Africa Media Review for July 26, 2016

Mogadishu Attack: Ten Killed in Airport Blasts
At least 10 people have been killed in two car bomb attacks near an entrance to the airport in Mogadishu, Somali police and eyewitnesses have said. Thick smoke could be seen rising from the area, where there is also a base for African Union (AU) peacekeepers. Local journalists said one of the bombs was detonated by a suicide attacker near a checkpoint. Another blast hit the airport’s perimeter wall. Those killed were believed to include security guards at the checkpoint. The militant Islamist group, al-Shabab, has said it was behind the blasts and its target was the AU force’s headquarters. BBC

South Sudan’s President Replaces Rival Deputy Machar Amid Fears of New Civil War
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Monday replaced his vice president and rival Riek Machar, a move that could potentially undermine last year’s peace deal and reignite war in Africa’s youngest nation. Kiir said he appointed General Taban Deng to the post of “first vice president of the republic of South Sudan”, according to a statement read on the country’s national broadcaster. The appointment followed an earlier announcement that Machar’s own rebel group had replaced their leader with General Deng. Machar fled Juba this month after Kiir’s forces bombed his house during the clashes that killed hundreds of people and has remained in hiding. France 24

South Sudan Refugee Influx Overwhelms Ugandan Reception Centres
Uganda has received 30,000 refugees in just three weeks and reception facilities are overflowing. Recent fighting in South Sudan has caused a new wave of arrivals, putting pressure on its southern neighbour, which was already hosting half a million refugees. “The new refugee influx of South Sudan refugees is a huge burden to the government. We are constrained in terms of providing social services to these new refugees,” Titus Jogo, a refugee official at the Ugandan prime minister’s office, told IRIN. “We are looking for additional resources to provide them with social services like medical care, water, shelter and other basic necessities.” IRIN

UN Human Rights Commission to Visit South Sudan in September
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) plans to visit South Sudan and Ethiopia in September to hold meetings with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society, citizens, intergovernmental organisations and regional leaders. The Commission decided on the visit following the violence which broke out in South Sudan several weeks ago, between supporters of South Sudan President Salva Kiir and supporters of First Vice President Riek Machar, claiming over 300 lives. The Commission was established in March 2016 to monitor and report on the human rights situation in South Sudan for a year. Its mandate includes liaising with regional and international actors including the UN, African Union (AU), Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and civil society. SABC

Advocacy Group Warns of “Full-scale War” in S. Sudan
South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s removal of the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar and appointing Taban Deng Gai as the country’s first vice-president could ignite a “full-scale war”, an advocacy group warned on Monday. “This move represents another marker in the South Sudan’s slow motion political suicide,” said Enough Project’s Founding Director, John Prendergast. “It unnecessarily brings South Sudan a step closer to full-scale war, shutting another door to dialogue and trampling on democratic processes espoused by both South Sudan’s government and opposition SPLA-IO [Sudan People Liberation Army in Opposition],” he added. Sudan Tribune

DRC Jail Awaits Katumbi if He Returns – Justice Minister
Leading opposition figure in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), would be arrested if he returned to the country. This is according to the Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba who was speaking on Monday. The TP Mazembe bank roller had earlier this month told Reuters news agency that he would return to the DRC where he had a ‘fight.’ “I’m going back to Congo. I’ve got a fight, a peaceful fight for our country to have the first peaceful transition,” Katumbi said. “If Mr. Katumbi returned to DRC, he will be sent to prison, that is the law,” the Congolese Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba. “For the latter, it is not a political conviction, let alone a special provision invented against him [Moise Katumbi]”. Africa News

Congo Jails Opposition Leader over Demo
A court in the Republic of Congo has jailed an opposition leader for two years for inciting public disorder, a charge arising from an unauthorised demonstration he organised in 2015. Paulin Makaya, who heads the small United For Congo party, said he would appeal his conviction, which also carries a fine of 2.5 million CFA francs €3 800. Makaya’s lawyers called the verdict “unjust and illegal.” The October 2015 protests were called to protest a referendum that ended a two-term limit on presidential mandates and allowed President Denis Sassou Nguesso to successfully run for re-election in March this year. News 24

Police Slap Fresh Criminal Charges Against Besigye
Police has slapped fresh charges of disobeying lawful orders against Dr Kizza Besigye – just hours after court dismissed a similar case against him.  Heavily armed police intercepted Besigye and hundreds of his supporters who were following him in a procession along the Kampala-Entebbe highway. Earlier in the morning, Makindye Magistrate’s court dismissed a case against Besigye and Kampala lawyer Erias Lukwago citing failure by the state to produce witnesses. Besigye’s car was towed to Jinja Road Police station and he was locked up with his driver, Fred Kato. Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson, says Besigye was arrested because he disobeyed lawful orders from a traffic officer not to lead a procession through the city center. He says that now that Besigye has resumed his defiance campaign, Police will apply to court to cancel his bail.  The Observer, Kampala

Makindye Court Throws Out Case Against Besigye, Lukwago
Makindye Grade One magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu Musenze has dismissed a case, in which Dr Kizza Besigye and city mayor, Erias Lukwago, were accused of inciting violence and disobeying lawful orders from a police officer.   The opposition politicians were jointly charged with Besigye’s driver, Fred Kato and aide Jethro Nuwagaba. The politicians were dragged to court in May last year for allegedly disobeying lawful orders from Siraje Bakaleke, the then Kampala South Metropolitan Police Commander, to disperse from Nsambya Sharing hall where they had scheduled a meeting to discuss electoral reforms. The Observer, Kampala

Uganda: Top Police Summoned to Court over Torture
A Ugandan court on Monday issued a summons for the country’s top policeman to face torture charges. A magistrate’s court in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said the country’s police chief Kale Kayihura must face trial on Aug.10. Kayihura is charged together with seven of his junior officers, most of whom are commanders in the Uganda Police Force. Kayihura has accused the Ugandan media of biased reporting on the event and called for revoking their licenses. The case was filed by three citizens, Andrew Ssebitozi, Rogers Ddiba and Joseph Kaddu, who told the court that Kayihura is liable for acts of torture between 2011 and 2016. Speaking to reporters outside the court Monday, the victims’ lawyer Kiwanuka Abdullah said the police officers had violated citizens’ rights. Anadolu Agency

87 Bodies Wash Up on Libya Beach
The number of bodies of migrants recovered on a Libyan beach since the weekend has risen to 87, a media official from the coastal city of Sabratha said on Monday. The bodies began washing up on the city’s beach west of Tripoli on Friday, the official said. On Saturday, 41 bodies were found by a group of volunteers trained by the city council and sent to a morgue for DNA testing before being buried. The rest were found over the weekend, the official added. Illegal migration from Libya booms in the summer months when the Mediterranean is generally calm and traffickers pack unsafe boats with migrants desperate to start a new life in Europe. News 24

China’s Military Push In Africa Is Unlikely To End Anytime Soon
Over the past five years the Chinese military presence in Africa has undergone a profound change. Until 2012, the Chinese were happy to play a low-key support role in multinational peacekeeping operations on the continent, preferring to send military engineers and medical staff rather than deploy combat forces. Today, that is no longer the case. China is in fact the eighth-largest supplier of troops for U.N. peacekeeping operations in Africa and the largest among the five permanent Security Council members, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations. The large and growing Chinese military presence in Africa is also becoming increasingly diverse both in terms of where its forces are deployed and their operational capacity. China’s most sophisticated warships have been actively involved in multinational anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden since 2008. The Huffington Post

Assassination Plot Reported Against Egypt’s President Sissi
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi reportedly canceled a visit to Mauritania, where an Arab League summit starts Monday, due to “credible information” of a plot to assassinate him in Nouakchott, the nation’s capital. Egypt’s delegation at the summit is instead being headed by Prime Minister Ismail Sherif. A presidential statement gave no reason for Sissi’s cancellation but the Egyptian press carried unconfirmed reports of a possible planned attempt on Sissi’s life during the gathering in the Mauritanian capital. In a statement, presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef denied that Sissi canceled the trip out of security fears but did not give a reason for the cancellation. The private-owned Al-Masry al-Youm daily reported that the president’s office received “credible information” about the plot and based on it, the president decided not to go. Times of Israel

In Sign of Regional Disarray, Many Leaders Forgo Arab Summit
Arab officials gathered in a tent in the Mauritanian capital Monday, in the most poorly attended Arab League summit in years, a sign of the region’s disarray. Just a handful of leaders from the Arab League’s 22 member states turned up, pointing to the pan-Arab organization’s struggles under the strain of various regional crises – including the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya. Past initiatives – such as last year’s plans for a joint Arab military force to fight Islamic militancy and confront Iran’s aspirations – have failed to gather steam. This year, an Egyptian attempt to encourage the region to push for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks has garnered little attention – even Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, decided to forgo the summit. Among the influential leaders who were also absent were: Saudi King Salman and his powerful son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, the leaders of Tunisia, Algeria and Tunisia and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. AP on Stars and Stripes

Nigeria Talks to Militants as Avengers Strike Gas Pipeline
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta started talks with Nigeria’s government, even as another militant group claimed to have blown up a pipeline in the oil-rich region. The negotiations “will seek to find solutions to the short, medium and long-term future of the Niger Delta region,” MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. While Nigeria’s presidency said on July 21 it’s talking to militants, that doesn’t appear to include the Niger Delta Avengers, the rebels claiming responsibility for the attacks on oil infrastructure this year. The Avengers, who in February shattered a seven-year peace with a campaign of sabotage that’s cut crude output and starved the government of revenue, late Sunday said they blew up a gas pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. The statement on the group’s website couldn’t be verified. The Avengers say they want a greater share of the wealth that oil companies extract from their native lands to be spent on local schools, hospitals and other essential services. Bloomberg

Mozambique Peace Talks With Opposition Frozen Amid Impasse
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Talks between Mozambique’s government and an opposition party that began July 21 were suspended after disagreements, a mediator said, stalling a bid to end violence that’s killed hundreds of people. “Several impasses” between the ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique and the opposition Renamo delegations led to the dialogue being frozen, Mario Raffaelli, who represents the European Union in the talks, told reporters late Saturday in the capital, Maputo. “We need time among us to prepare suggestions, proposals that could help the negotiation,” he said. “The suspension time will be as soon as possible but now we can’t say the resumption date.” Considered a success story since a 16-year war ended in 1992 and the discovery of one of the world’s biggest gas fields, Mozambique is now struggling with a debt crisis and rising political tensions. Bloomberg

Zimbabwe Slams Veterans as ‘Traitorous’ Rebels
The presidency was stunned at a communique issued on Thursday by the war veterans’ association – a key political ally – which called for the 92-year-old leader to stand down, accusing him of operating a dictatorship and running the economy into the ground. On Saturday, the party struck back, alleging that the announcement was the work of “fifth column” rebels, with Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi telling state media that “thorough investigations” to “get to the root of the matter” were underway. “Government … dismisses the said traitorous so-called communique, which is treasonable in the constitutional democracy that Zimbabwe is,” said Retired Brigadier-General Asher Tapfumaneyi, the most senior civil servant in the veterans ministry, in a statement on Saturday. Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko added that, “When people start talking against their Commander-in-Chief it means that they’re now rebels”. The Africa Report

Sahara Developments Mean Testing Times for Moroccan Diplomacy
In a region of rapidly escalating instability, Morocco is trying to concretise the recipe for reform and stability. Nevertheless, government officials complain frequently about recurrent signs of despotism in the country, fuelled by political and media preparations for the October elections. Hence, the unsteady democratisation process is a test for the perseverance of that strategic narrative. Meanwhile, the Sahara issue remains a central factor in relations with the international community. Incessant change and interaction have characterised the affair, from which serious challenges have come forth. Some changes serve Morocco’s interests while others require more active and efficient diplomacy. The Middle East Monitor

Climate Disasters Could Increase Armed Conflict in Multi-ethnic Countries
Conflicts are rarely triggered by one single factor. Natural disasters as such may not be a direct cause, but they can play a significant role in the outbreak of violence in multi-ethnic countries, a new study published in the Proceedings of the United States National Academy of Sciences has shown. “Devastating climate-related natural disasters have a disruptive potential that seems to play out in ethnically fractionalized societies in a particularly tragic way,” says lead author Carl Schleussner from the Berlin think-tank Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Almost one-quarter of the conflicts taking place in ethnically fractionalized societies coincide with climate disasters like heat-waves and droughts – even without including climate change in the equation. While the relation between natural disasters and armed conflicts might not be surprising, proving it through scientific findings could help to improve security policies. Deutsche Welle

As Severe Drought Threatens Southern Africa, US Gives $127M
The United States on Monday announced $127 million in aid for southern African countries where the worst drought in decades is affecting millions of people, stunting children and tempting some farmers to eat their grains instead of saving them as seed for the next crop. The region’s most severe drought in 35 years is also a growing health crisis. One-third of the world’s HIV-infected population lives in southern Africa, and the United Nations says people cannot take their treatment on an empty stomach. In Zimbabwe, once a food exporter to its neighbors and now gripped by an economic crisis, some have been selling their cattle for as low as $50, explaining that the animals are bound to die anyway. AP on Yahoo News

The World Spent $1 Billion Less on AIDS, Jeopardizing Decades of Progress
The 21st International AIDS Conference convened here last week amid an emerging global consensus that the end to an epidemic that has killed 35 million people might be achievable. Just weeks before the conference, a high-level meeting of United Nations members in New York issued a declaration renewing commitments to end AIDS by 2030. That optimism faded as delegates arrived in Durban to news that donor countries had reduced global HIV funding by more than $1 billion from 2014 to 2015. The reduction could jeopardize the remarkable gains made from investments over nearly two decades, including tens of billions of dollars from the United States. That money has funded advances in and the distribution of life-saving anti-retroviral therapy. More than 17 million people are on treatment. The number of people newly infected with HIV each year has stalled at about 2 million, but it is down from 3.1 million in 2000. AP on The Washington Post

African States Called on to Subsidize Cancer Treatment
“Ignorance”, a lack of access to treatment and the prohibitive cost of drugs are hitting African families struggling with cancer, according to Ethiopia’s First Lady Roman Tesfaye. Roman – a former economic advisor and human rights advocate – was speaking on Monday at a cancer conference in the African Union’s HQ in Addis Ababa. Addressing a group of African first ladies, Roman appealed to the continent’s governments to subsidize cancer diagnosis and care. The 10th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa Conference (SCCA) heard that cancer – especially cervical, breast and prostate – is taking a heavy toll in Africa despite the myth that it is the disease of the developed world. According to official data released at Monday’s event, 8.2 million people die annually due to cancer in the world. In 2012 alone, 847,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Africa, 591,000 of these people died from the illness. Anadolu Agency



Photo: Adam Jones