Africa Media Review for January 22, 2020

The Challenges of Reform in Angola

After José Eduardo dos Santos stepped down as president in Angola after 40 years in power, his successor, former General João Lourenço, took office with promises of reform. Rooting out corruption in the government and the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) was his number one stated priority, “even if the first to fall are militants or even senior officials of the party that have committed crimes.” Since taking power in 2017, Lourenço has overhauled the MPLA’s political bureau, gaining firm command of the party and, through it, the executive branch, armed forces, and intelligence services. His anti-corruption drive has recovered over $5 billion in looted assets. Does this herald a new beginning for Angola and a decisive shift away from the corruption and authoritarianism of the past? Or will these reforms turn out to be window dressing aimed at securing Laurenço’s hold on power? To gain some perspective, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies consulted with several independent Angola experts for analysis. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burkina Faso President Calls for Two Days of Mourning after “Terrorist Group” Kills Dozens

Militants killed 36 civilians when they attacked villages in northern Burkina Faso, the government said Tuesday, appealing for local volunteers to bolster its fight against jihadists. A “terrorist group” killed 32 civilians when they attacked and burned the market in Nagraogo village before killing four more people in Alamou village on Monday, the government said. Three other people were wounded in the attacks, it added. … Hundreds of people have fled the area and taken refuge in the city of Kaya, in Sanmatenga province, according to residents contacted by AFP. … Faced with these “repeated attacks” against civilians, the government launched an appeal for the people’s “frank collaboration” with the defence and security forces. The Burkina parliament on Tuesday adopted unanimously a law allowing for the recruitment of local volunteers in the fight against jihadists. According to a document seen by AFP, volunteers aged over 18 will be recruited in their regions in agreement with local populations. They will be given 14 days military training, after which they will be given small arms and other communication equipment. France24 with AFP

Chad Plans Military Deployment to Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger Tri-border Area

Chad’s defense minister discussed plans to deploy a battalion of military personnel to the Mali-Burkina Faso-Niger tri-border area with his French and Swedish counterparts on Monday, January 20, according to reports. France’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly arrived in Chad’s capital N’Djamena on Sunday to begin a two-day visit to the Sahel region accompanied by Sweden’s Minister for Defence, Peter Hultqvist, the French ministry said in a statement. The European delegation met Chad’s defense and foreign affairs ministers, along with presidency and cabinet officials, al-Wihda reported. The French ministry said they were to be accompanied by Major General Pascal Facon, who commands the French-led Operation Barkhane counterterrorism force headquartered in N’Djamena. … The meeting came a week after a summit in Pau in southwestern France, where President Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of the G5 Sahel states announced a new Coalition for the Sahel which will see increased coordination between French and local forces focused on the tri-border zone and targeting Islamic State as a priority. The Defense Post

Eight Nigerian Soldiers Killed, Five Wounded in Battle with Boko Haram

One Nigerian army officer and seven soldiers have lost their lives after Boko Haram insurgents ambushed a military patrol team in Borno, military sources said. Five soldiers were wounded and two still missing in action as of late Tuesday, sources said. A Boko Haram fighter was killed while an assault rifle was recovered from the attackers. The ambush on 156 Task Force Battalion occurred at about 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday in Mainok, about 60 kilometres west of Maiduguri. Soldiers have recovered the bodies of their fallen colleagues and moved the wounded to a medical facility for treatment, military sources said. Two gun trucks and three anti-aircraft equipment could not be accounted for following the attack, although it was not immediately clear whether they were carted away by the insurgents or temporarily misplaced during exchange of fire. Sagir Musa, a spokesperson for the Nigerian Army, did not return requests for comments on the attack Wednesday morning. Premium Times

ISWAP Executes Kidnapped Nigerian Pastor

The kidnapped chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa state, Lawan Andami, has been killed. The pastor who was abducted on January 3 by members the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), after an attack on Michika town, was announced killed on Monday by his abductors. The killing of Mr Andami came two days after ISWAP claimed to have killed another abducted Christian whose identity has not been made known. A Nigerian journalist who has maintained contacts with Boko Haram, Ahmad Salkida, broke the news on his Twitter handle Tuesday. Mr Andami was last seen alive in a video clip shared online by his abductors two weeks ago. In the video, be was heard saying that his abductors were nice to him. … President Muhammadu Buhari reacted to the killing of the reverend from London. A statement circulated by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, said “President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the terrorist killing of Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Michika local government area of Adamawa, describing it as cruel, inhuman and deliberately provocative.” Premium Times

10 Dead and Dozens Wounded in a Grenade Attack on Khartoum Wedding Party

At least 10 people have died and dozen others injured after a grenade went off at a wedding party in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. A witness to the attack on Monday evening said the bomber, 23-year-old soldier identified as Ahmed Kucu Dauod, detonated the grenade at a wedding reception in Hajj Youssef suburb where guests, including children, had gathered. Some conflicting accounts said the bomber was disappointed after the woman he wanted to marry chose another person, a claim The EastAfrican could not independently verify. Others said that the matter was merely an accident. … Police said investigations have been launched into the incident. The development also brought forth the continual discomfort by civilians living side by side with soldiers in the city. In the last few weeks, residents have asked the government to relocate army bases outside the capital, to prevent similar incidents from recurring in the future. The East African

Joint UN-Congolese Strategy Needed to Address Insecurity Following Deadly Attacks

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the UN peacekeeping operation in the country, MONUSCO, are being urged to develop a comprehensive joint strategy to address insecurity in Beni territory, located in the east. The recommendation follows an independent assessment into deadly attacks allegedly carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) armed group during the latter part of last year, which sparked violent protests against the Government and the UN. The assessment team-which included political, military and logistics specialists-sought to establish the circumstances surrounding the attacks in Beni, located in North Kivu province, as well as assaults in Mambasa territory in neighbouring Ituri province targeting the national and international response to the deadly Ebola virus outbreak. Team members were evaluating the MONUSCO Force’s ability to deliver on mandated tasks that include civilian protection, neutralizing armed groups, and providing a secure environment for those tacking the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the region. They found that presumed ADF combatants killed more than 260 people, mostly women and children, during November and December 2019 alone. Most of the attacks occurred at night. UN News

Tunisia’s Saied Tasks Former Finance Minister to Form New Gov’t

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has given Elyes Fakhfakh, a former tourism and finance minister, the difficult task of assembling the country’s next government. Fakhfakh, a member of the centre-left Ettakatol party, has a 30-day period to form a coalition government. Failure to win parliamentary approval would force Saied to dissolve the House and call for a fresh election. The nomination came after the Tunisian Parliament earlier in January rejected a government proposed by Habib Jemli, the previous prime minister-designate who had been nominated for the job by Ennahdha, a moderate Islamist party. Though the most powerful force in the 217-strong parliament, Ennahdha’s 52 seats meant that it alone could not guarantee Jemli’s inauguration. Following the voting down of Jemli’s proposed cabinet on January 10, Saied had 10 days to designate a new prime minister, as per Tunisia’s constitution. The former constitutional law professor, whose mandate as president is limited to foreign affairs and national security, subsequently reached out to a number of political parties to request their recommendations for the premiership. Al Jazeera

Comoros President’s Party Wins Poll Boycotted by Opposition

Comoros President Azali Assoumani’s party has swept to victory in a parliamentary election boycotted by the opposition, according to official results. The Convention for the Renewal of the Comoros (CRC) won 17 out of 24 legislative seats, while two other seats went to parties in the presidential coalition. A second round of voting will take place on February 23 to allocate the remaining five seats, the electoral commission said on Monday. Opposition parties stayed away from the weekend contest in the Indian Ocean islands’ national assembly after saying they had failed to obtain guarantees of a “transparent, free and democratic” election. Comoros has had a volatile political history since independence in 1975, enduring more than 20 attempted coups, four of which were successful. Azali himself initially came to power in a coup, then ruled between 1999 and 2006. He was re-elected in 2016 in a vote marred by violence and allegations of irregularities. In a statement, opposition parties described the election as a “circus” and an “electoral masquerade,” estimating a voter turnout of only about 10 percent, dismissing the electoral commission’s declared estimate of 61.5 percent. AFP

Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Vows Street Protests on the Way

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader said Tuesday he will roll out anti-government street protests this year, declaring that the collapsing economy will improve only if political issues, including a long-disputed election, are resolved. Nelson Chamisa told hundreds of Movement for Democratic Change party supporters in the capital, Harare, that he will use the protests to push for a “transitional authority” to run the southern African nation until credible elections are held. “This year is going to be a year of demonstrations and action,” he said to cheers. “It is time to fight for a Zimbabwe we all want, and have been dreaming of. Come what may, we will not be intimidated.” Zimbabwe held largely peaceful elections in 2018 in a transition from former leader Robert Mugabe’s nearly four-decade rule. But days later the military shot dead several people in Harare as opposition supporters protested a delay in releasing results. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former Mugabe protege, has said Chamisa should accept the election results, but the opposition leader still asserts the vote was rigged even though the constitutional court threw out his legal challenge. Zimbabwe’s military and police have crushed subsequent anti-government protests, while opposition events are routinely banned. AP

Building a Safety Net for Zimbabwe’s Urban Poor

A combination of drought and economic collapse has left 7.7 million Zimbabweans – half the population – unsure where their next meal will come from. This is not just a rural problem. Soaring food prices mean the urban poor like *Ruth, who lives with her four children in Epworth, a Harare suburb, are also sinking into crisis. Her home is so cramped that three of the children sleep each night at a neighbour’s. Well-wishers have rallied around to help. People also offer Ruth a bit of work when they can to keep her going – collecting firewood, washing, or cleaning. But there’s little spare cash in Epworth. Previously an informal settlement, it remains among the poorest of the capital’s suburbs. It’s one of the first places people come to from the rural areas looking for work or, if they’ve failed to make it in the city, one of their last resorts. “Life in Epworth is on the challenging side,” Ruth told The New Humanitarian. “It’s cheap to live here because rents are low, but there are no opportunities – and the neighbours can’t always help.” The New Humanitarian

Senior Al-Shabab Foreign Fighter Defects in Somalia

One of the most senior foreign fighters with Somali militant group al-Shabab says he has defected and is now in Mogadishu with the Somali government. Zubair al-Muhajir traveled from London to join the group in 2006. He rose through the ranks and ultimately became a member of al-Shabab’s Shura Council of religious scholars. Al-Muhajir, originally from Ivory Coast, told the VOA Somali program Investigative Dossier that he fell out with the group in 2013 when its Amniyat force arrested him and imprisoned him for three years. “I defected because al-Shabab, they are lying to the Muslims and to the world,” he said. “They are claiming to implement the Sharia (Islamic law) which is not true because I know from incidents where they went against the Sharia.” He says the group uses Sharia just to “betray the people, fool them, and lie to them.” “The reality of their actions is totally against their Sharia – they are killing innocent people and they are lying to the people.” VOA

Erdogan Says Somalia Invited Turkey to Explore for Oil Offshore

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Somalia invited Turkey to explore for oil in its waters, private national broadcaster NTV reported. Turkey has been a significant source of aid to Somalia following a famine in 2011. Turkish engineers have helped to build infrastructure in Somalia, businesses have invested in the country and Turkish officers have trained Somali soldiers as part of efforts to build up the country’s army. Speaking to reporters on Monday, on his flight back from a Libya summit in Berlin, Erdogan said Turkey would take steps in line with the Somali invitation, but did not elaborate further. “There is an offer from Somalia. They are saying: ‘There is oil in our seas. You are carrying out these operations with Libya, but you can also do them here.’ This is very important for us,” Erdogan was cited as saying by NTV. “Therefore, there will be steps that we will take in our operations there.” In late December, a group of Turkish engineers was among those hit in a blast at a checkpoint in Mogadishu that killed at least 90 people. Last weekend, a car bombing wounded some 15 people, including Turkish contractors, in Afgoye. Al Jazeera

UN Welcomes Commitments toward Libya Peace, Urges Cease-Fire

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the commitment by world powers and other key countries to support a plan to restore peace in Libya and urged the warring parties to quickly conclude a cease-fire agreement. The U.N.’s most powerful body issued a statement after a closed-door briefing by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. He told reporters afterward that it is critical to move from the current truce that has had some violations to a cease-fire accord and then to “a real political process.” He said a “major step” was taken Sunday by leaders of 12 countries in agreeing at a meeting in Berlin to a 55-point final document plus operational plans. It commits them not to interfere in Libya’s civil war, to support a cease-fire, to honor a widely broken U.N. arms embargo, and to support a U.N.-facilitated political process, he said. AP

Moscow – Berlin: Next Libya Summit Will Be in Congo – and It’s AU-Led

The next meeting on Libya crisis will take place in Africa and it is an African union, A.U.-led process. It will take place in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo. The January 30, 2020 meeting was communicated in a press release by the AU Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat after taking part in a Berlin conference over the weekend seeking to bring peace to the troubled North African country. The meeting will be under the aegis of the A.U. High Level Committee on Libya. The body “is expected to convene a follow up meeting in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on 30 January 2020. “[its aim will be] to study the evolution of the situation in Libya, ahead of the February 2020 AU Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,” the AU chief said in a statement. The list of people expected to attend has yet to be released. The Committee established in 2011, same year Gaddafi was overthrown, is currently headed by Congolese president Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Sassou was part of the leaders in Berlin over the weekend seeking a resolution to the crisis. Africa News

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday called for Britain to be the “investment partner of choice” for Africa at the first UK-Africa Investment Summit held in London. The summit came less than two weeks before the UK is due to formally leave the European Union (EU), with Johnson hoping to convince African leaders and company executives to make Britain their “investment partner of choice,” while painting Brexit as a “new start” for the UK and trade with other nations. The 16 leaders from 21 African countries in attendance included Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. The summit followed up on a sub-Saharan Africa tour by former Prime Minister Theresa May in 2018 – the first of its kind by a UK leader in five years. Unlike other superpowers such as China and Russia, the UK appeared to have been comparatively slow when it came to increasing their diplomatic and economic presence in Africa. DW

Sudan PM Lauds Radio Dabanga Contribution to Democracy

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok has expressed his gratitude and appreciation “for the fundamental role that Radio Dabanga has played over the years in the fight of the Sudanese people for democracy, justice, prosperity, and peacebuilding.” Hamdok was speaking at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum on Sunday, where he received an official Radio Dabanga delegation including editor-in-chief of Radio Dabanga, Kamal El Sadig and the Director of the Netherlands based organisation Free Press Unlimited, Leon Willems who are on an official visit to Sudan for the first time since the station was established in exile in Amsterdam 11 years ago. During the meeting, the PM stated that Radio Dabanga is one of the media institutions that contributed significantly to the Sudanese revolution. “You were the voice of the Sudanese people at a time when the Sudanese within the country were forcefully silenced. For that the Sudanese people will not forget the fundamental role Radio Dabanga played,” PM said. We really appreciate the role of Radio Dabanga, he added. Radio Dabanga

Mind the Gap: 22 Men Are Richer than All of Africa’s Women

Economic inequality is widening across the world and women in particular are feeling its effects as care work remains undervalued, according to a new report by anti-poverty charity Oxfam. The world’s 22 richest men, for instance, own more wealth than all 325 million women in Africa combined, Oxfam’s Time to Care report showed. “When 22 men have more wealth than all the women in Africa combined, it’s clear that our economy is just plain sexist,” Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive at Oxfam Great Britain said in conjunction with the report’s publication on Monday. Published in advance of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where world leaders will meet this week, Oxfam’s report highlighted how women are “chronically undervalued” for unpaid care work, Sriskandarajah said. … “[Our] research has shown that providing access to an improved water source could save African women significant time, for example in parts of Zimbabwe up to four hours of work a day, or two months a year,” Oxfam said. “Investments in water and sanitation, electricity, childcare and public healthcare could free up women’s time and improve their quality of life.” Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones