Africa Media Review for April 6, 2018

French and Malian Troops Kill Dozens of Insurgents in Mali Gun Battle
French and Malian troops killed about 30 Islamist insurgents during a gunbattle in a region near the border with Niger, where Islamic State are known to be active, the French army said on Thursday. West Africa’s arid Sahel region has seen a rise in violence by militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, that is drawing an increasingly aggressive response from countries including France and the United States. It was a Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), that claimed responsibility for a March 2 assault on the French Embassy and army headquarters in Burkina Faso’s capital that killed eight people. Colonel Patrik Steiger said soldiers from France’s Barkhane force and Malian troops were on a reconnaissance mission 90 km (56 miles) south of Menaka on Sunday when they encountered several dozen Islamist fighters, some on motorcycles.  France 24

2 UN Peacekeepers Killed, 10 Hurt in Northern Mali
The U.N. mission in Mali says at least two peacekeepers have been killed and 10 others wounded by an attack in northern Mali. Mission spokesman Olivier Salgado says the deaths happened Thursday night when several mortar rounds struck a peacekeeper camp. The attack took place in Aguelhoc in the northern region of Kidal, and the victims were from the Central African nation of Chad. AP

Runner-Up in Sierra Leone Presidential Poll Will Challenge Result
The losing candidate in Sierra Leone’s presidential election has said he will challenge the results. Former Foreign Minister Samura Kamara announced the challenge Thursday, after the electoral commission declared Julius Maada Bio the winner of last weekend’s run-off poll. Official results showed Maada Bio, the candidate of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party, winning almost 52 percent of the vote. Kamara garnered just over 48 percent. Kamara, of the ruling All People’s Congress Party, said in a televised address that the outcome “did not reflect the will of the voters” and that the APC would take “appropriate legal action.” He also counseled his backers to remain peaceful. VOA

South Africa Ex-president Jacob Zuma Charged with Corruption
South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has been charged with corruption linked to a 1990s arms deal. After the 75-year-old’s 15-minute appearance at the High Court in Durban on Friday morning, the case was adjourned until 8 June. He faces 16 counts of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering, which dogged his presidency and were reinstated in 2016. His supporters descended on the city to rally for him, while his critics think court action is long overdue. After the hearing, Mr Zuma addressed the crowds, who had come to stand alongside him at the court in his home province. BBC

‘Millions’ of Duplicates on DR Congo Vote Register: Watchdog
Millions of duplicates have been found among people registered to vote in Democratic Republic of Congo elections slated for December, the head of the country’s electoral commission told AFP Thursday. “We were able to register around 46 million voters,” Corneille Nangaa said, a day before unveiling the register that will form the basis of voting records in the crucial December 23 vote. Nangaa said the process had allowed election officials to identify “millions of duplicates”. Other election officials put the figure at around 6 million duplicates or children who had registered to vote since January 31. AFP

Cameroon Bans the Sale of Arms and Ammunition in Six Regions
Cameroon has banned the sale of arms and ammunition in six regions of the country, including the two English-speaking regions where a deep socio-political crisis has played out for over a year, the authorities announced Thursday. The Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, has decreed “the prohibition, until further notice, of the sale of hunting and protection weapons and their ammunition in the Adamaoua, Central, Littoral, West, North-West and South-West regions”, according to a statement. “To date, the number of firearms in circulation far exceeds the number of authorizations duly granted by the competent authorities,” the minister said in the text. AFP

Khartoum Warns Juba against Supporting Rebels
Sudanese President Omar Bashir has sent a stern warning to the Juba government over alleged support to groups fighting to topple the Khartoum regime. In a public address in Kosti town in the White Nile State on Thursday, President Bashir alleged that Juba was still not living up to the promises to stop backing and offering save haven to the Sudanese rebels. He also accused Juba of chasing away the northerners from South Sudan. The warning comes a few days after Juba accused Khartoum of deploying troops along their common border. South Sudanese authorities were yet to react to the warning. The two countries have been accusing each other of supporting rebels from either side. The East African

Somalia: Presidential Guard Chief Sacked amid Political Crisis
The Commander-in-chief of Somalia’s Presidential guard unit, Colonel Ahmed Mohamed, known as “Af-Addey” has been sacked on Thursday, April 5 amid deepening political crisis, Garowe Online reports. Mohamed was removed from his assignment as the general commanding officer for presidential guard force over allegations that he got involved in Wednesday’s standoff at the country’s parliament headquarters in Mogadishu. The commander, according to the sources has allowed a group of presidential guards to escort the embattled lower house speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari and his second deputy Mahad Awad and entering weapons to the parliament illicitly. Garowe Online

‘Clear Discrimination’: South Sudanese React to Exclusion from Migration Program
South Sudanese-Australians say they are being discriminated against after being told they will no longer be able to privately sponsor refugees to come to Australia. The Guardian revealed on Thursday morning that the Community Support Program (CSP), a minor element of Australia’s humanitarian migration program, was being essentially restricted to eight “priority resettlement” countries. Nationals of several other specific countries that were previously considered for supported resettlement, such as South Sudan, Somalia and Iran, are now excluded and will not be able to access the program. The Guardian understands the priority countries are the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Syria and Iraq. The Guardian

Darfur: 50k Civilians Taking Refuge in Jebel Marra Caves
An estimated 50,000 people displaced by recent fighting between government troops and rebels in Darfur’s Jebel Marra, are reportedly taking refuge in mountain caves in the Libei area. Voluntary work activists estimated the number of those fleeing their villages in the eastern areas of Jebel Marra after the government attacks at about 50,000. Activists told Radio Dabanga that these civilians have been displaced from the areas of Sawani, Terongafogi, Owru, and Rokona after the government attack and the battles with the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid (SLM-AW). Activists said the civilians in the caves are sleeping on stones with no water or food. The association of displaced people and refugees said that the government attacks have led to the burning of 11 villages and displacement of their residents, confirming that the humanitarian organisations and Unamid have not arrived to provide help. Radio Dabanga

Army Picks New Commander for Africa Mission
The U.S. Army has tapped Maj. Gen. Roger L. Cloutier Jr. to serve as the next head of Vicenza, Italy-based U.S. Army Africa, where he will oversee efforts to train indigenous ground forces for counterterrorism fights on that continent.  Cloutier, the current chief of staff at U.S. Africa Command, already has an intimate grasp of the threats and risks facing U.S. troops in parts of Africa. He led an AFRICOM investigation into the Oct. 4 ambush in Niger that left four U.S. soldiers dead. His report is now being reviewed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Cloutier will arrive in Italy after a period of tumult for U.S. Army Africa headquarters.  In October, Maj. Gen. Joseph Harrington was fired from his post as head of USARAF. Since then, Army efforts in Africa have been led by acting commander Brig. Gen. Eugene LeBoeuf, a reservist civil engineering professor called to active duty in 2016. Stars and Stripes

Major Exercise Canceled after Military Grounds US Aircraft in Djibouti
The U.S. Navy has temporarily grounded military flights in Djibouti and canceled a major exercise days after it began following two aviation accidents there this week. Naval Forces Central Command on Thursday put air operations “on hold” and called off the remainder of the Defense Department’s Alligator Dagger exercise, according to a NavCent release. On Tuesday, an AV-8B Harrier jet from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit crashed during takeoff at 4:10 p.m. local time after taking off from Ambouli International Airport. The pilot was able to eject and was treated for injuries by the expeditionary medical facility at Camp Lemonnier, officials said. It’s not clear what prompted the pilot’s ejection.

Burundi Accuses Rwanda, UNHCR of Holding Refugees Hostage
Burundi is accusing Rwanda and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, of holding Burundian refugees hostage. In a statement on Wednesday, the government spokesman Philippe Nzobonariba urged neighbouring Rwanda to free and repatriate its citizens. The statement followed deportation of some 2,500 Burundian refugees from Rwanda on Sunday and Monday. The group, which belongs to a Catholic sect, refused biometric registration, a common practice under international laws on refugees, saying it would violate their religion. Mr Nzobonariba urged the release of “other refugees taken hostage by the government of Rwanda in complicity with some agents of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Rwanda.” Last week, 33 Burundian refugees, belonging to the group, were arrested in Rwanda for “instigating violence” during a registration exercise. The East African

Rights Abuses Rife on Zimbabwe Tobacco Farms: HRW
Global watchdog Human Rights Watch on Thursday urged Zimbabwe to take urgent steps to stem child labour and other rights abuses on the country’s tobacco farms. In a report titled “Bitter Harvest”, the HRW revealed that children as young as 11 were working on tobacco farms, often in hazardous conditions, to earn school fees or supplement the family income. Workers were exposed to nicotine and toxic pesticides and suffer symptoms consistent with poisoning such as nausea and vomiting, it said. “Zimbabwe’s government needs to take urgent steps to protect tobacco workers,” said Margaret Wurth, co-author of the Human Rights Watch report. Of the 125 people interviewed, one 12 year-old girl described how she fell ill after handling an unnamed pesticide. AFP

A British Museum Is in Talks to Return Ethiopia’s Looted Art Treasures, but Only on Loan
More than a century after they were looted by British forces, some of Ethiopia’s long-lost treasures could be returning home soon—but only on loan. In the build-up to a display of some the Ethiopian artifacts this week at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tristram Hunt, the museum director, says a “long-term loan” can be arranged to allow the items be displayed in Ethiopia, The Guardian UK reports. The Ethiopian artifacts were plundered by British forces on a mission to rescue British hostages in Maqdala, the capital of the ancient Abyssinia kingdom, now part of modern-day Ethiopia, in 1868. Hundreds of the artifacts taken remain in the hold of British institutions like the V&A museum and the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. Several campaigns for the repatriation of African art looted before and during the colonial era have been carried out with middling results. Since the mid-1990s, movements have lobbied British institutions for the return of Nigerian bronze artifacts looted from the Benin kingdom in 1897. The British Museum was in talks to return some last year. Quartz