Africa Media Review for April 4, 2018

Ethiopia Frees Journalists, Politicians Rearrested under Martial Law
Local media in Ethiopia are reporting the release of recently detained journalists and activists. A total of 19 people were picked up in Bahir Dar, capital of the Amhara regional state on March 26 for flouting orders under a state of emergency. The arrested party included politicians and journalists who were only recently freed (in February 2018) under a government announced political reform program earlier in January. They were arrested primarily for an unauthorized gathering and use of a banned national flag. The gathering according to one of the detainees, blogger Befeqadu Hailu, was a welcome party for recently released prisoners. Africa News

5 Cameroon Soldiers Killed in Boko Haram Attack
At least five soldiers have been killed and three others injured in a Boko Haram attack in northern part of the country near the Nigerian border, according to military sources on Tuesday. “The station of the elements of the 41st Motorized Infantry Battalion [BIM] based in Sagme [village in northern Cameroon] … was attacked on Monday at 6 p.m. [1700 GMT] by Boko Haram fighters aboard pickups,” Brig. Gen. Bouba Dobekreo, commander of a joint military operation in the area, said. Another general said attackers had taken away heavy weapons and also set ablaze the Sagme military post before fleeing to neighboring Nigeria. Anadolu Agency

Spreading Nigerian Violence Draws Military to Policing Role
It’s a common scene along Nigeria’s main roads — barriers stopping cars, machine-gunners poised behind sandbags and stern-looking soldiers checking vehicle trunks and scrutinizing the faces of passengers. While soldiers held power for 29 years and have always played an internal security role in Nigeria, their deployment has surged since former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in 2015. Operating in all 36 states, they’re dealing with a range of crises: Islamist militant attacks in the northeast, simmering unrest in the oil-producing Niger River delta, conflict between crop farmers and herders and widespread robberies and kidnapping. “The increasing deployment of military forces for internal security operations across the country underscores the profoundly dysfunctional state of Nigeria’s public safety institutions, particularly the ineffectiveness of the police force,” said Nnamdi Obasi, West Africa analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Bloomberg

Mali Mass Grave Victims Had Been in Military Custody, Claims Amnesty
A mass grave has been found in central Mali, amid a deteriorating security situation marked by bombings and abductions by armed groups, and unlawful killings by the military, according to Amnesty International. The six bodies found in the grave were of people arrested several days earlier by the military, residents of the village of Dogo told the human rights group. Searching for the missing group, villagers said they discovered thee bodies buried and blindfolded. Sixty-five people have died in bombings since the beginning of the year and the increasing number of attacks by armed groups, including Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin’ (JNIM), have left over 200,000 children out of education as schools have closed. The Guardian

Militias Kill UN Peacekeeper in Central African Republic; 21 Others Dead
Christian militias stormed a U.N. base in southern Central Africa Republic early on Monday, killing one peacekeeper and wounding 11, the United Nations said. At around 5 a.m. (0400 GMT), armed anti-balaka militants attacked the base in Tagbara, about 300 km (190 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui, a U.N. statement said. The ensuing gunfight lasted hours, and 22 anti-balaka were also killed, the statement said. Later in the morning, peacekeepers discovered 21 dead civilians, including four children, near a church in Tagbara. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for those deaths. VOA

Sierra Leone Polls: EU Observers Criticise Parties, State Institutions for Sabotaging NEC’s Reputation
The European Union observer mission (EOM) in Sierra Leone has commended the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for consistently executing its duties professionally, even when political parties and state institutions provoked and potentially sabotaged its reputation. Presenting its preliminary report in Freetown on Tuesday, the EU mission called out political parties for ‘publicly calling for peace but privately fuelling a divisive discourse and unwarranted attacks and demands on the NEC’. ‘‘The EOM evaluates that the NEC continued to perform its duties in a professional manner in the preparation of, and during, the run-off election at the time of issuing this Preliminary Statement.’‘  Africa News

Germany Ends Military Mission in Somalia
Germany has formally ended its military training mission in Somalia, the country’s armed forces (Bundeswehr) announced on Tuesday. The armed forces have completed the withdrawal of military personnel and equipment from Somalia, Bundeswehr said on its webpage. “In future, the engagement of Germany in Somalia will focus on the development of civilian structures to ensure security for the population,” it said. Anadolu Agency

Renewed Clashes Erupt in Libya’s Sabha; Soldier Killed
A Libyan soldier was killed Tuesday in renewed clashes in the southwestern city of Sabha amid conflicting reports as to who was responsible, according to a Libyan military source. The source, who spoke to Anadolu Agency anonymously due to restrictions on speaking to media, said the clashes had occurred near Sabha’s militarized zone. The militarized zone includes several military installations, including a camp affiliated with the army’s Sixth Brigade, members of which are drawn mainly from the Awlad Suleiman tribe. Anadolu Agency

Chad, Libya, Niger and Sudan Agree to Fight Transnational “Crime”
Sudan and three other countries Chad, Libya and Niger, Tuesday agreed to “coordinate the actions” of their armed forces to fight against the transnational “crime” in the region, say two statements issued in Niamey and Khartoum. The four countries “agree on the establishment of a cooperation mechanism for border security and the fight against transnational organized crime”, says a statement issued in Niamey after the meeting. The statement says “the southern area of Libya became a hotbed of “serious persistent threats for the four countries”. This zone “serves as a base for” terrorist organizations”,” traffickers of all kinds and armed groups hostile to neighbouring countries” adding they aggravating the Libyan crisis by engaging in mercenaries activities. Sudan Tribune

DR Congo Wants UN Mission to Leave in 2020: Foreign Minister
The Democratic Republic of Congo wants the UN mission to leave the country in 2020, Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu said Tuesday, following a UN Security Council vote last week extending the peacekeepers’ mandate for another year. “We have let the Security Council know that the current mandate is considered to be the penultimate one, before the force leaves our county definitively after 20 years,” She Okitundu told a press conference in the capital Kinshasa. The United Nations has warned of a worsening humanitarian crisis in the DR Congo, with at least 13.1 million Congolese in need of aid, including 7.7 million who are severely food insecure. The Security Council on Tuesday tasked its huge peacekeeping mission in the DR Congo with helping to prepare elections meant to end President Joseph Kabila’s rule. The East African

Angola Cautions DRC Not to ‘Derail’ Elections
The Angolan government has cautioned Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) not to use a lack of funding as an excuse for further delay in the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections now due to be held on December 23. Angolan foreign minister Manuel Augusto in an interview with Daily Maverick in Pretoria on March 28 expressed the views of the Southern African region as a new poll showed that 69% of Congolese people do not trust the country’s electoral authority to organise free and fair elections and 80% disapprove of President Joseph Kabila. The poll by the Bureau d’Études, de Recherches, et de Consulting International (BERCI) and the Congo Research Group (CRG) at New York University also found that 74% of Congolese believe that Kabila should step down before the elections are held and 69% believe he should now declare explicitly that he will not be a candidate in this year’s elections. Daily Maverick

Kidnappers Demand $500,000 Ransom for Catholic Priest Taken in the Congo
Abductions in the Democratic Republic of Congo are not uncommon. But the kidnapping of priests as a way of extorting money from the community is a growing concern for the African nation. Captors of a Catholic Priest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have demanded $500,000 to release him, the country’s local assembly of bishops said on Tuesday. Father Celestin Nagango was abducted from his church in eastern Congo by armed men on Sunday, mere moments after he had delivered an Easter sermon at the parish. Now, the kidnappers are requesting money from the church. Deutsche Welle

Egypt Arrests News Editor amid Media Crackdown
Egyptian officials say authorities have arrested the editor of an independent news website for operating without a license, the latest episode in a crackdown on independent media. They say Adel Sabri was arrested late Tuesday and taken to a Cairo police station, while the offices of the Masr al-Arabia website were shuttered. Prosecutors are questioning him Wednesday. The arrest came a day after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi won a second, four-year term in office, with 97 percent of the vote in last week’s election. El-Sissi has since 2014 moved to tame the media, silencing critical voices and blocking hundreds of independent news sites as part of a wider campaign against dissent. AP

Sudan Prosecutor Charges Ex-PM of Plotting ‘Regime Overthrow’: Media
Sudan’s state security prosecutor has charged the country’s main opposition leader, Sadiq al-Mahdi, with collaborating with rebel groups to overthrow the regime of President Omar al-Bashir, a media network reported Tuesday. Bashir, backed by Islamists, toppled Mahdi’s civilian government in a 1989 coup after which the former prime minister’s Umma Party, Sudan’s main opposition group, has regularly campaigned against the policies of Bashir’s government. “Sudan state security prosecutor has filed a criminal case against Sadiq al-Mahdi for collaborating with rebel groups for overthrowing the regime” of Bashir, said a report published by Sudan Media Centre, a network close to Sudan’s powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The East African

Why Did Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu Scrap the African Migrant Deal?
[…] Netanyahu announced on his Facebook page he was suspending the deal after criticism from coalition hardliners and his nationalist voter base. They demand all migrants be expelled. On Tuesday, Netanyahu then went on to meet with residents of south Tel Aviv — an area where many African migrants live. Israeli residents there had voiced their anger, saying they felt slighted by the deal. The leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, had tweeted earlier on Tuesday the deal was “bad for Israel” and called on Netanyahu to cancel it completely. “Its approval would cause generations of crying and determine a precedent in Israel granting residency for illegal infiltrators”, he said. Migrants and asylum seekers have repeatedly been called infiltrators by Israeli right-wing politicians. Netanyahu had initially praised the UN deal, saying it was beneficial for both Israel and the migrants. Deutsche Welle

Rwanda Insists on Second-Hand Clothing Ban, Says U.S. Can Withdraw AGOA Benefits
The Rwandan government has said the United States has the right to withdraw benefits of Africa Growth and Opportunity Act ( AGOA), responding to the suspension of its eligibility for apparel exports. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Kigali signalled that it would not reverse restrictions on importation of used clothes and shoes, including those from the United States. “The notification by the United States on suspension of duty-free status for Rwandan apparel products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act ( AGOA) follows a decision by East African countries to raise tariffs on second-hand clothing imports, in order to promote local manufacturing capacity in garment and other industries,” read the statement. Africa News

South Africa Says Australia Retracted Claim of ‘Persecuted’ White Farmers
South Africa’s foreign minister said Monday that the Australian government had retracted comments by its home affairs minister suggesting that South Africa was not a “civilized country” because of its treatment of white farmers. In March, the minister, Peter Dutton, said that “persecuted” South African farmers deserved the protection of a “civilized country” — alluding to Australia — and said he would explore the possibility of fast-tracking refugee visas for them. The South African government has been considering a constitutional amendment to expropriate farmland without compensation to its owners to address racial disparities in the country. Mr. Dutton’s comments, as well as his suggestion that the farmers faced a “horrific circumstance,” drew fury in Pretoria, where government officials quickly demanded a retraction. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones