Africa Media Review for August 22, 2016

Al-Shabab Attack Kills 20 in Central Somalia
At least 20 people died when two suicide car bombs rocked a local government building and a nearby market in Galkayo, central Somalia, witnesses and officials said. Abdullahi Daahir, an eyewitness described what he saw. “The first car bomb rammed into a local government compound housing administrative offices and soon after the first responders came out of the surrounding buildings, another suicide-bomber with a speeding car below himself up, he said. Another eyewitness told VOA’s Somali Service on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals that the driver of the second car bomb was a female. VOA

Deadly Suicide Attack Hits Cameroon Market
Officials said a man on a motorcycle detonated explosives early Sunday after riding into a market in the town of Mora, near the border with Nigeria. Midjiyawa Bakary, the governor of Cameroon’s Far North region, said three people plus the bomber were killed. Five other people were seriously wounded and airlifted to another town for specialized hospital care. No one has claimed responsibility, although a security source cited by Reuters said authorities believe the attack was carried out by militant group Boko Haram. Deutsche Welle

Machar Seeks Treatment in DR Congo
Sacked South Sudan first vice-president Dr Riek Machar is seeking medical attention in the Democratic Republic of Congo after surviving in the bush in Western Equatoria for nearly a month. Close associates of Dr Machar said that he, together with his wife Angelina Teny and chief-of-general staff Gen Simeon Gatwich Dual, was on his way to Goma from Kisangani for medical attention, with reports indicating that he is suffering from swollen legs after weeks of walking in the bush. Irrigation Minister Mabior Garang de Mabior told The EastAfrican that Dr Machar will later travel to Addis Ababa, where he will wait for countries in the region to intervene, but first “he has to regain his strength after a month in the bush.” On Thursday last week, the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC confirmed they evacuated Dr Machar from eastern Congo and placed him under the care of the Congolese authorities. The East African

Kerry in Kenya for Talks on Keeping the Peace in South Sudan
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Nairobi, Kenya, where he will hold talks with East African foreign ministers on ways to stop neighboring South Sudan from sliding back into civil war. Kerry plans to meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before joining the other ministers for talks on how to make sure peace is maintained in the world’s newest country. “The people of South Sudan have suffered for far too long,” a senior State Department official told reporters. “The continued instability there has led to almost a million refugees and a humanitarian crisis that is far beyond the abilities of even the international community to respond to.” VOA

John Kerry Visits Nigeria, to Meet Buhari, Northern Govs
The U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, is expected in Nigeria on Aug. 23 to discuss U.S. cooperation with Nigeria over Boko Haram, economy and human rights issues. A statement issued by the Information Office of the Embassy of the U.S. on Friday in Abuja, said Kerry would hold meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Northern Governors. According to it, the Secretary will travel to Sokoto and Abuja on Aug. 23 to 24. “Kerry will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss counter terrorism efforts, the Nigerian economy, the fight against corruption and human rights issues. “In Sokoto, he will deliver a speech on the importance of resilient communities and religious tolerance in countering violent extremism. Vanguard

Nigerian Militant Group Says Agrees on Ceasefire, Ready for Dialogue with Government
A Nigerian militant group, which has claimed a wave of attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta, said it was ready for a ceasefire and a dialogue with the government. The restive southern swampland region has been rocked by violence against oil and gas pipelines since the start of the year, reducing the OPEC member’s output by 700,000 barrels a day to 1.56 million bpd. Any ceasefire agreement would be very difficult to enforce as the militant scene is divided into small groups dominated by unemployed youth driven by poverty, who are difficult to control even by their “generals”.  Reuters

Zimbabwe: Biti Endorses Mujuru Candidacy
Zimbabwe People First leader Joice Mujuru yesterday moved her campaign to rural areas with a rally in Binga where Tendai Biti’s People Democratic Party pledged not to field a presidential candidate in the 2018 general elections as it will back the former vice-president. While giving a solidarity speech, PDP vice-president Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo said Mujuru had come at the right time as God’s plan was to end President Robert Mugabe’s rule. “Zimbabwe is a good country which just needs to change the driver,” he said. “I want to urge you Amai Mujuru to remain humble and focused because what you see happening now is a sign of God taking control. “As we come to work with you as PDP, we are coming to support you; we are bringing in no other presidential candidate other than Mai Mujuru.” The Standard on allAfrica

Mozambique Conflict Triggers Widespread Fears in Zim
Renewed fighting between Mozambican military forces and Renamo rebels have caused widespread fears among Zimbabweans living in eastern Manicaland province, according to a report on Friday. According to Defence web, Chipinge South lawmaker Enock Porusingazi claimed that at least 1 000 Mozambicans had fled into Manicaland province, and were accommodated by relatives, while others erected shacks for themselves. Porusingazi also claimed that residents at his constituency were living in fear, as they were closer to the ongoing battles at the Mozambican side of the border. News 24

DR Congo Opposition Rejects Talks over Election
The Democratic Republic Congo’s main opposition alliance has rejected talks with the government of President Joseph Kabila over elections that were due to have been held in November but have been delayed, and called for a general strike on Tuesday. The opposition wants Kabila to end his 15-year rule in December as mandated by the constitution but authorities say the vote cannot be held until at least next July and the top court said Kabila can stay in power until the election is held. The strike call, issued on Saturday, represents a significant escalation of opposition action in a country where about 40 demonstrators died in anti-government protests over the issue in January 2015. Al Jazeera

DR Congo’s Kabila Counts on Rwanda, Uganda Backing to Retain Power
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila is seeking Rwanda and Uganda’s support to prolong his stay in office, as pressure mounts on him to organise elections and to drop his bid to extend his current term. President Kabila last week met his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame at the border town of Rubavu, where they were reported to have discussed matters of “bilateral co-operation.” However, it is understood that the Congolese leader was laying the ground for his next political move. President Kabila is under intense pressure from opposition groups and donors who are urging him to step down and allow a new leader to take over, with protests against him taking place countrywide. The East African

Prices Soar in Rwanda as Burundi’s Ban on Food Exports Bites
Burundi’s ban on food exports to Rwanda has sent prices in Kigali to a record high this year. The two countries’ worsening diplomatic relations led to the closure at the end of July of the border by the Burundian government, which also imposed export restrictions on its neighbour, citing domestic food security concerns. As a result, food supplies are now going into Rwanda from Burundi through the black market. “The few food imports from Burundi are coming through illegal ways and are extremely expensive,” said Silas Sabiiti, a grocery trader at Kimironko food market in Kigali. “The shortage is apparent here and this is what has pushed up the prices. The demand for fruit from Burundi has always been high because of its renowned quality,” he added. The East African

Islamist Rebel Admits Destroying Timbuktu Shrines at ICC Trial
An Islamist militant has admitted destroying cultural sites in Timbuktu, Mali, in the first such trial at the International Criminal Court. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi said he regretted his actions. He was accused of leading rebel forces who destroyed historic shrines at the world heritage site in 2012. It is also the first time a suspected Islamist militant has stood trial at the ICC and the first time a suspect has pleaded guilty.  BBC

Trial of Christian Pastors Begins in Khartoum
Trial of four Christian pastors including a Czech missionary accused of espionage, waging war against the state and inciting hatred against religious congregations has begun in Khartoum on Sunday amid strict security measures. Last December, Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) arrested Czech missionary and filmmaker Petr Jasek four days after he entered Sudan carrying two bags containing a laptop, a mobile phone, a video camera besides other documents.  Sudan Tribune

Ethiopian Marathon Runner Could Go to Jail for Anti-Government Protest on the Finishing Line
When he crossed the Olympics marathon finish line, Feyisa Lilesa put his hands above his head in an “X.” Most of those who watched Lilesa’s spectacular silver medal performance didn’t know what that meant — or just how dangerous a protest they were watching. Lilesa was protesting the Ethiopian government’s killing of hundreds of the country’s Oromo people — an ethnic majority that has long complained about being marginalized by the country’s government. The group has held protests this year over plans to reallocate Oromo land. The Independent

Tunisian Premier Unveils New Government Line-up
Tunisian Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed named his new government on Saturday, appointing a former investment official as finance minister and keeping the previous foreign and defence ministers in their posts. Chahed, named premier after his predecessor was dismissed by lawmakers in a no-confidence vote last month, had been in talks with the main secularist, leftist and Islamist parties over cabinet posts. His cabinet line-up must now go to parliament for a vote of approval. A senior member of the secularist Nidaa Tounes and ally of President Beji Caid Essebsi, Chahed promised a cabinet capable of delivering economic reforms that evaded past prime ministers, but critics say he may not have the political capital to succeed. France 24

Interview with Libya’s Prime Minister: ‘We Will Not Become Like Somalia’
The power goes out in the capital city for as long as 10 hours a day, there is little cash available at the banks, food prices have skyrocketed and every second hospital is closed due to a lack of medication or staff. There’s trash everywhere — on every street and every corner. People crouch as they walk. Shots can be heard — isolated ones — in what has become everyday life in Tripoli, Libya. “We will burn the ground beneath their feet,” Moammar Gadhafi said, threatening his opponents as his time as the country’s dictator drew to a close. Gadhafi was shot and killed in 2011, but his threat came true. The massive desert country, with only 6.4 million inhabitants, already had plenty of weapons and ammunition depots even back them. Gadhafi had opened the depots for his supporters and allowed weapons to be sold in the major cities. That same weapons arsenal is Gadhafi’s legacy and the basis of today’s civil war. Spiegle

Poverty, Drought and Felled Trees Imperil Malawi Water Supply
Out of desperation, soldiers were dispatched to the national forest here last year to defend the capital, Lilongwe, less than 30 miles away. Their mission was not to save it from an invading force, but to keep water flowing to its taps. For years, wood charcoal burners had been destroying this forest, the catchment basin for the Lilongwe River, the source of the capital’s water. Fewer trees mean the ground is less able to absorb water in the rainy season and gradually surrender it the rest of the year. With the supply reaching the capital dwindling and increasingly turbid, and with the El Niño drought spreading across Malawi and the rest of southern Africa, the capital was under imminent threat. “We’ve always known we’d have the problems we’re facing now,” said Alfonso Chikuni, the chief executive of the state-owned Lilongwe Water Board. After the board agreed to bear the cost of the deployment, the army ordered a company of soldiers to the Dzalanyama Forest in February 2015 to save the trees. The order came too late.  The New York Times

In Pursuit of the African Dream
[…] Thousands of miles from the chaotic detention facilities of Lampedusa, Italy, and Calais, France, there is another, much larger migration crisis that is taking place entirely within Africa. […] the vast majority of African migrants aren’t traveling to Europe but to another country on the continent. In 2000, the last year for which the World Bank’s Global Bilateral Migration Database has numbers, fully 75 percent of African migrants lived in another African country while only 16 percent lived in Europe. One of the most well-traveled migrant routes runs from the volatile Horn of Africa region to South Africa, by far the continent’s most developed economy, which has become a magnet for fortune-seekers from across Africa despite rising unemployment and xenophobia. Experts call it the “Southern Route,” and as many as 20,000 people take it each year, according to a 2009 study by the International Organization for Migration. Foreign Policy

African Democracy: The March of Democracy Slows
[…] Looked at through a wide lens of history, Africa’s standard of governance is almost unimaginably better than it was at the end of the cold war. Then a dart thrown at the map would almost certainly have landed on a one-party state, military junta or outright dictatorship. Economic liberty was much scarcer then, too: various forms of socialism abounded, from Tanzania to Ghana, Ethiopia to Angola. Freedom House, an American think-tank, reckons that in 1988, just before the cold war ended, only 16 countries in sub-Saharan Africa could be classified as “free” or “partly free”. Since then, the organisation reckons that 29 of the 48 countries in the region can be considered “free” or “partly free”. Yet zoom in the historical lens to view the past few years and it seems that the picture is mixed. Some places are seeing progress. […] Yet democracy appears to be withering. The Economist

Poor Data is Hurting African Countries’ Ability to Make Good Policy Decisions
African policy makers are increasingly called on to use evidence-based research to inform development decisions. But this requires the rigorous collection of data as well as a coordinated system to disseminate it. This is why Kenya-based African Population Health Research Center is advocating for national policies to enable strong data systems. Data, and especially data of good quality, are essential for national governments and institutions to accurately plan, fund and evaluate development activities. Basic development indicators are essential for an accurate picture of a country’s development status. This includes a country’s progress towards specific development goals and improving its citizens’ socio-economic conditions. In fact, solutions to social and economic problems are often inseparable from the statistics. Quartz

Cecil the Lion’s Death Has Triggered Changes in the Safari Hunt Industry
[…] The Cecil story sparked a new anti-hunting drive among skeptics who scoff at the notion that hunting can be a tool of conservation. In July, demonstrators at an animal rights rally in Washington, D.C., cited Cecil in a protest against trophy hunting. The Humane Society of the United States supported the trophy-hunt outrage with a gotcha sting in which wealthy hunters were filmed at a recent safari-industry expo in Las Vegas. Their images and individual hunting records were published in a report structured to inform their clients, patients and supporters of their safari-hunt hobby. Shortly after the global lion event, Australia and France banned the domestic transport of lion parts. […] Conservationists who see legal trophy hunting as a valuable tool against illlegal poaching are awaiting a major decision the would put the pinch on international poaching networks. This autumn, the 182-member international convention that regulates global wildlife trade will vote on a proposal to outlaw the commercial trade of African lions and their parts. The move would impact poachers but not legal hunting. Pittsburg Post-Gazette



Photo: Adam Jones