Africa Media Review for January 26, 2018

Mine Explosion on Civilian Vehicle Central Mali Kills 26
A landmine explosion blew up a civilian passenger vehicle in central Mali on Thursday, killing 26 people and wounding several others, state TV reported. The vehicle had crossed the volatile border with neighboring Burkina Faso, where militants loyal to Islamic State are known to operate, when it ran over the mine, Malian army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone said. State TV said many of the dead and wounded in the explosion, which took place by the village of Boni, not far from central Mali’s medieval Islamic city of Mopti, once a popular tourist spot, were Burkina Faso nationals. Reuters

Congo ‘State Agents’ Murdered Hundreds in 2017, Says UN Report
“State agents” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo carried out 1,176 extrajudicial killings last year, according to a report published by the United Nations mission in the central African country. The report says at least 89 women and 213 children were among the dead. The number of extrajudicial killings had tripled over the past two years, and Congolese armed forces were responsible for 64% of the total, the UN said. The findings will deepen international concern about the growing violence in the DRC, where there has been political and ethnic unrest and where militia groups have carried out attacks. On Sunday security forces shot dead at least six people and wounded dozens more as they fired teargas to disperse demonstrations organised by the Catholic church. The protest was the latest in a series since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016. The Guardian

Thousands Flee to Uganda as DRC Violence Surges
People fleeing the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo) have reported a surge in arbitrary killings, rapes and abductions by unidentified armed groups. The violence has pushed more than 10,000 people into neighbouring Uganda since the beginning of December, according to the UN. Rebecca Salama, a refugee from Congo, told Al Jazeera in Uganda’s Nyakabande refugee transit camp in western Uganda that armed groups kept attacking her village, forcing her to walk into neighbouring Uganda with her husband and five children. “When you go to pick your crops, or go to the forest for firewood, if you’re a man, they kill you, and if you are a woman, they’ll rape you. That is why we came here,” she said. Al Jazeera

DR Congo, Belgium in New Diplomatic Spat
The Democratic Republic of Congo has told Belgium to close its new development agency in the country and shutter an EU visa-processing centre, in the latest spat between the DRC and its former colonial power. The move comes on the heels of Belgian and EU protests over a crackdown on rallies against President Joseph Kabila. In a press statement issued late Wednesday, the foreign ministry said the government wanted the “dismantling” of a consular arrangement in Kinshasa. Under it, Belgium handles visa requests for the European Union’s border-free Schengen zone. The government also wants the “immediate cessation” of activities by Belgium’s new development agency, Enabel, the ministry said. AFP

Chad Shuts Down Internet, as Police Patrol Streets
The people of N’Djamena woke up Thursday without the Internet, and saw the deployment of police on the streets of the Chadian capital – two measures likely related to the unauthorized march that civil society organizations planned.Despite being banned by the authorities, they have called for a peaceful march to protest against recent government austerity measures such as rising fuel price, taxes, the cutting of civil servants’ salaries and the banning of firewood. APA

Rise in Migrant Arrivals to Italy Raises Fears over Libyan Lawlessness
There was a 15% year-on-year rise in the number of people reaching Italy from Libya in the first three weeks of January, piling more pressure on the UN to try to end the political stalemate in the north African country. In the first weeks of January the number of migrants arriving in Italy was 2,749, an increase from 2,393 for the same period in 2017. Comparisons by month are seen as the best indicator since there is a seasonal element to the numbers. The rise follows months of declining figures. There was an overall fall in arrivals in 2017 to 119,130 from 181,436 in 2016. Italian government officials, facing an election in March in which migration is featuring strongly, hope the January rise is a blip, but there are fears that growing political instability in Libya is breaking down some of the informal and formal deals between the Italian government and militias, which contributed to the fall in 2017. The Guardian

Kagame, Netanyahu ‘Agree’ on African Deportation from Israel
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said Kigali would take in immigrants deported from Israel provided the process complies with international law. President Kagame met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday. After the talks, Mr Netanyahu’s office said the two leaders discussed a range of issues including bilateral cooperation and that of migrants. “Regarding the migrant issue, Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed with President Kagame, who made it clear that he would only accept a process that fully complies with international law,” the Israeli PM’s office tweeted.  The East African

In Davos, Trump Meets Rwandan President, Calls Him ‘Friend’
President Donald Trump met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, calling him a “friend” in the aftermath of Trump’s controversial comments about African countries. The leaders met Friday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Kagame is beginning a one-year term as head of the African Union, a 55-member continental body. Trump recently drew widespread condemnation for allegedly referring to African nations with a vulgarity in discussing immigration, according to those at the meeting. The president has denied using that language, but others present say he did. Kagame says he and Trump had “good discussions” on economic and trade issues. He says the African Union is “looking forward to working with the United States.”  VOA

Ethiopia Army Suppressing New Protests in Amhara: Gunfire, Deaths Reported
Local media portals are reporting violent protests in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region. The protest in the town of Kobo is against an earlier deadly crackdown that killed seven people in the town of Woldiya last Sunday. The Addis Standard and Addis Gazetta portals report that the clashes started on Wednesday leading to the burning of government offices and other public properties. The heavy military presence in the region and the sound of gunshots suggest that live bullets are being discharged. There are no official casualties reported from the incident even though journalists said three people have been killed. Africa News

South Sudan Regrets “Outrageous” U.S. Statement on President Kiir
South Sudan on Thursday described as outrageous and regrettable the statement by the U.S. diplomat at the UN that the Juba government is unfit to sail the country out of the four-year conflict. Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said the statement by Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, on Wednesday is demoralizing to South Sudan leaders she met in October last year in Juba. Talking to Xinhua, Ateny condemned the “outrageous statement” about President Salva Kiir being unfit to govern South Sudan, adding that it shows the international community is taking sides in the conflict. Xinhua

South Sudan Ceasefire Body Says Leaders Breaking Peace Deal Could Face Sanctions
An internationally backed ceasefire monitoring team in South Sudan said it has asked the U.N. Security Council to say whether leaders violating a peace treaty should face asset freezes, regional travel bans, or an arms embargo. The statement comes a day after Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, urged the body to impose an arms embargo and spoke of growing international frustration with the South Sudanese government. South Sudan has been riven by civil war since 2013 after clashes between troops loyal to former vice president Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir. The fighting took on ethnic overtones, killing tens of thousands of people, causing widespread hunger and forced a third of the population to flee. Reuters

At Least 43,000 Cameroonian Refugees Flee to Nigeria: Local Aid Officials
More than 43,000 Cameroonians have fled as refugees to Nigeria to escape a crackdown by the government on Anglophone separatists, local aid officials said on Thursday. The figure is almost three times as high as that given by the United Nations and Nigerian officials two weeks ago. Cameroon is a majority French-speaking country but two southwestern regions bordering Nigeria are Anglophone. Last October, separatists declared independence for a state they want to create called Ambazonia, sparking a military crackdown by the government of President Paul Biya. Reuters

South African Inquiry Can Investigate Guptas in Fresh Blow to Zuma
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday a judicial enquiry could investigate allegations of influence peddling by his friends the Gupta brothers, in an apparent fresh sign of his waning power. The announcement is a blow to Zuma because he went to court in an attempt to thwart the investigation. The enquiry will look at whether the three brothers offered cabinet positions to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and former lawmaker Vytjie Mentor, according to the government gazette. It will also examine whether Zuma or any member of government facilitated the unlawful awarding of tender contracts that benefited the Guptas. Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing and say they are victims of a witch hunt. Reuters

Ramaphosa: South Africa Captured by Corrupt Elements
Cyril Ramaphosa, the new leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC says President Zuma is feeling “anxious” about his future. His term in office is not scheduled to end until elections in 2019 but there have been calls for him to be replaced by Mr Ramaphosa immediately. Mr Ramaphosa told BBC Hardtalk’s Zeinab Badawi: “Everyone agrees that our state was captured by corrupt elements, by people who purported to be close to the president, who have been doing really bad things getting into many state institutions.” President Zuma has been embroiled in a series of corruption scandals – he denies any wrongdoing. BBC

Grace Mugabe Not Immune from Prosecution
Robert and Grace Mugabe are living comfortably but the former first lady could be prosecuted for crimes allegedly committed while her husband was in power. Robert Mugabe’s downfall in Zanu PF circles is largely credited to his wife. Independent legislator Temba Mliswa‚ who was fired from Zanu PF for his close allegiance to Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2016‚ on Wednesday demanded that Grace Mugabe face the music. “The former first lady is sitting on over 20 farms‚ what is government doing to recover these farms‚” he asked. Times Live

Corruption Trial Underway for Ambitious Dakar Mayor
The mayor of Dakar is standing trial for corruption. The case is politically charged, as Khalifa Sall, who has been in jail for almost a year, was still elected to a seat in the National Assembly in July and is seen as a presidential contender in 2019. Now all eyes are on the courthouse, where Sall’s trial began this week. Crowds of people elbowed their way into Dakar’s main courthouse, the Palais de Justice, Tuesday to witness the arrival of Khalifa Sall, the city’s popular mayor and now defendant in a high-profile corruption case. Sall has been behind bars since March of last year. He is charged with embezzling about $34 million in public funds between 2011 and 2015. He is also charged with criminal conspiracy, falsification of records, money laundering and fraud. Requests for bail have been denied. VOA

Nigeria to Protest US Conditions on $494 Million Purchase of Fighter Planes
Nigeria will protest to the United States over conditions imposed on its planned $494 million purchase of 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes, Defense Minister Mansur Dan Ali said on Thursday. Those conditions include the 2020 transfer date for the aircraft and that Nigerian technicians will not be trained by U.S. staff, be part of maintenance crews, nor can they study the production of the planes, he told reporters at a briefing in Abuja. … In December, Nigeria’s air force said the deal had been formally agreed. Dan Ali did not say whether the disagreement over the conditions would affect the air force’s February 20 target for the final agreements to be signed and initial payments made. VOA

Chevron, Exxon and Total on Niger Delta Hit List
A group of militant organizations calling itself a Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators has released a list of oil targets that include fields and infrastructure operated by Exxon, Chevron, and Total. The militants will target more than two dozen fields, they said, as well as other facilities. The Coalition, which doesn’t seem to include the Niger Delta Avengers, said the federal government had failed to address adequately the grievances voiced by local communities and after three weeks of consultations, they had decided to give Abuja 90 days to take urgent measures to restructure the oil industry in the Niger Delta and tighten resource control. Oil Price

Senegal Arrests 24 Suspects in Casamance Killings
Senegalese police have arrested and charged 24 people over an shooting attack in its restive southern Casamance region earlier this month that left 14 villagers dead, a regional prosecutor said on Thursday. Gunmen attacked a group of civilians who were searching for firewood in a forest on Jan. 6 near the town of Borofaye, about 10 km (six miles) from the Guinea Bissau border. Another seven people villagers were wounded in the attack. The area is home to separatist rebels who in 1982 formed the Movement of Democratic Forces for Casamance (MFDC), now one of Africa’s oldest rebellions, fighting for independence. Reuters

Mgwebi’s Term as MONUSCO Force Commander Ends
The man many in South African military circles rate as the epitome of both a professional soldier and officer, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, has completed a two year term as force commander of the largest United Nations peacekeeping mission in the world. The man who headed up the Joint Operations Division of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) prior to being selected as MONUSCO force commander, a post he took up in January 2015, is according to the MONUSCO strategic communication and public information division, “already back in South Africa”. Prior to leaving the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mgwebi was the review officer at two farewell parades. The first was in Goma where he was based and the second at MONUSCO headquarters in the DRC capital Kinshasa. The parades were held last week after which, according to MONUSCO strategic communications chief Charles Bambara, he returned to South Africa. DefenceWeb

Ethiopia Could Be Sitting on One of the World’s Great Untapped Gold Deposits
To the west of Ethiopia near the Sudanese border lies a place called the Asosa zone. This may be the location of the oldest gold mine in the world. Dating back some 6,000 years, it provided a key source of gold to the ancient Egyptian empire, whose great wealth was famous throughout the known world. It may even have supplied the Queen of Sheba with her lavish gifts of gold when she visited King Solomon of Israel almost 3,000 years ago. The excitement in this part of the world is more about the future, however. Some local inhabitants already make a living from prospecting, and several mining companies have been active in the area in recent years, too. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones