Africa Media Review for April 5, 2017

US Wants ‘Proof’ of Progress by Sudan’s Government on Darfur
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday the Trump administration wants to see “proof” from Sudan’s government — not more words — that it is making progress toward peace and protecting civilians in its vast and troubled Darfur region. A review of the 17,000-strong joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, which costs over $1 billion annually, is underway. Haley told the Security Council that the Sudanese government has tried to obstruct its operations “from day one” and “is still failing to protect its people.” “But against all of these odds, the mission has helped to protect civilians,” she said. The Sudanese government wants the joint mission, known as UNAMID, to leave. But Haley said after 10 years the council needs to see that the Sudanese government is doing far more to help its people by meeting benchmarks to ensure peace, protect civilians and prevent violence. “It is not enough for the government to promise to do better,” she said. “We need to see proof.” AP

UN Finds 13 More Mass Graves in DR Congo’s Kasai Region
The UN has said it has found 13 mass graves in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s central Kasai province since the beginning of March. This brings the number discovered since last August to 23. The UN has been unable to examine the mass graves and cannot say if they were recently dug. It estimates that over 400 people, including women and children, have been killed in clashes between the army and a rebel group. Jose Maria Aranaz, the director of the UN’s joint human rights office, told the BBC that it is important that “a transparent independent investigation take place” in order to reassure the population and to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. BBC

The Man Who Would Be King of Congo
On Oct. 4, 2016, Etienne Tshisekedi made his final address to a crowd gathered in the courtyard of his party’s headquarters. The longtime leader of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s opposition was visibly frail, and the speech, slow and hesitant, lasted only three minutes. But the old man still managed to rev up his followers, many of whom strained to hear from the road outside. Not long after Tshisekedi’s farewell speech, his son Felix led the opposition into talks with President Joseph Kabila’s ruling alliance that were supposed to resolve the thorny question of Congo’s democratic future. Kabila’s second and final term was due to expire on Dec. 20, but the government had no plan to hold elections. A constitutional crisis loomed on the horizon that many feared would lead to violence. It would have been difficult for Felix to fill his father’s shoes at any time, but Etienne’s myriad ailments could hardly have picked a more inopportune moment to overwhelm him. Foreign Policy

Witnesses: South Sudan Army Kills 16 in Town on Uganda Border
South Sudanese army soldiers killed as many as 16 people in a town near the Ugandan border, witnesses said. Hundreds of locals fled into Uganda following Monday’s violence in the town of Parjok. Witnesses said men wearing uniforms of the South Sudan army arrested more than 10 young people and executed them. A deputy spokesman for the army, Brigadier General Santo Dominic, said the troops had killed people whom he described as “bandits.” The general told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus that his forces had gone on the attack after he received reports that bandits were looting buildings and killing civilians. VOA

Allies Abandon South Africa President Jacob Zuma
South Africa’s powerful trades union federation Cosatu has called for President Jacob Zuma to step down. Its Secretary General Bheki Ntshalintshali said he was no longer the “right person” to lead the country. Anti-apartheid struggle veterans have also called on the African National Congress (ANC) to recall the president. Mr Zuma has been under growing pressure following a major cabinet reshuffle which included the sacking of respected Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. That led to South Africa’s credit rating being cut to junk status putting more pressure on a troubled economy. BBC

Eritrea Slams US Sanctions after North Korea Military Deal
Eritrea has criticized the United States for slapping “misguided” sanctions on its navy, a month after it emerged the secretive Horn of Africa nation tried to buy military equipment from North Korea. The US announced last week it had banned dealings with the Eritrean navy under a non-proliferation law which prohibits trading in certain military equipment with North Korea, Syria and Iran. While no details were given, the move comes after a United Nations sanctions monitoring body reported in February that an air shipment of military-grade communications equipment had been intercepted on its way to Eritrea from North Korea via China. Eritrea’s information ministry said in a statement seen by AFP on Tuesday that the sanctions were “inexplicable and unwarranted”. France 24

Benin Parliament Rejects Bill Aiming to Reduce Presidential Terms
Benin’s parliament narrowly rejected a draft bill by President Patrice Talon on Tuesday for a referendum to reform the constitution, including a provision to reduce presidential terms from the current two to one. Talon came to power a year ago, promising to reduce the term limit because he said two terms were a cause of “complacency”. Benin presidents can currently serve two five-year stints, and the bill wanted to shrink that to one six-year mandate. Talon’s efforts to reduce term limits after a year in office contrasts with some other African leaders, including in Rwanda, Congo Republic and Burundi, who have scrapped them to stay in power. His peaceful election last year was seen as reinforcing the democratic credentials of the tiny nation in a West African region where polls are often marred by violence, intimidation and rigging. Reuters

Foreign Fighters go Back to Europe: African Official
Thousands of foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq and Libya have returned to their home countries in Europe, an African intelligence official said. Shimeles Semayat, the Executive-Secretary of the Committee of the Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA), said between 20 to 40% of foreign fighters in the three war-torn countries have returned home according to many intelligence reports. He said those fighters can move freely through the African continent as they are holding western passports. “This is an extreme threat to the African countries,” Semayat told the opening session of a conference of African intelligence officials in Khartoum on Monday. The three-day meeting brings together dozens of intelligence and security officials from nearly 30 African countries to discuss ways of drafting counter-terrorism strategies in Africa. Anadolu Agency

Boko Haram: What’s In a Message?
Besides the unrelenting violence that characterizes Boko Haram, a revealing, but often-ignored, aspect of the group’s public outreach is its messaging. Boko Haram’s desire to spread its narrative has been one of the most important features of the group’s insurgency. Recent research conducted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) examines the content of 145 public messages from Boko Haram between 2010 and August 2016, when the movement split into two factions. Some themes recur throughout the 145 messages. For example, as the graphic below shows, nearly half of all messages have relayed Boko Haram attack claims, increasing awareness on group activities and presenting the movement in a strong light. ISS

Displaced by Boko Haram Violence, the Resourceful on Lake Chad’s Shores Try Again
Two thousand people were killed in and around Doron Baga by hardline Islamists Boko Haram in January 2015, causing a mass exodus across the lake to the Chadian shores. The combination of Nigerian refugees and the internally displaced island Chadians fleeing Boko Haram has put a big strain on resources. This has also impacted the local people, who live in what the UN considers one of the poorest countries in the world. There are some 304,000 people in the region suffering from food security, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Some have used their ingenuity to help feed their families, in addition to the food aid they receive. RFI

Nigeria Politicians Eye 2019 If President Buhari Doesn’t Run
Uncertainty over whether Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will run for a second term in 2019 has set off an early race to succeed him in Africa’s most populous nation, according to a senior ruling party official. Buhari, 74, stayed more than seven weeks in the U.K. this year to receive treatment for an undisclosed ailment, sparking concern about government paralysis and triggering speculation about the severity of his condition. He returned to Nigeria on March 10, but is expected to fly back to London for further care, his spokesman said last week, without specifying when he would depart. “Because of the feeling that the president may not run for a second term, people are already gearing up,” Nasir El-Rufai, a senior official of the ruling All Progressives Congress and governor of the central state of Kaduna, said in an interview Monday in Johannesburg. Bloomberg

Somali Pirates Attack, Raising Fears That a Menace Is Back
After years of quiet seas, undisturbed voyages and no major attacks, Somali pirates have waylaid four ships in the past month, raising fears that the pirate menace has returned to the Indian Ocean. A Pakistani-owned cargo vessel carrying food was hijacked off the coast of central Somalia, Somali officials said on Tuesday, just days after an Indian cargo ship was commandeered and dragged to an infamous pirate den. In the past, pirates have hit just about anything that floated: yachts, freighters, dhows, sailboats, mammoth oil tankers — even an American naval ship, by mistake. But the piracy heydays were thought to be over. Until now, the problem seemed to have disappeared. Analysts said a number of factors had driven the resurgence in piracy, including drought, famine, corruption, a surge of smuggled weapons and the influence of the Islamic State. Continue reading the main story All of the recent attacks, including a hijacked oil tanker last month, are believed to have been carried out by buccaneers from central Somalia or Puntland, a semiautonomous region in northeastern Somalia. The New York Times

West Africa Seeks to Bring Order to Troubled, Lawless Waters
The outline of a ship slowly emerged from the haze, and the crew of the Ivory Coast’s naval patroller Le Bouclier said it was a Colombian vessel suspected of smuggling drugs that they had been hunting for several hours. As Le Bouclier closed in, seeking to hail the suspect ship over the radio, elite troops readied compact assault rifles designed especially for close-quarter combat. The hot pursuit was, in reality, a training run – part of a U.S.-sponsored exercise meant to mirror the reality of the Gulf of Guinea, some of the world’s most under-policed waters, where maritime criminals smuggle drugs, hijack vessels, illegally fish and sell stolen oil from Nigeria. A decline in Somali piracy left the gulf the world’s center for attacks at sea. More than half of all maritime kidnapping victims in 2016 were captured off West Africa, according to International Maritime Bureau statistics. SABC

Presidential Edict Extends South Africa’s Anti-Piracy Commitment
South Africa’s contribution to continental counter-piracy – Operation Copper – along the east coast has been extended for another 12 months. The announcement extending the tri-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) operation based in the Mozambique Channel was made yesterday (Monday April 3) in a statement issued by the Presidency. “President Jacob Zuma has, in terms of section 201(2)(c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, extended the employment of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for service in fulfillment of the international obligations of the Republic of South Africa towards the Southern African Development Community (SADC) maritime security, in the Mozambique channel,” the statement said in part, adding 200 SANDF members will continue monitoring and deterring piracy activities along the southern African coast of the Indian Ocean. The deployment has been extended for the period April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. DefenceWeb

The Ugly Side Of Being An African Student In India
Five Nigerian students were booked under charges of murder but let off when no evidence was found linking them with the boy or drugs. On the 27th, a candlelight vigil was held for the teenager outside a mall in the neighborhood. But the vigil turned violent; a mob attacked some Africans with sticks, metal bins and chairs. Nigerian students Precious Amalawa and his brother, Endurance, were eating at a KFC in that mall and were caught in the melee as they tried to leave.[…] Many do not realize that in its own modest way India is a magnet for African students looking for an international experience during higher studies. In his paper about perceptions of African students by the local community in the Indian city of Pune, anthropologist Wondwosen Teshome-Bahiru says there are several “push and pull factors” behind this. The push factors include “shortage of higher academic institutions” in parts of Africa as well as “political instability” in some African countries. The pull factors are the affordability of higher education in India as compared to the West, the fact that the medium of instruction is English and “fast and less complicated” admission procedures. Many come to study IT since India is well known for that globally. NPR

Saharan Tribal Chiefs Pledge to Stop Flow of Migrants Heading for Europe via Libya
Tribal leaders in the Sahara have pledged to stop the flood of migrants trying to reach the Mediterranean coast of Libya, in return for aid and development from Europe. Italy was the unwilling recipient of 181,000 migrants last year and has spearheaded efforts to halt the exodus of dinghies and boats leaving the Libyan coast. In the latest initiative, around 60 chieftains from the southern deserts of Libya were brought together in Rome to thrash out a peace deal between warring tribes and find a way to staunch the human trafficking. The Telegraph

Magufuli Appoints Opposition Leader in Historic Pick
President John Pombe Magufuli has appointed leader of the opposition party the Alliance for Change and Transparency -Wazalendo Kitila Mkumbo, as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. Since the re-introduction of multiparty democracy in Tanzania, no senior opposition politician has been appointed to a key government position. Prof Mkumbo parted ways with the main opposition Chadema in 2013 after the party expelled him alongside Zitto Kabwe. They had been implicated in a plot to oust chairman Freeman Mbowe. The two then formed a new party. Prof Mkumbo had been a member of the party’s central committee. Mr Kabwe, ACT-Wazalendo’s founder and party supremo and an arch critic of President Magufuli, was not immediately available for comment. The East African

Former US President Bush Touts Signature Africa AIDS Program in Botswana
Former U.S. President George W. Bush touted his signature aid project for Africa during a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, saying he hoped Washington would recognize its importance in saving lives threatened by AIDS. Launched in 2003 during the first Bush administration, PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is the world’s largest provider of AIDS-fighting medicine and has branched out over the years to include provision of services for cervical cancer, which is linked to HIV infections in women. U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed steep cuts in the budget for diplomacy and foreign aid but his administration has so far said it will “maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment” under PEPFAR. Bush, visiting a clinic with his wife Laura that provides screening and treatment for cervical cancer, said he hoped such commitments would remain. VOA

Ethiopia: World Bank Ignores Land Grabbing
Sales of huge land areas of Ethiopia, by the Ethiopian government, to foreign investors, have led to starvation and forced displacement. In his documentary Dead Donkeys Fear no Hyenas, Swedish film director Joakim Demmer exposes the consequences of land grabbing, and holds the World Bank complicit. The chase for this Green Gold started over ten years ago. Just before the global financial crisis, agricultural land areas in developing countries became a target for investment among global investors. Joakim Demmer experienced at first hand at the Addis Abeba airport how emergency food supplies was being unloaded while local food produce was being loaded for export. IPS

Why Ethiopia is Building a Space Programme
The ancient holy town of Lalibela, perched some 2,500 meters above sea-level in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, boasts some of the clearest night skies imaginable. Ethiopian stargazers dream that the mountains around Lalibela may one day host a world-class observatory to rival the big ones in Chile and Hawaii. And in time Ethiopia hopes to do more than just gaze at the stars. It would like to launch its own satellites, too. In January the government said it would launch a Chinese-built civilian satellite from an overseas rocket pad within the next five years. It would be designed to Ethiopian specifications and used to monitor crops and the weather, and doubtless to spy on neighbours, too. The government also wants to reduce reliance on foreign telecoms by launching its own communications satellite. In putting its own satellites into orbit Ethiopia would join the select club of African nations that have already done so. Nigeria has paid for the launch of five since 2003, some of which it says have helped fight terrorism. South Africa has also put several home-built satellites into space. Egypt launched two earth-observation ones, both of which have since failed; a private company, Nilesat, successfully operates communications ones. Kenya, Angola and Ghana are eager to join them. The Economist



Photo: Adam Jones