Africa Media Review for June 16, 2017

Somali Survivors Tell of Extremists’ Restaurant Siege that Killed 31
Islamic extremists attacked a popular Mogadishu, Somalia, restaurant in an overnight siege and killed 31 people — many at point-blank range — before they were slain by security forces, police said Thursday. Survivors described harrowing scenes of hiding under tables and behind curtains as the five gunmen hunted for victims in the darkened Pizza House restaurant. Nearly 40 people were wounded. The Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, which began Wednesday evening with a car bomb exploding at the gate to the restaurant and ended when troops secured the site after dawn, said senior police Capt. Mohamed Hussein. LA Times

UN Says Burundi Still Torturing and Killing Opponents
Burundi security forces and government-allied militia are continuing to torture and kill opponents, UN investigators said on Thursday, allegations denied by the government. The investigators from the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Burundi have been denied entry to the country said there was a “feeling of deep and widespread fear” in more than 470 testimonies gathered from people who had fled to neighbouring countries. “Today we can say that our initial fears concerning the scope and gravity of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015 have been confirmed,” the investigators said in a briefing to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. Burundi’s government angrily rejected the allegations. “We do not accept the content of this report,” said the country’s human rights minister Martin Nivyabandi. News 24

Burundi : Persistence of Serious Human Rights Violations in a Climate of Widespread Fear
“We were struck in our investigations by the feeling of deep and widespread fear running through the testimonies we gathered,” said Fatsah Ouguergouz, Reine Alapini Gansou and Françoise Hampson, members of the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, during the presentation of their second oral briefing* to the Human Rights Council.   “Today we can say that our initial fears concerning the scope and gravity of human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015 have been confirmed”, they stated.   The Commission regretted once again its lack of access to the country and the Burundian Government’s lack of cooperation. Nevertheless, the Commission interviewed many Burundians in exile and visited Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, among other countries. Since the beginning of its investigations, it has collected more than 470 testimonies of human rights violations allegedly committed in Burundi since April 2015. UN-OHCHR – Commission of Inquiry on Burundi

France Says UN Likely to Support Sahel Anti-Jihadist Force
France’s foreign minister said on Thursday he was confident “we will get there” in convincing a reluctant United States to give United Nations backing to an anti-jihadist force drawn from five African countries. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, which make up the so-called G5 Sahel, have agreed to set up a special counter-terrorism operation of 5 000 troops, but want UN logistical and financial support. “We think that it is necessary to support them in this endeavour, because the security of Africans will not come, in the end, only from Africans themselves,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking in the Senegalese capital of Dakar as part of a west African tour. France has presented a draft resolution to the Security Council that would give a UN mandate to the G5 troops to combat terrorism, drug trafficking and people trafficking. News 24

AU Peace Fund Will Promote the Cause of Peace, Stability in Africa
A newly established African Union Peace fund will provide a more effective instrument to promote the cause of peace and stability in Africa and the world. The message was delivered to the UN Security Council by the AU’s High Representative for Financing of the Union and Peace Fund, Dr Donald Kaberuka, who is charged with leading the establishment of the fund that will be responsible for 25% of AU peace operations and support costs by 2020. Predictable financing for peace efforts on the continent has long been a bone of contention in the region. The AU peace fund was first endorsed by the Heads of State Summit of the organisation in Kigali last year – a decision taken to endow the fund with $400 million dollars by 2020. SABC

Africa and the Gulf Crisis: the Peril of Picking Sides
As the Gulf crisis enters its third week, the decision to cut or downgrade diplomatic ties with Qatar by nine African countries could have a long-term impact on the nationals of those countries, analysts warned. “This is not good for Africa. This is rush decision-making and taking sides in a crisis that the leaders have no clear grasp of is dangerous and will scare investors away,” Adama Gaye, a Senegalese foreign policy expert told Al Jazeera.[…] “Security and tackling violent extremism are real issues in several African countries but there are strong economic factors at play here,” Africa analyst Antony Goldman told Al Jazeera by phone from the Ghanaian capital, Accra. “Saudi Arabia has invested a lot of money recently in Africa and this gives it a lot of weight on the continent,” Goldman added. This is not the first time Senegal has been on the side of Saudi Arabia. Dakar sent 2,100 soldiers in 2015 to Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthis rebels. Dakar said at the time that it sent its troops “to protect and secure the holy sites of Islam, Medina and Mecca”. Al Jazeera

Rescue Ships Pick Up 1,000 Boat Migrants – Italy Coastguard
Humanitarian rescue ships picked up more than 1,000 migrants from nine rubber and wooden boats off the coast of Libya on Thursday, Italy’s coastguard said. The Vos Hestia, operated by Save the Children, rescued more than 100 migrants, most of them from Bangladesh, from a rubber dinghy about 21 miles off the coast of Libya in international waters. Earlier on Thursday, another non-governmental group, Proactiva Open Arms, said on Twitter that Libyan coastguard officials fired into the air as an act of intimidation while it was rescuing 11 people from a small boat. No one was injured and the migrants were taken on board the humanitarian vessel. The Libyan coastguard was not immediately available to comment. Reuters

UN ‘Deeply Concerned’ at Migrants Allegedly Held for Ransom in Libya
The United Nations migration agency expressed deep concern for around 260 Somali and Ethiopian migrants allegedly held and mistreated by criminal gangs in Libya, saying it believed that a harrowing video of them posted on social media was authentic. The International Organization for Migration said a video posted on Facebook earlier this month showed “abused Somalis and Ethiopians … huddled fearfully in a concrete room”. The IOM said a Somali journalist based in Turkey recorded the video call from a gang in which some migrants claimed to have been beaten. Some alleged having their teeth pulled out and arms broken. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified. The Guardian

Libya Smugglers Broadcast Abuse of African Migrants on Social Media to Demand Ransoms
People smugglers and criminal gangs in Libya are using social media to broadcast the abuse and violence they inflict on African migrants in their captivity and demand ransoms from their families back home, according to the United Nations. In a video posted on Facebook, hundreds of emaciated Somalis and Ethiopians, including several children, are seen huddled in a concrete room in an unknown location in Libya. The migrants and refugees being filmed say they have been beaten, tortured and held in cells without food, and that their parents and relatives have received video clips via social media asking for up to $10,000 to spare them from being killed. “They broke my teeth … they broke my hand … this stone has been put on me for the last three days,” says one man in the video posted last week, explaining how his captors placed a concrete block on his back as a punishment after his family refused to pay up $8,000. Reuters

Amnesty International Rebukes Nigerian Military for Dropping War Crimes Inquiry
Amnesty International criticized Nigeria’s military Thursday for dropping an investigation into senior officers accused of war crimes in the northeast during the conflict with Islamist Boko Haram insurgents. The eight-year battle with the militant group, which seeks to carve out a “caliphate” in the northeast, has been rife with human rights violations by the parties involved, including the military, Boko Haram and vigilante organizations, aid groups say. Those include extrajudicial killings, rape, the use of child soldiers and detentions of people without charge. Late Wednesday, a Nigerian military panel issued a report on the findings of its investigation that said there was insufficient evidence to charge the officers, some of whom are now retired, for any abuses. VOA

In Burkina Faso, Living With Risk of Terror is New Reality
Gaetan Santomenna lost his wife, his 9-year-old son and his mother the night jihadists attacked his cafe in Burkina Faso’s capital before striking a nearby hotel. Now a year and a half later, he’s reopening doors to the popular restaurant as a sign of resistance to the growing extremism in this West African country. “Being afraid does not help you escape danger. You aren’t safe anywhere. That’s the madness,” he said, shortly before the Cappuccino Cafe was due to open to the public again Thursday. “I owe it to my children, to my family, to all those who have left us,” Santomenna said. “To accept defeat would be to not pay homage to them.” VOA

Egypt Arrests Dozens Ahead of Proposed Island Protests
Egyptian police stormed the homes of political opponents of a disputed 2016 agreement to transfer control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, arresting dozens in raids in Cairo and at least 10 provinces across the country. Lawyers Mohammed Abdel-Aziz and Gamal Eid said the arrests on Thursday were made in raids staged before dawn or shortly before or after sunset, when Muslims break their dusk-to-dawn fast during the holy month of Ramadan. The lawyers put the number of arrests until nightfall Thursday at between 32 and 40 and said those detained were mostly linked to secular democratic parties. The arrests came amid calls on social media for protests against the agreement to be held Friday at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of a 2011 popular uprising that toppled the regime of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak. Al Jazeera

Who Is Thomas Thabane, and Why is Lesotho’s Army So Scared of Him?
[…] Prior to this election, analysts and civil society expressed fears that the army would again step in to prevent Thabane’s appointment, favouring instead his opponent Pakalitha Mosisili. But a firm intervention from South Africa ensured that any potential coup-plotters had no room to manoeuvre, with foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane unambiguously declaring that no coups would be tolerated “in our backyard”. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to attend Maseru – with a sizeable South African security detail – in part to ensure Thabane’s inauguration goes ahead as planned. Thabane is under no illusions about the continued danger posed by the army, and intends to neutralise them first – even if this means getting rid of Lesotho’s military entirely. “When we win, we will gradually look at examples in the world where there are armed people who are not a classical army, so that jobs would be kept and nobody will suffer and new recruits will undergo a less classical military training,” he said. Mail and Guardian

Full Stalls, Empty Markets as South Sudan’s Economy Crumbles
“I sell the small bottle of cooking oil for 140 SSP. Six months ago, it was 70. The customers complain,” said James Deng, an 18-year-old stallholder in Aweil, South Sudan. In this regional market in the country’s northwest — just as at the main Konyokonyo market in the capital Juba, 800 kilometres (500 miles) to the south, and other towns across the country — prices of essential items have rocketed as a direct consequence of almost uninterrupted civil war since December 2013. The South Sudanese Pound (SSP) has collapsed from 18.5 to the dollar in December 2015 to around 140 now in black market transactions in Juba. Inflation has reached record levels increasing by 730 per cent in the 12 months up to August 2016, according to World Bank figures. Daily Nation

Sudan Ramps Up Washington Lobbying as Sanctions Deadline Looms
Sudan is on the cusp of ending its long status as a pariah in Washington, and the African nation is bolstering its stable of lobbyists to ensure that it happens soon. The government of President Umar al-Bashir — which is listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism — has hired Washington law firm Squire Patton Boggs LLP at a cost of $40,000 a month to lobby on its behalf as part of its accelerating campaign to ensure that President Donald Trump permanently lifts sanctions against the country ahead of a deadline next month, according to a filing with the Justice Department. Under an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in January, a temporary easing of sanctions against Sudan would be made permanent after six months if Khartoum sustains progress in five key areas, including helping the U.S. in the fight against terror, allowing humanitarian access and easing conflict throughout the country. That would allow fresh investment into an oil-exporting nation that remains one of the world’s poorest. Bloomberg

Ghosts of Rwanda: War Crimes, Genocide, and Terrorism – Where to Now for Nyamwasa?
When the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) rescinded the decision to grant refugee status to Kayumba Nyamwasa, a window of opportunity edged open for the first time in nearly a decade for Spanish investigators seeking the former Rwandese general’s extradition. Nyamwasa faces charges including war crimes, terrorism, genocide and crimes against humanity. A long delay due to his refugee status in South Africa coupled with a change in Spain’s jurisdiction laws saw that case falter. Now, a Spanish court is pushing for it to be reopened – even as Nyamwasa’s lawyers are confident his refugee status will be upheld under reconsideration. Spanish authorities have been seeking Nyamwasa’s extradition since 2008, when he and 39 other high-ranking officials of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front were named in an indictment for crimes committed between 1990 and 2000. Daily Maverick

Miners Vow to Fight South Africa’s New Black-Ownership Rules
South Africa’s latest mining overhaul could be mired in a long legal battle as producers vowed to stop the changes even as government said it’s time the black majority benefited from the country’s mineral wealth. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane unveiled new rules for so-called black economic empowerment, including tougher ownership requirements, a community-development tax equal to 1 percent of revenue, and expanded quotas for buying goods and services from black-owned companies. The Chamber of Mines, which represents South Africa’s biggest producers, plans to start fighting the plan in court as soon as next week. Bloomberg

SA Court Orders Moroccan Ship Held over W Sahara
A South African court on Thursday ordered the further detention of a Moroccan vessel laden with phosphate mined from the disputed Western Sahara pending a trial to determine the owner of the cargo. The 34 000-ton vessel from Western Sahara and destined for New Zealand was last month blocked from sailing off due to a court motion seeking that the vessel return its cargo. The motion argued that transportation of goods from disputed Western Sahara is illegal and in violation of international principles. “The court has basically found that the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Polisario Front have established, on a prima facie basis, that effectively the people of Western Sahara own the cargo,” Andre Bowley, the complainants’ lawyer told AFP. “That question ultimately has to be determined by a trial court.” News 24

Magufuli’s Approval Rating Drops by 25pc – Twaweza Poll
Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s wild popularity is waning with his approval rating, according to an opinion poll, down 25 per cent in the last one year. According to the pollster, Twaweza, seven of ten Tanzanians endorse the president’s performance, representing 71 per cent, compared to 96 per cent of those polled in 2016. The Twaweza report shows Mr Magufuli remains popular among older citizens, aged 50 and above, (82 per cent), the less educated (75 per cent), and the poor (75 per cent). Of youthful Tanzanians (aged 30 and below) only 68 per cent of those polled endorsed the president, 63 per cent among the more educated, and 66 per cent among the rich. The East African

Risk of Polio Spread Spikes in DRC after 2 Outbreaks, WHO Says
Two separate outbreaks of polio have been reported in remote parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a setback for large-scale efforts to eradicate the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease. There is a high risk of the disease spreading across the country, though not beyond its borders, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Tuesday in a statement. Four cases have been reported in children between 17 and 36 months old in the provinces of Haut Lomami and Maniema, both in the center of the country. All four children are paralyzed and are being monitored, the WHO said. Their families also are being monitored and getting tested regularly to see if they become infected. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones