Africa Media Review for April 5, 2019

Libya Braced for War as Khalifa Haftar Orders Advance on Tripoli
Libya was on the brink of all-out civil war on Thursday after the renegade general Khalifa Haftar defied the United Nations to order his forces to march on Tripoli and overthrow the country’s internationally recognised government. In an audio address to his self-styled Libyan National Army on Thursday evening, General Haftar ordered a “victorious march” on the capital to “shake the lands under the feet of the unjust bunch.” “Tripoli, we hear your call,” he said in the address. “Whoever raises the white flag is safe.” Fayez al-Serraj, the prime minister of the Tripoli-based government of national accord, had earlier ordered forces mobilised and authorised airstrikes if necessary to halt any assault on the capital. The powerful group of militias who control the Western city of Misrata said they were ready to fight Gen Haftar’s forces and backed Mr Serraj.  The Independent

Western Libyan Militias Vow to Confront Haftar Advances
Militias in western Libya have vowed to confront a rival army commander’s attempt to seize the capital, Tripoli, raising the prospect of renewed civil war. The advancing forces of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who runs the self-styled Libya National Army (LNA) based in the east, have sparked fears of a showdown with the militias that control Tripoli. Militias from the western cities of Zawiya and Misrata posted on social media early on Friday that they were mobilising to confront Haftar, hours after he ordered his fighters to march on Tripoli.  The Guardian

Algeria Faces More Protests over Caretaker Government
Algeria is facing renewed street demonstrations this week after its constitutional council met to confirm the resignation of the president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as protesters expressed concerns over the caretaker government, saying the entire ruling regime should be replaced. The resignation of the 82-year-old Bouteflika came after weeks of peaceful, unprecedented mass protests against his plans to run for another term as president after two decades in power. But the infirm leader – who has rarely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke and appeared pale and weak handing over his resignation letter – had long been seen as absent while an authoritarian and sclerotic clan known as Le Pouvoir (“The Power”) continued to rule. With slogans such as “Get them all out”, protesters said they wanted root-and-branch change of the close-knit ruling class marked by cronyism and corruption.  The Guardian

Algerian Intelligence Chief Sacked: Ennahar TV
Algeria’s intelligence chief, Athmane Tartag, has been removed from his post, private Ennahar television station reported on Friday. Tartag, a retired army general, was an ally of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned on Tuesday in the face of mass protests. His reported departure from the job came after Algeria’s military carefully managed Bouteflika’s exit in an attempt to defuse mass protests calling for democratic reforms. Algeria is now in the hands of a caretaker government — which is unlikely to mollify anger on the streets — until elections in three months and with no successor in sight.  Reuters

Islamic State Says It Killed 18 Soldiers in West Africa
Jihadist group Islamic State said Thursday that it had killed 13 Nigerian soldiers and five troops from a west African anti-militant force in attacks over recent days. Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), which split from Nigeria-based Boko Haram in 2016, has carried out a series of attacks in the last few months. In its newspaper Al-Nabaa, IS said its fighters killed the Nigerians in attacks on a military barracks on Friday, a military post on Sunday, and a town on Monday, all in northeastern Borno state. Fighters also detonated explosives on Wednesday on a vehicle in the Lake Chad region, killing five more soldiers, IS said, without specifying the country. Reuters

UN Troops Step up Mali Patrols after Massacre (Video)
The United Nations has stepped up patrols across Mali following an attack last month in which gunmen killed more than 130 people and injured dozens of others. UN troops are hoping to prevent the violence from turning into an ethnic conflict.  Al Jazeera

Too Much Spent on Mali Security, Not Enough on Food Aid: UN Official
Mali is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with more than three million people requiring food and basic assistance even as billions of dollars go to security missions, a UN official bemoaned Thursday. Since January, the United Nations has received less than a 10th of the $296 million it had sought from member countries for Mali for 2019, said Ute Kollies, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for Mali. At the same time, her calculations showed that “roughly $3 billion a year” — 10 times the requested humanitarian budget — was spent on security missions such as the MINUSMA peacekeeping force and the G5 French-backed operation to fight jihadism in the Sahel region, she told reporters in Geneva. AFP

DR Congo Arrests Rebel Leader Wanted for Mass Rape
A Congolese rebel leader accused of orchestrating mass rapes and other atrocities has been caught, Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) army said. Masudi Alimasi Kokodiko, leader of the widely feared Raia Mutomboki armed group, was captured on Tuesday in the Shabunda territory of the eastern South Kivu province after being wounded in a firefight, army spokesman Dieudonne Kasereka said on Thursday. Raia Mutomboki was formed in 2005 to fight armed Rwandan Hutu groups active in eastern DRC and became one of the most powerful of the dozens of armed groups active in the mineral-rich area bordering Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Al Jazeera

SA Government Flounders in the Face of Xenophobic Attacks
Once again South Africa’s government has been caught off-guard by a spate of attacks by locals on foreign African nationals. And once again it is scrambling to draft a plan to tackle the problem – seemingly without grasping why several past plans have failed. The latest attacks happened mainly in KwaZulu-Natal. Though facts are hazy, it seems two South Africans were killed while attacking foreign-owned shops. In retaliation locals went on the rampage against a nearby settlement of foreigners, mainly Malawians, causing about 300 to flee for their lives. Concerned African ambassadors met Cabinet ministers – international relations minister Lindiwe Sisulu and police minister Bheki Cele – and drafted a joint plan to tackle the problem. But why will this plan succeed where previous ones didn’t? Attacks on foreigners – mainly Zimbabweans and Mozambicans – have occurred often since before the deadly 2008 spate. Attacks spiked again in 2015. And last week’s violence showed signs of expanding.  Daily Maverick

Group Says 5 Egyptians Disappeared after Being Deported Back
An international rights group has expressed concern about the disappearance of five Egyptians who were recently deported back to the country, saying they are at serious risk of torture. Human Rights Watch said in a report on Thursday that Malaysia had deported four of the men in early March while Turkey deported the fifth in January. Three of them were sentenced in Egypt over links to Islamist groups. Michael Page, deputy Mideast and North Africa director at the New York-based watchdog, says “Egypt has a dire record of systematic torture, forcible disappearances, and unfair trials of dissidents.” It urged authorities “to provide full legal access to these deportees.”  AP

Nigeria’s Opposition Party Retains Key Oil State of Rivers
Nigeria’s main opposition party has retained control of the key oil-producing state of Rivers, according to official results from a vote marred by violence and delay. Incumbent governor Nyesom Wike, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was re-elected for a second term after winning 886 264 votes. His nearest rival, Biokpomabo Awara, of the African Alliance Congress (AAC), polled 173 859 votes, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said late on Wednesday. Awara – a relative unknown – was backed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), which was unable to field candidates due to a court ruling. News 24

In Africa’s Biggest Democracy, Women Go Backward in Politics
In Africa’s biggest democracy, women are struggling to make any progress when it comes to political representation. Nigeria, home to almost 200 million people, had one of the world’s lowest ratios of women in parliament before general elections in February and March. Now it’s even lower. Wall of Male Prejudice Stifles Women’s Rise in Nigerian Politics Only 11 women were elected to the 360-seat House of Representatives, which is the smallest number since the West African nation ended military rule in 1999, according to the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund. Eight won campaigns for the 109-member Senate compared with seven for the last vote in 2015, the Abuja-based advocacy group said.  Bloomberg

Kenya May Arrest Four Governors over Corruption, Standard Says
Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating more than 15 regional governors and may arrest at least four of them within a month, the Standard reported, citing the agency’s Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak. The commission will soon hand over to prosecutors files from their investigations of the four governors, the Nairobi-based newspaper said Thursday. This week, officials from the agency arrested Samburu County Governor Moses Lenolkulal over financial dealings by the local government unit he heads. He was charged with conspiracy to commit an economic crime, abuse of office and conflict of interest after the county transacted with a gasoline station that he has an interest in. Lenolkulal denies any wrongdoing.  Bloomberg

Kenya ‘Normalises’ Affairs with Somalia but Sea Dispute Persists
Kenya says it is agreeing to normalise relations with Somalia as the “first step” of addressing their differences over the maritime borderline, which is already before the International Court of Justice. The change of tune for Nairobi emerged Wednesday evening after Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma met with the Somali Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ahmed Isse Awad. The meeting was a first between high-ranking officials of the two countries in almost a month, as Nairobi seeks to soothe Mogadishu over an alternative means to resolve the dispute.  The East African

U.S. Slaps Visa Ban on ICC Prosecutor, Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, ICC, Gambian Fatou Bensouda has been hit by a visa ban by the United States government over her office’s decision to probe alleged war crimes by Americans. She has been investigating U.S. forces and their allies in Afghanistan, a move that United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned last month could lead to sanctions on ICC officials. Pompeo said in mid-March: “I am announcing a policy on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigations of U.S. personnel. This includes persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation.”  Africa News

Africa Is Set to Be the Global Center of Christianity for the Next 50 Years
There are already more Christians in Africa than any other continent—that’s not going to change soon By 2060 six of the countries with the top ten largest Christian populations will be in Africa, up from three in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center report. The projections are in line with the gradual shift that has increasingly seen Christian populations live outside the historical cultural centers of the religion. The size of the Christian population in Nigeria alone—already the largest on the continent—is projected to double by 2060. In addition, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are projected to join the list of countries with the top ten largest Christian populations, replacing Russia, Germany and China. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones