Africa Media Review for February 17, 2017

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. Similar clashes in recent months have killed hundreds and uprooted tens of thousands. The militia’s leader, Kamwina Nsapu, was killed by police last August after having vowed to rid the province of all state security forces. Reuters

11 Dead as Nigerian Troops Repel Boko Haram Suicide Bombers
Witnesses and soldiers say 11 people have been killed as Nigerian troops battled Boko Haram suicide bombers and fighters to repel an attack on the outskirts of northeastern Maiduguri city. They say nine suicide bombers and two civilians died early on Friday. It was the fiercest attack in months by Boko Haram on the city that is the birthplace of the Islamic insurgency. Police say three female suicide bombers detonated vehicles parked at a truck station around midnight. The two civilians died there. Self-defence fighters say soldiers later fired at gunmen on motorcycles escorting suicide bombers, killing at least six of the bombers. News 24

Rebels Kill 32 People in Central African Republic Town: HRW
Rebels in Central African Republic killed at least 32 civilians after clashes with a rival armed group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday, a sign of the fighters’ growing boldness amid limited state authority. Despite successful elections last year that were seen as a step toward reconciliation after years of civil conflict, the government and a 13,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission have struggled to contain killing sprees by rebel groups. The Union for Peace in Central African Republic (UPC) rebels carried out the killings on Dec. 12 in the town of Bakala, where they had been fighting the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC), HRW said in a statement. The UPC lured 25 of the civilians to a local school where it shot them after killing seven others earlier the same day, HRW said. At least 29 other civilians have been killed in fighting around Bakala since late November, it added. Reuters

Burundi’s Government Boycotts Resumption of Peace Talks
Burundi’s government says it will not participate in peace talks with the opposition because it cannot negotiate with fugitives from justice. The government did not send negotiators to Arusha, Tanzania, where talks to end Burundi’s crisis were set to resume Thursday. Government spokesperson Philippe Nzobonariba said in a statement late on Wednesday that the government “cannot sit together with people pursued by our justice”. Burundi has been plagued by violence since April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided he would seek a disputed third term, which he later won. Hundreds of people have been killed in the ensuing violence, and at least one armed group has been launched against Nkurunziza. News 24

Burundi, AU Resolve AMISOM Pay Dispute
Burundi and the African Union (AU) reached an agreement on Thursday on the modalities of payment of Burundian troops deployed in Somalia as part of the African Union force (Amisom), the first vice – President of Burundi Gaston Sindimwo has announced. “We are satisfied, we have discussed well with Mr. Chergui and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed,” Mr Sindimwo said after a meeting with the AU’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui. The memorandum was signed on Thursday morning between the AU envoys and a Burundian delegation which included the Foreign Affairs, Public Security and Defense Ministers. Burundi had pressured the AU by announcing on Monday that it would begin the process of withdrawal of its troops deployed in Somalia if no agreement was reached on the payment of the salaries of its soldiers. Africca News

Shabaab Claims Attack as New Somali Leader Takes Office
Somalia’s Shabaab extremists claimed a mortar strike that left two children dead near the presidential palace Thursday during a handover ceremony at which new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed officially took office. Several explosions were heard near the palace during the handover ceremony, which comes several days before Mohamed — better known by his nickname Farmajo — is officially sworn in. “Two innocent children were killed and three others including their parents wounded after a mortar shell landed on their house near (a school) behind the presidential palace, the incident is still being investigated,” said local police commander Mohamed Abdukadir. “We don’t know where it was fired from but it targeted civilian houses.” The East African

Suspected Jihadists Are Being Killed in Droves on Kenya’s Coast
Balbina, a woman from Mombasa, Kenya’s main coastal city, remembers fetching her neighbour Abdullah’s body from a police station. “It wasn’t so terrible,” says Balbina (not her real name). Surprisingly, “there was not even any blood.” The wound was hidden at the back of his head; his face was serene. He was killed by police, in what they claimed (but she does not believe) was a shoot-out. “Abdullah did wrong. He went to Somalia, maybe he killed innocent people.” But he deserved justice, she says, not to be shot in the back of the head without a trial. Such stories are easy to find on the Kenyan coast, where young men are often recruited to fight for al-Shabab (“the Youth”), a Somali jihadist group. Some go to fight in Somalia; some carry out terrorist attacks at home. In recent years the government has cracked down on anyone it suspects might have joined al-Shabab. The Economist

US Congressman Seeks to Stop Kenya’s $418m Arms Deal
A US congressman is seeking to halt Kenya’s pending $418 million weapons purchase from an American contractor. Nairobi aims to acquire ammunition, machine guns, rocket launchers, and guided bombs mounted on 12 Air Tractors converted agricultural aircraft intended to bolster the Kenya Defence Forces’ campaign against Al-Shabaab. “My office has received credible allegations of faulty contracting practices, fraud and unfair treatment surrounding this sale,” Congressman Ted Budd said on Tuesday. In urging his colleagues to block and investigate the deal, the North Carolina Republican said a company in his home state would sell Kenya planes better suited for their envisioned purpose at less than half the quoted price. Kenyan military officials were set to meet with their United States Department of Defence counterparts in March to finalise the purchase. A US State Department official said no deal or actual price had been agreed yet. The East African

Kenya’s Opposition Warns of Protests If Elections “Rigged”
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Wednesday mass protests were possible if August elections were rigged, comments likely to scare Kenyans fearful of a repeat of the widespread violence that erupted after a disputed poll in 2007. Then, more than 1,200 people were killed in weeks of fighting after political protests turned into ethnic clashes, but 2013 polls, when Odinga accepted the result after a court ruling, passed relatively peacefully. “This country is not ready for another rigged election. Kenyans will not accept it,” Odinga said, noting that multiple people had been registered to vote with the same identity card in a registration period that has just ended. The national election commission accepts that some of his criticisms are justified and has identified 78,000 duplicate registrations. Spokesman Andrew Limo said the commission was resolving the issue. Reuters

South Sudan Army Troops Accused of Mass Rape
Officials in South Sudan say army troops entered a village near the capital, Juba, on Sunday and raped at least a half-dozen women and girls, some of them at gunpoint. The alleged rapes occurred less than two weeks after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir issued a warning that soldiers who commit acts of rape and sexual assault will be shot. An increasing number of rapes by members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) have sparked outrage among civilians and raised tension between the Kiir government and countries that pay for most of the war-torn country’s humanitarian needs. VOA

South Sudan Deploys More Troops in Oil fields to Increase Production
South Sudan has deployed more troops in preparation for the resumption oil production in areas where activities were halted as a result of the December 2013 outbreak of conflict, which badly affected production in Unity state and parts of the Upper Nile region. The head of Nilepet, the country’s national oil company, disclosed Thursday that government hopes production resumes after preparations are fully completed. “The government is doing the best to ensure that there is adequate protection at the sites where oil production would resume soon in unity. Preparations are underway,” said Machar Ader Achiek. “The security forces are on the ground to provide adequate security and to ensure the safety of the oil workers and operators”, he added. Sudan Tribune

Tunisia to Host March Meeting With Egypt, Algeria for Talks on Ending Libyan Crisis
Tunisia is set to host on 1 March a much-anticipated tripartite meeting with the foreign ministers of Egypt and Algeria to discuss resolving the Libyan crisis, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khamis Alaghinawa announced. In an interview broadcast by state-owned Tunis Afrique Presse on Tuesday, the Tunisian minister said the purpose of the meeting is to prepare for a tripartite summit between the presidents of the three states, discuss what each country is doing to communicate with rival Libyan factions, and generate a comprehensive vision for the war’s resolution. According to Tunisian government sources, the presidential summit will be held in Algeria due to the fragile health of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, whose condition bars him from leaving the country. A date for the summit has not been announced. Alaghinawa said Tunisia supports calls by Egypt and Algeria to find common ground between rival sides in the war stricken country and overcome impediments to unifying the government. Al Ahram

Algeria Army Kills Five Islamist Militants: Defense Ministry
Algerian troops ambushed and killed five armed Islamists in an ongoing operation in an eastern region known as a former stronghold for hardline militants, the defense ministry said on Thursday. Five Kalashnikov rifles and a quantity of ammunition were also recovered during the operation by the army on Wednesday in the Bouira province, some 70 km (43 miles) east of the capital, the statement said. Bouira was inside one of the strongholds for Islamist militants during a war with between the government and fighters in the 1990s that left 200,000 people dead. Violence has declined in Algeria since then. But al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and small bands of militants allied to Islamic State have been active in some remote mountains and in the southern desert border regions. Reuters

Macron Causes Uproar by Saying France’s Colonisation of Algeria Was ‘Crime Against Humanity’
In a TV interview in Algiers this week, the centrist said French actions in Algeria, which achieved independence in 1962 after eight years of war, were “genuinely barbaric, and constitute a part of our past that we have to confront by apologising”. His visit also included a stop at the Martyrs’ Memorial in Algiers, saying he wanted to promote a “reconciliation of memories” between the two countries. The violent history between France and Algeria is still a source of tension between the two countries and within French political circles. Political parties in Algeria have long denounced the refusal of the French authorities to recognise and apologize for the crimes committed by colonial France in Algeria. And French governments over the years have often been accused of being in denial about the violence of its colonial rule, which reached a peak during the Algerian war of independence that ended in 1962.The Local

Gambia: Relatives With Missing Loved Ones Seek Answers
Amadou Sillah, a cadet officer in the Gambian army, had already set a date for his wedding but he would never get the chance to tie the knot with the woman he loves. He would be listed as another gone missing in Gambia under its former authoritarian leader Jammeh. Sillah who joined the army in 1992, went missing after he was accused of involvement in the Nov. 11, 1994 attempted coup, just four months after Jammeh himself ousted the country’s first leader Dawda Jawara, who had reigned over 20 years. Amadou was his father’s first son and was the one taking care of the family at the time he went missing, Mamudou Sillah, a younger brother who reported his case to the police, told Anadolu agency. Anadolu Agency

Is Lesotho About to Plunge into Chaos Again?
Lesotho, that chronic ulcer burning the gut of South Africa, is playing up again. After some 30 months of diplomacy by Pretoria to restore a semblance of stability in the country which South Africa envelopes, it looks as though the government in Maseru is again about to implode. With the usual uncertain but almost certainly unpleasant consequences. South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, the special envoy of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), made no reference to this imminent implosion when he travelled to Maseru to welcome Lesotho’s three main opposition leaders back from exile in South Africa, last Sunday. The timing of their return was instructive. Former Prime Minister Tom Thabane, leader of the main All-Basotho Convention (ABC) opposition; Thesele Maseribane, leader of the Basotho National Party; and Keketso Rantso, leader of the Reformed Congress of Lesotho, had fled to South Africa almost two years ago – fearing assassination by Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s wild army chief, General Tlali Kamoli. ISS

South Africa’s Role as a Refugee Haven May Be Coming to an End
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba seemed to be channeling President Trump when he lashed out at South Africa’s government for failing to crack down on illegal immigration, saying criminally minded foreigners living in South Africa are endangering its citizens. “I feel sorry for law enforcement agencies that are actually failed by political leadership in this country, with porous borders where South Africa is made to be a haven for criminals,” Mashaba told the country’s public broadcaster last week. “This has got to end.” Mashaba’s comments came after residents of Rosettenville, a Johannesburg suburb, set fire to several buildings they claimed were housing brothels and drug dens. He said that the buildings’ occupants were Nigerian, and seized on the moment to call attention to the dangers that undocumented immigrants pose to the nation. The Washigton Post

Zimbabwe: Doctors Down Tools over Low Salaries, Poor Working Conditions
Zimbabwe’s state doctors at the country’s major hospitals have downed tools over low salaries and poor working conditions, union leader said on Wednesday. “Our doctors did not go to work,” said Edgar Munatsi, the president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) in a brief text message before sending a detailed statement later indicating an impasse over a labour dispute with the government over the welfare of state doctors. A survey indicated that most doctors at Parirenyatwa Hospital, the major referral health facility centre in the country, did not go to work while others elsewhere awaited direction from union leaders who were in marathon meetings on Wednesday. But union leaders declared a stalemate less than 24 hours after Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa, was quoted in the media saying cabinet on Tuesday had agreed to address some of their concerns, top among them the recruitment of junior doctors due to complete internship in two weeks’ time. News 24

Uganda Deploys Troops to Train Equatorial Guinea Forces
Uganda’s government has deployed scores of troops to Equatorial Guinea under an agreement to train the West African country’s troops, a military official said Thursday. Between 100 and 150 troops had been sent after the agreement was signed between the two countries at the start of this year, military spokesman Brig. Richard Karemire told The Associated Press. The government of Equatorial Guinea hopes the “training and monitoring” team from Uganda will work toward reaching “a certain level of professionalism” among the Guinean armed forces. The Ugandans will be stationed in the West African country for at least a year but could stay longer, he said. AP

Angolan Vice President Faces Corruption Charges in Portugal
Portuguese prosecutors are bringing charges of corruption, money-laundering and forgery against Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente as part of an investigation in Lisbon, Portugal’s attorney general’s office said Thursday. Vicente is suspected of bribing a Portuguese magistrate to favor him in two investigations, a statement said. It said Vicente was at the time of the alleged crimes the head of Angolan state oil company Sonangol. The magistrate, Vicente’s lawyer, and his representative in Portugal are also accused in the case, called Operation Fizz. The attorney general’s office said it would inform Vicente of the charges via Angolan authorities. Vicente’s whereabouts weren’t immediately known. VOA

Storm Dineo Kills at Least Seven People in Mozambique – Govt
The storm, has brought heavy rain and winds of up to 160 km an hour, raising the risk of flooding and crop damage in the impoverished southern African country. Mozambique’s emergency operational centre said in a statement about 130,000 people living in the Inhambane province, 500 km north of the capital Maputo, had been affected by the storm. About 20,000 homes were destroyed by heavy rains and fierce winds. One of the world’s poorest countries and also in the throes of a financial crisis, Mozambique is prone to flooding. It is especially vulnerable after a major drought last year as soils degraded or hardened by dry spells do not easily absorb water. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones