Africa Media Review for July 21, 2017

Setbacks and Realignments: The Continuing Evolution of Militant Islamist Groups in Africa
A review of violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past year reveals several notable observations. […] This is a quarterly update of a map tracking militant Islamic group activity in Africa as compiled by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. It reflects events that occurred between July 2016 and June 2017. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Tanzanian Leader Magufuli Urges Burundian Exiles to Go Home
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Thursday called on Burundians who have fled their country to return home, after talks with President Pierre Nkurunziza who was making his first foreign trip in more than two years. The visit — kept secret up to the last moment — was aimed at reviving dialogue on Burundi’s enduring political crisis, diplomatic sources said. Nkurunziza arrived with a heavily-armed escort in the northwest Tanzanian town of Ngara, about 15 kilometres (eight miles) from the Rwandan and Burundian borders. He was welcomed by Magufuli at a football ground, where he was honoured with a 21-gun salute, live TV coverage on Tanzanian television showed. Nkurunziza later declared, “Today, Burundi is at peace.” “We call on our brothers and sisters sheltering in Tanzania to return home, so that we can build our country together.” The Independent, Kampala

Burundi Robotics Team Missing after Competition in DC; 2 Seen Crossing into Canada
Police have received reports that two of the Burundi teenagers gone missing after an international robotics competition have been seen crossing the border into Canada. The whereabouts of their fellow team members remains unknown and the search for all the teens remains ongoing, but Metropolitan Police spokeswoman Aquita Brown stressed that police have no indication of foul play in their disappearance. The teens seen crossing into Canada were 16-year-old Don Ingabire and 17-year-old Audrey Mwamikazi, Brown said. Police tweeted missing person fliers Wednesday asking for help finding the teens, who had last been seen at the FIRST Global Challenge around the time of Tuesday’s final matches. The missing team members include two 17-year-old girls and four males ranging in age from 16 to 18. AP

Gunmen Attack Elite Security Unit in Ivory Coast, Steal Weapons
Gunmen, some of them in uniform, attacked the base of an elite security unit in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, killing an officer, stealing weapons and then fighting security forces in another part of the city, defense officials said on Thursday. The raid, late on Wednesday, follows months of military mutinies. It came hours after the government rejigged top security posts, and two days before an event that will bring in thousands from around the French-speaking world to Ivory Coast. Shooting broke out at around 9.30 p.m. (2130 GMT) at the national police academy in Abidjan’s Cocody neighborhood and lasted for about an hour, one Reuters witness said. The academy houses a detachment of the CCDO, a rapid response unit composed of police officers, gendarmes and soldiers that is one of the best-equipped units in the Ivorian security forces. VOA

US Warns South Sudan’s Leaders That They Risk US Support
The United States warned leaders in South Sudan on Thursday that they risk losing U.S. support if they don’t participate in a high-level forum and stick to deadlines for a cease-fire and political process to end their civil war. U.S. deputy ambassador Michele Sison said the Revitalization Forum being organized by the regional group IGAD is “the last chance” for salvaging the August 2015 peace agreement. “The United States expects that it will lead to a realistic and meaningful outcome,” Sison said. “If South Sudan’s leaders do not participate in this high-level forum in good faith and stick to its deadlines, the United States will need to review our position and priorities on support for the peace agreement and its implementing bodies.” For the United States, Sison said, “the bottom line is that we want this regional mediation to succeed, and we need to see South Sudan’s leaders engaged in it, at long last.” AP

UN: Fighting Rages in Parts of South Sudan despite Cease-Fire
A senior U.N. peacekeeping official said Thursday that fighting had escalated in parts of South Sudan, despite a government-declared unilateral cease-fire in May. “There have been concerning reports of active military operations in the Equatorias and Upper Nile,” U.N. deputy peacekeeping chief El Ghassim Wane told the Security Council. “The security environment remains extremely volatile and South Sudan is in need of an effective and credible cease-fire,” he said. Wane said earlier this month that the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan had received credible reports of heavy fighting after the Sudanese army moved toward Mathiang in Upper Nile. He said there were also clashes between government and opposition forces near Torit, in Eastern Equatoria. “The nature of these operations clearly contradicts the unilateral cease-fire declared by the government,” he said. VOA

S. Sudan Endorses Deployment of Regional Protection Force
The South Sudanese government on Thursday said it had completed the verification needed before the regional protection forces are deployed into the war-torn nation. The cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro said verification of the forces and equipment to be brought by regional forces into the country had been completed and that land was allocated by Jubek state government for their base. “On our side as the government, there is no problem anymore. We have done our verification and have cleared the deployment of the regional protection. Already fourteen top commanders of the regional protection force have been in the country since March as part of the deployment process,” said Lomuro. He added, “So we have done our part and we just wait for whatever is required of us”.  Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Rebel Machar Declines to Renounce Violence: Mediator
Exiled South Sudanese opposition figure Riek Machar declined to renounce violence or declare a unilateral ceasefire and instead demanded new peace talks outside the war-torn country, an international mediator told the United Nations on Thursday. South Sudan descended into civil war in 2013 after President Salva Kiir fired Machar as his deputy, unleashing a conflict that has spawned armed factions often following ethnic lines. Former Botswana President Festus Mogae told the U.N. Security Council that he visited Machar, who fled to Democratic Republic of Congo a year ago after fierce fighting in South Sudan. He is now being held in South Africa to stop him stirring up trouble, diplomatic and political sources told Reuters in December. Mogae chairs the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, which was set up to monitor a failed 2015 truce and peace deal implementation. South Sudan has since launched its own national dialogue, while fighting has continued across the country. Reuters

4 Sudanese Opposition Leaders Arrested
Sudanese opposition leaders have been arrested late Wednesday after they expressed solidarity with university students from Darfur. The leaders joined a march of Darfuri students, who are protesting the expulsion of their 14 colleagues from Bakht Alrida University. The expelled students are accused of being involved in the killing of a policeman. On Tuesday, over 1,000 students resigned from the university, demanding readmission of their colleagues. The resignations sparked mass condemnation against the Sudanese government, with opposition parties calling on Sudanese people to show solidarity with the students. In a joint statement, the opposition parties denounced the arrests of Sudanese Congress party leaders. The four arrested leaders from the Sudanese Congress party are former chairman of the party Ibrahim Al-Sheikh, Political Secretary Abu Bakr Yousef, Human Rights Secretary Amani Malik and the party’s Political Secretary in Khartoum state Mwahib Magzoub, the statement read. Anadolu Agency

US Praises Sudan on Counterterrorism despite Blacklist
The Trump administration is praising Sudan for improving its counterterrorism record despite keeping it on a blacklist of countries that sponsor terrorism. Just a day after once again labelling Sudan a “state sponsor of terrorism” in its annual terrorism report, the State Department on Thursday welcomed Sudan’s recent announcement with Saudi Arabia that it remains committed to a positive dialogue with the U.S. on fighting terror. Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that Sudan had taken steps to address the threat of terrorism and expressed a willingness to work with the U.S. and others on the matter. “The United States notes Sudan’s improved counterterrorism efforts through enhanced interagency and international cooperation to address the threat from ISIS and other terrorist organizations, and its willingness to pursue counterterrorism operations alongside regional partners, including operations to counter threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan,” she said. AP

Kenyan Election Body Fighting over 300 Lawsuits as Vote Looms
Kenya’s electoral body says it is facing more than 300 court cases from candidates, parties and civil society groups before elections on Aug. 8, raising concern about whether the disputes can be resolved in time. President Uhuru Kenyatta will once again face his arch-nemesis Raila Odinga, a veteran opposition leader. Kenyatta is the son of Kenya’s first president and the urbane scion of a wealthy family, while Odinga is the son of the first vice-president and a fiery populist. Any doubts over the legality of the elections could spark protests by candidates contesting presidential, legislative or local seats. Odinga has said that the last two elections, both marred by irregularities, were rigged. In 2007, he called for street protests, sparking ethnic violence that killed more than 1,200 people. In 2013, when Kenyan government leaders faced charges at the International Criminal Court, he went to court but much of his testimony was dismissed on technicalities. Reuters

Nigeria’s Former Ruling Party in Talks for Opposition Coalition
Nigeria’s former ruling party is in talks with other opposition groups to build a new coalition to try to prevent its main rival, the All Progressives Congress led by President Muhammadu Buhari, from winning a second term in the West African nation’s next vote in 2019. “We’re talking to more than 16 political parties to see how we can come and work together,” Ahmed Makarfi, chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, said in an interview in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday. “Once we come together, we should be able to take back the government.” The PDP was in power for 16 years before losing the 2015 elections to Buhari, who campaigned on promises to fight corruption and quash the Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram. Makarfi, a former governor of the northern state of Kaduna, didn’t identify the parties involved in the talks. Nigeria has 45 political parties registered and recognized by the Independent National Electoral Commission. Bloomberg

Gambia Launches Crackdown on ‘Mutinous’ Soldiers
Authorities in the Gambia have rounded up a number of soldiers accused of engaging in mutinous, defamatory, scandalous and unethical acts against the government of President Adama Barrow. The number of soldiers arrested and detained is not known but the military high command said they are part of a group using WhatsApp to post audio recordings critical of the government. Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Omar B Bojang said the content of the postings by soldiers described as ‘disgruntled elements’ are mutinous, defamatory, scandalous, unethical and against the military code of conduct. “As soldiers once we accept to serve in the armed forces we surrender certain privileges and rights. This is done to ensure that command and control is made easier. This is why upon enlistment, every soldier signs a declaration as enshrined in the Gambia Armed Forces Act 1985, Part 1, Section 22,” Lt Colonel Bojang said. Jollof News

Rival Libyan Leaders Haftar, Seraj to Meet in Paris on July 25: Hayat
Military commander Khalifa Haftar, a powerful figurehead in the east of Libya, and Fayez Seraj, head of the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on July 25, al-Hayat newspaper reported. The two held talks in Abu Dhabi in May, their first in more than a year and a half, about a U.N.-mediated deal that Western powers hope will end the factional fighting that has dominated Libya since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi. Citing unidentified sources, Saudi-owned al-Hayat said the meeting sought to build on diplomatic efforts by the United Arab Emirates, the United Nations and neighboring Egypt. Macron said on July 13 there would be concrete diplomatic initiatives on resolving the conflict soon. He wants France to play a bigger role in coaxing Libya’s factions to end the turmoil that has allowed Islamist militants to gain a foothold and migrant smugglers to flourish in the absence of a strong central government. Reuters

Ugandan Police Arrests Dozens over Presidential Age Limit Protest
Norbert Mao, leader of the Democratic Party, was arrested alongside his supporters as they protested against the planned constitutional amendment. For days now, a clique of legislators from the ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM), has been clandestinely agitating for the removal of the age limit which would give a leeway for the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term in 2021. According to the constitution, anyone above the age of 75 is not eligible to run for the presidency. This means that Museveni who is 73 years old and has been in power since 1986 will be 77 years at the next election, and therefore not eligible to run again. Daniel Ruhweza, a professor of constitutional law at Makerere University said that amending the constitution to remove the age limit will be catastrophic. Deutsche Welle

UN Mission in Congo Downplays Closure of Five Bases
MONUSCO’s spokesperson, Fabienne Pompey, told DW in an interview that the peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo was forced to close the bases as a result of the new UN Security Council resolution 2348 which reduced the number of MONUSCO troops to 16,215 from 19,815. Pompey said, however, the UN peacekeepers would still be around. “The area where the permanent bases are being closed will be covered by temporary deployment,” he said. “MONUSCO will also have longer patrols and use helicopters to deploy quicker than previously.” According to Pompey, clashes in these regions are mostly about land disputes and rarely involve armed rebel groups fighting for control of territory. Deutsche Welle

$750M of Congo Mining Revenue ‘Missing’
More than 20% of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s mining revenue is being lost due to corruption and mismanagement, a campaign group says. According to a Global Witness report, the money is being distributed through corrupt networks linked to President Joseph Kabila. At least $750m (£580m) has gone missing over the past three years, it says. The government has not commented but has previously denied allegations of corruption in its mining sector. BBC

DRC: Vast Business Network of President Who Won’t Step down Revealed
The president currently clinging to power in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and his family have a vast network of businesses reaching into almost every sector of the country’s economy that are thought to have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues since 2003, according to a report. Joseph Kabila was supposed to step down last year after 16 years as president, but has refused to go, arguing that his country cannot afford to hold elections. All the President’s Wealth, a report published on Thursday by a research group at New York University, may help to explain why the president – who, polls have showed, would win just 7.8% of the vote if he did allow elections – is so desperate to keep his job. Kabila owns 71,000 hectares of farmland, both directly and with his children, while his twin sister holds a valuable stake in the state telecoms company, his younger brother has business interests that range from mining and construction to a stake in the Nando’s fast-food chain, and two family companies have diamond mining permits for 450km of the country’s southern border. Together they own more than 80 companies in the DRC and abroad, either wholly or partially, the report says. The Guardian

New Tax Law Triggers Protests in Ethiopia’s Oromia
Thousands of businesses remained closed Thursday in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region, as shopkeepers protested against a new tax. Small business owners across the region have shuttered their premises since Monday in protest at the tax, which targets businesses with an annual turnover of up to 100,000 Ethiopian birr ($4,300). However, protesters say the government is overestimating revenue, leading to inflated tax demands. A grocer who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity for fear of government retribution said his daily sales did not exceed 500 birr ($21) but the government had assessed his revenue at 5,000 birr ($214). Businesses are taxed between 10 and 30 percent of their net profits. Oromia, which covers much of central and southern Ethiopia, was at the center of anti-government protests in late 2015 that led to the deaths of 669 protesters across the country. Anadolu Agency



Photo: Adam Jones