Africa Media Review for August 26, 2019

Twelve Dead in Niger Boko Haram Village Attack
A night raid blamed on Boko Haram has left a dozen villagers dead in southeastern Niger on the frontier with Nigeria, a local official said Saturday. The attack on Friday night in the border district of Gueskerou, is the latest to hit the Diffa region near Lake Chad, which is crisscrossed by militant groups and traffickers who murder and kidnap people in local communities as they compete for money and influence. “Twelve villagers were killed on Friday at around 8:00pm (1900 GMT) by Boko Haram elements,” a local elected official told AFP. He said eleven of those killed had been shot, but did not give further details. AFP

Sudanese Police: Tribal Clashes Kill 17 in Eastern Port City
Sudan’s police have released a statement saying clashes between two tribes in an eastern port city have killed 17 people in three days. The violence led Sudan’s new joint military-civilian council – formed just last week – to declare a state of emergency in Port Sudan on Sunday, and troops have been deployed in the city. The council also sacked the provincial governor and its top security official. The clashes in the Red Sea province erupted earlier this week between the Bani Amer tribe and the displaced Nuba tribe, and have wounded more than 100 others. An activist, who spoke on condition in anonymity for fear of reprisal, said the dispute started in May in the eastern city of al-Qadarif, where seven people were killed. AP

Sudan Flood Death Toll Reaches 62: State Media
Heavy rainfall and flash floods have killed 62 people in Sudan and left 98 others injured, the official SUNA news agency reported on Sunday. Sudan has been hit by torrential rains since the start of July, affecting nearly 200,000 people in at least 15 states across the country including the capital Khartoum. The worst affected area is the White Nile state in the south. Flooding of the Nile river remains “the biggest problem”, SUNA said, citing a health ministry official. On Friday the United Nations said 54 people had died due to the heavy rains. It said more than 37,000 homes had been destroyed or damaged, quoting figures from the government body it partners with in the crisis response. AFP

AP Interview: Sudan PM Seeks End to Country’s Pariah Status
Sudan’s new prime minister said in an interview that ending his country’s international pariah status and drastically cutting military spending are prerequisites for rescuing the nation’s faltering economy. Abdalla Hamdok, a respected former official with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, told The Associated Press on Sunday that he has already talked to U.S. officials about removing Sudan from Washington’s list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and portrayed their reaction as positive. He also called for sharply reducing military spending, hoping for a “peace dividend” if current efforts to negotiate deals with armed rebels are successful. He said military spending takes up as much as 80% of the state budget. … “For 30 years, we were isolated,” Hamdok said in the interview in the capital of Khartoum. “We were treated as a pariah state. We want to tell the world we are moving away from sanctions, issues of punishment and all that, to a Sudan that is coming back to the fold of normal nations.” AP

South Sudan: UN Rights Experts See Little Headway on Peace Deal amid Spike in Local-Level Violence
“Civilians with whom we spoke still raised numerous concerns that they feel are barriers to sustainable peace,” said Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, reporting from Juba on the panel’s seventh field mission, currently under way through 29 August and which includes South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Kenya. During their visit, the three Commissioners listened to South Sudanese women, men and children express numerous concerns, including the localization of conflict linked to land, resources, and cattle; and inefficiencies in implementing the Revitalized Peace Agreement, which, signed by the warring parties in September 2018, has been commended as a significant development toward the dawn of peace. They are also worried about deteriorating living conditions for the internally displaced, security and the continued shrinking space for civic engagement, among many other concerns. UN News

Tunisia: Media Mogul’s Arrest Rocks Presidential Race
The arrest of a Tunisian media magnate who’s a leading presidential candidate is rattling this country’s young democracy and throwing the campaign into uncertainty. Supporters of tycoon Nabil Karoui said Satrday that he’s being targeted for political reasons ahead of the Sept. 15 election. Karoui was detained while campaigning Friday and he and his brother were jailed on allegations of tax evasion and money laundering. The head of the election authority said Saturday that Karoui can remain a candidate as long as he is not convicted. He’s among 26 candidates seeking the presidency in the election, hastily organized after Tunisia’s first democratically elected president died in office last month. The Tunis public prosecutor said Saturday the arrest was in line with Tunisian law, and rejected the brothers’ request to lift a travel ban and asset freeze. A senior member of Karoui’s Heart of Tunisia party, Iyadh Elloumi, said Saturday that he’s a “political prisoner” and accused Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and his family of plotting against the tycoon. Chahed is also a leading candidate in the elections. AP

When the Sun Sets in Libya, Two U.S. Allies Get Down to War
On July 26, Libya’s internationally-recognized government announced a brazen air raid on a hangar housing drones deployed in support of rival commander Khalifa Haftar. A day later, his forces said they retaliated with strikes on a military base that sent fireballs into the night sky. Neither side officially acknowledged the worst-kept secret of the North African state’s civil war: as the opponents face a stalemate on the ground, their backers in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are engaged in an aerial campaign that’s seen them target each other’s unmanned planes in a bid to determine Libya’s future in their favor. Bloomberg

Fresh Fighting Breaks Out in Northeastern DRC – Army
Fighting has erupted again in the northeastern Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the army said on Saturday. The Congolese army said it had lost three soldiers and had killed 20 militiamen in the unrest overnight on Friday to Saturday in the Djugu area. Authorities say at least 160 civilians died in Ituri in June in clashes between militias. On July 2, President Felix Tshisekedi announced a major military operation in the province’s Djugu and Mahagi territories, with the offensive extending to South Kivu province to put a “definite end” to the dozens of militias roaming the lawless, mineral-rich region. The UN refugee agency has said instability has forced more than 300 000 people to flee their homes, with people escaping unrest in Djugu territory especially. AFP

Congo Government Announced 8 Months after Tshisekedi Won December Vote
Congo’s prime minister announced a new government on Monday, eight months after President Felix Tshisekedi won an election, with around two thirds of posts going to allies of former president Joseph Kabila. In the long-delayed election last December, Tshisekedi defeated a candidate officially backed by Kabila, whose own term limit was up, though opposition politicians said the result was rigged in a secret deal between Kabila’s and Tshisekedi’s camps. They said the deal involved Kabila officially stepping down but maintaining control, a charge they both denied. … As well as Kabila retaining outsized influence over various security agencies, his coalition won about 70 percent of seats in the lower house of parliament and an overwhelming majority of provincial assembly seats in elections also held on Dec. 30. Reuters

DRC: Over 200,000 People Given Merck Ebola Vaccine – Gov’t
Congolese authorities and health workers vaccinated more than 200,000 people against Ebola in August, the government said on Sunday, using a Merck vaccine they hope will help rein in the world’s second worst epidemic. Figures released by the government’s Ebola committee showed that 204,044 people had been inoculated since August 8. A total of 1,980 people have so far died in this epidemic, of 2,950 people suspected to have been infected – clinically confirmed cases are a little lower, at 2,845. It remains the second biggest death toll in the disease’s history, after a 2014-16 outbreak in West Africa that killed 11,300 people. … Ebola appears to be under control in the city of Goma in Congo but it has flared in other parts of the country, where aid workers are combating insecurity and misinformation on social media. Reuters

Malawi Court Bans Planned Airport, Border Protests
A Malawi court ordered a ban on protest at the country’s airports and border crossings on Friday, as authorities try to avert new post-election demonstrations aimed at shutting down key transport hubs. The High Court order comes amid plans for fresh weeklong rallies by a coalition of human rights groups that has successfully organised a series of protests in the country since elections in May. Judge Jack N’riva at the Blantyre court granted an order sought by the Malawi Revenue Authority to ban the protest actions at the country’s international airports and border crossings. “What the court said is that demonstrations can be held anywhere in the country but not at the airports and borders,” judiciary spokesperson Agnes Patemba told AFP. … The protesters, who have called for the resignation of the head of the Malawi Electoral Commission, said they would abide by the court decision. AFP

Forgotten: Rwanda-Burundi Row
As Uganda and Rwanda took a step towards normalising their sour relations, there seemed to be no end in sight for the bad blood between Kigali and Burundi. In Bugabira Commune in Kirundo Province in Burundi’s northern border with Rwanda, residents are still blocked from crossing into Rwanda for family visits or to work in farms. For decades, the Bugabira community on both sides of the border had been integrated, with many intermarriages, but now it is criminal to even attend a relative’s funeral across the border. The deterioration of relations between Burundi and Rwanda has not only affected the social life but also their economy. … The two countries’ relations soured in 2015, when protests erupted in Burundi against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a controversial third term in office. Burundi accused Kigali of masterminding the 2015 failed coup, a charge Kigali denied. Rwanda has accused Burundi of sheltering the FDLR rebels who are accused of committing the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. The East African

Is Angola’s Lourenco the New Mr Fix It?
The reconciliation of presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame in the Angolan capital Luanda on Wednesday came from an unlikely peacemaker. Joao Lourenco, the 65-year-old Angolan president who has been in power for less than two years, invited President Museveni, 74, in power for 33 years, and President Kagame, 61, in power since 2000, to Luanda to end almost two years of tension between their countries. … President Lourenco, a military general, shares a strong background in the revolutionary struggle with both leaders. It is probably this that has stood him in good stead with the two generals from East Africa. Mr Mukula said that most of the work was done in the background by emissaries, while Luanda presented the formalities of the deal. “Both presidents realised there was no need for a showdown; there would be a lot of collateral damage, which would not have been easy to repair,” Mr Mukula said. President Lourenco is making his mark as an international peacemaker. He first invited President Museveni and President Kagame to Luanda in July, and both responded positively. The East African

Ethiopia-Kenya Tiff over Madobe Re-election Bad for Security, Experts Warn
The tension between Kenya and Ethiopia over Somalia’s Jubbaland state and its recent election is likely to affect the war against terror in the Horn, experts warn. With the two countries being frontline states with a sizeable Somalia population and being contributors to the African Union Mission in Somalia – Ethiopia has 4,395 troops in Amisom while Kenya has 3,664 – their seeming failure to co-operate over Jubbaland could give way to a resurgence of the Al-Shabaab terror group. Amisom is preparing for a final withdrawal in 2021, leaving the Somalia National Army in charge and there are fears that the militants could recapture the liberated areas. The East African

Gambia Reels as It Watches Hit Men Confess to Murder – and Then Walk Free
Gambia modeled the Truth Commission after South Africa’s inquiry into the apartheid era and Rwanda’s reckoning with its 1994 genocide. Both undertakings offered amnesty to criminals as the countries tried to heal. Both moves sparked outrage. But unlike previous transitional justice efforts – nearly three dozen truth commissions have played out in some form across the globe since the 1980s – Gambia’s investigation is unfolding in the age of social media. Supporters say the online frenzy helps investigators find witnesses and keeps the population informed as more Africans gain access to smartphones, while critics note it could stoke unrest or sway how suspects are prosecuted. The Washington Post

South Africa Scraps Russian Nuclear Plant Plans
Led by their former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, South Africans breathed a sigh of relief when President Cyril Ramaphosa scrapped plans to buy a nuclear power plant from Russia that would have been ruinously expensive. But the saga is not over. Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said this week that South Africa is still in the market for nuclear energy, provided it can be purchased economically. The financially hamstrung Electricity Supply Commission is becoming a millstone around the exchequer’s neck, by failing to meet its crippling debt burden. The Commission, which once sold power to all of South Africa’s neighbors and produced cheap electricity that was a loadstone to foreign heavy industrial investors, is now no longer able to meet South Africa’s domestic needs with its pool of aged and poorly maintained coal-fired power stations. RFI

African Leaders in Japan for 7th TICAD Summit
A host of African leaders are expected in the Japanese city of Yokohama for the seventh edition of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) summit. TICAD has been held alternately in Japan and Africa since TICADVI. TICAD7 will take place in Yokohama, Japan between 28 to 30 August 2019. The government of Japan leads the conference with co-hosts such as the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank and African Union Commission (AUC). … TICAD is a summit-level international conference regarding development of Africa launched by Japan in 1993. TICAD was held every 5 years until TICADV (2013). The hosting period was shortened to 3 years since TICAD VI (2016), during which it was held for the first time in Africa (Kenya, Nairobi). Africa News

African Footballers Stranded around the World with Crushed Dreams
In Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, Moshood Afolabi, a 24-year-old aspiring Nigerian footballer, is stranded. As an undocumented migrant, he has lost the occasional construction work that helped offset his rent of a shared apartment and internet bill. He arrived in Mongolia on May 10 last year in search of a football career, with the help of an “agent”, at second-tier outfit Khovd Western FC, intending to use the east Asian country as a stepping stone to Europe. “I didn’t plan to get to Mongolia because I planned to go to the UK [or another European country],” he told Al Jazeera by phone. Afolabi’s agent lived near his home in Osogbo, in the southwestern Nigerian state of Osun. According to him the agent ran his agency scheme on the side, as he maintained an active football career. Al Jazeera

More Fires Now Burning in Angola, Congo than Amazon: Maps
Blazes burning in the Amazon have put heat on the environmental policies of President Jair Bolsonaro, but Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, according to MODIS satellite data analyzed by Weather Source. Weather Source has recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, compared to 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil. It’s not an uncommon phenomenon for Central Africa. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones