Africa Media Review for January 24, 2018

Libya Car Bomb Death Toll Rises to 33 and Wounds 71 in Benghazi
The death toll from a car bomb blast has risen to 33 people and wounded 71 others near a mosque in the Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday night, security officials told Al Arabiya. The explosives-rigged vehicle blew up in front of a mosque in the central neighborhood of Al-Sleimani, a security source said. Sources have also confirmed to Al Arabiya that Libya’s counter-espionage director at Libyan Intelligence, Brigadier Mahdi Falah, is among the injured in the blast. Spokesman of Central Security in Benghazi Tarek al-Kharraz earlier told Al Arabiya that the bombing left more than 40 wounded. “Aid is still ongoing, while the criminal investigation teams and other security services are investigating the incident to reach the culprits,” Kharraz told Al Arabiya. Al Arabiya

U.N. Condemns Congo’s Use of Force against Protesters and Monitors
The United Nations on Tuesday expressed alarm over mounting repression in the Democratic Republic of Congo after security forces fired on anti-government protesters, killing at least six people, and attacked a United Nations official monitoring the protests. The violence erupted Sunday during protests in the capital, Kinshasa, and other major cities calling on President Joseph Kabila to step down and hold free elections. Mr. Kabila was to step down at the end of 2016 at the end of his second term, as constitutionally mandated. But he refused to do so. United Nations human rights monitors in Kinshasa had verified the deaths of six people but were investigating reports that four more people had been killed and believed the number of fatalities could rise, said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the United Nations human rights office in Geneva. Ms. Shamdasani also said that 68 people were injured and 121 people were arrested during the demonstrations.  The New York Times

Congo Becoming like a Prison under Kabila, Says Combative Cardinal
The head of Congo’s Catholic church condemned the government of President Joseph Kabila on Tuesday for a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, suggesting his country was becoming like a prison. Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo has been ratcheting up a conflict between the government and one of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s most powerful institutions, as the church increasingly becomes a focal point for opposition to Kabila’s efforts to stay in power with no mandate. Security forces shot dead at least six people and wounded dozens more as they fired tear gas to disperse a protest on Sunday that the Catholic church had organized, triggering widespread international condemnation.  VOA

UN Troops Returning to Only Base in Rebel-Held South Sudan
United Nations peacekeepers are returning to the only U.N. base in South Sudan “clearly” in an area under opposition control as residents hope for protection from what they call growing attacks by government troops. “We’ve had several requests to be there” in Akobo, U.N. mission chief David Shearer told The Associated Press, calling the gap in services there significant. The first peacekeepers are expected to arrive in the next few weeks. This will be the first U.N. peacekeeper presence in Akobo since 2013, when the base of 43 troops was abandoned after armed men stormed the compound and killed three Indian peacekeepers. Situated near the Ethiopian border, the bustling town is one of South Sudan’s last opposition strongholds and has become a refuge for thousands of ethnic Nuer fleeing the fighting in Upper Nile and Jonglei states. AP

Zambia Police Arrest Critic of President
Police arrested a former information minister, who is also the leader of a breakaway political party from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF), on charges of fraud and corruption on Tuesday. Lusaka Province Police Commissioner Nelson Phiri told journalists Chishimba Kambwili had been summoned to appear before investigators to answer the charges that allegedly took place during his tenure as information minister. According to Phiri, Kambwili was warned and a caution statement was recorded against him on Tuesday afternoon. He was later released. “Kambwili has been released after fulfilling conditions of a police bond and will appear in court soon.”  Anadolu Agency

UN Urges Mali Government to Hold Presidential Vote in July
The U.N. peacekeeping chief is urging Mali’s government to do everything possible to hold presidential elections on schedule in mid-July. Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Security Council on Tuesday that last week’s adoption of a timeline for the government, Tuareg separatists, and armed groups to implement a June 2015 peace agreement by the end of March was an important step. He said this should lead to progress on a host of issues including reform of the security sector and establishing security conditions for the presidential vote as well as local and regional elections in April. Lacroix said “it’s urgent that we confront the fact that we’re racing against time in Mali. We are confronting increasing insecurity.”  AP

Ex-Nigerian President Asks Buhari Not to Seek Re-election
Former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo asked President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek re-election next year, saying he has failed in his management of Africa’s most populous country. “I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time,” Obasanjo said on Tuesday in an emailed statement. “President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.” Obasanjo, who served two terms as an elected president from 1999 to 2007, backed Buhari in his 2015 election and defeat of then President Goodluck Jonathan by the All Progressives Congress to effect the first democratic transfer of power in the country of more than 180 million people. Bloomberg

Blast Near Mogadishu Kills 4, including Child
Four people have been killed and six others wounded in a remote-controlled improvised explosive device explosion near the Somali capital on Tuesday, officials and witnesses said. Three government soldiers and a seven-year-old-boy were killed after the explosion hit a military vehicle at K-13, a suburb near Mogadishu, witnesses said. District commissioner Kahda Mohamed Ismail Abdullahi told VOA Somali that the three soldiers were in the vehicle targeted in the explosion. “The child was about seven years old; he was bystander walking on the side of the road,” Abdullahi said. The injured include soldiers as well as civilians, he said. VOA

Zimbabwe Leader Orders Top Officials to Declare Assets
Zimbabwe has given cabinet ministers and senior government officials until the end of February to declare their assets as new President Emmerson Mnangagwa seeks to foster transparency and fight corruption. Mnangagwa, 75, took power after Robert Mugabe was toppled by the military. He immediately promised to tackle corruption, especially in public institutions. Misheck Sibanda, chief secretary to the president and cabinet, said in a statement that it was now mandatory for cabinet ministers, their deputies, senior government officials and bosses of state-owned businesses to declare their assets. VOA

EU Ready to Review Its Policies on Zim
The European Union says it welcomes Zimbabwe’s efforts to deliver economic reforms and will support the authorities in establishing a constructive re-engagement with international financial institutions. In a statement released on Monday, the EU also said it stands ready to review its policies towards the Southern African country. “The EU welcomes the stated intention of the Zimbabwean authorities to deliver economic reforms in Zimbabwe, aiming at supporting job creation, growth and sustainable long term development, and reaffirms its willingness to support the planning and implementation of much needed structural changes and the promotion of good governance. “In this context, the EU will support the authorities in establishing as soon as possible a constructive re-engagement with international financial institutions based on a clear and time-bound economic and political programme,” said the EU. News 24

Tension in East Africa Ticks Up over Nile, Gulf Power Struggle
Tension in East Africa is rising after Ethiopia’s prime minister this weekend rejected Egypt’s suggestion the World Bank arbitrate ongoing disagreements over the construction of a dam on the Nile River. The stakes are high for both countries. Ethiopia says the $5 billion hydroelectric dam will provide power to millions in desperate need of electric power. Egypt says it will disrupt the flow of water from the Nile, jeopardizing agriculture in the country. Ethiopia anticipated the dam, now in its seventh year of construction, would be completed last year, but the project is only about 60 percent complete, according to the Associated Press. The nixed arbitration is the latest setback in a months-long dispute between the regional powers. It’s also one of many regional conflicts heightened by a growing power struggle among Gulf states that continues to spill into East Africa. VOA

South Sudanese Rebels Demand Compensation to Release Kenyan Pilots
South Sudanese rebels are holding two Kenyan pilots and will not release them until compensation is paid to the family of a civilian killed when their plane crashed, a rebel spokesman told Reuters on Tuesday. The plane crashed in Akobo, in the Greater Upper Nile region, two weeks ago, Lam Paul Gabriel, the rebels’ deputy spokesman, said. “When the plane crashed, it took a life. There was a lady that was killed and also there were some animals killed. The relatives of the lady and the owners of the cows are complaining they want compensation,” he said. “They (Kenyan leaders) have to write an official letter to Dr Riek Machar and it will come to us to inform of an order, then we will release him.” Machar, the country’s former vice president, is the head of the largest rebel faction but has been held under house arrest in South Africa since 2016. Reuters

Kenya Builds Its First Satellite
Engineers from Kenya’s University of Nairobi have built the country’s first satellite, which will be launched in two months time. The 10cm cube satellite described as a nano-satellite was supported by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Japan provided the $1 million (£720,000) funding and the platform for construction but it was Kenyan hands that did the building. The satellite will be used observe farming trends and to monitor the country’s coastline. It will be sent to the International Space Station in March and then launched into action – by a robotic arm – about a month later. This would make Kenya one of just six African countries to have sent satellites into space. BBC

Egypt Arrests Ex-General Who Stood for Election against Sisi
Egyptian authorities have arrested a retired general after denying him permission to run in presidential elections in March. Sami Anan was the last challenger seen as a potential threat to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, himself a former military chief, whose re-election is considered almost certain. The arrest of Anan, a former member of Egypt’s supreme military council for armed forces (Scaf), appears to be a calculated move to push him out of the race. Earlier a declaration by the military accused him of election violations and said he would be “summoned for interrogation in front of specialised personnel”. Mahmoud Refaat, a spokesman for Anan’s campaign abroad, said: “I hold the regime of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi entirely responsible for his wellbeing. Yesterday 30 members of campaign were also arrested as well as some of their family members. It’s not known where any of them are being held.”  The Guardian

Israeli Pilots Refuse to Fly Deported Refugees Back to Africa
A group of airline pilots in Israel recently vowed not to fly deported African asylum seekers and refugees back to war-stricken countries in their home continent, Israeli media has reported. Their protest comes days after Zizim Community Action, an Israeli non-government organization, launched an online campaign calling on pilots from the Israel Aviation Association and the Israel Pilots Association to refuse to fly migrants to Rwanda, Sudan or any other country deemed dangerous by the group. “Throughout the world, citizens are fighting cruel expulsion decrees and stand alongside refugees and asylum-seekers,” Raluca Gena, chief executive officer of Zizim, said in a statement last Thursday. “This is a test for the Israeli public to determine the fate of tens of thousands of people.” Newsweek

Nigerians Return from Slavery in Libya to Thriving Sex-Trafficking Industry Back Home
[…] Survivors and experts say the rush to return Nigerians is doing little to break the cycle of sex slavery and may be perpetuating it: Returnees are dropped back into the epicenter of Nigeria’s sex-trafficking industry, often deeper in debt and with fewer options than before they left. “As images of modern-day slavery in Libya are impugning the conscience of our political leaders, it must be recognized as part of a bigger, systemic problem,” said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a U.N. agency. West Africa’s “turbocharged” sex-trafficking industry “tends to get pushed aside,” he said. In December alone, the IOM returned more than 2,000 Nigerian men and women from Libya, more than double the number in all of 2016. In 2017, the IOM returned more than 6,700 Nigerians from Libya, with an additional 300 so far this year. Traffickers send far more women from Nigeria to Libya than the number returned. From 2014 to 2016, the number of women trafficked for sex to Libya and across the Mediterranean increased by more than 600 percent, according to the IOM. The Washington Post

Angola’s New ‘Terminator’ President Vows to Kill Corruption
Since taking office four months ago, Angola’s new president has made some attention-grabbing moves that he says are part of his campaign promise to clean up the nation’s ailing, corruption-riddled economy. In December, President Joao Lourenco removed Isabel dos Santos, eldest daughter of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, from her post at the head of the nation’s oil company. Then, earlier this month, he sacked Jose Filomeno dos Santos, as head of the nation’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. The moves are aimed to inject energy into a stagnant economy that has long been dependent on oil exports and foreign investment. VOA

Tanzania’s Mining Firms Have Three Months to Comply with Law
Tanzania is set to restructure its troubled mining sector after the government gave mining companies three months to comply with new guidelines, which give local mining firms and financial institutions preference. Part of the regulations state: “A contractor, subcontractor, licensee or other allied entity shall before the commencement of mining activities submit a plan to the Commission specifying the role and responsibilities of the indigenous Tanzanian company; the equity participation of the indigenous Tanzanian company; and the strategy for the transfer of technology and know-how to the indigenous Tanzanian company,” “Mining companies will have to open and operate bank accounts in a “100 per cent” Tanzanian-owned banks. The rules give the government the right to oversee the implementation of these regulations, evaluate and review contracts as see fit. The East African

UN Blames Leadership and Inaction for Peacekeeper Killings
A U.N. report on the increase in peacekeepers killed in violent attacks blames many of the fatalities on inaction in the field and “a deficit of leadership” from U.N. headquarters to remote locations. It urges greater initiative, determination, action and use of force when necessary. “Nobody attacks a stronger opponent,” the authors say. The report released Monday was authorized by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and funded by China. It was led by retired Brazilian Lt. Gen. Carlos Alberto dos Santo Cruz, a former commander of U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti and Congo, and retired U.S. Army Col. William Phillips, a former chief of staff in the peacekeeping mission in Mali. AP