Africa Media Review for July 26, 2017

Libyan Rival Leaders Agree to Ceasefire after Macron-Hosted Talks
Libya’s two main rival leaders have agreed to call a ceasefire and hold elections early next year after a meeting in Paris hosted by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. Macron said Libya’s UN-backed prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, and Khalifa Haftar – the military strongman whose forces control large tracts of land in the east of the country – had displayed “historic courage” at the talks outside Paris on Tuesday. “The cause of peace has made great progress today,” declared Macron at the end of the talks. On paper, the agreement represents a step towards a political settlement to end years of violence – but previous peace deals since the 2011 fall of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi have not been honoured, and the absence of a specific date for proposed new elections will be seen as a diplomatic disappointment. The Guardian

UN Accuses DR Congo Army of Digging Kasai Mass Graves
The United Nations accused “elements” of the Congolese army on Tuesday of digging most of the mass graves it has identified in the insurrection-ravaged Kasai region of central Democratic Republic of Congo. The report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in Congo (UNJHRO) is the first time the United Nations has directly suggested that government forces dug the graves. Congo’s human rights minister was not immediately available for comment but the government has repeatedly denied its troops were responsible for dozens of mass graves discovered since the Kamuina Nsapu group launched an insurrection last August and called for the departure of government forces from the area. Al Jazeera

Anti-Balaka Ambush in CAR Kills Two UN Peacekeepers
Suspected Christian fighters killed two Moroccan peacekeepers from the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic on Tuesday, the mission said, in the second deadly attack on Moroccan forces this week. The peacekeepers were ambushed by suspected anti-balaka fighters in the town of Banagassou, 700 kilometres east of the capital Bangui, as they stocked up on water to deliver to the population, the mission said in a statement. Thousands have died in an ethnic and religious conflict that broke out when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka armed groups. Al Jazeera

Presidential Age Limit Stirs Debate in Uganda
Uganda’s parliament is considering an amendment to the country’s constitution on land issues, but it is another proposed revision, not on the table, that is sparking the fiercest debate. Uganda’s constitution sets the age range for president at 35 to 75 years of age. Born in 1944, President Yoweri Museveni will be 76 years old at the next elections in 2021. That means after three decades in power, he will not be eligible to stand for re-election. But Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana has discussed amending the constitution. The public reacted quickly, urging legislators not to touch article 102b. VOA

Joint US-Somali Raid Nabs Suspected US Resident
A joint US-Somali military raid on an al-Shabaab target in Somalia on Sunday resulted in the capture of an al-Shabaab facilitator who is suspected of being a lawful US resident, two US defense officials told CNN. US military advisers were conducting an “advise and assist mission,” accompanying local Somali security forces as they launched a raid on an al-Shabaab target, al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, in the area of Gilcayo, Somalia. During the raid the officials said a “known al-Shabaab facilitator and suspected lawful resident of the US was captured by the Somali National Security Forces.” One official called the capture “a target of opportunity” and said that the individual recently traveled to the United States. The official said the detainee is not an American citizen and that the military is working to confirm the nature of his US residency with US law enforcement. The individual is currently being detained by the Somali government. CNN

Burundi’s Exiles Call World’s Attention to Deadly Crisis
Burundi-born Eric Ndayisenga and his friends in exile religiously listen to a radio station that urges liberation from the deadly political violence back home. One day the report brought grief instead. His sister Zainabu and a friend had been found dead, stabbed and their throats slit, in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. Ndayisenga believes his sister’s fate would have been unknown if not reported by the station linked to the Forebu rebel group, supported by exiles who press the international community to act on Burundi’s crisis. Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled the small East African nation in the two years since President Pierre Nkurunziza set off protests by declaring he would seek another term. After the armed forces put down an attempted coup, he won election amid alleged revenge killings and the unrest has continued. AP

Boko Haram Ambushes Oil Convoy in Nigeria, Killing Soldiers
Authorities in northern Nigeria say roughly 10 military personnel have been killed and a similar number of university workers are unaccounted for after Boko Haram extremists attacked their convoy. The secretary of the Hunters Association in Borno State, Bunu Bukar, says members of the self-defense group saw the bodies of military personnel after the ambush Tuesday. The military and self-defense group were providing security for oil exploration workers in northern Borno state. Bukar says the convoy had been traveling between Magumeri and Gubio towns. Nigeria’s military has not immediately commented on the ambush. Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and continues to carry out deadly attacks despite the government’s declaration late last year that the extremists had been “crushed.” AP

Militants Hit Nigerian Crude Oil Pipeline
A militant attack on a crude oil pipeline in Nigeria has sidelined more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day, the head of a state oil company announced. Maikanit Baru, the head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., said as-yet identified saboteurs caused a breach on a major transit artery, curbing 150,000 barrels of oil per day. The rupture from the Trans-Niger pipeline came as parties to a committee monitoring a production agreement coordinated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, of which Nigeria is a member, met to consider its impacts. Baru said the problem at the pipeline created obstacles to sustaining what he said was the 2.2 million barrels of crude oil production per day reached last week. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to sustain it because we have challenges,” he was quoted as saying by Nigerian newspaper Vanguard. UPI

Dozens of Ethiopian Figures Held on Corruption Charges
The Ethiopian government on Tuesday arrested 34 senior public officials, investors and brokers for alleged embezzlement of public funds. Negeri Lencho, the country’s communication minister, told a news conference the officials had been arrested after police investigations, plus probes by the attorney general and auditor general’s offices. Without disclosing any names, Lencho said the suspects had been serving as senior officials in the ministry of finance, the roads authority and the sugar industry. He said the government had launched a crackdown on corruption and it was possible more arrests would be made in the coming days. Anadolu Agency

Kenyan Authorities Step up Security amid Al-Shabaab Threat
The last few weeks have seen a rise in attacks by Al-Shabaab Islamists along the Kenya-Somalia border. One area particularly affected is the county of Lamu, where 18 people have been killed in just the past fortnight. Authorities are on edge. Even during calm times, Lamu, which is popular with tourists, must be protected. But as Kenya’s general election approaches, the president can’t afford a loss in this strategic region. Our correspondents report. France 24

U.S. Calls for Humanitarian Truce and New UNAMID Base in Darfur’s Jebel Marra
The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum Tuesday said alarmed by the “deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Jebel Marra. Further, it called on the warring parties to commit themselves to a cessation of hostilities and to authorise a UNAMID base in the mountainous area. In line with the five-track framework over the lift of US sanctions on Sudan, aid groups are now allowed aid workers to work in the whole Darfur including Jebel Marra where the government forces fight the Sudan Liberation Movement- Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) which refuses to declare a humanitarian truce or to negotiate with Khartoum. “Recent nutrition screenings and surveys show critical levels of severe acute malnutrition indicating a complex humanitarian crisis that demands an urgent, multi-sector response,” said the embassy in a statement about the humanitarian situation in the area. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe’s Parliament Amends Constitution to Let President Handpick Top Judges
Zimbabwe’s parliament has amended the country’s constitution to empower the president to handpick the southern African nation’s top judges. Plans to give President Robert Mugabe such power started early this year when the then-chief justice left the bench after reaching the age of retirement. Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF immediately petitioned the courts to halt public interviews to appoint the next top judge until the constitution had been changed to allow Mugabe to choose the new jurist. The application failed, but ZANU-PF introduced a bill proposing the amendment to ensure the president chooses a chief justice, along with the deputy and the head of the high court, known in Zimbabwe as the Judge President. VOA

Egypt Military Says 40 Militants Killed in Campaign
Egypt’s military said on Tuesday it has killed more than 40 extremists in a wide-ranging campaign in the Sinai Peninsula where the Islamic State group has been waging a deadly insurgency. The announcement came a day after seven civilians were killed in a foiled attack on a checkpoint with an explosives-laden car. An army tank had intercepted the vehicle and driven over it, almost flattening it, before the explosives went off, according to a video released by the army. The Islamic State group has waged deadly attacks on the military and police, most recently on a checkpoint in Sinai on July 7 that killed at least 21 soldiers. News 24

Egypt Court Sentences 43 Anti-Government Protesters to Life -Sources
An Egyptian criminal court sentenced 43 activists to life in prison on Tuesday, judicial sources said, in a retrial of anti-government protesters who clashed with authorities in late 2011. Mass trials have been common since the army deposed Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following nationwide demonstrations against his rule. Both local and international rights groups have repeatedly voiced criticism. The 43 defendants had been charged with rioting, vandalism and attacking security forces during clashes with police and the army in Cairo in December 2011, in which at least 17 people were killed and almost 2,000 were wounded. SABC

Nigeria Has ‘Largest Number of Children out-of-School’ in the World
Nigeria has the largest number of children in the world who are not being educated, the government has said. Acknowledging the scale of the problem the education ministry’s permanent secretary Adamu Hussaini said it was “sad to note” that Nigeria had 10.5 million children out of school. This is the first time senior officials have admitted the size of the problem. Cultural factors have been blamed but critics point to a lack of money going to publicly funded schools. The UN’s children’s agency, Unicef, has been campaigning on this issue as well as a number of other groups. BBC

South Africa Moves Ahead on Domestic Trade in Rhino Horn
South Africa said Monday it is moving ahead with draft regulations for a domestic trade in rhino horn, despite critics’ concerns that a legal market will spur rhino poaching. Anyone possessing a rhino horn will need a permit under national rules that are being prepared, and South Africa continues to recognize a ban on the international trade in horn that was imposed in 1977, said Edna Molewa, the environmental affairs minister. Earlier this year, South Africa’s Constitutional Court rejected a government appeal to preserve a 2009 ban on the domestic trade in the horns of rhinos, which have been poached in record numbers in the past decade. A rhino breeder in South Africa, which is home to most of the world’s rhinos, plans an online auction of horn next month. AP

‘I Can Pedal Faster Than a Man Can Run’ – How Bikes Are Changing the Dynamic on Africa’s Roads
[…] Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa are among several African countries targeted by campaigns to get people cycling. Such schemes generally involve shipments of donated bicycles from the west: Village Bicycle Project delivers 10,000 bicycles a year to Sierra Leone and Ghana, while World Bicycle Relief and Ghana Bamboo Bikes manufacture two-wheelers specifically for African markets. Using bikes instead of cars could help to decongest polluted cities such as Kampala, where the Ugandan government optimistically introduced cycle lanes in 2015. The main emphasis, however, is on people for whom a bike is a way of speeding up long walks to school, clinics, work or markets – chiefly women. “It’s mostly the women in Sierra Leone and Ghana who do not just do all the household chores, but also go to the fields, to the farm, to the market to sell their produce,” says Joshua Poppel, executive director of Village Bicycle Project. In Tanzania, women and girls carry out 90% of the household chores involving walking – often for hours each day – to collect water, food and wood. The Guardian