Africa Media Review for July 11, 2018

South Sudan Forces Killed, Raped Hundreds, Says UN Report
At least 232 civilians were killed and 120 women and girls raped in attacks by South Sudan government troops and aligned forces in opposition-held villages, the U.N. human rights office said on Tuesday. A United Nations investigation identified three commanders suspected of bearing the “greatest responsibility” in the violence in Unity State between April 16 and May 24 that may amount to war crimes, it said in a report. Elderly and disabled civilians were burned alive in the attacks on 40 villages, which appeared aimed at driving out opposition forces, it said. “The perpetrators … must not be allowed to get away with it,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein in a statement. France 24

South Sudan’s Hunger Season Is Peaking
July marks the peak of South Sudan’s hunger season – that’s the period between the depletion of food stocks and the next harvest. Seven years into its independence, a humanitarian crisis is leaving half of the country’s population starving.  Deutsche Welle

Scandal over Leaked Data Hits Zimbabwe’s Election
A scandal over leaked data has hit Zimbabwe’s election after the ruling party sent personalised, unsolicited campaign messages to potential voters’ mobile phones. The opposition says thousands of supporters reported receiving the messages. “Zanu-PF has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar. There is no legal way for any political party to access voter phone numbers,” opposition leader Nelson Chamisa said Tuesday on Twitter. Some of the messages seen by The Associated Press solicited support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the July 30 election and were issued in the language of the area where the voter lives. Zimbabwe, like many countries in Africa, is multilingual. AP

The Case of the 141-Year-Old Voter: Zimbabwe Ballot at Risk
The world’s oldest person is 141 years of age and lives in Zimbabwe. Not far behind is a 134-year-old, also in Zimbabwe. At least that’s according to the country’s voters’ roll, which has come under sharp scrutiny ahead of the July 30 election, the first in decades without longtime leader Robert Mugabe. The main opposition party has called the voters’ roll deeply flawed and the most prominent sign that the election’s credibility is at risk. On Wednesday, thousands of people were rallying in the capital, Harare, to call for more transparency. While President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power when Mugabe was pressured to step down in November, and the election commission have pledged a free and fair election, the issues with the voters’ roll have many worried that Zimbabwe’s government is failing to break with a long past of alleged election fraud.  AP

Why the End of US Sanctions Hasn’t Helped Sudan
Sudanese hopes that the lifting of US sanctions will improve their economy have failed to materialise, writes the BBC’s James Copnall from the capital Khartoum. When the US decided to remove economic sanctions on Sudan last October, President Omar al-Bashir’s government was ecstatic. Not only did this signal a new era in the often tempestuous relationship with Washington, it allowed the politicians – and the Sudanese people – to hope that an end to a severe economic crisis was in sight. But instead of regaining its footing, the economy has fallen off a cliff, with inflation soaring and people struggling to get by.  BBC

Can AU Tackle Security Challenges in the Sahel?
African leaders meeting in Mauritania last week pledged to redouble efforts aimed at curtailing and defeating extremist groups on the continent, especially in the Sahel region. The pledge followed a rash of attacks by jihadi terrorist groups in two Sahel countries, including an attack that killed 10 Nigerien soldiers in the country’s southeast and an attack on the headquarters of the regional anti-jihadist G5 Sahel Force in Sevare and two other attacks in Mali. But some experts are warning that there is not much the African Union can do to enhance the capabilities of the G5 force that was established last year. […] France has about 4,000 troops fighting jihadi groups in the Sahel under the banner of Operation Barkhane. The troops, along with their Malian counterparts, were the targets of Sunday’s suicide attack that killed four civilians and injured many soldiers, including French in Gao, northern Mali. Alix Boucher, an assistant Research Fellow with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, says there is more France could do to strengthen the security services of Mali and other G5 members. VOA

Leaders Urge Global Support for Women, Girls in Africa’s Sahel
Several high-level women are calling for more international support focused on helping women and girls in Africa’s Sahel region respond to the impact of conflict, terrorism and underdevelopment. The foreign minister of Sweden, the U.N. deputy secretary-general, and the African Union’s special envoy on women, peace and security just wrapped up a joint visit to Niger and Chad where they met with women from all areas of society. “The countries we visited and the Sahel region are located between hope and despair,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström told a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. “Hope, because the Sahel is blessed with abundant human, cultural and natural resources. … Despair, because of chronic underdevelopment, terrorism and violent extremism, a lack of respect for human rights and the negative effects of climate change.” VOA

Hard Work Remains to Cement Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea
The Horn of Africa nations cut ties after the outbreak of a 1998-2000 border war that killed 80,000 people and degenerated into a diplomatic stalemate after Ethiopia refused to cede land to Eritrea in violation of a United Nations ruling. The two nations have restored telephone communications for the first time in two decades and Ethiopian Airlines is set to begin passenger flights between the two capitals as early as next week. But despite the diplomatic bonhomie, negotiating access to Eritrean ports for Ethiopian goods, demarcating the contentious border region and ensuring good relations will not be simple, analysts say. AFP

A Homecoming for Nigerians Who Fled Militants. All That’s Missing Is the ‘Home.’
More than four years ago, Islamist militants from Boko Haram invaded the town of Bama in northeastern Nigeria, setting up a new headquarters there and sending tens of thousands of people fleeing for their lives.For years many of those residents of Bama lived in squalid camps or other temporary housing as clashes between fighters and the military destroyed their town. Finally, earlier this year the government told residents that it was safe to return.New homes and new schools — a whole new Bama — awaited as part of a state-sponsored rebuilding program, officials assured them. Many of Bama’s residents leapt at the chance to get their lives back to normal. In April, the government escorted 3,600 of them back home.  The New York Times

Jos: Nigeria’s Epicentre of Unrest over Land and Resources
The fight for fertile land and other resources between farmers and cattle herders in central Nigeria has forced hundreds from their homes. In Jos, central Nigeria’s Plateau State, food shortages are feared as the economy suffers because of the rising violence and lack of investment. Al Jazeera

Why Libya’s Oil-Export Revival Stumbled, Once Again
The latest blow to Libya’s oil exports offers proof that the country’s crude won’t flow reliably without a political solution to seven years of strife. Libya has struggled to revive its oil industry since a NATO-backed war in 2011, with militias clashing over energy facilities in the prized “oil crescent” along its central coast. Last month, forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a military leader with sway in eastern Libya, recaptured two key export terminals from rivals. He then transferred control of the ports and three others to an oil authority lacking international recognition. As a result, tanker loadings at the ports have ceased, depriving world markets of some 800,000 barrels a day. Libya’s instability complicates OPEC’s effort to pump more crude as well as United Nations-backed efforts to hold elections this year. Bloomberg

Key Positions Unchanged in New Ivory Coast Government
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara named a new government on Tuesday, but the key positions of finance, defense and agriculture were unchanged, a presidential spokesman said. Ouattara dissolved the administration last week because of a row between his RDR party and its ruling coalition partner, the PDCI of Henri Konan Bedie, whose support helped the president get elected in 2011 and 2015. Few of the 36 ministerial jobs were changed in a re-jigging that was largely cosmetic. A handful of extra jobs went to the PDCI and one key post went to an ally of national assembly head Guillaume Soro. Soro is a former rebel leader who loosely controls armed factions of the military that have staged several mutinies in the past few years. VOA

Sierra Leone Launches Corruption Inquiry into Former Government
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio will launch a commission to investigate accusations of widespread corruption under his predecessor Ernest Koroma, the government said. A report commissioned by Bio and released last week accused Koroma of taking the economy to the brink of collapse — though the former leader’s APC party dismissed it as a witch-hunt. Koroma, who stepped down in April after two terms in office, was not immediately available for comment but has denied any wrongdoing in the past and has said the report is part of a smear campaign. VOA

Four Men Beheaded by Suspected Jihadists in Mozambique
Four men were beheaded by suspected jihadists in northern Mozambique, a week after President Filipe Nyusi visited the area and pledged a “ruthless” campaign against the shadowy group. The strike happened on Saturday in Macanga, about 20km from the town of Palma and near the Tanzanian border, targeting men working in farms. “Four men were killed and decapitated. One who managed to flee was shot and is under treatment. Five houses were burned. This was around 19:00 Saturday,” a local resident told AFP by phone. The attackers are believed to have come from Tanzania. “We are investigating this information,” police spokesperson Inacio Dina told reporters on Tuesday in the capital Maputo. AFP

Senegalese Govt Accused of Misusing Courts to Skew Vote
The lawyers of two key Senegalese opposition figures sentenced for corruption have accused the government of misusing the courts to stop them from contesting next year’s presidential election. Former minister Karim Wade, the high-profile businessman, son of former Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, and Khalifa Sall, the popular mayor of the capital Dakar, were charged with misuse of funds in 2015 and 2018 respectively. The mayor was back in court on Monday as he appealed his sentence. “Khalifa Sall’s prison sentence is a purely political one. He’s effectively being prevented from running in the 2019 presidential election,” Ousseynou Fall, one of his lawyers, said. AFP

Betraying Justice for Rwanda’s Genocide Survivors
[…] Simba armed the soldiers who attacked the Kaduha parish. He ordered them to chase every last Tutsi who might escape and kill any Hutu comrade who showed mercy. He forced the condemned to dig their own graves. In 2005, Simba was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity at an international war-crimes tribunal, in Arusha, Tanzania. Other places where he killed—Murambi, Kibeho—are, in today’s Rwanda, touchstones of collective memory. His conviction was affirmed in 2007, after an appeal. Soon, if all goes as planned—and there is little reason to expect that it will not—Simba, a giant of genocide, will be a free man. He is expected to be paroled, along with Dominique Ntawukulilyayo, who, after promising twenty-five thousand Tutsis safety, lured them to a hilltop in Kabuye before having them slaughtered, and Hassan Ngeze, a journalist whose hateful propagandist newspaper, Kangura, many Rwandans still see as the real fuel of the genocide. The court regards Ngeze’s conviction for inciting genocide as a “landmark” in international justice, though his life sentence was reduced to thirty-five years on appeal. The New Yorker

Switzerland Vows to Return Stolen Assets to Kenya
Switzerland and Kenya on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding for the return of illegally acquired assets and money stolen from the East African country through illegal, corrupt means. Speaking at a joint press briefing after bilateral talks with Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta, Swiss Confederation President Alain Berset, who is on a three-day visit, said that his country will support Kenya’s war on corruption following the recent theft of $100 million from the National Youth Service. “I am extremely pleased that today we signed a framework for the return of assets from crime and corruption to Kenya,” said Berset. “This will allow Switzerland to return financial assets that have been blocked. Switzerland and Kenya enjoy a common interest in fighting corruption.”  Anadolu Agency



Photo: Adam Jones