Africa Media Review for June 15, 2017

At Least 19 Killed in Hotel Attack in Somali Capital
At least 19 people were killed when Islamist militants launched a car bomb and gun attack on a busy hotel and adjacent restaurant in the Somali capital, a police officer said on Thursday. A car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into the Posh Hotel in south Mogadishu on Wednesday evening before gunmen rushed into Pizza House, an adjacent restaurant, and took 20 people hostage. Posh Hotel is the only venue with a discotheque in the capital. District police chief Abdi Bashir told Reuters Somali security forces took back control of the restaurant at midnight after the gunmen had held hostages inside for several hours. Five of the gunmen were killed, Bashir said. “We are in control of the hotel but it was mostly destroyed by the suicide bomber,” he told Reuters by phone. Reuters

UN and AU Recommend Big Cuts to Darfur Peacekeeping Force
The United Nations and the African Union are recommending a 44 percent cut in the number of peacekeeping troops in their joint force in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region and a 30 percent reduction in the international police force, a move certain to be welcomed by the United States which is seeking major cuts to the U.N. peacekeeping budget. Assistant Secretary-General El-Ghassim Wane presented the proposals to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday following a review of the 17,000-strong U.N.-AU force known as UNAMID that costs over $1 billion annually. But Human Rights Watch warned that the planned cuts risk leaving civilians in Darfur without much-needed protection in the face of continuing violence. Ethnic Africans in Sudan’s vast western region of Darfur rebelled in 2003, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. Khartoum is accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes known as the janjaweed and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge the government denies. AP

Zambia’s Once Proud Democracy Faces Litmus Test
Upon issuing his 30-day suspension, Zambia’s parliamentary speaker Patrick Matibini challenged the 48 members of parliament from the United Party for National Development (UPND) to resign on moral grounds if they continue to question the legitimacy of President Lungu’s government. In March, UPND lawmakers boycotted the president’s state of the nation address saying they do not recognize a leader whose victory has been challenged in court. On Tuesday, speaker Matibini said he had suspended the 48 parliamentarians for their “irrational and morally unjustified behavior,” according to state broadcaster, ZNBC. Deutsche Welle

Nigerian Air Force Acquires Helicopter Gunships, Other Aircraft
The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, in Lagos on Wednesday said it had acquired new platforms and was currently reactivating old aircraft to better combat contemporary security challenges in the country. The Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Sadiq Abubakar, disclosed this at the inauguration of newly built Air Force Secondary School and Airmen Transit Accommodation at 401 Communications Depot, Shasha, Lagos State. Mr. Abubakar said the in-country reactivation of NAF’s aircraft was one of the gains in building personnel capacity, adding that six Alpha Jet engines earlier reactivated were already being flown. He added that “recently, we reactivated six engines of Alpha Jets that would have been taken outside the country. “Those six engines have been mounted on the aircraft and now flying. Premium Times

Nigeria Launches Talks to Counter Tensions With Igbo
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has launched a consultation process with leaders from across the country’s northern and southern regions to counter rising tensions with the ethnic Igbo community. The process comes after some youth groups in northern Nigeria on June 6 threatened to attack the community unless they relocated to the country’s southeastern parts within three months. The threat was made following sit-ins held by Igbo — the third largest ethnic group in Nigeria after Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba — in commemoration of the 1967 civil war. The 30-month long civil war had left hundreds of thousands of people dead that began with the exodus of Igbo from the northern region when some members of the community were accused of leading a deadly military coup in 1966. Anadolu Agency

Ivory Smuggling Continues to Hurt China’s Alliances in Africa
Chinese and Ugandan diplomats found themselves in an awkward position this week. Ordering an investigation, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni personally accused local officials and two Chinese diplomats of smuggling 1.3 metric tons (about 2,900 pounds) of ivory out of the country in 2014. Chinese authorities quickly denied the accusation and pointed out that the diplomats named by the president were not stationed in Uganda. Days later, Uganda’s foreign ministry issued an apology. Ivory smuggling does persistent damage to China’s image abroad, especially in Africa where Chinese demand for elephant tusks and rhino horns has driven the two species closer to extinction. Uganda is a common smuggling route for the illegal trade. Earlier this month, Asian and African authorities arrested seven people for trafficking one ton of elephant tusks from Uganda to Singapore, by way of Kenya, according to the anti-poaching NGO, Freeland. Quartz

Mugabe Holds Zanu-PF’s Politburo
President Robert Mugabe will on Wednesday chair the Zimbabwe’s ruling party’s highest decision-making body outside of congress, the politburo. The meeting in Harare will take stock at the challenges facing Zanu–PF. Back in the country after attending the Oceans Conference at the United Nations in New York, the veteran leader will meet his party team. The meeting is expected to bring to the fore the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the party’s political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere. Amid growing concerns about President Mugabe’s health the party is facing continued factional fights, one declaring allegiance to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and another known as G40 to which Kasukuwere is said to be aligned, believed to be led by Mugabe’s wife and leader of the women’s league Grace Mugabe. SABC

Despite Public Outcry, Egypt to Transfer Islands to Saudi Arabia
The fate of Tiran and Sanafir, a pair of small, barren islands in the Red Sea, is one of the most politically sensitive issues facing Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Since Mr. Sisi announced a plan to hand the islands to Saudi Arabia last year, he has faced an unusually virulent backlash. A top court ruled against the transfer, there were rare public protests, and an opinion poll found that a large majority of Egyptians bitterly opposed the idea. Yet Mr. Sisi may be about to get his way. On Wednesday, after three days of rowdy and emotional debate, Egypt’s Parliament voted to allow the contentious transfer of the islands to proceed. The decision did not come as a surprise — Mr. Sisi’s supporters dominate the largely pliant chamber, which is openly manipulated by his security agencies. The New York Times

Security, Qatar Crisis Tops Agenda as Macron Vsits Morocco
French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Morocco Wednesday on a 24-hour visit for talks on battling terrorism as well as the Libyan conflict and Qatar’s dispute with its Gulf neighbours. Bucking a longstanding diplomatic tradition that has seen French presidents chose Algeria for their first visit to a North African nation, Macron’s first presidential trip to the Maghreb was to Algeria’s arch rival, Morocco. As he stepped off the plane in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, the French president, with his wife Brigitte at his side, was welcomed on the tarmac by King Mohammed VI. The king’s wife, Princess Lala Salma, and Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, 14, were also present at the airport to greet the French first couple, who were then driven to the royal palace for talks. France 24

Qatar Crisis Spills Into Libya, Tangling Glencore in Oil Dispute
The Qatar crisis is reverberating in Libya, inflaming political divisions in the war-torn oil exporter and dragging commodity-trading giant Glencore Plc into a dispute over crude sales. The row involves competing administrations of the National Oil Corp. that are vying to control crude exports from the OPEC member. In eastern Libya, the local military commander is backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, three of the countries attempting to isolate Qatar. The head of the NOC in that part of the nation has accused Qatar of using its 8.5 percent stake in Glencore to control the the Swiss trader’s sales of Libyan crude. Bloomberg

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi Case: ICC Calls for Arrest of Ex-Libya Leader’s Son
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has called for the arrest and surrender of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who was released by a militia in Libya last week after six years in jail. The son of late leader Col Muammar Gaddafi is wanted for alleged crimes against humanity during the rebellion that ousted his father in 2011. His location is unclear. The UN-backed government has condemned the release. It is feared that the move could fuel further instability in the country. Saif al-Islam was freed from jail last Friday by the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq Battalion militia in the western town of Zintan under an amnesty law. BBC

Rwanda: Fresh Start for Former FDLR Fighters?
For over 20 years now, the FDLR has killed innocent civilians and pillaged villages in its quest to topple the government in Kigali. Despite regional efforts to disarm and reintegrate them, the rebel outfit continues to destabilize the region and torment civilians. But can former fighters fully integrate in society? DW’s Isaac Mugabi went to find out. Welcome to Mutobo Demobilization and Reintegration camp, reads a tattered signpost on the road that leads into the camp of former fighters of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Located in Musanze district, northern Rwanda, the camp has received thousands of former combatants since 2002. The goal is to rehabilitate them and reintegrate them into society. The idyllic terrain and chilly weather of this volcanic region makes it ideal for the former combatants to live, in contrast to the vast jungles of the DRC where life was harsh and unforgiving. Deutsche Welle

Riek’s Return Is a Recipe for Disaster, Says South Sudan FVP
Taban Deng Gai, South Sudan’s First Vice President, claimed that the return of rebel leader Riek Machar to Juba to participate in the National Dialogue was a “recipe for disaster and would impose more catastrophe in the country.” In a speech before an extraordinary meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders on Monday 12 June, Gai insisted that the presence of Machar in the country always lead to death and disaster, something the people of the country do no need. “Machar who has been exiled to South Africa should remain there and will not consent to re-join the political process to end the conflict in the country without using his army,” Gai told the IGAD leader in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa, according to the text of his statement seen by Sudan Tribune. Sudan Tribune

Medical App Aims to Tackle Rape, Flag War Crimes in DRC
Activists behind an app designed to assist doctors document evidence of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo aim to go beyond obtaining justice for rape victims and collect data that could help secure prosecutions for war crimes. Developed by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), MediCapt allows clinicians to record medical examination results digitally and photograph victims’ injuries, store them online and send them directly to law enforcement officials and lawyers. In a vast nation plagued by militant violence and poor roads that restrict access to remote areas, PHR hopes the mobile app will lead to more convictions for sexual violence and help Congo shake off its tag as “rape capital of the world.” VOA

Gambian Media Thriving Since Jammeh’s Departure
At the moment, nothing is airing on Taranga FM; the office is dark. Power has been cut for 48 hours and even the generator has stopped working. This popular community radio in the outskirts of Gambia’s capital, Banjul, is used to challenges. Its troubles started in 2008, when Taranga FM began broadcasting local press reviews in the Wolof, Mandinka and Fula languages. “We are the first radio station in The Gambia to make sure that we review all newspapers irrespective of their ideology,” said Biram S. Jobe, the station’s assistant director. “We take news that is very important to the public and interpret it in a local language so the community will be able to understand.”  VOA

Tensions Between Muslims and Christians Rise in CAR
In mid-May the armed group the Popular Front for the Renaissance of Central African Republic (FPRC) marched into the town of Bria in the Central African Republic (CAR). Tens of thousands of, mostly Christian, civilians were displaced as the group faced off with anti-balaka fighters in the town, located some 600km northeast of the capital, Bangui. Around 85 percent of the town’s residents fled. At least 60 people were killed in Bria, as the FPRC rebels, a faction of the Seleka, a Muslim-led coalition that toppled then President Francois Bozize in a coup in 2013, targeted the mainly Christian anti-balaka fighters and anyone they considered to be associated with the group. Thousands of people – both Muslim and Christian – have been killed in the country and almost a million displaced since the coup. Al Jazeera

Magufuli Orders Seizure and Reallocation of Undeveloped Farms
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has directed the confiscation of all undeveloped farms in the country and ordered that they be reallocated to other citizens. The President made the directive during a meeting with regional commissioners (RCs), at State House in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday. President Magufuli said it was not fair for a few people to hoard large chunks of land, while majority of Tanzanians having none. “You should confiscate all undeveloped farms and allocate them to wananchi who will develop them,” the president told the commissioners. However, in doing so, the President insisted that commissioners should adhere to country’s laws in confiscating the land. The East African

EAC Watching Kenyan Elections with More Than Passing Interest
Kenya’s election in August has raised concern across the region on economic, security and political considerations, especially in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and the African Union. With political temperatures and ethnic tensions rising, there are fears that the elections could turn violent and threaten trade. The EastAfrican has established that the African Union Peace and Security Council has already sent the Kenya government a note verbale (informal request in diplospeak) to be allowed to undertake an on-the-ground assessment. The East African

Liberia: President Sirleaf Declares Assets As Tenure Comes to An End
When Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as Liberia and Africa’s first woman head of state, some eleven years ago, she pledged to set an example for others in her government to follow, starting with the declaration of assets. “I further call on all Presidential aspirants, to consider in their own interest to do the same” – President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Said Sirleaf on January 6, 2006: “In this respect, I will lead by example. I will expect and demand that everyone serving in my Administration leads by example. “In an environment of rumors, conspiracies, lies and suspicions, it is important that those holding high public office disclose their financial status to the public”. Front Page Africa (Monrovia)

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s wife shot dead
The estranged wife of incoming Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has been shot dead two days before his inauguration. Lipolelo Thabane, 58, was travelling home with a friend when both women were shot by an unknown assailant, the police say. The police add the motive is unknown and an investigation is continuing. The couple had been living separately since 2012 and filed for divorce which hasn’t been granted yet. […] She won a high court battle against her husband to secure the privileges of a First Lady, instead of Mr Thabane’s youngest wife, Liabiloe, reports the AFP news agency. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones