Africa Media Review for December 27, 2018

Nigerian Army Says 14 Personnel Killed in Boko Haram Ambush
As many as 14 Nigerian military and police personnel have been killed in an ambush by armed Boko Haram group, the army said in a statement. According to the army statement issued on Tuesday, security forces were on escort duty when they were attacked on Monday just outside Damaturu town in Yobe state in the north of Nigeria. The statement signed by army spokesman Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu said efforts to pursue and “eliminate” the Boko Haram group are ongoing. … The Boko Haram continued threat is a major issue for President Muhammadu Buhari as he seeks a second term in the upcoming election in February. After a recent series of deadly attacks on Nigeria’s military, Buhari and other officials have warned that the group has begun using drones as part of a resurgence. Al Jazeera

Nigeria Zamfara Killings: Politicians Disagree on State of Emergency
The incessant killings in Zamfara State has led to a disagreement among politicians on whether or not a state of emergency should be declared in the North-west state. A state of emergency could mean the federal government taking over governance in the state and massively deploying soldiers to maintain peace there. The federal government could also choose to appoint an administrator to govern the state during the period of the emergency rule. The debate over a state of emergency follows the repeated killings in Zamfara in recent weeks by armed bandits. While dozens have been killed in recent weeks, hundreds have been killed in the state in 2018. Many others have been kidnapped for ransom and several houses destroyed. The killings have continued despite the deployment of soldiers and other security operatives to the state. Premium Times

Eight-Nation Summit Discusses DRC
Eight nations in southern and central Africa met on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that has been a regional battleground twice in the last quarter-century. The one-day mini-summit was being staged in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo, four days before problem-strewn elections in the neighbouring DRC. A DRC representative was not present, an official at the meeting told AFP. “The leaders are meeting to assess the peace and security situation in the sub-region, but they are essentially going to discuss the electoral process in the DRC,” said Cyprien Sylvestre Mamina, secretary general for foreign affairs in the Republic of Congo. … The meeting brought together many members of the the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Those attending were Angola, Botswana, Congo, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. AFP

Trek Into Congo Forest Reveals an Ebola Crisis Fueled by Violence
Four health workers threaded their way cautiously down a steep valley in their rubber boots, into a forest so thick and so tall that the air around them turned suddenly cool, trying to reach a remote village in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo where a woman had recently succumbed to Ebola. Dr. Kasereka Bernardin, a vaccinologist, looked over his shoulder, made the sign of the cross, and acknowledged that the lethal virus was not his most immediate fear. “We’re scared of the Mai-Mai,” he said, using a local term for militias, his forehead lightly beaded with sweat. “We’re afraid they might kill us.” The trip had already been delayed by clashes between government forces and a militia group in the surrounding Kanyihunga district, an emerging hot spot in a new outbreak of Ebola, and nerves were on edge. The team — an epidemiologist, two contact tracers and Dr. Bernardin — had not been able to line up guarantees of safe passage from the militia leaders, or even to make contact. New York Times

Sudan Journalists Go on Strike in Support of Protests
An independent union of Sudanese journalists says its members have started a strike in support of “legitimate” popular demands for freedom and democracy. A union statement Thursday says the three-day strike is also a protest against the “barbaric” assault by authorities on press freedoms. The strike is the latest in a series of demonstrations and work stoppages to press demands for Sudan’s longtime autocrat Omar Bashir, in power since 1989, to step down. The demonstrators are also protesting steep price rises and shortages of food and fuel. Protests have swept most of Sudan since Dec. 19, with chants evoking the Arab Spring. Amnesty International says 37 people have died in the protests. The government has acknowledged fatalities, but gave no figures. Doctors have been on strike since Tuesday. AP

‘Excessive Violence’ Used to Quell March in Sudan Capital
Teachers, medical professionals, and journalists have reported that the Sudanese authorities used ‘excessive force and violence’ against members of the public who participated in the march organised by the Sudan Professionals Association in Khartoum on Tuesday, which demanded the step-down of President Omar Al Bashir and overthrow of the regime. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, teacher Duriya Babikir she said that agents of the security apparatus, wearing uniforms, as well as snipers on the roofs of high buildings, fired live bullets at the peaceful demonstrators, wounding about 10 of them. She added that police and security forces fired various types of tear gas, leading to breathing problems and fainting among the demonstrators. Security troops also arrested a large number of demonstrators and severely beat them with batons and used electric wires as whips. Doctors from Khartoum who treated demonstrators confirmed that the security forces used excessive violence and were “shooting to kill”. One of the protestors was hit in the neck. Another was shot in his head. Radio Dabanga

Sudan’s Protests Point to Weaknesses in Bashir’s Rule
Sudan’s Omar Bashir fended off a march by opponents on his presidential palace in the capital, Khartoum, unleashing his security forces in hopes of putting an end to an Arab Spring-style uprising. But nearly a week of protests has pointed to the weaknesses threatening his 29-year hold on power. Despite the heavy hand of police, who have reportedly killed at least 37 protesters, Bashir’s response has been feeble. He left the capital ahead of Tuesday’s march on his palace, and he has been fumbling and vague in addressing the economic crisis that prompted the outburst of anger. Perhaps most alarming for Bashir, an Islamist who came to power in a 1989 military coup, the powerful military and security agencies have only voiced half-hearted support for him amid the turmoil. … Bashir, who is in his mid-70s, put down two previous bouts of protests and may do so yet again. But the rule of one of the longest serving leaders in the Middle East is clearly fraying. AP

Qatar Sends 24 Armoured Vehicles to Mali
Qatar has airlifted 24 armoured vehicles to Mali, in a move it said would help the countries of the African Sahel region combat terrorism. Qatar has increased efforts to show it is a force for good in international security since its Gulf Arab neighbours imposed a diplomatic and economic boycott on it in June 2017, accusing it of supporting terrorism. Qatari military planes delivered the vehicles, its foreign ministry said, adding the shipment would help “combat terrorism and establish security not only in the Republic of Mali but also in the African Sahel countries known as the G5.” The G5 of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania last year created a military taskforce to root out jihadist violence. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have agreed to provide about $150 million to the G5 Sahel force. Reuters

18 Arrested in Tunisia amid Violent Protests
Tunisian authorities say 18 people have been arrested during protests that erupted after the death of a journalist who set himself on fire to protest economic problems in the North African nation. Interior ministry spokesperson Sofiane Zaag said 13 were arrested in the provincial city of Kasserine and five others in Tebourba, near Tunis. Clashes between police and Tunisian authorities took place in several regions over the past two days after journalist Abderrazak Zorgui posted a video online before his self-immolation in Kasserine describing his desperation and calling for revolt. He expressed frustration at unemployment and the unfulfilled promises of Tunisia’s 2011 Arab Spring revolution. AP

In Secretive Eritrea, Historic Reforms across the Border Have Sparked Hopes for the Future
In rare interviews with a foreign visitor, residents of the tightly controlled African country tell Geoffrey York of their frustration at unlimited conscription, fear of the regime and lack of basic rights such as travel. But a peace agreement with Ethiopia has expectations rapidly rising. … In dozens of interviews, ordinary Eritreans spoke of their frustration at the conscription rules, their continuing fear of the regime and their dreams of freedom to travel or open their own businesses – basic rights that are often prohibited here. … As the winds of change sweep through the Horn of Africa, Eritrea faces enormous pressure to open up its system to the outside world for the first time in decades. There is growing impatience and frustration among Eritreans as they watch the dramatic reforms introduced by a dynamic new leader in neighbouring Ethiopia. Globe & Mail

Gabon President to Speak Publicly for First Time since Stroke
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo will deliver a speech on New Year’s Day, a source close to his entourage said on Wednesday, in what will be the leader’s first public address since he had a stroke in October. The 59-year-old leader has not been back to Gabon since he fell ill in Saudi Arabia on October 24 and will address his nation from Morocco’s capital Rabat, where he is recovering, the source told AFP. The president has “charged the Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet to meet the expectations of the citizens” until his return to Gabon at an unspecified date, the source added. A lack of official news on the leader’s health after he first fell ill sparked fevered speculation that he was incapacitated or even dead. It was only revealed earlier this month that he had suffered a stroke. AFP

Group Proffers Solutions to Farmers/Herders Clashes
A mediation and peace-building organisation, Farmers and Herders Initiative for Peace and Development, has proffered solutions to ending the conflict between farmers and herdsmen especially in North-central and North-western Nigeria. The conflict in states like Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Kaduna states has variously claimed lives and property on both sides. The organisation said it embarked on peace-building mission in July in seven of the most affected states. The initiative, it said, is sponsored by a leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu. In a statement by Salim Umar, the group’s secretary, the organisation identified some ways that can lead to curtailing of the perennial conflict, arising from its five-month field work. Premium Times

Burundi’s President is Moving the Capital to Another City
Burundi is moving its capital from the shores of Lake Tanganyika and deep into the nation’s central highlands. Authorities announced they would change the political capital from Bujumbura to Gitega, which is located over 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the east. The current capital will remain the nation’s commercial center, while five ministries will be established in Gitega beginning 2019, spokesperson to the president Jean-Claude Karerwa Ndenzako said on Twitter. The decision came just days after president Pierre Nkurunziza, who had promised to move the capital there in 2007 because of its centrality, held a government retreat in the city. The region is also the birthplace and the spot where nation’s last king Ntare V was killed in 1972. … With a population of about 11 million people, Burundi is one of the poorest nations in the world. Since coming to power in 2005, president Nkurunziza has solidified his grip on power, with voters this year backing a constitutional referendum that could see him rule till 2034. The decision to relocate the capital is likely linked to Bujumbura increasingly being an opposition stronghold, leading to continued clashes between protesters and police.

US Warns on Tanzania Travel Due to ‘Crime and Terror’
The State Department has urged US citizens to “exercise increased caution” whilst in Tanzania due to concerns over crime, terrorism and official actions targeting people on the basis of their gender or sexual identity. Violent crime is “common” in Tanzania, the State Department said on Wednesday, citing risks of assault, kidnapping, sexual assault and carjacking. “Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Tanzania,” the advisory also stated. It added that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons have been “arrested, targeted, harassed and/or charged with unrelated offences.” … In the case of violent crime, the State Department did say that “local police may lack the resources to respond effectively.” Regarding the threat of terrorism, the advisory warned that attacks may target “embassies, police stations, mosques and other places frequented by Westerners.” The Nation

Africa Gets Enhanced Funding Pledges at Poland Climate Talks
Africa was a big beneficiary at the just concluded climate change talks in Katowice, Poland, getting strong financial commitments to help it push its climate change agenda. The talks, which came to a close late Saturday after a three-day standoff pitting delegates from the industrialised and developed nations against those of developing nations, which make up the majority of the “rulebook” by which the Paris Agreement can be implemented by all countries. “All nations have worked tirelessly. All have showed their commitment. All nations can leave Katowice with a sense of pride, knowing that their efforts have paid off. The guidelines contained in the Katowice Climate Package provide the basis for implementing the agreement as of 2020,” said Michal Kurtyka, the president of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP24). The Katowice Package is a new set of climate change guidelines and rulebook to accelerate national action plans. The East African