Africa Media Review for January 3, 2017

Suicide Bombers Attack Peacekeepers’ Somali HQ, at Least Three Dead
Suicide bombers attacked the main peacekeeping base in Somalia’s capital on Monday, killing at least three Somali security officers, police said. Islamist al Shabaab militants, who want to topple the Western-backed government, said they carried out the assault near Mogadishu’s main airport, an area used by several embassies, aid groups and telecoms companies. One bomber drove a car into a checkpoint outside the headquarters of the African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM, killing three Somali officers stationed there, police officer Mohamed Ahmed said. Another vehicle then drove through towards the base’s main gates but came under fire from peacekeepers. “It exploded about 200 metres from the gate. Civilian buildings were damaged,” AMISOM said on its Twitter feed. The powerful blasts damaged the front of the nearby Hotel Peace, though there were no immediate reports of casualties there. The burned-out shell of one of the wrecked vehicles lay outside. Reuters

Gambia Crisis: Authorities Shut Popular Independent Radio Station
Popular independent Gambian radio station Teranga FM was on Sunday ordered to cease operations by national security agents for unspecified reasons, a security source and staff member said. The station, which translates news from Gambian papers into local languages, has previously been silenced and in 2015 its manager was slapped with sedition and “publication of false news” charges for privately sharing a provocative photo of President Yahya Jammeh. “Four National Intelligence Agency operatives and one police officer in uniform came to the radio station this afternoon [Sunday] around 14:00 and told us to stop broadcasting,” a staff member told AFP on condition of anonymity. News24

Gambia Opposition Warns Longtime Rulers Against ‘Rebel’ Moves
Gambia’s political opposition said Monday that longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh could be considered a rebel leader if he takes up arms and doesn’t step down later this month, a firm warning issued after the president recently vowed that any presence of foreign troops in the tiny West African nation would be tantamount to an act of war. Two days earlier, Jammeh railed against the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS that has urged him to step down. Jammeh claims that numerous voting irregularities invalidate the Dec. 1 ballot won by opposition coalition’s Adama Barrow, and Jammeh’s party is challenging the results in court. Meanwhile, Barrow says he is planning a Jan. 19 inauguration, which puts him on a collision course with Jammeh, who seized power in a bloodless 1994 military coup. AP

Egypt Official Accused of Corruption ‘Kills Himself’
A top Egyptian government official has killed himself in jail after being arrested in connection with a corruption investigation, reports say. Wael Shalaby was a former secretary general of Egypt’s administrative courts system. He resigned on Saturday, a day before his arrest. The public prosecutor said his arrest was part of an inquiry into accusations of officials receiving bribes. A gag order on all media over the corruption case has now been issued. Mr Shalaby’s resignation came after a procurement manager at Egypt’s State Council, the umbrella organisation for the country’s administrative courts, was arrested. Gamal al-Din al-Labban was charged with receiving bribes worth millions of Egyptian pounds. BBC

After Years of Conflict, Egypt Eases Pressure on Gaza
For most of the past decade, Egypt has been a quiet partner with Israel in a blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip that has stifled the economy and largely blocked its 2 million people from moving in and out of the territory. But after a three-year crackdown, there are signs that Egypt is easing the pressure in a step to repair its shattered ties with the Islamic militant group. In recent months, Cairo has increased the number of people allowed to exit through the Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s main gateway to the outside world. It also has begun to allow Gaza to import commercial goods through Rafah for the first time since 2013 and sent public signals that it is interested in improving relations. “There is a ball of hope that was thrown by Egypt,” said Ashraf Jomaa, a Gaza community leader who has taken part in recent meetings with Egyptian officials to discuss the changing ties. “The question is how we, the Palestinians, shall catch that ball and develop the hope.” AP

Hundreds of Migrants Try to Storm Border into Spain’s Enclave of Ceuta
At least 800 sub-Saharan African migrants tried to cross into Spain’s North African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco on Sunday by storming a border fence, though most were eventually turned back, the Spanish and Moroccan governments said. Dozens of migrants made it to the top of the six-metre barbed wire fence early on Sunday before being lifted down by cranes, footage from local TV station Faro TV showed. Spain said about 1,100 migrants attempted the crossing. Only two were allowed into Ceuta to be taken to hospital while the rest were returned to Morocco, the Spanish government said in a statement. Five Spanish police and 50 from Morocco were injured, the government added, after migrants used rocks and metal bars to try and break through gates to access the fence and clashed with authorities. Reuters

Nigeria: MEND Makes U-Turn, Accuses Buhari of ‘Grand Deception’
The Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, a militant group that operates in the Nigerian oil-rich region, appears to have turned hostile against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari whom the group endorsed in the 2015 presidential election. In a statement through its shadowy spokesperson who signs off releases, Jomo Gbomo, MEND on Sunday passed a vote of no confidence on Mr. Buhari, accusing his government of insincerity and “grand deception” with regards to pledged commitment to the politics and economy of the Niger Delta. The volatile region has remained largely impoverished, despite decades of oil production that has provided much of the cash Nigeria uses. Trillions of naira in federal allocations to the region have not changed much. Premium Times

Sudanese Security Exerts Mounting Control over Newspaper Industry
Despite the lift of pre-publication censorship, the Sudanese press continues to suffer from confiscations by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) which has increasingly tightened its grip on printing, distribution and paid advertising in newspapers. The NISS has shown unflinching determination to carry out mass confiscations against newspapers deemed to cross what it describes as “redlines”. In February 2015, it seized print runs of 14 newspapers from the printing press on one day. During the last couple of months, the NISS confiscated copies of the various newspapers 32 times. Chief-Editor of Al-Jareeda daily Ashraf Abdel-Aziz told Sudan Tribune that the NISS seized his newspaper 27 times during the last year, pointing that the National Council for Press and Publications (NCPP) also suspended the news daily four times. Sudan Tribune

SPLM-IO Generals Join FVP Taban Deng
Three army generals have defected from the opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) led by Riek Machar, Sudan Tribune has learnt on Friday. David Dang, head of Taban-led SPLM-IO coordination office here in Addis Ababa on Friday told Sudan Tribune that the three Generals defected along with three officers and joint the faction of First Vice-President Taban Deng Gai. The generals who arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Thursday from Pagak, SPLM-IO headquarters in Upper Nile region defected along with three Army officers. The three Generals are: Brig-General Michael Paul Dak, Brig-General Mun Bach Thoch and Col. Dobuol Wuor Diew. All are from the Gajaak of Maiwut and Longechuk counties. The defector two officers are Capitan Thiedat Mabil Choul from Army’s division-5 and Thiol Kier Wuol, former SPLM Youth League chairman in US. The deserters said they have switched their loyalties from the leadership of Riek Machar and have joined the SPLM/SPLA-IO under the leadership of Taban Deng Gai. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan’s Government Calls for Peace Dialogue
South Sudan’s government says it wants to bring peace and stability in the country this year, after three years of fighting. The government is putting its hopes on the recently launched national dialogue. South Sudan ended 2016 with more clashes between government forces and opposition fighters allied to Riek Machar. As officials try to put together a team to lead the national dialogue, tension remains high in the countryside and clashes are a common occurrence. A senior member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, Peter Adwok Nyaba, says the country’s future lies in implementing the peace agreement that President Salva Kiir and Machar signed in August 2015. VOA

South Sudan to Experience Acute Food Insecurity Levels
War-torn South Sudan will experience extreme levels of food insecurity across the country in the first half of 2017, a new food security report show. Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS Net), a body that provides early warning and analysis on food insecurity said in its new report that food availability is likely to be lower than normal due to below-average production and volatile trade and that very high price could also limit food access. Aid agencies say over 2.5 million people have been displaced by the conflict in South Sudan, with an estimated over a million said to have fled into neighbouring countries. The conflict between South Sudan’s rival factions, has led to deaths of thousands since it broke out in December 2013. Sudan Tribune

Congo President to Leave after 2017 Vote under New Deal
Political parties in Congo signed a deal late Saturday that calls for President Joseph Kabila to leave power after an election that now will be held by the end of next year instead of mid-2018 as his party originally proposed. The New Year’s Eve agreement comes after months of unrest that left dozens dead and threatened to further destabilize the vast Central African nation with a painful history of dictatorship and civil war. Catholic church officials had mediated talks to reach a compromise and initially imposed a Christmas deadline. The negotiations reached a stalemate, though, and resumed again Thursday under mounting pressure to avoid major violence amid opposition calls for Kabila to step down. Officials announced that a deal had been reached Saturday evening on the major issues though representatives did not sign it until around 11 p.m. local time on New Year’s Eve. AP

At Least 6 Hacked to Death in Fresh ‘Rebel’ Attacks in DRC
At least six people were hacked to death in troubled northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in two attacks last week, blamed on Ugandan rebels, a regional official told AFP on Monday. The government and the UN mission in the central African country Monusco have accused the shadowy rebel group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), dominated by hardline Ugandan Muslims, of carrying out a two-year bloodbath in the region. “There have been attacks blamed on suspected ADF members near the border with Nord Kivu (province), which left at least six people dead in Irumu territory,” the vice governor of Ituri province, Pacifique Keta, said. News24

Burundi: Four Arrests in Connection with Environment Minister Assassination
A woman, two guards and the owner of “Chez André” restaurant have been arrested for investigation following the assassination of the Minister of Water and Environment. Emmanuel Niyonkuru, 54, was killed on 1 January by a criminal with a gun at about 00: 45 local time while going back to his home in Rohero neighborhood of Mukaza municipality in Bujumbura city, police report. Pierre Nkurikiye, Police Spokesman, says the criminal would be the woman who was with the minister in the vehicle or the guard who opened the gate. “Following his assassination scene, there is no doubt, his murderer was in the vehicle”, he says. Nkurikiye says the owner of “Chez André” restaurant has also been arrested because the victim was coming from there. Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza said the crime would not go unpunished. Iwacu

What Next for Rwanda and Burundi Relations?
The year 2016 is ending with relations between Rwanda and Burundi at an all-time low. Kigali says it wants to stay away from the crisis in Burundi but Bujumbura maintains its accusations of meddling against its neighbour. There is little prospect of détente, with Bujumbura insisting that peace talks can only proceed if all countries hosting opposition members fighting the government, including Rwanda, ask them to leave. Talks between President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government and the opposition to resolve the political crisis that began in April 2015 have collapsed several times and are set to resume soon, but opposition groups want the facilitator Benjamin Mkapa to step down. Early December, Mr Mkapa made remarks that seemed to legitimise President Nkurunziza as the elected leader of the country, angering exiled opposition groups, which called for his resignation and asked the United Nations to take over. The East African

Zimbabwe Sells Wildlife to China ‘Secretly’
Scores of young elephants from Zimbabwe landed in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday, according to the flight plan of the cargo aeroplane involved. It is understood that Zimbabwe’s national parks authority was ashamed or embarrassed about exporting wildlife to China, which is why it claimed to be capturing scores of young jumbos this year to restock parks and conservancies inside the country. But the reality is apparently very different: the authority has allegedly been grabbing the young animals to export to China, not least because Zimbabwe is bankrupt. IOL



Photo: Adam Jones