Africa Media Review for January 16, 2020

Nigeria: 30 Killed, 100 Kidnapped as Gunmen Attack Emir of Potiskum
At least 30 people were killed while 100 were feared kidnapped after gunmen opened fire on commuters along Kaduna-Zaria Highway on Tuesday, according to security report and police statement. The Emir of Potiskum Umar Bubaram was amongst those who sustained severe injuries and still receiving treatment at the hospital as of Wednesday night, police said. Gunmen opened fire on Mr Bubaram’s convoy around Maraban Jos interchange of the busy highway at about 11:00 p.m., according to security sources. The emir reportedly lost four of his drivers in the attack, Premium Times learnt. A police statement on Wednesday night said the men were dressed in military fatigues when they struck on the axis, which has been amongst the most notorious haven for kidnap-for-ransom criminals in recent years. … The attack marks the latest in a string of violent attacks on civilian population across Kaduna and nearby states in Nigeria’s northwest. Premium Times

Jihadists Free Five Kidnapped Aid Workers in Nigeria
Islamic State-aligned jihadists have released five local aid workers abducted last month in violence-wracked northeastern Nigeria, security sources and one of those freed said Thursday. The aid workers were seized along with other passengers in two separate incidents in December when fighters from Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) disguised as soldiers intercepted vehicles on highways outside the Borno state capital of Maiduguri. ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram jihadist group in 2016, has focused on targeting military installations and troops since mid-2018. However there has recently been an increase in attacks on civilians blamed on ISWAP. The decade-long jihadist conflict in northeast Nigeria has killed 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes. AFP

Sudan Spy Chief Resigns after Revolt Quelled
Sudan government said Wednesday the country’s chief of intelligence had resigned after military forces quelled a revolt by security agents in the capital. General Abu Bakr Hassan Damblab handed over his resignation after clashes between agents of the General Intelligence Service, formerly known as the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), and government forces killed five people including two soldiers. The shooting broke out on Tuesday at Khartoum bases of the Directorate of General Intelligence Service after some of its officers rejected a retirement plan proposed by the transitional government. “The director of intelligence has resigned. He called us by telephone and we asked him to submit a written resignation, so we are now examining it,” the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, told state television on Wednesday. Burhan’s deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo — who also heads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces — has blamed the former intelligence chief, Salah Abdalla Gosh, for the mutiny. Radio Tamazuj

Sudan’s ‘Predicted Nightmare’ Revolt Highlights Risks to Democratic Transition
A deadly revolt Tuesday by Sudanese security forces protesting against their severance packages has underscored the importance of reforming and restructuring the country’s hydra-headed security services. But it’s a daunting task with ambitious armed men jostling for power. … Sudanese transitional Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok described the mutiny as “discord” aimed at “cutting off the nation’s transition to building a solid democracy”. But the breakout of fighting between two wings of Sudan’s vast, hydra-headed security services have raised fears of armed groups battling for power in the northeastern African nation, threatening a delicate democratic transition since the April 2019 ouster of Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir. … The revolving door of senior uniformed men moving around the power board game with their armed fighters has underscored the importance of a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process for Sudan to avoid the fate of its northern neighbour, Libya. France24

UN Peacekeepers Protecting Hundreds Displaced by Central African Republic Fighting
Fresh clashes in the Central African Republic’s southeast have driven some 400 people to seek shelter at a UN base there, the United Nations Spokesperson said on Wednesday. Peacekeepers are patrolling the city of Alindao, Basse Kotto Prefecture, after skirmishes last Thursday between the country’s armed forces and members of an armed group associated with the mainly-Muslim ex-Seleka coalition, which have fought with mainly Christian anti-Balaka elements, destabilizing the nation since 2013. “Two personnel from the Central African Republic’s (CAR) armed forces died in the violence”, Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York. “Today, the UN Mission says that the situation is calm, despite continuing tensions”. On 9 January, 650 families temporarily sought refuge in a hospital while at least nine people were injured by stray bullets and dozens of houses burned at the ELIM displacement site, according to the UN humanitarian affairs coordination office (OCHA). UN News

Al-Shabab Attacks Killed 4,000 in Past Decade, Says Data-Gathering Group
Somali militant group al-Shabab recently said it does not intentionally target Muslims – but a new report indicates that whatever its intentions, the group has a lot of Muslim blood on its hands. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed in al-Shabab attacks since 2010, according to records compiled by the independent group Armed Conflict, Location and Event Data Project, or ACLED. The majority of the deaths were in Somalia – where the population is almost entirely Muslim – with smaller numbers stemming from attacks in Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti. More than 3,000 of the deaths have occurred since 2015. ACLED says the figure encompasses deaths from shooting attacks, abductions, suicide bombings, and other incidents in which civilians were “determined to be the direct, primary target.” It excludes deaths from battles with the military or other armed groups, and bombing attacks primarily targeting security forces, ACLED says. ACLED also says the death toll is “the most conservative fatality estimate.” VOA

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan to Finalize Blue Nile Dam Agreement This Month
Ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan agreed on Wednesday to reconvene in Washington later this month to finalize an agreement on a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile that sparked a diplomatic crisis between Cairo and Addis Ababa. The ministers met in Washington this week and agreed to fill the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in stages during the wet season, taking into account the impact on downstream reservoirs, the U.S. Treasury Department, which hosted the meeting, said in a joint statement with the countries and the World Bank. Initial filling of the dam, due to begin in July, will aim for a level of 595 meters above sea level and early electricity generation, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during severe droughts, the statement said. The ministers will hold technical and legal talks ahead of their Jan. 28-29 meeting in Washington, where they plan to finalize the agreement, the statement said. Reuters

No Breakthrough in Kiir-Machar Talks but Meeting to Continue
President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar ended a meeting Wednesday without breaking a deadlock over the contentious issue of the number of states and their boundaries. Both leaders seek to end the deadlock over the number of states and security arrangements as part of the peace deal. Pouk Both Baluang, the SPLM-IO’s director for information, told Radio Tamazuj that the two principles met but failed to break the impasse over the contentious issue of the number of states and their boundaries. Pouk said: “Not much headway made today. The two leaders agreed to meet again probably tomorrow”. Tut Gatluak, Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs, said the meeting was “productive” and both sides reiterated their commitment to form a unity government by 22 February. … The rival parties have twice failed to form the unity government, first in May 2019 and then in November the same year, when they agreed to give themselves100 days to resolve disputed issues and form a unity government by 22 February 2020. Radio Tamazuj

Kiir, Machar Refer States Issue to South Africa
South Sudan’s main peace partners on Wednesday agreed to refer the sticky issue of the number and boundaries of states to the South African vice president to broker a compromise. President Salva Kiir and the SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar met in Juba in presence of Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, Sudanese leading member of the Sovereign Council to discuss the contention over the 32 states. Kiir struggles to keep the contested territorial administrative system while Machar and other peace parties call to restore the 10-state system if the president refuses their demand to review the boundaries and the number of states. Presidential adviser Tut Kew Gatluak stated after the meeting that the two leaders discussed the number of states and they will continue to tackle it with the other peace partners. … Last December, Mabuza held a two-day meeting in Juba with the peace partners on the number of states but they failed to strike a deal. Sudan Tribune

Kenya Looks to Secure Border as Al-Shabab Launches Deadly Attacks
Kenya has endured a grim start to the new year as extremist group al-Shabab launched attacks against targets including a school, a police post and a military base shared by U.S. forces. Observers are debating whether the surge of violence signals renewed strength by the terror group or is a seasonal phenomenon. A new report found the group has killed more than 4,000 civilians over the past 10 years. On Monday, three teachers were killed and one abducted in Kamuthe, a town in Garissa county, bordering Somalia. The three killed were all non-Muslims while the one kidnapped was a Muslim. Another teacher was wounded, according to the Associated Press. Attackers also hit a police post and destroyed a telecommunications tower. Hillary Mutyambai, inspector general of the Kenya Police Service visited a police camp in neighboring Lamu county on Tuesday to thank officers for their efforts but advised them to reach out to community members for help foiling future attacks. VOA

Kenya Lacks Accountability for Human Rights Abuses – HRW
The Kenyan government has repeatedly failed to make good its promises to address human rights abuses, an international monitoring group said on Wednesday. “Lack of accountability for serious human rights violations by security forces, including extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, remain a major concern in Kenya, despite promises by President Uhuru Kenyatta to address key issues,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) states in its annual global report. … Human rights violations were also said to be rife in Somalia as well as among Kenya’s partners in the East African Community. The United Nations had recorded a 2019 total of 1,154 civilian casualties in Somalia as of mid-November. Two-thirds were attributed to attacks by al-Shabaab, the annual report says. In Rwanda, political opposition to President Paul Kagame’s government has all but vanished due to harsh repression, HRW observes. … Tanzania’s human rights record continued to deteriorate under President John Magufuli, HRW says. The East African

Implementing Peace Deal Only Path for Stabilization in Mali: UN Peacekeeping Chief
Implementation of the 2015 peace agreement in Mali provides the only pathway for stabilization there, the head of UN peacekeeping told the Security Council on Wednesday. Jean-Pierre Lacroix updated ambassadors on developments in the West African country, where a UN operation, known by the French acronym MINUSMA, supports political processes and restoration of state authority against a backdrop of insecurity, intercommunal violence and increasing displacement. MINUSMA was established following fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels in January 2012, leading to the occupation of northern Mali by radical Islamists. The authorities and two separate armed group coalitions signed the peace deal three years later. “The rapid and thorough implementation of the peace agreement remains the only viable path for the stabilization of Mali. It provides the framework for the required political and institutional reforms to restore and decentralize State authority, to build a Malian state that reflects the diversity and interests of all its citizens”, said Mr. Lacroix. “The peace agreement also provides for mechanisms to address the grievances of those Malians who feel excluded from the country’s political life and economic development and who see little hope for their future.” UN News

Zimbabwe: Sanctions To Remain Until Reforms Are Implemented – US
The restrictive measures imposed on Zimbabwe by the United States will remain in place until President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration implemented the necessary political and economic reforms key to restoring the troubled country’s democracy and prosperity, the US Ambassador to Zimbabwe said Wednesday. Nichols challenged the government to satisfy conditions laid out in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) or remain under sanctions. Speaking to the media after paying a courtesy call on Acting President Constantino Chiwenga at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare, Nichols said ZIDERA was a publicly known Act and it’s for the government of Zimbabwe to implement the necessary reforms and the restrictive measures would be removed. … Last year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa led a march in Harare against Western and US imposed sanctions. Critics say it is the bad economic and political policies of the ruling party, Zanu PF that have seen the economy collapsing as opposed to the sanctions. New Zimbabwe

Angola’s dos Santos Moots Presidency Run Despite Charges
Africa’s richest woman and Angola’s ex-first daughter Isabel dos Santos expressed interest on Thursday in running for the presidency despite an asset freeze and accusations of diverting more than a billion dollars of state money. It was the first time the daughter of former president Joao Eduardo dos Santos, who ran Angola for 38 years until Joao Lourenco took the helm in 2017, has mooted entering politics. Asked in an interview with Portuguese TV channel RTP whether she would be interested in the role of president, which is next up in 2022, dos Santos said: “It’s possible”. Lourenco has cracked down on the role of his predecessor’s children, firing dos Santos from her job chairing oil firm Sonangol and her brother from the sovereign wealth fund. The 46-year-old businesswoman nicknamed “The Princess” at home is estimated by Forbes magazine to be worth more than $2 billion, while two thirds of her compatriots live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. Reuters

Black China: Africa’s First Superpower Is Coming Sooner Than You Think
[…] In 30 years, Nigeria will be, by population, larger than the U.S. By the end of the century it will be the third largest nation in the world, behind India and China, and the most densely populated large country, with more people per square mile than even India. It will have more Muslims than any other country in the world, and more Christians. And if it can get its socioeconomic act together, it may also be the continent’s first superpower. It’s got a tremendous number of advantages that should help it do that: resources, scale, talent, work ethic and a democratic government, but it has an equally long list of challenges. Newsweek



Photo: Adam Jones