Africa Media Review for August 27, 2019

Thousands Flee Violence in Cameroon’s English-Speaking Regions
Tens of thousands of people have deserted Cameroon’s conflict prone English-speaking regions after a bloody weekend. Fighting between the military and separatists left at least 40 people dead, and a prominent Catholic bishop was abducted. The renewed fighting comes after a military tribunal ordered separatist leaders imprisoned for life. The new violence has dashed hopes that schools would re-open this week, after being closed for three years. Six hundred people wait at Amour Mezam, a bus terminal in Cameroon’s northwestern town of Bamenda, seeking rides to French-speaking towns. Like other bus companies in this area, the agency here has been overwhelmed with thousands of travelers leaving the English-speaking area over the past week. VOA

Cameroon Shipwreck Claims 3 Lives, 107 Saved in Rescue Operation – Army

A ship carrying about 200 people got into an accident off the Cameroonian Island of Bakassi, the army confirmed in a Facebook post on Monday. A joint rescue team of the Cameroon’s special oil field protection group and the National Navy have carried out the rescue operations, the army added. According to authorities, over 100 survivors have been rescued whiles three women have so far been confirmed dead. The victims have been “transferred to Bota Port in Limbe,” the statement added. The incident is said to have occurred on the night from 25 to 26 August 2019 following very stormy conditions. Local media portals have reported that the ship was from Nigeria and heading to a place known as Tiko Wharf from Keita Bakassi. Africa News

Liberia Ex-central Bank Staff Plead Not Guilty to Corruption

Five former Liberian central bank officials, including an ex-president’s son, have pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and “economic sabotage” in a scandal over millions of dollars of newly printed cash. A court in Monrovia, the capital of the impoverished West African country, said the group – accused of printing surplus banknotes worth 2.6 billion Liberian dollars ($16.3m) without authorisation – all asserted their innocence on Monday. Liberia’s President George Weah promised to tackle corruption when he came to office in January 2018 but has recently faced protests from citizens angry about corruption, living standards and spiralling inflation. The Central Bank of Liberia is at the centre of a probe into the cash – produced between 2016 and 2018 – which prosecutors say the ex-officials cannot account for. Charles Sirleaf, son of former president and central bank chief Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is among the five indicted on charges that also include criminal conspiracy. Al Jazeera

Sudan Urges UN to Withdraw All Peacekeepers by June 2020

Sudan has called on the United Nations Security Council to lift its suspension of troop withdrawals and ensure all peacekeepers leave Darfur by June 2020, but the African Union said overall security in the vast western region “remains volatile.” Sudan’s UN Ambassador Omer Mohamed Siddig told the Council on Monday that it was time to shift from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Darfur and to end restrictions on the government’s movement of arms and troops in and out of the region. In late June, the Security Council voted unanimously to put the brakes on the withdrawal of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force from Darfur, as the country dealt with a political crisis. It extended the mandate of the force, known as UNAMID, until October 31, and it asked the UN and AU to make recommendations by September 30 on what the council should do about continuing the withdrawal. Al Jazeera

Sudan: New Political Transition, Bolstered by Peacebuilding, Could Bring Long-Term Stability to Darfur, Security Council Told

“Important developments” under way in Sudan since midsummer, including a pledge to end the country’s outstanding conflicts, and the establishment of a new transitional government, could serve to edge the country’s people closer to stability, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said, briefing the UN Security Council on Monday. … The security situation in the western Sudanese region of Darfur remains largely unchanged, Mr. LaCroix said, adding that sporadic clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces/Rapid Support Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) faction are ongoing in Jebel Marra mountains. … He stressed that the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the UN Country Team continue to provide transition support through state liaison functions, namely in the areas of rule of law, livelihoods, immediate service delivery, and human rights. … As far as next steps, Mr. Lacroix reported the UN Department of Peace Operations has initiated discussions with the African Union to develop a joint political strategy for post-UNAMID engagement. UN News

South Sudan Journalist Freed after Six Weeks in Detention

A prominent South Sudanese journalist said Monday he had been released after almost six weeks in detention without charge, in a case which prompted alarm from rights groups over press freedom. “I stayed inside for 39 days and there were no charges put against me… that is why, they decided to release me,” said Michael Christopher, chief editor of the Arabic-language daily al-Watan. In July, Christopher and his wife were pulled off a flight to Nairobi, where he had intended to go for medical treatment. He was held without charge at the National Security Service headquarters before being released at the weekend. The United States, international and local rights groups protested at his detention, which Human Rights Watch described as “the latest brazen attack against freedom of the press in South Sudan.” AFP

Somalia National Army Gets the Youngest Commander in History

President Farmajo has appointed a youthful Odowaa Yusuf as the commander of the Somalia National Army. This is the latest appointment in the last 22 months in which he has been moved to senior positions within the military. His appointment makes him the youngest ever commander in the military at just 32, having been born in 1987. When Siad Barre regime fell, he was just 3 years old. He was born in in Aadan Yabaal District in Middle shabelle region. Between 2002-2005 he attended his secondary education in Mogadishu after which he joined the army in 2007. He attended military training in Uganda for one year where he underwent studies in VIP protection. He later became and instructor to new recruits sent to Uganda. In 2009, he went to Sudan for further training. A year later he returned home as a one-star general and attended a 45 day seminar at Haama dhowr school in Mogadishu. Dalsan Radio

Kenya ‘Destroying Mobile Phone Masts in Somalia’

The Somali government has accused the Kenyan military of destroying mobile phone masts in the south of the country, where Kenyan troops are deployed in the fight against the Islamist militant group, al-Shabab. It wants the African Union to intervene and investigate the attacks which seem to be aimed at preventing the militants from communicating. The Kenyan authorities have not commented on the allegation. Somali telecoms firm Hormuud issued a statement on Saturday, saying there had been 12 such attacks in the Gedo region disconnecting up to 4,000 people. BBC

How Security Council Seat Race Is Shaping EA and Horn Politics

Vested interests in the Horn of Africa could threaten the role of the African Union in deciding who represents the continent at the UN Security Council when a vote is held next June. On Wednesday, Kenya thought it had received the continental endorsement for the race after defeating Djibouti in a secret ballot at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. But Djibouti, which lost three times in a race that required two-thirds majority victory of 37-13 votes, backtracked after conceding, and is now taking its campaign for the seat directly to UN member states. … Djibouti has powerful friends – it is host to military bases for major global powers such as China, US, France and Japan and is being wooed by others for its strategic geographical location on the Red Sea. But many see the hand of Somalia and its circle of friends with vested interests in the country. The East African

DRC: Is President Tshisekedi a puppet of Kabila?

The opposition in the DRC has long maintained that President Felix Tshisekedi is a puppet of former President Joseph Kabila. The new Cabinet shows how powerful the ex-president still is. “He [Tshisekedi] is at the mercy of Kabila,” Martin Fayulu, DRC opposition leader, once said in an interview. The 62-year-old former Exxon Mobil executive predicted to the online news platform African Arguments that President Tshisekedi would relinquish all control in key sectors of the country such as mining and finance after the latter entered into a power-sharing deal with former ruler Joseph Kabila. Monday’s Cabinet announcement is more or less what Fayulu had foreseen. The DR Congo coalition government is heavily dominated by Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC), whereas Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance was left to fill in the rest of the positions. No one from the opposition was appointed. DW

Foreign Truckers Targeted in South Africa in Xenophobic Attacks

Truck drivers comprise a large part of the approximately 200 foreigners killed in South Africa since 2018, Human Rights Watch has said, calling for the government to intervene immediately to prevent more murders. “South African authorities should urgently intervene to stop the unlawful, unprovoked and violent attacks, and harassment of foreign truck drivers and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Any problems in the trucking industry, including undocumented drivers, are for the relevant authorities to address, and there is no defense to groups committing such violent, horrific crimes,” he added, referring to a South African local association of truck drivers. The group allegedly attacked foreign truck drivers with Molotov cocktails, stones, knives and guns, killing many, and forcing others out of jobs. RFI

The FBI’s Nigerian Email Scam Ring Bust Shows How the Billion-Dollar Global Fraud Has Evolved

A series of arrests by the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the US has nabbed one of the “most prolific” rings of Nigerian fraudsters operating in the country. While 14 arrests have been made, a 252-count federal grand jury indictment unsealed on Thursday (Aug. 23) named 80 defendants charged with defrauding victims of up to $10 million in one of the “largest cases of its kind in US history.” The fraudsters used a variety of cyber fraud methods to attempt to steal $40 million in total from victims in 10 countries as well as the US. … In the past, internet scams associated with Nigerians (known locally as “Yahoo Boys”) were dominated by romance scams through dating sites as well as phony email business propositions from infamous “Nigerian princes,” but their current tactics appear to have changed. Quartz Africa

‘Russians Have Special Status’: Politics and Mining Mix in Guinea

When Alpha Condé started hinting he wanted to change Guinea’s constitution to allow himself a third term as president, he found a fervent supporter in an unexpected quarter. Describing Condé as “legendary”, the Russian ambassador to Guinea backed a change of the constitution to allow the octogenarian president to “reinvigorate” the country. “Do you know many countries in Africa that do better? Do you know many presidents in Africa who do better?” Alexander Bregadze asked in a new year’s broadcast on state television. “It’s constitutions that adapt to reality, not realities that adapt to constitutions.” The opposition, civil society and the Guinean press were quick to criticise the ambassador’s “populist and demagogic” meddling. “He’s campaigning, supporting the president, encouraging the diplomatic corps to support a third term. It’s anti-constitutional,” said Alpha Baldé, of the opposition Guinean Democratic Forces Union. In May, leaving his post as ambassador, Bregadze took a job at the Russian aluminium firm Rusal. He now heads up Rusal’s key unit in Guinea, home to its biggest mining interests. The Guardian

7th TICAD Summit in Japan: Dozen African Leaders Confirm Participation

A dozen African leaders have confirmed their participation for the seventh edition of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) summit, taking place in Japan. TICAD has been held in Japan except for TICADVI which was held in Africa. 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). Among the African leaders whose attendance is confirmed are: Abdul Fatten Al-Sisi, Egypt and current African Union president; Paul Kagame, Rwanda; Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, Somalia; Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe; Faure Gnassingbe, Togo; Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger; Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Ghana; Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria; Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa; Ibrahim Boubakar Keita, Mali; Edgar Lungu, Zambia; Macky Sall, Senegal. Africa News

Inside China’s Growing Presence in Africa

As global superpowers rush to build a presence and profile across Africa, they are nonetheless playing catch-up to the continent’s biggest and strongest ally in recent years: China. For two decades now, Beijing has prioritized relations with African states, looking at them as a place for trade and not trouble. … Hundreds of Chinese companies and tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have also made the continent their home-working in everything from manufacturing and technology to healthcare and Confucius Institutes. To flex its military muscle and secure its strategic interests abroad, Beijing also chose Djibouti as the site for its first-ever overseas military base. Quartz Africa



Photo: Adam Jones