Africa Media Review for July 13, 2017

14 Dead in Twin Cameroon Bombings
Two bombers blew themselves up in northeastern Cameroon killing 14 people and injuring 30 people in an attack likely staged by Boko Haram jihadists, security sources said Thursday. The bombings, which took place on Wednesday evening in Waza near the Nigerian border, targeted a busy area in the market town, the sources said. The bombers struck an area with “restaurants, telephone cabins and kiosks”, a local official said. “The town has been sealed off. Nobody can enter and nobody can leave,” the source said, adding that some of the wounded were in “quite serious” condition. Though Boko Haram was born in Nigeria, the Islamic State-affiliated group has carried out frequent attacks in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting the formation of a regional force to fight back.  AFP

U.N. Identifies 38 More Mass Graves in Congo’s Kasai Region
The United Nations said on Wednesday it had identified an additional 38 probable mass graves in Democratic Republic of Congo’s central Kasai region, bringing the total to at least 80 since the outbreak of an insurrection last August. A spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo told reporters in the capital Kinshasa that the graves were identified during a joint mission with Congolese military investigators last week to western Kasai. Reuters

Tuareg Separatists Seize North Mali Town in Battle
Tuareg separatists have seized a town in Mali’s desert north from a pro-government ethnic Tuareg militia after days of fighting, the separatists and a local legislator close to the government side said on Wednesday. Fighting between rival Tuareg factions has intensified and threatens to derail a 2015 peace deal meant to end years of conflict and instability in the landlocked West African nation, a major gold producer. The rebel Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and the pro-government Gatia are locked in a bitter power struggle in northern Mali, despite the return of state authority to its cities in March for the first time since a 2012 Tuareg uprising. “Anefis has been under the control of the CMA since yesterday. Preparations are being made to retake it,” Ahamoudane Ag Ikmasse, a Gatia-allied local lawmaker in the nearby major city of Kidal told Reuters by telephone. Reuters

Six Police Killed in Central Kenya Where Drought Fueling Violence
Six Kenyan police officers were killed and two wounded when their convoy was attacked by gunmen in central Kenya where drought and scarce grazing land is fueling violence. Members of the police’s anti-stock theft unit (ASTU), traveling in two vehicles, were attacked by members of the Pokot ethnic group while on a “familiarization tour” in Laikipia county, a police statement said. They “were attacked while negotiating (a) sharp corner and as a result the officers … were fatally injured,” it said. VOA

Sudan’s Al-Bashir Suspends Sanctions Talks with U.S. Administration
The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday has issued a decree to freeze all negotiations with the United States on the normalisation of bilateral relations until 12 October, in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s decision to delay the permanent lift of economic sanctions on Sudan. On 13 January, former U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order to ease the 19-year sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the East African nation. Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. The process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in Darfur region, the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Sudan Tribune

The U.S. Extended Sanctions on Sudan — but North Korea Might Be the Real Target
President Trump’s administration was widely expected to lift several U.S. sanctions against Sudan this week. It would have been a key moment in U.S.-Sudan relations — some of these sanctions go back decades, imposed under President Bill Clinton in response to Sudan’s human rights violations and alleged sponsoring of terrorism and later extended after accusations of a genocide in the Darfur region. However, the State Department announced Tuesday that it would not lift the sanctions. Instead, the Trump administration plans to delay such a move, first announced in January under President Barack Obama but delayed for six months — and now for three more months. Given the long list of foreign-policy issues engulfing the U.S. government, the Sudan decision went little noticed this week. But the decision may hint at a new strategy toward a foreign-policy matter far closer to the administration’s heart: North Korean nuclear weapons. The Washington Post

President Buhari Due to Return to Nigeria Soon, Deputy Says
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is recuperating and should be back in the country “very soon,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said a day after visiting him in the U.K. Osinbajo, who traveled to London Tuesday to meet Buhari, told reporters in the capital, Abuja, that they spoke for more than an hour. Buhari is “in very good spirits,” Osinbajo said. “He’s doing very well.” Buhari, 74, has been in the U.K. since May 7 for his second trip this year to receive medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, fueling concern about his ability to see through the rest of his term that ends in 2019. No photos or videos have been released of Buhari since he left Nigeria. Bloomberg

Thousands Flee as Army Marches on South Sudan Rebel Stronghold
A South Sudanese army offensive on a rebel stronghold has forced about 5,000 civilians to seek shelter in neighboring Ethiopia, adding to the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis, a United Nations official said. The people have fled their homes since about July 2 as troops advance toward Pagak town in the country’s northeastern Upper Nile region, David Shearer, head of the UN mission in South Sudan, told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Juba. He reported heavy fighting north of Pagak in the past week and said the offensive “is not in the spirit” of a unilateral cease-fire declared by the government in May. The civil war that began in the world’s newest nation in December 2013 has claimed tens of thousands of lives and uprooted more than 3.5 million people, many of them to neighboring Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan. Bloomberg

The War in Equatoria: A Rare Look inside South Sudan’s Spreading Conflict
[…] Even after the latest civil war broke out in 2013 – mostly pitting ethnic Nuer rebels of former vice president Riek Machar against the largely Dinka army under President Salva Kiir – Kajo Keji, like much of Equatoria, managed to remain at peace and stayed out of the conflict, which devasted the country’s northeast. Ironically, it was a peace deal between Kiir and Machar that marked the return to large-scale violence in Equatoria, which covers the country’s southern third. In August 2015, the two men signed an agreement making Machar the country’s First Vice President. The deal also gave both the government and rebels the right to establish bases around the country to canton their troops. For Machar’s side, called the SPLA-In Opposition, or simply “IO”, these “cantonment sites” presented an opportunity to grow his army in Equatoria, and the rebels heavily recruited soldiers to fill any allotted bases. IRIN

France to Boost Refugee Aid, Deport Economic Migrants
France will cut processing time for asylum requests and boost housing for refugees while “systematically” deporting illegal economic migrants, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday. Unveiling an “action plan” for dealing with tens of thousands of people who arrive in France each year, Philippe said it aimed to “guarantee the right to asylum (and) better handle migratory flows.” France, which received 85,000 asylum requests last year, is grappling with a system that President Emmanuel Macron has described as “completely overwhelmed”. France has come under harsh criticism from charities for failing to provide adequate facilities for refugees, leading to the formation of squalid camps in northern France and around Paris. France 24

Ethiopia Hosts More Than 840,000 Refugees: UNHCR
A total of 6,186 refugees were registered in the month of June in Ethiopia, pushing the number of refugees registered in the East African nation to 843,374. The figure was given on Wednesday by the United Nations High commission for Refugees (UNHCR) which said the June refugee arrivals have pushed the number of refugees registered in Ethiopia in the first six months of 2017 to a total of 60,293. UNHCR gave the figures as it works to highlight the funding gap it is facing to meet the needs of the refugees currently estimated at 307.5 million U.S. dollars. So far 23 percent of the needed 307.5 million U.S. dollars has been donated to UNHCR. Most refugees in Ethiopia come from the strife- torn nations of Somalia and South Sudan and Ethiopia’s northern neighbor Eritrea. Xinhua

A Majority of Ugandans Want President Museveni to Retire
The Ugandan government is pushing to amend the Constitution and lift the presidential age limit which will allow President Yoweri Museveni to run for a sixth term. However, according to a December 2016 poll commissioned by the Uganda NGO Forum and conducted by Research World International, 74 per cent of Ugandans — mostly youth aged 25-34 years — do not want the president to run again. At 76, President Yoweri Museveni will be ineligible to run in 2021, barring an amendment of Article 102(b). With this poll still fresh in their minds, ruling party stalwarts and the opposition alike will be fighting from opposite ends. The East African

South Africa’s Ramaphosa Slams Graft under Zuma as ANC Divide Widens
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday criticised the corruption that has damaged the ruling party under President Jacob Zuma, opening a divide in the African National Congress months ahead of a leadership contest. When the ANC picks Zuma’s successor in December, unionist-turned-business tycoon Ramaphosa is expected to face off against veteran politician Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former African Union chairwoman and Zuma’s ex-wife. Ramaphosa is viewed as more investor friendly and has pledged to fight the corruption that has plagued Zuma’s tenure. Dlamini-Zuma appeals to ANC grassroots and has the support of Zuma’s well-established patronage network. Reuters

As ISIS Weakens, Morocco Faces Threat of Returning Fighters
While the rope continues to tighten around ISIS’ neck in the Middle East, many of its foreign fighters will seek to return to their countries of origin, putting pressure on the security services of home countries like Morocco. In May, Abdelhak El Khiam, the head of the Moroccan counter-terrorism Central Bureau for Judicial Investigations (BCIJ), revealed that there are 1,631 Moroccan fighters in Syria and Iraq. According to security officials, most these fighters are known by security services. Morocco, whose security services have been internationally praised for their efficiency in fighting terrorism, is a major ally of European countries such as Spain, France and Belgium. Coordination and exchange of information with the security services of those countries, where a number of Moroccans holder of dual citizenship have been arrested for carrying out or plotting terrorist attacks, have previously helped to uncover terrorist networks and might prove fruitful in tracking returning ISIS and Al Qaeda fighters. Morocco World  News

US Laptop Ban Lifted in Egypt, Morocco
Egypt and Morocco’s airlines have said a ban against carry-on laptops on US-bound flights has been lifted, leaving only two Saudi airports under the restrictions put in place in March. Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc said in a statement Wednesday that the ban, imposed amid fears the Islamic State group was developing a bomb concealed in electronics, would be lifted as of Thursday. EgyptAir said late Tuesday that the United States had also lifted the ban for the carrier’s flights to New York from Wednesday. The ban remains in place for Saudi Arabia’s two main international airports in Riyadh and Jeddah. The original ban affected airports in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Turkey. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones