Africa Media Review for June 14, 2019

Fighting Kills at Least 50 Eastern DR Congo: Governor
At least 50 people have been killed in violence in Ituri, a volatile province of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), governor Jean Bamanisa Saidi said Thursday. “As of the day before yesterday, we had a figure of some 50 (dead), but it’s true, we are aware that there are other cases,” he told AFP. Other sources said the toll could be 60 or more than 70. The fighting began last Friday and escalated on Monday, affecting the territory of Djugu north of the provincial capital of Bunia, and causing many people to flee their homes, the sources said. The cause of the flareup was not immediately clear, but it occurred in a region where tens of thousands died in clashes between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups between 1999 and 2003. AFP

UN Experts: More Armed Groups in Congo Willing to Surrender
U.N. experts say a growing number of armed groups in Congo appear willing to surrender under the right conditions following January’s inauguration of opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi as president. The experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against Congo said in a report to the Security Council circulated Thursday that “the apparent willingness of armed groups to demobilize should be seen as an opportunity to reduce violence and restore peace and security” in the country. Nonetheless, the panel of experts said numerous local and foreign armed groups continue to pose “serious security threats” in Congo, attacking civilians and soldiers, and targeting army camps and depots in order to seize weapons and ammunition. AP

The UN Doubts of ADF Militias Affiliation to the Islamic State
The deputy head of the United Nations force in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday questioned the affiliation to the Islamic State Jihadist group of an armed militia spreading terror in the region of Beni, in the east of the country. At least three times since April, an “Islamic State – Central Africa Province” has attributed massacres and abductions of civilians, as well as attacks on Congolese army positions in the Beni region. These deadly abuses are generally attributed by the authorities to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Ugandan Muslim rebels settled in eastern Congo for 20 years. “There is certainly an Islamic sensibility but there is not yet, from my point of view, and moreover the United Nations have still not recognized this character, a clear identification that it is a group affiliated to the Islamic State, “General Bernard Commins, deputy chief of the MONUSCO forces, told a press briefing.  VOA

Islamist Insurgents Overrun Nigerian Army Base in Northeast: Security Sources
Islamist insurgents overran a Nigerian army base in the country’s northeast, killing at least the commander, two Nigerian security sources said on Thursday. Militants on Wednesday took a Nigerian army base at the village of Kareto in northeastern Borno state, some 130 kilometers from state capital Maiduguri, the security sources said. No other details about possible further casualties were available. Nigerian army spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The latest development is at odds with the Nigerian military’s public statements as recently as Monday that their campaigns against Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West African branch are making “major breakthroughs”, statements that frequently describe the insurgents as “remnants”.  Reuters

#BlueforSudan: Why Is Social Media Turning Blue for Sudan?
Social media users are changing their profile pictures to blue to express solidarity with protesters in Sudan in the wake of a brutal crackdown that killed dozens of people in the capital, Khartoum. The blue wave has spread across various platforms via the #BlueForSudan hashtag, as Twitter and Instagram users attempt to honour the memory of one of the victims: Mohamed Mattar, whose favourite colour was reportedly blue. The 26-year-old engineer was fatally shot during the June 3 crackdown blamed by protesters on Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group led by a senior member of Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council.  Al Jazeera

Military Council Must Head Sudan’s Collegial Presidency: General
A member of the military junta, Salah Abdel Khaliq, stated that the security situation in Sudan requires that the Sovereign Council be headed by an army general. Abdel Khaliq made this statement during an interview with the BBC Radio Arabic Service on Tuesday, days after a decision by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council suspending Sudan’s membership and tasking the Ethiopian prime minister with a mediation to form a civilian-led transitional authority. The military council is determined that the chairmanship of the Sovereign Council be to the army and not civilians, he said before to add that the security situation in the country requires it. He pointed to they are ready to accept equal representation in the Sovereign Council for two parties. Also, he stressed their commitment to the agreement that was already concluded with the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change.  Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s Toppled President Omar Al-Bashir Charged with Corruption
Sudan’s public prosecutor has charged jailed former President Omar al-Bashir with corruption, according to state media. Al-Bashir was overthrown and arrested in a coup by the military on April 11 after months of mass protests against his 30-year autocratic rule. The SUNA news agency on Thursday quoted an official source as saying that al-Bashir “had been charged under foreign exchange possession materials, the heinous and suspicious wealth and emergency orders”. No other details were given.  Al Jazeera

Ghana Aims to Count Population Digitally
In Old Fadama, the largest slum in Accra, Ghana, a government official walks over to a group of men playing a card game. The official carries a hand-held computer. He asks if anyone has time to answer a few questions for an electronic census. Ghana is preparing for its first electronic population and housing survey. Government workers will be using tablet computers and satellite images to make sure everyone is counted in the survey next March. Ghana joins Swaziland, Malawi and Kenya as the first countries in Africa to collect such information electronically. The country has enjoyed more than 20 years of political stability and economic growth. The World Bank reports that, between 1991 and 2012, the country cut its poverty rate in half, from over 52 percent to 21 percent.  VOA

Blackwater Founder Expands Operations in Congo
A company run by private security firm Blackwater’s founder Erik Prince has registered a subsidiary in Democratic Republic of Congo with a mandate to extract minerals and timber and conduct financial operations, corporate filings show. Prince, who renamed Blackwater and sold it in 2010 after several of its employees were indicted on unlawful killing charges in connection with their work as U.S. government contractors during the Iraq War, has run Hong Kong-based Frontier Services Group (FSG) since 2014. FSG has close ties to the state-owned Chinese investment company CITIC and provides security, aviation and logistics services to Chinese firms operating in Africa.  Reuters

New Commander Takes Over Horn of Africa Mission Ahead of Proposed US Shift
Army Maj. Gen. Michael D. Turello assumed command of U.S. military efforts in East Africa, where a proposal may shift the mission focus from multinational training and counterterrorism to a permanent presence that seeks to strengthen American influence on the continent. “I am confident in Mike’s genuine leadership and his ability to take care of our service members and civilians to ensure they are successful,” U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser said during the change of command ceremony at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the U.S. military’s main operational hub in Africa. Turello replaced Army Maj. Gen. James D. Craig on Wednesday at the helm of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. His new role puts him in charge of an organization that officials say could soon see changes to its mission.  Stars and Stripes

Algeria’s Ex-PM Sellal Remanded in Custody over Corruption Allegation
Algeria’s supreme court on Thursday remanded former prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal in custody over allegations of corruption, state TV reported. Sellal is one of the closest associates of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be detained since protests broke out in February, demanding the prosecution of people the protesters regarded as corrupt. Sellal, who served as prime minister and Bouteflika’s campaign managers several times, is under investigation over “dissipation of public funds”. His lawyer was not immediately available for comment. France 24

Libya Parliament Chief Allied to Haftar Rules Out Talks Before Tripoli Captured
The head of the Libyan parliament aligned with eastern forces trying to seize the capital from the internationally-backed government said on Thursday there could be no peace talks until they had captured the city. Forces led by Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive on Tripoli in early April but the assault has stalled in the face of resistance from local armed groups aligned with the U.N.-recognized government there. Haftar and his backers say they are trying to free the capital from militias which they blame for destabilizing Libya since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011. Haftar’s critics accuse him of trying to seize power through force and deepening a conflict between factions based in the east and west of the sprawling North African country.  Reuters

Angola Power Elites Showdown Looms in Party Congress
A political showdown pitting allies of Angola president João Lourenço and those of the country’s former first family is expected when the ruling MPLA convenes for its seventh extraordinary congress on Saturday. The convention comes only a week after former President José Eduardo dos Santos daughter was Friday suspended from the ruling MPLA party Central Committee (CC) after she asked President Lourenco to resign. “The CC has approved to bring a suspension measure according to MPLA statutes on its member Comrade Welwitschia dos Santos Tchizé, ” a statement from the Party on June 7 read. Ms Welwitschia ‘Tchizé’ dos Santos, daughter to former president Eduardo dos Santos, wants Mr Lourenco removed from office apparently for muzzling state institutions.  The East African

Tanzania Opposition Leader Arrested, Banned From Foreign Travel
Tanzanian opposition leader and Member of Parliament for Kigoma, Zitto Kabwe, has been arrested and banned from travelling outside the country. According to a tweet on his official Twitter handle, Kabwe was arrested on Tuesday evening by immigration officers at the airport as he was about to leave the country. The legislator said he has been accused of violating section 50 (1) (a) of Media Services Act. […] Section 50 of the Tanzania Media Services Act states that, any person who makes use by any means of a media service for the purposes of publishing information which is intentionally or recklessly falsified in a manner which threatens the interest of defence, public safety, public order, the economic interests of the United Republic, public morality or public health. Nairobi News

Exam Cheats Cited in Three-Day Internet Shutdown in Ethiopia 
Ethiopian authorities shut down the Internet for a third day to prevent students from cheating in national examinations. Access to the web was totally cut off on Tuesday morning, and there’s been only an intermittent restoration of services since then, according to NetBlocks, an advocacy group that monitors cybersecurity. It is believed to be a measure to counter cheating, it said. A 2017 study by the Uganda-based Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa found that Internet shutdowns in sub-Saharan Africa cost the region as much as $237 million since 2015. Countries on the continent, including Zimbabwe, have previously disrupted connectivity to quell unrest during disputed elections.  Bloomberg

State Projects Leave Tens of Thousands of Lives in the Balance in Ethiopia – Study
A giant dam and irrigated sugar plantations are “wreaking havoc” in southern Ethiopia and threaten to wipe out tens of thousands of indigenous peoples , a US-based thinktank has claimed. The Oakland Institute says that while the Ethiopian government has made considerable progress on human rights under prime minister Abiy Ahmed, it has yet to address the impact of state development plans on indigenous populations in the lower Omo valley, where people face loss of livelihoods, starvation, and violent conflict . Acute hunger is now widespread, the organisation said in a report, due to blockage of the Omo River by Gibe III, Africa’s tallest dam. Since late 2015, the dam has stopped the river’s annual flood, a natural event that the valley’s inhabitants have relied upon for centuries for farming. As a result, entire communities have been tipped into destitution.  The Guardian

Uganda Discloses Greater Ebola Threat than Previously Known
Uganda’s exposure to Ebola infection from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo appeared to have increased on Thursday, as the death toll rose to two and three suspected cases were reported in a Ugandan border hospital. The number of people in Uganda who may have been exposed to carriers of the Ebola virus expanded significantly, from eight to at least 27. The disclosures, in a Ministry of Health update on its website, suggested an accelerating threat to Uganda from the Ebola virus, which has been ravaging eastern Congo for the past year and was reported to have spread to Uganda this week. A 5-year-old Congolese boy who entered a border town in western Uganda with his family on June 9 died of Ebola on Wednesday, the first case in Uganda since the Congo outbreak. His 50-year-old grandmother who was traveling with him became the second fatality, the Uganda Health Ministry said on Thursday.  The New York Times

Uganda Jails Hundreds of Men for Sex Offences against Women and Girls
Hundreds of men in Uganda have been jailed for sexual offences against girls and women during a month of special court sessions to clear a backlog of cases. Between November and December last year, 414 men and nine women were found guilty during 13 trials held in selected courts in 13 districts around the country, according to the justice, law and order sector, a body that brings together government ministries working on legal matters. The perpetrators were handed sentences ranging from community service to up to 50 years in jail. “Overall, the objective of the pilot was met with unprecedented success, leading to the disposal of over 788 cases against the target of 650 cases,” said a report. The Guardian

Global Foreign Direct Investment Is Down, but Not in Africa
For the third year in a row, foreign direct investment (FDI) is down all over the world, but not in Africa. Global money is banking on African growth, reduced barriers to cross-border trade and affordable access to commodities. From 2017 to 2018, global FDI fell from $1.5 trillion to $1.3 trillion, according to an analysis by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The conference released its 2019 World Investment Report this week, showing that global FDI not only hit its lowest level since the global financial crisis, but has also been on the decline for three consecutive years.  Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones