Africa Media Review for January 17, 2018

Sahel Nations Launch Second Anti-Terror Operation
Five Sahel nations launched a second operation against extremist groups in the African region Monday following a meeting with their partner France in Paris. The ministers of Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger met in the French capital to discuss terrorism in the Sahel region. Hosted by French Defense Minister Florence Parly, the meeting discussed joint efforts for the anti-terror operations. Speaking to reporters following the meeting, Mali’s Defense Minister Tiena Coulibaly confirmed that the second operation started Monday. The first operation was conducted with French troops in November 2017. Anadolu Agency

Britain Prepares to Send Military Helicopters for French Campaign against Islamists in Sahel
Britain will send military helicopters to join a French campaign against Islamist extremists in Africa as London and Paris move to deepen cross-Channel defence ties, the Prime Minister is expected to announce later this week. RAF Chinooks have been offered to transport French troops in discussions ahead of a Franco-British summit on the military, security, space research and immigration. Talks at Sandhurst will see Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron agree closer cooperation on fighting al Qaeda linked militants “at source” in north Africa. The French president on Tuesday also said he will demand Mrs May take more responsibility for the refugee crisis as he vowed there would be no return of the so-called “jungle” migrant camp in Calais. Around 4,000 French troops are waging a cross-border counter-terrorism campaign throughout the southern Sahara, with forces deployed to back local governments in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso. The Telegraph

Nigeria Army Releases 244 Boko Haram Suspects
Nigeria’s army has released 244 Boko Haram suspects who have denounced their membership in the deadly extremist group. Nigerian army operation commander Maj. Gen. Rogers Nicholas said Tuesday that those released Monday included 118 adult males, 56 women, 19 teens and 51 children. He said they were freed after they were screened and denounced the Nigeria-based insurgency. The public release at the Maiduguri military barracks was done to mark Nigeria’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day. VOA

Kenya Opposition Leader Vows to Inaugurate Self as ‘Peoples’ President’
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose National Super Alliance (NASA) contests the results of October’s re-run election, has defiantly vowed to inaugurate himself the “peoples” president’ at the end of January, if there is no dialogue beforehand with President Uhuru Kenyatta. In an exclusive television interview Tuesday with VOA’s Swahili Service, Odinga denied criticism the threat to hold his own “inauguration ceremony” on January 30 is a tactic to negotiate for power with Kenyatta. “So, we’re not using the swearing-in as a basis of negotiating with Uhuru Kenyatta. We have said in fact that we don’t want any stake in Uhuru Kenyatta government. We want to be the ones who are in government.” VOA

South Sudan’s Cease-Fire Broken by Both Sides, Monitors Say
The body that monitors South Sudan’s shaky truce is blaming rebels for a Christmas Eve attack that killed 15 people and wounded 26 others. The monitors, known as CTSAMM (Cease-fire Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism), said Tuesday that rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar attacked the village of Koch in the former Unity State. It said three children were among those killed. The report said monitors confirmed the details by talking to witnesses and a local rebel commander, who said the attack was in response to a cattle raid. VOA

Sudan Deploys More Troops to Eritrea Border amid Tension with Egypt
Sudan has deployed more forces on its border with Eritrea amid rising tension in the Red Sea region. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour cited security threats on its eastern border. “Sudan’s national army has sent forces to this area to protect Sudan’s security. We have information that some entities are targeting us,” he said after meeting his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu in Khartoum on Sunday. Earlier this month, Sudan closed its border with its eastern neighbour and sent troops to the frontier amid reports that Egypt had deployed troops in Eritrea. Khartoum also recalled its ambassador to Cairo following the reports. The East African

Dozens Arrested in Sudan as Protests over Price Hikes Continue
Dozens of demonstrators on Tuesday were beaten and arrested by police and security agents in Khartoum as hundreds of Sudanese took to streets in a peaceful march to protest against soaring commodity price. Last week, the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) asked Khartoum State authorities for permission to organize a peaceful march to the governor’s office to hand him over a memo against rising bread price but the request was denied. However, the SCP joined by a number of opposition parties, activists and civil society organizations insisted on exercising their constitutional right to peaceful protest and called upon the masses to gather near the Presidential Palace in central Khartoum on Tuesday to march to the state’s headquarters. Sudan Tribune

Liberia President Rejects Her Expulsion from Political Party
Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has rejected her expulsion from the governing party as illegal, saying she will appeal the decision. The Unity Party’s executive committee voted on Saturday to expel the 79-year-old president, accusing her of violating the party’s constitution by refusing to support Vice President Joseph Boakai in elections. Boakai lost to soccer star George Weah in a December 26 runoff vote. Sirleaf has denied accusations she supported Weah. Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, speaking for the president, on Tuesday said her expulsion from the party was illegal. He said a small fraction of the party’s executive committee instituted the action and didn’t follow the party constitution. News 24

Gambians Are Enjoying ‘Freedom’ a Year after Jammeh Exit – Report
Citizens in the Gambia are enjoying freedom after over two decades of highhanded reign by former president Yahya Jammeh. According to a recent report released by U.S. based pro democracy outlet Freedom House, The Gambia had moved from the status of ‘not free’ to partially free.’ They pinned the change squarely on the exit of Jammeh and efforts of the Adama Barrow – led government. They also mentioned competitive legislative elections held in April 2017. Jammeh’s party recorded massive losses in the polls. Africa News

Senegal: Army Targets Rebel Hideouts in Casamance Region
Senegal’s military is continuing to target rebel hideouts in the south of the country. They’re looking for the killers of 14 villagers who died in a massacre in the southern region of Casamance last week. So far it’s unclear who exactly was responsible, but a dispute over illegal timber trafficking is believed to be behind the deaths. Al Jazeera

Somali Forces Targeted in Landmine Attack in Mogadishu
A convoy of Somali security forces was hit by a landmine in the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu Tuesday but there were no casualties reported so far. A police officer who asked not to be named told Xinhua the convoy drove into the landmine in Mogadishu’s Wardhigley district but said he could not confirm casualty figures. “We have received reports of a landmine explosion targeting security forces in Wardhigley but we are yet to establish if there were any cases of injuries or deaths,” the officer said. Mustaf Muhidin, a trader in Harar-Yale area, said the blast was huge and caused scare in the area. Xinhua

Tunisia’s Rulers Fail to Live Up to Arab Spring Promise
Nearly one thousand people have been arrested in Tunisia in the biggest wave of social unrest since the revolution. Anger at new austerity measures has brought hundreds of Tunisians back onto the streets with the same demands they did back in 2011. Seven years on, protesters say the government has failed to live up to the promises of the Arab Spring. Every January since the 2011 revolution, Tunisians have taken to the streets to vent their anger over high unemployment and corruption. Seven years on, some of the same problems remain. “People are very angry and very frustrated by the lack of hope and lack of perspective,” says Olfa Lamloum, the Country Manager in Tunisia for the British NGO International Alert. Protests that are usually confined to Tunisia’s socially deprived west and south regions, have this year spread to the capital Tunis. RFI

U.S. Tasks Ethiopia to Follow Through with Political Reforms
The United States has officially commented on political happenings in Ethiopia where the government has announced the release of politician prisoners and to also close a prison facility notorius for torture. The U.S. Statement of January 16, 2016 comes close to two weeks after the leadership of the ruling Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) agreed to undertake measures to open up Ethiopia’s political space. “We are encouraged by the Ethiopian Government’s decision to drop charges and pardon detainees, including political prisoners, as a tangible step towards its stated goal of widening political space for all Ethiopians. Africa News

‘Unwell’ Tsvangirai to Lead Opposition in Zimbabwe Elections
Zimbabwe’s main opposition political group, the MDC Alliance has confirmed that Morgan Tsvangirai will be their presidential flag bearer in the forthcoming presidential elections. The MDC Alliance includes People’s Democratic Party (PDP), led by Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube’s MDC (Movement for Democratic Change -N), Transform Zimbabwe of Jacob Ngarivhume; Zanu Ndonga headed by Denford Masiyarira and the Multi-Racial Christian Democrats led by Mathias Guchutu. The alliance also announced that despite the current condition of Tsvangirai, campaigns will kick off this week and rallies will be addressed by the key principals of the alliance. Africa News

Former DRC Army Chief Accused of Coup Bid Held in Gabon
Democratic Republic of Congo’s former military chief, who has been accused by Kinshasa of an attempted coup against President Joseph Kabila in 2011, has been arrested in Gabon, sources told AFP. “General Faustin Munene has been arrested since Wednesday, January 10… in Gabon,” said a statement from a party created by Munene, the Convention of the People for Progress and Democracy party (CPPD), on Tuesday. The information was confirmed to AFP by a judicial official in the eastern province of Haut-Ogooue. “Faustin Munene was arrested in Moanda and is in the hands of the DGDI in Libreville,” the Gabonese capital, the official said, referring to the General Directorate for Documentation and Immigration, as the Gabonese intelligence agency is officially called. The source said further details about the arrest were unclear, and it was unknown whether General Munene would be extradited to the DRC. AFP

Mnangagwa Seeking to Win Support of Neighbours and International Community
Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regional tour has taken him to strategic Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries in a bid to win their support having come to power in November last year. On his visit to South Africa last week he met President Jacob Zuma before engaging with ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa. “President Mnangagwa’s first stopover was Pretoria in South Africa where he met President Jacob Zuma and ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa‚” said presidential spokesperson George Charamba. Having been propelled to power by the army through a soft coup‚ which later led to Mnangagwa rewarding army generals with cabinet posts‚ the situation in Zimbabwe‚ according to numerous critics‚ has become militarised. Reuters

An Emissary to Tyranny
When the U.S. Embassy here put out a statement in February denouncing the “continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe,” then-President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman responded by suggesting that American critics of the Zimbabwean government, including U.S. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr., should “go and hang on a banana tree.” It was a mild rebuke by the standards of Mugabe’s government, which treated American diplomats with a level of contempt more befitting U.S. exchanges with Iran or North Korea than of a nation that maintained full diplomatic relations with the United States and was highly dependent on U.S. aid. Like a long line of U.S. ambassadors before him, Thomas was attacked by Mugabe’s government and by its mouthpieces in the press. The pro-government Sunday Mail called him an “Uncle Tom” and a “house nigger dressed in a fine suit” — and that was just in his first week on the job. “We are blamed for almost everything,” Thomas said in October, about a month before the military seized power and brought Mugabe’s 37-year rule to an end. Foreign Policy

Keorapetse Kgositsile, 79, South African Poet and Activist, Dies
Keorapetse Kgositsile, a South African poet whose writing and activism helped bridge his country’s freedom struggle with the Black Arts Movement in the United States, died on Jan. 3 in Johannesburg. He was 79. His death was announced by the South African government, which did not give a cause. Mr. Kgositsile — whose full name was pronounced KERR-ah-PET-seh HO-set-SEAL-eh, but who was affectionately known as Bra Willie — first received acclaim while living in the United States in the 1960s. When he returned to South Africa after the fall of apartheid in the early ’90s, he was welcomed as a national hero. In 2006, he became the second person to be named the country’s poet laureate. His poetry addressed themes of black solidarity, displacement and anticolonialism with an uncompromising directness. In their declaratory rhythms as well as their content, his poems often echoed the music of black America and of Africa. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones