Africa Media Review for February 28, 2018

15 Dead in Fresh Violence in DR Congo’s Troubled Kasai
Fifteen people have been killed in a resurgence of violence in DR Congo’s troubled Kasai region blamed on a suspected militia, a local leader said Tuesday. “Kamwina Nsapu militiamen arrived in the administrative centre of Lombelu (on Monday) and made a surprise attack on an army combat patrol,” Andre Kapiola, Lombelu sector chief in Kasai Central, told AFP. “We have collected the bodies of 14 militiamen,” Kapiola said, adding that one soldier was also killed. However several Lombelu residents told AFP that about half of those killed in the attack would have been “ordinary citizens”. Violence in the vast Kasai region first erupted after a tribal chieftain known as the Kamwina Nsapu, who rebelled against the regime of President Joseph Kabila, was killed in August 2016. AFP

Congo Hits Back after Botswana Blames Kabila for Stoking Crisis
The Democratic Republic of Congo reacted angrily to Botswana’s claim that President Joseph Kabila’s decision to remain in power is stoking instability in the vast central African nation. Congo’s communications minister dismissed as “nonsense” Monday’s comments from Botswana, which represented the most strident criticism yet of Kabila by an African government. It comes as militia violence flares in Congo’s restive east, exacerbating countrywide insecurity that’s forced 5 million people from their homes. Botswana shouldn’t interfere in Congo’s internal affairs, Lambert Mende said by phone from the capital, Kinshasa, accusing its government of “trying to please some powerful friends.” The European Union, U.S. and Switzerland have imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Kabila allies including Mende for alleged rights abuses and blocking the electoral process. Bloomberg

Trial Suspended for Masterminds of Burkina Faso Coup Attempt
The trial began Tuesday for 84 people accused of masterminding a 2015 coup attempt in Burkina Faso, with the West African nation’s capital under tight security. Former presidential aides Gen. Gilbert Diendere and Gen. Djibril Bassole are among those facing a military tribunal. Hundreds of security forces deployed around the court building. The trial, however, was suspended by the military tribunal president Tuesday afternoon after defense lawyers walked out of the court, arguing against irregularities in the trial, and that a military tribunal wasn’t independent enough to judge the accused. VOA

US Adds Several Islamic State Affiliates to Terror List
The U.S. State Department on Tuesday branded seven Islamic State groups from around the world and two of its leaders as terrorists in an effort to cut off any financial support they may have been getting from within the United States. The top U.S. diplomatic agency blacklisted ISIS-West Africa, ISIS-Philippines and ISIS-Bangladesh, along with four other ISIS-affiliated groups — ISIS-Somalia, Jund al-Khilafah-Tunisia, ISIS-Egypt and the Maute Group. The State Department said it also has sanctioned two ISIS leaders, Mahad Moalim and Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said in a statement that the designations “target key ISIS-affiliated groups and leaders outside its fallen caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Today’s actions are a critical step in degrading ISIS’s global network and denying its affiliates the resources they need to plan and carry out terrorist attacks.” VOA

Mahama Leads Commonwealth Group to Monitor Sierra Leone Polls
Former Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama leaves Accra today for Sierra Leone, to lead the Commonwealth Observer Mission and a number of meetings aimed at ensuring a peaceful election and its aftermath in the West African Country. This was contained in a statement signed by Mahama’s Special Aide, Joyce Bawah Mogtari. Former President Mahama, at the invitation of the Political Parties Registration Commission (PPRC) of Sierra Leone, will “lead the discussions in a closed-door high-level breakfast meeting between the Presidential Candidates and their Running Mates, Commissioners of the PPRC, Electoral Officials, Police Chief, Paramount Chiefs and Eminent Persons,” the statement said. GhanaWeb

Nigeria: 1,130 Hostages Freed from Boko Haram
At least 1,130 civilians were freed, and 37 suspected Boko Haram militants were killed during a joint offensive by Cameroonian and Nigerian troops in communities around the Lake Chad region on Monday, according to a Nigerian army spokesman. In a statement on Tuesday, spokesman Colonel Onyema Nwackukwu said the offensives took place in border villages of Kusha-Kucha, Surdewala, Alkanerik, Magdewerne and Mayen, culminating in the destruction of several Boko Haram camps and seizure of weapons, including machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. Four improvised explosive devices were also destroyed. Nwackukwu said some 603 hostages were freed across Kusha-Kucha, Surdewala, Alkanerik, Magdewerne and Mayen villages; they were taken to the Nigerian Bama town for profiling and handing over to relief agencies. Al Jazeera

South Africa’s Parliament Endorses Land Expropriation without Compensation
South Africa’s parliament on Tuesday passed a motion brought by the radical left party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), to carry out land expropriation without compensation, a key pillar of the ruling ANC government and new President Cyril Ramaphosa. The motion, which would include a review of the constitution, was sponsored by leader of the EFF Julius Malema and was passed by an overwhelming majority of 241 votes in favour versus 83 votes against the proposal. “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land,” Malema told parliament while presenting the motion. Reuters

In Africa, War over Water Looms as Ethiopia Nears Completion of Nile River Dam
A new mega-dam being built by Ethiopia on the Nile River is threatening to spark a war over water and shift political influence in northeastern Africa. Ethiopia sees the dam as the key to its economic future, but its neighbor to the north, Egypt, fears the dam could spell doom for its water supply, says BBC Africa correspondent Alastair Leithead. The Nile supplies nearly 85 percent of all water in Egypt, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would tower over 500 feet and will generate more than three times the amount of energy produced by the Hoover Dam in the U.S. When completed, it will be the largest dam in Africa and will generate up to 6,450 megawatts of energy. NPR

US Says 2 Al-Shabab Militants Killed in Airstrike
The U.S. Africa Command says two al-Shabab militants have been killed and another injured in an airstrike in southern Somalia. AFRICOM says the airstrike occurred Monday in the vicinity of the town of Jilib, in the Middle Jubba region. It marked the fourth airstrike in Somalia by the U.S. forces so far this year. Previous strikes against al-Shabab took place January 2 and 18 as well as February 19. Meanwhile, 10 al-Shabab militants escaped from a rehabilitation center in the town of Garowe on Sunday night, security officials have told VOA Somali. The escape occurred at around 8 p.m. local time, when the militants managed to scale a wall and slip into the darkness, the sources said. VOA

Back to War: Somali Refugees Return from Yemen
When civil war broke out in Somalia, Ali Hassan Suufi and his wife fled to Yemen. But after the Yemeni Civil War began they returned to their home country, which had been ravaged by terror and poverty. On mornings like these, when there is nothing left to eat in the house, Ali Hassan Suufi worries about how he will find the money to send his children to school. Suufi misses his life in the Yemeni refugee camp, where he lived with his family for 20 years. “We had a good life, we were content,” he says, “We had enough to eat every day, even vegetables and milk for the children. I managed to save about 20 dollars a day from the income from my own restaurant. We lived well, as is only possible in times of peace.”  Deutsche Welle

South Sudan: UN Peacekeeping Review Urges Emphasis on Supporting Political Process
A latest review of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan has found that reaching a political solution to the ongoing conflict is the most effective way to protect civilians, a senior UN official said Tuesday, urging a renewed focus on supporting the political process. “A sustainable political resolution of the conflict is also the only avenue to chalk out a viable exit strategy” for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bintou Keita told the Security Council. UNMISS was established in 2011 as a capacity building tool to assist a Government that lacked the capability to deliver services to its people, she said. UN News

U.S. Embassy Condemns Travel Ban on South Sudanese Civil Society Leader
The United States embassy in Juba has vigorously condemned the South Sudanese security agents for banning from travelling a civil society leader, stressing this action was unacceptable. In a statement released Monday, the embassy said the National Security Service agents blocked a civil society leader from travelling to a transitional justice forum. The embassy didn’t name the civil society leader and didn’t disclose his destination. “This action, directed against an officially recognized Stakeholder in the High-Level Revitalization Forum peace talks, calls into question the Government of South Sudan’s commitment to Article 5 of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan and the December 2 1 , 2017 Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement”. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Announces Limited Reshuffle in Top Army Posts
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, on Tuesday, has reshuffled the army command of joint staff as well as ground forces, navy and air forces. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, spokesperson of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami, said the move comes within the framework of routine work and in accordance with the laws and regulations of the armed forces. He pointed out that the changes included limited reshuffle in the army command of joint staff. “Lieutenant General Kamal Abdel-Ma’arouf al-Mahi has been appointed as Chief of Staff replacing Lieutenant General Imad El-Din Mustafa Adawi and Lieutenant General Isam al-Din al-Mubarak has been promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant and appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff replacing First Lieutenant General Yahia Mohamed Kheir Ahmed” . Sudan Tribune

France Is Battling Africa’s Most Notorious Playboy in International Court
France has been accused of violating the sovereign rights of Equatorial Guinea in a case filed by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the wealthy playboy son of Africa’s longest serving leader. Obiang, 48, is the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president, and he is also the country’s vice-president. He was first charged by France more than 10 years ago in an international money laundering case. Over the years, Obiang, who is best known as Teodorin, has built a reputation as an international playboy with a luxurious lifestyle, glamorous models and expensive motorbikes, all regularly documented on his popular Instagram page. Quartz

Court Rules EU-Morocco Fishing Pact Can’t Include W Sahara
The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that a fisheries agreement the bloc has concluded with Morocco can’t include the waters off the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The European Court of Justice said that the “Moroccan fishing zone” referred to in the pact “does not include the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara.” Morocco considers the vast, mineral-rich Western Sahara its “southern provinces” and rejects anything considered a threat to its territorial integrity. The territory’s status is one of the most sensitive topics in the North African kingdom. AP