Africa Media Review for January 6, 2020

Seven Children among 14 Civilians Killed in Roadside Bomb in Burkina Faso
Seven children and four women were among 14 civilians killed when a roadside bomb blew up their bus in northwestern Burkina Faso, the government said. “The provisional toll is 14 dead,” a statement said, adding that 19 more people were hurt, three of them seriously in Saturday’s blast. The explosion happened in Sourou province near the Mali border as students returned to school after the Christmas holidays, a security source said. “The vehicle hit a homemade bomb on the Toeni-Tougan road,” the source told AFP. “The government strongly condemns this cowardly and barbaric act,” the statement said. No one claimed responsibility for the attack but jihadist violence in Burkina Faso has been blamed on combatants linked to both Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) groups. Meanwhile, the army reported an assault against gendarmes at Inata in the north on Friday, saying “a dozen terrorists were neutralised.” The deaths came the week after 35 people, most of them women, died in an attack on the northern city of Arbinda and seven Burkinabe troops were killed in a raid on their army base nearby. AFP

Al-Shabab Attacks Airstrip in Kenya, Killing Three Americans
Al-Shabab militants launched a predawn attack Sunday on an airstrip used by the U.S. and Kenyan militaries, on Kenya’s coast near the border with Somalia, killing one U.S. service member and two American private contractors, according to a U.S. military statement. Two other American contractors were wounded and were being evacuated in stable condition, the statement said. The attack marked a rare successful incursion by al-Shabab into a foreign military compound, let alone one outside its usual operating grounds in Somalia and one used by U.S. Special Forces and other defense personnel. Residents and tourists in the Lamu region reported seeing a plume of smoke and hearing gunfire at 3:30 a.m. that continued until midmorning. … U.S. forces train Kenyan soldiers at a base attached to the airstrip known as Camp Simba, and they use the airstrip for aerial missions against al-Shabab in Somalia. The Washington Post

Kenya Police: 3 Arrested Trying to Enter British Army Camp
Kenyan police say they have arrested three men who tried to force their way into a British Army training camp on the same day that al-Shabab extremists attacked a military base and killed three U.S. military personnel. The internal police report seen by The Associated Press says the three “terrorist suspects” were arrested Sunday after trying to enter the British Army Training Unit in Laikipia county. It occurred around the same time as the al-Shabab assault on the base in Lamu county. The British government was not immediately available for comment. The U.S. Africa Command told the AP on Monday that five U.S. aircraft were destroyed and one damaged in Al-Shabab’s hours-long assault at the Manda Bay Airfield. The aircraft were a combination of fixed-wing and rotary, it said. It was the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab’s first attack against U.S. forces inside Kenya, where the extremists have carried out multiple deadly attacks against civilian targets including buses, schools and shopping malls. AP

Several Killed in Ambush by Suspected Islamists in Mozambique
Several people died after a minibus was ambushed along a main road in a northern Mozambique province beset by a jihadist insurgency, villagers said on Saturday. A police officer in Macomia district, about 100km south of Antadora village, the scene the attack, confirmed the ambush which occurred on Friday, but gave no details of casualties. “Police were called in to intervene but it was too late to help the victims,” said the policeman who asked not to be named. “This is the first confirmed attack this year,” in restive Cabo Delgado province, he said. Villagers spoke of between four and 10 people killed when the minibus carrying around 20 passengers travelling from Palma town to the provincial capital Pemba was torched. “Two children were burned in the vehicle, another was decapitated,” one villager told AFP, adding that a man “was decapitated in front of his wife and children.” He said some women were missing. “Most of the people didn’t survive. The number of those who survived is less than 10,” said another villager. AFP

At Least 30 Killed in Libya Military Academy Attack
At least 30 people were killed and 33 others wounded in an attack on a military academy in the Libyan capital late on Saturday, the health ministry of the Tripoli-based government said in a statement on Sunday. Tripoli, controlled by the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), is facing an offensive by military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) that began in April. There has been an increase in air strikes and shelling around Tripoli in recent weeks, with fears that fighting could escalate further after Turkey’s parliament voted to allow a troop deployment in support of the GNA. Forces allied with the GNA described Saturday’s attack on the military camp at Al-Hadhba as “an aerial bombing” launched by their eastern rivals. An LNA spokesman denied involvement. GNA Health Minister Hamid bin Omar told Reuters earlier in a phone call that the number of dead and wounded was still rising. Tripoli ambulance service spokesman Osama Ali said some body parts could not be immediately counted by forensic experts. Reuters

UN to Meet on Libya as Turkey Deploys Troops to Back Tripoli Govt
The United Nations Security Council will meet behind closed doors on Monday about the situation in Libya, as Turkish troops began deploying to the country in a bid to shore up the UN-recognised government in Tripoli. The meeting, held at Russia’s request, is formally focused on an international conference on Libya that Germany hopes to organise by month’s end. So far, no date for the meeting has been announced. But Monday’s talks will be the first chance for Security Council members to discuss controversial security and maritime deals struck by Libya and Turkey in November, and Ankara’s subsequent decision to send troops to Libya. Turkey’s move comes after the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord – under sustained attack since renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in April – made a formal request for military support. The maritime agreement reached by Tripoli and Ankara gives Turkey rights to large swathes of the Mediterranean where gas reserves have recently been discovered. AFP

Chad Troops Leave Nigeria with Boko Haram Mission Over: Army
Chad has ended a months-long mission fighting Boko Haram in neighbouring Nigeria and withdrawn its 1,200-strong force across their common border, an army spokesman told AFP on Saturday. “It’s our troops who went to aid Nigerian soldiers months ago returning home. They have finished their mission,” spokesman Colonel Azem Bermandoa said. “None of our soldiers remains in Nigeria,” he added, without specifying whether they might be replaced following Friday’s pullout. “Those who have come back will return to their sector at Lake Chad,” Bermandoa said. However, Chad’s general chief of staff General Tahir Erda Tahiro said that if countries in the region which have contributed to a multinational anti-jihadist force were in agreement, more troops will likely be sent in. “If the states around Lake Chad agree on a new mission there will surely be another contingent redeployed on the ground,” Tahiro said. … Countries in the region have banded together to fight Boko Haram and ISWAP with support from civilian defence committees leading to Chad contributing 1,200 troops. Those troops have now pulled back across the border to be “deployed in the Lake Chad region to strengthen security along the border,” a senior local official said. AFP

Nigerian Police on Heightened Alert after U.S. Killing of Iranian Commander
Nigerian police have been placed on a heightened state of alert after the U.S. killing of a top Iranian military commander in Iraq sparked fears of public disturbances in the West African country, the police said on Sunday. … Nigeria is split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims, the latter of which are mostly Sunni. The government last year banned the country’s largest Shi’ite Muslim group, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), after violent clashes between its members and police. IMN was heavily influenced by the Iranian revolution of 1979 which saw Ayatollah Khomeini take power. “The Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, has placed police commands and formations nationwide on red alert,” the Nigeria Police Force said in a statement on Sunday. … Reuters was unable to independently verify claims that public events were planned. Nigeria banned IMN and outlawed its demonstrations which its members held to call for the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been held since 2015 when government forces killed around 350 people in a storming of the group’s compound. The group last year said more than 30 of its members were killed in police crackdowns on its protests. Police gave no death toll. Reuters

Guinea-Bissau President-Elect on Regional Tour – Visits Senegal, Nigeria
President-elect of Guinea-Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, is on a regional tour that has seen him visit Senegal and Nigeria in the space of two days. Dakar was his first stop since he was announced winner of the election rerun last week. He met with president Macky Sall in what the Senegalese presidency said was: “A sign of recognition for the Head of State who supported him a lot during the difficult times.” On Sunday, he was in Abuja, where he met with Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari. In the meeting was Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Chief of Staff. No details have been communicated at the time of filing this report. The runoff, a battle of two former Prime Ministers saw Umaro Sissoco Embalo, proclaimed the winner with 53.55% of the votes cast. The losing candidate who run on the ticket of the ruling party, the PAIGC, Domingos Simões Pereira, denounced what he said was electoral “fraud.” … Political watchers indicate that these elections took place in a fair and transparent conditions. President-elect Sissoco Embalo says he is ready to work with the ruling party to restore political stability in the country. Africa News

Sudan: Darfur Tribal Parties Agree to Not Resume Fighting: Says Hamdok
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok said that the conflicting tribal parties in West Darfur State had committed themselves to end hostilities after bloody violence that led to the death of over fifty people. On Sunday, Hamdok, and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo Hemetti of the Sovereign Council and several senior civilian and military officials ended discussions in El Geneina with the tribal leaders who pledged to not resume clashes. The transitional government delegation returned to Khartoum, five days after their arrival in the capital of West Darfur on 1 January following the inter-communal fighting between the Massalit and Arab tribesmen. Speaking to reporters in El Geneina after a meeting with the tribal leaders on Sunday, Hamdok said the government successfully convinced the two sides to cease hostilities. “Each party committed itself to not initiate any hostilities and help to establish security and order,” he said before to add that the government works to collect weapons.”We have quickly started distribution of humanitarian aid to alleviate the suffering of the displaced,” he said. Also, he pointed to the contribution done by the United Nations agencies and aid groups to provide the necessary assistance. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: 47,000 Displaced by West Darfur Violence
National voluntary groups have reported that the number of people who have been forcefully displaced by the recent violence in El Geneina has reached 47,000. They are living under dire humanitarian conditions. The US House of Representatives urged the government for swift investigation regarding the violence on Sunday and Monday. The groups reported on Friday, that the 47,000 newly displaced, including 20,000 children and 15.000 women, who fled to the city were allocated in 19 temporary shelter centres such as schools, Mosques, and government institutions in El Geneina. The groups confirmed that despite the local efforts in providing basic needs for the displaced people, there remains a huge gap in humanitarian gaps. “Those people urgently need temporary bathrooms, life-saving medicine, and soaps, as well as blankets, and clothing,” they added. Radio Dabanga

No Time to Play: Childhood in Uganda’s Biggest Refugee Settlement
Every morning, Rose Inya makes her four younger siblings breakfast and gets them ready for school. In the evenings, the 16-year-old, who is herself still a student, prepares dinner, tends to her vegetable garden, and puts her sisters and brothers to bed. She assigns them household chores and monitors their homework. When they misbehave, she reprimands them, and when they are sick, she is the one who cares for them. Inya and her siblings, who are South Sudanese refugees, live alone in Uganda’s sprawling Bidi Bidi refugee settlement. They fled their village of Avumadrichi with their mother in 2016. Their father and eldest brother stayed behind. Six months ago, their mother went back to try to earn some money. They have not heard from her since. According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), Uganda hosts the largest number of unaccompanied child refugees in the world – some 41,200 in 2018 – with the majority less than 15 years old and nearly 3,000 younger than five. Most of them come from South Sudan, which has been mired in civil war since December 2013. Al Jazeera

Uganda Police Detain Bobi Wine, Foil Meeting with Supporters
Ugandan police on Monday detained the singer and political activist known as Bobi Wine, who was prevented from holding his first public meeting with supporters as a presidential aspirant. Police fired tear gas as they dispersed a crowd of supporters outside the capital, Kampala. Gunfire was heard but it was not clear if live rounds or rubber bullets were fired. The foiled meeting had been authorized by electoral authorities. It was the first of several planned by Wine, an opposition lawmaker whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu. A police spokesman did not immediately respond to questions. In a Twitter update, Wine said he and some colleagues in custody had been transferred from a police post in his constituency to one further outside Kampala. Police have repeatedly prevented him from addressing rallies or even organizing musical concerts in recent months, saying the events pose a danger to the public. Presidential elections are scheduled for 2021. There are growing concerns that campaigns could turn violent as security forces tighten the space available for opposition activists to interact with supporters. AP

Kenya Says Starts Spraying of Locusts Seen as Threat to Food Security
Kenya said on Saturday it had started aerial spraying in three counties in the country’s north to try to head off a locust invasion which has already caused extensive damage to farmland in neighbouring Somalia and Ethiopia. In a statement, the government said swarms of desert locusts started crossing into Kenya around Dec. 28 and that the three counties of Wajir, Marsabit and Mandera were affected. “Aerial spraying capacity has also been acquired and the aerial spraying will start today.” the statement said, adding that the invasion posed a threat to food security. Locusts have already destroyed 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres) of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia, threatening food supplies in both countries in the worst locust invasion in 70 years, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The statement said that the government had procured 3,000 litres of chemicals to help in the spraying and added it would also distribute handheld sprayers to some residents. The three affected counties are largely semi-arid and are occupied mostly by pastoral communities. Reuters

Angola and Congo Tell dos Santos to Cooperate with Justice after Asset Freeze
The presidents of Angola and Congo said on Sunday Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of Angola’s previous leader, and her Congolese husband Sindika Dokolo should cooperate with the justice system after their assets were frozen. In a statement, the presidents said the best way forward for dos Santos and Dokolo, as well as Mario Leite da Silva, chairman of Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), was “maximum cooperation with the competent authorities of the state and the Angolan court.” They did not immediately react to the presidents’ comments. Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo met on Sunday in the Angolan city of Benguela, the statement said. Since ending Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ near 40-year grip on power in 2017, Lourenco has tried to erase the influence of his predecessor and reform sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy. But Lourenco is under pressure as the economy continues to contract under his watch. Reuters

Liberia’s Miracle Oil Brings Farmers Only Empty Promises
The sign at the entrance to the palm oil plantation in Grand Bassa has faded thanks to Liberia’s relentless cycle of scorching sun and torrential rain. Even so, it’s possible to make out the phrase: “Your community is rich: Let’s have a fair share.” Several miles farther on, past endless rows of carefully cultivated palm trees, it’s a slogan that bears little relation to reality. Gbenee Town is a small huddle of huts surrounded by a plantation more than six times the size of London’s Richmond Park. The townspeople say that the benefits of the plantation’s expansion have passed them by and they have been duped by a government that took the land they were living off and gave it to foreign investors. … When EPO arrived in 2012 to survey the land it had been awarded by the government, local people concerned that they had not been consulted gathered to protest. The company’s representatives were accompanied by an armed police unit, a terrifying sight in a country still recovering from civil wars that left hundreds of thousands dead. “Since the war finished in Liberia, that was the first day to see arms,” said Garamondeh Banwun. “We were afraid.” Banwun, like many people here, reports beatings handed out by police, some of whom – it is claimed – rode in EPO vehicles. The Guardian

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Looks to Boost Ties with Africa on Five-Nation New Year Tour
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit five African countries next week as Beijing’s steps up its economic and security engagement with the region amid growing criticism that its lending practices are creating debt traps. The trip to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe from Tuesday will mark China’s preparations for the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) – an initiative that has seen Beijing pour billions of dollars of aid into Africa but also drawn ire from developed nations. Announcing the trip, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China and African nations would push for cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative – Beijing’s multibillion-dollar plan to link China with Europe and Africa through infrastructure investment. Wang would be following a long-held tradition that Chinese foreign ministers make Africa their first trip of the year, Geng said, a sign of how highly Beijing regards its ties to the region. South China Morning Post



Photo: Adam Jones