Africa Media Review for February 21, 2019

UN Identifies South Sudan’s Mass Rapists, Killers and Torturers
A United Nations report says its investigators have identified alleged perpetrators of pervasive rape, killings and torture in South Sudan’s civil war – violence they believe was driven by oil revenues. The UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan on Wednesday said the army, national security, military intelligence, rebel forces and affiliated armed groups committed serious human rights breaches. The UN body had drawn up a confidential list of suspects including army and opposition commanders, two state governors and a county commissioner. Its 212-page report detailed people being held for years and tortured in secret, vermin-ridden detention centres, children being run down by tanks, rape of girls as young as seven, and babies being drowned, starved or smashed against trees. Al Jazeera

Oil Companies May Be Complicit in Atrocities in South Sudan, U.N. Panel Says
Despite a peace agreement, mass atrocities continue in South Sudan, driven partly by fights over control of oil, and foreign oil companies may be complicit in war crimes, a United Nations panel said on Wednesday. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said it was “outraged by reports of thousands of civilians forcibly displaced following a scorched earth policy in which the parties to the conflict are attacking villages, torching homes, killing civilians and also raping women and girls,” Andrew Clapham, a member of the three-person panel, told reporters in Geneva. A peace deal signed five months ago brought some hope to parts of South Sudan after five years of brutal conflict between President Salva Kiir’s forces and those loyal to his former deputy, Riek Machar, the panel said. But in a 216-page report it will submit to the Human Rights Council next month, the commission detailed continuing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and intensifying repression by the country’s security services. The New York Times

US, Allies Demand Stop to New Fighting in South Sudan
The United States and European allies say a new flare-up of fighting in South Sudan violates that country’s peace agreement, and are demanding the clashes end immediately. A joint statement Wednesday from the U.S., Britain and Norway, known as the Troika, says the fighting around the town of Yei represents a “flagrant breach” of a December 2017 cease-fire and the revitalized peace deal signed by South Sudan’s government and several rebel groups last September. The U.N. refugee agency reported last week that clashes between government forces and the rebel National Salvation Front have displaced some 13,000 people and prompted about 5,000 to flee across the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Recruitment of New Soldiers Threatens South Sudan’s Peace
South Sudan’s rival armed groups are forcefully recruiting civilians, including child soldiers, violating a fragile peace deal signed five months ago. The evidence from numerous accounts that opposing sides are adding fighters to their ranks is a worrying sign that threatens the country’s peace, say officials. In Yambio, near the border with Congo, all sides met recently to try to resolve their differences and strengthen the peace agreement. However, the meeting quickly turned tense as the government and opposition accused each other of recruiting new fighters, including child soldiers. The meeting highlighted the need for all fighters to be integrated into a single, unified national army, said observers. The reports of new recruitment come from all sides.  AP

Nigeria Election 2019: Who Benefits from Poll Delay?
Nigeria is to hold a delayed presidential election this Saturday after the initial vote was rescheduled in a dramatic overnight press conference, five hours before polls were due to have opened. The last-minute cancellation surprised the country and inconvenienced thousands of Nigerians who had travelled a long way to cast their votes. It has also cost the economy $1.5bn (£1.15bn), according to the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) has given several reasons for the delay, including attempted sabotage and logistical issues such as bad weather and problems with delivering the ballot papers. BBC

Ethiopia PM Meets Leaders of Ex-Ogaden Rebels in Addis Ababa
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday held talks with leadership of the country’s former rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF. Even though ONLF and the office of the Premier have yet to confirm the meeting, Harun Maruf, a VOA journalist who extensively covers the Horn of Africa said the meeting took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed holds first official meeting with ONLF leadership delegation led by chairman Mohamed Omar Osman and six members of the executive committee, he said in a tweet. It is the first meeting between the two parties since ONLF fighters and leaders returned to the country from their base in Eritrea. Africa News

Is Ethiopia Mediating a Deal between Somalia and Somaliland?
The federal government of Somalia, FGS, on Wednesday applauded Somaliland’s president Musa Bihi for his cooperation, after years of tension over sovereignty questions. ‘‘The FGS considers this move a progressive step in the right direction and applauds President Bihi’s commitment in this regard,’‘ read part of a tweet posted on the official Somali presidency account. The tweet followed a meeting between Bihi and Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa. Media reports had indicated that Somalia’s president Mohamed Farmaajo would join the two leaders, but this was not to be.  Africa News

Party Leaders Sign Loyalty Pledge to Ex-President Kabila
Democratic Republic of Congo ex-president Joseph Kabila, who yielded power to Felix Tshisekedi after December elections, moved Wednesday to assert his political clout, making the leaders of his FCC coalition sign a loyalty pledge. Kabila’s Common Front For Congo remains the strongest force in parliament, garnering an overwhelming majority of seats in the December 30 vote which yielded a presidential win for opposition leader Tshisekedi. Nearly a month after the reins officially changed hands, newly-retired Kabila gathered the leaders of the coalition’s 18 member parties at his farm in Kingakati, near Kinshasa, the FCC said in a statement. It added that he got them to sign an “act of commitment” with seven main points. Topping the list: “We reaffirm our faithfulness and our loyalty to His Excellency Joseph Kabila Kabange, honorary president of the Republic.” Tshisekedi’s own Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) only garnered 32 seats in the National Assembly.  AFP

Kenya Succession Battle Sparks Renewal of Political Infighting
A split in Kenya’s ruling party over President Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor is reigniting political tensions and threatening to hobble the government’s ambitious reform agenda. Alliances in Kenyan politics are often in flux but analysts say the current spat between deputy president William Ruto and an ally of Mr Kenyatta is particularly worrying and exposes a rupture between Kenya’s two most senior politicians. David Murathe, a former vice-chairman of the ruling Jubilee party, launched a series of stinging public attacks on Mr Ruto this year. He has accused the leader of the politically influential Rift Valley region of embezzling public funds and declared him unfit to succeed Mr Kenyatta as the party’s next candidate for head of state. Financial Times

Zambia Opposition to Report President to ICC
Opposition parties in Zambia said Wednesday they will report President Edgar Lungu to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for alleged political violence against his rivals. Ten opposition figures told journalists in Lusaka President Lungu was to blame for an increase in violent crackdowns on opponents, including main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema. They showed an undated video of Mr Hichilema fleeing police firing teargas. The footage also purported to show shell casings left over from the firing of live rounds. Mr Hichilema last week claimed he had survived an assassination attempt while campaigning in Sesheke in Western Zambia ahead of a recent by-election. President Lungu and Mr Hichilema have a long and acrimonious history.  The East African

Its Leaders Barred from Running, Senegal Opposition Says Election Is ‘Fixed’ (Video)
Senegal’s opposition has deplored the sidelining of President Macky Sall’s two biggest political opponents: Khalifa Sall, Dakar’s former mayor, and Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade. Both were convicted of misusing public funds and consequently barred from running in Sunday’s presidential election. Their supporters claim it is a political plot designed to ensure Sall wins a second term in office while the government insists that justice is independent in the country. Despite being taken out of the running, the two opposition figures still plan to make their voices heard in the upcoming vote. Our correspondents Sarah Sakho and William de Lesseux report. France 24

Oil Discovery Brings Corruption to the Fore in Senegal Election
The wealth that has come with the discovery of oil and gas reserves in Senegal has created other problems for the African nation. President Macky Sall has been touting investment and subsidies based off the revenue from Senegal’s newly discovered reserves, but some of his opponents claim that he and his brother are personally profiting and laundering money before drilling has even begun. Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from the coastal town of Saint Louis.  Al Jazeera

Egypt Executes 9 People over Assassination of Chief Prosecutor
Nine suspected Muslim Brotherhood members convicted for the 2015 assassination of Egypt’s top prosecutor have been executed, security sources said Wednesday. The nine were among 28 who were sentenced to death in 2017 for the central Cairo bombing that killed chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat. He was the highest profile figure killed by Islamist militants since the military in 2013 overthrew democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s highest appeals court upheld the death sentences against the nine accused in November. Amnesty International earlier in the week had called on the government to halt the executions. “Some of the defendants said they were forcibly disappeared and tortured to confessing to the crime” during their trial, Amnesty said. “Executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice.”  Deutsche Welle

Zimbabwe’s Army to Conduct Door-to-Door Searches for Camouflage Clothing
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) are set to conduct door–to-door searches countrywide to look for army regalia allegedly used by “rogue elements” in society to commit crimes. In a notice to the public, the army’s communications department said they would conduct “snap searches” that would include confiscating camouflage fashion apparel. According to section 99 (2) (c) of the Defence Act, civilians are barred from wearing anything resembling military gear. “Members of the public are urged to voluntarily surrender these clothing items to the search teams before the searches are conducted or surrender them to the nearest police station or camp. Please be warned and comply accordingly to avoid any inconveniences that might be caused by the exercise,” reads the notice. Times Live

Sisulu Urges EU to Lift Zim Sanctions Ahead of March Bi-National Meeting
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has called on the European Union (EU) to give the Zimbabwean government and its people a chance to start afresh. She has called on the EU to urgently lift sanctions ahead of South Africa’s bi-national meeting with Zimbabwe in March. “I thought by now sanctions imposed on the Zimbabwe government and its people would be lifted to enable the country to start afresh after all the challenges they have gone through. “We call on the EU, and particularly the United Kingdom, to give the government and the people of Zimbabwe a chance to change their situation by urgently lifting the sanctions,” Sisulu said at a briefing after meeting members of the diplomatic corps in Tshwane on Tuesday.  News 24

Algeria: Anger after Opposition Leader Barred from Holding Rally
An impromptu protest broke out in northeastern Algeria on Tuesday after local authorities sought to prevent an opposition candidate from holding a rally as the north African country prepares to hold a presidential vote in two months. Kamel Hachouf, the mayor of Khenchela – located some 500km southeast of capital Algiers – and member of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ruling National Liberation Front (FLN), drew the ire of local residents after he said he would bar presidential hopeful Rachid Nekkaz from meeting his supporters outside the town hall. “I support President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth term in office,” wrote Hachouf a day earlier. “Whoever thinks they’re man [enough] can come to the APC tomorrow [town hall].”  Al Jazeera

Morocco: Arab Spring Anniversary Brings Reflection, Beatings
Moroccan police fired water cannons at protesting teachers who were marching toward a royal palace and beat people with truncheons amid demonstrations around the capital Wednesday. Several demonstrations were held Wednesday, marking exactly eight years after the birth of a Moroccan Arab Spring protest movement that awakened a spirit of activism in this North African kingdom. Participants in the movement recalled to The Associated Press how it changed them, even as Wednesday’s protests sharpened fears that authorities were losing patience with the dozens of protests now held across Morocco every day. Teachers’ unions demonstrated outside the Education Ministry in Rabat, the capital, and then tried to walk up an alley toward the nearby royal palace, worrying police. AP

Gabon’s Sick Leader Faces Six-Month Recovery Period
Gabon President Ali Bongo is expected to take six more months to fully recover from a stroke that has curtailed his ability to rule the central African nation since October, according to a person familiar with the matter. Bongos doctors expect him to make a full recovery even though he is convalescing slowly, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. He is currently recuperating in Morocco after falling ill during an investment summit in Saudi-Arabia. Bongo is scheduled to visit Gabon for two or three days next week to oversee a cabinet meeting, said the person, without elaborating on the leaders permanent return or when hell resume all of his duties. The meeting will follow almost a month after a reshuffle of the cabinet, which included the appointment of new mining, economy and defense ministers. Bloomberg

Anti-Gay Laws Widespread in Africa, despite Gains
More than half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have anti-homosexuality laws, although others have moved toward legal tolerance, watchdogs say. Twenty-eight out of 49 countries have laws penalising same-sex relationships, according to Neela Ghoshal, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) specialist in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. The death penalty is on the books, under sharia, in Mauritania, Sudan and northern Nigeria, although there have been no known executions in recent times.  AFP



Photo: Adam Jones