Africa Media Review for April 27, 2018

10 Aid Workers Missing in South Sudan
At least 10 aid workers have gone missing in South Sudan’s Yei River State, official said. The UN relief coordinator, Mr Alain Noudehou, said the humanitarian community was shocked by the suspected kidnapping of the aid workers. The 10 were on a mission to provide humanitarian aid to the residents of Yei. They were reportedly kidnapped on Wednesday outside Yei town by unknown armed men. “We are deeply concerned about the whereabouts of the humanitarian aid workers and are urgently seeking information about their well-being. “Our colleagues must be released without conditions so that their work can continue,” Mr Noudehou said. The East African

Acting South Sudan Army Chief Flown to Kenya “Unconscious”
South Sudan’s acting army chief of staff, Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak was Thursday flown to Kenya, “unconscious” after he had reportedly complained of chest and stomach discomfort. Riak was scheduled to accompany the body of late army chief, General James Ajongo Mawut who died last week. It was not immediately established what caused Riak’s condition, with the military and family sources providing conflicting accounts. For instance while family members linked it to fatigue following days of continuous engagement without enough rest, military sources who attended to him at the military hospital attributed the cause to food poison, citing complaints about stomach cramps and vomiting. Sudan Tribune

Five Likely Mass Graves Found in Congo Borderlands – UN
United Nations investigators have discovered five probable mass grave sites in eastern Congo’s Ituri province where an outbreak of ethnic violence has killed at least 263 people, a U.N. peacekeeping mission said. The report from the mission provides the most comprehensive portrait to date of the human cost of months of violence between Lendu pastoralists and Hema herders since December that has caused one of Africa’s most serious refugee crises. Violence across eastern Congo’s borderlands with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi has spiked since President Joseph Kabila refused to step aside at the end of his mandate in 2016, eroding state authority and emboldening armed groups. Reuters

Congo’s Splintered Opposition Vows to Defy Repression and Return to Streets
Opposition politicians and activists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have pledged to defy repression and step up their protests as the troubled country edges towards elections that have been promised by the president, Joseph Kabila, later this year. The DRC has been hit by a series of rebellions and outbreaks of communal violence in recent months, with some observers raising concerns of a slide into anarchy which could destabilise much of the region. The UN has warned of a dramatic deterioration in the humanitarian situation. More than 4 million people are displaced and at least 8 million are in the acute stages of hunger. Thousands have died. A donor conference on 13 April was boycotted by the DRC and raised less than half of the $1.7bn sought by the UN. The Guardian

Anti-Magufuli Demos Abort as Police Patrol Major Towns
The much-touted demonstrations planned for Thursday, during the celebrations to mark 54 years of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, aborted as armed police officers patrolled the streets of major towns. Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa told reporters on Thursday that nine people were arrested in connection with the planned anti-government demonstrations. Mr Mambosasa said the nine were arrested in Dar es Salaam with anti-Magufuli placards. The EastAfrican did not see any marchers anywhere. In the northern town of Arusha, an opposition stronghold, police on Tuesday arrested seven people accused of mobilising the public to take part in the planned demo. The East African

Ethiopia ‘Wants’ AU Mission to Stay in Somalia
Ethiopia wants the multinational African peacekeeping force to stay in Somalia, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said on Thursday. “Ethiopia’s stance on the issue of AMISOM’s [African Union Mission in Somalia] withdrawal is that the multinational force should stay in Somalia until the time comes when the militant group al-Shabaab is very much weakened,” Meles Alem told journalists. The multilateral African peacekeeping force was deployed in Somalia in 2007 to cope with the threat of al-Shabaab terrorist group. Anadolu Agency

U.N. Rights Chief Visits Protest-Hit Ethiopian Region, Meets Dissidents
The U.N. human rights chief said he was allowed to visit a region in Ethiopia that has been roiled by protests and unrest for the past three years, after the previous administration turned down his request last year. The visit by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein came three weeks after the Horn of Africa nation swore in new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who has pledged reforms in the wake of state repression and violence. In the Oromiya region that Zeid visited, hundreds of people have been killed in violence since 2015, triggered by demonstrations over land rights that broadened into calls for political freedoms. In many instances, security forces opened fire on protesters, according to the United Nations. Reuters

Libyan Commander Haftar Back in Benghazi after Medical Treatment
Veteran military commander Khalifa Haftar, the most powerful figure in eastern Libya, returned to Benghazi on Thursday after a two-week absence during which he received medical treatment in Paris. Haftar, 75, smiled and joked as he greeted a delegation of senior officials after stepping off a late afternoon flight from Cairo. “I want to reassure you that I am in good health,” he told senior army commanders and local elders in a televised address from the airport shortly afterwards. “I should be addressing you standing up but I am obliged to do so sitting down,” Haftar quipped, seated in front of a bank of microphones on an ornate table. Reuters

Burundi Activist Given 32 Years for Anti-President Demo
A Burundian activist was sentenced Thursday to 32 years in prison for taking part in protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza, sources said, a punishment rights groups said was “eminently political”. Germain Rukuki was given “32 years of penal servitude” at Bujumbura’s district court, a civil society member who was at the hearing told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that neither Rukuki, who is in detention, nor his lawyers were present at the hearing. A judicial source confirmed to AFP Rukuki was convicted for “having participated in an insurrectional movement in order to change the constitutional regime, to have participated in the assassination of police and soldiers from May 13, 2015 and to have defaced both public and private property”.  AFP

ISIS Trying to Foment a Wave of Migration to Europe, Says UN Official
Islamic State commanders fleeing Syria are conspiring with extremist groups in Africa to foment and infiltrate a new migration wave destined for Europe, the head of the UN World Food Programme has said. David Beasley, a former Republican governor of South Carolina, said Europe needed to wake up to the extremists’ strategy in the Sahel region. Those forced out of Syria were uniting with local terrorist groups to use a as both a recruitment tool and a vehicle to push millions of Africans towards Europe, he said. Speaking to the Guardian during a visit to Brussels for a two-day Syria summit, Beasley said: “You are going to face a similar pattern of what took place years ago, except you are going to have more Isis and extremist groups infiltrating migration. The Guardian

Migrants to Europe: A 30-Minute Jet Ski Ride for 4,000 Euros
Spanish authorities say they have broken up a Moroccan gang that used powerful jet skis to smuggle migrants across the Strait of Gibraltar in trips that took half an hour and cost 4,000 euros ($4,870). Police say each jet ski carried between one and three migrants and a skipper over the less than 15 kilometers (almost 10 miles) from Morocco to Spain. It says that in the overall total of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Africa, the number arriving on jet skis is relatively small, but their use has increased sharply. Spain’s Guardia Civil and National Police, along with Europol, said in statements Thursday that the gang also used jet skis to smuggle cannabis. AP

‘Zambia Will Become Another Zimbabwe,’ Warns Opposition Leader
The last time I spoke to Hakainde Hichilema, he was trapped in a panic room in his Lusaka home. Dozens of riot police had stormed the opposition leader’s house in a violent predawn raid, and were now waiting outside to arrest him — or worse. “This guy, [President Edgar] Lungu, wants to kill me,” he said, his voice shaking on the telephone line, as the police tried to flush him and his family out of the panic room with teargas. That was a little over a year ago. Lawyers eventually negotiated safe passage for Hichilema and his family, but he was still slapped with a treason charge. Prosecutors said that he had endangered Lungu’s life by blocking the presidential motorcade at a cultural celebration but most observers agreed that this was simply a pretext by Lungu to crack down on his major political rival. Mail & Guardian

Boko Haram Attack Repelled in Nigeria
Nigerian forces repelled an attack by Boko Haram militants in the northeast city of Maiduguri on Thursday, the military said in a statement, the second such clash in a month. Blasts and gunfire were heard earlier by residents in the city which is the capital of Borno, the state worst hit by the insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate in the northeast which has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009. President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in 2015 vowing to end the insurgency, has made it a priority to improve security in Africa’s most populous country. The issue has become politically charged in the run-up to an election next year which Buhari said he wants to contest. VOA

Nigeria’s Communal Violence: It’s about More than Land
Clashes between herders and farmers in Nigeria have left hundreds dead in the past few months. While West African regional leaders met to address the crisis, Nigerian lawmakers are calling President Buhari to task. Eighteen people, including two priests, were killed in an attack on a church in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, on Tuesday. The killings were blamed on herdsmen and in retaliation 11 ethnic Hausa were killed and two mosques were attacked. Nigeria’s upper and lower houses of parliament have now called for President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before them over the continuing clashes between herdsmen and farmers and explain what the government has been doing to stop the violence. The lawmakers also called for the replacement of Nigeria’s security chiefs. Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the lower house of parliament, tweeted that the parliamentarians could not look on as citizens were being killed. Deutsche Welle

W Africa Faces Security Threat from Herders-Farmers Violence: UN
Clashes between cattle herders and farmers pose a threat to countries across West Africa and the Sahel, the UN warned on Thursday, after Nigeria’s parliament summoned President Muhammadu Buhari over escalating violence. Lawmakers from Nigeria’s lower chamber of parliament, the House of Representatives, called for Buhari to explain what his government was doing to stop increasingly bloody clashes in the country’s central region. On Tuesday, at least 18 people, including two Roman Catholic priests, were killed in an attack on a church near the state capital Makurdi that was blamed on herdsmen. AFP

‘Our Quarrel with Britain Is Over’ – Mnangagwa Yearns for British Love
As Robert Mugabe’s state security minister in 1980‚ President Emmerson Mnangagwa had front row exposure to relations between Zimbabwe and its former coloniser Britain. In his short stint as president he has gone all out to mend fences in a formerly progressive friendship. Last week Harare dispatched foreign affairs and international trade minister‚ retired Lieutenant-General Sibusiso Moyo‚ to London for a Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting. At a similar meeting on November 19 2003‚ Mugabe announced Zimbabwe’s departure from the league because of the United Kingdom’s stance on Zimbabwe’s land reform policy and developing political intolerance under Mugabe. Times Live

Chissano to Mediate the Madagascar Crisis
Former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano was Thursday expected in Antananarivo to mediate in the Madagascar political crisis. The 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) decided to urgently send Mr Chissano to the island state that has been in the grip of violent clashes between opposition supporters and security agencies. SADC made the decision at its summit in Luanda, Angola on Tuesday. Mr Chissano’s mission entails facilitating a national dialogue to calm down political tensions and come up with consensus on the electoral reforms. Meanwhile in Madagascar, diplomats struggled to meet with the various political actors. The East African

Why Bollore Criminal Case Resonates in France, Africa
Vincent Bollore, the French business executive and corporate raider with a $6.2 billion fortune, spent two days this week in decidedly downscale surroundings for someone of his wealth: a drab police station in the Paris suburb of Nanterre. After questioning, investigating judges lodged criminal charges against the 66-year-old alleging that his companies bribed public officials in Guinea and Togo to win contracts to operate ports there. Bollore denies wrongdoing, and the charges may still be dropped, but the case is the talk of Parisian corporate suites. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones