for displaced people in Sudan’s conflict-wracked Darfur region, the official SUNA news agency said on Monday. The violence erupted on Saturday in South Darfur’s Kalma camp, one of the biggest facilities housing thousands of people displaced by war. “Fourteen people have been killed in clashes inside camp Kalma the day before yesterday,” South Darfur’s acting governor General Hashim Khalid said, quoted by SUNA. He did not say what triggered the violence or reveal details about the groups that clashed, but said the camp has “lot of weapons and groups that disturb the state’s security”. AFP

Sudan Protesters Move to Protect Khartoum Sit-In
Sudanese protesters moved to block an attempt on Monday to break up a sit-in outside the Defence Ministry, where demonstrators have been pushing for a quick transition to civilian rule after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted, a Reuters witness said. Troops had gathered on three sides of the sit-in and tractors were preparing to remove stone and metal barriers, but protesters joined hands and formed rings around the sit-in area to prevent them. The protesters, numbering about 5,000 with more arriving, chanted “Freedom, freedom” and “Revolution, revolution”, and appealed to the army to protect them. Some drummed and waved national flags as they mingled in the street, while others took shelter from the sun under parasols and makeshift tents. Earlier, Sudan’s main protest group, the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), issued an urgent call for people to join the sit-in and foil any attempt to disperse it. Reuters

African Union Threatens to Suspend Sudan over Coup
The African Union on Monday threatened to suspend Sudan following last week’s coup that saw Omar al-Bashir ousted by the military after nearly three decades in power. If the junta fails to hand power to civilians within 15 days, the AU will suspend “the participation of the Sudan in all AU’s activities until the restoration of constitutional order,” the body’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) said in a statement. Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years before he was deposed last week following mass protests that have rocked the country since December. The protesters have remained in the streets, demanding a return to civilian rule from the military council that’s replaced Bashir. The AU echoed the protesters’ demands, calling the military intervention a “coup d’Etat, which (the PSC) strongly condemns.” AFP

Sudan’s Disparate Opposition Comes Together post Bashir
After decades of intense divisions, Sudan’s political opposition united recently to form a powerful three-pronged bloc that became part of the protest wave which ousted autocrat Omar al-Bashir last week. … Veteran journalist Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, 91, mapped out the political trajectories of the burgeoning opposition movement. “The opposition in Sudan now is made up of the (Paris-based) Nidaa Sudan, the National Consensus Forces and the Sudanese Professionals Association,” said Saleh, who was imprisoned several times during Bashir’s reign. Collectively, the tripartite bloc is known as the Alliance for Freedom and Change. … The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) is comprised of small political cadres mostly staffed by young, urban people counting academics, doctors and engineers among their ranks. They have been the driving force behind mobilising thousands of demonstrators through their savvy and active social media usage to protest against Bashir since December 18. Mail & Guardian

High Noon for Bashir as Sudan Junta Changes Tack on ICC
The Sudan governing military council has changed tune on the extradition of ousted leader Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial for genocide and other crimes against humanity in Darfur. Military council member Jalaluddin Sheikh said the decision would rest with the next civilian government, without indicating when this would be. The council has maintained it would hand over power to a civilian government in two years. The council had earlier said that Bashir and others indicted by the ICC would not be handed over by would be tried locally. By deferring the decision, the military council has raised hopes Bashir would eventually face justice, one of the demands of protesters. A civilian government would most likely release Bashir to face trial outside the country given the tribulations the opposition went through under his reign and pressure from the international community to do so. The East African

Fighting in Libya Will Create Huge Number of Refugees, PM Warns
Hundreds of thousands of refugees could flee the fighting caused by Khalifa Haftar’s attempt to seize the Libyan capital, Tripoli, the prime minister of the country’s UN-recognised government has warned. The warnings by Fayez al-Sarraj – who also claimed Haftar had betrayed the people of Libya – echo those given privately to the Italian government by its intelligence services, and are clearly designed to alert EU states to the possible consequences for European migration of a prolonged civil war in the country. There have been concerns that Libya could become a “new Syria”, with civil war leading to massive population displacement. … At least 147 people have been killed and 614 wounded in the offensive launched by Haftar on 4 April to take Tripoli, the World Health Organization said. The clashes have also displaced more than 18,000 people, according to the latest figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The Guardian

Egypt’s Lawmakers Vote to Extend President’s Term Limits
Egypt’s parliament is holding the last debate on proposed amendments to the constitution that could see President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi remain in power until 2030. Tuesday’s session comes ahead of a final vote by lawmakers on the changes to the 2014 charter, before the amendments are put on a national referendum, likely before early May when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts. The proposals would only extend a president’s term in office from four to six years. But they include a special article to extend el-Sissi’s current, second term to six years and allow him to run for another six-year term in 2024. Critics of the move argue that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism, eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule. AP

US Confirms Airstrike Kills Deputy Leader of IS Militants in Somalia
The U.S. military confirmed Monday that it carried out an airstrike that killed the deputy leader of Islamic State militants in Somalia. U.S. Africa Command said Sunday’s airstrike near the village of Xiriiro in Somalia’s Bari region killed Abdihakim Mohamed Ibrahim. AFRICOM says Ibrahim, also known as Dhoqob, “was responsible for the daily operations of the extremist group, attack planning and resource procurement. Abdisamad Mohamed Gallan, security minister of Somalia’s Puntland region, told VOA’s Somali Service that the airstrike hit the vehicle in which Dhoqob and another passenger were traveling. He said both men were killed, but the other person had not yet been identified. “The vehicle was burned,” said a witness who did not want to be named. IS Somalia is led by Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, a former scholar for militant group al-Shabab. In October 2015, he defected from the group and pledged his allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. VOA

‘Fake News’ Fuelling Ethno-Religious Crisis in Nigeria – Experts
Misinformation risks worsening ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria, media commentators and researchers say, at a time of heightened concern about internal security and fragile community relations. … Security threats include Boko Haram Islamists in the northeast and violence between nomadic cattle herders and farmers in central states. The latter is primarily a battle for water and land but those involved have been polarised along ethnic, sectarian and religious lines, in a country with more than 250 ethnic groups and where identity is rarely far from the surface. … Of particular concern was the fabrication of stories pitting the country’s mainly Muslim north against the predominantly Christian south – a traditional fault line often used by proponents of restructuring the current federal system and even breaking it up. “When you go by social media, the impression you get is as if Nigeria is at war and as if Muslims are killing Christians,” said Mohammed. AFP

Ghost Ships of Lagos, a Haven of Crime
The two men in the motorised wooden canoe look around warily as they leave a towering shipwreck in the Lagos lagoon, with the barrels of oil on board barely concealed under rags. The rusting hulk of iron and peeling paint has been battered by the elements and is half submerged in the water. Sprouts of green shoots on deck indicate how long it has been abandoned. But on closer inspection, the wreck is a working storage facility for stolen or “bunkered” oil, as it is known in Nigeria. … Scores of shipwrecks in Lagos’ waterways, coastal waters and on the shores of its beaches have turned parts of its shoreline into a marine cemetery. In Kiri-Kiri, the lagoon corridor, scores of wrecks and discarded ship scrap provide useful cover to hide illicit goods and barrels of oil and gas. From there, the waters offer an easy route up the Lagos coast to Benin and beyond. AFP

Nigerian Activist Jailed Seven Years for ‘Falsely’ Accusing Public Official of Corruption
A Nigerian activist has been jailed for seven years for falsely accusing a public official of corruption. Ibrahim Wala, popularly called I G Wala, was jailed on Wednesday by Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He was found guilty of falsely accusing the head of a pilgrim commission of corruption and leading a protest against the official. … The three charges for which he was found guilty include unlawful assembly, public incitement and criminal defamation of character. … The judge said Mr Wala wrote on his Facebook page that he has documents to prove the allegation. He, however, said the activist failed to provide the document to prove his claims in court. … Mr Wala has led protests against issues like corruption and human rights violations in several parts of the country. Premium Times

Cyclone Idai’s Death Toll over 1,000, Hundreds of Thousands Displaced
Hundreds of thousands of people are still in need of aid after Cyclone Idai battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March. More than 1,000 people have been reported killed by the storm, the flooding it caused and heavy rains before it hit. The World Bank estimates the affected countries will need over $2 billion to recover. Following is an outline of the disaster, according to government and U.N. officials. Reuters

Measles Cases Triple Globally in 2019, Says UN
The number of measles cases reported worldwide in the first three months of 2019 has tripled compared with the same time last year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The UN body said provisional data indicated a “a clear trend”, with all regions of the world seeing outbreaks. Africa had witnessed the most dramatic rise – up 700%. … Ukraine, Madagascar and India have been worst affected by the disease, with tens of thousands of reported cases per million people. Since September, at least 800 people have died from measles in Madagascar alone. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones