Africa Media Review for July 23, 2018

After Burundi’s Referendum, a Drive to Dismantle the Arusha Accords
The passage of Burundi’s controversial May 2018 referendum to alter nearly a third of the 2005 Constitution’s articles put the ruling CNDD/FDD party on the cusp of a long sought-after goal: to overturn the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Mediated by former Presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Nelson Mandela of South Africa, the Arusha Accords ended the cycles of violence Burundi experienced from the 1960s through the genocides of 1972 and 1991 and the 1993–2005 civil war. The Accords built in systems that ensured the respect of political minorities, power sharing among parties, and inclusive governance. By abolishing these systems, the CNDD/FDD has tightened its control of the state apparatus and done away with mechanisms designed to hold it accountable. It will now rule virtually unchallenged. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Boko Haram Kills 18, Abducts 10 in Chad
At least 3,000 villagers have been forced to leave their homes in the Lake Chad region after a Boko Haram attack on a village near Chad’s border with Niger left at least 18 people dead. Lake Chad governor, Mohammed Aba Salah, told Al Jazeera on Sunday that the fighters also kidnapped 10 women. “Boko Haram fighters slit the throats of two [people] and shot the other 16,” he said. “One of the 10 women abducted by Boko Haram managed to escape and return home.” Aba Salah also said that the evacuation following the attack was “a precautionary measure”. Boko Haram is in control of the area across Lake Chad’s borders with both Niger and Nigeria, he said. Al Jazeera

Niger Army Says Ten Boko Haram ‘Terrorists’ Killed
Niger’s army said on Saturday it killed “10 terrorists” after one of its military positions in the southwest of the country was attacked by fighters from the Boko Haram jihadist group. “In the night from Thursday to Friday, the military station of Baroua was attacked by the terrorist group Boko Haram,” Niger’s defence ministry said in a statement. According to a preliminary toll, one army soldier was killed and two others injured “On the enemy’s side, 10 terrorists were killed,” the statement added. The ministry said the area was still being searched by security forces. Baroua is in Niger’s southeastern Diffa region, near the border with Nigeria, and has been the target of numerous attacks by Boko Haram. AFP

Armed US Drones up and Running in Niger
Armed U.S. drone flights over Niger — which started after four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in October — have put a scare into local militants, the country’s top defense official said. Earlier this year, U.S. Africa Command quietly began armed unmanned surveillance flights in Niger, adding more firepower in the country where the Oct. 4 attack on a team of Green Berets raised questions about whether troops were carrying out dangerous missions without sufficient backup. While drones now fly armed out of a base in Niger’s capital of Niamey, no strikes have yet been launched on targets inside the country, AFRICOM said Friday. Still, the presence of armed MQ-9 Reapers has the attention of extremists, according to Niger Defense Minister Kalla Mountari. Stars and Stripes

Zimbabwe’s Presidential Race Tightens Ahead of July 30 Vote
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has only a narrow lead over opposition leader Nelson Chamisa ahead of Zimbabwe’s landmark elections on July 30, according to a poll released Friday. The Afrobarometer poll put Mnangagwa on 40 percent and Chamisa on 37 percent and said there was now a “reasonable possibility” the opposition champion could win after a spurt in popularity. Mnangagwa’s advantage narrowed to three percentage points from 11 points in early May. With less than two weeks to go before Zimbabwe’s first elections since the ouster of Robert Mugabe, about a fifth of voters still are undecided, the poll said. The survey’s 2,400 respondents expressed concern over disputed count or the military stepping in, it added. AFP

Zimbabwe’s President Courts White Voters Ahead of Election
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa addressed a crowd of white voters on Saturday in an attempt improve relations ahead of a July 30 election, a marked shift from his predecessor Robert Mugabe whose policies became increasingly racially divisive. Mnangagwa, who came to power when Mugabe was removed in a de facto coup in November, is on the campaign trail ahead of what is expected to be a tight contest with his main rival, Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The white Zimbabweans who are left in the country – estimated at around 30,000 – would usually vote MDC or for another opposition party, given the strained relationship with Mnangagwa’s ruling ZANU-PF. Reuters

ED’s Multi-Million-Dollar Campaign: Zanu PF Refuses to Reveal Source of Cash
In terms of funding alone, the ruling Zanu PF party has clearly had a huge advantage over the competition as campaigning gets into the final stretch for the crunch July 30 elections. Huge billboards and banners of President Emmerson Mnangagwa feature on buildings and along the streets of towns and cities across the country. Zanu PF also imported hundreds of new vehicles for the campaign from a reported $200 million war chest. The ruling party received $6m from treasury in April this year under the country’s political parties finance legislation. So where did the $200 million dollars come from? The ruling party’s director of information Danny Musukuma struggled to explain the source of the funding last week. The New Zimbabwean

Guess Who’s Still a Factor in Zimbabwe’s Election? Mugabe.
Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe has been forced out but he’s hardly faded away. Ahead of this month’s historic election, dozens of people in T-shirts with his image danced to anti-government songs while vowing revenge. The 94-year-old Mugabe, who led this southern African nation through 37 turbulent years before his dramatic, military-backed resignation in November, has emerged as a player ahead of the July 30 vote — on the side of the opposition. A visit by The Associated Press to the largely rural province of Masvingo found that anger over Mugabe’s removal has been channeled into supporting candidates who challenge the ruling ZANU-PF party that he long controlled. “They removed Comrade Mugabe using military force. We should show them that the ballot box is supreme to the gun,” thundered Phionah Riekert, a 31-year-old loyalist of Mugabe and his wife, Grace. Youths and elderly women punctuated her campaign speech with song, dance and the beating of drums. AP

US Doubts Ability of South Sudan’s President and Rebel Leader to Bring Peace
The United States doubts whether South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar have the leadership qualities needed to deliver peace to the country at war since 2013, the White House said on Sunday. Peace talks last week in the South Sudanese capital Juba need to be more inclusive to succeed, the White House said, adding that it will impose fresh sanctions on anyone who threatens the country’s stability. The statement constitutes tough US language about South Sudan, a country whose independence in 2011 Washington backed after a war with Sudan that lasted decades. Since then, tens of thousands have been killed in a civil war. “We are deeply concerned about the direction of the current peace process… A narrow agreement between elites will not solve the problems plaguing South Sudan,” said the statement. Reuters

Kiir Tells State Mediators Team to Ink Peace Deal
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has directed the team representing his government to sign the peace agreement with rebels. A brief message posted on Facebook by the Presidential Press Unit tells the team in Khartoum to discuss and reach a consensus with rebel groups on key issues, particularly the power sharing. Both parties last week differed over the recent Khartoum power sharing proposal. But President Kiir said in Juba on Saturday that he could accept the five vice-presidents formula for the sake of peace. The South Sudanese President, however, told the Juba delegation to insist on 32 states, against a proposal to retain the 21 colonial units. The parties to the talks are expected to receive a final document for signing this week. The East African

Prime Minister: Ethiopia Has ‘No Option’ but Multiparty Democracy
Ethiopia has “no option” but to pursue multi-party democracy, the country’s reformist new prime minister said Sunday, again shaking up Africa’s second most populous nation that for decades has been ruled by a single coalition. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s chief of staff announced the remarks on Twitter, saying they were made during a meeting with leaders of more than 50 national and regional parties, including ones from overseas, who demanded reforms in election law. A multiparty democracy would need strong institutions that respect human rights and rule of law, Abiy said, according to his chief of staff. VOA

Eritrean Diaspora Watches Ethiopia Thaw with Hope, Mistrust
[…] While the diaspora is split into government supporters and critics, many Eritreans abroad are skeptical of change so long as the current government remains in power. “I think it’s not going to bring a solution inside the country, because we still have thousands of prisoners in the country, we don’t have a constitution, we don’t have internal peace,” said Bluts Iyassu, who came to Tel Aviv in 2010 and is a member of United Eritreans for Justice, a group of Eritrean expatriates who are working to promote democracy in their home country. Israel has become a prime destination for fleeing Eritreans and is home to about 26,000. Most live in downtrodden neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv and work in menial jobs in restaurants or hotels. While many say their lives are better than in Eritrea, they have not received a warm welcome in Israel, which has struggled to cope with an influx of migrants from Eritrea and Sudan. AP

In South Africa’s ‘Mafia-Like’ Taxi Industry, 11 Die in Latest Attack
The minibus taxi was traveling down a quiet rural road in eastern South Africa on Saturday night, when gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire, killing 11 people and critically injuring four. The victims were all drivers for a Johannesburg minibus taxi association, said Brig. Vishnu Naidoo, a national police spokesman — the latest casualties in a decades-long battle over taxi routes that has claimed hundreds of lives. The drivers had been returning from a colleague’s funeral in KwaZulu Natal Province when the ambush took place.“Large parts of the industry have begun to look very Mafia-like, where you defend and expand your business turf through the use of violence,” said Mark Shaw, the director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and author of a recent book on assassinations in South Africa. The New York Times

Ramaphosa Wins as Allies Secure Top Posts in South Africa’s ANC
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa boosted his control over the ruling African National Congress ahead of next year’s elections as his allies secured key party posts in the central Gauteng province and a divided leadership was elected in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal region, a stronghold of his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Premier David Makhura was elected unopposed as the ANC’s provincial chairman in Gauteng, where Ramaphosa enjoys widespread support, while provincial education minister Panyaza Lesufi was picked as his deputy, the party said in an emailed statement on Saturday. Former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau was named provincial treasurer and Jacob Khawe secretary. In power since the end of white-majority rule in 1994, the ANC has seen its support wane over the past decade. Bloomberg

China’s President Xi Underlines Africa Ties in Senegal Visit
China’s President Xi Jinping pledged during a visit to Senegal on Saturday to strengthen economic ties with Africa, a continent already awash with cheap Chinese loans in exchange for minerals and huge construction projects. Xi arrived in Senegal on Saturday for a two-day visit to sign bilateral deals, the first leg of an Africa tour that will also take him to Rwanda and South Africa, the latter for a summit of BRICS countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China now does more trade with Africa than any other nation does, and its consistent overtures to the continent contrast sharply with the United States, whose President Donald Trump has shown little interest in it. France 24

Sri Lankan ‘War Criminals’ Deployed as UN Peacekeepers
The UN has been sending alleged war criminals to act as peacekeepers in conflict zones, a confidential report claims. The document, seen by the Observer, and sent to the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations last month, claims that senior Sri Lankan officers accused of war crimes have been deployed to UN operations in Mali, Lebanon, Darfur and South Sudan. Drawn up by the South-Africa based International Truth and Justice Project, the 41-page document, marked confidential, claims a cohort of senior Sri Lankan commanders who have been deployed to UN operations were involved in alleged abuses during the final phase of war with Tamil rebels in 2009. Among them is a commander sent to oversee UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, west Africa, and who controlled Sri Lankan troop divisions alleged to have committed war crimes during the finale of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, which left at least 100,000 people dead. The Guardian

Spain Rescues 447 Migrants on Busy Summer Sunday
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it has picked up 447 people who were trying to cross to the Mediterranean Sea from northern Africa. The service said it rescued 257 migrants from 20 boats Sunday in the Strait of Gibraltar, the closest stretch of water between African and European shores. Another 190 were taken from four boats in the Alboran Sea. On Saturday, the Spanish rescue service took 329 people off vessels crowded with migrant passengers. The number of migrants and refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Spain this year has surpassed arrivals in Italy. According to the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, over 18,000 people reached Spain by sea from January until mid-July. AP



Photo: Adam Jones