Africa Media Review for February 23, 2018

Gang Rapes and Beheadings: UN Reveals New South Sudan Abuses
The witness accounts remain appalling. One South Sudanese man returned home after hiding from government soldiers to find they had blinded his mother, gouging out her eyes with spears. She had tried to defend her 17-year-old daughter from being raped by more than a dozen soldiers and didn’t succeed. Seventeen soldiers then raped her. The family’s father was beheaded. The latest report on human rights abuses in South Sudan’s five-year civil war, released on Friday by a United Nations commission, includes that horrific day in Pagak town and many others as the team collects evidence in the hopes of one day finding justice. “I did not expect to be confronted with so much ritual humiliation and degradation deliberately done for multiple reasons. The suffering and cruelty was worse than anyone could have imagined,” Andrew Clapham, a commission member and international law professor, told The Associated Press. One South Sudanese woman told the commission that her 12-year-old son was forced to have sex with his grandmother to stay alive, the report says.  AP

Anger, Confusion as Nigerian Authorities Offer Conflicting Accounts of Missing Schoolgirls 
The governor of Nigeria’s Yobe state told residents of the village of Dapchi in person on Thursday that 76 of their schoolgirls who were reported to have been rescued from Islamist Boko Haram kidnappers were in fact still missing. His government on Wednesday said the schoolgirls had been rescued by the military, sparking celebration in the streets. But a day later, Ibrahim Gaidam told villagers the girls were still unaccounted for, according to an apologetic statement from his spokesman. France 24

Nigeria: Amnesty International Accuses Nigerian Security Forces of Widespread Abuses
In 2017, Nigerian security forces carried out widespread human rights abuses such as extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests, mass detention in sub-human facilities, attacks on the media and journalists, violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, and forced evictions, Amnesty International said in its 2017/2018 Human Rights report released on Thursday. The report condemned the Nigerian military for its “total disregard” for human rights in its execution of the war against violent Islamist group Boko Haram. According to Amnesty International, in the outgoing year, the Nigerian Army carried out, “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill-treatment, which, in some cases, led to deaths in custody.”  Premium Times

Nigerian Govt Detains More Southern Cameroonian Separatists
Five alleged members of the Ambazonia separatist movement, a Cameroonian group seeking independence from the Francophone country, are currently being detained at an Abuja Police station. A premium Times reporter was on Wednesday not allowed to speak with the detainees when he visited the Asokoro Police station where they are being held. According to Abdul Oroh, who has been providing legal support for the detainees, ”two out of the five in custody are among the 12 leaders of the group the Nigerian government arrested last month.” Leader of the separatists, Julius Ayuk Tabe and 11 others who reportedly gathered at Nera Hotels Abuja on January 6 to discuss the influx of thousands of Cameroonian asylum seekers to Nigeria following protests in October were arrested and detained by Nigerian security for about a month. About 39 other Ambasonian separatist leaders were detained in Taraba. Premium Times

Cameroon Opposition Leader Steps Down from Presidential Race
The national chairman of the main opposition party in Cameroon, Ni John Fru Ndii, has declared that he will ‘not be presenting his candidature for the 2018 presidential elections’. The veteran politician founded the Social Democratic Front (SDF) in 1990 and has led the party since then. Speaking at the special congress of the party held in Bamenda, 77 year old Ndii reportedly said he was leaving the stage for the younger generation. Africa News

Togo Opposition Halts Protests as Ghana-Led Mediation Bears Fruits
Togolese opposition have announced a cessation of protests in the country following the first-round of political mediation led by President of Ghana, Akufo-Addo. Akufo-Addo and a team of facilitators on Monday met with the 14-member opposition coalition and government representatives in a bid to solve a political crisis that has been raging since August 2017. The opposition according to a communique secured significant gains from the talks with government agreeing to release over 40 persons detained over their role in crippling and sometimes violent nationwide protests.  Africa News

Djibouti’s Main Opposition Party Boycotts Legislative Elections
After boycotting presidential elections in 2016, Djibouti’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Renewal and Development (MRD), says it will not participate in legislative elections Friday, deepening concerns that democracy in the East African nation isn’t working. “In Djibouti, there’s a problem of legitimacy, of democratic legitimacy, of parliamentary legitimacy because elections are never fair and free,” Daher Ahmed Farah, the leader of MRD, told VOA. Farah said the government went back on a deal forged in late 2014 to establish an independent national electoral commission. Without an autonomous body to oversee voting, he said, it’s impossible to ensure the integrity of the process. “Taking part in an election that is not fair and free means some kind of support to the farce,” he said. “Because it is a farce — it is a masquerade.”  VOA

A Dissident from Djibouti is Fighting for Democracy in a Country Being Squeezed by The Major Global Powers
Djibouti is the only country in the world that hosts military bases for both the United States and China. The US base, Camp Lemmonier, hosts US special forces and its only a few kilometers from China’s only military base outside of Asia. France, the former colonial ruler, also has a base in the country. That so many countries would want their military stationed in tiny Djibouti is partly due of the country’s geography. It is strategically located in the horn of Africa, bordering Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea at the exact point where the Gulf of Aden meets the Red Sea, across the straight from Yemen. But in part as a consequence of its strategic location its longtime leader President Ismael Omar Guelleh has had a stranglehold on power since 1999, cracking down on civil society, thwarting any potential political rivals and subverting democratic institutions. One person trying to restore democracy to Djibouti is Daher Ahmed Farah. UN Dispatch

Ethiopia Reveals Details of 6-Month State of Emergency
Ethiopia has released new details about the six-month state of emergency ordered last week amid mass anti-government protests, according to state media reports. Siraj Fegessa, minister of defence and head of the command post charged with implementing the state of emergency order, announced the details on Wednesday, state broadcasters FANA Television and EBC said. Fegessa unveiled the order last Friday, a day after Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned as prime minister and head of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia to Train Equatorial Guinea’s Military
Ethiopia on Thursday agreed to train the military of Equatorial Guinea. The announcement came at a joint news conference following a meeting between Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang in capital Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the two leaders discussed bilateral relations in the spheres of tourism, investment and trade. “When it comes to defense cooperation agreement, Ethiopia has agreed to train the defense forces of the country,” Desalegn said. Obiang, who is on a three-day visit to the Horn of Africa country, said the two countries had signed three agreements, including on labor recruitments and bilateral relations. Anadolu Agency

Switzerland Imposes Sanctions on Allies of Congo’s Kabila
Switzerland imposed sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans on 14 allies of Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila on Wednesday amid a worsening political crisis linked to his refusal to step down. Congolese security forces have killed dozens of protesters in violent crackdowns on a series of demonstrations organised in opposition to Kabila’s decision to remain in power despite the end of his elected mandate in December 2016. Switzerland has long held a reputation as a favoured international destination for stashing ill-gotten wealth, owing to its banking privacy laws. But in recent years, in the face of international pressure, it has sought to demonstrate greater transparency, including increased cooperation with other nations’ tax authorities. Reuters

5 Congolese Refugees Killed in Protests, Rwandan Police Say
Five Congolese refugees have been killed during protests over reduced food rations, with the U.N. refugee agency saying Friday that police fired at the angry protesters. Another 15 refugees were injured this week as several hundred marched to the U.N. agency offices in Kiziba camp in the west, Rwandan police said in a statement. Police intervened when “demonstrators armed with stones, sticks and metal projectiles assaulted and wounded seven police officers,” the statement said. The refugees had been reminded that “disruption of public order was unacceptable.” The U.N. refugee agency in a statement said it was “shocked” by the deaths, adding that “disproportionate use of force against desperate refugees is not acceptable.” It urged police not to use force and called on authorities to investigate. AP

Pope Declares Feb. 23 Day of Fasting, Prayer for DRC, South Sudan
Pope Francis has declared a a day of fasting and prayer for crisis-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Both countries have been dogged by security and humanitarian crisis over the past few years. The Holy Father has thus called for spiritual intervention asking the faithful to fast and pray on February 23 for peace. The event is also aimed at seeking peace for the world. The Pope has invited non-Catholic faithful to also play a part in the search for peace in the two countries and around the world. Africa News

Germany Exports Employment Offices to Africa
In order to combat the root causes of economic migration, Germany has opened a job center in Ghana that helps people find local employment. But what happens when German bureaucracy comes head to head with the everyday reality in Ghana? Spiegle

Israel Jails African Asylum Seekers Refusing Deportation
Seven Eritreans who have had their asylum petitions rejected have been jailed indefinitely by Israel after refusing deportation to Rwanda. The men are the first to be detained since the Israeli authorities announced a initiative last November to make thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers choose between deportation to a third country or face an unspecified amount of jail time. “This is the first step in a what is a globally unprecedented deportation operation, a move tainted by racism and complete disregard for the life and dignity of asylum seekers,” Israeli human rights groups said in a joint statement on Wednesday. The Independent

Foreign Office Warns of Islamist Threat in South Africa after Kidnapping
The Foreign Office (FCO) has warned of a threat of attacks by Islamist militants on foreigners in South Africa after two British nationals were kidnapped in a small town there, but police said they had no evidence terrorists were behind the incident. Africa’s most industrialised country has a large expatriate community and attracts many tourists but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy. No attack followed a similar warning by Britain and the US in June 2016. The Hawks, South Africa’s elite police unit, said the force was investigating the kidnapping, which took place on 12 February, but said it was unaware of anything linking the crime to terror groups. The FCO said on its website the main threat was from Islamic State. The Guardian

Seychelles Protects an Area ‘As Big as Britain’ in Indian Ocean
The Seychelles has created protected areas “the size of Great Britain” in the Indian Ocean. In exchange for getting some of its national debt paid off, the island nation has agreed to protect 210,000 sq km (81,000 sq miles) of ocean. The reserves will limit tourism and fishing activities in the Seychelles to halt further damage to aquatic life. A foundation set up by actor Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the investors that worked on the deal. BBC