Africa Media Review for February 12, 2018

ANC Leaders Expected to Ask President Jacob Zuma to Resign
Leaders of South Africa’s governing ANC party are due to meet to decide the future of President Jacob Zuma. The National Executive Committee (NEC) is likely to ask him to step down, says BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding. ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged on Sunday that the issue was causing “disunity and discord”. Mr Zuma, 75, faces a number of corruption charges after nine years in power. BBC

Mo Ibrahim Prize: Liberia’s Sirleaf Wins African Leadership Prize
Liberia’s ex-president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, has won the $5m (£3.6m) Mo Ibrahim prize for African Leadership. Mrs Sirleaf, who stepped down last month, became Africa’s first elected female president in 2006. She was praised for her work rebuilding the nation after civil war and leading a process of reconciliation. The prize committee admitted that while Ms Sirleaf was accused of tolerating corruption, she had shown exceptional leadership in difficult circumstances. BBC

Egypt Hits Sinai Targets, Killing 16 and Arresting Dozens
Egypt’s military has destroyed dozens of targets, killed 16 militants and detained over 30 suspects as part of its latest operation against Islamic militants in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, the army said on Sunday. Army spokesperson Colonel Tamer el-Rifai said that airstrikes hit vehicles, weapons caches, communications centers and illegal opium fields in the sweep, which began on Friday and comes as a response to a pickup in extremist violence in Egypt. “The air force targeted and destroyed 66 targets used by terrorist elements to hide from air and artillery attacks,” for shelter during raids by security forces, he said in a statement. AP

South Sudan Government Objects to Rules for Peace Talks
South Sudan’s government Friday declined to sign an agreement on rules to facilitate discussion aimed at reviving the country’s collapsed 2015 peace deal. The government’s delegates refused to approve the Declaration of Principles (DOP), intended to guide a second phase of high-level talks. They cited concerns over the document’s Article 28, which calls for taking punitive measures against individuals who block implementation of the revived peace deal. The government’s delegates were not obligated to sign the guidelines, South Sudan’s information minister and spokesman Michael Makuei told reporters Friday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the talks are taking place. He said mediators and facilitators had announced Thursday “that the signing of the DOP is optional. So it is up to each party to decide whether to sign.”  VOA

Thousands Flee Militia Violence in C Africa
About 7 400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday. The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that “are extremely difficult,” according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders. “Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health centre in Markounda has been looted since the outbreak of hostilities, there are not enough showers and latrines,” said Jean-Francois Sangsue, head of the ICRC delegation in Bangui. AFP

At Least Two Killed, 37 Wounded by Twin Mosque Bombing in Libya’s Benghazi
Libyan officials say twin bomb explosions at a mosque in the city of Benghazi have killed at least two people and wounded 75 others. Motaz Agouri, an official at Benghazi security directorate’s media office, said the explosion took place during Friday prayers inside the Saad Ibn Ibada mosque in Benghazi’s busy Berka district. Agouri said the bombs were planted in separate rooms inside the mosque. The devices appear to have been activated remotely using a mobile phone, one military source said. In January, a twin car bombing near a mosque in Benghazi’s Salmani neighborhood killed at least 33 people.  Al Arabiya

Cameroon Imposes Curfew in Restive English-Speaking Regions
Cameroon imposed a week-long night curfew from Saturday in its restive English-speaking west citing fears of an “imminent” attack by separatists but long-serving President Paul Biya claimed the volatile situation had “stabilised”. Dozens of people have been killed in the two English-speaking regions since October after a violent crackdown on protests against the mainly French-speaking government. Many English-speakers have accused the Francophone majority of discrimination and that has fuelled a separatist movement. France 24

DRC Army Says Rebel Group ‘Annihilated’ in Restive East
Democratic Republic of Congo’s army claimed on Friday to have “annihilated” a rebel group in the country’s chronically troubled east, killing at least 48 insurgents, capturing 150 others and winning back key territory. The offensive against forces loyal to William Amuri Yakutumba, a deserter fighting President Joseph Kabila, saw thousands of Congolese crossing Lake Tanganyika into Burundi as clashes raged between government forces and Yakutumba rebels in the eastern province of South Kivu. “The operation was a success, the rebels have been annihilated. There is no more fighting and we are in the midst of cleaning up operations,” said army spokesperson Major Louis-Claude Tshiwanga. AFP

Sudan’s Al-Bashir Reinstates Former Spy-Chief
The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Sunday has issued a decree to re-appoint Salah Abdallah (aka Gosh) as director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Gosh was the head of NISS for about a decade until al-Bashir replaced him in 2009. In November 2012, Sudanese authorities announced that they had arrested 13 suspects, including Gosh on suspicion of standing behind a coup attempt. After more than six months in detention, Gosh was charged with undermining the constitutional order, inciting violence to topple the legitimate government and breaching the anti-terrorism law. Sudan Tribune

Burundi Compiles New Electoral Roll for Referendum
The inscription of voters for a constitutional referendum that could allow Burundi’s president to prolong his rule began Thursday in Burundi, the independent national electoral commission (CENI) announced. If accepted by the electorate, the constitutional change passed by the government last October would enable President Pierre Nkurunziza, in power since 2005, to stand for two further terms of office from 2020. All opposition parties are opposed to a referendum in May on changes that they say might be a death warrant for the Arusha peace accord of 2000, which opened the way to an end to prolonged civil war (1993-2006) at the cost of more than 300,000 lives. Daily Nation

Observers Call for Deeper Diplomatic Engagement in the Sahel
A draft of a Pentagon report on the attack in Niger that killed four American soldiers, four Nigerien soldiers and an Nigerien interpreter last October calls for a smaller, more cautious U.S. military presence in West Africa, according to sources who spoke to The New York Times. That could emphasize the need for deeper diplomatic and political engagement in the Sahel, given ongoing security challenges and difficulties in funding and coordinating a regional task force. Details about who is responsible for the October 4 attack have been difficult to confirm. However, U.S. and Nigerien forces blamed Islamic State fighters shortly after the ambush in the Tillaberi region of Niger. VOA

Ethiopia Opens Three-Day Talks with Somali Rebels
The first round of three-day talks between Ethiopian officials and representatives from the Ethiopian rebel group of ethnic Somalis, Ogden National Liberation Front (ONLF), began Sunday at a secret location in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Delegates from the two sides arrived Saturday for the talks that are being facilitated by Kenyan officials.  Abdulkadir Hassan Hirmoge, a spokesman for the ONLF, confirmed to VOA Somali that the talks have begun.  Hirmoge said each side has sent a delegation of four members. The ONLF delegation is led by Foreign Secretary Abdirahman Mahdi. It is unclear who is leading the Ethiopian delegation, but photos released by the Kenyan facilitators show the president of the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia, Abdi Mohamud Omar, sitting on the opposite side of the table, along with other officials.  VOA

Can Somalia’s Fishing Industry Keep Pirates Out of Business?
From 2010 to 2012, pirates ruled Somali waters, costing commercial ships billions of dollars in ransoms. Over the last few years, increased naval patrolling and security improved the situation drastically and many former pirates turned to fishing to earn an honest living. However, NewsHour Weekend Special Correspondent Jane Ferguson reports that domestic conditions could reverse this trend.  PBS

Boko Haram Releases 13 Hostages after Talks with Nigeria
Boko Haram extremists have freed three university lecturers and 10 women who it had kidnapped in separate raids last year, Nigeria’s government said on Saturday. The academics were abducted by the Nigeria-based Islamic militants while conducting oil prospect evaluations in the Lake Chad area on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum last year, said presidential spokesman Garba Shehu. Some of their colleagues were killed during the 2017 kidnapping. The 10 women were kidnapped in a Boko Haram raid on a military and police convoy last year on the Damboa road near Maiduguri. AP

Mob Justice Grips Central Nigeria
In the heart of Gboko’s main market, in Benue state, central Nigeria, stains still darken the dusty corners of the car park where seven men were burned alive in broad daylight. Their only crime was to have “light skin and look like Fulanis”, said a police officer, referring to the herders blamed for deadly violence against farmers in recent months. For the last week, lack of street lighting has plunged Gboko into virtual darkness. Residents have shut themselves away at home and nervous police on patrol threaten to shoot at any vehicle defying a 6pm to 6am curfew. Mail and Guardian

Increasing Chance Nigeria’s Buhari Won’t Run Again, Eurasia Says
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is facing increasing calls not to seek re-election next year, but he will probably decide to run and will be the favorite, according to New York-based risk consultancy Eurasia Group. The 75-year-old has been urged over the past month by former president Olusegun Obasanjo not to stand for a second term, while ex-army ruler Ibrahim Babangida has publicly said Nigeria needs a new generation of leaders. His wife Aisha re-tweeted messages suggesting he wasn’t fully in control of the government. Bloomberg

Zimbabwe Won’t Return Land to White Farmers: Mnangagwa
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday said the country will not return land seized from former white commercial farmers almost two decades ago. “It will never happen,” Mnangagwa said in a speech to his Zanu-PF party supporters in central Zimbabwe, broadcast on television. His statement comes two months after white farmer Robert Smart got his land back after being evicted in June by ex-president Robert Mugabe’s government. Zimbabwe embarked on a violent land reform programme in 2000, taking over white-owned farms to resettle landless blacks. AFP

Senegal Protests: A Call for Free and Fair Elections
Senegal’s opposition parties have been protesting in a call for free and fair elections ahead of the 2019 presidential vote. The trial of a high-profile opposition figure on corruption allegations is due to end next week. Mayor Khalifa Sall of Dakar is expected to challenge President Macky Sall at the polls. Al Jazeera

Togo: Mediators Expected amid Calls for Change
International mediators are expected in Togo next week following months of protests against the government and the president. The Gnassingbe family has been in charge for 51 years, and many in Togo are demanding change. Pressure from the streets has brought a commitment by the president to enter constitutional reform talks. Few expect concrete results. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones