Africa Media Review for August 19, 2016

UN: South Sudan Government Recruited Child Soldiers in Past Week
South Sudan’s government has recruited child soldiers in the past week to prepare for a renewed conflict, according to an internal United Nations document obtained by The Associated Press. The document says a senior politician appointed by President Salva Kiir led the recruitment of an entire village of boys using intimidation. Some were as young as 12 years old. It was not clear how many children were involved. Armed groups in South Sudan often coerce children to join their ranks by threatening to confiscate their family’s cattle, a key source of wealth and status in this pastoral society. The UN document indicates that the recruitment of children took place shortly after the UN Security Council a week ago approved sending an additional 4 000 peacekeepers to the East African country to protect civilians after renewed fighting in the capital, Juba, last month. News24

Opposition Leader Riek Machar Leaves South Sudan for Kinshasa
South Sudan’s former vice president and opposition leader Riek Machar has left the country after a nearly month-long stay in the bushes in Western Equatoria where he had fled following fierce fighting with government troops. Water and Irrigation Minister, Mabior Garang de Mabior told The EastAfrican that Dr Machar arrived in Kinshasa on Monday in transit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he will be waiting for countries in the region to intervene in the Juba crisis. The whereabouts of Dr Machar had been a matter of speculation since he left Juba on July 11 when fighting broke out. The East African

SPLM-IO Says South Sudan’s New FVP Cut off from Controlled Areas
South Sudanese opposition faction led by the former First Vice President, Riek Machar, said they have cut off Taban Deng Gai, the new First Vice President, from all the areas controlled by the opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), including from its headquarters of Pagak in Upper Nile region. “Honourable Taban Deng Gai will not set foot in the SPLM/SPLA (IO) controlled areas across the country, including the General Headquarters of Pagak,” said James Gatdet Dak, official spokesperson for Machar, the leader of the opposition faction, SPLM-IO. He said Machar is in full control of the civil administrations and the entire army of the SPLM-IO faction, and that Gai only “defected” with his bodyguards and some of the SPLM-IO politicians “who were only after positions in the government and not for the reform agenda in the country.” Sudane Tribune

US Diplomat Urges Resumption of Peace Talks in S. Sudan
The top U.S. diplomat for Africa says South Sudan’s peace process is not on track and government and rebel leaders need to resume negotiations. In an exclusive interview, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield told VOA “the people of South Sudan have suffered for too many years … and two years after their independence, they are being tortured, harassed and forced into refugee status again because of lack of leadership of their two major leaders.” “In terms of appointment of individuals, we have to allow the South Sudan government to make those appointments. We, too, wonder why this decision was made. We are hoping there’s a possibility that Dr. Machar comes back to Juba and they are able to continue the process [that existed] before the situation occurred in July.” VOA

Islamic State Suicide Bombings Hit Libyan Forces in Sirte
Suicide bombings against Libyan forces battling to oust Islamic State from their former North African stronghold of Sirte killed at least 12 fighters and wounded about 60 there on Thursday, a hospital spokesman said. Forces, mainly composed of fighters aligned with a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, have been closing in on the center of Sirte, where militants now control a shrinking residential area. Since Aug. 1 the United States has been conducting air strikes to support them. As of Wednesday it had carried out 62 strikes, most recently against fighting positions and a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, the U.S. Africa Command said. Reuters

9 Killed in Inter-Communal Clashes in Mali
Nine people were killed in clashes between Fulani and Bambara, two rival communities in central Mali, local sources told Anadolu Agency late Thursday. “Everything started when elements of the Bambara tried to steal cattle from the Fulani living in Tandia, in the northern part of Segou [central Mali], ” Bakaye Cisse, head of the National Alliance for the Protection of Fulani Identity and Restoration of Justice (ANSIPRJ) . He added that the clashes left eight Bambara and one Fulani dead and seven Bambara injured. Another local source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed to Anadolu Agency that “many people died” without providing further details. Tensions between the two communities are common in Mali, but the violence had escalated due to recent terrorist threats in Mali as several militant groups, such as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), are known to still operate in Mali. Anadolu Agency

Mali is the Latest African Country to Impose a Social Media Blackout
It hasn’t been a good week for internet freedom in Africa, with three countries imposing social media blackouts, according to the campaign Keep it On. Internet users in Bamako, Mali reported not being able to use Facebook and Twitter after protests against the detention of a popular radio host on Wednesday (Aug. 17) turned violent, resulting in three deaths. Meanwhile, users in Gambia, which is holding a presidential election in three months, said WhatsApp stopped working yesterday. Over the past week, internet and network outages were also reported in Zambia, where protesters have been demonstrating against a presidential election narrowly won by incumbent president Edgar Lungu. Cutting off access to social media is becoming a common tactic during elections and protests in Africa, as political mobilization increasingly moves online. Quartz

Nigeria: Terrorism, Malnutrition and the Re-Emergence of Polio
The inability of the health authorities to move polio vaccines to Boko Haram strongholds in the North-east, and the compromised immune system of malnourished children in the region, have been fingered as key reasons for the re-emergence of the wild polio virus, setting the country several years back in the eradication of the dreaded disease. This Day

UN Chief Urges Sudan’s Warring Parties to Resume Peace Talks
United Nations Secretary-General,Ban Ki-moon, Thursday has urged the Sudanese government and rebel groups to resume talks to reach a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access agreements in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Last week, four groups from the opposition umbrella Sudan Call … had signed the Roadmap Agreement for peace and dialogue brokered by the African Union. The peace plan provides that the Sudanese governments and rebel groups should engage in talks to reach agreement on a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access before the Sudan Call forces join the government-led national dialogue. However, on Sunday following six days of talks in Addis Ababa, the armed movements and the government negotiating teams failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access prompting the mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely. Sudan Tribune

Ethiopian Anti-Government Protests Set to Continue
Since November 2015, Ethiopia has been experiencing a wave of anti-government protests unleashed by fears by the Oromo people that the government was planning to seize their land. Hundreds of people have been killed. In early August, anti-government demonstrations rocked the Oromia and Amhara regional states of Ethiopia. Thousands of demonstrators went on to the streets calling on the government to stop killing protesters, release those arrested, implement political reform, and respect justice and the rule of law. However, the response from government security forces, which used live ammunition against protesters, led to the death of about 100 unarmed people. Although the government security apparatus reported that the demonstrations had been contained, “the current political situation has become volatile. DW

Al Shabaab Briefly Seizes Military Base in Somalia
Al shabaab says it has taken “complete control” of the Somali National Army (SNA) and AMISOM camps in Lafoole village in lower Shabelle region following an attack on Wednesday night. A report posted on pro-al Shabaab website says heavily armed militants launched overnight the strategic town of Lafoole, some 20Kms north-west of Mogadishu following fierce battle. Hundreds of gun-toting Al Shabaab fighters moved in the village late last night, and engaged heavy exchange of fire with Somali National Army (SNA) forces and AMISOM. Local residents said both sides have exchanged heavy gunfire raged on for hours in Lafoole, before the militants wrested control of the area from the Somali and AU troops. … Somali troops, backed by AMISOM soldiers have regained control of the base on Thursday morning without a resistance after Al shabaab pulled out of the village. Shabelle News

Kinshasa Slaps Curfew on Eastern DR Congo Towns after Deadly Clashes
Kinshasa authorities have slapped a dusk-to-dawn curfew on two northeastern DR Congo towns Thursday, following deadly clashes over the government’s failure to prevent repeated civilian massacres. Interior Minister Evariste Boshab announced the 7:00pm to 6:00am curfew on Butembo and Beni were he had flown to following the massacre of 51 civilians in the town last weekend. The slaying, in which victims were the latest in a string of massacres, has left more than 700 dead since 2014. The gruesome Saturday night killings prompted an angry march by hundreds of people from Butembo to Beni on Wednesday, which ended in teargas, gunfire and clashes, leaving a policeman and a protester dead. In a separate incident, a woman was beaten to death with stones and sticks and her body set alight on suspicion of being a member of the rebel group believed to be behind the civilian massacres. The East African

Confrontation Possible in Lusaka Over Election Protest
Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front has called on police to prevent thousands of opposition supporters from gathering Friday at the Constitutional Court to challenge the outcome of last week’s presidential election. The United Party for National Development urged its backers to go to the court and back its petition on the August 11 election, won by incumbent President Edgar Lungu. Lungu’s deputy campaign manager, Frank Bwalya, said a mass gathering of UPND supporters could create tension and possible violence. … If opposition party supporters are allowed to gather in large numbers at the court, Bwalya added, “their plan tomorrow is to riot.” UPND officials rejected Bwalya’s accusation as unfounded. The party had previously asked its followers not to engage in any violence at the court. VOA

Zimbabwe: Tajamuka Campaigners Outline Plan to End Impunity for ‘Police Brutality’
One of Zimbabwe’s civil activism movements has launched a campaign to demand that police officers wear an identifying number to ensure citizens and authorities can investigate cases of alleged police brutality. Two peaceful campaigns, known as #ThisFlag and Tajamuka/Sesjikile, have vowed to continue the struggle against the nation’s political leadership until President Robert Mugabe steps down. Their pledge comes in spite of reports of brutality from the security forces as peaceful protesters called for an immediate end to the current economic and political crisis in the capital Harare on 17 August. Several people were left injured when dozens of police officers in riot gear fired tear gas and water cannon, and beat unarmed protesters with batons. IBTimes

Mozambique Govt in Deal with Renamo over Governing of Provinces
The Mozambican government has agreed to make constitutional changes that will allow the opposition National Resistance Movement (Renamo) to govern in six provinces where it won majority votes during the 2014 elections. Renamo had been pressing the government over the past two months to implement provincial devolution in central and northern provinces. In the past, the governing Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo) had defeated proposals from Renamo in Parliament by using its majority, leading Renamo to take up arms. A statement released on Wednesday by the two sides indicated government’s willingness to review the law and accommodate Renamo’s demands. News24



Photo: Adam Jones