Africa Media Review for February 1, 2017

African Leaders Plan Mass Withdrawal from International Criminal Court
African leaders have adopted a strategy calling for a collective withdrawal from the international criminal court. The non-binding decision came behind closed doors near the end of an African Union summit. It was the latest expression of impatience by African leaders with the court, which some say has focused too narrowly on Africa while pursuing cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Late last year, South Africa, Burundi and the Gambia all announced plans to leave the court, leading to concerns that other states would follow. Desire Assogbavi, head of Oxfam International’s liaison office to the summit, confirmed the adoption of the strategy. A source close to the continental body’s legal council also confirmed it, saying countries had been divided on whether to call for leaving the court individually or together. The Guardian

African Union Backs Mass Withdrawal from ICC
The African Union has called for the mass withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the resolution is non-binding, with Nigeria and Senegal opposing a withdrawal. South Africa and Burundi have already decided to withdraw, accusing the ICC of undermining their sovereignty and unfairly targeting Africans. The ICC denies the allegation, insisting it is pursuing justice for victims of war crimes in Africa. BBC

Inside the African Union Race: Why the Favourites Lost
It is the morning after the night before and the cold chill of the night have lifted. At the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa it’s post mortem time and everyone is asking one question: how did the favourites, Amina Mohamed, of Kenya, and Abdoulaye Bathily, of Senegal, lose? Their people had walked around the summit halls and hotel lobbies with a swagger – chests puffed, chins up and smiles from ear to ear. Team Kenya put the champagne on ice and the invites to the celebration party at one of the five-star hotels were extended to friends and allies. But this was before the heads of state voted. Kenya ran the best PR at the summit. President Kenyatta was one of the first heads of state to land and lobby in Ethiopia. It looked like a done deal. Or so the press corp gathered at the summit were made to believe. Al Jazeera

A Man with a Mission: Moussa Faki Seeks Greater Security in Africa
A seasoned diplomat and politician, 56-year-old Moussa Faki Mahamat is no stranger to the challenges presented by the top job he was elected to on Monday, January 30. He is seen as the architect of Chad’s nomination to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member and also of the country’s presidency of the AU in 2016. He headed the AU Commission on Peace and Security at the Nairobi summit in 2013, which was dedicated to the fight against terrorism. Above all, as a former Chadian prime minister and current foreign minister he has had a decisive say in all the military and strategic operations his country was and is engaged in: Libya, Mali, South Sudan and Central African Republic, the Sahel and the Lake Chad region. His election as chief executive of the AU thus indicates a very likely reorientation of AU policies towards issues of peace and security on the continent, Liesl Louw-Vaudran of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria told DW: “His country, Chad, is well known for seeing itself as a sort of champion of military intervention.” Deutsche Welle

Congo Says M23 Fighters Captured Downed Air Crew
The Congolese army on Tuesday said armed fighters belonging to the former M23 rebel group had captured four crew members of a military helicopter which crashed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo last week, and that three died after being tortured. The crew members had been seized alive and handed over to the M23 movement’s military chief, Sultani Makenga, the army’s General Leon Mushale told reporters in the eastern city of Goma. Mushale said the fourth crew member was still missing. The incident could point to a resurgence in activity by M23 fighters more than three years after the group was crushed by the army, and herald renewed instability in eastern Congo where dozens of armed groups are fighting for control of mineral resources. Elie Mutela, a senior representative of M23’s political wing based in Uganda, denied its fighters were in Congo. Reuters

ISIS Claims Killing and Wounding 20 Egyptian Troops in Sinai
The Islamic State group in Egypt claimed on Tuesday that its fighters killed and wounded 20 Egyptian soldiers in four days of clashes in northern Sinai. In a statement posted on a pro-ISIS website, the Egyptian affiliate of the Sunni militant group said the fighting took place south of the coastal city of el-Arish and that the militants also destroyed two tanks, a Humvee and two other military vehicles. There was no immediate comment from the Egyptian government on the claim, and the restive area of the Sinai Peninsula is off limits to the media. Security forces have been battling ISIS-led militants in Sinai for years, but the insurgency has grown deadlier and more widespread since the 2013 ouster by the military of Egypt’s former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi. News 24

Self-Defense Fighters Thwart Bombings in Nigeria, Cameroon
Two people were killed as self-defense fighters helped thwart more deadly suicide bombings in Nigeria and Cameroon on Tuesday, officials and witnesses said. In Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria’s biggest city and the birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency, a lone bomber attempted to attack a mosque near the city’s university during morning prayers. A member of a civilian self-defense force stopped the bomber from reaching the mosque but the bomb killed them both, said police spokesman Victor Isukwu. The bomber’s body was so mangled it was impossible to determine the age or gender, witnesses said. “It took aid workers about an hour to pick up the scattered flesh and bones,” said witness Simon Madu. AP

Clashes Between Farmers, Herdsmen Kill 6 in Central Nigeria
Police say at least six people have been killed in communal violence between mostly Christian farmers and mostly Muslim herdsmen in central Nigeria. David Misal, a police spokesperson for Taraba state, says the violence between Fulani herdsmen and farmers from the Mumuye ethnic group began on Friday and continued on Tuesday morning in the Lau local government area. He says 80 houses have been burned. Witnesses say Tuesday’s violence began when youth from the Mumuye group attacked a Fulani village. News 24

Gambia Weighs Justice Versus Moving On
As the debate continues in Gambia over how to address alleged abuses under ex-president Yahya Jammeh’s regime, Tijan Barrow is back at work at his printing shop. His left eye is still swollen and he has a slight limp. Two weeks ago, soldiers burst in and beat him with their guns before throwing him in a cell at the National Intelligence Agency. They said his crime was that he had been printing t-shirts for the opposition. “It was very terrible that day because I did not think I would be back home safe, Barrow said. “I thought they were going to kill me because they said that before. They said they were going to kill me.” VOA

Morocco’s King Attends AU Summit for first Time in 33 Years
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI took a seat at the African Union headquarters on Tuesday for the first time in 33 years after being re-admitted by the bloc. “It is a beautiful day when one returns home after too long an absence. Africa is my continent and my home. I am finally home and I am happy to see you. I missed you all,” the monarch told the closing ceremony of the AU summit in Ethiopia. Morocco’s return to the fold comes a day after 39 of the AU’s 54 member states agreed to allow Morocco back in the fold, despite stiff resistance from countries such as South Africa and Algeria over the status of Western Sahara. Morocco quit the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1984 after the bloc admitted the former Western Sahara as a separate member. News 24

S. Africa’s Ruling Party Regrets Morocco’s Readmission into AU
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday expressed regret over the readmission of Morocco to the African Union (AU). The ANC “notes the regrettable decision” by the AU to readmit Morocco into the organization, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement. The 54-member AU voted overwhelmingly to readmit Morocco following a lengthy debate at the 28th AU Summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Monday. Thirty-nine of the 54 states approved Morocco’s return to the AU. “This decision represents a significant setback to the cause of the Sahrawi people and their quest for self-determination and independence in the Western Sahara,” Kodwa said. The ANC notes that the AU decision paves the way for the Kingdom of Morocco to take their place amongst the community of nations and to enjoy the benefits of AU membership, whilst the Sahrawi people continue to suffer under an unjust occupation of their ancestral land, Kodwa said. Xinhua

ANC Accused of Spreading Fake News in South African Local Elections
The ANC is alleged to have used the services of a group called the Media Advisory Team to attract voters through the use of social media, chat shows and a news website. But the team is also alleged to have produced and planted fake information about its political opponents. The accusation came to light when one of the people involved, Sihle Bolani, filed a case in court suing the ANC for 2.2 million rands (150,000 euros), claiming the party owes her the money for work she did. Sihle Bolani also recorded on her cellphone some of the group’s “war room” meetings with ANC’s general manager Ignatius Jacobs. Recordings she shared with the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and which were made public on Sunday via the City Press newspaper. RFI

EU Migrant Policy in Africa Built on Incorrect Niger Data
The European Union has been touting a faulty figure for migration reduction through key transit country Niger as it looks to expand a policy of giving more development aid to African nations if they crack down on people smuggling and migrants […] When the International Organization for Migration released figures in early December showing a dramatic drop in the numbers of migrants transiting through northern Niger to reach Europe the previous month, EU officials seized on them as evidence that its strategy of partnering with African countries to curb irregular migration was working. On the back of EU funding specifically for the purpose, IOM has been monitoring the movements of migrants through Niger since February. Between then and the end of November 2016, the agency recorded more than 417,000 migrants transiting through northern Niger en route to Algeria and Libya, with movement peaking during the summer months. IRIN

Sudan, Egypt Split Difference over Halayeb Dispute
Sudan and Egypt agreed on Tuesday not to raise the issue of Halayeb Triangle disputed between the two countries, official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported. The agreement came at a meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the ongoing African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. “Halayeb issue is extensive, where al-Bashir and el-Sisi agreed that the issues of difference are not to preoccupy the two countries from what can lead efforts to strengthen the relationship between them,” SUNA quoted Ibrahim Ghandour, Sudan’s foreign minister, as saying. Xinhua

Tanzania, Malawi Presidents Meet to Smooth Diplomatic Tensions
Tanzanian President John Magufuli and his Malawian counterpart Peter Mutharika held talks on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on Monday as part of efforts to diffuse escalating tension between the two countries. A statement from Tanzania’s Directorate of Presidential Communications Unit said the two leaders agreed to forge stronger bilateral ties and iron out their diplomatic differences amicably. The two neighbours have been tussling over a lake border since 1967. Known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lake Malawi in Lilongwe, it has been the centre of a new dispute after Dar began oil and gas exploration in the lake. The diplomatic tension was further aggravated after Malawi recently arrested eight Tanzanians it accused of spying on its uranium mine. The East African

Fresh Clashes Near South Sudan’s Oil Hub of Malakal
Fresh clashes broke out around South Sudan’s second-largest city of Malakal on Tuesday, a rebel spokesman and a government official said, the latest turn in the struggle for the capital of the oil-producing Upper Nile region. The United Nations said Malakal, on the banks of the White Nile near the country’s northern border with Sudan, was largely deserted after civilians fled the fighting. “The rebels had been trying to provoke the SPLA all this time because the SPLA has been given instruction not to wage offensives against the rebel forces,” said military spokesman Colonel Santo Domic Chol, using the acronym for the military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. “This is in line with the call by the president for the national dialogue,” he added, referring to a presidential directive on dealing with the rebels. But rebel spokesman William Gatjiath Deng said government troops launched several attacks on rebel positions early on Tuesday. The East African

UN Court Orders Turkey to Release Judge in Rwanda Genocide Case
A United Nations court called on Turkey to free a judge caught up in the country’s post-coup crackdown, saying Aydin Sefa Akay’s imprisonment violates his diplomatic immunity and the principle of judicial independence. Akay, both a UN judge and diplomat, is one of 40,000 Turkish officials who have been remanded in custody for alleged connections to July’s failed military coup, blamed by authorities on followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen. In an order issued on Tuesday, UN court president Theodor Meron said Turkey should cease all proceedings against his fellow judge and free him by February 14, in time for him to assume his duties in a case involving a Rwandan genocide suspect. “Diplomatic immunity is a cornerstone of an independent international judiciary,” Meron wrote. Replacing Akay on the bench because of his detention would have a “chilling effect” on judicial independence by making judges seem easily replaceable. The East African

Asia Flooded With West African Oil in Latest Sign of OPEC Impact
West African oil producers this month will send the most crude to Asia in at least five years, the latest sign of how refineries in the world’s biggest demand region are scouring the world to replace supplies cut by OPEC’s Middle East producers. Shipments on the trade route, among the longest for supertankers, are set to soar to 2.19 million barrels a day in February, the highest level since at least August 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from traders. China and India will be the biggest buyers. In recent weeks, a similar picture emerged from both the North Sea, where unprecedented eastbound flows have been observed, and also the U.S. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones