Africa Media Review for July 12, 2017

19 Killed in Boko Haram Attacks in Northern Nigeria City
Police in Nigeria say 19 people have been killed in a series of attacks by Boko Haram suicide bombers. Borno state police commissioner Damian Chukwu says 23 others were wounded in Tuesday night’s attacks in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, which is the birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency. The police commissioner says 12 of the dead were members of a civilian self-defense force and that the other seven people were killed when they gathered to mourn the deaths. A spokesman for the self-defense force, Danbatta Bello, says at least one of the suicide bombers was female. The spokesman says the bombers specifically targeted his colleagues while they were on duty. Nigeria’s government late last year declared that Boko Haram had been “crushed” but deadly attacks continue. AP

Boko Haram Executes Eight for Defying ‘Sharia Police’
Boko Haram have publicly executed eight villagers in northeast Nigeria who opposed the enforcement of its hardline form of Islam, according to a graphic video seen by AFP. The eight were blindfolded and lying face down on the ground when they were shot at close range by four masked gunmen. Crowds were seen cheering, the images showed. One man wearing a white turban told the crowd before the execution that the condemned villagers were “apostates (who) have left the fold of Islam”. “These people are not different from vigilantes fighting us, spies and Nigerian soldiers,” said the unidentified man in Hausa, which is widely spoken in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad area. News 24

US Threatens Sanctions on Anyone Delaying DR Congo Vote 
The United States on Tuesday threatened to impose further targeted unilateral sanctions on anyone who hinders Democratic Republic of Congo’s already delayed preparations for an election to replace President Joseph Kabila. The country’s election commission president said on Sunday that the vote, originally due in November 2016, was unlikely to take place in 2017, because of delays in registering millions of voters. Further delays could trigger additional unrest following anti-government street protests last year in which security forces killed dozens of demonstrators. The opposition quickly denounced Sunday’s announcement as a declaration of “war”. Al Jazeera

Displaced Congolese Civilians Sent Back to a Widening War
From late 2014, troops from MONUSCO, the UN mission in Congo, supported by the Congolese armed forces, have tried to pacify the province. In September 2015, the UN and the provincial authorities launched local councils known as baraza to address the causes of the violence, and it seemed for a time they might put an end to the clashes. However, the Congolese military’s bid last July to arrest a Twa warlord triggered fresh bouts of fighting that spread from the territory of Nyunzu to affect five of the province’s six territories, while thousands of IDPs have fled to the sixth, Kongolo. A peace forum in Kalemie in February, as well as continuing military activity by MONUSCO and the Congolese army, has succeeded in checking the violence in parts of the province, but attacks continue in others. In recent months, a new front has opened up in the north of Tanganyika, where Twa militias have targeted the livestock-rearing Banyamulenge (Tutsi) community by slaughtering its cows.  IRIN

Trump Delays Decision on Whether to End Sudan Sanctions
The Trump administration is giving itself three more months to decide whether to permanently lift sanctions on Sudan. Just before leaving office, former President Barack Obama temporarily lifted sanctions on Sudan in a move that was to become permanent on Wednesday if it wasn’t reversed by President Donald Trump. The Obama administration justifying lifting the 1990s-era sanctions by citing improved counterterrorism efforts and other progress in Sudan. Trump’s new executive order delays the final decision about whether to lift the sanctions permanently until October. That’s short of the full-year delay that dozens of lawmakers had been urging. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says Sudan has made significant progress. But she says the administration needs more time to determine whether there’s been enough progress to lift the sanctions permanently. AP

Sudan Says Has Fulfilled U.S. Conditions for Sanctions Relief
Sudan has complied with all U.S. demands for lifting sanctions, it said on Tuesday, a day before the United States is expected to decide whether to permanently lift 20-year restrictions that have hobbled the country’s economy. Former U.S. President Barack Obama temporarily lifted the longstanding economic sanctions for six months in January, suspending a trade embargo, unfreezing assets and removing financial sanctions. The relief could become permanent on Wednesday if Washington decides Sudan has complied with a list of demands that include resolving internal military conflicts in areas such as war-torn Darfur, cooperating on counter-terrorism and improving access to humanitarian aid. Reuters

Zambia Extends State of Emergency by Three Months – Presidency Office
Zambia’s parliament voted on Tuesday to extend the state of emergency by three months, the presidency office said, as tensions rose following the arrest of the main opposition leader. Africa’s second-largest copper producer, is usually seen as one of the continent’s more stable democracies. But it has been on a political knife-edge since the detention in April on treason charges of Hakainde Hichilema, who narrowly lost to President Edgar Lungu in a bruising election last year. Lungu invoked the emergency powers last week to deal with “acts of sabotage” by his political opponents, after fire gutted the country’s biggest marketplace. On Tuesday, Zambian lawmakers voted to extend the state of emergency by another 90 days to give law enforcement agencies “enhanced measures” to curb “rising cases of politically motivated fires and vandalism of vital electricity supply lines.”Reuters

China Sends Troops to Djibouti for Opening of Military Base
Ships carrying Chinese military personnel for Beijing’s first overseas military base, in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, have left China to begin setting up the facility, state news agency Xinhua has reported. Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worries in India that it would become another of China’s “string of pearls” of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. China began construction of a logistics base in strategically located Djibouti last year that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia, in particular. This will be China’s first overseas naval base, although Beijing officially terms it a logistics facility.  Xinhua said in a short report late on Tuesday the ships had departed from Zhanjiang in southern China “to set up a support base in Djibouti.”Reuters

Macron Got a Lot Wrong about Africa … But Made One Good Point
At a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 8, French President Emmanuel Macron answered a question from a Cote d’Ivoire journalist. The reporter asked why there was no Marshall Plan for Africa. Macron’s response included these comments: “The challenge of Africa is completely different, it is much deeper. It is civilizational today. Failing states, complex democratic transitions, the demographic transition.” He later said, “One of the essential challenges of Africa … is that in some countries today seven or eight children [are] born to each woman.” Many commentators have called these statements racist, problematic and arrogant. And many of us Africans agree. […] When Macron in his comments refers to “failed states, complex democratic transitions, demographic transition, infrastructure, porous borders, drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking, violent fundamentalism, Islamist terrorism….,” he plays into the tiresome trope that “Africa is a country, everyone is poor and can’t help themselves.” NPR

French Diplomatic Delegation ‘Denied Rwanda Visa’
A French diplomatic delegation recently suffered an embarrassing visa refusal by Rwandan authorities when they presented an application for a visa which bore a picture of the former Rwandan flag that was in use at the time of the 1994 genocide, Jeune Afrique reports. The paper describes it as the first hitch in the relationship between the new French government and Kigali. It says on 9 and 10 July, an official French delegation was due to travel through Rwanda on it’s way to Cameroon. The delegation comprised of the Director of Africa and the Indian Ocean matters at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Director of the Sub-Saharan Africa Department of the France’s development Agency (AFD) as well as an economic advisor who were due to meet Rwanda’s Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, in Kigali. The East African

France, Egypt Begin Cléopatre 2017 Joint Naval Exercise
France and Egypt on Monday began joint military exercises in Egyptian waters as part of a “strengthening of cooperation” between the two countries’ military forces, according to a statement. The “Cleopatra 2017” manoeuvres follow last year’s “Ramses 2016” exercises and are to last several days. French and Egyptian Mistral warships, several frigates and F16 jet fighters are taking part, an Egyptian army spokesman said. The exercises will take place in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. During a visit to Cairo in June, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the two countries had reaffirmed their shared point of view on the fight against terrorism. RFI

Nigeria First Lady Aisha Buhari Warns off ‘Hyenas’ on Facebook
Nigeria’s first lady has warned the “hyenas and jackals” will be banished in a cryptic Facebook post apparently aimed at her husband’s officials. Aisha Buhari’s comments seem to be directed at powerful ruling party politicians, said the BBC’s Naziru Mikailu, in the capital Abuja. They appear to be suspected of manoeuvring for presidency or deputy presidency while her husband is ill. President Muhammadu Buhari has been in London receiving treatment. The vice-president has been acting in his place while he is out of the country, but there is no suggestion he is part of any plot against Mr Buhari, our BBC reporter says. BBC

As US Pledges $639M, Aid Agencies Say Speed Key to Saving Lives
Aid agencies say they welcome the Trump administration’s promise of nearly $640 million to help four countries dealing with rampant food insecurity but say the pledge is overdue and taking too long to reach the people who desperately need it. President Donald Trump announced the pledge at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany last weekend, several weeks after Congress approved the expenditures for Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. Noah Gottschalk, a senior humanitarian policy advisor at Oxfam America, decried what he called an “enormous delay” in the pledge being announced. “It’s important to note that just because it’s been announced at the G-20 it doesn’t mean it’s actually been delivered,” Gottschalk said, speaking to VOA from Uganda. VOA

After an Internet Blackout, Congolese Are Taking to the Streets of Brazzaville: Here’s Why
Last month, people in the Republic of Congo lost their Internet — and they remained offline for a week. People immediately suspected the government was behind the shutoff. This would come as no surprise as the government has taken increasingly bold steps in recent years to stifle dissent and quash protests – protests like the one on July 10, when state security services were out in full force as Congolese citizens took to the streets. The president reacted to the protest by forbidding public gatherings and confiscating reporters’ cameras. It turns out that the Internet shutdown had a more innocuous cause: a fishing vessel severed an undersea cord. Still, the assumption that the government was responsible for the outage demonstrates that the level of trust between citizens and government is exceedingly low in this part of the world. And actions by the government preceding this incident did re-enforce this narrative. UN Dispatch

Kiir Appeals for Africa, UN Support for South Sudan National Dialogue
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has appealed to the African Union and the UN to support the country’s National Dialogue initiative. President Kiir admitted that the young nation was badly divided and risked disintegration. “Our country is politically divided and we must find ways and means to unite and build one nation. The implementation of the peace deal and the national dialogue are the only way forward,” he said. President Kiir made the remarks during the state of nation address even as South Sudan failed to mark its sixth independence anniversary last Sunday due to lack of funds. Kiir said the support from the regional leaders and the international community could play a key role in the success of the dialogue and in bringing lasting peace to the world’s youngest state. The East African

Leaked Video of Jailed Protest Leader Sparks Anger in Morocco
Morocco’s general prosecutor said he would investigate the leaking of a video of a detained protest leader from the northern Rif region that has sparked widespread anger and accusations he had been abused. Protest organiser Nasser Zefzafi shows his arms, legs and torso to the camera in the video, posted on Monday by a website known for its ties to the security services. The website framed the video as evidence against claims of ill-treatment, but marks and bruises are visible on Zefzafi’s face and lower back. Within hours, the site removed the video as Moroccans, including some who usually support the government, expressed outrage on social media. Before his arrest on May 29, Zefzafi led protests against corruption and unemployment in the northern city of Al-Hoceima that have spread to other parts of the kingdom, in a challenge to the government and a monarchy that retains ultimate power. The protests have gathered pace since his detention. Reuters

Somalia’s Undersea Cable Accident Is Costing the Country $10m per Day
Somali internet users have been cut adrift from the world after a cargo ship accidentally cut an undersea cable, with costly results. The fragility of the internet can be best summed up by news that Somalis lost their access when a commercial ship accidentally cut an undersea cable off the coast of the east African country. The incident reportedly took place on 23 June, and the government has been unable to repair it since. The capital of Mogadishu has been hit hardest by the nationwide outage, where much of the country’s business, governance and media are based. According to Africa News, reporting five days after the incident, Omani engineers were offering assistance to repair the cable, which supports almost all of Somalia’s internet service providers. Silicon Republic



Photo: Adam Jones