Africa Media Review for December 5, 2018

Nigeria Confirms Eight Soldiers Killed in Boko Haram Attack
The Nigerian army on Tuesday said eight soldiers have been confirmed dead in a Boko Haram attack on a military base over the weekend in the country’s restive northeast. Gunmen from the self-styled Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction of Boko Haram attacked the base in Buni Gari village, in Yobe state, on Saturday. Military sources initially said two soldiers and six insurgents were killed. Earlier on Tuesday, they told AFP the toll had risen to eight. … The insurgents destroyed an armoured vehicle and stole a truck during the attack.Sources said air support and reinforcements from a military base in the nearby town of Buni Yadi helped push the militants out. Buni Yadi district is a known ISWAP stronghold. The faction has in recent months intensified attacks on military targets in Yobe and neighbouring Borno state, prompting questions about the military’s grip on security. AFP

Hundreds Displaced as Boko Haram Attacks Borno Village Again
The Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), a faction of Boko Haram sect, attacked Gudumbali, Guzamala local government area of Borno state, on Tuesday. It is the second time in three months that the village will come under attack. The insurgents moved on the village around 7pm and engaged in a gun battle with troops of the Nigerian army stationed in the area. Hundreds of residents fled into bushes for safety as the exchange of gunshots reportedly lasted for hours. In the past month, Boko Haram insurgents have launched attacks on villages and military formations in Borno and Yobe states. On Tuesday morning, the insurgents claimed to have attacked soldiers stationed in Arge, an area close to Lake Chad. In the statement seen by TheCable, the insurgents said they killed seven soldiers and left 10 injured. While the military says it is intensifying efforts at ending the attacks, Abubakar Elkanemi, shehu of Borno, recently said the people of the state are still under the insurgents’ siege. “Nobody can dare move out of Maiduguri by 10 kilometres without being confronted, attacked by Boko Haram,” he had said. The Cable

As DRC Election Nears, ‘Tortured’ Dissidents in Exile Speak Out
It was the number of unidentified bodies bearing signs of torture arriving at the morgue that made Cherie*, a nurse at Kinshasa’s General Hospital, get involved in politics. … In December 2009, the 20-year-old was arrested after attending a memorial service for activists who had been killed. For two weeks she was kept in the detention centre of the Rapid Intervention Police (Police d’intervention rapide, PIR). She says she was beaten and raped on four separate occasions, once by three policemen at a time. … Cherie has been in the UK since 2013. She is a witness in a report compiled by the UK human rights organisation Freedom From Torture based on the accounts and medical examination of 74 Congolese men and women who escaped detention and fled to the UK between 2013 and 2018. … The Freedom From Torture report exposes how ordinary men and women in Kinshasa, far from the well-documented Eastern conflict, are being imprisoned and tortured for low-level political activity. They are guilty of anything from simply being a member of an opposition party to handing out leaflets. The report found that nearly all of the women and two-thirds of the men had been raped. Al Jazeera

Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Epidemic Spreads Further Into Urban Communities and Isolated Areas
The Ebola epidemic continues to spread through the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s North Kivu province. The newest areas to be affected include the city of Butembo and a number of isolated areas that are hard to reach. So far, 440 people have been infected with the virus, 255 of whom have died. Teams from international medical organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) continue to strengthen their efforts to help bring the epidemic under control. This is DRC’s tenth and most serious epidemic of Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what was then called Zaire. Forty years later, despite a massive and coordinated mobilization by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Congolese Ministry of Health and organizations such as MSF, the deadly virus is still spreading. MSF

Cameroon Frees 52 Opposition Activists
The prosecution of 52 opposition activists who protested against the re-election of 85-year-old Paul Biya as Cameroon president has been abandoned, their lawyer said on Tuesday. The activists were arrested at the end of October in Douala, the economic capital, on the sidelines of a demonstration against the election of Biya, who had won a seventh consecutive term. They have now been released. Biya, who has ruled the West African country for 36 years, won the October 7 election with 71% of the vote, according to disputed results. “The justice ministry has ordered the end of the prosecution of our activists,” said lawyer Emmanuel Sim, also vice-president of the Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC), one of the main opposition parties. AFP

Mozambique Anti-Jihadist Forces Involved in Rights Abuses: HRW
Security forces in Mozambique waging the fight against jihadists in the country’s north are guilty of “serious abuses” of human rights including summary executions, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. The group said that witness statements gathered since August proved police had carried out dozens of executions and arbitrarily detained people suspected of participating in the insurgency that has claimed dozens of lives. “The Mozambican authorities should take immediate action to end abuses by their security forces and punish those responsible,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. Jihadist fighters have terrorised remote communities in the gas-rich and Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region for more than a year, staging brazen gun and knife attacks on civilians. AFP

UNSOM Condemns Yesterday’s Somali Journalist Attack in Mogadishu
UN Mission in Somalia has strongly condemned yesterday’s bomb attack that was targeted a Somalia journalist and press freedom advocate Ismail Sheikh Khalifa who survived but sustained injuries from the attack. “We strongly condemn yesterday’s attack targeting a Somali journalist which was a shocking disregard for the most basic principles of humanity and wishes him a speedy recovery from his injuries,” UNSOM said in a tweet. The UN mission in Somalia has also highlighted the need for an end to impunity for crimes against journalists. Ismail Sheikh Khalif who survived an explosive attack that was planted into his car while he was driving alone when the car exploded and he was immediately rushed to the Digfeer hospital. Goobjoog

US Reopens Diplomatic Mission in Somalia after 28-Year Closure
The US has established its first diplomatic presence in Somalia for nearly 30 years. The state department said the “historic event” reflected the progress the east African nation had made. Ambassador Donald Yamamoto is heading the embassy in Mogadishu. Previously it had been based in Nairobi, Kenya. The US closed its embassy in Somalia in January 1991 amid fighting between rebels and the government and had to airlift out its ambassador and staff. Commenting on the latest move, state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement: “This historic event reflects Somalia’s progress in recent years and is another step forward in formalising US diplomatic engagement in Mogadishu since recognising the Federal Government of Somalia in 2013.” BBC

EU Pushes for Greater Respect for Human Rights in Uganda
Edrine Wanyama does not mince his words. “The situation of human rights in Uganda is deplorable,” the lawyer and analyst told DW, an assessment that is confirmed by human rights organizations. From repression of freedom of speech and assembly, to police brutality, including torture and arbitrary arrests, the catalogue of documented violations makes for dire reading. This is why many Ugandans welcome the help of the European Union (EU) in promoting fundamental rights in their country. “There are some good efforts [by the EU] to push the government to comply with key human rights obligations,” Wanyama said. Human rights are of the “highest possible importance” to the EU, the union’s ambassador to Uganda, Attilio Pacifici, told DW. In the case of Uganda, the EU discerns some progress, “but not the kind of progress we feel comfortable with,” Pacifici said. DW

Angolan President Talks to Some of State’s Toughest Critics
Angolan President Joao Lourenco has met longtime critics of the government, generating some goodwill from activists who struggled to have their voices heard during the long rule of former leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Lourenco, who became president last year, on Tuesday hosted leaders of Angolan civil society organizations at the presidential palace to discuss education and other ways to improve the country, long criticized for corruption and human rights abuses. State-run media said activist Sergio Calundungo welcomed what he called a “symbolic meeting” that indicates Lourenco is “not afraid to dialogue.” One of the Angolan state’s harshest critics was barred from the meeting. However, journalist and activist Rafael Marques de Morais says he plans to meet privately with Lourenco on Wednesday after learning the president wanted to see him. AP

Rwandan Opposition Leader Defiant as Prison Term Possible
The Rwandan opposition leader who awaits judgment on charges of inciting insurrection and forgery after challenging the longtime president in last year’s election says no amount of pressure will silence her. Speaking to The Associated Press ahead of her court appearance on Thursday, Diane Rwigara remained defiant as she faces 22 years in prison if convicted. The 37-year-old, a fierce critic of the ruling party, is Rwanda’s highest-profile opposition figure and the rare person to openly criticise the government from inside the country. Her case has drawn global attention as President Paul Kagame again faces pressure to give more space to critics in the highly controlled East African nation. No matter what, she said, she will continue to raise issues of alleged human rights violations in the country. AP

294 Sudanese MPs Introduce Bill to Scrap Presidential Term Limit
Sudanese lawmakers representing 33 political parties Tuesday have introduced a bill to amend the constitution to allow President Omer al-Bashir to run for a third term in 2020 elections. Al-Bashir’s term ends in 2020 and he couldn’t run for office again according to the constitution. Also, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) statute limits to two terms the nomination of the party candidate for the presidential elections. However, the NCP Shura (consultative) Council last August amended party statute allowing al-Bashir to stay for a third term as party leader in a move that is largely seen as a prelude to amend the country’s constitution to allow him to run for presidency. The proposed amendments bill was signed by 294 MPs and provides to abolish presidential term limits. The head of the parliamentary sub-committee on industry Abdallah Masar told reporters that the proposed bill contains 57 amendments pertaining to the presidential term limits. He described the move as “important national issue”, saying the amendments allow the president to sack the elected governors of states for a number of reasons including violation of “loyalty and obedience” to the president. Sudan Tribune

China Signs South Sudan Peace Deal as Witness
The government of China on Tuesday signed South Sudan’s peace agreement as an international witness in the capital Juba. The event was witnessed by the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais. Speaking to reporters after signing the revitalized peace deal on behalf of his government, China’s Ambassador to South Sudan He Xiangdong reiterated his country’s support for the peace process in South Sudan. “The signing of the R-ARCISS confirms that the government of China will continue to support the peace process here in the Republic of South Sudan,” Xiangdong said.“ I confident that with the support of the international community, the region and the South Sudanese people, the peace process in South Sudan will move forward,” he added. For his part, the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais said real progress has been made on mechanisms to implement the signed peace agreement. Radio Tamazuj

Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe Stuck in the Old Ways
Veteran Zimbabwe opposition legislator Joel Gabbuza thought he was stating the obvious when he told mourners that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party was struggling to revive the economy. Mr Gabbuza, who has been representing the impoverished Binga South constituency for over a decade, was arrested for lamenting the fuel shortages that brought the country to a standstill a month. However, in a move that took human rights activists by surprise, the MP was charged with “undermining the authority of or insulting the president”. Prosecutors said the legislator told villagers that President Mnangagwa’s government was clueless in solving Zimbabwe’s economic problems that have, of late, spawned shortages of fuel and medicines. The East African

South Africa Gets Its First Woman Chief Prosecutor
South Africa has picked a new chief prosecutor – a key figure in the country’s struggle against corruption. Ms Shamila Batohi – the first woman in the role – said she was ready to fight the good fight. The prosecution service has been engulfed by scandal, with claims that former President Jacob Zuma and his allies were shielded from corruption investigations. Hence, there has been huge interest here in the appointment of a new chief prosecutor. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government – anxious to show it is now serious about tackling corruption – took the unprecedented step of broadcasting the job interviews on live television. Today, Ms Batohi – a highly experienced barrister – was declared the winner. Her task will be to convince a sceptical public that powerful politicians will now be held to account. She’s described the prosecution service as a house on fire, and South Africa as a victim of high-level corruption. BBC

South African Parliament Backs Land Reform Report
South Africa’s parliament has approved a report endorsing a constitutional amendment that would allow expropriation of land without compensation – a decision the main opposition party said on Tuesday it could challenge in court. Land is a hot-button issue in South Africa where racial inequality remains entrenched more than two decades after the end of apartheid when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority. A parliamentary team last month recommended a constitutional amendment to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public. The team’s report was debated in parliament on Tuesday and approved by a majority of the members present. However, adopting the report is just one step in a long process to change the constitution to allow for land reforms. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones