Africa Media Review for July 5, 2017

U.S. Carries Out Drone Strike Against al-Shabab Militants in Somalia
The United States military said on Monday that it had carried out a drone strike in Somalia against the Shabab, the Qaeda-linked insurgent group, in the second such strike since President Trump relaxed targeting rules for counterterrorism operations in that country in March. The strike, which took place about 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, came three months after Mr. Trump cleared the way for offensive strikes, even without a specific self-defense rationale, in Somalia, a chaotic nation in the Horn of Africa. “We are currently assessing the results of the operation, and will provide additional information as appropriate,” Maj. Audricia Harris, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in an email on Monday. American officials have said in recent weeks that the military would carry out strikes against elements of the Shabab that plotted attacks, trained militants, stored munitions or other supplies, or other targets that supported and sustained the militancy. The New York Times

Raids on Uganda Show South Sudan’s War Spilling across Its Borders
Men wearing South Sudanese military uniforms have launched two raids on a hamlet over the border in Uganda in recent weeks, residents said, stealing cattle and raising fears that a near four-year-old conflict is spreading. The gunmen also tried to seize refugees from Gbari in the first reported attacks on Ugandan soil since the start of South Sudan’s civil war, locals told Reuters. “I am afraid, they may come … and burn all the houses,” said Martin Koma, 44, from the village. South Sudan’s army denied any involvement. But the reports will alarm regional and world powers, struggling to contain ethnically-charged killings and atrocities that the U.N. has warned could lead to genocide. South Sudanese gunmen have already killed and kidnapped hundreds in cross-border raids in Ethiopia. Koma said about 26 gunmen attacked Gbari on the morning of June 17, identifying themselves as South Sudanese military and taking 108 cattle. Reuters

Hunger Used as a Weapon of War in South Sudan, Amnesty Says
South Sudanese government forces and rebels have used hunger as a weapon of war in a region once seen as the country’s breadbasket that’s been ravaged by killings, gang-rapes and looting over the past year, Amnesty International said. Civilians’ access to food in the southern region of Equatoria, where conflict spread last July, is “severely limited” after combatants cut supplies, looted from markets and homes and targeted civilians, the London-based advocacy group said Tuesday. It said fighters from each side accuse civilians of feeding or being fed by the enemy. “It is a cruel tragedy of this war that South Sudan’s breadbasket — a region that a year ago could feed millions — has turned into treacherous killing fields that have forced close to a million to flee in search of safety,” Joanne Mariner, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser, said. Deputy army spokesman Santo Domic said the report hadn’t been shared with the military and was biased. Bloomberg

People ‘Burned to Death in Homes’ by South Sudan’s Government Militias
The government of South Sudan and its militias are behaving with vicious brutality in the country, with reports of men being locked in huts and burned to death, and of machete attacks being carried out in remote villages. The atrocities are just one of the causes of the major refugee crisis in the region, with almost a million people fleeing to Uganda. Out of a population of some 12.5 million, more than 1.7 million are enduring severe hunger, classified as just one step below famine, and the number at risk of starvation is 6 million and growing. On top of that, a fast-spreading cholera outbreak threatens to kill thousands. The human rights group Amnesty International, which has been gathering together reports from the conflict, said forces – those loyal to the government and also some to the opposition – had also cut food supplies to parts of the country. The Guardian

Ignoring International Warrants, Sudan’s Leader Says He’ll Visit Moscow
Genocide and war-crimes charges have long shadowed Sudan’s president, sometimes forcing him to scrap or alter travel abroad to avoid the risk of arrest and extradition to the International Criminal Court. Still, Sudan said Monday, he had accepted an invitation to visit Russia next month. The invitation to the president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, presents a new test of Mr. Bashir’s defiance of the international court at The Hague, which issued arrest warrants for him years ago over the genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. Mr. Bashir’s refusal to heed the warrants has come to symbolize a broader impunity shown toward the court, the international judicial authority that was created to deal with egregious crimes in which victims have no other recourse. The invitation to Mr. Bashir also may partly reflect a concerted effort by Mr. Putin to reassert Russian influence at a time of retreat for the United States in parts of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.  The New York Times

Boko Haram Kill Nine, Kidnap Dozens in Niger Village
Boko Haram jihadists have kidnapped 37 women and slit the throats of nine other people at a village in southeastern Niger, the regional governor said Tuesday. The attack happened on Sunday at the village of Ngalewa, near the border with Nigeria, the governor of Diffa region, Laouali Mahamane Dan Dano, told state TV. “Boko Haram elements… slit the throats of nine people… they took women, 37 women, and departed with them,” he said. “The defence and security forces are already in pursuit, and we hope that in the coming days these women will be found and freed,” he said. France 24

700 Boko Haram Insurgents Surrender in Borno — Buratai
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Monday, said 700 Boko Haram insurgents around the fringes of Sambisa Forest in Borno surrendered to Nigeria’s troop. Buratai disclosed this during a Photo/Arts Exhibition which was part of activities to mark the week-long Nigerian Army Day Celebration (NADCEL). The army chief said “a short while ago, I received the good news that about 700 Boko Haram terrorists within the fringes of Sambisa Forest have surrendered. “Some others are in the process to surrender, This is a clear indication that the Boko Haram war is clearly being won. Vanguard

Burundi Crisis Deepens as Government Militias Spread Terror
As Burundi plunges into a deeper political and human rights crisis, a new report highlights the role of the radicalised ruling party’s youth league – the Imbonerakure – in the rising violence against opponents and civilians. The roots of the present crisis in Burundi, a central African country scarred by years of an ethnic-based civil war, can be traced back to April 2015. Its president, former Hutu rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza, bid for re-election for a third term, sparking mass protests by opposition supporters who, like the international community, said the move was unconstitutional. Protests were brutally repressed days later, with dozens killed. An attempted coup in May that year set the regime on a path of repression against protesters, political opponents, media, civil rights organisations and, increasingly, civilians. France 24

Burundi’s Government Purging Tutsi Army Officers – Report
Burundi’s ruling party is purging ethnic Tutsi army officers in a campaign of repression, a human rights group says, accusing the international community of inaction amid deadly political violence in the East African country. Hundreds of Tutsi soldiers in the national army have been murdered, disappeared or detained, and others have deserted, according to the new report by the International Federation for Human Rights and Burundi-based partners. Burundian authorities blame the Tutsi, an ethnic minority, for the instability, the report says. “The primary positions of command in the main army corps are now occupied by a Hutu majority, loyal to the president,” the report says. “The army has become a highly politicized body.” News 24

Zuma Backs Power-Share Deal for Cyril Ramaphosa, Dlamini Zuma
President Jacob Zuma has thrown his weight behind the proposed power-sharing deal between Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. But his supporters are divided on the matter. At the ANC national policy conference at Nasrec, KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala proposed a compromise deal which would see any one of the two presidential candidates becoming deputy president should he or she lose to the other in the race for the top spot. This, Zikalala believes, would prevent a bloodbath and a possible split after the party’s elective conference in December. IOL News

The Decline of South Africa’s Defence Industry
The arrival of democracy in South Africa has not been kind to the country’s defence industry which has seen a drop in turnover of more R12 billion from 1989/90 when it stood at R31,6 billion to last year’s R19 billion (measured in 2016 Rand value) according to the draft Defence Industry Strategy document. The more than 200 page document which is currently circulating for comment and input points out that with the exception of the 1999 Strategic Defence Procurement Packages (SDPPs) and “a small number of major projects the erosion of defence funding in real terms has continued since then with government funds channelled to address real and urgent socioeconomic needs”. After 2001, South Africa took on regional and continental security obligations and this resulted in what the document calls “a disconnect” between defence funding and operational commitments. DefenceWeb

Italy Warns of Social Upheaval as UN Sees More Migrant Arrivals from Libya
The number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean is likely to increase, the UN said Monday, as criminal trafficking networks in lawless Libya ship more and more migrants to Europe’s shores. So far this year 85,183 migrants have reached Italy after being picked up by rescue ships in the Mediterranean, a 20 percent increase from the same time last year, according to Italy’s interior ministry. “There is no slowing down of movement to Libya, which may mean that a larger number of people may continue to try to leave through the central Mediterranean route,” Vincent Cochetel, the UN refugee agency’s (UNHCR) special envoy for the route, said on Monday. While 30 percent migrants are fleeing conflict or persecution, according to a UNHCR study released Monday, 70 percent of those arriving in Italy are economic migrants with little chance of receiving asylum. Deutsche Welle

British Troops Tackling Elephant Poachers Selling Ivory to Fund Terror
British troops are being deployed to catch elephant poachers in Africa as part of the fight against terrorism. UK soldiers have been stationed in Gabon to protect rare forest elephants from hunters who slaughter the animals for their ivory and use the profits to fund extremism across the continent. The British Army assembled a squad of 16 elite servicemen after receiving an SOS call from authorities in the central African country, the Daily Mirror reported. The Independent

HRW Reports Threats to Voters a Month before Kenyan Election
With Kenya’s general election five weeks away, Human Rights Watch says some communities in the Rift Valley region live in fear of attacks if they vote against the ruling Jubilee party, and some people have left after young men warned them to stay away from polling centers. The rights organization is calling on authorities to investigate and prosecute those behind the threats and intimidation. “We also had some direct threat of people telling their colleagues, ‘Let us wait for August 8. We shall see where you will go. We shall be coming for you.’ Those kinds of utterances,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Otisieno Namwaya. “So people are afraid, people are leaving. Some of the families told us they were waiting for the schools to close and they will leave the area.” VOA

African Union Summit Focuses on Unemployment and Conflicts
The fight against Boko Haram was one of a number of conflicts concerning leaders as the African Union summit opened in Ethiopia on Monday. Chairman Moussa Faki Mahmat says economic development depends on finding lasting peace. Youth issues, unemployment and regional conflicts are other discussion points at the summit. Al Jazeera

Tanzanian MP Faces Arrest for Criticising President in Teen Mums Row
A Tanzanian opposition lawmaker, Halima Mdee, faces arrest for her fierce criticism on President John Magufuli’s stance on education of teen mothers. A district commissioner in Dar es Salaam, Ally Hapi, has ordered that she be arrested and charged for using abusive language against the president. “I instruct Halima Mdee to be arrested by the police and detained for 48 hours, interrogated and prosecuted over her insults against our President,” Mr Hapi, Kinondoni District Commissioner, ordered Tuesday. Tanzania’s laws allow for the detaining for 48 hours of anyone who may “disturb public tranquillity.” The East African

Ethiopia to Set Free 120 Somali Prisoners
Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre has announced Ethiopia’s decision to release over 120 Somali prisoners. Mr Khayre made the announcement on Twitter from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, where he is attending the African Union Summit. The PM said his government had managed to reach an agreement with Ethiopia to set the prisoners free. “We have succeeded to reach an agreement with the Ethiopian government to release and hand over to the Somali government 120 prisoners,” the premier said on his @SomaliPM Twitter handle. The East African

Damned If You Fish, Damned If You Don’t: No Good Choices on Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake, has been affected by years of mismanagement, environmental changes, and a burgeoning population. Desperate families use illegal nets and poison to catch fish, piracy is on the rise, and alcoholism is rife. As fish stocks dwindle, more and more families struggle to make ends meet. Some fishermen still venture out onto the over-fished waters. Among them is Juma Otieno, a Kenyan with no land to farm. In order to make a living, he travels in search of Nile perch to the island of Migingo, ownership of which is contested by Kenya and Uganda. Over the seven years he’s been working there, he’s become increasingly worried he’ll soon have no means of making an income. IRIN



Photo: Adam Jones