Africa Media Review for August 8, 2016

African Leaders Warn South Sudan Conflict Represents Regional Security Threat
African leaders of the East African regional bloc, IGAD, have issued a strong worded communiqué, calling on the United Nations and global community to extend support to end conflict in South Sudan. The also warned that a delay to act to avert a deteriorating humanitarian situation represents a security threat to countries in the region. In the communiqué released in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, IGAD said its member states have been shouldering heavy burden. “Underlines once again that the situation in South Sudan is a serious threat to regional peace, security and stability, and recognizes that the neighbouring countries have been shouldering the heavy burden of the conflict since its outbreak in December 2013, including continued and intensive flow of refugees, as well as proliferation of illicit small arms and weapons and instability,” reads the communique of the outcome of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the IGAD Plus held on 5th August 2016 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sudan Tribune

UN to Consider 4,000-Strong Force for South Sudan
The United States proposed on Sunday that the United Nations Security Council authorises a 4,000-strong force to ensure peace in South Sudan’s capital Juba and threaten to impose an arms embargo if the transitional government does not cooperate. It circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council, seen by Reuters, that would approve a regional protection force “to use all necessary means, including undertaking robust and active steps and engaging in direct operations where necessary,” to secure Juba and protect the airport and other key facilities. The protection force would be part of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, which has been on the ground since the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The protection force chief would report to the UNMISS commander. The East African

South Sudan ‘Accepts Deployment of Regional Force’
South Sudan on Friday accepted the deployment of a regional intervention force after escalating violence put a fragile peace deal in danger, the head of the East African bloc IGAD said. “The government of South Sudan accepted,” Mahboub Maalim said after a summit in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, adding that the specific scope and mandate of the force had yet to be decided. But once an agreement on that had been reached, it would be submitted to the UN Security Council for a vote. The force could be used to help implement an August 2015 peace deal, while protecting civilians and carrying out humanitarian duties, Maalim said. France24

Libyan Forces Prepare ‘Decisive’ Assault Against ISIS
Libya pro-government forces backed by US air strikes said on Sunday they would soon launch a final assault to retake the coastal city of Sirte from the Islamic State jihadist group. “The countdown of the final stage of the military operations against Daesh has started,” forces loyal to the Tripoli-based national unity government said in a statement, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. “The operation’s leaders held intensive meetings to prepare for the final and decisive battles to eradicate the Daesh gang from the city of Sirte”, they said in a statement. News24

11 Nigerian Soldiers Killed as Gunmen Open Fire on Troops — Army
At least 11 officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army have been confirmed dead after gunmen shot at them during a raid operation, officials said. However, the troops also killed eight suspected bandits and arrested 57 others during a shootout in parts of Bosso local government area of Niger state, officials said. The spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sani Usman, said contrary to claims that soldiers extrajudicially killed civilians during the clash, the gun fight actually ensued when armed bandits who are also gunrunners, opened fire on soldiers during a raid of notorious hideouts of criminals. Two soldiers of the Nigeria Army have not been accounted for since the clash as they remained missing, even as troops were able to recover a huge arms cache from those killed and arrested, Mr. Usman said. Premium Times

1 Dead, 4 Wounded as Blast Hits UN Peacekeepers in Mali
A United nations peacekeeper was killed and four others wounded Sunday in northeastern Mali, when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb. A U.N. statement said the blast occurred in the Kidal region and that all of the victims were from Chad. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement, stressed that attacks targeting U.N. peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. He also said that attacks on regional peacekeepers “will not weaken the determination of the mission to fully implement its mandate” to monitor a peace deal reached after Islamists sought to seize control of northern Mali in 2012. VOA

Growing Dissent in Chad as Deby Embarks on Fifth Term
Chad has banned weakened opposition rallies ahead of the swearing in of President Idriss Deby for another term. Chad’s neighbors approve of his commitment to fight terrorism, at home his record is viewed less favorably. For Chad’s long time ruler, it is essentially a formality. President Idriss Deby is due to be sworn in on August 8 for a fifth term. A former commander-in-chief of the army, the autocratic Deby has been in power for 26 years. Foreign powers respect him. Chad is seen as a relatively stable country in an unruly region. This is because Chad possesses well-trained security forces, which Deby keeps on a tight rein. Deby’s troops are deployed in Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon, where they are battling the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency. Chad’s contingent with the UN mission in Mali is larger than all the others, consisting of more than 1000 troops. European countries count on Deby to control the routes used by refugees leaving Africa. DW

7 Dead as Ethiopian Police and Protesters Clash
At least seven people were killed during fresh clashes between police and anti-government protesters in western Ethiopia on Saturday, local sources said, while the ethnic unrest also reached the capital Addis Ababa for the first time. Saturday’s rally in the capital was called by opposition groups from the Oromo, Ethiopia’s main ethnic group. Some 500 people gathered amid a heavy police presence on the capital’s main Meskel Square shouting slogans such as “we want our freedom” and “free our political prisoners.” Police swiftly moved in to break up the protest. The other main ethnic group, the Amhara, has also held rallies in recent weeks. Both groups, which between them make up some 80% of the population, complain that they suffer discrimination in favour of ethnic Tigrayans, who they say occupy the key jobs in the government and security forces. News24

Somali Minister Survives Assassination Attempt
A Somali minister survived an assassination attempt Sunday when a hand-grenade was thrown at his car in the capital, Mogadishu. Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan Noah, Minister of Youth and Sport, told VOA that the explosive device hit his car as he was shopping at a local market in Maka al-Mukaramah, the capital’s busy main street.“When I got off from the car, a bomb hit and damaged the car, everybody got shocked and ran away from the scene,” the minister said. … So far, no group has claimed the responsibility for the attack, but the minister said the terrorist group al-Shabaab is behind this attack. Al-Shabaab has carried out several attacks on Somali government officials. Bar-kulan

Somalia to Hold Presidential Election on Oct. 30
The chief of Somalia’s electoral commission says a presidential election will be held on October 30. Omar Mohamed Abdulle announced Sunday that the presidential vote will be held after the selection of members of the upper and lower parliamentary houses are held between Sept. 24 and October 10. He said that members of parliament will elect a new parliament speaker on 25th October. AP

Kerry to Visit Kenya for Talks on Security
US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Kenya this month for talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta over regional security. Presidential spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said on Sunday Kerry would hold discussions with Kenyatta and Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohammed on the upheaval in South Sudan and security in violence-plagued Somalia. When Kerry was in Kenya last year, he urged Kenyatta not to close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, without stability in Somalia and called on South Sudan’s warring leaders to form a transitional government. News24

Burundi Journalist Missing for Two Weeks
The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned about the welfare of Burundian journalist Jean Bigirimana. The journalist’s news outlet says he has not been seen or heard from since July 22. Bigirimana, a reporter with the independent weekly newspaperIwacu, formerly with the pro-government radio station Rema FM, left his home in the capital Bujumbura around lunch time on July 22, after receiving a phone call from a source in the country’s national intelligence service, Iwacu reported. He has not been seen or heard from since. The Associated Press, citing Bigirimana’s wife, reported that the journalist was arrested by the National Intelligence Service and that his family fears he is dead. Godeberthe Hakizimana told The Associated Press that her husband left home for Bugaramana in the central province of Muramvya. He did not return despite saying that he would be back for dinner, Iwacu reported. Premium Times

Quebec City Speech by Burundian Official Sparks Warning from Global Affairs
The federal government is warning Burundian authorities against attempting to sow discord within the diaspora community in Canada. Global Affairs Canada issued a sternly worded statement following a controversial event last week in Quebec City, at which a senior member of the current Burundian government spoke. In an address at the conference, Willy Nyamitwe, a communications advisor to President Pierre Nkurunziza, said reports of human rights abuses by Nkurunziza supporters are overblown. … Quebec, and Quebec City especially, has a large Burundian expatriate community. Global Affairs Canada cautioned the Nkurunziza government about using the community as political leverage. CBC

Zambian Opposition Leader Says Election Will Not be Free and Fair
Zambia’s main opposition leader has accused the government of using repressive laws to restrict his election campaign and said violence by supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) would prevent Thursday’s polls from being free and fair. However, the African Union (AU) observer mission said political parties in Zambia were still able to conduct their campaign activities without major disruption despite some incidences of violence. Zambia holds presidential and parliamentary elections on Aug. 11. President Edgar Lungu faces a strong challenge from opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema after last year’s neck-and-neck race. Lungu has been in power in the southern African nation since winning election in January 2015 following the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata, in October 2014. Reuters

Zimbabwe: New Law Allows Govt Seizure of Smartphones
NEW legislation will allow the police to seize smartphones, laptops and other “gadgets” to prevent people from communicating via social media. Several demonstrations and a one-day national strike were organised over social media. These outbreaks of unrest have unnerved President Robert Mugabe’s bankrupt government. One twitter feed called #ThisFlag has coordinated many of the protests. The regime is drafting a new law that will allow police to confiscate electronic equipment and raid broadband service providers. The “Computer Crime and Cyber Crime Bill” would empower police to intercept private communications, search and seize any “electronic gadgets,” and send any “abusers” to jail for five years. The regime claims the new law will also help the extradition of Zimbabweans in other countries who use social media to organise protests at home. General Philip Sibanda, the army commander, said the security forces were on “alert” to deal with any “cyber-based destabilisation” of Zimbabwe. New Zimbabwe

South Africa Elections: ANC Suffers Biggest Election Setback Ever after Losing Pretoria
South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has suffered its biggest election setback since taking power at the end of Apartheid, 22 years ago. Local media reports have indicated that the ANC has lost the major metropolitan area of the country that includes the country’s capital city of Pretoria. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has edged out the ANC in Pretoria’s Tshwane, although they did not win a majority, which raises the likelihood of a coalition government. The DA gained 43.1% of the votes, compared with 41.48% of the votes for the ANC. There is only less than 1% of the votes left to be counted and the race for the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, remains too close to call. Earlier, the ANC lost their key battleground of Nelson Mandela Bay to the DA, with DA candidate Athol Trollip being elected mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. IBTimes



Photo: Adam Jones