Africa Media Review for January 6, 2017

Heavy Weapons Fire in ‘Mutiny’ Near I Coast Military Camp
Heavy weapons fire was heard Friday near Ivory Coast’s largest military camp in the city of Bouake, where at least two police stations were attacked, an AFP journalist said. “It’s a mutiny by former fighters integrated into the army who are demanding bonuses of 5 million CFA francs ($8 000) each plus a house,” a soldier who asked to remain anonymous told AFP. The AFP journalist in Bouake, the country’s second largest city, said “the soldiers attacked at least two police stations and erected barricades in the town center. “There is no more traffic. The firing of Kalashnikovs can be heard near the 3rd battalion” camp. The troops “have taken up positions at different sections of the city. They can be seen parading around in police vehicles”. News 24

Schoolgirl Hostage Found Almost Three Years after Boko Haram Capture
Almost three years after Boko Haram militants kidnapped nearly 300 schoolgirls from the remote Chibok community in northern Nigeria, soldiers found another one of the captives alive Thursday, along with her 6-month-old baby. The discovery re-energizes hope among those who have rallied around the slogan “Bring back our girls” since the mass abduction drew worldwide attention to the country’s conflict and humanitarian crisis, which have left more than 20,000 dead and displaced 2.6 million. With nearly 200 girls still missing, however, the discovery also highlights how this conflict could be far from over. When a handful of soldiers defending the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok ran out of ammunition and fled on April 14, 2014, militants stormed the facility and seized 276 girls who were there preparing for their science exams. Dozens escaped within the first few hours, but most of them remained captive under Boko Haram control. CS Monitor

Chad Closes Border with Libya
Chad has closed its 2,000-km border with Libya and pledged to deploy troops to the area. The move is designed to prevent militant fighters fleeing conflict in its northern neighbor from crossing the border. “Some isolated … groups have converged towards the south of Libya, that is to say on the northern border of our country, which is potentially exposed to a serious threat of … infiltration,” Chad’s Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke said in a statement on Thursday. He went on to declare the border region a “zone of military operation.” Since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been in a state of lawlessness.  The self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) has been ousted from its former stronghold of Sirte, but the UN-backed government has failed to retain control. Deutsche Welle

Zambia President Announces 3rd-term Bid
President Edgar Lungu has announced his intention to run for a third term as president when his second term of office will expire in 2021. Lungu told his supporters Thursday on the Copperbelt that he had carefully studied the provisions of the Constitution which he says allows him to contest the presidential election scheduled for 2021. “After carefully reading the Constitution, it does not stop me from contesting the 2021 presidential election. I will therefore consider contesting [it],” President Lungu told his supporters. According to President Lungu, the one year he served as president in 2015 was to complete the five-year term left vacant by late president Michael Chilufya Sata who died in a London hospital in Oct. 2014. “I have just started my full five-year term and 2021 will be my second term as president.” Anadolu Agency

Half of Liberians Fear Country Could Plunge Back into War – Charity
Half of all Liberians think their West African nation could plunge back into conflict more than a decade after civil war ended, due to widespread corruption and rows over land, an aid agency said on Thursday. Systemic corruption in the public sector, disputes over landownership and high rates of youth unemployment were cited by Liberians as the three main factors that could incite violence in a survey carried out by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS). “Liberians are telling the world that the causes of the long civil wars are still there and they have genuine fears of their country returning to violence,” Jennifer Overton, regional director for CRS in West Africa, said in a statement. The country is still recovering from two brutal civil wars, which spanned 14 years before ending in 2003, and an Ebola outbreak which killed some 4,800 people between 2014 and 2016. SABC

Ugandan Lawmakers Petition ICC for Investigation into “Genocide” by Army, Police
A group of Ugandan lawmakers have sent a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ask for an investigation into possible atrocities by security forces when they clashed with a tribal militia late last year. According to an official toll, 62 people were killed in November when a combined force of soldiers and police officers clashed with a tribal leader’s guards in the Rwenzori region near Uganda’s western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. William Nzoghu, a legislator from the area and one of six members of parliament who sent the petition, said the number of people killed exceeded 200 and that police and the army “jointly committed a genocide and crimes against humanity”. “We are saying let the ICC come and investigate,” he told Reuters late on Wednesday. The area, which has been beset by unrest in recent years, often votes for the opposition in general elections. Reuters

Death Threats as Gambia Situation Worsens, Rights Groups Say
Human rights groups say the situation in Gambia is worsening as political opponents are detained by authorities and some receive death threats. The tiny West African country awaits a key court ruling January 10 in the disputed presidential election. President Yahya Jammeh initially conceded defeat in the December 1 vote, only to change his mind a week later. Meanwhile, supporters of President-elect Adama Barrow say he is going ahead with plans for a January 19 inauguration. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said on Thursday that two founding members of the #Gambiahasdecided movement have fled the country. News 24

More Than 50 Internet Shutdowns in 2016
Governments around the world shut down the internet more than 50 times in 2016 – suppressing elections, slowing economies and limiting free speech. In the worst cases internet shutdowns have been associated with human rights violations, Deji Olukotun, Senior Global Advocacy Manager at digital rights organisation Access Now told IPS. “What we have found is that internet shutdowns go hand in hand with atrocities” said Olukotun. “In Ethiopia there’s been consistent blocking this year of social media and internet.” Dozens of people have died in protests in Ethiopia in 2016, “many of them during the kind of blackout where it’s difficult to report on what’s happening,” he said. Several leaders used internet shutdowns to affect democratic processes, including elections. “In Uganda in February 2016 there was a shutdown of social media networks by President Museveni and that again happened in Gambia (in December) surrounding the election,” Olukotun added. In other cases, three governments chose to shut down the internet because they thought that it would stop students from cheating on their exams, he said. IPS

Nigeria Resumes Payments to Former Niger Delta Militants
Nigeria has resumed payments of cash stipends to former militants agreed under a 2009 amnesty in the country’s Niger Delta oil hub, a government official said on Thursday. The government has been holding talks with militants to end attacks on crude pipelines which reduced Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year. Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments to militants to end corruption but later resumed payments to stop pipeline attacks crippling vital oil revenues. “Two months of the ex-militants’ stipends were paid yesterday … The rest of their stipends will be paid later in batches by [central bank] CBN,” said Piriye Kiyaramo, an officer in the government’s Amnesty Office. VOA

Ghana’s NDC Ponders Reasons for Election Loss
Ghana is getting ready to inaugurate its new president and swear in members of parliament Saturday. The peaceful transfer of power is celebrated as a key win for one of Africa’s most stable democracies. But it was also a defeat for the country’s former ruling party, the National Democratic Congress, which has now embarked on some soul searching. The 2016 elections in Ghana saw something new happen. The incumbent lost. John Mahama leaves office as a one-term president. “I don’t think I was the only one who saw the writing on the wall,” said Jerry Rawlings, Ghana’s political godfather and former president. He is a member of the NDC but was notably absent from Mahama’s re-election campaign. “Our general negativity, impunity, disrespect and corruption was taking us further and further downhill. We had lost so much goodwill…. If we all don’t do some careful introspection and openly show remorse for the betrayal of the people’s trust we might not recover in time for the next election,” Rawlings said. VOA

Germany Sued for Damages of ‘Forgotten Genocide’ in Namibia
Germany has been sued for damages in the United States by descendants of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia, for what they called a campaign of genocide by German colonial troops in the early 1900s that led to more than 100,000 deaths. According to a complaint filed on Thursday with the US district court in Manhattan, Germany has excluded the plaintiffs from talks with Namibia regarding what occurred, and has publicly said any settlement will not include reparations to victims, even if compensation is awarded to Namibia itself. “There is no assurance that any of the proposed foreign aid by Germany will actually reach or assist the minority indigenous communities that were directly harmed,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ken McCallion said in an email. “There can be no negotiations or settlement about them that is made without them.“ The proposed class-action lawsuit seeks unspecified sums for thousands of descendants of the victims, for the “incalculable damages” that were caused. The Guardian

The Doctors Aren’t In At Kenya’s Public Hospitals
The halls of the Kiambu County Hospital just outside Nairobi are empty. This is normally a bustling place but on Thursday entire wings are closed. Only in the emergency room are there a scattering of patients. Moms with babies sit languidly on metal chairs. Men with broken bones and some with serious injuries are just hoping to be treated. But they probably won’t be seen by doctors. A doctor’s strike that began last month in Kenya has now entered its second month. Physicians at public hospitals want more money and better medical equipment, but the government says it can’t afford to meet their demands. The strike has left millions of Kenyans without proper health care and has also overwhelmed some of the country’s private hospitals. The nurses at the public hospitals are not on strike, so they’re doing whatever they can. They’re the ones running the ER. But a patient who needs complicated care and can’t afford a private hospital is out of luck. NPR

Rampaging Pygmies Kill 15 and Torch Dozens of Homes in Congo Ethnic Clashes, Local Sources Say 
At least 15 people from DR Congo’s Bantu community were killed Thursday in an attack blamed on Pygmies in an area of the southeast that has seen repeated ethnic clashes, local sources said. “Clashes between Bantus and Pygmies in the village of Piana Mwanga have left 15 Bantus dead, 37 injured and 65 houses burned,” said Paul Kwanga, bishop of the southeastern town of Manono. Kamona Lumuna, the interior minister of Tanganyika province where the assault took place, confirmed the attack but said the precise toll was not yet known. “A team will be sent from tomorrow to investigate what really happened in the village,” Kamona said by telephone. Local civil society leader Modeste Kubali said 17 people had been killed in the rampage and 47 injured, with 65 homes torched. AFP

Vital Eastern Supply Route Cut Off in DR Congo
There’s a supply crisis brewing in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a vital supply road has been cut off for days now following a bridge collapse in the volatile province. France 24

South Sudan’s Civil War Pushes the Country Toward Famine
[…] With South Sudan prone to deadly droughts and floods, hunger has long been a major threat here, but since the civil war reignited in July, conflict has pushed the young country toward famine and destabilized once-stable regions. […] About 4.6 million South Sudanese are expected to face acute hunger in 2017, according to the World Food Program. Humanitarian agencies say the recent deterioration in security is directly contributing to the problem, putting millions at risk. Vice

Food Security Crisis in Southern Africa after Drought
Southern Africa is still recovering from the devastating effects brought on by a two-year-long El Nino event that ended in early 2016. El Nino is known for its widespread impact across the globe resulting in drought, flooding and other natural disasters. But the 2014-2016 event was considered one of worst, ranked as one of the top three strongest since 1950. Areas across southern Africa were particularly hit hard by the global anomaly. Many of those countries saw temperatures rise well above average with some of the driest condition in more than 30 years. The United Nations has recently warned that 14 million people are at risk of starvation across the region as it continues to face widespread water shortages, as well as reduced crop and livestock production. Al Jazeera

UN Seeks $2.7b For Humanitarian Relief In Sahel
The UN has launched a record $2.7 billion humanitarian appeal as 2017 assistance for the Sahel region hit by Boko Haram as poverty, conflict and climate change will leave 15 million people across belt in need of life-saving. Around 40 per cent of the money will be used to help some seven million people in Nigeria affected by the jihadist group Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). OCHA has increased its appeal for eight countries in the semi-arid band stretching from Senegal to Chad more than tenfold in as many years, but each year funding has fallen short. This year’s $2 billion appeal has been less than half-funded to date. Sahara Reporters

Popularity of Egypt’s el-Sissi on Decline, Poll Suggests
The popularity of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has showed significant decline in the last three years, according to a poll conducted by the Egyptian center for Public Opinion Research “Baseera.” The Egyptian President’s popularity rate, which was 54 percent in 2014, dropped to 32 percent in 2015. He witnessed another fall at the end of last year, falling to 27 percent, the poll suggested. The poll was about the best political figure in the last three years. Notably, 59 percent of respondents said that they do not have an answer for the question on who is the best political figure of the year, while 6 percent said there is no such person that deserves this title. Egypt has been roiled by violence and turmoil since the military coup led by the current President el-Sissi.  Daily Sabah

Seeking Cash, Zimbabwe Sells 35 Elephants to China
Zimbabwe’s wildlife agency said Thursday it has sold 35 elephants to China to ease overpopulation and raise funds for conservation, amid criticism from animal welfare activists that such sales are unethical. This once-prosperous country’s economy has fallen apart, and Zimbabwe’s government has said it needs to sell wildlife to support its people and conservation efforts. The government also has sought to sell its ivory stockpile for millions of dollars. The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority did not say how much China paid for the 35 elephants but said it was “turning to friendly countries to extract value out of our wildlife.” This is the first time Zimbabwe has confirmed the Dec. 23 sale since activists announced a plane was carrying the animals to China. AP

The Continent With the World’s Oldest University Now Has Too Few for Its Fast Growing Population
Universities and higher education institutions were always part and parcel of Africa’s modern and past history. The Univerisity of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco, which opened in 859 AD, is considered the oldest existing and continually operating university in the world. Al-Azhar University in Egypt, part of the larger complex of institutions associated with Al-Azhar mosque and which currently enrolls two million students, is dubbed the world’s most prestigious Islamic university. But that important legacy is being tested as universities across Africa face a myriad of challenges related to the progress and management of their education systems. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones