Africa Media Review for April 28, 2017

Map of Africa’s Militant Islamic Groups (April 2017)
A review of attacks by militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past year reveals considerable variation and a geographic concentration. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Hissène Habré, Ex-Ruler of Chad, Loses War Crimes Appeal
A court in Senegal on Thursday upheld the war crimes conviction of Hissène Habré, the former leader of a murderous government in Chad, keeping in place a life sentence and establishing a trust fund for the scores of victims who fought for years to bring him to justice. It took an hour for the court to read a summary of its more than 200-page ruling on an appeal from Mr. Habré, who did not appear in court. He has dismissed the entire case against him as sham justice by a court that he contends has no jurisdiction over the case. “Habré’s life sentence is a powerful message that the days when tyrants could brutalize their people, pillage their treasury and escape abroad to a life of luxury are coming to an end,” said Reed Brody, a lawyer who has doggedly pursued the case since 1999 on behalf of victims. AP

African Dictator’s Trial Opens Path to Justice Elsewhere
Souleymane Guengueng was barely able to walk or see when the prison doors swung open and he and hundreds of others were released in Chad in 1990 after dictator Hissene Habre fled. He then began collecting accounts of torture. A quarter-century later, those accounts helped convict and uphold a life sentence for Habre in a landmark trial that sets a precedent for victims elsewhere to pursue justice. “I have been fighting for this day since I walked out of prison more than 26 years ago,” said Guengueng after the appeals verdict on Thursday. “All that remains now are the reparations to satisfy what was decided today … because without those, justice is not complete.” An appeals court upheld Habre’s life sentence and confirmed that reparations of more than 82 billion CFA ($135 million) will be managed by a trust fund set up by the African Union. AP

‘I Cannot Go Back’: South Sudan Refugee Clan Begins New Life
Eighty-year-old Alfred Wani walks across the wooden bridge over the Kaya River, the border between South Sudan and Uganda, clinging to his Bibles and family photo album, with his wife, three goats and 27 relatives in tow. Missing are a few sons (off fighting) and his cattle (stolen). Alfred is one of more than 800,000 South Sudanese who have fled to Uganda since July. The civil war in South Sudan has killed tens of thousands and driven out more than 1.5 million people in the past three years, creating the world’s largest refugee crisis. The Bidi Bidi refugee camp in Uganda is now the biggest in the world, but Alfred is not going there. It’s full. Imvepi is his destination, where the Ugandan government will issue him with a 50-square-meter (60-square-yard) plot of land and hope for a better life. But that will take a week, two more camps and three more truck and bus rides with his clan and their salvaged belongings. The Washington Post

South Sudan’s Army Denies Losing Control of Troops
South Sudan’s military on Thursday insisted that it retained control of its forces following a claim that discipline had broken down. Festus Mogae, chairman of the commission monitoring the August 2015 peace deal, had claimed Wednesday that the command structures of all armed groups “appear to have broken down”. However, deputy military spokesman Col. Domino Santos told Anadolu Agency: “I don’t think that the statement by the Joint Monitoring Evaluation Commission is correct. “I think that the army’s general command is still holding, is still in intact and in place. Why? Almost all the towns controlled by the government forces are peaceful.” Anadolu Agency

South Sudan Admits Difficulty in Paying Recalled Diplomats
South Sudan, Thursday, admitted its failure since several months to pay salaries of its diplomats who are recalled to Juba, creating a havoc within its embassies abroad. Since September 2016, the foreign ministry has experienced difficulties to pay the salaries of its diplomatic staff. This failure also pushed Juba to suspend the recall of diplomats and attachés ordered in August 2016. However, this month the foreign ministry told them to use the salaries of October and November 2016 that it has just transferred to return home by the end of April. Several diplomats wondered how they can return knowing that they have debts in banks, not paying their rentals for more than five months. Also, they wondered how they can leave alone children in schools. Sudan Tribune

Some African States Oppose a Return by S.Sudan Rebel Machar -UN
East African states and South Africa believe that allowing South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar to return to the war-torn country would not “necessarily be positive at this stage,” said United Nations envoy David Shearer on Wednesday. Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo in August after fierce fighting in South Sudan, is being held in South Africa to prevent him from stirring up trouble, diplomatic and political sources told Reuters in December. Shearer, who heads a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, confirmed that was the case. “The feeling very much within the region is that his role, in terms of bringing him back, wouldn’t necessarily be positive at this stage, so that’s the decision of regional governments and South Africa,” Shearer told reporters in New York. Reuters

In Egypt, Pope Seeks Christian-Muslim Rejection of Violence
Pope Francis is brushing off security concerns to forge ahead on Friday with a two-day trip to Egypt aimed at presenting a united Christian-Muslim front that repudiates violence committed in God’s name. Three weeks after Islamic militants staged twin Palm Sunday church attacks, Francis is to lands in Cairo in the early afternoon for a series of deeply symbolic encounters with Egypt’s religious and political leadership. He will meet with Egypt’s president, patriarch and the “other” pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and pray for victims of the attacks. Most importantly, he will also visit Al-Azhar, the revered 1,000-year-old seat of learning in Sunni Islam. There, he will meet privately with grand imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, and participate in an international peace conference Friday afternoon. AP

Zimbabwe, SA’s Diplomatic Row Escalates
A diplomatic row has escalated between South Africa and Zimbabwe over Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s remarks that Zimbabweans are criminals. Zimbabwe’s High Commissioner to South Africa Isaac Moyo has visited the International Relations Department in Pretoria to register strong disagreement with Mbalula’s statement that members of the Zimbabwe Army are engaging in violent crimes in South Africa. The department’s spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, says he has no information regarding claims that South Africa’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Mphakama Mbete has been summoned to clarify Mbalula’s remarks. SABC

Kenya to Recruit 10,000 Policemen Ahead of August 8 Polls
Kenya’s National Police Service has opened applications to recruit 10,000 more people ahead of the general elections on August 8, 2017. Selection of the recruits will be done on May 11 and induction will be done after a nine-month training, the police service announced. “Applicants recruited for the training into the service shall be bonded to serve in the National Police Service for a minimum of ten years,” Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said in a statement published by local media. Some of the recruits are likely to be deployed to cover the general elections, Standard Media newspaper reported. Africa News

Alarm over Cameroon Media Sanctions
Cameroon media watchdog, the National Communication Council (NCC), has slammed the six-months ban on the French language weekly the Epervier Plus. The publisher of the Epervier Plus,Ms Tamouya N. Gladys, was banned from practising journalism in the country for the same period. NCC termed the sanctions for alleged flouting of media ethics, as a major purge on press freedom in Cameroon, a week to the commemoration of the 2017 World Press Freedom Day. The media regulator announced the sanctions on Wednesday. It accused the paper of publishing “unfounded claims” that a local administrative officer embezzled funds for indemnities for an indigenous community. Africa Review

Court Delays Trial of Burkina Faso Ex-Leader for Protest Killings
A court in Burkina Faso on Thursday postponed the trial of former leader Blaise Compaore and his cabinet for their alleged role in killing protesters during an uprising in October 2014 that overthrew his government. The unrest saw crowds of hundreds of thousands marched in the capital Ouagadougou against Compaore’s attempt to prolong his 27-year rule, driving him into exile in Ivory Coast where he remains. “After concertation, we agreed to meet on May 4 at 9:00 a.m.,” said the high court’s president Mathieu Ouedraogo. The decision followed a request from a lawyer for the defence. Reuters

Kenyan Opposition Chooses Odinga to Run Against Kenyatta
An alliance of Kenyan opposition parties chose former Prime Minister Raila Odinga as its candidate to run against President Uhuru Kenyatta in elections scheduled for August. Odinga’s running mate on the National Super Alliance ticket will be former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, co-principal Musalia Mudavadi said Thursday at a rally in the capital, Nairobi. The two were recommended by a technical committee that also considered Mudavadi and Senator Moses Wetang’ula as potential candidates. “The one who will fly the NASA flag is engineer, the Right Honorable Raila Odinga,” Mudavadi said to the cheers of thousands of supporters at a rally in Uhuru Park in the city center. Bloomberg

Election Violence Dampening Prospects of Economic Growth
The violence that has hit the primaries of Jubilee and Nasa is sending disturbing signals that are likely to dampen economic prospects. The political climate has diverted capital and labour, from productive engagement to political campaigns. Perception of a looming disaster is strong enough to influence rational investors to wait and see the outcome of the elections before making commitments on how much and where to invest. The history of political violence and resulting economic damage, reached its peak in 2007/8. This prompted a search for peace by the government and other interested parties to lower political temperatures and safeguard economic. Daily Nation

Sierra Leone President Promises to Hand over Power to Successor “Graciously” Next Year
President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone said Thursday he will be leaving office next year and “graciously hand over” to his succesor. In his last state-of-the-nation address, delivered on the country’s 56th independence anniversary, Koroma said he was leaving a “legacy of peace and unity” that all Sierra Leoneans should be committed to defend. A presidential election has been scheduled for March 2018. Koroma commended the country for its resilience, noting that over the years, he has observed that his countrymen have learnt to overcome the challenges of war, disease and division. Xinhua

Sudan’s New Government To Be Announced Next Week: Official
Sudanese Presidential Assistant Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid Wednesday said the government of national concord will be announced next week pointing that two political hasn’t yet handed over lists of their candidates. Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum Wednesday, Hamid said the number of ministries in the upcoming government will not exceed 31, pointing the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) would give up a number of his ministries to the political parties participating in the national dialogue. He stressed the current presidency, parliament speaker and states’ governors wouldn’t be impacted by the formation of the new government, denying that additional presidential advisors’ posts would be created. Sudan Tribune

No Confirmation of Reported Changes to US Immigration Policies for Somalis
Somalia’s ambassador to the U.S., Ahmed Isse Awad, says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has informed his embassy the agency will no longer arrest illegal Somali immigrants in their homes or at their workplaces. However, federal authorities have not confirmed that there has been any shift in policy. Awad said the agency reached the decision after his embassy expressed concern to immigration authorities regarding the recent arrests of 11 Somalis in Virginia, Minnesota and Georgia. “Once we found out that 11 Somalis were arrested from their homes for removal, we thought the arrests looked [like] profiling and targeting Somalis. Then we submitted our concern to ICE and asked clarification,” Awad told VOA’s Somali service. “Fortunately, they came back to us tell us that they would no longer arrest Somalis from their homes or at their workplaces.” VOA

Jonathan Blames Obama for 2015 Election Defeat
Lagos- Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan has blamed Barack Obama for his 2015 presidential election defeat to Muhammadu Buhari, alleging the former US president headed a global conspiracy to get rid of him. Jonathan made the allegations in a new book out on Friday called Against The Run of Play, which documents how he became the first Nigerian incumbent head of state to lose an election. He said Obama and his officials “made it very clear to me by their actions that they wanted a change of government in Nigeria and were ready to do anything to achieve that purpose”. “They even brought some naval ships into the Gulf of Guinea in the days preceding the election,” he was quoted as saying in the 204-page book, by journalist Olusegun Adeniyi. News 24

Namibian President Calls on SADC to Urgently Address Land Issue
Namibian President Hage Geingob has called on Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states to urgently address the land question. He is on a three-day state visit to Zimbabwe. Geingob will also open the Zimbabwean International Trade fair on Tuesday. While the two SADC member countries cement relations, President Robert Mugabe reminded attendees of the road they had travelled to attain freedom. “We share the conviction that given the price that was paid to make us free.” His Namibian counterpart President Geingob weighed in on the issue of land, as SADC member countries, including South Africa battle with restitution. SABC

Britain Accuses Ghana Lawmakers of Visa Fraud
The British authorities have accused three members of Ghana’s Parliament and a former lawmaker of visa fraud, saying the men abused their diplomatic privileges to help people travel to Britain. Jon Benjamin, the British high commissioner to Ghana, described the men’s behavior as “completely unacceptable” and said that in some cases, “these behaviors may arguably be criminal in nature.” His complaints were made in a letter to Ghana’s speaker of Parliament that was leaked to the news media on Wednesday. The men were accused of falsifying visa documents and helping secure travel documents for family members who overstayed their visas. Each man faces a 10-year travel ban to Britain, according to the British authorities. Some African political and business leaders have received attention for long vacations in Europe. Some also send their children to elite schools there or travel for medical and cosmetic treatments. AP

Liberia Says Cause of Mystery Deaths Unknown But Ebola Ruled Out
Health authorities in Liberia say the mysterious disease that killed nine people was not Ebola as was previously feared. Dr. Francis Kateh told the BBC that from tests they run on the blood samples and other bodily fluids of the deceased, they are not dealing with Ebola. He further stressed that they were carrying out further checks to ascertain the exact condition that led to the deaths in south eastern Sinoe county of the the West African country. ‘‘We are all having sleepless nights to make sure we find what is causing the deaths,’‘ he is quoted to have said. Beside the nine deaths, authorities have disclosed that eight others are being held in isolation. Health authorities on Wednesday issued strict guidelines to citizens on what to do as they investigate the illness. The instructions were largely those in place during the deadly Ebola outbreak. Africa News

Why Do So Many Africans Drown?
[…] Many people in and around the East and Central Africa’s Great Lakes region can’t swim, even those who make their living on the water. Their wooden vessels are often shoddy and overloaded with sacks of produce or other goods. And few of them can afford life jackets or other flotation devices. Among those who can, some say the life jackets are uncomfortable so they don’t wear them. They’re part of what the World Health Organization calls “a public health challenge” with an “intolerable death toll.” WHO lists Africa as the region with the highest rate of drowning in the world, with about 8 drownings for every 100,000 people. By comparison, just 1.5 people drown to death for every 100,000 Americans. In Germany it’s 0.6. One of the most dangerous spots is Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest body of fresh water with a shoreline stretching across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. There’s a lack of good data, but the regional Lake Victoria Basin Commission estimates that 5,000 people perish below its waters every year. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones