Africa Media Review for January 3, 2019

13 Dead in Burkina Faso after Suspected Jihadist Attack
Thirteen people died when suspected jihadists attacked a village in central-northern Burkina Faso, triggering a deadly bout of ethnic violence, local sources and a security official said on Wednesday. Gunmen on motorbikes attacked the village of Yirgou in Barsalogo district on Tuesday morning, “killing six people, including the village chief” and his son, the security official said. A Barsalogo resident, reached by phone by AFP from the capital Ouagadougou, said local villagers, who were from the Mossi ethnic group, then attacked a nearby camp of herders from the nomadic Fulani group, “accusing them of being accomplices of the terrorists.” “Seven Fulani herders were lynched and their homes were burned down,” the security official said. The mayor of Barsalogo district, Abdoulaye Pafadnam, said the 13 dead were buried at nightfall on Tuesday, but added it was possible the toll was even higher. AFP

Nigerian Helicopter Crashes while Fighting Boko Haram
A Nigerian Air Force helicopter crashed in combat, as fighting raged against Boko Haram extremists for control of the strategic town of Baga in northeastern Nigeria, according to the military. The helicopter crash occurred on Wednesday, according to a tweet by air force spokesperson, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola. The fighting was at Damasak in Northern Borno state, he said, without giving details of the fate of the helicopter crew. The military is fighting to regain control of Baga, which Boko Haram seized last week. The town is a key base for a multinational force fighting the extremists. Many Baga residents have fled to the larger city of Maiduguri. The fighting for Baga is intense, the chief of army training and operations, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, told reporters. AP

DRC Curbs French Radio Station RFI in Tension Vote
Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday said it had pulled accreditation for a French radio journalist and cut off the station’s broadcasts amid tensions over the counting of votes in crucial elections. The authorities said accreditation for the Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent in Kinshasa, Florence Morice, had been withdrawn. Government spokesman Lambert Mende accused Morice of violating electoral law and “the code of good conduct for foreign journalists covering the elections.” Accusing the station of stirring controversy, he said, “RFI’s broadcasts have been cut off in all of Congo’s cities….” RFI, a French public-service broadcaster, has a very large audience in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a French-speaking country of around 80 million people. It has been closely covering Sunday’s presidential elections and the marathon vote tally. AFP

Congolese Flee to Uganda after Vote, Raising Ebola Fears
A Red Cross official says hundreds of refugees have crossed into Uganda from Congo in the aftermath of that country’s presidential election, heightening concerns about the possible cross-border spread of Ebola. Irene Nakasiita, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Uganda, said Wednesday that the influx started the day after Sunday’s vote and since then dozens have been arriving at a time. She said some Congolese trying to cross the border were forced back after resisting the efforts of Ugandan health officials screening people for Ebola. Congo’s government cited Ebola in the country’s northeast for a contentious decision to bar an estimated 1 million voters from the Dec. 30 election. Nearly 600 Ebola cases have been reported, with more than 350 confirmed deaths since August. VOA

Sudan Restricts Social Media Access to Counter Protest Movement
Sudanese authorities are blocking access to popular social media platforms used to organise and broadcast nationwide anti-government protests triggered by an economic crisis, internet users say. Sudan has been rocked by near-daily demonstrations over the past two weeks. Protesters have set alight ruling party buildings and have called on President Omar al-Bashir, who took power in 1989, to step down. In a country where the state tightly controls traditional media, the internet has become a key information battleground. … Users of the three main telecommunications operators in the country — Zain, MTN and Sudani — said access to Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp has only been possible through use of a virtual private network (VPN). Though VPNs can bring their own connection problems and some Sudanese are unaware of their existence, activists have used them widely to organize and document the demonstrations. Reuters

Are Sudan’s Protests against Bashir Regime Doomed to Fail?
In mid-December, the Sudanese people started to demonstrate in cities around the country. … Politically and economically isolated, both regionally and internationally, the Bashir regime cannot solve the current crisis, the president’s opponents argued at a press conference in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, justifying calls for his resignation. Only a new government that enjoys the trust of the Sudanese people can end the unrest, they said. The protests continued to ramp up while Bashir remained silent — until Tuesday, when he agreed to set up an investigative commission headed by the Sudanese justice minister. Mohamed Hassan, a Sudanese lawmaker for the opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), believes the West’s response to the protests has been disappointing thus far. “We expected more support, but we recognize that international politics is guided by its own interests,” he told DW. DW

Egypt Activist Urges Sisi to Pardon Detained Wife
A prominent rights activist appealed to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday to pardon his wife, sentenced to two years in jail for posting a video denouncing sexual harassment. “We ask the President of the Republic for pardon,” said Mohamed Lotfi, who heads the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms NGO. Former actress and model Amal Fathi was sentenced at an appeal hearing on Sunday for “spreading false news” and “inciting regime change”. She had been arrested in May over a video she posted online, criticising sexual harassment in Egypt and alleging that guards at a bank had sexually harassed her. Lotfi, 37, called on Sisi to take into account that his wife is “a victim” of harassment, and is being treated for trauma and depression. “Her condition has worsened during prison,” he said. AFP

Somalia: EU, UK & Germany Suspends Financial Aid over Robow Arrest
The European Commission, the United Kingdom, and Germany have suspended its support for Somalia Police in the South West state under the Joint Policing Programme. The move follows concerns by the donors with the conduct of the police during the elections period in South West State. “Given the nature of these concerns, it is with regret we have taken the difficult decision to suspend our support to the police in South West State for the time being and have instructed UNOPS, as the JPP fund manager, accordingly,” they said in a joint statement released on Tuesday. … At least 13 people were killed in the Baidoa unrests that followed the arrest of regional presidential contender and former Alshabaab number two Mukhtar Robow. Dalsan Radio

Thousands Protest ‘Election Fraud’ in Madagascar
Madagascan security forces have fired tear gas to break up a protest by supporters of losing presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana, who claims he was denied victory in last month’s election because of fraud. In the runoff vote on December 19, Ravalomanana won 44 percent against Andry Rajoelina’s 55 percent, according to official results. Thousands of Ravalomanana’s supporters gathered in the centre of the capital Antananarivo on Wednesday but were quickly dispersed by police using tear gas, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. “We came to erect a giant screen projecting anomalies in the second-round election but we were fired at with tear gas,” Hanitra Razafimanantsoa, a lawmaker from Ravalomanana’s party, told the media. Al Jazeera

Doctors’ Strike Exacerbates Health Sector Crisis in Zimbabwe
A monthlong nationwide strike by doctors in Zimbabwe has left thousands of patients without adequate treatment and many beds empty. The doctors are demanding an increase in salaries and improved working conditions. The striking doctors say the public health sector in Zimbabwe has suffered years of neglect. Speaking to DW, doctor Allan Dimingo said the decision to strike had not been taken lightly but working conditions for himself and his colleagues were “terrible.” He said doctors have less than 30 percent of the drugs listed on Zimbabwe’s Essential Drugs List (EDLIZ). “That is unacceptable,” he said. The government considers the strike to be illegal. After a labor court ruled in favor of the government in December, doctors were given a 12-hour ultimatum to return to work but they did not comply. More than 500 doctors were then suspended without pay. One of them, Prince Butau, described the psychological pressure the doctors were dealing with. “We can come back to work as doctors but we will be doing nothing because there is nothing to help the patients with. We are just attending to patients but patients are dying whilst we watch. It is not good for us to remain quiet if we do not tell the whole nation or the world what is happening.” DW

Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed: The Leader Promising to Heal a Nation
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been widely praised for introducing sweeping reforms aimed at ending political repression, writes BBC Africa editor Fergal Keane after visiting the country. The crowd at the airport in Jimma in Ethiopia’s Oromia region was handpicked and universally rapturous. But these were not the praise-singing party hacks who so often grace the arrivals and departures of powerful men in Africa. Men and women, old, young and very young – beaming babies were held above the crowd – had gathered to witness the arrival of a political sensation. “We are so very happy,” an elderly man shouted to me above the sound of the military band, “it is like a renaissance. We have waited so long for this.” … The pace of change has delighted pro-democracy activists and thrown more reactionary elements off balance. BBC

Artwork Taken from Africa, Returning to a Home Transformed
When Emmanuel Macron, the French president, told students in Burkina Faso in 2017 that he wanted to see a “temporary or permanent restitution” of African art in French collections, no one in the museum world could be sure whether it would happen. Then came publication on Nov. 21 of a blockbuster report, written for Mr. Macron by Bénédicte Savoy of France and Felwine Sarr of Senegal, which calls for the return of possibly thousands of works of art. Suddenly, the door was opening to what could be the largest shake-up ever of European museums with objects acquired during the colonial era. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones