Africa Media Review for December 27, 2019

Clashes in CAR Capital Leave at Least 30 Dead
At least 30 people were killed in fighting between militiamen and traders in a restive district of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, a security official and a local imam said Thursday. “Thirty bodies have been brought to the mosque,” said Awad Al Karim, the imam of the Ali Babolo mosque in a district called PK5 that became a haven for many Bangui Muslims at the peak of Christian-Muslim clashes in the country. A security official, who asked to remain anonymous, also put the number of dead at at least 30, without providing any further details. The fighting began after traders in the district took up arms to oppose taxes levied by militia groups, the imam said. Bursts of automatic fire and explosions were heard Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, according to an AFP journalist who was in a neighboring district. … Neither the U.N. peacekeeping force MINUSCA nor the CAR authorities have been able to assert control over the PK5 district. VOA

Niger Authorities Say 14 Troops Killed during Ambush
Fourteen troops were killed when “heavily-armed terrorists” ambushed a convoy in the western Niger region of Tillaberi, the interior ministry said Thursday. “After a fierce battle… seven police and seven national guards were killed” Wednesday, it said in a statement. “A guard has been listed as missing,” the ministry said, adding, “the enemy suffered many losses.” It did not give details. The security forces had been escorting a team to carry out voter registration in the district of Sanam ahead of presidential and legislative elections due in late 2020, it added. … Niger, a poor, landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel, is on the front line of a jihadist insurgency. Its troops are fighting Boko Haram militants on the southeast border with Nigeria and jihadists allied with the Islamic State group in the west near Mali. … Niger is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad. Burkina Faso on Thursday was observing its second day of mourning after a wave of jihadist attacks in the north of the country left 42 dead. France24

Islamic State in Nigeria ‘Beheads Christian Hostages’
The Islamic State group has released a video claiming to show the killing of 11 Christians in Nigeria. IS said it was part of its recently declared campaign to “avenge” the October deaths of its leader and spokesman in Syria. No details were given about the victims, who were all male, but IS says they were “captured in the past weeks” in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State. The 56-second video was produced by IS’s “news agency” Amaq. It was released on 26 December and analysts say it was clearly timed to coincide with Christmas celebrations. … One faction of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram now fights under the banner of “Islamic State West Africa Province” (Iswap). BBC

Erdogan Announces Plan to Send Troops to Libya
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced military backing for Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), now that the north African country requested it. In a speech in Ankara on Thursday, Erdogan said on January 7 he will present a bill to the Turkish Parliament on deployment legislation. “Since there is an invitation [from Libya] right now, we will accept it,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party. “We will present the motion to send troops [to Libya] as soon as Parliament resumes.” … Last month, Turkish and Libyan officials, led by GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, signed a memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation. The GNA’s cabinet of ministers and Turkish legislators have since ratified the deal, but a separate motion is needed to send troops. … Turkey and Qatar support the GNA, while Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France, support Haftar. Al Jazeera

Sudan Peace Talks: ‘Agreements Close on All Tracks’
Mohamed El Taayshi, member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and member of the government’s peace negotiation team reported that the discussion issues were laid out in all tracks of the Juba peace negotiations, explaining that they are close to agreement in most of the tracks. He confirmed in a press conference at Khartoum Airport after the team returned from Juba that the discussion about the issue of peace in Sudan is not easy, but it is not impossible, pointing out that the discussion with all track teams was “serious, responsible and constructive”. The negotiation teams achieved progress in all tracks, including the Declaration of Principles, he said. Concerning the negotiation track on Darfur, all proposals by the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance have been thoroughly discussed, including the specifics related to Darfur and national issues. Radio Dabanga

Sudan: FFC to Finalize Selection of State Governors Next Week
Sudan’s ruling coalition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) will announce finalize the nomination of civilian state governors in the upcoming days. The replacement of military governors in the 18 Sudanese states is one of the sticky issues after the formation of the civilian-led transitional government last September. Last November, the FFC had to file its nominees for governors but the negotiating delegation with the armed groups requested to pause the process until the end of December as the armed groups ask to postpone their appointment until the signing of a peace agreement. In a short statement, Ibrahim al-Sheikh Spokesman of the FFC Central Council said the list of governors will be completed next week. … The appointment of civilian governors is seen as needed to keep the army away from the administration of the affairs of the state and to consolidate the grip of civilians. Also, protests took place in many regions calling to remove the military governors for their mismanagement of the state affairs or because they are accused of protecting local commissioners and officials belonging to the former ruling party of Omer al-Bashir. Sudan Tribune

Pope, Religious Leaders, Send South Sudan Rivals Christmas Peace Appeal
Pope Francis and two other religious leaders sent out an extraordinary Christmas appeal on Wednesday to the leaders of South Sudan to keep their promise to form at least a transitional unity government early next year. The brief message was signed by Francis, worldwide Anglican leader Archbishop Justin Welby, and Rev. John Chalmers, former moderator of the Church of Scotland. The country, the world’s youngest, is mostly Christian, and a stable peace would allow the pope to visit, something which he has said he hopes to do next year. In the message, the three religious leaders said they were praying for “a renewed commitment to the path of reconciliation and fraternity”. Last month, President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar delayed forming a unity government for 100 days beyond the Nov. 12 deadline, which itself was an extension of an original deadline last May. Reuters

Moroccan Journalist Detained over Tweet Criticising Judge
A Moroccan journalist and activist was charged and detained over a tweet that criticised a court decision, his lawyer said Thursday, the same day a YouTuber was sentenced to four years in prison for “insulting the king” in a video broadcast on social networks. The cases come after the Moroccan Human Rights Association had deplored in July an “escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms” in Morocco. Journalist Omar Radi, 33, was detained in Casablanca and now faces trial, his lawyer Said Benhammani told AFP. He is being prosecuted for a tweet published nine months ago criticising the judge in charge of the case against the leaders of the Hirak protest movement, he said. In the first hearing Thursday, Radi’s lawyers requested his conditional release, which the Casablanca court rejected. … Morocco’s criminal code punishes “insulting magistrates” with imprisonment of between one month and one year. … In its latest annual press freedom index, RSF ranked Morocco 135th out of 180 countries. France24

World’s Longest-Serving Ruler Must Reveal His Assets for an IMF Bailout
Equatorial Guinean President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the world’s longest-serving ruler, should declare his assets before the nation receives more financial support, according to the International Monetary Fund. The central African nation needs an IMF bailout to deal with a crisis that shrank its economy by a third to $13 billion last year. Under a program agreed to last week, the state will be required to increase transparency, improve governance and implement reforms to fight corruption, Lisandro Abrego, the lender’s mission chief for Equatorial Guinea, said in an interview. … Obiang, in power since August 1979, and his regime have been accused by prosecutors in the U.S. and France of squandering the tiny Central African’s vast oil wealth. As recently as 2017, Equatorial Guinea was as rich in per-capita terms as its former colonial master Spain. Today, OPEC’s smallest member is struggling to pay its debts after oil prices collapsed in 2014. Bloomberg

Zimbabwe: Sikhala Cheats Death in Road Accident, Blames Mishap On Zanu-PF Plot On His Life
Controversial MDC legislator and party deputy national chair, Job Sikhala has made sensational claims a road traffic accident he suffered in Beatrice on Christmas eve was the works of an assassination plot against him and other main opposition officials by Zanu PF. … The Zengeza lawmaker told NewZimbabwe.com Thursday there is no question that his road mishap was a calculated ploy by the enemy to kill him. “It’s obvious, it’s Zanu PF. These people have been tracking MDC leaders to harm them,” Sikhala said. … While driving to his rural Masvingo home for the Christmas holiday Tuesday night, Sikhala claimed he was deliberately obstructed by a double cab Isuzu truck before a herd of cattle was driven onto the road. … “These cattle belong to one man called Kemesi Ndlovu of plot number 38 Eden Farm in Beatrice and he is a Zanu PF district chairperson,” Sikhala said. It is the second time within six months Sikhala has gotten involved in a road traffic accident. New Zimbabwe

Uganda among Worst in Human Development Globally – UN Report
The Human Development Report 2019, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a United Nations (UN) agency has rated Uganda, among the worst performing countries in terms of human development globally. Conducted and released under the theme, “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: Inequalities in human development in the 21st century,” the report presents values and ranks for 189 countries and UN-recognised territories. The report that was released last week in Kampala, premised its findings on data captured in the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) as of July 2019. The report positioned Uganda in 159 place out of the 189 countries assessed. “Uganda’s Human Development Index value for 2018 is 0.528-which put the country in the low human development category-positioning it at 159 out of 189 countries and territories,” the report reads in part. … The UNDP resident representative in Uganda, Ms Elsie Attafuah, said there has been a shift in poverty concentration from northern to eastern Uganda. … Ms Attefuah also noted that males in Uganda have higher chances of schooling as compared to their female counterparts. Daily Monitor

Uganda May be Headed for Highest-Ever Level of Campaign Spending
Uganda may be headed for its most expensive campaign spending as long-serving ruler Yoweri Museveni faces a pop star-turned politician in the February 2021 polls, an election monitoring group said. Presidential and parliamentary candidates are likely to spend more than the 2.4 trillion shillings ($655.6 million) that went toward 2016 elections, Henry Muguzi, national coordinator for the Kampala-based Alliance for Finance Monitoring said in an interview. Museveni, who has unofficially kicked off his campaign, is expected to use more than $200 million. Other presidential candidates will spend more than $10 million each, while parliamentary candidates are expected to spend more than $150,000 each, he said. … “The rising popularity of the people power movement amid a bulge of young people who are jobless, poor and restless yet natives of social media, is bringing in a new dynamic and raising the stakes,” according to the report. … Museveni, who is already one of the longest serving rulers in Africa, became eligible to seek re-election after parliament in 2017 abolished an upper age limit of 75 years for a presidential candidate. The ruling party has since endorsed him as its candidate. Bloomberg

British Troops Move Black Rhinos to Malawi
British troops have helped to move a group of critically endangered black rhinos from South Africa to Malawi to protect them against poaching. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles moved 17 of the animals, which are hunted for their horns, in the hope they can be better protected. They were transported by air and road from KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to Liwonde National Park in Malawi. The troops then spent three months training rangers to keep them safe. Major Jez England, the officer commanding the British Army counter-poaching team in Liwonde, said the operation had been “hugely successful”. “Not only do we share skills with the rangers, improving their efficiency and ability to patrol larger areas, but it also provides a unique opportunity for our soldiers to train in a challenging environment”, he said. BBC

Global Disagreement on Climate Change – Consequences for the South
Major disagreements erupted at the recent global talks about climate change in Madrid, Spain, leaving the South to question whether such meetings are worthwhile or mere talk shows, and meanwhile suffering the consequences such as drought and floods. The African Group of Negotiators wanted targets increased for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and predictable financing mechanisms provided for adaptation. African negotiators at the 25th Conference of Parties (COP 25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) further wanted clarity on loss and damage, but this was left hanging as consensus remained elusive throughout the conference. Despite several appeals from the developing countries of the South, the industrialized North failed to provide sufficient assurance that they would reduce emissions and mobilize adequate and predictable finance for countries at risk to respond to the impacts of climate change. The hostile negotiations leave the countries of the global South worried about whether industrialized countries, who are the main global polluters, will fulfil their commitment of mobilizing US$100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020. SARDC

Is ‘Super Coral’ the Key to Saving the World’s Reefs?
Scientists in the Seychelles have started the world’s first large scale coral reef restoration project to help stop the impact of rising sea temperatures. Over half of the world’s coral has succumbed to the effects of climate change so a team based in the Indian Ocean has been growing coral on land and planting them back in the sea to see if they are resilient to coral bleaching. The technique has been taken to countries including Colombia and the Maldives, with Kenya, Tanzania and Mauritius to follow. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones