Africa Media Review for January 16, 2018

ISIS Affiliate Claims October Attack on U.S. Troops in Niger
A group in northwestern Africa that is loyal to the Islamic State issued a statement on Friday claiming responsibility for the October attack in Niger that killed four American soldiers who were on patrol with Nigerien forces. The statement offered no explanation for the delay in claiming responsibility for the Oct. 4 attack, which American officials had said was probably carried out by the group. “We declare our responsibility for the attack on the U.S. commandos last October in the Tongo Tongo region of Niger,” said the statement, attributed to Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, who was a member of Al Qaeda’s regional branch before pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, nearly two years ago. The statement was issued to reporters at the Nouakchott News Agency, a website in Mauritania to which fighters from Mr. Sahraoui’s group have previously sent missives. The New York Times

Liberia President’s Ouster by Party May Raise Questions Over Her Legacy
Just days before the end of her 12-year tenure as Liberia’s head of state, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been expelled by senior members of her political party, who accused her of supporting the opposition candidate and now president-elect, George Weah, in his recent election campaign. A statement from the Unity Party, released late Saturday, said that Mrs. Sirleaf, Africa’s first female democratically elected head of state, had been expelled because of “several violations and other acts inimical to the existence of the party.” Among them was her failure to support her vice president, Joseph Boakai, in the election. Mr. Weah will be sworn into office on Jan. 22, the first peaceful democratic transfer of power in the country since 1944. The Unity Party’s spokesman, Mohammed Ali, accused Mrs. Sirleaf of using state resources to fund Mr. Weah’s campaign and said that evidence would be disclosed to the public at a later date. “The president not only refused to support the candidate of the Unity Party, but she financed to some extent and openly supported the opposition party that won the election, and that is a gross violation of the party’s constitution,” Mr. Ali said. The New York Times

Ethiopia to Free Opposition Leader, Hundreds of Others
Ethiopia’s government announced on Monday it would release hundreds of people awaiting trial including imprisoned opposition leader Merera Gudina and would pardon others convicts in the coming months. The announcement came less than two weeks after the government promised to free jailed “politicians,” without giving details on who and how many people would be freed. The release of Merera, chairperson of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), has been a key demand of protesters from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromos. In 2015, the group took to the streets over a proposed expansion of the capital city which they feared would deprive them of their land. News 24

Shabaab Forcing Civilians to Hand over Children: HRW
Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgents are increasingly threatening civilians and forcing them to hand over young children for “indoctrination and military training”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday. The rights watchdog said an aggressive campaign to recruit children had begun in mid-2017, with the jihadists taking reprisals against communities who refuse to cooperate. Hundreds of children have fled their homes to avoid this fate, often alone, it said in a statement. “Al-Shabaab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. AFP

‘People Were Screaming’: Troops Destroy $200,000 Aid Camps in Somalia
Two weeks after being forcibly evicted from their shelters, thousands of vulnerable families are still living rough in the outskirts of Mogadishu. Somali security forces went in and destroyed 23 camps for internally displaced people, housing more than 4,000 Somalis, on 29 and 30 December last year according to the UN. People say they woke up to bulldozers and soldiers demolishing their shelters. “We were not even given time to collect our belongings,” said Farhia Hussein, a mother of nine. “People were screaming and running in all directions. Two of my children went missing in the chaos. They are twin sisters, aged six – thank God I found them two days later.” Hussein, 46, came to the city nine months ago from the Shebelle region. “I was a farmer but I lost everything to the drought and I cannot go back now because the security situation is terrible there,” she said. “I never thought my own people would treat me this way in Mogadishu, I felt like a foreigner in my own country.”  The Guardian

Republic of Congo General Arrested, Accused of Coup Plot
Authorities in Republic of Congo have arrested a general who had been close to the president on allegations of planning a coup. Local media reports said Friday that former armed forces inspector Gen. Norbert Dabira was detained Wednesday. The reports say Dabira had “planned to destroy the presidential plane while in flight” and that Gen. Nianga Mbouala is accused of being a possible accomplice. Mbouala was dismissed as the commander of the Republican Guard last week and is under house arrest. Human rights groups have criticized President Denis Sassou N’Guesso for alleged rights violations and called for the release of political prisoners.  AP

7 Killed in New Terrorist Attack in North Mozambique: NGO
Terrorists who attacked the Mocimboa da Praia district in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have extended their reach of mob activities to the district of Palma, killing seven people and burning houses. In an interview with Xinhua, Angelina Tayobo of the Environmental Association of Cabo Delgado (AMA), a local non-governmental organization based in that province, said the attack began from Saturday night to Sunday dawn. “They attacked a community from the administrative post of Ulumbe, Palma district and killed seven people and burned down houses,” she said. Angelina Tayobo said since last October her organization has been moving from one community to another due to the attacks which first had happened in Mocimboa da Praia and now were extending. Xinhua

Ugandan Lawyers Seek to Quash Museveni ‘President for Life’ Law
Uganda’s leading lawyers sought on Monday to overturn a law that critics say would allow incumbent leader Yoweri Museveni to effectively become president for life. The law, passed last month, scrapped a constitutional provision that limited the age of a presidential candidate to below 75 years. It clears the way for Museveni, 73, and president since 1986 to seek re-election in 2021 when the next polls are due. Francis Gimara, president of Uganda Law Society (ULS), told Reuters the lawyers petitioned in court on Monday to nullify the law. Reuters

Zambia: Edgar Lungu’s Heavy Hand Shows in Response to Cholera Outbreak
The headline shouldn’t have come as a surprise: “Zambia police arrest 55 in riots over cholera control rules”. Zambia’s response to the cholera outbreak, which began in October and has killed more than 70 people, has in the last few weeks been a show of force. Earlier in January, President Edgar Lungu took to the streets of Lusaka flanked by soldiers in a clean-up operation that saw unhygienic markets and restaurants shuttered. He railed against the city council’s failings. Street vending was banned across the city. But then the government began introducing regulations that granted powers to suppress, starting with a ban on gatherings of five or more people. The interdict encompassed weddings, funerals and sports events. In one instance, police used tear gas to break up a church service. To prevent travel, Lusaka’s main passport office was closed, while the start of the school year was postponed. Daily Maverick

Ramaphosa Treads Carefully in Sidelining Zuma in South Africa
Less than a month after Cyril Ramaphosa assumed the leadership of South Africa’s ruling party, he’s taking a diplomatic tack as he moves to stamp his authority over Jacob Zuma’s scandal-ridden government. Ramaphosa, speaking in a television interview broadcast Sunday by Johannesburg-based eNCA, said the African National Congress has to be careful about deciding on Zuma’s future as the nation’s leader before he’s due to step down in 2019 when general elections are scheduled. Amid rising speculation that Ramaphosa will soon replace Zuma, he said he doesn’t want to “humiliate” the president and divide the nation. While Zuma probably won’t see out his full term, it’s difficult to dislodge him immediately because he and his supporters are deeply entrenched in the nation’s security system, the government and the party, said Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst based in Johannesburg Bloomberg

Angola’s Lourenco Keeps Pressure on Dos Santos Cronies
The first major scalp claimed by Angola’s new president Joao Lourenco in his war on corruption and nepotism was that of his predecessor’s daughter, who was sacked as head of the state oil company. The next big name linked to former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos was that of his son, Jose Filomeno, who was removed from his post at the top of the African nation’s $5-billion sovereign wealth fund. Quick work for a president with barely 100 days on the job. Lourenco’s manoeuvering against the nepotistical vestiges of Angola’s last president began in earnest in November with the toppling of Isabel dos Santos — said by Forbes to be Africa’s richest woman. Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe Aide: I Feared Robert Mugabe Lynching
An aide to Zimbabwe’s former president, Robert Mugabe, has said he feared civilians could “drag out and lynch” the leader in a “Libyan scenario”. During Mr Mugabe’s last week in office, he was under house arrest as the military staged a takeover which would eventually oust him. “I started visualising an image of Muammar Gaddafi,” Mr Mugabe’s former spokesman George Charamba said. Recalling the last days of Mr Mugabe’s 37-year rule, Mr Charamba said the 93-year-old wanted “to go on his own terms” and had to be warned of the dangers following the military’s intervention and the outbreak of protests. BBC

Why Tunisia’s Revolutionary Fire Still Burns Seven Years after Arab Spring Uprising
Tunisia on Sunday marked the seventh anniversary of a revolution that saw the ouster of its autocratic leader, sparking the region-wide Arab Spring. But Tunisia’s revolutionary spirit never died, and austerity seems to be breathing new life into it. Thousands of people on Sunday thronged Habib Bourguiba Avenue in central Tunis to mark the end of longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 24-year rule in 2011. But although it was supposed to be a day of celebration – honouring the country’s hard-won freedoms – it became a launchpad for yet another wave of protests against the government. France 24

20 Killed in Clashes at Libya’s Main International Airport
Fighting at the Libyan capital’s only working international airport killed at least 20 people on Monday, officials said, after militiamen attacked it in an attempt to free colleagues held at a jail there. Mitiga airport, a former military air base on the eastern outskirts of the capital, was evacuated when the clashes erupted and roads to the facility were closed. Six Libyan aircraft on the tarmac were hit by gunfire, an airport source said. In an updated casualty toll, the health ministry of Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) said 20 people were killed and 63 wounded in the clashes. It did not specify if the casualties were civilians or fighters. News 24

Ethiopia to Ease Tensions with Egypt over Nile Dam
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has held talks in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, before heading to Egypt for a four-day state visit. The leader is trying to defuse tension over a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile. Ethiopia aims to be the largest producer of hydroelectric power in Africa. But Egypt, which depends largely on the Nile’s water, is deeply concerned. It says Ethiopia is trying to control the flow of the Nile, which could threaten its water security. Al Jazeera

New Boko Haram Video Purports to Show Chibok Girls
Boko Haram has put out a video that it says shows some of the girls kidnapped from a town in northeastern Nigeria nearly four years ago. The armed group seized 276 pupils from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok in April 2014. Fifty-seven of them managed to escape in the immediate aftermath of the abduction. Some of the schoolgirls have since been released, while others managed to escape. Around 100 are still believed to be held by Boko Haram. “We are the Chibok girls, you have been crying we should be released. But by the grace of Allah, we will not return home,” one of the girls said in the undated footage, which was released on Monday. Al Jazeera

Three DR Congo Soldiers Killed While Fighting Ugandan Rebels
Three Democratic Republic of Congo soldiers died on Monday while repelling an attack in the eastern Beni region by ADF Ugandan Islamist rebels, who are suspected of murdering 14 UN peacekeepers last month. The army had on Saturday announced an offensive against the Allied Democratic Forces, one of a number of armed groups acting in North Kivu and South Kivu — the two provinces which border Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. “The ADF attacked our position in Muzambay at 4:00 am (0200 GMT),” said army spokesman Captain Mak Hazukay. “Our forces pushed them back after heavy fighting,” he said, but denied comment on casualties. But a witness told AFP he saw the corpses of three soldiers in the morgue of Beni’s general hospital. He saw four other troops being treated for wounds at the same facility. AFP

Magufuli Dismisses Proposal to Extend Presidential Term in Tanzania
Tanzanian President John Magufuli will not seek to extend presidential terms in the country, his party said Saturday, moving to quash calls from some members of the ruling party to prolong his rule. Magufuli “informed party members and other Tanzanians that the ongoing debate about increasing the presidential term from five to seven years displeases him,” his ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) said in a statement. Instead, Magufuli has urged Tanzanians to focus on building the country’s economy. ‘‘The debate on extending the term limit is useless. Tanzanians should concentrate on building their economy,’‘ the president said. Africa News

African Immigrants Are More Educated Than Most — including People Born in U.S.
Lots of the news from sub-Saharan Africa is about war, famine, poverty or political upheaval. So it’s understandable if many Americans think most Africans who immigrate to the United States are poorly educated and desperate. […] While many are refugees, large numbers are beneficiaries of the “diversity visa program” aimed at boosting immigration from underrepresented nations. And on average, African immigrants are better educated than people born in the U.S. or the immigrant population as a whole. “It’s a population that’s very diverse in its educational, economic and English proficiency profile,” said Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington and coauthor of a report last year on sub-Saharan African immigrants in the U.S. “People came for a variety of reasons and at various times.” Overall, their numbers are small compared with other immigrant groups but have risen significantly in recent years. Los Angeles Times



Photo: Adam Jones