Africa Media Review for August 15, 2017

312 Dead as Mudslides, Flooding Sweep through Sierra Leone Capital
At least 312 people were killed and more than 2,000 left homeless on Monday when heavy flooding hit Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown, leaving excavators to pull bodies from rubble and overwhelming the city’s morgues. An AFP journalist saw several homes submerged in Regent village, a hilltop community, and corpses floating in the water in the Lumley West area of the city, as the president assured emergency services were doing all they could to tackle one of the worst natural disasters ever to hit the city. … The Sierra Leone meteorological department did not issue any warning ahead of the torrential rains to hasten evacuation from the disaster zones, AFP’s correspondent based in Freetown said. … Freetown, an overcrowded coastal city of 1.2 million, is hit each year by flooding during several months of rain that destroys makeshift settlements and raises the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera. The Citizen

Machine Gun Attack on U.N. Mali Base in Timbuktu Kills Seven
Gunmen attacked a United Nations peacekeeping base in the northern Mali city of Timbuktu on Monday, officials said, killing seven people, including five Malian security guards, a gendarme and civilian. “An attack has been launched against one of our camps in Timbuktu (by) unknown men with machine guns,” Radhia Achouri, a spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission, said earlier by telephone, adding that it had deployed a rapid response force with helicopters to the scene. Mali’s army spokesman Selon Diaran Kone said the incident was now over, as the assailants had been repelled and four of them killed. In another incident on Monday, armed men opened fire on U.N. peacekeepers and Malian troops in Douentza, in central Mali. A U.N. spokesman in New York, Farhan Haq, said a peacekeeper was killed during the clash, without giving further details. Reuters

Burkina Faso Ends Operation Against Suspected Jihadists
Burkina Faso’s security forces have ended their operation against suspected Islamic militants who opened fire on a restaurant in the country’s capital, killing at least 18 people and wounding eight. Officials say many of the victims were children dining with their families at the Aziz Istanbul restaurant, an upscale Turkish eatery. The attack began around 9 p.m. Sunday when two gunmen drove up on motorcycles and began indiscriminately shooting at the people inside. Security forces launched a counter-assault that lasted most of the night which resulted in the two attackers being killed and all remaining hostages being freed. VOA

Kenyans Return to Work as Opposition Strike Call Flops
Kenyans largely ignored an opposition call to go on strike on Monday, re-opening shops and returning to work as they shrugged off demands for demonstrations against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election and against the killing of protesters. Cars, buses and motorcycles returned to the streets of the capital, Nairobi, and the western town of Kisumu after days of quiet due to fears of violence after last Tuesday’s vote. Kenyatta beat rival Raila Odinga by securing more than 54 percent of the vote, official results show. A Kenyan human rights group said on Saturday that 24 people had been shot dead by police since election day. The government put the number of dead at 10, and said they died “in the course of quelling riots and unlawful assembly”. All deaths would be investigated, it added. Reuters

Kenya: Post-election Deaths Raise Questions over Police Brutality
Six-month-old Samantha Pendo was sleeping with her mother when police in Kisumuforced the wooden door open a crack, fired in teargas and battered the choking baby and her parents with batons, her parents said. The couple say their experience flies in the face of government statements that only looters or thugs were killed or injured in violence following last week’s disputed election. On Friday, IEBC announced that President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term by 1.4 million votes. But veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, 72, insists those results are fake and that he won last week’s presidential election. … Since the results were announced, Raila’s supporters have mounted sporadic protests in Kisumu and the Nairobi slums that are his strongholds. Raila accuses security forces of deliberately beating and killing residents, accusations the police deny. “Our response was lawful and proportionate,” Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet told Reuters. “We are investigating (the Pendo case). No sane police officer would hit a child.” The Star

Horrifying Images on Social Media Fuel Tension after Kenya’s Disputed Election, but Not All are Real
As protests erupted after Kenya’s disputed presidential election, horrifying photographs and videos flashed across social media: a boy terrified by riot police in a Nairobi slum, a vehicle in flames and a bloodied man with a military boot on his neck. Some of the images were genuine, but others failed a basic check: a reverse image search on Google. … In a tinderbox atmosphere, where opposition supporters are convinced that their candidate, Raila Odinga, was cheated of victory in last week’s presidential election, the images spread on social media are incendiary. … But there are reasons why many Kenyans are quick to believe what they see on social media. The police service has a record of using excessive force against protesters, including live ammunition, according to human rights groups. That coupled with the mistrust many Kenyans feel for the nation’s governing institutions adds fuel to the rumors. LA Times

Protesters Try to Storm Cameroon Embassy in London as Anger over ‘Anglophone Problem’ Mounts
Dozens of people took part in a protest outside the High Commission of Cameroon in London on Sunday (13th August). Police officers had to intervene to prevent some individuals from storming the building. Demonstrators chanted slogans in reference to the ongoing unrest in the English parts of Cameroon, the Southwest and Northwest provinces, where anti-government protests and strikes have been occurring for months. French and English are the official languages of Cameroon. Lawyers, teachers and students have been striking since October 2016 against perceived marginalisation, the use of French in courts and schools in the provinces, and the lack of English versions of some legal acts and codes. Amid the ongoing unrest, some groups have taken to the streets demanding a return to a federal state system, the breakaway of the Northwest and Southwest provinces and the restoration of Southern Cameroons, also known as the Republic of Ambazonia, a British mandate during colonisation. IBTimes

South Sudan Army in Fresh Accusations of Attacking Civilians
South Sudan’s army is once again in the spotlight for alleged mistreatment and harassment of civilians in Yei River State in Central Equatoria. A catholic clergy based in southwest town of Yei town is accusing the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)deployed in the region of assaulting innocent civilians and once again destroying trust and confidence between the troops and area residents. Father Emmanuel Lodongo Sebit said that the harassment is taking place under government command for unknown purposes. … Efforts to get official comment from the SPLA were unfruitful. Various human-rights reports have linked South Sudan’s army to cases of harassment, torture and killing of innocent civilians while in combat with rebels. The East African

U.S Senators Demand Tools to End Corruption in South Sudan
Two United States Senators have written to the Treasury Department, calling for the establishment of additional tools necessary to hold South Sudanese leaders accountable for the ongoing violence in the East African country. In a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Senator Chris Coons detail steps required to take on South Sudan to “cut off the free flow of resources to the political and military elites, their families and associates. … The political and military leaders have hijacked and repurposed state institutions to enrich themselves and fuel violence”. … The United States must simultaneously address the structural problems that enable kleptocracy, incentivize violence, and prevent peace,” says the letter addressed to the U.S Treasury, amidst calls for a more transparent as well as responsible government in the future. This, it adds, includes regional responsibility for impunity and the negative fiscal and human impact it has on stability and development in the region. Sudan Tribune

Six Cholera Patients Die, 48 New Cases Recorded in Sudan
Six cholera patients died in various regions in Sudan, and 48 people were infected over the weekend. A medical source told Radio Dabanga that the isolation centre in El Dindir in eastern Sudan’s Sennar recorded one cholera death on Saturday. The patient came from Rumeila village, east of the town. The centre recorded two new cases from other villages on Sunday. … “The cholera isolation ward in Singa received four patients from Um Benin on Saturday. On Sunday, we recorded another 21 cases among related families in the village,” a health worker reported. He said that a medical team was sent to the village to contain the situation, and added that four former patients were discharged from the isolation ward in Singa on Sunday. Radio Dabanga

One Dead After Gunmen Open Fire On Car In Mogadishu
At least one person was confirmed dead, several injured after unknown gunmen have opened fire on a vehicle in Somali capital, Mogadishu on Tuesday morning, Police said. Hodon district Police chief, Abdifitah Bishar has confirmed to Radio Shabelle that one is dead, another injured after gunmen opened fire on a vehicle near Digfer junction. The men who were traders have been attacked in Hodan district early on Tuesday morning by gunmen who pulled up near their car in another vehicle, said Bishar, the Police boss. The assailants were reported to have sped off in their car, before the arrival of the security forces at the crime scene, according to a witness. Police said an investigation is underway. There was no claim of responsibility for the drive-by shooting in the capital, but, the Al Qaeda-linked Al shabaab often carries out such attacks targeting government officials. Radio Shabelle

70 Burundian Refugees Return in Pilot Project of Repatriation
The governments of Burundi and DRC alongside UNHCR launched a pilot project of repatriation of Burundian refugees. On August 14th, 70 refugees from 24 families were voluntarily repatriated from Lusenda refugee camp in the DR Congo. A convoy trucks carrying 70 refugees crossed the border to Burundi in Gatumba accompanied by CNR (Norwegian Council of Refugee), UN Refugee agency and Congolese authorities. … UNHCR says more than 400 thousand Burundian refugees are still in the neighbouring countries namely Kenya, Ouganda, Mozambique, Zambie, Malawi and Tanzania. The latter hosts more than 240 thousand of all of them. Iwacu

Zimbabwe: No Prosecutions for White Farmers’ Killers
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe yesterday declared that all locals accused of killing white former commercial farmers since the launch of the fast track-land reform programme in 2000 were immune to prosecution. Addressing thousands of people during Heroes Day commemorations at the national shrine yesterday, Mugabe said the former farmers were killed because they had resisted a government-sanctioned programme. “Yes, we have those who were killed when they resisted. We will never prosecute those who killed them. I ask: Why we should arrest them?” he said. At least 12 white former commercial farmers were killed by suspected Zanu PF activists and war veterans during the violent farm grabs, which resulted in international condemnation, resulting in the imposition of travel sanctions by Western countries angry over Mugabe’s wanton disregard of human and property rights. News Day

South Africa’s Zuma Says ANC Lawmakers Who Voted Against Him Must Be Punished
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma wants the African National Congress to identify and punish party members who voted against him in a no-confidence motion in parliament last week. Some 30 ANC lawmakers supported the opposition motion in a secret ballot on Aug. 8, not enough for it to pass but the defection exposed rifts within the ANC that could weaken Zuma’s ability to influence the choice of next party leader at elections in December. … It was unclear how the party would be able to determine who had voted against Zuma or what action could be taken against them. The president said he would discuss the issue of dissenters at a meeting of the ANC on Monday. … Critics say Zuma’s priority is to ensure he retains sufficient control over the party to ensure that his chosen candidate succeeds him as leader so he can avoid scrutiny over corruption allegations that have dogged his eight years in power. Zuma has denied wrongdoing. VOA

Opposition Leader Denies Treason Charge in Case That Has Rattled Zambia
Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, a longtime rival of President Edgar Lungu, denied plotting to overthrow the government when he appeared in a Lusaka court on Monday in a case that has heightened political friction in the country. Government and legal sources told Reuters on Sunday the government planned to drop the treason charges against Hichilema and release him from prison under a deal brokered by the Commonwealth secretary-general. But a government source said later that the application to discontinue the case would now be made on Wednesday. … The case has raised political in tension in Zambia, Africa’s second-largest copper producer and traditionally a stable democrary. Amnesty International has said the treason charges are trumped up and called for his release, as have local church leaders. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones