Africa Media Review for July 7, 2017

ICC: South Africa Failed Obligations by Not Arresting Sudan’s Bashir
Judges at the International Criminal Court have ruled that South Africa failed in its obligations to the war crimes court by failing to arrest Sudan’s wanted president when he visited the nation for a summit of African leaders in 2015. The ruling comes as South African officials dig in their heels in their decision to withdraw from the court after the controversial incident. Two years after Omar al-Bashir’s whirlwind visit to South Africa, judges at the International Criminal Court unanimously ruled the nation’s officials erred by failing to arrest Sudan’s president on an international war crimes warrant. The court issued a warrant in 2009 for the Sudanese leader on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his involvement the long-running conflict in Darfur, where the United Nations estimates 300,000 people have been killed and more than two million have been displaced. VOA

Niger Army Kills 14 Displaced People Mistaken for Jihadists: Official
Niger’s army has killed 14 displaced people who were mistaken for jihadists in the restive southeast where Boko Haram Islamists have staged regular attacks, a local official said on Thursday. “It’s an error by the military that cost the lives of 14 civilians… refugees and displaced people,” the official from the Diffa region, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP. A local journalist, also speaking anonymously, confirmed his account. “The soldiers mistook them for Boko Haram fighters. The army has been on edge after the last two attacks in this area,” he said. Civil and military authorities in Diffa were not immediately reachable for comment. News 24

UN Mission in Mali Condemns Ceasefire Breaches by Peace Accord Signatories
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali today condemned continuing ceasefire violations by two signatories of the 2015 Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. The accord was signed in June 2015 by the Coordination des Mouvements de l’Azawad (CMA) armed group, following its signature in May 2015 by the Government and a third party, the Plateforme coalition of armed groups. “These violations [by CMA and Plateforme] include movements of armed convoys, provocations and even armed clashes, like the ones ongoing south of Aguelhok,” UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters in New York. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), urged the leadership of both groups to put an end to these violations immediately. UN

10 Killed in a Blitz Car Bomb Attack in Egypt’s Sinai
Egyptian officials say at least 10 security troops have been killed when a car bomb struck a military checkpoint followed by heavy gunfire in northeastern Sinai Peninsula. The officials say that the Friday attack started when a suicide car bomber rammed his vehicle into the checkpoint in southern Rafah village of el-Barth, followed by heavy shooting by dozens of masked militants on foot. The dead included a high ranking special forces officer and at least 20 others were wounded in the attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Egypt has in recent years been battling a stepped-up insurgency in northern Sinai, mainly by militants from an Islamic State group affiliate. News 24

Zambia’s President Lungu: What Emergency? It’s Just Law and Order
The day after declaring a partial state of emergency, Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu stood on a red carpet in front of a draped screen on the lawn of State House and told his compatriots to trust him. “I know that people think I’m targeting political players. I’m not,” he said. “I’m just bringing sanity to our country, so that there is law and order.” On Wednesday night, citing a string of fires dating back to August 2016, Lungu invoked a section of the country’s constitution that allows a president to declare that “a situation exists which, if it is allowed to continue may lead to a state of public emergency” – a line of legalese magicry that sounds like a state of emergency and looks like a state of emergency but which, Lungu insisted, is not in fact a state of emergency. And, technically, this is true. The article Lungu referenced was not the one used for declaring a public emergency, nor did he invoke the Emergency Powers Act that would bring it to life. Daily Maverick

8 Dead at Malawi Independence Day Stampede
Seven children and one adult were killed in a stampede at Malawi’s national stadium on Thursday as large crowds gathered for Independence Day celebrations, police said. Eight people seven children aged around eight years old, and one adult died,” national police spokesman James Kadadzera told AFP. He said 62 people had been injured and were receiving treatment at Lilongwe’s main hospital. “My government will do all it can to assist the bereaved families,” President Peter Mutharika said at an Independence Day prayer meeting. Further saying to the people: “We are mourning with you.” Mutharika cancelled his traditional Independence Day speech and skipped the football match. AFP

Congo Court Convicts Soldiers for Massacre in Disputed Kasai Region
A Democratic Republic of Congo court convicted seven soldiers on Thursday for the murder of suspected militia members in the country’s insurrection-ravaged Kasai region. The court in the central Congolese city of Mbuji Mayi sentenced two army majors to 20 years in prison and three other soldiers to 15 years for murder and improperly disposing of weapons, defence lawyer Jimmy Bashile told Reuters. A video of the massacre showed soldiers shooting people, some of them young women, at point blank range and provoked international condemnation when it appeared in February. Two soldiers were sentenced in absentia to capital punishment, Bashile added, although Congo has observed a moratorium on the death penalty for more than a decade. One other soldier received a 12-month suspended sentence for failing to denounce the crimes, while another was acquitted for lack of evidence, Bashile said. All of the defendants who were convicted plan to appeal their sentences, he added. Reuters

Army Blocks South Sudan Peace Monitors
Peace monitors in South Sudan have reported being denied access to Kajo-Keji town in Central Equatorial by government forces. In a statement issued Thursday, the monitors explained that government soldiers at one checkpoint stopped a team of ceasefire monitors near Rejaf en route to Kajo-Keji on Tuesday. “They were travelling to Kajo-Keji to monitor the call by the Igad Assembly Heads of State and Government of South Sudan at the 31st Extra-Ordinary Summit on 12 June 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for strict implementation of the ceasefire,” the statement said. The East African

Nigeria Has Succession Jitters, Again
Nigeria is awash in nervous speculation over the health of President Muhammadu Buhari, who hasn’t appeared in public since he returned to the U.K. for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment on May 7. Buhari, 74 and a Muslim, has formally designated his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, acting president as he did when he was away on medical leave for 49 days from Jan. 20. The prospect of Osinbajo, a 60-year-old Christian, serving out the remaining two years of Buhari’s term raises the specter of sectarian tension in a country that has seen plenty of it in the past. Succession jitters also heighten concern about government paralysis at a time when the economy is in recession. Bloomberg

Nigeria and the Biafran War: Ending the Silence
In newspapers and on social media, Nigerians are currently discussing a possible split of the huge country more hotly than ever before.  50 years after the two and a half-year Biafran civil war began, the idea of a state of Biafra – which is what the secessionist region called itself back then – has resurged. Apart from debates and propaganda, including racist agitation, that also means that the country must deal with its past, and most of all with this civil war. Up to 2.5 million people died in a civil war that was hushed up for decades after it ended in January 1970.  “Biafra was never really on our curriculum at school,” said Roy Udeh Ubaka, 23, from Enugu in southeastern Nigeria. Deutsche Welle

EU Leaders Reaffirm Libya Migrant Policy despite Criticism
European Union leaders on Thursday reaffirmed the need to help Libya prevent migrants from being smuggled to Europe, despite renewed opposition from human rights groups that such a policy is “reckless” given Libya’s lawlessness. Interior ministers meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, also called for aid groups conducting rescue operations in the Mediterranean to follow a code of conduct, after prosecutors in Italy have accused some of complicity with Libyan-based smugglers. And the ministers vowed to crack down on countries that refuse to take their nationals home when their asylum bids fail in Europe, including imposing limits to visa programs. “This is an unprecedented initiative,” Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said. Stars and Stripes

U.S. Military Vows to Dismantle Al-Shabaab Fighters in Somalia
The U.S. military has confirmed its special forces conducted a successful collective self-defense strike operation against an Al-Shabaab troop concentration in Somalia on Sunday and vowed to dismantle the militants. In a statement issued on Wednesday night, the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) vowed to intensify onslaught against Al-Shabaab militants in order to protect people including Americans and its allies. “We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle Al-Shabaab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region,” Africom said. Africom, which has in the past conducted counterterrorism airstrikes against the terror group in Somalia, said the Sunday airstrikes that targeted the militants occurred at about 480 km southwest of Mogadishu. Xinhua

53 Congressmen Urge President Trump to Delay Sudan Sanctions Relief
A bipartisan group including 53 U.S. lawmakers has strongly urged President Donald Trump to delay the permanent lifting of U.S. sanctions on Sudan. Last January, former President Barack Obama issued an executive order providing temporary relief from many U.S. sanctions against Sudan that have been in effect for almost 20 years. Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. By the 12 July, based on an interagency report including the State Department the President Donald Trump is expected to issue a decision on whether to maintain or to remove the lift of economic sanctions on Sudan. The five-track process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Sudan Tribune

Kenya Seeks to Censor Commentary on the Internet Ahead of Polls
Two government bodies are reviewing the results of a public consultation on draft guidelines that they proposed to prevent the spread of inflammatory content and hate speech on messaging and social media platforms. Social media users must seek government approval of potentially inflammatory political content 24 hours before posting items, according to the proposed guidelines. allAfrica

Breaking the Silence in the World Capital of Female Genital Mutilation
One of the few positives for U.S. women and girls in recent years has been the increased awareness of female genital mutilation (FGM) as an urgent issue which affects over half a million people on American soil. The first ever U.S. trial is about to take place too and the government is finally taking action to end it. Over 200 million of us around the world and where I live in rural Somalia almost every single woman and girl has undergone FGM. 98% of Somali women and girls have been affected – the highest prevalence rate of anywhere in the world. Over 80% of us are cut between the ages of five and nine – old enough to remember what happened to them but not “too old” that we have already experienced too much independence. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones