Africa Media Review for July 24, 2019

Congo Islamist ADF Rebels Kill 12 in Ebola Area
Islamist rebels killed twelve people in two attacks in an area of east Congo that is struggling to contain an Ebola epidemic, local authorities said on Tuesday. Suspected rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) simultaneously attacked the towns of Eringeti and Oicha on Monday in the locality of Beni, the epicentre of an Ebola epidemic, Beni’s territorial administrator Kasereka Donat said. They killed nine in Eringeti and three in Oicha, he said. A local civil society official based in Beni, Janvier Kasahiryo, gave the same figures. “Despite a strong deployment of Congolese army troops in the region, the population is in a state of total panic because of these attacks,” Donat said. … The presence of an Islamist militant group, along with a patchwork of other violent militias and armed criminal bands, has severely hampered efforts to contain the world’s second-worst Ebola epidemic on record. Reuters

Al-Shabaab Clash with Somali and AU Troops in Central Somalia
Heavy fighting reported between Somali troops backed by Djibouti peacekeepers and Al-Shabaab in Hiran region of central Somalia on Tuesday, residents, and officials said. The battle erupted after the militants ambushed a military camp outside Bulo-Burde airstrip which is protected by Djibouti soldiers serving under AU mission in Somalia [AMISOM]. Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group has claimed responsibility for the military base attack, saying it killed two government soldiers during the clash. The allied troops have launched operations against Al-Shabaab militants in southern Somalia, in an attempt to drive out the group from the entire regions of the country. Radio Shabelle

Qatar Denies Sponsoring Bombings in Somalia
Qatar government has denied a New York Times post accusing Qatar of sponsoring bombing Somalia. The government communications office of Qatar has issued a statement on saying that the Qatar foreign policy has always been one of creating stability and prosperity and they don’t meddle in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. “Anybody doing so is not acting on behalf of our government. In Somalia, the UAE has pursued a foreign policy that seeks to manipulate and control, in exchange for financial support,” adds the statement. The statements also reads apart that Khalifa al Muhannadi who was mentioned in the New York Time’s report for phone recordings is not and has never been an advisor of any sort to the government of the State of Qatar and he does not represent the State of Qatar and he had no right to comment on behalf of the government. … The Qatar government has also requested the recordings from the New York Times to support its investigation into the allegations. Goobjoog

Hundreds of Sudan Students Rally for Killed Protesters
Hundreds of Sudanese university students chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule” rallied in downtown Khartoum on Tuesday seeking justice for fellow pupils killed in months of political unrest. The rally follows a power sharing deal signed last week between protest leaders and army rulers, but negotiations have yet to address accountability for hundreds killed since demonstrations first erupted in December. Tuesday’s protest was called by the Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that initially spearheaded the campaign against the now ousted ruler Omar al-Bashir. “Blood for blood, we don’t want compensations,” chanted the students, many holding photographs of comrades killed in seven months of protest while others waved Sudanese flags. AFP

Sudan International Partners Call for Swift Agreement on Constitutional Declaration
Sudan’s international partners have called to expedite the signing of the constitutional declaration and to launch the civilian-led government that will implement political and economic reforms during the three-year transitional period. The European Union-chaired meeting was hosted for the first time at the EU headquarters in Brussels. Also, the State of Qatar attended the meeting for the first time. The third meeting of its kind was attended by the African Union, Egypt, Ethiopia, European Union, France, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, United Nations, and the United States. … Qatar’s foreign ministry issued a statement to announce its participation for the first time in a meeting of the forum of Sudan international partners. Doha was represented by Mutlaq Al Qahtani the Qatari Special Envoy for Combating Terrorism and Conflict Resolution. The tiny Gulf state vies with regional rivals (Saudi Arabia and UAE) for influence in Sudan. Doha has important economic investments in Sudan and can contribute to providing the needed funds to the recovery program the international community plans to implement in Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Cameroon Prisoners Revolt Adds New Fervour in Anglophone Crisis
Hundreds of inmates have staged a riot at Cameroon’s central prison in Yaoundé to demand better conditions. The mutiny by the mainly Anglophone prisoners, captured on Facebook Live, showed buildings set on fire and shots fired as police stormed the prison. The revolt has created new fervour amongst the Anglophone population in Cameroon, as the government continues to grapple with the Anglophone crisis in the north and south west regions. Nearly 600 prisoners—mainly Anglophone political opponents and separatists—took over various wings of Kondengui prison in the Yaoundé capital on Monday morning to protest against their conditions. Men portraying themselves as Ambazonian separatists are heard venting their anger at the lack of food and water on Facebook live and calling for an end to arbitrary trials and overcrowding. “Some of them have been in jail for two years, have not been taken to court, and believe that their process was not fair and they want the government to release them,” explains Agbor Nkongho, a human rights lawyer. … The government of Paul Biya is under increasing pressure to engage in talks with separatists to bring an end to the crisis. RFI

4 Killed as Tanzania Police Clash with Illegal Fishermen
A policeman and three villagers were killed in a gunfight between law enforcers and locals accused of illegally fishing on Lake Victoria, an official said Tuesday. … “Shots were fired, killing three villagers. The villagers then shot the person heading the patrol unit,” said Mongella. Tanzanian authorities have stepped up patrols on the lake. Jumanne Muliro, police commander for the Mwanza region, said the police unit had seized nets used for illegal fishing on the island of Siza. … In east Africa, conflict is growing over ever-scarcer lake resources. Uganda has stepped up security on lakes Edward and Albert, which straddle the Democratic Republic of Congo whose fishermen increasingly venture into Ugandan waters due to depleted stocks on their side. AFP

U.S. Imposes Visa Restrictions on Nigerians Involved in ‘Undermining Democracy’
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had imposed visa restrictions on Nigerians it said were involved in trying to undermine democracy in presidential and parliamentary elections this year. The department did not name the individuals or say how many were affected by the visa restrictions. President Muhammadu Buhari won a second term in February in an election marred by delays, logistical glitches and violence. “These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “The Department of State emphasizes that the actions announced today are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government,” Ortagus added. Reuters

South Sudanese Civil Society Network Condemn National Anthem Ban
The Network of South Sudan Civil Society Organizations in Uganda (NoSSCOU) has strongly condemned the recent ban on singing of the national anthem by President Salva Kiir. The directive was announced by South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei after the weekly cabinet meeting held on Friday last week. … NoSSCOU, in a statement, described the new directive as unrealistic. “Both Savla Kiir and Michael Makuei Lueth can die today and tomorrow and therefore, South Sudan national anthem will remain forever and ever,” said NoSSCOU’s coordinator, Manyang Gatwech. The anthem ban, he added, violates the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011, is not in public interests and abuses human rights. … On Tuesday, Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) issued a statement, saying it is disturbed by orders banning use of the national anthem by none other than the president. “The national anthem is one of the indicators for citizens’ ownership of the national and affiliation to the nation. Schools students, Boy Scouts, girl guards and South Sudanese in front of foreigners in foreign events all can identify themselves with national anthem plus other occupation,” partly reads CEPO’s statement. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwean Government Workers Feeling High Inflation Heat
Zimbabwe’s government workers, including public prosecutors, say they are being squeezed by inflation, which is now running at an annual rate of 175 percent. Some have asked to live in their places of work to cut down on the cost of rent and transportation. Thirty-one-year-old Munyaradzi Masiiwa is a high school teacher in Harare. Masiiwa says he went into the profession because he admired his teachers growing up, and saw them living in nice houses and driving nice cars. But now, he says, he has lost all motivation, because his salary of less than $30 per month isn’t enough to support his five dependents, including his 75-year-old mother and two children. This month, he says, the money lasted only three days. … The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has warned of possible strikes unless the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa does something to arrest inflation. Masiiwa, however, says he believes a strike will just bring a heavy-handed government response. VOA

Why Zimbabwe is Running on Empty, Again
Hunger, rocketing inflation, power blackouts, fuel queues—Zimbabwe has been here before, but it’s been a decade since things were quite this bad, ever-resilient citizens in the capital, Harare, say. The trigger for a sudden surge in prices came last month, when the US dollar was abandoned as legal tender, 10 years after Zimbabwe ditched its worthless local currency and dollarised as inflation hit 89.7-sextillion percent—that’s 20 zeroes. The same ruling party is at the helm now as 10 years ago, noted Godfrey Kanyenze of the Labour and Economic Research Unit of Zimbabwe, a trade union-linked think tank. And that has added to the worries, he said, because few people trust it has the ability to steer the country out of the current mess—in which a third of the rural population is struggling to cover basic food needs. … “This is management by crisis,” Kanyenze told The New Humanitarian. The government is “pushing a mantra of ‘austerity for prosperity’, but it’s a government without a human face and it’s just knee-jerk reactions.” New Humanitarian

Lawmakers Back Plan to Nationalize Kenya Airways
Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts. The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue. Parliament’s transport committee, however, rejected that plan, recommending instead the nationalization of the airline in a report debated by the national assembly on June 18. … Kenya is seeking to emulate countries like Ethiopia which run air transport assets from airports to fueling operations under a single company, using funds from the more profitable parts to support others, such as national airlines. Reuters

Botswana and Kenya in UN Seat Deal
Botswana says it is endorsing Kenya’s bid for a seat at the UN Security Council when a position becomes vacant later this year. Visiting Botswana President Eric Masisi said his country would back Kenya out of “trust” that Kenya would support it, too, in other international bids. “Botswana will vote before Kenya votes itself in. This is out of a desire to further nourish our friendship because we trust you with your willingness to engage with our issues that need broad discussions at the United Nations,” he said during a briefing with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Dr Masisi’s visit, a first in Nairobi since he took power in 2018, comes against a backdrop of an unimplemented Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2016 when Botswana was then led by President Ian Khama. It needed to be followed with bilateral agreements as is tradition. The Nation

Largest Ivory Haul from DR Congo Seized in Singapore
Singapore announced on Tuesday that it had made a record seizure of 8.8 tonnes of elephant ivory. According to conservation groups, the city-state has become a transit point for illegal wildlife trade. Elephant ivory, estimated at $12.9 million, came from 300 African elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo and headed to Vietnam. The seizure of ivory reached just under 9.1 tonnes in Vietnam in March, according to the Environmental Investigation Agency, an NGO. Singapore is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora(CITES). The Asian nation also declares its solidarity with global efforts to combat illegal trade in wildlife. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones