Africa Media Review for July 17, 2017

Five Congo Rangers Killed in Joint Army Operation to Rescue U.S. Journalist
Five park rangers were killed in a joint operation with the army to rescue an American journalist and three park rangers, who went missing in a wildlife reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said on Sunday. Unidentified gunmen attacked the group late on Friday in the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in Mambasa territory. Some others in the group escaped. Mambasa administrator Alfred Bongwalanga said security forces and park rangers had launched a rescue operation that located the missing members of the group. It was not immediately clear how the rangers were killed. “There are five dead. They are all park rangers who were involved in the operation. They had been backing the army,” he told Reuters by telephone. Reuters

At Least 30 Missing after Cameroon Army Boat Capsizes
More than 30 people are missing after a boat belonging to an elite Cameroonian military unit sank off the country’s coast on Sunday, according to the president’s office. The logistics boat belonging to the Rapid Intervention Brigade, which has fought the Nigeria-based armed group Boko Haram in recent years, was carrying 37 people when it capsized early on Sunday morning, the Cameroonian presidency said in a statement. Three soldiers were rescued but 34 passengers are still unaccounted for, the statement added. As well as the troops the boat was also transporting equipment for construction work at a military base on the Bakassi peninsula, where the brigade has helped to bring security after a previous spate of hostage-takings. The accident, at the northern end of the coast near the village of Debunsha, is believed to have been caused by rough waters but investigations are under way to learn more, said the statement. Al Jazeera

At Least 8 Killed in Nigeria Suicide Bombing: Authorities
Eight people were killed on Monday when a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a mosque in northeast Nigeria, in the latest attack in the restive region. The head of the Borno state emergency management agency, Ahmed Satomi, said the blast happened at about 05:30 in the London Ciki area of Maiduguri, which has been at the epicentre of Boko Haram violence since 2009. “She killed eight people and injured 15 others. The mosque was being guarded by civilian JTF (joint task force militia) during prayers,” he told AFP. “Unknown to them, the girl was being pursued from another part of town by residents who were suspicious of her movement at the time. “When she approached the mosque, they demanded that she stop to be searched but she suddenly bolted into the mosque and set off her bombs.” News 24

Opposition Cries Foul as Congo-Brazzaville Goes to Polls
Congo voters go to the polls Sunday in legislative elections in the oil-rich African country, the first since violence-marred presidential polls last year which returned Denis Sassou Nguesso to power. While no fresh violence is expected opposition parties have cried foul, as over 2 million voters are expected to cast their ballots in the first round of polling in Congo-Brazzaville to elect National Assembly members as well as local councils. Sassou Nguesso returned to office in March 2016 after a constitutional referendum ended a two-term presidential term limit, amid deadly violence notably in the Pool region neighbouring the capital Brazzaville. France 24

Deadly Shooting Erupts at Military Bases in Ivory Coast
Three soldiers died after shooting erupted overnight at a base in the northern Ivorian town of Korhogo, security sources said on Saturday, in a sign of the growing tensions within the West African nation’s military. Gunfire also erupted at a former UN base near the main Ivorian city of Abidjan, lasting from about 1.30am to after 3.00am, according to residents in the northern Abidjan district of Abobo. “There was an attack overnight at Abobo, but there were no deaths. In Korhogo, a town in the north of Ivory Coast, three of the assailants were killed,” said Colonel Zakaria Kone, commander of the Abobo camp. “The situation is now calm.” France 24

Under Hail of Bullets, Indian Peacekeepers Rescue Aid Workers in South Sudan
Indian peacekeepers in South Sudan rescued more than a dozen humanitarian workers who came under heavy fire from unknown gunmen in a town in the African country on Thursday. The troops, serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), were alerted about the incident in the restive town of Pibor in the wee hours of Thursday morning. When they arrived at the location where the workers were under siege, there was a hail of bullets fired by the attackers using automatic weapons. The peacekeepers responded by firing warning shots into the air, at which the attackers fled the scene. The humanitarian workers were successfully evacuated from the compound, unharmed, before being taken back to the UNMISS base for medical attention. UNMISS said about 40 offenders were involved in the incident. Times of India

Mauritania Declares Border with Algeria, Mali No-Go Zones
Mauritania has declared its northeastern border with Algeria and Mali as a military zone over security threats by traffickers. The defense ministry made the declaration Wednesday night saying the area is “absolutely prohibited to civilians”, local media reported. The areas cited include Cheggat in the north-east, Ain Ben Tili in the north-west, Dhar Tichitt in the south-west and Lemreyya to the south. “Any individual circulating or transiting in this part of the national territory will be treated as a military target,” the ministry warned. Africa News

Thousands March against Referendum, Extra Powers for Mali President
Thousands of Malians took to the streets on Saturday to protest against a planned referendum on constitutional changes that would give extra powers to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, create new regions and recognise the Tuareg’s ethnic homeland. Mali’s government has delayed the vote, which was originally planned for last week, but still plans to go ahead with it this year. Activists are unsettled by provisions that would enable the president to nominate a quarter of the Senate and remove the prime minister at will. Malians have become increasingly disillusioned with Keita’s government, as insecurity has worsened significantly over the past year and is spreading beyond the desert north to the south and centre, including the capital Bamako. The Star

South Africa’s Sisulu Starts Bid to Lead Ruling ANC
South Africa’s human settlements minister Lindiwe Sisulu accepted the nomination of some African National Congress (ANC) branches to lead the ruling party, she told local media. Sisulu, a veteran cabinet minister and a member of a family that along with the Mandelas were among the most prominent in the struggle against apartheid, joins a crowded race to succeed scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma as ANC leader in December. At least six branches of the ANC have nominated Sisulu as leader and she has publicly accepted, the state broadcaster SABC reported. “I have agreed,” Sisulu told the eNCA news channel in an interview on Sunday, adding that she had a daunting task ahead to return the “dignity” of the ruling party and securing a majority in the 2019 general election. Reuters

27 Dead, 54 Missing, in DR Congo Boat Sinking
At least 27 people have perished and 54 are missing after an overcrowded boat sank in a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a local official said Sunday. Most of the victims of the tragedy on the Kasai river were students on holiday, local administrator Jacques Mbila told AFP. The main reasons for the sinking were “overcrowding and drunk drivers”, Mbila added. The accident happened overnight Thursday to Friday on the river Congo in the Idiofa area in the southwest of the vast country. Local radio journalist Nelly Mafuta said she saw two nuns among the 27 dead, and the Idiofa cathedral said it held a mass in tribute to the victims. The boat had left Dibaya in the restive central Kasai province on Thursday, heading northwest for its final destination of Ilebo more than 500 kilometres (300 miles) away. SABC

U.S. Treasury Allows Full Resumption of Financial Transactions with Sudan: Minister
Sudan’s Minister of Finance Mohamed Salih al-Rikabi said Khartoum has received a letter from the U.S. Department of Treasury stating the full resumption of financial transactions between Sudan and international banks as of last Thursday. Last January, former U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order easing the 19-year Sudan sanctions on a probationary basis. The sanctions relief was to become permanent on 12 July unless the U.S. Administration acted to stop it. President Donald Trump, in a new executive order issued Tuesday, moved that deadline back by three months, while keeping the temporary sanctions relief in place, citing the need to take more time to assess the robust process. Sudan Tribune

US Seeks to Recover $144M in Nigeria Oil Industry Bribery Case
The U.S. Justice Department on Friday filed a civil complaint seeking to recover about $144 million in assets obtained through paying bribes to a former Nigerian oil minister, the department said in a statement. The complaint said that from 2011 to 2015 two Nigerian businessmen conspired with others to pay bribes to the minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who steered lucrative oil contracts to companies owned by them. The proceeds were laundered in and through the United States, and were used to purchase assets including a $50 million Manhattan condominium and an $80 million yacht, it said. Alison-Madueke was charged with money laundering in Nigeria, the country’s financial crimes agency said in April. She previously denied to Reuters any wrongdoing when questioned about missing public funds and corruption allegations. VOA

Anger Grows in Nigeria’s South over Oil Spills
Oil production in southern Nigeria is at its highest level in the last two years. But it comes at a cost. There is growing anger over pollution that is affecting local communities, anger that is now threatening stability in the region. Al Jazeera

Rwanda’s President Already Claiming Win in August Election
Rwanda’s president is already claiming victory in next month’s election. President Paul Kagame told supporters at his first campaign rally Friday that the results of the vote were known in 2015, when more than 4 million Rwandans petitioned Parliament to change the constitution to allow him to run again. Kagame said his critics cannot change the will of the people. “You can choose not to hear the truth but you cannot deny what your eyes show you here today,” he said. “Pretending not to know the will expressed by the people during the referendum would be a lie, not democracy.” Kagame has been in power since the end of the East African nation’s genocide in 1994. While he has been credited with bringing stability to the tiny country of 12 million people, human rights groups and others accuse his government of abuses such as executions over suspected petty crimes like the theft of bananas or a cow. VOA

Ethiopia Continues to Embrace the Enemy
Each night along the border of arid hills, Eritreans cautiously move through the terrain’s dead ground out of sight of their own military to escape into Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region. “After we crossed we tried to sleep in the desert until daybreak, but we could hear hyenas around us,” said 22-year-old Yordanos, who crossed with her two children and another mother with her two children. “We started shouting and then the Ethiopian soldiers came – they were like brothers to us.” Ethiopia and Eritrea loathe each other at a political level, and yet Ethiopia is embracing the burden of endlessly arriving Eritrean refugees along the shared 565-mile border – many of whom remain in Ethiopia for years that turn into decades. The Irish Times

Kenya’s Social Media Election: Attack Ads and Data Mining
A strikingly toxic campaign ad was unleashed online in Kenya just weeks before national elections – a potentially explosive move in a country where politics and ethnicity are closely aligned. The 90-second video, shot in moody monochrome, presented a dystopia in which Raila Odinga, the leading opposition candidate, wins the August vote and plunges the nation into a violent and inept dictatorship. Under this scenario, tribes would be set against one another while terrorists run riot. “Stop Raila, Save Kenya. The Future of Kenya is in Your Hands,” the video said. East Africa’s largest economy holds its general election on August 8, a decade after disputed poll results fuelled violence that left more than 1 100 dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones