Africa Media Review for December 4, 2017

2 Somali Soldiers, 12 Militants Killed in Al-Shabab Ambush
At least two Somali soldiers and 12 militants were killed Friday when al-Shabab militants attacked a convoy in central Somalia, according to a senior regional official. Militants ambushed a convoy carrying the Hiran regional governor, Ali Jeyte Osman, and other top military officials, near Hees Village, about 80 kilometers northwest of the regional capital, Beledweyn. “We have killed 12 of them and … we lost two soldiers,” General Ahmed Mohamed Tredishe, commander of the Somali National Army in the region, told VOA Somali. He said the governor and others traveling with him survived the attack and continued their travels. … Meanwhile, in the southern Somali town of Baidoa, hundreds of residents have welcomed a longtime militant leader who defected from al-Shabab before surrendering to the government in August. Mukhtar Robow Ali, also known as Abu Mansour, returned to his home region Friday, telling his supporters he has come back with something valuable. “You will hear from me about that valuable thing soon,” Robow said. VOA

Deaths as Suicide Bomb Attacks Hit Market in Biu
At least 17 people have been killed in two suspected Boko Haram suicide bombings on a market in the northeastern Nigerian town of Biu, officials have told Al Jazeera. Forty-seven others were wounded in Saturday’s explosions, and many were in criticial condition, said Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital, Abuja. “Biu has been largely spared by the Boko Haram insurgency, but many areas surrounding that town have been attacked on several occasions,” he said. “This is one of the cases we have been seeing over the past five or six months.” Idris said that as of yet there had been no claim of responsibility. However, local officials believe the attacks had the “signature” of Boko Haram, he added. “We have seen them targeting soft spots like places of worship and schools,” said Idris. The UN estimates that 20,000 people have been killed and at least 1.7 million displaced since Boko Haram’s offensive in 2009. Al Jazeera

Nigeria Puts Fortress Towns at Heart of New Boko Haram Strategy
Nigeria’s government has a plan for the northeast, torn apart by eight years of conflict with Boko Haram: displaced people will be housed in fortified garrison towns, ringed by farms, with the rest of the countryside effectively left to fend for itself. The vision for the state of Borno, ground zero for the war with the Islamist insurgency, is a stark admission of the reality in the northeast. For two years, the military and government have said Boko Haram is all but defeated, and the remnants are being mopped up. But the military is largely unable to control territory beyond the cities and towns it has wrested back from Boko Haram. That means many of the nearly 2 million displaced people across the northeast cannot return to their homes in rural areas. Kashim Shettima, the governor of Borno state, said it was not possible for people to live in small villages. “There’s beauty in numbers, there’s security in numbers. So our target is to congregate all the people in five major urban settlements and provide them with means of livelihood, education, health care and of course security,” he told Reuters. Reuters

Thousands of Congolese Fleeing into Zambia to Escape Violence in DRC
The U.N. refugee agency reports the number of refugees that have fled into Zambia to escape militia violence in Haut-Katanga and Tanganyika Provinces of Democratic Republic of Congo now has topped 12,000. The agency reports more than 8,400 Congolese refugees have arrived in Zambia in just the last three months, indicating a worsening of the situation in south-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Government forces reportedly are killing many civilians in response to the rebellion in Haut-Katanga and Tanganyika Provinces against the continued rule of the country’s President, Joseph Kabila. To put the increasing instability in the country in perspective, UNHCR spokesman, Babar Baloch, notes more than four million people are internally displaced in DRC. He told VOA within the past month alone, 200,000 more people have fled their homes. … Baloch said some 80 percent of the refugees are women and children, driven out by the extreme brutality of rampaging militias. He said civilians reportedly are being killed, women raped, property looted and houses torched. VOA

DRC Journalists Arrested, Tortured: Media Watchdog
Four journalists and technicians of a Catholic radio station have been arrested and held by Democratic Republic of Congo state security forces, who have submitted them to “serious torture”, press watchdog Journalists in Danger (JED) claimed on Friday. The JED, the African partner of Reporters without Borders (RSF), said the employees of Radio Veritas – based in the central city of Kabinda – were arrested on Wednesday by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR). The four – Johnny Kasongo, Jean Doudou Ndumba, Musiko Kisiesia and Ephraim Mbayo – have been “violently beaten up,” JED claimed. The press watchdog called for the “immediate release without conditions of these media professionals”. According to a member of Radio Veritas contacted by AFP, the station broadcast debates in the Lomami province’s parliament accusing the governor of bad management, which displeased the authorities. News24

DR Congo Government Recruited Rebels for Deadly Crackdown on Protests – HRW
Former militants were recruited by the Democratic Republic of Congo government for a bloody crackdown on protests against the president that left dozens of people dead last year, a rights group alleged Monday. Human Rights Watch said President Joseph Kabila’s regime had drafted in fighters previously active in the M23 rebel group from Uganda and Rwanda to suppress the December 2016 demonstrations, which erupted when he refused to step down at the end of his term in power. The right group’s allegations came as the country faces a new flare-up of violence after Kabila pushed back a much-delayed new vote until December 2018, with the opposition demanding that the veteran leader resign sooner. “Senior security force officers in the Democratic Republic of Congo mobilized over 200 former M23 rebel fighters from neighbouring countries to quash protests against President Joseph Kabila in December 2016,” HRW said in a report. It said Congolese security forces acting with M23 fighters killed at least 62 people and arrested hundreds more as the protests swept through the vast African country between 19 and 22 December 2016. The East African

Several Nationalities behind the Slave Trade in Libya
The human trafficking in Libya was conducted by many nationalities, including sub-Saharan Africans, a victim said. A Cameroonian returnee from Libya, Mr Foka Fotsi, who was trafficked twice, said that one of the places where he was held was owned by Ghanaians and Nigerians. Speaking to the Africareview in Abuja, the returnee, accused one Charles, a Nigerian from Edo State, as the trafficking kingpin. “There was torture like I’ve never seen. They hit you with wooden bats, with iron bars,” he said, showing the still red wounds on his skull. … The UN-recognised Libyan government has pledged a comprehensive investigation on the claims of slave trade in the country. The Libyan Charge d’ Affairs in Nigeria, Dr Attai Alkhoder, said on Friday in Abuja that it was important to address the human trade market claims. … “The Libyan Government has instructed the relevant authorities to carry out comprehensive investigations on the claim according to the law and to reveal its findings to the local and international community.… Solving the issue of illegal immigrants, he went on, was a collective responsibility of the countries of origin, transit and destination. The East African

Amnesty: EU-AU Plan to Help Refugees in Libya ‘Unrealistic’
Reports of disastrous conditions and rights violations at the camps are nothing new. “Amnesty International has been documenting the situation of migrants and refugees in Libya for years,” said Franziska Vilmar, who works on asylum law and policy at the German branch of Amnesty International. In light of the various forms of violence experienced by displaced people at the camps, she said, “it is a good thing that the public and the governments are finally paying attention to how the people in the camps are faring.” Vilmar does not believe that the plan put forth by the AU and EU can be implemented in its current form. It is still unclear how many people are trapped in the camps. Estimates range from 400,000 people to more than 1 million. Evacuations are already taking place on a small scale, however. Both the UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are running the relocation measures. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has assured both organizations that they will have access to the camps. However, Vilmar said, “I think it is unrealistic because the government neither runs all the camps nor does it have influence over them.” Many such facilities are in the hands of militias: “That means it is practically impossible to get everyone out of there.” DW

Election Delay Sends ‘Bad Signal’ for Mali Stability
Last week’s decision by Mali’s government to postpone regional and municipal council elections, amid concerns over security, sends a bad signal for the prospect of long-term stability in the West African country, analysts say. The territorial, administrative and municipal council elections, planned for December 17, were postponed to April 2018 to give the government “more time to organise absolutely inclusive elections”, Tieman Hubert Coulibaly, Mali’s minister of territorial administration, said in a statement last Sunday. He added that the challenge for Mali is stability, and ensuring the parties that have signed on to a peace accord between the state and various opposition and rebel groups in Algiers, in 2015, take part in the electoral process. But Marie-Joelle Zahar, a professor at the Universite de Montreal and co-author of a recent report on peacebuilding in Mali, said that holding the elections would have been the clearest indication that the state can implement the 2015 peace agreement, aimed at bringing stability and security to the conflict-ridden north. … Zahar told Al Jazeera the vote was especially important for Malians living in the country’s northern region, who have long called for better representation and for the central government in Bamako, the capital, to allow for more decentralised power sharing. “This was going to be an opportunity to finally set the record right and to have people [councillors] there who are more representative of the populations,” Zahar said. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe’s New Leader Mnangagwa Drops 2 Ministers after Public Outcry
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday dropped two ministers he had appointed to his new cabinet just a day earlier, a move widely seen as a response to a public uproar over the nominations. Mnangagwa, 75, named his cabinet overnight on Thursday, and is expected to appoint two vice presidents following a special Zanu-PF congress in mid-December. But he quickly replaced education minister Lazarus Dokora with Paul Mavima, a professor and also a lawmaker in the governing Zanu-PF party. Professor Clever Nyathi was dropped as labour minister in favour of Petronella Kagonye, also a Zanu-PF lawmaker, though Nyathi will remain as special advisor on national peace and reconciliation. … The new lands minister is the airforce boss Air Marshal Perence Shiri, who had previously headed a special North-Korean trained unit that is alleged to have committed atrocities during a crackdown on a rebellion in the western Matabeleland province in the early 1980s in which an estimated 20 000 people were killed. Information minister and war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa will assume the role of special adviser to the president. Mnangagwa is set to swear in his cabinet on Monday after taking over from Mugabe, who ruled the southern African country for 37 years. News24

More Rebels Emerge as IGAD Dithers over South Sudan
The delay in the implementation of the South Sudan Revitalisation Programme is providing a breeding space for new rebel groups. Since fresh fighting broke out in Juba in July 2016 that scattered the August 2015 peace agreement, rebel groups keep on coming up; the number has now reached 11. Experts on South Sudan say that this is an indication that the August 2015 peace agreement signed by the three groups—President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Dr Riek Machar and former detainees — did not take into consideration many other grievances in the country that are now coming to the fore. The worry now is that the more the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) delays in setting in motion the revitalisation programme, the greater the danger of more rebel groups emerging with new demands. The East African

Kenya’s Opposition Rejects Unity Call, Pushes for Reforms
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s attempts to extend an olive branch to the opposition aimed at healing the country is proving to be an uphill task. Leaders of the main opposition coalition, National Super Alliance (Nasa) keep making fresh demands to be met before they recognise President Kenyatta’s administration and pave the way for national dialogue. According to the opposition, the first item on the agenda for dialogue with President Kenyatta should be electoral justice to discuss if the October 26 repeat presidential elections reflected the will of the majority of Kenyans. The second item is police brutality, which has left scores of their supporters and three innocent children dead. In his inauguration speech, President Kenyatta said that his next agenda will be the unity of Kenyans and service delivery to all, including opposition regions, which boycotted the repeat presidential elections. But the opposition termed President Kenyatta’s call for dialogue with the opposition a public relations exercise. “Until the president makes efforts to reach out to us, this is just PR stunts, meant to open the floodgates for congratulatory messages from foreign countries. This is the same paragraph he had in his 2013 speech but he did nothing,” said Kibisu Kabatesi, spokesman for Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi, one of the Nasa principals. The East African

Cameroon Army Will ‘Eradicate’ Anglophone Separatist Problem
The Cameroon army will follow President Paul Biya’s instructions and ensure that violent anglophone separatists can no longer cause any trouble, Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said on Saturday. “Measures will be taken immediately for a process which will eradicate this inconvenient situation we are experiencing,” the minister added, without giving details of what action would be taken. On Thursday Biya denounced “repeated attacks by a band of terrorists” and promised the Cameroon people that “steps are being taken to incapacitate these criminals and to make sure that peace and security are safeguarded”. “When the head of state makes a political decision like that,” Assomo told state radio, “we carry it out unwaveringly”. Mounting violence in the English-speaking west of the mainly francophone country claimed the lives of five police officers and five soldiers during the month of November, according to an official tally. Resentment over perceived discrimination and a tough crackdown on separatist political forces has provoked secessionist demands in anglophone regions, which account for about a fifth of Cameroon’s population of 22 million. News24

Burundi: Arusha—Last Chance Round?
The 4th round of talks is supposed to be the last. According to the facilitation office, an agreement signed in the presence of the Heads of State of the EAC would conclude it. An ambitious project. The facilitation office has given a period of two weeks to settle definitively the crisis that Burundi has been through since 2015. Participants are already on the spot. The official opening was made on Tuesday. … On Monday, the Facilitation office announced the items that would be discussed during this session. It banks on this meeting to end the Burundian crisis. The proof: It has planned that at the end of this 4th round, participants will reach an agreement signed in the presence of the Heads of State of the East African community. … This session is taking place without the participation of big political names from the opposition platform in exile-CNARED as well as those of the civil society grouped into the anti-third term movement. For the opposition coalition in exile, the facilitation office should postpone this session whose inclusiveness is undermined. It also denounces what it describes as a trap to comfort President Nkurunziza in his attempt to remain on power forever. Iwacu

Regional Force Deploys to Lesotho over Security Concerns
A 258-strong regional force was deployed to Lesotho on Saturday to ease security concerns in the landlocked kingdom after the killing of the country’s top army commander in September. The move by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc, was approved in September after Khoantle Motsomotso was shot dead at a barracks by officers from a perceived rival faction. The shootout came just two months after elections and shattered hopes of ushering in a new era of stability in the volatile country. Lesotho has been subject to several coups and periods of political unrest since gaining independence from Britain in 1966. The seven-nation SADC force, which includes 207 military personnel, 15 intelligence officers and 24 police officers, will be deployed for six months and aims to bolster security. News24

‘Addis Has Run Out of Space’: Ethiopia’s Radical Redesign
In the distance loom hulking grey towers, casting long shadows over his pasture. This is Koye Feche, a vast construction site on the edge of Addis Ababa that may soon be sub-Saharan Africa’s largest housing project. Koye is the latest in a handful of miniature cities that are gobbling up land all around the Ethiopian capital. Since launching the integrated housing and development plan (IHDP) in 2006, the Ethiopian government has built condominium estates like these at a pace unrivalled anywhere in Africa. To date, more more than 250,000 subsidised flats have been transferred to their new owner-occupiers in Addis Ababa and smaller towns. Situated 25km south-east of the city centre and covering over 700 hectares of land, Koye will house more than 200,000 people in row upon row of muscular concrete high-rises. Modelled on the modernist housing estates found across the postwar west, in particular east Germany, Addis Ababa’s condominiums symbolise the vaulting ambition of the Ethiopian government in its efforts to manage the country’s relentless urban growth. But whether they will ever solve its housing problems is uncertain. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones