Africa Media Review for February 11, 2019

The Ever-Adaptive Allied Democratic Forces Insurgency
A surge in violent activity by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) has demonstrated growing virulence in this mysterious group operating on the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The number of violent events linked to ADF tripled in 2018, to 132 from 38 in 2017. Fatalities doubled to 415 over the same period. This includes the killing of peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), as well as civilians along the DRC/Uganda border. In all, the deaths of 700 civilians have been attributed to the ADF since 2014. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Sahel Islamist Groups’ Networking Skills Growing: Security Report
A surge in violent attacks linked to Islamist groups in West Africa’s Sahel region reflects their growing capabilities and networking abilities, according to an international security conference report. Three-quarters of battles with state security forces during 2018 were initiated by the groups, it said, according to extracts from the report, prepared for the annual Munich Security Conference and seen by Reuters on Friday. It cited Africa Center for Strategic Studies data showing fatalities linked to Islamist militant activity more than doubled from 2017 to 1,082. There was also a growing “security traffic jam” of military forces in the area including a United Nations mission, France’s Operation Barkhane, four European Union military and police training missions, and the G5 regional partnership established in 2015.  Reuters

Nearly 70 Killed in Cameroon as Separatists Stop Youth Week Activities
Renewed fighting has killed 69 people in English-speaking regions of Cameroon, where armed separatists have ordered people to stay inside their homes as the country prepares to celebrate its national youth day. February 11 coincides with the 1961 plebiscite, which separatists identify as the day their English-speaking territory was handed to the French-speaking majority.  Patients writhe and scream on the floor and get little medical attention at Saint Mary Clinic, a private hospital in Cameroon’s English-speaking coastal city of Limbe. Nurse Frederick Mengoli says they were dumped there on Friday night by the Cameroon military.  VOA

US Says New Airstrike in Somalia Kills 8 Al-Shabaab Fighters
The United States military says it has killed eight al-Shabaab extremists with an airstrike in southern Somalia. A US Africa Command statement says Friday’s strike hit near Kobon, not far from the port city of Kismayo. The US says Kobon has been used to stage attacks against Somali forces. Its statement says no civilians were killed in the airstrike. The US military has carried out at least a dozen such airstrikes this year in Somalia against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.  AP

Suspected Jihadists Kill 7 in North Mozambique
Suspected jihadists have killed seven men and abducted four women in northern Mozambique in the latest violence to hit the Cabo Delgado region, local sources said Friday. The bodies, which were cut into pieces, were left in Piqueue village, a local traditional leader told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity. “People were surprised while sleeping in the forest,” he said, indicating that the residents had fled the village for fear of being attacked. The attackers also kidnapped four women, he said. Mozambican police declined to comment, but a local army commander confirmed the attack. “We urge people to stay in villages where they have protection from the police and the military,” he said. AFP

Tanzania to Release 1 900 Ethiopian Prisoners: Embassy
Tanzania has decided to release around 1 900 Ethiopians jailed in the country, the Ethiopian embassy in Dar Es Salaam said in a Facebook post on Friday. “The decision was made after Ethiopian embassy officials held discussions on the fate of the prisoners with senior Tanzanian government officials including Tanzania’s foreign minister, Augustine Mahiga,” the statement said. There was no mention of what crimes the Ethiopians had been imprisoned for. However, hundreds of Ethiopian migrants are detained in Tanzania every year, while passing through their country on the way to South Africa. AFP

As Algerian Leader Ails, Would-Be Challengers Eye Election
A record number of people want to run for president of Algeria in the country’s April election, amid growing uncertainty about whether incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who said Sunday he plans to seek a fifth term despite being infirm since a 2013 stroke, is fit enough after two decades in charge of this gas-rich North African nation. In the two weeks since the electoral process was launched, 186 people have requested the documents needed to declare their candidacy. That’s more than double the number of potential candidates at this stage in the last presidential election, in 2014. Most will never get the signatures necessary to formally get on the April 18 ballot. But the range of candidates suggests wide frustration with the status quo. AP

Details from Central African Republic Rebel Deal Released
An agreement signed by Central African Republic and 14 rebel groups earlier this week will see the dissolution of armed groups, the formation of an inclusive government and the creation of a fund for victims who have suffered in years of conflict, according to the accord seen Friday. The deal signed Wednesday is the eighth since the fighting began in 2013 but the first to emerge from direct dialogue. The 30-page peace pact, negotiated in Sudan and titled the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation, evokes four main points: victims, justice, peace and national reconciliation. The agreement says that armed groups will undertake to respect the legitimacy of the country’s institutions, and to renounce the use of arms and violence against the defense and security forces, U.N. personnel and humanitarian workers.  AP

The Young Politicians Aiming to Consign Africa’s Old Guard to History
Many called Chike Ukaegbu’s bluff when he announced he was running for the highest office in Nigeria at the age of 35. The New York-based tech entrepreneur was entering a world largely dominated by older politicians with deep pockets. Popular wisdom suggested he stood no chance at the polls. A year ago, he would not have been able to put up his candidacy. Politics in Nigeria was closed to younger candidates up until the Not Too Young To Run bill — championed by a youth movement — succeeded last year in lowering the ages for elected offices. Ukaegbu is part of the new cohort of young aspirants taking advantage of the eligibility law to demand their seats at the table. CNN

Nigeria Election: Election Office Burnt Down Six Days before Polls
An office for Nigeria’s election commission has been burned down just six days before the country is due to vote in a general election. The fire in Plateau State has destroyed everything needed to vote, including ballot boxes and voting slips. A spokesperson called it a setback for the preparations for the election but is quoted in This Day as saying that it is too early to suspect sabotage. The general election is due to be held on Saturday. On Sunday President Muhammadu Buhari warned of potential electoral fraud. “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has raised concerns over laundered money being funnelled into vote buying,” he said an editorial published in the Pulse newspaper. BBC

French Lawmakers Defend Airstrikes against Chadian Rebels
French politicians have defended a series of airstrikes in Chad targeting a rebel convoy this week, saying it respected international law and supported a legitimate government. Chad’s President Idriss Deby said the convoy of “mercenaries” had been completely destroyed with no loss of life or damage to equipment for the government. “France never intervenes – even if a country’s authorities ask – just to target people who are against the government,” said Thomas Gassilloud, an MP with the ruling LREM party and member of the commission for national defence and armed forces. “We decided on our intervention on the basis of a formal request by the Chadian authorities with strict respect for international law,” Gassilloud told RFI’s service Afrique.  RFI

Chadian Army Captures Hundreds of Rebels after French Airstrikes
The Chadian military on Saturday said it had captured more than 250 rebels, including some top leaders, after an operation against a convoy of militants trying to cross into the country from Libya in late January. The army said in a statement that it had captured rebels from the Union of Forces of Resistance (UFR), a Libya-based rebel coalition that is trying to topple President Idriss Deby, and destroyed more than 40 of their vehicles. “Several compromising documents” were also seized, the statement added, without giving further details. The rebels had driven about 50 pickup trucks more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) into Chadian territory without any significant obstacles before facing several days of French and Chadian airstrikes.  Deutsche Welle

Sudan’s Doctors Union Says 57 Killed in Recent Protests
Sudan’s Doctors Syndicate says the government crackdown on protests has left at least 57 dead, including three who died of torture, since they began in mid-December. In a statement issued on Friday, the union said that the death toll is expected to climb because of the serious condition of some wounded protesters. It also noted the excessive use of tear gas in the crackdown, including in residential areas, and inside homes and hospitals. Additionally, it expressed its alarm at security forces using the “inconceivably barbaric tactic” of running over protesters while breaking up demonstrations, according to the statement. A total of 28 doctors have been detained, and one doctor was shot dead for treating wounded protesters, it added. AP

Tens of Thousands of Muslims Attend Anti-Govt Rally in Mali
Tens of thousands of Malians gathered on Sunday in Bamako for a rally called by the country’s chief Muslim leaders, who accuse the government of failing to bring stability back to the nation plagued by jihadist attacks. Huge crowds packed out the capital’s 60 000-seat stadium, with many veiled women sitting in stands separated from the male attendees, according to an AFP reporter. “It’s a rally to challenge the government and a mass prayer for my country,” influential imam Mahmoud Dicko, who presides over the Islamic High Council (IHC), told AFP ahead of the gathering. “Our country is faced with a governance problem. This rally wants to draw attention to that. People need to talk to each other,” said Dicko who organised Sunday’s event with Bouye Haidara, another major Muslim leader. AFP

Egypt’s Sisi Takes Over as New Head of African Union
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi took over as chair of the African Union (AU) following a meeting by heads of state from the continent in Ethiopia’s capital on Sunday. The post rotates annually between the five regions of the continent. The Egyptian leader is expected to focus on the fight against armed groups on the continent and rebuilding efforts of countries recovering from conflict. “Terrorism remains a cancer that affects African nations and steals the dreams of our people and we must identify and combat those who fund terrorism activities on the continent,” Sisi said in a speech to the AU assembly shortly after his appointment. Al Jazeera

Haile Selassie: Why the African Union Is Putting up a Statue
A statue of Ethiopia’s last emperor is to be unveiled outside the African Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The likeness of Haile Selassie is being given pride of place outside the $200 million building in recognition for his role in establishing its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU). But that might not be the first thing that springs to mind on hearing the name Haile Selassie. The name is perhaps more easily connected with Jamaican singer Bob Marley and Rastafarians. So who exactly is Haile Selassie, and how did he come to be worshipped as a god by people living thousands of miles away? Haile Selassie was more than 30 years into his reign when he helped establish the OAU. Its first meeting, in May 1963, was held in Addis Ababa.  BBC

Leader of Ivory Coast’s Parliament Soro Resigns amid Dispute with President Ouattara
Former Ivory Coast rebel leader Guillaume Soro resigned as parliament speaker on Friday in a split with President Alassane Ouattara that could signal his intention to run for president next year. That election already looks highly unpredictable; Ouattara has not said whether he will run again, his main coalition partner defected last year, and his bitter rival, former president Laurent Gbagbo, could be set to return after being acquitted of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Many Ivorians fear that another contested vote could lead to violence like the brief civil war that broke out in 2010 when the incumbent, Gbagbo, refused to accept defeat to Ouattara. More than 3,000 people died in that conflict, sealing a turbulent decade that saw Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa exporter, squander its previous status as an island of relative prosperity and stability in West Africa. France 24

Comoros Supreme Court Bars Key Opposition Figures from Contesting in Presidential Election
Thirteen candidates have been cleared for the March presidential vote in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros, the Supreme Court announced Saturday, barring the main challengers of President Azali Assoumani. Nineteen candidates had registered for the March 24 election and of those given the go ahead, only Azali is backed by a party. The others are contesting as independents. Azali, who was voted into office in 2016, is tipped to win the election. His chief rivals were former vice-president Mohamed Ali Soilih and Ibrahim Mohamed Soule, whose bids for the top job were quashed by the Supreme Court, which is composed exclusively of Azali’s allies. An arrangement to rotate power among the three islands in the archipelago nation helped quell years of discontent and coups in the late 1990s.  Africa News

As Angola Decriminalizes Homosexuality, Where Does the African Continent Stand?
Angola has decriminalized homosexuality — 133 years after the passage banning same-sex relations was included in the country’s penal code when the southwest African nation was still a Portuguese colony. The so-called “vices against nature” provision in its law could send same-sex couples to prison. Parliamentarians who voted to overhaul Angola’s criminal statue books didn’t just remove the passage. They also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The reform has been hailed by human rights activists who have been pushing for equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Angola and other African countries.  Deutsche Welle

Poorest Countries in Africa Set to Wipe Out Neglected Diseases While Richest Fall Behind
Some of the poorest countries in Africa are set to wipe out the most common diseases of poverty within the next few years. A review of 49 African countries’ progress in fighting neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) shows that some of the continent’s poorest countries, such as eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Malawi and Mali are outperforming some richer countries such as Botswana and South Africa. The analysis, by the organisation United to Combat NTDs, looked at the five most common NTDs in Africa: blinding trachoma, the leading cause of infectious blindness; intestinal worms that can stunt the growth of children; mosquito-borne elephantiasis; snail-borne bilharzia and river blindness. All of the diseases can be prevented or treated with medicines that are donated for free by pharmaceutical companies.  The Telegraph

Pope to Visit Moroccan Imam School to Boost Moderate Islam
Pope Francis will meet with migrants in Morocco and visit a training institute for imams that seeks to be a bulwark against Islamic extremism during his March 30-31 visit to the North African nation. The Vatican on Saturday released the schedule for the pope’s trip to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. It comes on the heels of Francis’ recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he signed a landmark “fraternity” document with a leading Sunni imam and sought to encourage moderate Islam and interfaith ties. During his visit, Francis will meet with King Mohammed VI as well as the country’s priests and religious sisters and celebrate Mass for the Catholic community. His meeting with migrants will take place at the Vatican’s Caritas charity. Francis is also planning a visit to a social center outside Rabat.  AP



Photo: Adam Jones