Africa Media Review for June 17, 2019

Nigeria: Dozens Killed in Boko Haram Triple Suicide Bombing in Konduga, Borno State
A triple suicide bombing by Boko Haram killed 30 people in the northeastern Nigerian town of Konduga, emergency services said. “The death toll from the attack has so far increased to 30. We have over 40 people injured,” Usman Kachalla, head of operations at the State Emergency Management Agency, said on Monday, June 17, raising the tally from 17 dead and 17 wounded. Three bombers detonated their explosives outside a hall in Konduga, 38 km (24 miles) southeast of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, where football fans were watching a match on TV. The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. The Defense Post

11 Killed, 25 Hurt as Explosions Rock Somalia’s Capital
A pair of explosions rocked Somalia’s capital and left 11 people dead, the country’s police chief said Saturday, as the al-Qaida-linked extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility. Another 25 people were wounded, Gen. Bashir Abdi Mohamed told reporters in Mogadishu. He said the first car bomb went off near a security checkpoint for the presidential palace and was responsible for nine deaths. The second car bomb killed the driver and his accomplice near a checkpoint on the road to the heavily fortified airport, he said. Al-Shabab, which often targets the capital, said the blasts were meant to strike the first line of security checkpoints for the airport and palace. The airport is home to a number of diplomatic offices. The palace is a frequent al-Shabab target.  AP

Kenyan Police Blame Al-Shabab for Blast near Somalia That Left Officers Dead
Police officials in Kenya say the al-Shabab extremist group is responsible for a deadly explosion Saturday morning that reportedly killed 10 police officers near the country’s border with Somalia. Around 10:50 a.m. local time, a police vehicle carrying 11 officers on patrol hit an improvised explosive device, killing several of the officers, Kenya police spokesman Charles Owino told NPR. The 10 deaths were reported by The Associated Press but Kenyan officials say they’re still trying to confirm the number of police officer casualties, Owino said. Those killed, according to the AP, were pursuing extremists who had kidnapped police reservists.  Kenya

Benin Police Open Fire on Protesters, Kill Two: Mayor
Benin security forces killed two protesters Saturday in the city of Save while breaking up a demonstration by people who erected barricades and blocked the national road for days, the mayor said. This followed days of demonstrations over controversial April 28 parliamentary elections in the West African country. “This morning, a contingent of the republican police came to clear the roadblocks,” said Timothee Biaou, mayor of the central town of Save. “Gunfire was exchanged between police and masked individuals. Seven civilians were taken to hospital and there were also two deaths.” A witness to the confrontation, who asked not to be named, also said two people were killed, one a motorbike taxi driver and the other a teenager.  AFP

Ousted Sudan Leader Bashir Makes First Appearance since Coup
Sudan’s former-President Omar al-Bashir has appeared in public for the first time since he was overthrown in a coup in April. Mr Bashir was driven from a jail in the capital, Khartoum to the prosecutor’s office where he was read the corruption charges against him. Surrounded by security guards, the 75-year-old former leader was wearing traditional white robes and a turban. Mr Bashir was overthrown in a coup after months of mass protests. Prosecutors say a large hoard of foreign currency was found in grain sacks at Mr Bashir’s home after he was ousted, bringing to an end nearly 30 years in power.  BBC

Sudan Ousted a Brutal Dictator. His Successor Was His Enforcer
Once a camel trader who led a militia accused of genocidal violence in Darfur, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan now sits at the pinnacle of power in Sudan, overlooking the scorched streets from his wood-paneled office high up in the military’s towering headquarters. From his office in the capital, Khartoum, he can see the site where his unit, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, cleared thousands of pro-democracy protesters in a storm of violence that began on June 3. The heavily armed troops burned tents, raped women and killed dozens of people, some dumped in the Nile, according to numerous accounts from protesters and witnesses. The blood bath consolidated the vertiginous rise of General Hamdan, widely known as Hemeti, who by most reckonings is now the de facto ruler of Sudan. To many Sudanese he is proof of a depressing reality: Although they ousted one dictator in April, the brutal system he left behind is determined to guard its power. The New York Times

Unamid Mandate Extended after ‘Drastic Change in Sudan’
The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) has extended the mandate of the joint African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (Unamid) for 12 months, following “drastic change in security and political developments in Sudan”. The Council also called on Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) to ‘immediately and unconditionally’ rescind the decree made on Thursday for Unamid to hand over its assets to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia. In a communiqué following the AUPSC’s 856th meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Thursday, the Council confirms that it “rejects the TMC Decree Number 102 issued on May 13, which calls for the Unamid to hand over assets to the RSF”. The AU Council reminds the TMC that “the [drawdown] agreement was aimed at handing over these assets to civilian institutions to assist the recovery and development of Darfur.”  Radio Dabanga

Is South Sudan on the Brink of Famine?
A record seven million people – more than half of the country’s population – in South Sudan are facing severe hunger, according to a report by its government and three United Nations agencies. A lack of rain, ongoing economic crisis and years of civil war are being blamed for the worsening situation. The report stopped short of declaring a famine, but says nearly two million people go without food for long periods and suffer acute malnutrition, leading to many deaths. Over the past two years, the number of people needing food aid has increased by two million. If the lack of rain and poor harvests continues, 21,000 people could suffer from famine. What should be done to stop this disaster?  Al Jazeera

EU Observers Say Nigeria 2019 Elections Weren’t Transparent
Nigeria’s 2019 general elections won by President Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress weren’t transparent and were marred by violence and harassment of voters, the European Union observer mission said. The elections became increasingly marred by violence and intimidation, with the role of the security agencies becoming more contentious as the process progressed, the EU observers said Saturday in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in their final report on the Feb. 23 and March 2 votes. This damaged the integrity of the electoral process and may deter future participation. The elections gave Buhari, 76, a second four-year term with 56% of the vote, while Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, came second with 41%. The ruling party also won a majority of parliamentary seats.  Bloomberg

Armed Gang Kills at Least 34 in Northwest Nigeria, Police Say
An armed gang killed at least 34 people in attacks on villages in northwest Nigeria, police said on Sunday, part of a wave of violence the government has blamed on bandits. Hundreds of people have died in the northwest region this year, adding to security problems in a country already struggling with Islamist insurgencies in the northeast and a brutal conflict between farmers and herders in central states. The armed gang came to unprotected villages in the northwestern state of Zamfara on Friday night, killing 34 people, said Muhammed Shehu, police spokesman for the state. People from the village told Reuters the attackers escaped.  Reuters

Separatist Bomb Attack Kills 4 Policemen in Cameroon
Cameroon says separatist fighters have killed four policemen and wounded six in the English- speaking southwestern town of Eyumojock. The separatist fighters use of bombs is the first to be reported since the conflict that has killed nearly 2,000 people started three years ago. Two hundred internally displaced people from Cameroon’s English-speaking southwest met Sunday in Yaounde to examine increasing violence during the past month. They say raids on Tinto, Kembong and Eyang, localities the military considers separatist strongholds, have left at least 17 people dead. Teacher Nestor Orock, who escaped fighting in Tinto a year ago, said the latest of the killings was Saturday when explosives blew up a police van at Eyumojock. He said some people who had been considering returning home are scared.  VOA

French, Malian Forces Kill 20 Militants in Operation-Mali Army
Allied French and Malian forces killed 20 militants in an operation in a part of northern Mali where Islamic State operates, a spokesman for the West African nation’s military said on Sunday. The operation in the district of Akabar, a remote part of a game reserve near the border with Niger and not far from the Malian city of Menaka, was continuing, army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone said by telephone. “But I can tell you that 20 terrorists have been neutralised,” he said. Mali has become increasingly engulfed in violence since a Tuareg uprising in 2012 was hijacked by Islamist militants, prompting France to intervene to push them back the following year. Reuters

In Algeria, Conservatives Weigh In against Pressure for Western-Style Democracy
While tens of thousands of Algerians have been gathering for four months in the capital to demand sweeping political reforms, former fighters who led the last confrontation with the establishment have been warning people not to rock the boat. In the 1990s, they drove an uprising against the military after it canceled a landmark multiparty election that Islamists were poised to win. This time they say protests could bring a repeat of the chaos and bloodshed their actions unleashed. “I deeply regret what happened in the 1990s,” once such fighter, Sheikh Yahya, said at his home in Haizer, a village in the Kabyle mountains 120 km (75 miles) east of the capital Algiers where he now works as a butcher. “This is why I will never participate in any action that might end up violent.” Reuters

Libya’s Fayez Al-Sarraj Calls for Elections in 2019 to End War
The head of Libya’s UN-recognised government has proposed holding nationwide elections to end the war in the North African country, as forces of the rival military commander Khalifa Haftar continue their two-month-long battle to take the capital, Tripoli. Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj said he was proposing a “Libyan congress” aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. The talks would draw up a roadmap for parliamentary and presidential elections to be held before the end of 2019, he said in Tripoli, the seat of his administration.  Al Jazeera

UN Security Council Divided on Burundi as It Moves toward Elections
Opinions were sharply divided on Burundi during discussions at the United Nations Security Council on Friday, as the nation’s security status was evaluated with an eye toward 2020 presidential elections. President Pierre Nkurunziza has said he will not run again, but his 2015 decision to force a third term and subsequent changes to the country’s constitution sparked political violence and have strained international relationships over human rights concerns. Those human rights issues were at the heart of the Security Council discussion to keep Burundi on its agenda, with Belgium, Germany, the UK and the United States among those expressing deep concern over Burundi’s closed posture to its own political opposition and an independent media, and to those of the global community.  Africa Times

Two AFP Journalists Beaten, Detained in C. Africa
Security forces in Central African Republic beat and detained two journalists working for French news wire Agence France-Presse (AFP) covering a banned opposition protest in the capital Bangui, the reporters said Sunday. Charles Bouessel, 28, and Florent Vergnes, 30, said they were held for more than six hours and questioned three times on Saturday after having been manhandled by members of the Central Office for the Suppression of Banditry (OCRB). The pair also had their equipment confiscated and a camera smashed up. AFP condemned the incident as “unjustifiable police violence”. “The protest was going well, the (police) let us film and clearly saw that we were not part of the rally,” Bouessel said Sunday. AFP

Tunisia’s Authoritarians Learn to Love Liberalism
[…] In the immediate aftermath of the uprising that ousted Ben Ali, police disappeared from the streets in some parts of the country, leaving the army to maintain order for months. Despite Tunisia’s history of worker militancy under the more than 70-year-old Tunisian General Labor Union, Interior Ministry laws from prerevolution Tunisia read that police and other internal security services—which fall under the authority of the Interior Ministry—are not allowed to form professional unions, nor to strike. So as the post-Ben Ali era witnessed a blossoming of civil society, the creation of countless nongovernmental organizations, and the spread of public debate, internal security employees took advantage of the newfound opening to create unions. […] Many Tunisians, from ordinary citizens to politicians to human rights workers, say that the security unions often protect the interests of the security state embodied in the Interior Ministry and protect their members from accountability for past and ongoing abuses, including murder.  Foreign Policy

It’s Payday, but Soldiers, Nurses in Zim Unable to Access Their Money
Some civil servants – most of them soldiers and nurses – failed to access their salaries on Friday after a Mauritian company switched off its electronic payments processing system. Most Zimbabwean banks use Paynet, which is owned by Mauritian financial services provider Payserv Africa, to process interbank transactions. As part of the arrangement, the local banks pay the service provider in American dollars. But a standoff between banks and Paynet has resulted in service disruption. “We regret to inform our valued clients that Payserv Africa have suspended Paynet services to all banks due to non-payment of service fees,” a statement by Paynet reads. The banks argue that they can’t pay in foreign currency because the facility is used to service mostly RTGS money. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its Staff-Monitored Program (SMP) for Zimbabwe said the value of banking sector assets had declined in real terms by 40% as of the end of last year. As such, paying for Paynet services in foreign currency will worsen the situation.  Times Live

‘We Are Trapped’: Zimbabwe’s Economic Crunch Hits Passports
With Zimbabwe’s economy in shambles and political tensions rising, leaving the country seems the best option for many who are desperate for jobs. But those dreams often end at the passport office, which doesn’t have enough foreign currency to import proper paper and ink. A passport now takes no less than a year to be issued. An emergency passport can take months amid a backlog of 280,000 applications, never mind recent ones. Zimbabweans at the main office in the capital, Harare, have taken to sleeping in line for any chance at being served the following day — and that’s just to submit an application. Several million Zimbabweans already left for neighboring South Africa and other countries during years of economic turmoil under former leader Robert Mugabe. The hardships have only deepened under current President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over after Mugabe’s forced resignation in late 2017.  AP

In Ghana, Free High School Brings Opportunity and Grumbling
At dawn on a recent Tuesday, 18-year-old Jane Newornu pulled on her blue gingham school uniform, stuffed her books into her knapsack and grabbed a banana as she ran off to school. Her twin sister, Jennifer, still in her pajamas, watched with a pang of envy. Instead of going to class, Jennifer was staying home from school on a two-month hiatus mandated by the government. The twins, like all high school students in Ghana, now must take turns. The problem is the result of the tumultuous rollout of a new government program, intended to expand access to free secondary education. When President Nana Akufo-Addo took office in 2017, he made good on one of his chief campaign promises: tuition-free high school for all. It was part of a broader effort to make Ghana internationally competitive in educational standards, agriculture, tourism and more. But the program has proved so popular — 430,000 students are enrolled this school year, up from 308,000 in 2016, according to the education ministry — that demand has overwhelmed capacity.  The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones