Africa Media Review for July 24, 2018

Somalia’s Al Shabaab Says It Storms Military Base, Kills 27 Troops
Al Shabaab fighters detonated a suicide car bomb before storming a military base in the south of Somalia on Monday and killing 27 soldiers, the militant group said, its second strike on the base in as many months. Fighting broke out between al Shabaab and the national army shortly afterwards, resulting in the army killing 87 militants, assistant information minister Aden Isak Ali told a state news agency SONNA on Monday. The attack, whose blast was heard by residents of a nearby town, follows a strike last month by al Shabaab on the base in Baar Sanguni, about 50 km (31 miles) from the port city of Kismayu, that wounded seven soldiers. Reuters

Eight Killed in Nigeria Mosque Bombing
At least eight people were killed after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in a mosque in north-east Nigeria, police told CNN. The incident happened 4.30am local time on Monday in the remote village of Konduga, Borno State, while worshippers were preparing for early morning prayers, police said. “A male suicide bomber went into a mosque and denoted explosives, killing himself and seven others. Seven others are injured, and they have been taken to the hospital,” Borno State Commissioner of Police Damian Chukwu told CNN. Nigeria’s North East National Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, Bashir Garga, said those wounded in the blast are receiving treatment at a local hospital. CNN

Protesters Loot Aid Agencies in South Sudan: UN
Angry protesters on Monday forcefully entered and looted around 10 humanitarian agency compounds in conflict-torn South Sudan, said the UN refugee agency UNHCR which reported two staff members were injured. “The demonstrators forcefully entered UNHCR’s compound and looted its offices and residence,” the organisation said, adding local residents were demanding job opportunities and accused humanitarian organisations of hiring from outside the north-western Maban county. “Ten other humanitarian agencies’ compounds as well as the office of the Commission for Refugee Affairs (CRA) have been attacked and looted.” UNHCR condemned the attack “in which two UN staff were injured”. AFP

Eritrean Conscripts Told Unlimited National Service Will End: Sources
The latest batch of recruits to Eritrea’s national service have been told it will last no longer than 18 months, relatives said, raising hopes the indefinite conscription that forces thousands of young men to flee every month may be ending. The Horn of African nation introduced mandatory 18-month national service for 18 to 50-year-olds in 1995, two years after seceding from Ethiopia, to help in the reconstruction effort following a 30-year liberation war. The duty comprised of six months military training, then a year of working on development projects. But Asmara has maintained unlimited service ever since a two-year border war broke out with Ethiopia in 1998, with the dispute dragging on despite the signing of a ceasefire in 2000. Reuters

Far from Ethiopia’s Capital, Change Remains a Distant Dream
Clutching the bloodstained student ID card and post-mortem certificate of his younger brother, Abedir Jamal’s elation at the huge changes underway in Ethiopia is tempered by his fear that they won’t reach him. Across the country of 100 million people, Abedir, 25, and legions of unemployed graduates like him are holding their breath, hoping that new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will succeed in his sledgehammer approach to dismantling the status quo. Only 41 himself, Abiy has taken Ethiopia and the broader Horn of Africa by storm since taking office in April by doing the unthinkable. In just three months, he has secured peace with bitter foe Eritrea, got parliament to lift a “terrorist” ban on opposition groups and pledged to open up key sectors of the economy to foreign investment. Reuters

Congo Opposition Leader Bemba to Return Next Week for Presidential Bid
Congolese opposition leader and former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose war crimes convictions were quashed in May, will return to the country next week to submit his candidacy for president, a party official said on Monday. His homecoming after serving a decade in prison at The Hague could dramatically shake up Congolese politics ahead of December’s long-delayed election, which is meant to choose a successor to Joseph Kabila. Kabila, who has governed since 2001, has refused to commit to stepping down despite his two-term mandate expiring in 2016. Allies in his ruling coalition have in recent weeks advanced a legal argument they say would justify his candidacy. Bemba finished runner-up to Kabila in the 2006 election and commands a large and loyal following in western Congo. Despite still being in prison at the time, Bemba came third in a rare nationwide opinion poll in March behind two other opposition leaders. Reuters

DRC Opposition Set Demands for December Poll
Opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday called on President Joseph Kabila to step down ahead of elections in December but ruled out boycotting the poll. In an exceptional move, five parties signed a joint statement setting out demands ahead of the December 23 presidential vote, whose outcome is crucial for the sprawling, volatile DRC. “We are not going to boycott the elections, because we have known from the very beginning that this is the ruling party’s plan, to push the opposition into boycott the elections,” said Delly Sesanga, a supporter of exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi. The statement – issued two days before the start of a two-week registration period for presidential candidates – called for “free, democratic and transparent” elections. AFP

US Senator Demands Trump Action on Tanzania Situation
A senior United States politician has filed a motion calling on President Donald Trump to raise his voice on what he says is the reversal of democratic gains in Tanzania. Mr Bob Menendez , a senator from New Jersey, on the Democratic party ticket, is pushing the US government to immediately nominate an ambassador to Tanzania to lead diplomatic efforts to push back against what he termed “the tide of anti-democratic actions.” The diplomatic post, he says, “…has been vacant for well over a year.” In the motion, published in the Congress records last month, the senator has described Tanzania as a country that appeared to be on the path toward greater democracy and political openness but raised concerns over the trend of increasing restrictions on basic freedoms. He has also asked the US government to increase assistance to build the capacity of civil society and media stakeholders in Tanzania and robustly fund US programmes that can adequately address the current challenges. The Citizen

Sierra Leone: Police Nabs Opposition Politician
Police on Monday arrested opposition politician Mohamed Kamarainba Mansaray in Freetown, Sierra Leone over comments he made against President Julius Maada Bio. The action comes after Mansaray in several interviews described the Sierra Leone president’s first hundred days in office as unsatisfactory. “The president’s first 100 days were unsatisfactory. I give him 30 percent. The dollar inflation is high, cost of living is high, and the bread and butter issues have been ignored. The new government transitional report is not inclusive and is largely a witch hunt against the opposition. If he wants to succeed, the president needs to reform his priorities,” Mansaray told Freetown-based AYV TV network. Anadolu Agency

Ghana Leader Names New Election Chief, Opposition Dismayed
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday named lawyer and governance specialist Jean Mensa to head the national electoral commission, dismaying the main opposition party which said Mensa was an unsuitable choice. She replaces Charlotte Osei who was fired by Akufo-Addo last month for “misbehavior and incompetence,” relating to alleged breaches of Ghanaian procurement laws. Osei denied the accusation. Until her appointment, announced by the presidency, Mensa headed the Accra-based Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, organizers of presidential debates ahead of general elections in Ghana. The West African nation, a major commodity exporter, will hold elections in December 2020, a vote that is likely to be a close contest between Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). VOA

Migrants Stranded without Aid as Tunisia Refuses to Let Ship Dock
A Tunisian boat carrying around 40 African migrants has been stranded off the country’s coast without aid for more than a week after authorities refused to let them disembark there, the Red Crescent said on Monday. Monji Slim, an official of the Tunisian Red Crescent, said the authorities had argued that Malta or Italy should accept the migrants. The Tunisian interior ministry declined to comment. Slim told Reuters the boat was stuck 12 miles off the coast. “The African migrants at sea are in a bad condition after the vessel’s captain refused to receive aid to pressure the Tunisian authorities to receive them, but no solution has been reached after 11 days at sea.” It was not clear from where the migrants had originally set off before they were rescued by the Tunisian vessel. Reuters

Deaths at Sea Expose Flaws of Italy-Libya Migration Pact
The deaths at sea of a mother and child have further exposed the flaws in a pact between Italy and Libya that has led to thousands of migrants being forcibly returned to the chaotic north African country. Their bodies were found last week in the drifting wreckage of a boat off the Libyan coast by rescuers from the Spanish ship, Proactiva Open Arms. A woman from Cameroon was also found clinging to a piece of wood. Sharing harrowing images of the bodies and the terrified survivor, the NGO accused the Libyan coastguard of abandoning the trio after they refused to be taken back to Libya, the main point of departure for migrants attempting the perilous crossing to Europe, with the rest of the intercepted group. The Guardian

India’s Modi Arrives in Rwanda, Seeking to Promote Trade
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in Rwanda, his first stop in a tour of Africa. Modi was welcomed in Kigali, the capital, late Monday by President Paul Kagame as the first prime minister of India to visit the East African country. The governments of Rwanda and India later signed bilateral agreements. Modi will also visit Uganda and then go to South Africa to attend a summit there of the BRICS emerging economies. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will also attend the BRICS summit, was also in Rwanda on Monday. Both China and India have emerged as key trade partners for Africa, with China leading the way. AP

Kagame, Xi Sign 15 Deals, Strengthen Rwanda-China Ties
Rwanda is stable and its people are happy, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on his first official visit of the country. The Chinese leader paid a two-day State visit to Kigali that began on Sunday. At a press conference on Monday, President Xi said he has witnessed “first-hand a vibrant and well organised country that is making good progress in its development. “The country enjoys social harmony and stability and its people are leading a happy and content life.” He said China was looking to build “mutually beneficial relations” with Rwanda and other African countries. “I am here this time with the aim of consolidating tradition friendship between China and Rwanda and to work together with Mr President [Paul Kagame] to plan for the future of our bilateral relations, as well as the cooperation between China and Africa,” he said. The East African

Anglophone Rebellion Seen Raising Risk of Civil War in Cameroon
Sama Jude knew it was time to flee his home town in western Cameroon when he heard the sound of gunfire ringing above the roof of the University of Buea where hes taught for four years.As clashes between the nations army and separatist rebels intensified, the 41-year-old lecturer packed his bags and fled to the commercial capital, Douala, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the east.You never know when you’ll be hit by a bullet, maimed by a machete, arrested by government troops or kidnapped by the secessionists, he said. Jude is among tens of thousands of people forced to flee an increasingly bloody revolt in Cameroons English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions that risks erupting into full-blown civil war. Bloomberg

Mali Election: Who’s Listening to the IDPs?
The war in northern Mali has forced about 300,000 people to flee their homes and while most became refugees in neighbouring countries, tens of thousands are now internally displaced. Thousands arrived in the capital, Bamako, over the past few years and have since relied on charitable donations to get by. But as the country prepares to elect a new president, those displaced say they are not expecting things to change for the better. Like many, Khadijettou Bint Jiddo and her friends make their way to the Nour al-Iman Foundation on a daily basis to check whether aid is being distributed. They came to Bamako with their families after fleeing insecurity and harsh living conditions in the north, where fighting persists. Al Jazeera

For the First Time, a Female Ebola Survivor Infects Others
For the first time, scientists have found evidence that a woman can harbor the Ebola virus for more than a year and then infect others.The discovery involved transmission within a Liberian family in the closing days of the West African epidemic that lasted from December 2014 to mid-2016. More than 28,600 people were infected and 11,325 died. The episode raises new medical questions: Scientists do not know how the virus hid inside the woman for 13 months before re-emerging in lethal form.However, because she fell ill soon after giving birth, experts believe the immune suppression that normally occurs in pregnancy may have triggered a relapse. The case, published Monday by Lancet Infectious Diseases, also worries experts because fear of Ebola survivors and discrimination against them persists in Africa, and the notion that a female survivor can pass on the virus could worsen that. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones