Africa Media Review for February 14, 2017

Gambia Announces Plans to stay in International Criminal Court
Gambia’s new government has told the United Nations it will remain in the International Criminal Court (ICC), state media reported on Monday, reversing the previous administration’s plan to withdraw from the tribunal. Former president Yahya Jammeh announced in October that he would pull Gambia out of the ICC, accusing the world body of ignoring alleged war crimes of Western nations and seeking only to prosecute Africans. But President Adama Barrow, who defeated Jammeh in a December election, pledged during the campaign to undo Jammeh’s decision, restore human rights and repair the country’s badly-damaged foreign relations. “As a new government that has committed itself to the promotion of human rights … we reaffirm The Gambia’s commitment to the principles enshrined in the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court,” said a statement read on state television and radio. Reuters

UN Helicopter Kills Four Militants in CAR
One top leader and three other fighters from the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC) were killed in a helicopter attack by UN forces in the town of Bambari in the Central Africa Republic (CAR). The fighters were advancing on the town and according to a spokesperson for the UN’s mission in CAR known as MINUSCA, the fighters had crossed a “red line” it had set in the north of the town. “We were looking to prevent war in Bambari,” said spokesman Vladimir Monteiro, referring to the town about 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui. A final death toll has yet to be established but Azor Kanite, the FPRC’s deputy commander, said that at least four people were killed. Deutsche Welle

Govt: At least 13 Killed in Ethnic Clashes in Central Mali
Mali’s government says at least 13 people have been killed after a weekend of clashes in Mali’s central region. Amadou Sangho, spokesperson for Mali’s Interior Ministry, confirmed the violence in the Ke-macina area, saying there was fighting over the weekend between the Peul and Bambara communities. He said at least 13 were killed and others were wounded. Residents put the death toll higher. Moussa Diallo said people from the Bambara community attacked a Peul community, killing at least 30 people. Conflicts between the Peul and Bambara have been frequent since 2015. The Bambara accuse the Peuls of being accomplices of the Islamic extremists whose attacks in Mali have created much instability. News 24

Trial over Cameroon’s Anglophone Protests Exposes National Divide
The trial of three English-speaking protesters facing the death penalty opened at a military court in Cameroon on Monday in a case that has exposed national divisions and stoked opposition to Francophone President Paul Biya. Since October, people in Cameroon’s two western English-speaking regions have joined protests against what they say is their marginalization by the French-speaking majority under Biya’s 35-year rule. At least six protesters have been shot dead and hundreds others arrested during the rare challenge to state authority, prompting criticism from human rights groups and concern from the African Union. The three civil society figures and political activists — Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Aforteka’a Neba and Mancho Bibixy — pleaded not guilty in a court in the capital Yaounde as dozens of security officials stood guard. Reuters

UN Expert Calls on Cameroon to Restore Net Services
A UN expert has called on Cameroon to restore net access to English-speaking parts of the country. Net services in the south-west and north-west regions of the nation were cut on 17 January. Cutting net services was an “appalling violation” of the right to freedom of expression, said UN special rapporteur David Kaye. He said the widespread net shutdown also broke international law and he called for links to be restored. BBC

Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’, Somalia’s Unexpected President
The odds, and the money, were tipped against Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo”. Nonetheless, the popular Somali-American academic trounced his more established rivals in Somalia’s presidential election on Wednesday, proving that even an imperfect democracy can deliver real change. It was difficult, in the run-up to the Somali presidential election, to find anyone to say nice things about the process or its chances of success. It was fantastically corrupt, with votes being bought and sold for tens of thousands of dollars. It was barely representative, with 329 hand-picked members of parliament given the opportunity to anoint the country’s next leaders. It reinforced dangerous clan dynamics and ruling elites. It took place against the backdrop of chronic insecurity, forcing MPs to huddle under the protection of foreign troops in an aircraft hangar at Mogadishu airport as they filled in their precious ballots. This is all true. This was not democracy as the rest of the world knows it. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t work. ISS

Trump Speaks With Nigeria’s President, Who Hasn’t Been Seen in Weeks
President Trump spoke by phone on Monday with the president of Nigeria, whose countrymen have not heard from him in weeks. Many of them have been wondering: Where is our president, and how is he doing? The president, Muhammadu Buhari, 74, left Nigeria for a vacation on Jan. 19, which was later extended, his office said on Feb. 5, for medical tests and treatment in London. But Mr. Buhari’s aides have refused to provide details about his health or his whereabouts, or even to say whether they have been in touch with him. The lack of clarity has spurred rumors — in a nation of 180 million that is known for its love of political intrigue and speculation — that Mr. Buhari might be in poor health or even that he might be dead. One of Mr. Buhari’s predecessors, Umaru Yar’Adua, died in 2010 after a closely hidden chronic illness that led to a political crisis. Mr. Yar’Adua, who came from the largely Muslim north, was replaced by his vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, who came from the mostly Christian, oil-rich Niger Delta region in the southeast. The New York Times

Trump Promises Nigeria Weapons to Fight Boko Haram
U.S. President Donald Trump has promised to “cut a new deal” to sell more weapons to Nigeria to fight the extremist Boko Haram militia, a Nigerian spokesman says. The promise came in a telephone conversation on Monday between Mr. Trump and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari – the first official conversation between Mr. Trump and a sub-Saharan African leader since he took office last month. “President Trump assured the Nigerian president of U.S. willingness to cut a new deal in helping Nigeria in terms of military weapons to combat terrorism,” a Nigerian presidential spokesman said after the phone call. The Globe and Mail

Trump Talks about Trade with South African Leader Zuma
U.S. President Donald Trump has spoken with South African President Jacob Zuma about trade ties and stability in Africa. Zuma’s office said in a statement that the two leaders talked on the telephone on Monday afternoon, reaffirming their commitment to building the “already strong” relationship between their nations. Zuma’s office says there are 600 American companies operating in South Africa and strong U.S.-South African trade ties. It says the two leaders discussed working together on multilateral issues as well as “the quest for peace and stability on the African continent.” AP

100,000 Killed by Boko Haram, Nigerian Governor Says
At least 100,000 persons have been killed in the violent insurgency waged by Boko Haram in Nigeria, the governor of northeastern Borno state said Monday. Borno has been the epicenter of an ongoing campaign launched by Boko Haram in 2009. “While it took South Africa’s apartheid 46 years to take 21,000 lives, it took Boko Haram only seven years to cause the murders of 100,000… innocent people, largely women, children and old people in Nigeria,” Gov. Kashim Shettima said. His spokesman Isa Gusau told Anadolu Agency the death toll included killings outside Borno state. Shettima said that, as of December last year, around 2.1 million people had been displaced by the violence, nearly 55,000 widowed and around 52,000 children orphaned. Anadolu Agency

At Least 11 Killed as Army’s Clashes with Central Congo Militia Persist
At least 11 people were killed in central Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday in clashes between the army and a militia loyal to a traditional chief killed in fighting with police last year, a local activist said. Monday’s violence occurred near Tshimbulu, the town where the army killed more than 60 militia members in fighting last Friday, Jean Rene Tshimanga, president of the Civil Society of Kasai-Central province, said. “This morning, we learned again that (the militia) attacked the men in uniform (who) repelled them,” Tshimanga told Reuters. He did not know how many of the dead were militia members and how many army soldiers. Neither provincial nor military officials could be immediately reached for comment. Reuters

Ivory Coast Detains Six Journalists over Mutiny Reporting
Six journalists have been detained in Ivory Coast for encouraging revolt and disseminating false stories, local media reported Monday. Six editors and three media publishers were brought in for questioning over their coverage of recent mutinies by security forces. “Regarding recent action taken by the military … we have come to believe that certain media organizations are spreading false information in a bid to encourage soldiers to revolt,” public prosecutor Christophe Richard Adou said in a statement on Sunday, according to French news agency AFP. Adou added that the journalists would be questioned to “find out where responsibility lies” for the alleged fake reporting. He did not elaborate on the content of the articles. Deutsche Welle

S. Sudanese IDPs Oppose re-Deployment of Kenyan Peacekeepers
South Sudanese internally displaced persons (IDPs) have opposed the re-deployment of the Kenyan peacekeepers in the young nation, accusing the East African nation of involvement of fueling clashes in the capital, Juba in July last year. In a petition addressed to the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, the IDP urged the word body to reconsider its recent decision to re-deploy Kenyan soldiers in the country. “We, the internally displaced South Sudanese in the protection of civilian camps across the country, have been following with great dismay and concern over the political developments again our country since July’s assassination attempt on the life of Dr. [Riek] Machar the then 1st vice president and SPLM/A-IO in Juba one,” it read. Sudan Tribune

Aid Groups Seek $1.6 Billion for Life-saving Operations in South Sudan
Humanitarian organizations in South Sudan are appealing for US$1.6 billion to provide life-saving assistance and protection to 5.8 million people across South Sudan in 2017. “The humanitarian situation in South Sudan has deteriorated dramatically due to the devastating combination of conflict, economic decline and climatic shocks,” said Eugene Owusu, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan. “In 2017, we are facing unprecedented needs, in an unprecedented number of locations, and these needs will increase during the upcoming lean season,” he adds Aid groups estimate that some 7.5 million people across the war-ravaged country are now in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. Sudan Tribune

UN Says Fighting in 2 South Sudan Hotspots is ‘Devastating’
The UN peacekeeping department says in a confidential note to the Security Council that recent increased fighting in two hotspots in South Sudan is having “devastating consequences” for civilians. The note, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, focuses on fighting between government and rebel forces in the Wau Shilluk area of the Upper Nile region that has caused humanitarian organizations to temporarily suspend operations there and in Central Equatoria’s Kajo Keji county. It says most civilians — approximately 20 400 internally displaced people and local inhabitants — fled Wau Shilluk earlier this month and 30 000 or more have fled three areas of Kajo Keiji since January 22 as a result of fighting, insecurity and fear of reprisals. AP

Opinions Differ on EU Deal with Libya to Curb Migration
The European Union is touting a plan it says will help Libya curb the number of migrants leaving its shores, but some advocates believe the plan does little more than trap African and Middle Eastern migrants in a war zone. On February 3, the European Union announced it would give $212 million to help Libya’s U.N.-backed government bolster its coast guard capabilities as well as offer training and equipment in order to block smuggling routes. Preben Aamann, spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, said the current migration situation is both tragic and untenable. He said last year 181,000 people set off from Libya en route to Italy and approximately 5,000 drowned in the central Mediterranean. Both of those figures were all-time highs. VOA

Guterres Defends ex-Palestinian PM as Pick for UN Libya Envoy 
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres defended former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad on Monday as the “right person” to represent the world body in Libya after the United States raised objections to his choice. “I deeply regret this opposition and I do not see any reason for it,” Guterres said at the annual World Government Summit in Dubai. “I believe he is the right person for the right job at the right moment… And I think it is a loss for the Libyan peace process and for the Libyan people that I am not able to appoint him,” he added. France 24

Kenya Asked Too Much from AU
[…] To the chagrin of the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community, who had both fielded candidates for the July 2016 as well as the January elections, Ecowas’s candidate carried the day. Regional interests and the inability of Nairobi to decode the intentions of other states made it impossible to translate public endorsements into votes. Second, Mohamed’s candidature was premised on her performance in Kenya’s onslaught against the International Criminal Court. When Kenya managed to rally AU member states against the ICC, this was translated by Nairobi as a full endorsement by Africa. However, granted that self-preservation may have motivated many African leaders to join the anti-ICC call, the continent was ideally helping President Kenyatta. This is because at the time of his election, the ICC was an issue in only eight African countries; four of the situations were self-referred. Third, Erastus Mwencha, a Kenyan, still held the position of the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC. The principle of inclusivity was therefore a stumbling block. The Star

Kenyan Doctors’ Union Officials Jailed over Strike
A Kenyan court has jailed seven union officials for a month for failing to call off a strike by the country’s doctors that has crippled public hospitals for 10 weeks. Judge Hellen Wasilwa said on Monday that she could not delay further the contempt of court sentence that had been suspended earlier on condition the doctors cancel their strike. At least 5,000 doctors are on strike since December 5 for better pay and to protest the dilapidated state of Kenya’s public healthcare. It has left public hospitals closed and patients unable to get basic medical care. “The applicants have not demonstrated to court any new and compelling issue, or pointed out any mistake or error apparent on the record, or any sufficient cause that would warrant review of the court’s order,” Wasilwa said. Al Jazeera

‘Huge’ Amount of ‘Fake Money’ in Circulation in Nigeria, Says Ex-deputy Governor
Nigeria’s ex-deputy governor of the central bank, Obadiah Mailafia has reportedly said that a “huge” amount of “fake money” is in circulation in the west African country. According to BBC, Mailafia said that at least 20% of the Nigerian currency, the naira, circulating in the country was “fake”. Mailafia said this during a budget hearing in the National Assembly on Monday. He called on the authorities to crackdown on fake money to protect the economy: “When fake currencies of that magnitude circulate, original currencies become scarce. Bad money chases away good money,” he was quoted as saying. This came as Nigeria’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) reportedly found at least $9.8m cash in a facility belonging to an ex-Nigerian oil company boss. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones