Africa Media Review for August 6, 2019

Air Strike Kills 42 in Southern Libya Town
At least 42 people were killed and dozens wounded in an air strike targeting a town hall meeting in southern Libya, a local official and the UN-recognised government said Monday, accusing forces of military strongman Khalifa Haftar. The Government of National Accord (GNA) said Sunday’s raid struck the residential district of Qalaa in the town of Murzuq. … He said a government building at which more than 200 local dignitaries were gathered “to settle social differences” was targeted three times. … With fighting for Tripoli stalled on the ground after initial advances by Haftar’s forces, the two sides have increasingly taken their fight to the skies with warplanes and drones. Aviation officials said Monday that a Libyan passenger plane had narrowly escaped being hit by incoming fire as it landed at Tripoli’s sole functioning airport. AFP

Car Explosion in Egypt Was a ‘Terrorist Incident’: President Sisi
A huge blast which killed 20 people in central Cairo was caused by a speeding car packed with explosives, Egyptian officials said Monday as the president decried a “terrorist incident”. The car was driving against the traffic when it smashed into three other vehicles just before midnight Sunday evening, setting off a massive explosion just outside the country’s National Cancer Institute. Four of the 20 people killed remain unidentified, the health ministry said, while 47 others were wounded. … Both the ministry and police said they suspected the Hasm group, an armed affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, of being behind the attack. AFP

Sudan Revolutionary Front Rejects Constitutional Declaration
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) has officially rejected the Constitutional Declaration signed by Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) yesterday. The SRF says it has determined to communicate with the mediation and the military junta to amend it and include the vision of a just peace. The SRF said in a statement signed by Malik Agar, Minni Minawi, and Jibril Ibrahim that the Addis Ababa meetings produced a comprehensive vision of peace that would ensure that it can be achieved by addressing the roots causes of the Sudanese problem and working to remove historic injustices in order to end the war by addressing the reasons that led to the carrying arms. … The SRF statement pointed out that the vision of peace agreed upon by all the parties of the FFC in Addis Ababa was welcomed and accepted in the negotiating room by the African mediator and representatives of the junta, but it was met with fierce opposition from most representatives of the FFC. Radio Dabanga

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Emirates Welcome Sudan Constitutional Declaration
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) welcomed the agreement on the Constitutional Declaration and the initial signing between the Transitional Military Council and the forces for freedom and change in Sudan. The Saudi News Agency quoted a Saudi Foreign Ministry source as saying that the move was “a qualitative step that would move the brotherly state of Sudan towards security, peace and stability”. Radio Dabanga

Sudan, South Sudan Police Sign Cooperation Deal
Sudan and South Sudan police chiefs on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at expanding cooperation between both sides. Director General of Sudan’s Police, General Adil Mohamed and his delegation, held meetings with the South Sudan team led by Inspector General of Police Gen. Majak Akec Malok, in the capital Juba. The Sudanese team arrived in Juba on Friday. Speaking to reporters after the signing of the cooperation agreement at the Ministry of Interior, Gen. Majak said both sides signed a bilateral agreement after thorough discussions. He pointed out that plans are underway to open border crossings between Sudan and South Sudan. “Regarding the issue of border crossings with Sudan, we have been directed by President Salva Kiir to open the four border crossings, so we are working to open the border crossings in October,” he said. According to the police chief, the memorandum of understanding signed by the two sides focuses on training of South Sudan police and joint cooperation. Radio Tamazuj

Nigeria: SSS Pledges to Obey Court Order Granting El-Zakzaky Bail
The State Security Service on Monday evening said it had started studying a court order on Ibrahim El-Zakzaky for compliance. The Kaduna State High Court on Monday morning granted the Shiite leader and his wife, both held in violation of court bail since 2015, a leave to travel to India for medical treatment. Mr El-Zakzaky had fallen ill in custody since he was arrested in December 2015 during the Nigerian Army massacre of hundreds of Shiite in Zaria. “This is to inform the public that the Department of State Services (DSS) has received the order granting Ibrahim EL-ZAKZAKY leave to travel to India for medical treatment. “Consequently, the Service is liaising with relevant stakeholders to ensure compliance.” Premium Times

SSS Arrests Nigerian Journalist for Backing #RevolutionNow
A Nigerian journalist who ventilated about hardship in the country and wrote a Facebook post expressing support for the ‘RevolutionNow’ campaign has been arrested by the State Security Service (SSS). Ibrahim Dan-Halilu, a former editor with Daily Trust, was arrested at about 2:00 a.m. on Monday in Kaduna State, according to PRNigeria, a news agency with ties to Nigeria’s security apparatus. Mr Dan-Halilu’s arrest comes as the secret police launched a fresh crackdown on Nigerians for protesting what they consider a failure of governance. On Saturday, heavily armed SSS operatives stormed the apartment of Yele Sowore for daring to call for a revolution in Nigeria. Federal authorities tagged the call, which had gained popularity amongst many Nigerian, as seditious and an act of terrorism, even though the SSS had stated on the record that it had no intelligence that confirmed any violent plot by Mr Sowore. Premium Times

Tanzanian Investigative Journalist in Court over Money Laundering
A Tanzanian investigative journalist has appeared in court charged with organised crime and money laundering. Erick Kabendera, who was arrested by plainclothes policemen last week, appeared in court charged with leading organised crime, failure to pay tax amounting to 173m Tanzanian shillings ($75,000) and money laundering of the same amount. Press freedom advocates have called the charges “clearly retaliatory”. The charge sheet said he “knowingly furnished assistance in the conduct of affairs of a criminal racket, with intent either to reap profit or other benefit”. Kabendera, whose work has appeared in the Guardian and many other publications, has recently published stories about political infighting and an alleged plot to stop the re-election of the Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, who has been criticised for a sharp increase in repression since he took power in 2015. The Guardian

Pact Is Reached in Mozambique but Prospects for Peace Still Uncertain
With a handshake, Mozambique’s leaders hope to close the book on a decades-long conflict on Tuesday. But an election in October and new causes of violence mean lasting peace is far from assured. After fighting on opposite sides of a civil war that erupted following independence from Portugal and killed more than one million people between 1977 and 1992, the ruling Frelimo party and former guerrilla movement Renamo signed a ceasefire that ended the worst of the bloodshed. However, violence has flared periodically in the years since, especially around elections. Analysts say the new accord, encompassing a permanent end to hostilities, constitutional changes and the disarming and reintegration of Renamo fighters into the security forces or civilian life, offers the best hope yet for a lasting solution to the conflict. … President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade, who will sign the deal, both hope it would score them political points ahead of presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections on Oct. 15. The poll could make or break the agreement, experts said. It will be the first time Renamo, now the country’s main opposition party, can compete for provincial governorships, satisfying demands for political inclusion and control over areas they dominate. Reuters

Election Dispute in Malawi Heats Up as Fresh Protests Erupt
Malawian authorities were braced for violence on Tuesday as thousands of people gathered in the streets of the country’s main cities to demand the resignation of Jane Ansah, the head of the southern African nation’s electoral agency, whom they accuse of overseeing a rigged vote in May. The election returned President Peter Mutharika to power — a result that has sparked four previous demonstrations and is being challenged in court by the opposition Malawi Congress Party and the United Transformation Movement. Previous protests have turned violent and the government has said the police lack the capacity to manage them. The nation’s attorney-general, Kalekeni Kaphale, sought to bar Tuesday’s demonstrations on the grounds they were a security threat and infringed other citizens’ rights to work, but the High Court in the capital, Lilongwe, ruled they could go ahead. Organizers want to attract one million people to protests in each of the four main cities, said Timothy Mtambo, chairman of the Human Rights Defenders’ Coalition, which is organizing the latest demonstrations. Bloomberg

Outrage as the Gambia Frees Jammeh’s Hitmen
Relatives of people murdered under the regime of The Gambia’s former ruler Yahya Jammeh say they are outraged by the release of three self-confessed assassins. Malick Jatta, Omar Jallow and Amadou Badjie were members of a paramilitary unit known as the “Junglers”. They were released from army custody two weeks after appearing before the country’s truth commission. “Our team was a hit squad for Yahya Jammeh,” Mr Badjie told the commission. … Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou defended the decision to release the three, saying it would encourage other human rights violators to testify. “The TRRC is not a court of law and one of its primary objectives is to establish the truth,” Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. BBC

Ugandan Musician Dies after Abduction and Torture
A musician who was close to Ugandan pop star and opposition MP Bobi Wine has died of his injuries after being abducted and tortured. Allinda Michael, known by his stage name Ziggy Wine, was managed by Bobi Wine’s Firebase Crew music label. He was kidnapped on 21 July on his way to recording studios in the capital, Kampala. He was found a week later missing his left eye and two of his fingers. He died in hospital on Sunday night. Police say they have begun an investigation into his death, but they allege the family is not co-operating. Both Bobi Wine, a fierce critic of President Yoweri Musevi, and Ziggy Wine’s family believe the state may have had a hand in the abduction. BBC

Rwanda’s Disappearing Opposition
Anselme Mutuyimana – dead, found in the woods. Boniface Twagirimana, first vice president of the Forces Democratiques Unifiées (FDU-Inkingi) in Rwanda – disappeared. Jean Damascene Habarugira – dead, found mutilated in a hospital. Illuminee Iragena – disappeared. For the last few years, a series of mysterious disappearances has shaken the FDU-Inkingi, a coalition of opposition parties against Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. 29-year-old Eugene Ndereyimana, last seen on July 15 in his home region in the southeastern Ngoma district of Rwanda, is the latest case. On that day, he set off for a FDU meeting in the northeastern city of Nyagatare, but all contact with him was lost five kilometers before he reached his destination. There has been no trace of the father of two children since then. Attempts by the FDU to get information from Rwanda’s Investigation Office produced no results. DW

Congo Brazzaville’s ‘First Son’ Laundered $50 Million through Six European Countries – Report
A new investigation by anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has discovered the apparent theft of more than $50 million in public funds from the Republic of Congo by Denis Christel “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso, son of the country’s president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The resulting report alleges the younger Sassou-Nguesso, 44, laundered the money through a “complex and opaque corporate structure” spanning six European countries, the British Virgin Islands, and the US state of Delaware. It’s far from the first time the nation’s first family has been accused of embezzling funds from their country’s treasury. In 2007, Global Witness fingered Kiki, a Congolese parliamentarian, as having spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that may derive from sales of state oil on lavish designer shopping sprees in Paris, Marbella and Dubai.” Quartz

1,800 Dead as Malaria ‘Epidemic’ Rages in Burundi – UN
Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN’s humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019- a figure roughly equal to half its entire population. Of those cases, a total of 1,801 died from the mosquito-born disease in Burundi between January 1 and July 21, OCHA said. The tiny country of 11 million people in the African Great Lakes region has still not declared a national emergency, despite OCHA saying the outbreak crossed “epidemic proportions” in May. AFP

Uganda Begins Trial of Ebola Vaccine: Health Officials
Uganda said Monday it had started a trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine that may be used in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where an outbreak has killed more than 1,800 people. The trial of the MVA-BN vaccine developed by Johnson&Johnson is expected to last two years, Uganda’s Medical Research Council (MRC) said. The vaccine will be administered to up to 800 health professionals and frontline workers such as cleaners, ambulance personnel and mortuary and burial teams, in the western district of Mbarara, the MRC said in a statement. AFP

Human Trade Is Alive and Thriving across East Africa
Rose (not her name), 24, travelled from Rwanda to Kuwait in 2015 for a job she had been promised by someone she met online. Upon reaching Kuwait, her host received her warmly, offering her accommodation and food but a few days later, her host took away her travel documents. Then, together with other people, her host performed a medical procedure to remove parts of her reproductive organs. For two years she was stuck in Kuwait doing any job she could find. The Rwanda Investigative Bureau probed the case and alerted the embassy in Kuwait, which organised her travel back to Rwanda. … Although some victims are lucky to be rescued, their perpetrators are often never caught, and usually there is insufficient evidence to convict others that are caught, according to a new report by local NGO Health Development Initiative. The report indicates that the increased number of human trafficking rescues made in Rwanda over the past five years can be attributed to increased knowledge of the crime of human trafficking. The East African

Ceasefire Accords Signed by Armed Ethnic Groups in Central Mali – Officials
Armed groups of the rival Fulani and Dogan ethnic communities in central Mali have signed accords to “cease hostilities”, during a visit by the country’s prime minister, official sources said on Monday. The accords signed by a dozen armed groups were reached in the Mopti and Segou regions which have seen a surge in tit-for-tat violence between the nomadic Fulani cattle herders and the sedentary Dogon farmers and hunters, according to an official document seen by AFP. Since 2015 a jihadist group, recruiting mainly from the Fulani (or Peul) people, has clashed with the ethnic Dogon and also Bambara communities who in turn have created self-defence militias. The intercommunal conflict has claimed hundreds of lives. In an explosion of violence on March 23, about 160 Fulani villagers were slaughtered at Ogossagou, near the border with Burkina Faso, by suspected Dogon hunters. AFP

Death on the Nile Haunts Ethiopia’s Rebirth
The day Simegnew Bekele was found dying at the wheel of his Toyota Land Cruiser in central Addis Ababa-doors locked, engine running and a bullet wound to his head-he had left home holding a plane ticket and a packed bag. The plan on that July afternoon a year ago was to return to the construction site of the vast hydroelectric dam that Simegnew had been overseeing since 2011, according to his mother-in-law, Membere Mekonnen. The project on the Nile had made its chief engineer a national hero. His was the public face of plans for a new Ethiopia that would no longer be known for famines and war, but as Africa’s powerhouse-literally. … Whoever pulled the trigger, Simegnew found himself in the eye of multiple political storms that are still today battering one of Africa’s largest infrastructure projects: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). A year after his death, a symbol of Ethiopia’s prosperous future risks becoming a reminder of the country’s struggles to shake its turbulent past. Bloomberg

Three Gorges Has Nothing on China-Backed Dam to Power Africa
A dream of building the world’s biggest hydroelectric project in the heart of Africa may be inching closer to reality. For decades, plans have been made and discarded to construct a series of hydroelectric power stations on Africa’s second-longest river that would generate almost twice the power of the Three Gorges Dam in China, the world’s largest. If completed, a Grand Inga Dam could go a long way to addressing one of the most debilitating obstacles to development across Africa from Nigeria to South Africa: electricity shortages. The problem? It’s in Congo. A country two-thirds the size of Western Europe, Congo is one of the most difficult places on earth to get anything done. … Late last year there was a sudden burst of activity around Grand Inga. Then-President Joseph Kabila signed an accord in October with two groups of Chinese and Spanish investors, who committed to funding technical studies before building and running an 11,050-megawatt facility called Inga III at a cost of $14 billion. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones