Africa Media Review for February 26, 2018

Term Limits for African Leaders Linked to Stability
Progress toward institutionalizing the norm of presidential term limits in Africa has been mixed. Leaders in 5 countries have evaded term limits since 2015, bringing the number of countries lacking term limits to 18. In contrast, 21 African countries have upheld presidential term limits, and an additional 15 now have such limits on the books. These limits, in turn, have wide-ranging implications. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Somalia Blasts Death Toll at 45, AMISOM Explains Clash with Gov’t Troops
The death toll from twin car bomb blasts in the Somali capital late on Friday has risen to 45 from the initially reported 18, a senior government official said on Saturday. Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants claimed responsibility for the attack near the president’s residence and a hotel close by. “The death toll from last night’s blasts has risen to 45, and 36 others were injured,” the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. Separately, a police officer said he was sure of 36 deaths. “At least 15 people including a military officer and a local official died outside the palace last night. And more than that were injured. They were mostly palace guards and guards of officials who were at the scene. The death toll may rise,” Major Mohamed Abdullahi told Reuters on Saturday. Africa News

Nigeria Confirms 110 Girls Missing after Boko Haram Attack
The Nigerian government confirmed Sunday 110 girls are missing after a Boko Haram attack in a northeastern town, after days of silence from officials. The Information Ministry says the girls from the Government Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe State, are unaccounted for after suspected Boko Haram militants invaded their school on Monday. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Sunday additional aircraft are being deployed, along with troops previously dispatched, to search for the missing girls. Heavily armed fighters in trucks stormed the town of Dapchi late Monday, reportedly specifically asking for the girls’ school. Authorities initially denied any girls had been kidnapped, suggesting instead they were hiding in the bush after the attack. VOA

Nigerian President Apologises for Boko Haram Schoolgirl Kidnap
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has called the suspected kidnapping of dozens of schoolgirls by Boko Haram militants a “national disaster”. Jihadists stormed the school in the town of Dapchi in the north east on Monday but it is unclear how many girls are missing. Parents have told the BBC that at least 100 students have not been found. The country’s leader said surveillance aircraft and more troops were being sent to help with the search. Anger has been growing among parents about the government’s handling of the incident, which has revived memories of the Chibok schoolgirl abduction four years ago.  BBC

4 Shot Dead in Congo’s Latest Anti-Government Protests
Organizers of anti-government marches in Congo say security forces shot dead at least four people and wounded dozens more in Sunday’s nationwide protest against President Joseph Kabila’s extended rule. The Lay Coordination Committee on Monday announced that people were killed in Kinshasa, Mbandaka and Kisangani. Church organizations have been staging demonstrations against long-delayed elections, and the international community has criticized Congolese security forces for violent crackdowns on the protests. Kabila was meant to leave office in December 2016 but elections have been repeatedly postponed. Congo’s government now says the vote will be in December. AP

Scores on Trial over Failed Burkina Coup
More than 80 people go on trial before a military court on Tuesday over the failed 2015 coup in Burkina Faso, including two top generals accused of masterminding the plot. The case is being seen as a test of the credibility of justice in the former French colony which has been blighted by numerous coups and mutinies since gaining independence in 1960. The two main defendants among the 84 on trial are generals Djibrill Bassole and Gilbert Diendere — key allies of former president Blaise Compaore who was chased from power in October 2014. They are accused of involvement in a coup launched the following year by Compaore’s old presidential guard against the transitional government that took power after the veteran leader’s fall. The Citizen

Al Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Mali Attack That Killed 2 French Troops
A Malian militant group with links to al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for an attack that killed two French soldiers in the West African country on Wednesday. The soldiers were killed after their armoured vehicle was hit by an explosive device near Mali’s border with Niger and Burkina Faso, an area that has become increasingly dangerous for international forces seeking to quell Islamic insurgencies in the remote Sahel region. In October, militants killed four U.S. troops just over the border in Niger, sparking a debate about America’s combat role in the vast and unpoliced scrubland just south of the Sahara. Africa News

Donors Pledge $510 Million for West Africa Anti-Terror Force
International donors on Friday pledged 414 million euros ($510 million) to help five impoverished countries in West Africa’s vast Sahel region set up a new counterterror force as a deadly jihadist threat grows. The 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force for Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger was seeking around 400 million euros for its mission along mostly desert borders, including near Libya — the main jumping-off point for thousands of African migrants bound for Italy. The amount pledged “goes far beyond our initial expectations,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, speaking at a summit in Brussels of 32 leaders and 60 delegations. “It’s a tremendous result that allows us to begin putting the force into operation.”  AP

At French Outpost in African Migrant Hub, Asylum for a Select Few
In a bare suite of prefab offices, inside a compound off a dirt road, French bureaucrats are pushing France’s borders thousands of miles into Africa, hoping to head off would-be migrants. All day long, in a grassy courtyard, they interview asylum seekers, as the African reality they want to escape swirls outside — donkey carts and dust, joblessness and poverty, and, in special cases, political persecution. If the French answer is yes to asylum, they are given plane tickets to France and spared the risky journey through the desert and on the deadly boats across the Mediterranean that have brought millions of desperate migrants to Europe in recent years, transforming its politics and societies. “We’re here to stop people from dying in the Mediterranean,” said Sylvie Bergier-Diallo, the deputy chief of the French mission in Niger. The New York Times

Turkey’s President to Start Africa Tour of Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal and Mali
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to go on a five-day official visit to four African countries starting Monday Feb. 26. According to a statement release by the president’s office, Erdogan will hold talks with his counterparts in Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal and Mali in one-on-one and inter-delegation meetings. The leaders are expected to discuss regional and global developments, bilateral relations and cooperation. Business forums in Algeria and Senegal will also be held as part of the visits, the statement said. Africa News

All Eyes on Ethiopia PM Post as Oromo Party Picks New Leader
In what looks like a bid to take up the prime minister’s position, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) — one of the four members of the ruling coalition in Ethiopia — on Thursday announced Dr Abiy Ahmed as its new leader. The party said the move was meant to strengthen it and the cause of the Oromo people, but observers say that was the clearest indication that it was going to nominate Dr Abiy for the premier’s position, left vacant by the recent resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn. To be nominated, one has to be the party leader and a member of the national parliament. Dr Abiy, who was the acting chairman, replaced Lemma Megerssa, who is not an MP. The East African

Ethiopia Federal Forces Detain Recently Released Oromo Leaders
Reports from Ethiopia indicate that leading opposition chiefs, Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba are among a group detained by federal security forces in the country’s west. The recently released duo who are leaders of the main opposition Oromo Federalists Congress (OFC) were held near the town of Nekemt, OFC’s youth league secretary, Addisu Bulala told the Addis Standard portal. “After addressing our supporters in other small cities on our way to Nekemt, when we reached Gute, few kilometers outside of Nekemt, we were stopped by federal security forces. “We have been held for the last four hours and no one is explaining to us what would happen next,” he said in a phone interview. Africa News

Famine Again a Threat in South Sudan, New Report Says
One year after South Sudan briefly declared a famine, more than half of the people in the world’s youngest nation face extreme hunger amid civil war and famine could return, a new report says. More than six million people, up about 40 percent from a year ago, are at threat without aid, according to the report released Monday by the United Nations and South Sudan’s government. It says 150,000 people in 11 counties in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity and Western Bahr el Ghazal states could slip into famine this year. “These are unprecedented levels of food insecurity,” Ross Smith, senior program officer for the U.N’s World Food Program, told The Associated Press. He said a political solution in South Sudan is needed so that its people can rebuild their lives. VOA

Over 40 Should Face Trial for South Sudan Atrocities, U.N. Team Says
More than 40 senior military officers and officials in South Sudan should be prosecuted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, a United Nations commission said on Friday, citing harrowing witness testimony and thousands of documents tying them to mass atrocities in the country’s four-year civil war. Government and opposition forces had systematically butchered men, women and children, slitting throats, gouging out eyes, castrating and mutilating men and gang raping men and women on a massive scale, the commission said in a report it intends to submit next week to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Holding those in charge in South Sudan accountable for the intentional suffering they inflict on their own people is crucial to stemming this humanitarian catastrophe,” said Andrew Clapham, a member of the commission and an international law expert. The New York Times

UN South Sudan Mission Recalls Police Unit over Sex Abuse Allegations
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan has recalled a Ghanaian police unit working at one of its protection camps while it investigates allegations that some of them were involved in sexual abuse, it said on Saturday. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said it had asked the 46-member unit to return to the capital Juba from its Protection of Civilians site in Wau, northwest of Juba, after an investigation was launched into a complaint that members of the unit were having sexual relations with women living at the camp. UNMISS said in a statement that its head, David Shearer, and other mission leaders were briefed about the initial investigation and a decision was made to withdraw the unit from the site. Reuters

South Sudan Kiir Urges Regional Leaders Not to Enforce U.S. Sanctions
South Sudan President Salva Kiir asked members of the East African Community (EAC) to be intimated to external pressure and implement the U.S. or U.S.-backed international sanctions on his country. Following the repeated violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement, State Department on Friday 2 February imposed a U.S. arms embargo on South Sudan and called on the United Nations and other countries to do the same. Washington also ready to impose further sanctions and to back any punitive measures the IGAD and the African Union demand the UN Security Council to enforce on the spoilers of the ongoing efforts to end the four-year conflict in the country.  Sudan Tribune

Cameroon Deploys More Troops to Fight Armed Separatists
Cameroon has deployed more troops to it’s English speaking regions after another wave of attacks on public buildings and the kidnapping of military and government officials by suspected armed separatists. Moki Edwin Kindzeka reports from Yaounde. A Cameroon military band plays as hundreds of their colleagues are deployed to the troubled English speaking regions of the central African state. Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo says they should be very professional in executing their duties. He says although many soldiers have been killed, the military remains determined to fight and defeat armed separatists who are bent on destroying Cameroon. He says the troops are out to ensure security, public order and the respect of state institutions. VOA

Weah: Liberia Mismanages US Aid
Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah says the United States (in particular), France and China cannot be blamed for Liberia’s setbacks and lack of progress, arguing that “billions of dollars” given in aid by America have been mismanaged here. He gave no further details. “So we cannot blame America. If the billions of dollars that came here, if we were going to manage it well, if we were going to be true to our people and build our roads, and build our cities, we will not be blaming America,” Mr. Weah said Friday, 23 February upon return from state visits to France, Morocco and Senegal. Weah’s comment comes amidst concerns that America’s long presence in Liberia has stalled the country’s development in a way. Mr. Weah said while he was in France, he was personally confronted by an unnamed individual inquiring as to whether he didn’t think that the United States’ domineering role here has been the problem of Liberia’s backwardness. The New Dawn Liberia

Rwanda Slashes Infant Death Rate
A new Unicef report reveals a horrifying statistic: in lower-income countries, 27 newborns out of every 1 000 die before they are four weeks old. In developed countries, that figure is 3.3 in 1 000. “While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one month old,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef’s executive director. “Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.” Finding a way to drastically lower the newborn mortality rate in lower-income countries to that of developed countries could save 16-million lives by 2030. Fortunately, it’s not rocket science and, in Rwanda, there is a model to show how it can be done. Mail and Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones