Africa Media Review for April 30, 2018

Suspected Jihadists Kill Dozens of Tuaregs in Mali
Suspected jihadists killed dozens of Tuaregs on Mali’s northeastern border with Niger, informed sources said Saturday, in the second such attack in two days. The former Tuareg rebel group MSA and tribal leaders said the massacre occurred Friday, a day after another attack by gunmen on motorbikes had left 12 people dead outside the town of Anderamboukane, which is also in the same area. “There have been 43 deaths in two days, all civilians, from the same community,” tribal leader Sidigui Ag Hamadi told AFP from the regional capital Menaka. “Our fighters are destroying their bases and wiping them out. They are targeting innocent civilians,” he added seeing the bloodletting as reprisals for attacks on jihadists by armed Tuarag groups. France 24

Nigeria’s Buhari to Discuss Terrorism, Economy with Trump in Washington
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari is slated to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington Monday. The two leaders are expected to discuss the threat of terrorism and economic growth in Africa’s most populous country of almost 200 million people. Nigeria has been plagued by extremist group Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency nine years ago with the aim of creating an Islamic State. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, and hundreds of school girls kidnapped, as the group gained notoriety and spread to neighboring countries, posing one of the most severe threats to West Africa’s Sahel region in recent years. VOA

Islamic State Offshoot Stakes Lake Chad Territory
From the shores of Lake Chad, Islamic State’s West African ally is on a mission: winning over the local people. Digging wells, giving out seeds and fertilizer and providing safe pasture for herders are among the inducements offered by Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), which split from Nigeria’s Boko Haram in 2016. “If you are a herder, driver or trader, they won’t touch you — just follow their rules and regulations governing the territory,” said a herder, who moves cattle in and out of ISWA territory and whose identity Reuters is withholding for his safety. “They don’t touch civilians, just security personnel.” The campaign, which has created an economy for ISWA to tax, is part of the armed insurgent group’s push to control territory in northeastern Nigeria and in Niger.  VOA

At Least 47 Drown Fleeing Clashes in Northwestern Congo
At least 47 people drowned when their boat capsized as they fled clashes between soldiers in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo and armed men who had crossed the border from neighboring Congo Republic, a provincial governor said on Friday. The overcrowded river boat overturned on the Ubangi River that divides the two countries on Tuesday as residents of the town of Dongo raced to flee an outbreak of fighting between the soldiers and “bandits” from a tribal militia, said the governor of South Ubangi province, Joachim Taila Nage. Tens of thousands of Congolese fled violence that broke out in 2009 between the local Enyele and Munzaya tribes over farming and fishing rights around Dongo. Reuters

Motive for Mass Killings in Congo Is Mystery, but Suffering Is Clear
The resource-rich but deeply troubled Democratic Republic of Congo is the site of some of Africa’s longest-running conflicts — and the world’s largest peacekeeping mission.About 20,000 United Nations peacekeepers operate in Congo, Africa’s second-largest country by land mass, trying to keep its residents safe from the hundreds of armed groups that hide in and strike from its hills, especially in its east. Violence is nothing new here, but a recent wave of brutal fighting has broken out in the province of Ituri, on the border with Uganda, raising concerns about a humanitarian catastrophe. More than 260 people have died and more than 200,000 have fled their homes since December in a conflict started by a scuffle between youths from two local ethnic communities, the Lendu and Hema. The United Nations peacekeeping mission announced this past week it had discovered five suspected mass grave sites near some of the villages attacked in February and March, when the violence peaked. The New York Times

Suicide Bomber Kills 4 Somali Army Officers
At least four Somali government soldiers have been killed and six wounded by a suicide bomber who attacked a tea restaurant in the divided town of Galkayo in central Somalia, witnesses and officials said Saturday. The attack happened on the northern side of the town controlled by the Puntland semi-autonomous region. “A young man wearing a suicide vest rushed toward the restaurant where government security officials and their guards gathered and blew himself up,” a witnesses told VOA. Government officials in the region have confirmed that two senior military commanders were among those killed in the attack. VOA

US Delegation in Sudan for ‘Normalization’ Talks
A U.S. congressional delegation arrived in Sudan on Sunday for talks with Sudanese officials — the first visit since the lifting of U.S. sanctions last year. Led by Congressman Luis Vicente Gutierrez, the delegation will meet with Sudanese Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Salih and a host of senior official as well as opposition leaders and representatives of the civil society organizations. Talks are expected to focus on ways of normalizing relations between Khartoum and Washington following the lifting of the U.S. sanctions in October. In statements to local media, Sudanese parliament speaker Ibrahim Ahmed Omer said the discussions will include a host of issues, including lifting Sudan from the U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism. Anadolu Agency

Igad Foreign Ministers in Juba on Shuttle Diplomacy
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) Foreign ministers Sunday met South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in Juba over peace in the country. The Igad team arrived in the capital of the young nation on Saturday. The South Sudanese Presidency said the Igad team’s mission was to narrow the disagreements between government and rebels threatening to collapse the upcoming peace talks. The visit to Juba comes a few days after the regional bloc announced the postponement of the talks to May 17-21. Igad faces intense pressure from the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Norway and other donors to achieve peace in the upcoming final talks. Juba recently warned that it would hold elections if the upcoming talks failed. The East African

European Union Agrees to Send Election Observers to Zimbabwe
The European Union said it will send a delegation to monitor Zimbabwe’s general elections for the first time in 16 years as relations between the southern African nation and Western countries continue to improve. Zimbabwe is required by its constitution to hold general and presidential elections by Aug. 22. The vote will be the first without Robert Mugabe, who stepped down as the nation’s leader in November, since 1980. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 75-year-old former intelligence chief who replaced Mugabe, has been nominated by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front as its presidential candidate. Five elections between 2000 and 2013 were marred by allegations of rigging, violence and intimidation, with Western nations accusing Mugabe of human-rights abuses and manipulating the vote. The EU has been blocked from observing polls since after the 2002 vote. Bloomberg

US Counterterror Fight in Africa Also Turns to Local Police
Under the watchful eyes of U.S. authorities, an elite group of local police officers in Niger’s capital slipped into a home, rescued a “hostage,” detained an “extremist” and pretended to kill another. The police training in one of Africa’s most remote, impoverished countries is crucial as extremists linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaida carry out increasingly bold attacks in West Africa’s vast Sahel region. In October, four U.S. soldiers and five Nigeriens were killed in an ambush claimed by Islamic State group-linked fighters in rural Niger. Amid questions over the role of the U.S. military in this part of the world, there is a renewed focus on training local law enforcement officers in the hopes that extremism can be better countered at the community level and along borders. The challenges are great in Niger, where residents of its vast, largely ungoverned spaces say they are losing confidence in authorities. AP

Police Intervene as Opening of Sierra Leone Parliament Is Overtaken by Chaos
Julius Maada Bio’s fledgling tenure as president of Sierra Leone was punctuated by renewed controversy after police forcibly removed members of the opposition from the opening session of the new parliament. A week of mounting tensions in Freetown culminated on Wednesday with officers escorting 16 members of the All People’s Congress party from the chamber for disruptive behaviour. In a show of political solidarity, they were followed by the remaining members of the APC party, which was unseated after a decade in power when Bio won a contentious run-off election against Samura Kamara at the beginning of April. “Today, yesterday, they were both chaotic,” said Khursve Kargbo, regional operations manager for the Sierra Leone police. The Guardian

Tunisia’s Police, Military Vote for First Time in Decades
More than 36,000 soldiers and police officers have registered to vote in the first local elections since the Arab Spring. But some police unions have pushed back, saying security forces should remain “neutral.” Security personnel on Sunday cast votes in municipal elections for the first time since a ban on voting for members of the police and military was lifted earlier this year. “This is a historic day,” a police officer told AFP news agency after casting his vote in the capital Tunis. “For the first time we are exercising a right of citizenship.” In January, parliament struck down the decades-old ban preventing members of the military and police from voting. The ban against service members came into effect shortly after independence in 1956 and was later expanded to include police and state security in the 1980s. Deutsche Welle

At Least 15 Migrants Die after Boat Sinks off Algerian Coast
At least 15 African migrants died on Sunday when their boat trying to reach Europe capsized off the Algerian coast, a coast guard official said. Coast guard and civil protection authorities rescued 19 of 34 people on board, state news agency APS said. The boat sank off the coast of Oran, a city some 450 kilometers west of the capital Algiers, the official told Ennahar TV station, adding that the boat had departed from Morocco. No details on nationalities were provided. Reuters

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame Accuses ICC of Bias against Africa
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has repeated his harsh criticism of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for what he calls open bias against Africa, saying it has failed to mete out justice in any other part of the world. “The ICC was supposed to address the whole world, but it ended up covering only Africa,” Kagame said on Saturday at a meeting with British-Sudanese telecoms tycoon and philanthropist Mo Ibrahim in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. “From the time of its inception, I said there was a fraud basis on which it was set up and how it was going to be used. I told people that this would be a court to try Africans, not people from across the world. Al Jazeera

UN Adopts Resolution Urging Solution for Western Sahara
The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Friday aimed at speeding up a solution to the 42-year conflict over the Western Sahara between Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement amid heightened tensions over the mineral-rich territory. The vote on the U.S.-sponsored resolution in the 15-member council was 12-0 with Russia, China and Ethiopia abstaining. The three countries complained that the United States refused to accept suggested changes to the text and said it was unbalanced — indicating it was too critical of the Polisario and too pro-Moroccan. Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front. The U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and to help prepare a referendum on the territory’s future that has never taken place. AP

Angola’s Wealth Fund to Sack Asset Manager, President Consolidates Power
The most powerful body in Angola’s ruling MPLA party said on Friday it had approved the candidacy of state president Joao Lourenco to become head of the party, replacing his predecessor as head of state Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The move coincided with an announcement by Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund that it was sacking Swiss-based Quantum Global as its asset manager because it was concerned about the way its capital was being invested. Both developments will further cement the political grip of Lourenco, who has taken action against dos Santos’ allies and removed family members from key positions while pledging to root out endemic corruption and clean up public finances in Africa’s No. 2 crude producer. Reuters

Sirleaf Knocks Africa’s Sit Tight Presidents, Tells Them to Leave Power
African leaders resisting “democratic transformation” must heed their citizens’ calls for change, former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said on Saturday after receiving an award aimed at promoting good leadership on the continent. Without naming specific countries or leaders, she referred to “laggard” countries in the region of one billion people who are “not meeting democratic transformation”. “Their own citizens are making the call for change and I don’t think they can continue to resist or deny that call for change,” Johnson Sirleaf told Reuters after accepting the award in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones