Africa Media Review for December 11, 2017

Islamist Attack Kills at Least 15 UN Peacekeepers and Five Soldiers in DRC
Heavily armed militants have killed at least 15 peacekeepers and five soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in one of the worst attacks on United Nations personnel in recent memory. More than 50 peacekeepers were left wounded after fighters from a local Islamist extremist group overran a remote base in the east of the vast central African country after hours of confused fighting late on Thursday. Many casualties are in a critical condition and the death toll is expected to rise. […] Rival militia groups still control swaths of mineral-rich eastern DRC, nearly a decade and a half after the official end of a 1998-2003 war that killed millions of people, mostly from hunger and disease. The attack on the base has been blamed by the UN on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a local group that adheres to a rigorous Islamist vision and has a history of violence. The Guardian

UN: 4,500 Civilians Killed, Wounded in Somalia since 2016
The United Nations says more than 4,500 civilians have been killed or wounded in the conflict in Somalia since the start of 2016. The U.N. Human Rights Office and the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) have issued a new report that implicates parties to the conflict in the death and injuries sustained by the civilians. In the report, covering a period from January 1, 2016 until October 14 2017, UNSOM documented 2,078 civilian deaths and 2,507 injuries. The worst perpetrators of the killings against civilians are the al-Shabab militant group that is responsible for more 60 percent of the casualties according to the report. About a quarter of the death toll comes from the October 14 truck in Mogadishu where a special committee tasked to investigate the incident reported that 512 people were killed and more than 300 others were injured. Al-Shabab has been blamed for the attack. VOA

Pentagon Foresees at Least Two More Years of Combat in Somalia
Amid its escalating campaign of drone strikes in Somalia, the Pentagon has presented the White House with an operational plan that envisions at least two more years of combat against Islamist militants there, according to American officials familiar with internal deliberations. The proposed plan for Somalia would be the first under new rules quietly signed by President Trump in October for counterterrorism operations outside conventional war zones. The American military has carried out about 30 airstrikes in Somalia this year, twice as many as in 2016. Nearly all have come since June, including a Nov. 21 bombing that killed over 100 suspected militants at a Shabab training camp. In a sign that the Defense Department does not envision a quick end to the deepening war in Somalia against the Shabab and the Islamic State, the proposed plan is said to include an exemption to a rule in Mr. Trump’s guidelines requiring annual vetting by staff from other agencies — including diplomats and intelligence officials — of operational plans for certain countries. The New York Times

U.S. Put 92 Somalis on a Deportation Flight, Then Brought Them Back
Ninety-two Somali citizens were flown out of the United States under orders of deportation on Thursday, but their plane never made it to Somalia. The flight landed in the West African country of Senegal and, facing logistical problems, was rerouted back to the United States. It was an unexpected, 5,000-mile backtrack for the migrants, some of whom have lived in the United States for years, or even decades, while on a list for deportation because they had entered the country without proper documentation. In recent weeks, dozens of Somali citizens were transported from their homes in the United States — many were living in Minnesota — to Louisiana in preparation for the flight. A few, with the help of lawyers, managed to secure stays of removal. The 92 on the plane got only as far as Senegal’s capital, Dakar, according to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The New York Times

Gunmen Kidnap and Later Kill Five Workers Laying Fiber-Optic Cables in Mali
Four Malians and a Togolese working for a Chinese telecom firm were kidnapped and murdered while laying fiber-optic cables in central Mali, multiple sources told AFP on Sunday. The group was working a few dozen kilometers from the town of Niafunke on Friday when they were dragged away by unidentified armed men, a local official based there said. “The next day they were found dead, their bodies abandoned on the roadside,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity — information confirmed by a Malian security source. A source with the company, who asked that their identity and that of the workers’ employer be protected, told AFP: “We can’t keep working without security. All our other workers are in a place of safety.” Japan Times

UN Allows Peacekeepers in Mali to Help Sahel Force
The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday that will enable the U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali to provide support to the new 5,000-troop African force that is charged with fighting extremists in western Africa’s vast Sahel region. The French-drafted resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to quickly conclude a technical agreement to have Mali’s peacekeepers provide operational and logistical support to the five-nation African force. The support includes medical evacuation, supply of fuel, water and rations, and the use of U.N. engineering units to establish camps in Mali. VOA

6,000 IS Jihadists Could Return to Africa, AU Warns
Up to 6,000 Africans who fought for the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in Iraq and Syria could return home, the African Union’s top security official warned Sunday, calling on countries to prepare for the threat. Smail Chergui, the AU’s commissioner for peace and security, said African nations would need to work closely with each other and share intelligence to counter returning militants. “There are reports of 6,000 African fighters among the 30,000 foreign elements who joined this terrorist group in the Middle East,” Chergui told a meeting in Algiers, according to the Algeria Press Service news agency. “The return of these elements to Africa poses a serious threat to our national security and stability and requires specific treatment and intense cooperation between African countries,” he said. AFP

Separatists Attack Cameroon Police
At least 6 armed separatists and a police official have been killed and several people wounded in the southwestern Cameroon English speaking town of Mamfe during an attack on a military post. The attack occurred after a special envoy from Nigeria assured Cameroon that they want to work jointly to reduce terrorism on their frontiers. Cameroon has been complaining that armed separatists were using Nigerian territory as a training ground. Cameroon communication minister and government spokesman Issa Tchiroma says hundreds of youths armed with guns, machetes and spears attacked Cameroon’s police unit in the English speaking south western town of Mamfe Thursday night. Tchiroma says a policeman was killed and another wounded while dozens of the attackers incurred severe injuries. “Five terrorists were shot dead by the defense forces who retaliated to an attack led by nearly 200 attackers against the Mamfe gendarmes (police) barracks,” said Tchiroma. VOA

Spain Rescues 104 Migrants Crossing Mediterranean Sea
Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has saved 104 migrants trying to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe from North Africa. The service says its rescue craft Guardamar Concepcion Arenal intercepted two boats carrying 53 and 22 migrants each overnight and early Sunday in the Strait of Gibraltar. The same rescue vessel also took on board another 25 migrants that a Civil Guard patrol craft had picked up at sea. Another rescue craft, the Salvamar Denebola, later spotted a tiny rubber boat carrying four more migrants that it took to shore. VOA

UN Calls Social Media Giants to Control Platforms Used to Lure African Migrants
The UN migration agency called on social media giants on Friday to control their platforms that it said are being used by smugglers to lure West African migrants to Libya where they face detention, torture and slavery. The smugglers often use Facebook to reach would-be migrants with false promises, International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a briefing. When migrants are tortured video is also sometimes sent back to their families over WhatsApp, he said. “We think it’s time for some grown-up responsibility by the social media companies writ-large for their platforms which are clearly having a very detrimental role on young vulnerable populations across West Africa,” Doyle said. Al Arabiya

Rwanda, Uganda to Receive Israel Deportees ‘in a Matter of Weeks’
Rwanda and Uganda will start receiving a large number of African refugees deported from Israel “in a matter of weeks,” a court in Tel Aviv was told on Tuesday. During the hearing of a case filed by human-rights organisations seeking to block the deportation of refugees, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, State Prosecutor Shosh Shmueli told the High Court of Justice in Tel Aviv that the Israeli government plans to begin deporting asylum seekers within the “next few weeks,” according to a report by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The official said that the government will begin implementing the agreements signed with the recipient countries. The East African

Israel Continues Charm Offensive across Africa
RFI’s Laura Martel takes a closer look at the relationship between Israel and Africa. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahou announced last week the opening of an embassy in Rwanda and expressed a desire for Israel to become an official ‘observer’ member of the African Union. These are the latest stages of a diplomatic offensive launched by Netanyahou in February 2016 to strengthen ties with Africa, embodied in a catchphrase : “Israel is coming back to Africa, Africa is coming back to Israel”. RFI

Raila Swearing-In Postponed
The swearing-in of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga as parallel president has been postponed. A statement signed by, Prof Kivutha Kibwana, the chairman of the Wiper Democratic party, one of the opposition Nasa coalition members, said the decision was arrived at following extensive internal consultations. “Following extensive internal consultations and engagement with a wide range of national and international interlocutors, the NASA leadership wishes to advise the NASA fraternity and the general public that the swearing in of Rt. Honourable Raila Amolo Odinga and His Excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka as President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, and the launch of The People’s Assembly scheduled for Tuesday 12 December have been postponed to a later date,” read the statement. The ceremony was earlier scheduled to take place at a yet to disclosed location on Kenya’s independence day. The East African

Shooting at Malawi-Mozambique Border as Tension Rises in Mangochi
Malawi and Mozambique nationals continue to face off over a violent altercation as one person is suspected to have been shot dead, another one seriously wounded, allegedly by Mozambican forces at Makanjira, Mangochi. The incident has been allegedly fuelled by simmering border disputes between Malawians and Mozambicans. Ministry of Defence Principal Secretary (PS) Chauncy Simwaka said at the 11th Malawi/Mozambique Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS) that opened Sunday in Mangochi, they tackled boundary conflicts in Makanjira which followed the World Bank-funded exercise aimed at retracing the boundaries between Malawi and Mozambique. The Nyasa Times

Jacob Zuma: South African High Court Overrules Appointment of State Prosecutor in Blow for President’s Authority
South Africa’s High Court has ruled that Jacob Zuma’s appointment of a state prosecutor to decide whether to reinstate corruption charges against him was not valid. The court also ruled that President Zuma should not make a new appointment. It said deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa should appoint a new public prosecutor within 60 days. The ruling is a stinging rebuke for Mr Zuma, who is due to step down in 2019 after more than a decade in power. The President’s office said he would appeal the decision. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), whose head prosecutor Shaun Abrahams was removed from his post by the High Court ruling, was not available to comment. The Independent

Zimbabwe Scraps Indigenization Policy, except for Diamonds and Platinum
The government has abolished the local ownership requirement for foreign investors, apart from the diamond and platinum sectors, in a big change in policy by the new administration announced by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. The indigenization law demands that 51 percent of firms created in important industries in the country be under the control of Zimbabweans. However, the law deterred significant foreign investment under the 37-year rule of former President Robert Mugabe. With a huge jobless rate, new President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that creating employment was one of his main priorities. Presenting the country’s 2018 budget, Chinamasa said the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act would be relaxed with the changes coming into effect in April 2018. Idex

Zimbabwe Names Diplomat Isaac Moyo as Top Spy
Zimbabwe has named a former diplomat as the head of its intelligence agency, state-owned newspaper The Herald said on Saturday. Isaac Moyo, who was serving as an ambassador to neighbouring South Africa and Lesotho, replaces retired army general Happyton Bonyongwe, the paper quoted chief secretary to the president, Misheck Sibanda, as saying. No one was immediately available to comment in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office. The Herald is a mouthpiece for the government. Moyo takes over a domestic spy network, the Central Intelligence Organisation, that permeates every institution and section of society and has been used by former President Robert Mugabe to stay in power. Reuters

Quest to Extradite Ethiopia’s Dictator Mengistu as Mugabe Departs
Zimbabwe’s ex-President Robert Mugabe gave refuge to Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam, convicted of genocide in Ethiopia. Mugabe’s departure has raised hopes that Haile Mariam could be extradited, but this is all uncertain. Major General SB Moyo, the country’s chief of staff logistics, said the transition was aimed at ending social and economic suffering and bringing criminals to justice. The unfolding transition of power with its promise of change has brought hope not only to Zimbabweans but also to other Africans. One such hope is that Ethiopia’s former Marxist-leaning leader Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam could finally be brought to justice. Mugabe gave Haile Mariam a residency permit after the latter fled Ethiopia in 1991. His motive for giving Haile Mariam refuge was thought to be to allow the Ethiopian ex-leader to train and arm Zimbabweans during their liberation struggle in the 1970s. Deutsche Welle



Photo: Adam Jones