Africa Media Review for December 11, 2019

Five Killed in Jihadist Attack on Somali Hotel, Al-Shaabab Claims Responsibility
Five people including three civilians were killed when jihadist militants stormed a hotel in Somalia’s capital, police said on Wednesday, adding that all five attackers had also died after an hours-long siege. A statement by police noted: “Our brave security forces ended the terror attack on SYL hotel rescuing more than 80 people” including government officials and hotel guests. “The number of the dead we have confirmed is five, among them two members of the security forces and three civilians. Nine other civilians and two soldiers were also wounded slightly.” The attack on Tuesday evening, claimed by the Islamist group al-Shabaab, took place at a hotel in Mogadishu popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats. A large number of hotel guests had been quickly evacuated by police through the hotel’s service doors and emergency exits. Several witnesses told AFP that the assailants were dressed in police uniform, which allowed them to approach the hotel without arousing suspicion. They then opened fire and threw grenades, triggering an armed response from security forces guarding checkpoints leading to the nearby presidential palace. AFP

Nobel Winner Abiy Says ‘Hell’ of War Fueled Desire for Peace
The winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize says his horrifying experiences as a young Ethiopian soldier fueled his determination to seek an end to the long conflict with a neighboring country. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed spoke at Oslo City Hall during the ceremony in Norway’s capital where he received his Nobel on Tuesday. “War is the epitome of hell for all involved. I know because I was there and back,” he said in accepting the prize. Abiy won the prize, in part, for making peace with Eritrea after one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. Abiy served in the army during the war. … In Oslo, he called on “my fellow Ethiopians to join hands and help build a country that offers equal justice, equal rights and equal opportunities for all its citizens.” “The evangelists of hate and division are wreaking havoc in our society using social media. They are preaching the gospel of revenge and retribution on the airwaves,” he said. … Residents of the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, packed into hotel lobbies and cafeterias to watch the speech broadcast. “It is an extraordinary speech. I have to study it again and again,” said Dejene Sakoume, a writer who supports Abiy. AP

Algeria Presidential Vote Faces Brick Wall of Berber Opposition
In Algeria’s disaffected Kabylie region, the brick has become the symbol of the anti-vote campaign ahead of unpopular presidential elections set for Thursday. Protesters have even bricked up the entrances to local government offices to prevent the distribution of election material in Tizi-Ouzou, a key city in the region home to much of the North African country’s Berber minority. Walls where election posters would ordinarily appear are instead daubed with calls for a general strike. “The strike is a show of force against the election — we want zero voting here,” said Amar Benchikoune, 38, outside his shuttered store. Since Sunday, pharmacies are the only shops to open in the city. … On Sunday, protesters marched on the district administrative office carrying bricks and bags of cement. Anti-riot police held them off for three hours before withdrawing in the face of the jubilant crowd. “A free and democratic Algeria,” protesters chanted as they walled off the entrance, which they painted with “No vote.” AFP

Two Algeria Ex-PMS Get Heavy Jail Terms in Corruption Trial
An Algerian court sentenced two former prime ministers to long jail terms Tuesday in the first of a string of high-profile corruption trials launched after longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests in April. Ahmed Ouyahia was sentenced to 15 years and Abdelmalek Sellal to 12, the state-run APS news agency reported. It was the first time since Algeria’s independence from France in 1962 that former prime ministers had been put on trial. … The verdicts come just two days before Algeria is due to elect a president to replace Bouteflika in a vote bitterly opposed by the country’s nine-month-old protest movement, which sees it as a regime ploy to cling to power. While no opinion polls have been published, observers expect high levels of abstention, in keeping with previous elections in a political system seen by voters as rigid and unaccountable. AFP

Guinea Hit by Fresh Anti-Government Rallies
Guineans took to the streets en masse on Tuesday, in the latest round of mass anti-government protests to hit the fragile West African state. Around one million people protested against embattled President Alpha Conde in the capital Conakry, opposition MP Fode Oussouba said. AFP could not independently verify the figure, however. The poor former French colony country of some 13 million has seen rolling demonstrations since mid-October over suspicions that the 81-year-old president is maneuvering to seek a third term in office. At least 20 civilians have been killed since protests began, and one gendarme has also been killed. Scores of people have also been arrested and detained in the unrest. There were no reports of violence on Tuesday, however, which also saw thousands of people protest in regional cities in the center and north of the country, according to witnesses. AFP

DRC Policewoman Arrested for Killing 14-Year-Old Protester
A policewoman in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was on Tuesday arrested after allegedly shooting a young protester dead at close range in the eastern city of Goma, police said. The teenage boy was killed as angry residents staged protests after police prevented them from pursuing thieves who were preying on northern neighbourhoods in the city, a local official added. “I have just arrested the officer who shot the youth at point-blank range. It is a policewoman. We have placed her in the hands of the appropriate authorities,” police chief Jean-Baptiste Bukili told an AFP correspondent. “A young man around 14 years old was killed,” added Gervais Katembo, the local official. He said that residents had torched a police station to protest insecurity in northern Goma neighbourhoods. … Tension remained high in Goma around midday, with main streets in several districts barricaded and business activity brought to a halt. AFP

Boko Haram Killed 275 in Cameroon in 2019, Says Amnesty
Boko Haram militants have killed at least 275 people this year in Cameroon’s Far North region despite government claims back in January that the Islamic extremist group had waned in the area, Amnesty International said Wednesday. More than 80 percent of those victims between January and November were civilians, the international human rights group said following a two-week mission to the volatile area. People in Cameroon’s Far North “are living in terror,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Acting Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Many of them have already witnessed Boko Haram attacks and lost family members or friends,” she said. “They no longer ask whether there will be further attacks but when they will take place – they feel completely abandoned by the authorities.” Boko Haram’s decade-long insurgency began in northeastern Nigeria and has spilled across borders into Cameroon, as well as Niger and Chad. The group has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced millions and created one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. AP

As Rivals Fight for Control of Libya, Erdogan Says Turkey May Jump In
The battle for control of Libya threatened to escalate further this week as Turkey said it might intervene to stop the Russian-backed forces now closing in on Tripoli, the capital. In comments to Turkish television networks on Monday night and again on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointedly raised the possibility that Turkey might send troops to counter the Russians if the United Nations-recognized government headquartered in Tripoli formally requested it. “In case of such an invitation, Turkey will decide itself about what kind of initiative to undertake,” Mr. Erdogan said Monday. On both Monday and Tuesday he referred explicitly to the possibility of “sending soldiers” or “our personnel.” Mr. Erdogan, for commercial and political reasons, has emerged as the last significant patron of the beleaguered Tripoli government. His blunt talk of a new military intervention underscored the perilousness of the situation now facing the Tripoli government, which is under a tightening siege by Russian forces backing the militia leader Khalifa Hifter. The New York Times

Sudan Peace Talks Reconvene in Juba
Peace negotiations between the Sudan government and the armed movements resumed in South Sudan capital of Juba today. Minni Minawi, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM), was first to address the opening session of the second round. He said that the December revolution came as a result of the accumulation of “a struggle,” explaining that the opportunity is available to build a real Sudan by the criteria of the long struggle to realise change. The session was further addressed by Malik Agar, head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction in Blue Nile state (SPLM-N Agar), where he announced that they would work hard to achieve the peace that needs partnership and cooperation between the parties. He explained that the agreement on humanitarian issues was not implemented as required, stressing the right of the war-affected regions to self-rule in Sudan Common Framework. Agar explained that the security arrangements should include building a unified strong army by integrating the Sudan Armed Forces, Rapid Support Forces militia, and the forces of the armed movements within the comprehensive peace process. Radio Dabanga

Secret Financial Network of Sudan’s Main Militia Exposed
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, that supported the regime of ousted president Al Bashir, has built up a vast business empire that captured not only a large part of the country’s gold industry, but has huge interests in many sectors of the Sudanese economy. The anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has published a report about the financial networks behind the RSF and their commander Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo ‘Hemeti’. The Global Witness investigation started with bank and corporate documents that were originally published by satirical Sudanese online channel El Bashoum. El Bashoum described them as leaked from ‘support companies’ of the RSF. Other documents were obtained by Global Witness in the course of their own investigation. Global Witness verified the documents using interviews, corporate records, and open source investigative methods including analysis of archived copies of ‘old’ websites. It concluded that the leaked documents are likely to be genuine. Radio Dabanga

South Sudan ‘Ignored’ Advice on Number of States
Details emerged this week of how the South Sudan Independent Boundaries Commission, a body made up of experts across the continent, indicated there would be risks of raising the number of states beyond 21, although they suggested the country should start with ten. But there is little suggestion Juba heeded the call, as it has stuck to either 32 or more states in the country. A group of five experts in the Commission, known as C5, had written to then Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim explaining that South Sudan should revert to the ten states initially created, before discussing on whether to legitimise any increase. … Igad has been midwifing mediation in South Sudan, including talks on state boundaries. President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar have since failed to agree again, forcing another extension last month by 100 days. But as the clock ticks, there are fears this extension could also lapse. Dr Machar was expected to hold meetings with President Kiir on Monday in Juba. The East African

US Sanctions 5 South Sudanese Security Chiefs over Activists’ Disappearance
The US government is imposing financial restrictions on five South Sudanese security officials accused of kidnapping and torturing activists on Kenyan soil. The sanctions come just two weeks after Washington withdrew its ambassador to Juba, Thomas Hushek, to re-evaluate relations following continual failure by the leaders to form a transitional government. In the latest whip of penalties, the US Treasury said the five individuals would be barred from doing business and owning property on US soil for having a hand in the kidnapping and possible killing of a human rights lawyer and an opposition politician associated with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in Opposition. According to a statement published on Tuesday, the US Treasury named Abud Stephen Thiongkol, Malual Dhal Muorwel, Michael Kuajien, John Top Lam and Angelo Kuot Garang as having participated in the disappearance of Aggrey Idri and Dong Samuel Luak. Mr Idri, a member of the SPLM-IO, and Mr Luak, a South Sudanese human rights lawyer, disappeared from Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017, respectively, according to reports filed to Kenyan police by their families. The East African

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Islamist Rebels in Eastern Congo
The United States imposed sanctions on the leader of an Islamist rebel group and five others on Tuesday for perpetrating serious human rights abuses including mass rape, torture and killings in eastern Congo, the U.S. Treasury said. Congolese officials have accused the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who are originally from Uganda, of killing more than 100 people in a series of raids on villages over the last six weeks, hampering efforts to end an Ebola epidemic in the area. The group has been fighting in the dense jungles of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the mid-1990s, where it has carried out massacres, kidnappings and looting, often in collaboration with other local militias and leaders. … The sanctions allow the U.S. government to seize any property or accounts the fighters have in the U.S. and prohibits anyone in the U.S. from doing business with them. “These sanctions will help expose the financial network of ADF rebels around the world and whether they are involved in money laundering in the region,” Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, governor of North Kivu province, told Reuters by telephone. Reuters

Cyclone Victims Face Bleak Prospects in Mozambique Resettlement Sites
Back-to-back weather disasters – Idai in March and Cyclone Kenneth in April – left hundreds of Mozambicans dead and almost 2.2 million in need of urgent assistance. Around 90,000 cyclone survivors have since been relocated to 66 supposedly permanent resettlement villages. The new neighbourhoods are meant to protect victims from future disasters: they are built away from low-lying, flood-prone areas that have long left people here vulnerable to windstorms, ocean surges, and floods. But aid groups say the resettlement process was “rushed” through by a government eager to look proactive during an election year, and point out that many months after people started arriving, the sites still lack basic humanitarian necessities. Many resettlement sites – like Mutua, where Antonio lives – are located in remote rural areas, leaving residents dependent on food supplied by aid agencies and with few long-term employment prospects beyond what they can hawk to each other. The New Humanitarian

Meteorologists Can’t Keep Up with Climate Change in Mozambique
At 10 a.m. on an 85-degree Thursday this November, Mozambique’s lead weather forecaster, Acacio Tembe, was stooped at a computer at the National Institute of Meteorology, trying to figure out whether a storm was in the cards that afternoon. He toggled between tabs with global weather maps put out by the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Japan. On every map, clouds and bands of rain moved in a lazy loop across Mozambique and neighboring South Africa. Tembe’s phone rang. The man on the other end was in charge of drainage and water resources for the city of Maputo, and he wanted to know: Is there going to be a storm? Because just an inch and a half of rain can cause flooding in city streets. We don’t know,” Tembe told him. “We are still analyzing the information.” Tembe promised to let him know if they decided to issue a weather warning and then hung up and leaned forward in his swivel office chair. He stared silently at the clouds moving across his screen, as if putting his face closer to the monitor might somehow give him what he really needed: a map with better resolution. NPR

Winners Emerge in Wole Soyinka Investigative Journalism Awards
Ibanga Isine, a journalist with the Next Edition newspaper, has won the 2019 Nigerian Investigative Journalist of the Year Award given by the Wole Soyinka Center for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ). Mr Isine also emerged winner for the online category, with his report published in April 2019 on “How bribe-taking security operatives gang-force Nigerians to pay dearly for food.” Thirteen journalists received awards and commendations at the 2019 edition. While speaking at the award presentation on Monday, Umaru Pate, the chairman of the 2019 judges board, said selecting the finalists was a rigorous task as the centre received many entries from different parts of Nigeria. A total number of 194 entries were received, while 13 journalists were shortlisted for the award and commendation in different categories…. Mr Pate said the quality and quantity of the 2019 entries is an indication that journalists in Nigeria are putting a lot of efforts into Investigative Reporting. Motunrayo Alaka, the Executive Director of WSCIJ, said the works Nigerian journalists do despite the pressure and threats they face is commendable. “This year in particular has been a sad one for journalism and freedom of speech in Nigeria with the harassment of the media on different occasions by the government.” Premium Times



Photo: Adam Jones