Africa Media Review for April 23, 2018

Africa: Why Justice Matters for Security
Security encompasses much more than the deployment of armed forces. Effective judicial and quasi-judicial institutions serve as an important means of defusing societal conflicts and provide a check on a state’s use of coercive force. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Nkurunziza Reshuffles Burundi Cabinet Ministers ahead of Referendum
Burundi’s president Pierre Nkuruniziza announced a partial cabinet reshuffle on Thursday night replacing the Foreign Affairs minister Alain-Aimé Nyamitwe with Ezéchiel Nibigira, former boss of the notorious Imbonerakure youth league. Ambassador Nyamitwe had been in office since May 2015, just after the attempted coup, tasked with containing the diplomatic uproar that followed Nkurunziza’s ambitions to seek a third term in office. The reshuffle comes less than a month to the referendum. The May 18 vote has been set to allow Burundians vote on whether or not to allow President Pierre Nkurunziza to extend his tenure in office. The president who is already serving a controversial third-term would rule till 2034 if the vote succeeds. Africa News

Nigeria Announces Military Operation to Rout Boko Haram
Nigeria has announced a new military operation to clear out the remaining Boko Haram militants in its northeast and around Lake Chad as it seeks to end a nine-year insurgency. Major General David Ahmadu, army chief of training and operations, said in a statement late Friday that the operation would last four months and involve the deployment of an additional six army brigades and other military assets in Borno state, where the insurgents remain active. The army acknowledged for the first time that the insurgency has survived heavy military bombardment owing to its ‘complex and adaptive nature’, resulting in attacks on soft targets and mass abductions. Anadolu Agency

Four Killed as Suicide Bombers Target Borno Mosque
At least four persons were killed and eight others injured as two suicide bombers attacked a mosque in Bama town of Borno State in the early hours of Sunday, officials have said. The attack comes about three weeks after the Borno State Government sanctioned the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the badly destroyed community which was reclaimed from the Boko Haram. The Sunday attack was the first since the return of Bama IDPs. But it has rekindled public concern on the security around the community, the second largest in Borno State after Maiduguri, the state capital. Premium Times

Cameroon Forces in Gross Abuse over Anglophone, Boko Haram Crisis – U.S. Report
Cameroon security forces have been cited as engaging in significant human rights abuse in respect of armed combat they are engaged in across three regions of the country, a United States government report has said. The Central African nation is beset by Boko Haram insurgency in its Far North region whiles the Anglophone crisis continues to pose a security challenge to the government in the Northwest and Southwest i.e. Anglophone regions. According to the U.S. Department of State’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2017, the military, police and gendarmerie – paramilitary – forces were using among others arbitrary killings, forced disappearances and prolonged military / unofficial detentions in the three regions. Africa News

UNHCR Deplores Forcible Deportation of Nigerian Refugees by Cameroon
The UN refugee agency denounces the latest forcible deportations of Nigerian refugees to violence-prone Borno State by Cameroon, calling it a violation of international law. The UN refugee agency says it is alarmed at what appears to be an unsettling pattern of forced returns. So far this year, the UNHCR reports Cameroon has forcibly deported 385 Nigerians to Borno State, the majority of them this month. Most recently, the agency reports 118 Nigerian asylum seekers were forcibly returned on April 17. Just a week earlier, on April 10, 160 Nigerian refugees and asylum-seekers were deported. UNHCR Regional spokesman for West Africa, Romain Desclous, says the April 17 group had arrived in Cameroon only two days earlier, having fled violence by the militant Boko Haram. On a line from Dakar, Senegal, he tells VOA it is shocking for people to be returned to face the same risks from which they have fled. VOA

Negotiations with Jihadists? A Radical Idea Gains Currency in Mali
In Mali, which has been wracked by violence and is prone to frequent and deadly jihadist attacks, the once unthinkable is now being asked by observers: is it time to negotiate with the extremists? […] The idea of talking to extremist groups, ruled out so far by the government, has become less and less taboo. A recent opinion poll showed that a slim majority of Malians (55.8 percent) favour such negotiations. The poll by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, conducted in November, tapped Malians in all the regional capitals as well as the District of Bamako. IRIN

US Builds Drone Base in Niger, Crossroads of Extremism Fight
On the scorching edge of the Sahara Desert, the U.S. Air Force is building a base for armed drones, the newest front in America’s battle against the growing extremist threat in Africa’s vast Sahel region. Three hangars and the first layers of a runway command a sandy, barren field. Niger Air Base 201 is expected to be functional early next year. The base, a few miles outside Agadez and built at the request of Niger’s government, will eventually house fighter jets and MQ-9 drones transferred from the capital Niamey. The drones, with surveillance and added striking capabilities, will have a range enabling them to reach a number of West and North African countries. […] The $110 million project is the largest troop labor construction project in U.S. history, according to Air Force officials. It will cost $15 million annually to operate. AP

At Least 11 Migrants Dead, 263 Rescued off Libya Coast
At least 11 migrants died at sea and another 263 were rescued on Sunday in two separate operations off the coast of Libya, the country’s navy said. In the first operation, “a coastguard patrol… was able to rescue 83 illegal migrants and recovered 11 bodies in a rubber boat five nautical miles northeast of Sabratha”, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP. Sabratha is about 70 kilometres west of Tripoli. “The 11 dead migrants drowned when the dinghy overturned but were recovered by the survivors and hoisted into the boat,” said Mohamad Erhouma, a member of the nearby city of Zawiyah’s coastguard. Al Arabiya

Libyan Airstrikes Target ‘Terrorist Sites’ East of Misrata
The self-styled Libyan National Army says it has carried out airstrikes against “terrorist sites” near the city of Misrata, which is controlled by a rival militia. Spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmari said three airstrikes on Saturday destroyed dozens of weapons and vehicles in the town of Sadada, some 76km east of Misrata. The strikes targeted an al-Qaida-linked group that al-Mesmari says was behind several recent attacks. Libya was plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising and is now split between rival governments, each backed by an array of militias. The LNA supports a government in the east, while the Misrata militia is allied with a UN-backed government in Tripoli. AP

Calm in Madagascar as Troops Deployed to Quell Violent Protests
Dozens of soldiers on Sunday temporarily threw a cordon around a public square in Madagascar’s capital where opposition protests against new electoral laws have left two people dead in the restive island nation. The soldiers later vacated the square in Antananarivo, clearing the way for some 100 opposition activists to gather, an AFP reporter at the scene said. The demonstrators are protesting against new electoral laws that the opposition claim could stop some candidates from standing in upcoming presidential elections. The large Indian Ocean island is due to hold polls in late November or December. AFP

Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia Hosts Top U.S. Diplomat on East Africa Tour
The United States Department of State on Saturday announced that a top official on African Affairs was due to tour three East African countries between April 22 – April 26. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Ambassador Donald Y. Yamamoto will start off his tour in Eritrea, head to Djibouti and round off his activities in Ethiopia. He arrives in Eritrea today (April 22) with the three-day working tour according to the Department of State centering on “bilateral consultations with Eritrean government officials, to meet with the diplomatic community, and to visit the Embassy’s staff based in Asmara.” Africa News

U.S Embassy Initiates Curfew after Renewed Clashes in S. Sudan
The United State embassy in South Sudan has announced a temporary curfew for its personnel after renewed clashes erupted west of the capital, Juba on Thursday. “Effective immediately and until 6:30 a.m. Monday, April 23, 2018, the Embassy’s curfew has been temporarily changed from 8:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.,” partly reads the embassy’s statement issued on Friday. The embassy, in the brief statement, also appealed to US citizens in the country to be cautious and closely monitor the security situation. It further appealed to US citizens to always carry proper identification, including their passport with a valid South Sudan visa. Sudan Tribune

Mugabe Summoned by Parliament to Explain Diamond Looting Comment
A parliamentary committee in Zimbabwe has summoned former President Robert Mugabe to explain a past comment about the country losing billions of dollars in revenue due to diamond corruption. Mugabe, who stepped down in November 2017 after a military intervention and huge protests, said in 2016 that $15bn worth of gems had been looted from fields in eastern Zimbabwe. The 94-year-old, who ruled the country for 37 years, will appear before the parliament’s mines and energy committee on May 9 to explain how this sum was lost or how he calculated the figure, said Chairman Temba Mliswa. Al Jazeera

The Return of Zim’s White Farmers
For Ian Kay, a white Zimbabwean farmer, Chipesa, near the town of Marondera, is not just a farm, it is a family home. After losing the property in 2002, at the height of the country’s violent land reform programme championed by former president Robert Mugabe, Kay says he cannot cut his connection to that land. “My father bought it as virgin land in 1949 and built the place from nothing. I was born there in 1949 and I had a wedding there. My children were born there and my parents were buried there. It’s not just a farm to me; it’s home,” he said. Three years after vacating the farm, Kay, a fluent Shona-speaker, did what some in the area least expected: he ran for public office. Mail and Guardian

SADC Summit Set to ‘Assess Situation in Zim, Lesotho, DRC’ – Report
Zimbabwe is reportedly on the agenda at a SADC Double Troika Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held in Angola on Monday and Tuesday. According to New Zimbabwe.com, the summit is aimed at assessing the situation and evaluating the consolidation of democracy in the region. Quoting a statement by the Angolan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the report said that “the consolidation of democracy in the sub region will also be evaluated, especially in Madagascar, Swaziland, the DRC and Zimbabwe”. The report said, however, that it did not seem likely that the Southern African Development Community had any plans to take any stance against the November 2017 ouster of Zimbabwe’s long serving president Robert Mugabe by the military. News 24

Ex-Liberian Warlord Jailed in US for Lying about Asylum Claim
A former Liberian warlord known as “Jungle Jabbah” has been sentenced to 30 years in prison in the US for lying about his role in Liberia’s civil war and the atrocities he committed. Mohammed Jabbateh, 51, who has lived in East Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, for 20 years, was found guilty in October on two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury and sentenced on Thursday. The judge in the case imposed a heavy sentence because of the nature of the crimes that Jabbateh had sought to hide. While serving as commander of an armed group during the height of Liberia’s first civil war, which lasted much of the 1990s, Jabbateh either personally committed or ordered acts such as rapes, ritual cannibalism, mutilation, murder and the use of child soldiers, prosecutors said. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the conflict which devastated the country. The Guardian

Will New Legislation Turn Kenya into a Tax Haven?
A recently passed law could make it easier for companies to dodge tax in Kenya. This could increase the rate of illicit financial flows and, contrary to government’s goals, undermine economic growth and development. In July last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Nairobi International Financial Centre Act, 2017. The law aims to “facilitate and support the development of an efficient and globally competitive financial services sector in Kenya”. It sets up the Nairobi International Financial Centre Authority (NIFCA), which will “establish and maintain an efficient operating framework in order to attract and retain firms”. This came amid warnings from observers that despite the implementation of NIFCA, Kenya could become a tax haven. Earlier this year, the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) ranked Kenya first in Africa and 27thin the world on its Financial Secrecy Index. There are concerns that the new law creating NIFCA, which had only just come into force when the TJNA report was released, could “facilitate tax dodging by companies and individuals in Kenya and worldwide”. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones