Africa Media Review for February 13, 2019

New Violence in South Sudan Sends Thousands Fleeing to DR Congo
The United Nations refugee agency says a surge of violence in South Sudan’s Yei State has displaced some 8,000 civilians and sent an estimated 5,000 people fleeing to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. Clashes between the South Sudanese army and a rebel group, the National Salvation Front or NAS, broke out on January 19. This was barely four months after the latest peace deal aimed at ending the country’s five-year civil war was signed by President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. U.N. refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch told VOA violence has been going down since then. And, he said, the two major parties that signed the accord appear to be sticking to it.  VOA

Rights Groups Call to Investigate Disappearance of Two South Sudanese Activists
Rights groups Monday have called on Kenya and South Sudan to investigate into the enforced disappearance of two South Sudanese activists in Nairobi more than two years ago. Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the SPLM-IO were kidnapped in the Kenyan capital on January 23 and 24, 2017, respectively. Despite multiple reports about their arrest by the Kenyan police forces country and deportation to Juba, authorities in the two neighbouring denied any collusion in their disappearance. On January 17, 2019, a Kenyan High Court ended its 24-month oversight of the police investigation and advised the families to pursue alternative administrative remedies such as filing a complaint with the Internal Police Oversight Authority.  Sudan Tribune

What Happens inside Sudan’s Secret Detention Centres?
Dramatic footage filmed by protesters in Sudan shows masked security agents chasing down protesters, beating them and dragging them away to secret detention centres. Who are these hit squads? Where are these detention centres? And what happens inside their walls? BBC Africa Eye has analysed dozens of dramatic videos filmed during the recent uprising, and spoken with witnesses who have survived torture. Some of these protesters tell us about a secret and widely feared holding facility – The Fridge – where the cold is used as an instrument of torture.  BBC

France Bombed Chadian Rebels to Stop Coup D’etat: Foreign Minister
France’s military struck rebels in Chad to prevent a coup d’etat against President Idriss Deby, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday. On Deby’s request, French warplanes bombed a heavily-armed rebel convoy that crossed last week from Libya deep into Chadian territory. “There was an attack by a rebel group that came from southern Libya … to take power by force in N’djamena. President Deby asked us in writing to intervene to prevent a coup d’etat and protect his country,” Le Drian told lawmakers. The French jets destroyed dozens of pick-up trucks and the Chadian army subsequently said it had captured more than 250 rebels from the Union of Forces of Resistance (UFR), a Libya-based rebel coalition. Deby has faced several rebellions since seizing power in 1990 in a military coup. International observers have questioned the fairness of elections that have kept him in office, and last year Deby oversaw a reform of the constitution that would allow him to stay in power until 2033.  Reuters

Nigeria Stampede: Several Dead at Buhari Rally
A number of people have been killed and injured in a stampede at a campaign rally for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, local officials say. The incident happened at a stadium in the southern city of Port Harcourt when the crowd surged towards a gate after President Buhari’s speech. Nigeria holds an election on Saturday in which Mr Buhari is running for his second term. Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is seen as Mr Buhari’s main contender.  BBC

Nigeria in Battle against Fake News Ahead of Elections
In Nigeria fake news can be so outlandish, yet widely believed, that the president recently felt compelled to declare that he had not died and been replaced by a Sudanese body double. “It’s (the) real me, I assure you,” President Muhammadu Buhari said late last year, to dispel the story that was viewed more than 500,000 times on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Nigeria’s fake news can also be lethal. The stakes are high in Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s presidential vote marked by widespread discontent over unemployment, poverty and insecurity in some parts of the country. Officials warn that fake or outdated pictures depicting communal violence trigger retaliatory killings.  AP

Ex-US President Clinton Cancels Visit to Nigeria
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has canceled his trip to Nigeria ahead of Saturday’s presidential elections over concerns the visit could be politicized. Clinton had been scheduled to speak in the capital Abuja at the signing of a peace accord between the two main contenders — incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who is the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Clinton spokesperson Angel Urena said in a statement late Monday that he has called off the visit because his involvement could be misinterpreted by the parties in the elections. “Over the course of the last several days, and after various conversations with the different stakeholders, it’s become apparent that President Clinton’s visit to Nigeria has the potential to be politicized in a way that is not in line with the goals of the [peace] committee. Therefore, he will not be traveling to Abuja,” Urena said. Anadolu Agency

Senegal Arrests 24, Seizes Weapons after Pre-Election Violence
Police in eastern Senegal have made two dozen arrests and seized knives and clubs after clashes in the run-up to presidential elections left at least two dead, officials said Tuesday. The violence erupted Monday in Tambacounda, 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Dakar, pitching supporters of President Macky Sall against those of opposition candidate Issa Sall. One supporter of the president was fatally stabbed by a suspected member of the opposition Unity and Assembly Party (PUR), the sources said. A second fatality was part of a group of young pro-government motorcyclists that tried to prevent Issa Sall’s motorcade from leaving the town. He was hit by a vehicle and died, they said.  VOA

African Union Calls for Peace Conference on Libya in July
The African Union (AU) has proposed a global conference in July to try to resolve the conflict in Libya with the aim of holding elections in October. A statement on Tuesday said the 55-member body would like to hold “an international conference on reconciliation in Libya under the auspices of the AU and UN” during the first half of July. The declaration also requested the AU commission, alongside the United Nations and the Libyan government, take “all the necessary measures for the organisation of presidential and legislative elections in October 2019”. The North African country has been torn apart by power struggles and undermined by chronic insecurity since the NATO-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Al Jazeera

Cameroon’s Opposition Leader Formally Charged with ‘Rebellion’
Cameroon’s opposition leader Maurice Kamto was on Tuesday charged with rebellion, insurrection and hostility against the homeland, more than two weeks after his arrest on 28 January, one of his lawyers said. According to the lawyer, Emmanuel Smith, Kamto along with 28 other opposition supporters, were formally charged by the prosecutor’s office of the Yaoundé military court. Kamto’s party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, has been rallying its supporters to hold anti-government protests, challenging the legitimacy of president Paul Biya’s government. Africa News

Ebola Vaccine Offered in Exchange for Sex, Congo Taskforce Meeting Told
An unparalleled Ebola vaccination programme in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has become engulfed in allegations of impropriety, amid claims that women are being asked for sexual favours in exchange for treatment. Research by several NGOs has revealed that a deep mistrust of health workers is rife in DRC and gender-based violence is believed to have increased since the start of the Ebola outbreak in August. The research, presented at a national taskforce meeting in Beni, follows calls by international health experts urging the World Health Organization to consider issuing a global alert in relation to the outbreak. The experimental vaccine has been described by the WHO as “highly, highly efficacious” and hopes have been pinned on it controlling the outbreak.  The Guardian

SADC Backs Mnangagwa despite Zimbabwe Crisis, Calls for End to Sanctions
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) on Monday weighed in with support for Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa. The support by SADC for Mnangagwa, political observers said, was likely to anger the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) which had been hopeful of the censure of Mnangagwa by the regional bloc. The 76-year-old president has been under pressure, especially from human rights groups and from sections of the international community, ever since the army was deployed last month to quell protests. Times Live

Drought and Rising Costs to Leave 2.4 Million Zimbabweans Needing Food Aid
The 150 percent fuel price hike that sparked mass public unrest across Zimbabwe last month sent the cost of living skyrocketing: the price of bread nearly doubled in a week. Worse is likely to come. Combined with poor harvests, political unrest, eroded salaries, and an ongoing currency crisis, the rising costs mean the ability of many Zimbabweans to grow or afford a basic meal is under threat. More than two million people are predicted to need humanitarian food assistance this year, despite government claims to the contrary. Crop harvests in many parts of the country have been written off due to poor rains and erratic weather patterns. Freda Mbewe, 63, is among those worst affected. IRIN

Home Office Criticised for Accelerating Removals to Zimbabwe
The Home Office has been condemned for working with the Zimbabwean government to accelerate the deportation of asylum seekers despite high-profile human rights abuses in the country. Asylum lawyers and charities told the Guardian that since Robert Mugabe was forced from power in November 2017, the Home Office has started to push ahead with a removals process for refused asylum seekers, many of whom have been in the UK for over a decade. Despite international condemnation of the actions of the police and army under the new president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, two asylum seekers were detained at the Home Office’s Vulcan House building on Monday. It is thought that the government is preparing to deport them within days.  The Guardian

Tunisia ISIS-Linked Children Must Be Brought Home: HRW
Officials in Tunisia have been “dragging their feet” on efforts to repatriate Tunisian children of ISIS group members from camps in Syria, Iraq and Libya, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. The rights group, quoting Tunisia’s ministry of women and children, said about 200 children and 100 women claiming Tunisian nationality were being held in “squalid” camps abroad. Many of the children are six-year-olds or younger, the rights groups said, adding that most were being held with their mothers while at least six were orphans. Around 2,000 children and 1,000 women from 46 nationalities are being detained in prisons in Iraq and Libya and three camps in northeast Syria for ties to ISIS, HRW said, and Tunisia has “one of the largest contingents”.  AFP

Aid Groups: Africa Welcomes Refugees, but Freedom and Jobs Needed
African nations, which host more than 20 million people forced to flee their homes, must enforce international agreements to better protect and provide opportunities for those escaping conflict and disaster, aid groups said Tuesday. Refugees and internally displaced people topped the agenda at the African Union’s (AU) annual heads of state summit, which ended Monday — a move welcomed by humanitarians as growing numbers are forcibly uprooted around the world. African nations have been lauded for adopting a more liberal “open door” policy toward refugees than Western nations, despite being low-income economies. But refugees are then usually confined to camps in Africa.  Reuters

EU Skirts Rule of Law to Adopt Moroccan Fish Deal
The European Union parliament has voted to adopt the EU-Moroccan fisheries deal, enabling EU fishing vessels to operate in the waters off the coast of the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The agreement bypasses the official legal opinion delivered by the European Court of Justice in 2016. “A new agreement on the legal, environmental, economic and social governance of EU vessels’ fishing activities in Morocco and Western Sahara waters was approved on Tuesday,” according to the European Parliament. European lawmakers overwhelmingly voted for the deal with 415 votes in favour, 189 against, and 49 abstentions. […] Critics of the EU-Morocco agreement say it actually strengthens Morocco’s claim over the disputed territory and undermines the EU’s own court ruling. RFI

Blackouts Cripple South Africa Again as Eskom Stumbles
South Africa grappled with traffic gridlock and shuttered businesses after the struggling state power utility cut supply for a third day to prevent a total collapse of the grid. The return to blackouts compounds worries about Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.s precarious position and the threat it poses to the economy. Its also an embarrassment for the ruling African National Congress just three months ahead of national elections. The rand tumbled Monday and government bond yields surged after Eskom suddenly announced sharply widened cuts. The crisis places President Cyril Ramaphosa, a former labor leader who took power in February last year, in a quandary. Hell stand no chance of meeting a pledge to revive the flagging economy unless he fixes Eskom, and his hopes of a decisive win in the May 8 vote will be seriously undermined.  Bloomberg

Africa’s Forgotten Stateless Population
In the Kiambaa area on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, it’s not unusual to hear hymns sung in the Shona language. It’s more unusual, however, when you consider that Shona is one of the main languages of Zimbabwe. The district is home to over 4,500 Shona people; many of whom are first or second generation Zimbabweans whose grandparents trekked to Kenya in the 1960s to establish the Gospel of God Church. But although they were born and raised in this country, thanks to dated citizenship laws they are not recognized as Kenyan nationals, nor do they have any official connection with Zimbabwe. They are, in effect, stateless. Most Shona people living in Kenya would be happy to be recognized as citizens of any country. Without identity cards, they are barred from accessing good jobs, opening a bank account, buying a house and even getting married. Almost everyone here has a story of how they were held back from life-changing opportunities because of their statelessness.  Deutsche Welle

UN Tells Belgium to Apologise for Its Colonial Past in Congo
The United Nations has told Belgium to apologise for its colonial past and criticised its newly renovated Africa Museum for not doing enough to exorcise the demons of it exploitation of the Congo. Filled with more than 180,000 looted items and 500 stuffed animals, the museum celebrated the Belgians, who turned the Congo into a slave state ruled by Leopold II, for more than a century. The king’s brutal regime, which inspired Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, killed millions and ruthlessly plundered the region of rubber. After a week-long investigation, a UN working group said that racism suffered by those of African origin in Belgium could be traced back to the country’s failure to address its past. The panel noted the many remaining statues of Leopold and monuments to the colonial army that dot the streets and parks of Brussels. The Telegraph



Photo: Adam Jones